Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Song

I am a music person. I love music, all types of music. It can improve my mood, motivate me, pass the time, convict, or comfort. I said to someone the other day that music speaks to my soul. I felt silly as soon as I said it, but it is true. A song can speak to me in ways that the words all by themselves cannot. That being said, it is not uncommon for me to get stuck on a song. If the words are excellent, and I feel like I need it to get into my heart, I'll listen to it so loudly and so many times that it drives Van nuts. I often find myself taking the long way home in order to listen to the song just one more time.

Last week, a precious friend delivered a cd that I haven't been able to stop listening to. It is called Wake Thy Slumbering Children by Indelible Grace. The one song that I switch it to every time I have a second is Abide with Me, which is apparently a hymn that I had never heard until now. I don't know if it is because I grew up on the KJV and Baptist Hymnal, but there is something so powerful about some of the good old hymns.

It was written by Henry Francis Lyte in 1847. The version that I have been listening to is recorded by Matthew Perryman Jones.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Is it suffering or just life?

Just some thoughts that I'm processing:

I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that our life the past two years hasn't been easy. I joke that we are on a six month rotation of disappointment, although it isn't really funny.

Our first robbery happened in May of 2009. It was hard because it took away our sense of security and made us feel vulnerable in a way we hadn't before.

In December of 2009 we encountered what I like to call the "big robbery." This one hurt in ways that I still have not recovered from, and I'm not sure that I ever will. It occurred in the middle of the day and obviously took all day because they just helped themselves to everything of value in our home. For a while I was scared to come home by myself, scared to leave the house alone, I was just wounded. One positive result of this particular situation is that I now am more careful about what we "need" because it is all temporary and not just in a super spiritual "you can't take it with you" kind of way.

Continuing on with the regular rotation, we were broken into again in August of 2010. This one I like to think of as God showing off. You see, I had really been reading a lot about spiritual warfare around that time. The best part of this story is that we were broken into, but nothing was taken, even though one of our friend's laptop computer was a few feet from the window that was compromised. I think that through this one Satan meant to discourage us (and it sort of worked), but we felt protected by something (or Someone) greater than our alarm system. This happened right around the time when were were beginning the application process for adoption and were just starting to talk with people about it.

Now I know this is crazy, but just last month I realized that it had been about 6 months since our last 'disappointment.' I actually began to get nervous. I began to notice myself being more careful about leaving our valuables in plain sight and leaving the lights on in the back yard.

So when all of the stuff happened with the adoption last weekend, I was upset, but in the midst of my tears I kind of thought, "Well, we were due for something like this." I have come to expect for things to not come easy for us. Whether it is the 'perfect' job that I have to leave because I just can't support it anymore, or the negative pregnancy tests among all of the excited phone calls of my expectant friends (we were adopting anyway), or getting robbed again, when we are not the only intentional neighbors around here; I have come to expect disappointment.

This is starting to sound like a pity party, which was not my intention, so let me get to the point/question.

Lately I've been thinking about suffering, meaning biblical suffering. On Sunday the sermon was about "The Cost of Discipleship" and in a Bible study I'm in we have been reading through 1 & 2 Peter

1 Peter 4:12-13 "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed."

Van and I have talked recently about our seemingly harder than normal life and we realized that all of these things that bring suffering into our lives (our choice to live in the inner-city, our choice to adopt) are choices we have made because of Christ. We live where we do in an effort to be like Jesus. He loved on the poor, so will we. We are adopting because "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (Obviously each of these are only the beginning of why we made these decisions.)

So, here is the question: Our hardships, are they suffering, or just life? I find it hard to think of these things as suffering for Christ because no one is attacking me or persecuting me because I claim the name of Christ, but I'm beginning to wonder. So, what is the cost of discipleship in the land of the free?

Friday, March 4, 2011

All in 24 hours

Well, I had hoped to never have any experience with this, (even though I know that it happens in the world of adoption), but let me tell you the story of our past 24 hours.

At 3:30 yesterday (Van's birthday) we received the phone call that we have been waiting for. (The social worker wasn't kidding when she told me to get prepared.) It was our adoption counselor calling to ask us to consider a baby. She gave me a ton of information about the health of the baby and the baby's parents, and then asked if we would be willing to meet the birthmother at the hospital in about an hour. I called Van, it was a no brainer, so after calling the prayer chains we hopped in the car and headed to the hospital. We were so nervous, but it just seemed so perfect. He (the baby is a boy) shares a birthday with our niece, we got a call on Van's birthday (which he has been saying would happen all along) and the baby was beautiful and healthy. We were told not to get our hopes up too high because she had not officially picked us yet. She wanted to meet us before she could make a final decision. We went into it telling ourselves that we were prepared to be turned down, and we were fine.

We met the adoption worker at the hospital and she escorted us up to her room. As we were waiting in the hallway the dinner cart came by and I know this is random, but it had a little plaque on the side that said "4 Thompson." We took that as a good sign. As soon as we entered the room, she looked at me and asked if I would like to hold him. Of course I said yes, but the whole time I was thinking, "I'm not supposed to get my hopes up, but I'm supposed to sit here and hold him, I don't know how this is going to go." It ended up not being any big deal because probably 15 minutes into the conversation, she said that she really liked us and got a good feeling about us and that she would love for us to raise him. We cried, hugged, got excited. It was beautiful. We hung out with them for probably 2 hours, made plans to pick him up tomorrow and went home to prepare.

Now, at this point no one's rights had been terminated, we knew this, but had also decided that it would be worth the risk of disappointment and hurt in order to be able to bond with the baby right off the bat. She said that the father was supportive of whatever decision she wanted to make and she seemed pretty sure so we weren't too worried. Well, we didn't have time to be worried, we were bringing home a baby tomorrow and currently had no clothes, diapers, bottles, wipes, etc. We were overwhelmed and excited.

This morning, as we waited on the call to come and sign our paperwork, we put the car seat in the car, made room for the bassinet in our bedroom and cleaned. When the phone rang we were anxious and ready to get things moving. It was not the call we were hoping for. It was basically a call saying that some of the baby's family had arrived and were trying to talk the birthmother out of it. We waited most of the day to no avail. It was excruciating, the waiting for any news, but the waiting is over and he is not ours.

Right now we are confused and hurting, but we are overwhelmed by the support around us. If there is anything we have learned over the last 24 hours, it is that we are loved and supported by so many. Thank you all for sharing in our excitement and then our grief. We are so lucky to have you in our lives.

I debated about whether or not I should share the story, but I really want to remember the whole of our adoption journey, not just the easy parts. My prayer is that God will be glorified through this our hurt and sense of loss, although right now its hard to understand. Its incredible how much it hurts given that 25 hours ago we had no idea this would even happen, but God is good, all the time (I am a baptist at heart). We're praying for His peace, and for healing.