Tuesday, December 8, 2015

We're Expecting...a Miracle!

Hello, dear friends! It's been a while since I've posted. I think I may have had an "adoption hangover" from taking in all the beautiful posts in October and November -- so many emotions and so much goodness! I am forever grateful to the amazing friends and our precious family who bravely and honestly shared their stories in the series. If you didn't have a chance to read them all, don't miss them. Scroll back up and read these stories of hope and faith and love!

I have been so encouraged by the comments and feedback from readers following the series! Some of you are finding new ways to support and love the orphan both at home and abroad. For me, that = SUCCESS!

There has also been another unexpected "success" from this series....

We're expecting another miracle through the joy of adoption!

Jeff and I have completed the initial application with Lifeline Children's Services (Birmingham, Ala.) to begin the adoption process. We just last Thursday received the exciting news that we have been accepted into the Haiti program and are currently tackling another mound of paperwork to be ready to begin the home study process in January! WHAT??!! Did I just write those words?

We have started down this road two other times and felt like God closed those doors very quickly. We have continued to pray and offer our family in willing obedience, in case His closed door was a "not yet" rather than a "not ever." Today, we are thrilled to share with you our confidence that this is His timing and things are going so smoothly and much more quickly than we could have ever imagined. We are not going into this blindly as we have many close friends and even our own family who have been through difficulties and much trouble in the process, but will continue to say "Yes!" and fight for the child He has for us as long as we feel like He is in this and fighting with us. 

Our boys are very excited about being big brothers, and when I talked with Eli about it initially, I asked him what he thought about us having a baby sister. He looked at me in surprise and said, "Does Dad know?"

We ask that you pray with us as we begin this journey in two specific ways: 1) Please pray for our discernment (and patience!) in this process. We are not so naive as to believe it will all go smoothly, and we covet your prayers as we determine next steps. 2) Please, please pray for our baby girl or boy and his/her family. We do not know yet whether he or she is already born, currently in the womb or yet to be conceived. Regardless, we pray for safety and for comfort until she/he is in our arms.

This is not a short process so we ask you to stay tuned here on the blog and via our other social media to keep up with our journey to our our newest little Walton. We will share all the ups and down and moments of excitement and difficult times as we can. It is also with great anticipation that we share this exciting news and with humble hearts that we ask for your prayers...


Monday, November 9, 2015

#AdoptionRocks, Part 10: Meet my niece, Cristina

This is it, friends. The final post of this series -- and I'll admit. I'm sad it's ending. I'm honestly trying to figure out how to stretch it out just a little longer because these stories have been so amazing. Such beautiful examples of God's relentless pursuit of each of us in the most unique and personal way. 

And another thing I'll admit. This one? Well, it's my favorite. Not that I don't love every single friend that has shared their heart and their journey...but this is the one. This is the one that gave me another beautiful niece, Cristina.

It has been such a joy and blessing to watch my brother and sister-in-law fight for my niece over these past few years. We have prayed many prayers for their journey; to share their story today brings tears to my eyes as I recall the difficult journey they have traveled. My sweet sister-in-law, Stephanie, has such a beautiful way with words...and with her children and really just with people in general. She is one of the greatest blessings of my marriage into the Walton family. I'm so thankful she made the time in her very busy schedule to write this final post in this series with all its twists and turns and messiness, but ultimately with the most beautiful "end" result.

In Her Own Words...


We’re Jay and Stephanie Walton and we have 3 kids, 2 biologicals (Willie and Ruby) and our “adopted” teenager (Cristina) who has been in our family for almost 4 years. We live in Nashville, Tennessee. After Willie and Ruby were born, I actually desired another child but Jay did not share that desire. Honestly, I didn’t know if I really just needed another maternity leave! But, the desire to have another child stayed and I could feel the Lord telling me, you will have another child. I had a peace and figured one of Willie or Ruby’s friends might need us one day. I let it go and nonchalantly figured it would be interesting to see how it worked out. 
Stephanie, Cristina and Jay in the DR, 2010

At the time Jay was a college basketball coach, and we were involved with a ministry called Nations of Coaches. We went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic and met Cristina in the orphanage she grew up in. We began sponsoring her financially and after another trip to the D.R. a year later, the Lord put in on Jay’s heart to do more for her. We didn’t know what “more” looked like given she was an older child—a teenage girl! 

