Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Reflections as we are homebound

Well, another week has passed.  We didn't make it home on July 3rd as we had hoped.  Not even on July 4th.  But today I'm sitting here in the Frankfort airport, 2/3 of the way through our long layover, awaiting our flight to take us home to America.  Finally!  God, in His perfect timing, is finishing what he began in November 2013 when we first began the adoption process for Isaac.  If I had known then, the heart aches and delays and struggles that lay ahead of us, I don't know if I would have had the courage to begin this journey.  But if there's one thing I've learned over the last 20 months it's that God has given us today.  Right now.  He asks us to focus on today…not worry about tomorrow.  Tomorrow is in His hands.  Today is all I'm promised.  Our plans need to be written in pencil, surrendered willingly to God's big eraser.

I wish I could say that the last week was a breeze as we waited for Isaac's passport and embassy appointment.  But in reality it was a daily, moment by moment struggle, as I surrendered my plans and desires to God's will.  This adoption had to be a challenge all the way to the end.  Never once got to push the "easy button."

I'm reading back through my journal from the last week and in awe of how God sends exactly the encouragement that I need to face the day…

When Josiah and I were struggling to be patient with Isaac's constant need for attention and affection, my daily Bible reading just happened to be in I Corinthians 13 that day…"Love is patient.  Love is kind…it does not seek it's own…it is not easily provoked…it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

When I didn't even want to get out of bed one morning because I was completely depleted from pouring into this child (I do not know how single parents do it), God sent me encouragement through Ellie.  She shared a blog from a mom who also had a child with a bottomless tank needing to be filled with love and affection.  She said that her perspective changed when she chose to see this child as her calling and plan the rest of her day around him.  When she accepted that showing love to this child and spending time with him was her number one priority for the day, then she could surrender her to do list and accept that this was her job right now.

I have been rereading the book, "A Hunger for God" by John Piper and again, I see God's perfect timing as He used it to speak truth to my heart.  He referenced Deuteronomy 8:2-3:

"And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord you God
has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you,
testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments
or not.  And He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna
which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might 
make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives
by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord."

We have been in a wilderness of sorts these last 13 months when our adoption came to a screeching halt and we didn't know how God would finish it.  I have been in a wilderness of sorts for the last month as I daily waited on God to finish all the paperwork…the birth certificate, the passport, the visa.  Being separated from my family and friends and support at home, in a country where I can't communicate or even read signs.  And God has used this wilderness to humble me, to reveal what was in my heart.  And frankly, the revelation was ugly.  The wilderness has uncovered by doubt, my selfishness, my impatience, my pride….Yuck!  In this wilderness God has tested me asking, "Are you willing to obey me when you don't understand me?  Are you willing to trust me when I don't move the mountains you asked me to move in your timing?  Will you depend on me to be everything you need, when your support has been stripped away?" 

And in this wilderness I have had to face the questions, Do I love God or do I love the gifts and miracles of God?  Where do I find my deepest satisfaction…in God?  or in His gifts?  In the wilderness God fed the Israelites with manna, miracle bread.  Manna was meant to teach them about God's miracle working power to provide in their distress.  And I, just like the Israelites, have been expecting miracles in my distress.  But in this passage God is saying, "Don't trust in bread, not even in miracle bread…trust in God alone."  

Psalm 63:1  "O God, Thou art my God.  I shall seek Thee earnestly, my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee in a dry and weary land where there is no water."  

Do I thirst for God like this?  Will I submit to His training ground in the wilderness?  As I sit here in the airport reflecting on God's goodness even in the wilderness, my two sons are playing video games together.  Overflowing with excitement to be home by the end of this day, they are too wired to sleep.  So once again I will share some of the gifts God gave us this week.  Gifts we would have missed if we got to go home in our timing…

Bowling with new friends!

 Ukrainian pizza!  Delicious!  

 Climbing to the top of the Bell Tower at St. Sophia's Cathedral

 Making cherry dumplings in our apartment (actually, we just boiled them…didn't actually make them)

Taking a walking tour of Kiev…very educational

The most delicious cappuccino ever!

 Touring Yanukovych's former estate with other American adopting families 

Lunch with Nastya!  This team of facilitators…Alex, Natalyia, Nastya, Alexsey, Svetlana, Alyona…are the hardest working, most sacrificial people you will meet.  We are so thankful for their persistent work to deal with Ukrainian bureaucracy and finish this adoption!

Ice cream with melted chocolate from Lviv Chocolate Shop!  Yum!

As I said, nothing was easy…even in the last week.  Our passport should have arrived on Wednesday, but last Monday was a Ukrainian holiday and I guess the mail workers had a hard time getting back to work after their vacation because there was no mail service Tuesday or Wednesday.  So the passport arrived on Thursday.  But we couldn't get an appointment for Friday because that was the July 4th holiday for the US Embassy.  On Monday when we finally had our appointment, we discovered that the officers couldn't pull up the visa form I had filled out online and submitted on Friday.  They said there was another world-wide glitch in the computer system on Friday and none of the forms that were submitted that day could be accessed.  With a sinking heart I envisioned being there for another two week shut down of the US Embassy.  Thank God they had a plan B, and gave me the paper form of the paperwork to fill out so Isaac's visa could get printed that day.

And now we wait to board the plane that will take us home.  When Isaac goes through customs in Dulles Airport he will be an American citizen!

Since I'm running on 4% battery power now I'll wrap it up for now.

Next reflections…hopefully will be posted from home!

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