Jay claims he was hesitant for several days to tell me this unconventional directive to expand our family. When Jay told me he felt we were supposed to do “more” for Cristina, he was so nervous but the Lord had gone before him and my heart was open. As much as I typically need a written, detailed, spreadsheet-mapped plan (and budget), it wasn’t necessary. Doing “more” was a done deal and only the Lord could have come up with teenage girl to expand our family. We couldn’t have dreamed up what our family looks like.

All in all, it took about two years to get Cristina to the United States so she could be in our family and get an education and opportunities that could truly change her life’s course. The lyrics of Trust and Obey “Trust and obey. Trust and obey. To be happy in Jesus. Trust and obey” replayed in my heart over and over through the waiting, not knowing, not being able to  explain what we were doing succinctly. I no longer had the feeling that I could be doing more for the Lord or that I should be doing more. In the heartache of waiting and wondering, we felt pure joy. We were obeying and we couldn’t control it. We could only figure out next step only and wait. Pray. Next step. Watch. Pray. Next step. This rhythm is how we lived life for 2 years. Cristina couldn’t be adopted due to her older age but we knew we were supposed to do “more” so we pressed on. After waiting over a year for the orphanage to produce paperwork to prove Cristina even existed in the world (kind of needed that for a passport and visa), six total trips to the DR, embassy visits, ups, downs, thousands of dollars for three different kinds of attorneys to help develop the best long-term path for her-- Cristina is on a student visa to study in the USA. Although we are not legally her parents, we are her family by love.

Her story is so beautiful to me in that she learned very early in her life she truly had nothing except for what the Lord was providing. It’s the same for all of us, but I learned it best from Cristina because of the starkness of her need -- not unlike millions of other orphans and foster children in this world. There weren’t any trappings. Because of her young age and dependence, I could see how only the Lord could provide in her situation. She knows this ordinary family from Tennessee couldn’t have come to her by any other way than through the Lord.
The Waltons
Jay, Stephanie, Ruby (8), Willie (12) and Cristina
As you can probably tell, our journey for Cristina cannot be neatly defined or summarized. There are too any details, twists and turn, ups and downs for one blog post. Our journey for Cristina is best defined as a scary, question-filled, faith-led journey of obedience. The outcome has been sheer amazement as the Lord has ordered our steps, and her steps. Recently, Psalm 63:7 spoke to my heart. “Because you have been my help, therefore in the shadow of your wings will I rejoice.” We’re currently trying to figure out Cristina’s college plans. Even though every detail isn’t determined or worked out in our finite minds, we are already rejoicing because we know He has provided for her until now and will provide again. We can stand in the shadow of His wings and rejoice because of what He has done and will do. We’ve seen Him so vividly work on behalf of His child Cristina. 

While I can’t tell you what she’ll be when she grows up or where she’ll go to school or how far apart we’ll all live (which we could say for all of our kids, right? ), we can rejoice! We’ve seen the Lord work. He is faithful. God is with us. Emmauel.

“So what should we say about this? If God is with us, then who can be against us? God let even his own Son suffer for us. God gave his Son for us all. ….Christ Jesus died but that is not all. He was also raised from death. And now he is on God’s right side and is begging for us.” Romans 8:31-34

We have learned: The Lord builds a family on love. Legal bindings do not make families. Love makes families. Love surpasses boundaries that laws cannot.

We have learned. The Lord shows up. He asked us to step out on faith and He has shown Himself to us through crazy, seemingly coincidental signs. Those signs not only gave us confidence in the moment but confidence when we look backwards that God was with us when we started the journey. 

We’ve needed that confidence.

We have learned. The Lord provides resources and He uses His children in His work. From the smallest of gestures to the most generous gifts, follow the Lord when he tells you do something. Follow that prompting from His Spirit.  He is getting something done for his Kingdom and he uses us together.

We have learned. Our faith can only grow by stepping out for Jesus in something we can’t define or control.

I feel like Peter in Matthew 14:28-31 most every day as we still try to figure out next steps.

Peter said, “Lord, if that is really you then tell me to come to You on the water.”

Jesus said, “Come.”

And Peter left the boat and walked on the water to Jesus, but when Peter saw the wind and waves he became afraid and began to sink.

He shouted, “Lord, save me.”

Then Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter. Jesus said, “Your faith is small, why did you doubt?

******************************
No words, y'all. No words. Now it's just tears of joy as I think about Jay and Stephanie's obedience and their willingness to say "yes" - without a plan or timeline or any idea of what it might look like for them or for Cristina. Just "Yes!" to the call to do more. 

I pray as you have read these posts, God has stirred your heart to do more. To consider adoption, fostering or just financially supporting those who are already in those processes. 

We can all play a part in the orphan crisis. No part is "small" or "unimportant." Every part makes a difference for one. And that's all He's asking of us...just for one. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

#AdoptionRocks, Part 9: This is TRUST...

I have no words for what this World Adoption Day series has done to my heart, y'all - and it's not even over! With each post, God has opened my eyes and my heart to just how much He loves us (read: ME!) and pursues us (Again, read: ME!) - even in our most unloveable and undesirable state. I am so difficult to love and yet, His patience trumps my stubbornness every time, my friends. 

My dear friend (and I'm starting to say "soul sister") has some beautiful words of encouragement to share with you. Laura Choy and I ended up roommates much by happenstance last year at Noonday Collection's annual conference for Ambassadors. We did not know each other AT ALL but quickly realized God had knit us together long before we met that weekend. We talk almost daily now and her wit and encouragement are balm for my soul on weary days. We have since become "The Lauras" and couldn't be happier to be tied to such a beautiful soul. I am so thankful for her and for her friendship...and today, for her transparency as she shares their beautiful story.

IN HER OWN WORDS...

The Choy Family
shortly after Aliyah's arrival.
While my husband and I were engaged, we had the opportunity to travel to Germany for a work conference that I was invited to for missionaries headed to all parts of the globe. A talk given on Ephesians by a man who had adopted a special needs child from Thailand stirred up a desire to adopt…in my fiancĂ©. When he asked if I would ever consider that idea, I bluntly replied, “Nope.”

Fast forward 4 years, our marriage and 2 children later, I had just been through an extremely dark season of cynicism and doubt regarding my faith. I had turned from God and was searching for new truths. It took a long year to find myself right back where I started but now more fully and more deeply convinced that Jesus is THE ONLY WAY and HE is in fact THE TRUTH! But more importantly I’d discovered His LOVE!

My journey of cynicism and doubt started as a young child who felt invisible and unseen. In my faith, I perceived God as good and very much in control, and in fact very loving, but just not loving of me. I thank God for letting me wander in the desert and yet graciously holding my hand while I tried to shake Him away. He was very persistent in His pursuit of my heart and extremely gentle.  Amidst the doubt and disbelief was a hunger. I kept finding myself reading a blog by Katie Davis who eventually wrote Kisses From Katie (HIGHLY RECOMMEND!). Even though I’d decided her faith in a loving God was silly, her life example shone so brightly I would feel His love shine through her example straight through the computer screen and the beautiful faces of those she ministered to. I would battle anger and hope and tears and joy as I read stories of Katie’s complete life surrender and pouring out of unspeakable love towards people barely hanging onto life. 

These sweet boys think their little
sister is pretty special!
My son Kyle would find me crying as I read and ask me about the children’s faces he saw on the screen. I told them about the plight of the orphan. He was 4 at the time and said to me, “Mommy! We need to pray that those kids can find a mommy and daddy!” And so he did and I listened feeling a slight tap on my cold heart.

In October 2009, I finally said to God, “I’m in! I believe you love me even though I don’t feel it all of the time. That is trust, and I am willing to trust again!"

Overnight, I felt the Spirit of God renewed in me once again. My faith was full again!! In November, our pastor taught on Ephesians 2 and from the pulpit invited us to consider the idea of taking what God so clearly teaches us in the gospel of His pursuit of us through adoption into His kingdom by grace, and to live that out through physically adopting a child if God might be leading.
I can't handle the cuteness of the Choy family!

I was almost literally sitting in my husband’s lap! I knew! He knew. We needed no words but the decision had been made.

By February, only 3 months later (a true miracle) our papers were complete and on their way to Rwanda, Africa. It took what seemed like forever but on Valentine’s Day 2011, we got our invitation to come pick up our baby girl and by March we had her home as a part of our family.

Loving her and pursuing her and now fighting for her heart past issues of trauma that cause her to reject me, has been such an amazing picture of how God fought for me and showed lots of enduring grace, that He in fact DOES SEE ME and that HE DOES LOVE ME!

I love how God weaves the tapestry of His story! I would never have been open to adoption alone. But He took me through a time of really tough suffering to show me who He really is and how He loves and how He wants me to love as well!

The Choys, Summer 2015: Jon, Laura,
Kyle (9) and Clayton (7) and Aliyah (5).
*************************
Seriously. I love this. All of it. Again, I am so grateful for Laura and time spent with her sweet family in Austin last month. I hope her story - and all the others that I've shared this month - have spoken life and hope and encouragement to you! I hope you have been reminded of our role as Christ followers to love and support the widow and the orphan. I hope your heart has been moved to respond to this command - in whatever way God has called YOU to. 

There's only one post left, and it's one of my favorites. Ok. They all are, but I have a beautiful niece brought into our family from the island I love so much! I can't wait to share the Waltons' story next...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

#AdoptionRocks, Part 7:...Even if the Answer is "No."

Oh, sweet readers! I cannot wait for you to dive into this post from my dear, precious friend Heather! Heather and I met 10 years ago on the Walk to Emmaus. She had just brought home her first child through adoption, and I was 5 months pregnant with our first child. I loved her kind spirit immediately! We have stayed in touch throughout the last decade and I am so grateful God continues to weave our paths together. To put it concisely: She is the real deal, y'all! Spend just a few minutes with her and you will see that her love for Jesus is not just lip-service. 

But I'm not going to waste your time with my words...just get started reading hers!

IN HER OWN WORDS....

There is a song being played frequently on a Christian radio station that we listen to called “My Story” by the group Big Daddy Weave. It alludes to the fact that we ALL have a story that God is writing called “your life.” What I hope you feel from this chapter in our life called “adoption” is the hope and grace of Jesus, how His love is greater than any heartache or struggle and how He is present in all circumstances.

Our story begins as a young, excited about the future, eager to tackle life, newly married couple. We were living a little distance from all our family and happy about starting our life in a new town. After a few years we made the decision that we were “ready” to start our own family (quite comical to think about now, as if you could ever be “ready” for the adventure called children!). Things didn’t progress as we had hoped, and we entered the terrifying world of infertility. Months go by and we reach the end of that period, having prayed and prayed about how far God would have us pursue children via fertility treatments. In the meantime, we had become close friends with a couple who had adopted a beautiful baby girl that we had grown to love as our own. This was no coincidence that we became friends with them! No, God was knitting us together with fellow believers who were experiencing the same struggles that we were facing.

We decided to pursue adoption with our whole hearts and use Bethany Christian Services as our agency. It feels akin to jumping of a high cliff into deep waters below, but we were confident that this was God’s plan for us. The adoption process is tedious, time consuming and at times frustrating and humiliating. And yet, God’s love was manifested time and time again through our wonderful social worker, our friends and family, and our church family. After waiting for 3.5 years we got THE phone call that a precious birthmother would like to meet us after viewing our information at a Bethany office nearby…so this was IT, the moment we had prayed about and dreamed about for years! Nerves were tense and emotions were high, but our meeting went very well with her and two weeks later we got another phone call to come to the hospital and meet our new son. He was absolutely perfect, beautiful and healthy! God had answered our prayers in a mighty way and we will forever and ever be thankful for this special sacrificial gift from our son’s birthmother. Her gift of life to our son has blessed us for the last 10 ½ years and we love him more and more every day.
Catherine, 8, Rhett, 4 and Grant, 10
 
When our son was around 18 months old we started the paperwork to pursue the adoption of a second child. We were busy with our very active son and when he was 27 months old our social worker needed to visit us one night with an urgent message. Our special birthmother had become pregnant with another child and had given birth to a baby girl. We were being asked if we would consider becoming her parents – to which Brad, my husband, enthusiastically responded ‘Yes!!’…while I am too stunned to fully form a response! We had 24 hours to gather a few things before driving to pick her up from the hospital. Just like that, God in His big huge love for us had given us the privilege to parent our son’s sister. She was a tiny little thing, born a few weeks early, but oh so perfect and beautiful!! Overwhelmed with how blessed we were, we got busy with the hectic pace of parenting two little ones, and we were so thankful for both of our gifts from God!

Fast forward to our son turning 5 years old and our daughter is 2 ½…the time of year was spring of 2010 and I realized for several days in a row that I just felt terrible. Like flu symptom terrible! Days and days of feeling awful and finally it occurred to me that maybe, possibly, surely couldn’t be…I might need to take a pregnancy test. I was in full-blown denial, so I put it off for many days and finally decided to do it. It was positive, very much positive, and I was very much in utter and total shock!!! A visit to my doctor (whose ecstatic face I will never forget from that day as long as I live) confirmed that yes, we were going to have a baby the old fashioned way! Oh my stars! God are You for real??! This could not be explained medically, logically, any kind of way – which makes it a flat out MIRACLE! There have been so many people who just wanted us to explain how it happened after so many years, but y’all…guess what? That’s what a divine miracle from God is – it cannot be explained by our pitifully inadequate human minds! I had a textbook pregnancy with no complications and on December 21, 2010, we welcomed a little brother to our family and he was big, healthy and so perfect. Why did God give us this gift? I cannot answer that question. All I know is that He did. It wasn’t expected at all, but we cannot praise or thank our Father in heaven enough while we live this side of eternity for blessing us this way. 

These kiddos love their Bulldogs! Hail State! 
Thank you, Father, for the gifts that are our three wonderful children. They each came to us in different and unique ways, just as they are each different and unique in their personalities and temperaments. But I’ll tell you this – they are LOVED the same, they are each so cherished by us and we cannot imagine our family without the three of them as siblings. God redeemed some very dark and discouraging times for us spent in the valley of despair with a joy and hope that is indescribable. What I wish most for people to understand at the end of this chapter is this: IF our story had not resulted in two adoptions and one child born biologically, IF our prayers had not been answered this way, IF we had never been given the blessing of children…we would STILL praise His holy name! Still.

You see, as we were still in a time of “waiting” I had come to a point of total surrender after dealing with witnessing person after person after endless person have babies when I couldn’t. Coming to a place of utmost surrender to God is very hard sometimes, and it surely was for me, but can I tell you what happens? Total peace. A peace that only God can give you. I prayed and told God, “I will love You, I will serve You, I will praise You...even if the answer is ‘No.’”

God is in control anyway, this was just my acceptance of that fact. At this exact moment in my life (I remember it vividly), when I prayed this prayer, our son’s birthmother was already pregnant and we just didn’t know it yet. I’m telling y’all, God is in every detail of your life, every little detail. And He is Good, His love is amazing, His redemption of our dirty filthy souls is incomprehensible.

I urge you to pray for the orphans in this world who feel all alone, for the fostering homes who are doing their best to show love to hurting children, for waiting families whose arms ache with the desire to hold a child of their own, for adopted children who transition into new home environments, for Bethany Christian Services and other adoption agencies and their staff as they minister to families, birthmothers and children, and for birthmothers who show the biggest love imaginable by entrusting a part of themselves, their child, to families that will care for and adore them always. Adoption is a beautiful reminder of Isaiah 61:3: “To comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." 

Dear Jesus, help me to always display Your splendor in my life. Amen

“My Story” ~ Big Daddy Weave
If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song

Praising my Savior all the day long.

*****************************

Wow! Just wow! Could you still praise Him, serve Him, love Him - even if the answer was "No."? I'll be honest. When I read Heather's words, I was seriously convicted about the times when I have been angry or disappointed or felt like God hadn't heard my cries because His answer wasn't what I wanted or in my time. The Fleming's story is such a beautiful story of faith and patience and trust in His time...it has been such a blessing to know Heather and Brad and to watch their beautiful children grow up under their loving guidance!

Two more posts, y'all! I can't wait to share my sweet friend Laura's journey as well as the one that has impacted me most - my beautiful niece Cristina! Stay tuned! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

#AdoptionRocks, Part 6: And then God...

Let me introduce you to my previous friend Erica! We have a million and one mutual friends, and I've heard about how amazing she is for years. We finally connected IRL (in real life) in May when I partnered with her family to do an adoption fundraiser to help with their final travel expenses to bring Evie Joy home from China.

I knew instantly that I would love her because she walked in rocking my favorite Noonday Collection piece of all time - the Annie's Feathered Earrings. We spent the day together doing an early show at a local elementary school and then later moved to the local high school - I was just in awe of her kindness and genuineness. Their entire family exudes love for one another - and for those around them. Oh, and before little Evie arrived in their world...Erica was a boy mama to two little guys, too! #kindredspirits

So, all that to say, I can't wait for you to read about her heart for the orphan and how God has been working for years in Erica's life (and in Tyler's) to make a place for their beautiful little girl. Prepare yourself for the cuteness that is their family's pictures...

IN HER OWN WORDS....

I can't even handle this cuteness!
The Lord put adoption on my heart many years ago. Long before I was ever married or even knew who my husband would be, God began to give me a heart for the orphan.

Adoption wasn’t foreign to me. I had casually heard of people adopting, but I had never really known anyone personally that had done it and I had never really given it much thought. You see, I had no idea that there were millions of orphaned children in the world and that many of them would never be adopted. I didn’t know that there were precious children in the world literally starving to death or laying in hospital beds without a mom or dad at their side. I didn’t know that many of them turn to prostitution or drugs when they “age” out of the orphanage because they have no family…no education…no hope.

And then God interrupted my way of thinking, and placed a passion in my heart for the “least of these.” It started when I heard the story of Christian artist, Stephen Curtis Chapman and his wife, tragically losing their adoptive daughter. That story broke my heart for their family, and it also sparked a fire in my heart for adoption. The more I learned about the fatherless, the more I felt that I had to do something. You see…to whom much is given, much is also required. I had been given MUCH and the Lord was revealing to me what was required.
Looks like Camden (4) &
Case (3) have decided to keep her! 

Before I even met my husband, I began to pray that God would open his heart to the possibility of adoption. God answered BIG! Although, Tyler did not have the same passion as I did (at first), he was very open to researching and learning more about adoption. AND THEN GOD!! He used Tyler’s respect for me and willingness to share in my passion to completely break my husband’s heart also. I’ll never forget the day Tyler looked at me and said, “It’s easy to live in our own little world, but once you know, you’ve gotta do something.”

We brought our baby girl (Evie Joy) home just two short months ago. It is so amazing to see the work God has done in ALL of our hearts. I have always heard that adoption was a picture of the gospel and it’s so true!  As we’ve pursued her reluctant and guarded heart, I’ve been reminded that God does the exact same with us. He pursues us in our hopeless state, REDEEMS us, and leads us to NEW life in HIM!
First Family Photo...and appropriately under those Friday Night Lights!
****************************
See? Do you not just want to cozy up with a cup of coffee with her and talk? So thankful that God used Noonday Collection to bring us together IRL; it has been such a blessing to be in prayer for their sweet family as they've chased after Evie and now are transitioning into a busy family of five!

Oh, and Go Brandon Bulldogs!

Stay tuned for the next post! You're going to love it just as much! I seriously know the most amazing women in the world! #hangingwiththecoolkids

Thursday, October 15, 2015

#AdoptionRocks Part 5: A Mustard Seed of Faith

So, a few years ago, a virtual friend became a real life friend and we realized we were pretty much living parallel lives: We loved Jesus, taught PR at Research 1 Institutions - in the SEC nonetheless, were married to a pastors, had two kids about the same age and were both trying to be runners. I loved her instantly and wished we lived closer and could share life over lots of coffee and maybe even collaborate on research.

When I became a Noonday Collection Ambassador, Lisa was among the first to say "yes" to hosting a show. I packed all my lovelies and headed to Baton Rouge for what turned out to be one of the most fun nights EVER! And now, over two years later - I'm still going to Baton Rouge for shows with this amazing group of ladies that I have come to love so much! They love Jesus and each other so well, and I can't help but want to be with them as often as possible.

One of those sweet soul sisters I have met in this circle is Liz. She's a boy mama, (Bless.) and her honesty and ability to speak encouragement are amazing! She speaks life and love and asks hard questions that just make you want to be a better person. It has been so fun to rally with her tribe around her as she and her sweet family prepare their home for their precious girl from India. I am so excited today to share a little about her family's adoption journey...  

IN HER OWN WORDS...

“If the Lord wants to grow our family by adoption, then I want us to be open to His leading.” My husband’s words flowed with such ease and confidence. Yet the gravity of his statement took my heart by storm.

My name is Liz and I am saved by grace by my Lord Jesus. I've been married to my high school sweetheart, Kenny, for over 14 years. We are living a wild, boy-raising life with our 10 & 6 year old. We are currently waiting to bring our 14-month-old little girl home from India. We recently received a new picture of her, and I say with bone deep conviction -- she's absolutely precious beyond belief. Her big brown eyes and mocha skin melt our hearts. She's recently cut two bottom teeth and was standing up looking as if she was on a mission. She probably was. That's my girl!!! We can't wait to hold her, examine her little fingers and toes like all parents do with their new baby. We are all ridiculously ecstatic as we prepare for our new family member. People, we just bought our very first doll. It was a huge deal! Complete with snapping pictures and texting it to loved ones. This is a tender time for us. So much left to do and prepare, but in the midst of it, there are these quiet, sacred moments where I go sit in her room. I often think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, when just after His birth she was found "treasuring up all these things, pondering them in her heart." On a teeny weeny scale, I get that. Treasuring up these things God has given us and pondering them in my own heart. How great He is!

The Hill Family is almost complete! So sooooonnnn!!
We set out on the journey of growing our family by adoption after Kenny and I had a conversation in the spring of 2009 about what direction we sensed the Lord taking us. As we shared our thoughts and hearts, it was undeniable that adoption was where we were headed, but we were without any further details at that time. As the years continued to unfold a few things began to change from bewilderingly blurry to clear; though we still didn’t have the entire picture. We sensed the Lord leading us to welcome a little girl from India into our tribe. Suddenly, all things India were thrust before us everywhere we turned. News stories, random circumstances in grocery store aisles (I promise that's no exaggeration) and many conversations with friends and mentors.

2012 was a major turning point for us and it became overwhelmingly obvious that the Lord’s timing to begin the formal process was upon us. With assurance in our hearts and our knees knocking together we took a leap of absolute faith and jumped into the world of international adoption. That initial plunge was over 3 years ago. We began the paperwork process in June 2012, sojourned to a new city in January 2013 and received our referral for our little girl in March 2015. We knew this would not be a speedy, by Western standards, kind of ride. I am thankful our expectations were not different. We were counseled with staggering honesty by our agency that this journey was not going to resemble a sprint, but rather a marathon. I would add, SEVERAL marathons. Maybe even few triathlons mixed in as well. I'll also add that I'm no athlete either! They told us it would take deep commitment and loads of patience and flexibility as things change constantly.
Check.
Got it.
WAIT!!

Did he say “patience AND flexibility?” I’m about as flexible as a 2x4. And patience? Like both at the same time? After my “Are You sure about this, God??” moment, I knew that total reliance upon the Lord rather than my usual "I've got this covered" response would be non-negotiable from here on out. There have been incredible highs and lows intricately woven throughout the fabric of time that has unfolded. We’ve literally seen mountain top miracles and deep, dark valleys, sometimes all at once. We bear witness to the indescribable, unchangeable, insurmountable steadfastness and faithfulness of the Lord. He has proven Himself trustworthy over and over as He has provided every need we've had. We've dined on a delicacy of rice and beans along the way but not one time have we had to resort to eating canned dog food like I had envisioned we would due to the staggering costs.

Okay. I'm kidding...Not really...But seriously...

He provided the financial requirements through t-shirt fundraisers, garage sales, unexplainable generosity from family, friends and strangers as well as overwhelming support from Noonday Collection trunk shows. He has provided in times of tracking down hard-to-obtain required documents, stamina when the nights are long and treasured ones who pray their hearts out on our behalf. He has deeply and intimately comforted us as our hearts ache for our family to be united. He has lavishly given us dump truck loads of grace. He has graciously and powerfully imparted new patience and flexibility that were certainly not characteristic of me prior to this adventure and in fact are still growing as we continue on!

HE. IS. FAITHFUL. 

Although the past 3 years have challenged us, pushed us to places we never knew our faith in Christ would take us and rocked our sense of safe and predictable to the core, I would not change anything if I could. God has grown our faith and He continues to purge us from self-reliance. He has caused our worship to be in Spirt and truth as we cry out to Him with praises of thanksgiving and confessions of utter dependence on Him. He is majestic and tender, our Heavenly Father who knows exactly what is needed to conform us to the image of His Son. He has used this journey of adoption to tip over the apple cart of our lives, for His glory and our good. And He didn't just stop with us! The people the Lord has brought along for the ride has been truly stunning. As we wait with joyful anticipation for the call to get on a plane and venture to our daughter’s native land, we KNOW this much: that He has gone before us, He hems us in, and His hand of blessing is upon us, just as His word tells us so. Like a perfect ravioli, we are totally enveloped in His grace. 

Though the participation in adoption is for every Christian, how He leads us as individuals in that calling varies. But I want to personally and specifically encourage anyone who may be sensing the tug in their spirit from the Lord about their family being grown by adoption. The constant what-ifs that swirl in your mind, how will this or that work out, what about the money? Maybe you’re like me with the patience and flexibility madness. You fear that you don't have it together enough to adopt. You're totally off the hook because the truth is, NONE of us do and apart from the work of God's grace in our lives, we are all up the creek. You wonder how it will impact your biological children. Maybe the plate is already so full of responsibility that one more meatball on the top and the whole thing is going to come crashing down. I get it. All of it. All of the questions, doubts, the scenarios that cause you to catapult out of bed from a sound sleep at 3 a.m. It can be so consuming and distracting. But be encouraged dear, fellow sojourner! God is not timid, turned off, derailed or debilitated by our weaknesses. In fact, Scripture tells us the opposite -- that His power is made perfect in our weakness. I can’t promise you that He will give you a 3-point outline of how it will all unfold, complete with a backup plan in case things get nutty. That certainly hasn’t been His way with us at all. But may I gently suggest that if the Lord is beckoning you to this journey, trust Him. That might sound like an eye-rolling cliche, but it is truth nonetheless. Not once has He promised that this road was going to be easy and trouble free. His call wasn’t one to join Him on an idle vacation with cute pineapple drinks adorned with mini paper umbrellas, but rather to follow Him on the steep and narrow way. We stepped out in mustard seed sized faith and have been graciously met by the Lord of Heaven and Earth, who has moved mountains on our behalf.

Hymn writer John H. Stockton says it best....
... Only Trust Him, Only Trust Him, Only Trust Him Now...

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See? I told you she's stinkin' amazing! It is such a privilege to call her "friend" and to have been a small part of her family's journey through Noonday Collection adoption fundraisers. I'm headed to Baton Rouge today to spend time with these beautiful friends, and I couldn't be more excited! If you've been inspired by Liz's story and want to be a part of it, you can support her show by shopping here. 20% of total sales from this show will be donated to the Hill's adoption expenses!

Stay tuned, friends! There's so much goodness coming your way in this #WorldAdoptionDay series!