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It’s a Beautiful Thing…

It’s a Beautiful Thing…

This thing they call parenting. Well, maybe it didn’t start that way, exactly. Our reunion with the kids in August was bittersweet. We adored seeing their faces again and realizing how much they had grown in two brief months. It was amazing, we were finally here together, forever! More smiles, more personality… but also more tears. It became very evident to us as we bid farewell to their “home” in Ethiopia just how broken you can feel as an orphan. Their tiny but cozy home with 20 other kids was all they knew for the last several months. It consisted of their small boxed beds, injera and pastas for meals, 5-6 Ethiopian women caregivers, lots of rainy weather and of course not a single word of English. Though our arms and hearts were warm and full, we stripped them away from a piece of comfort and I remember tears slipping down my cheeks as we walked away. Perhaps, this was the “loss” that I now was beginning to understand that was connected to adoption. There was a realization that although one day in time, all would blend together in harmony, today our joy hit a slight pause button.

Our travel home was definitely a taste of this fear, frustration and fatigue all mixed together. In all honestly, it was a taste of hell. Ha! 26 + hours with a child screaming at the top of her lungs, pushing you away, kicking the back of other’s seats, and attempting to bite you sounds delightful right? Haven was simply a wreck. Though there were a few good moments, the majority of our trip made me want to drop her off in the bathroom and sneak up into first class and recline with a margarita. I have never felt so tired and helpless in my entire life. We were trapped, with no way to communicate and nothing to appease that child. Triumph, on the other hand, was an angel and was probably confused for the entire trip why we were so blonde. He ate, slept, and nibbled on Ababa’s (daddy in Amharic) glasses. His gorgeous dimples were evident from the start and all the cute Dutch flight attendants couldn’t get enough of him.

And then there was America! The stroller? Hated it. The carseat? Despised it. Walking independently? Don’t even think about it. Well, this lasted about a week, and then slowly, our children were introduced to snacks. And apparently, snacks make the world a better place. Haven and Triumph quickly learned to love walks to the lake to visit the ducks. They’ve soaked up the rays and splashed at the pool. And, yes, they’ve been introduced to Elmo.

Haven, our 3 year old daughter, is a vacuum at the dinner table and has ingested anything from kale to salmon and blueberries to hummus. Despite the doctor telling us that she is in the 10th percentile for weight and 1st percentile for height, I have a feeling this bud is about to blossom. Her sponge-like attitude for learning has allowed her to expand her vocabulary like crazy, but her favorite words are repeated a hundred times a day. Mama (of course), Ababa, Amanu (her little bro), doggies, Noni (her grandma), carrot, banana, avocado, flower and more. Haven’s sassafrass personality allows her to feed and water our 150 lb St. Bernard (when she weighs 26 lbs), jump into chilly ocean waves (even though she’s never seen an ocean), and pick up a plastic cell phone and have an entire conversation with her imaginary bestie. She has gone from some insanely, terrible angry tantrums to the most precious gem of a little girl.
Triumph, our 10 month old lady magnet, is just too easy to love. He’s addicted to his bottle, and will get pretty anxious about getting it on schedule, but other than that, he finds happiness anywhere, anytime. He, as opposed to his sister, is in the 67th percentile for height and 76th percentile for weight, so he is keeping his options open for both the European and the American football. Naturally, being named after amazing motorcycle, he has a fascination with motors and machines. Sometimes he can spot an airplane before us and is perfectly entertained for hours watching cars drive by. He’s crawling, fast, and I’m sure will be running before we know it. His laughter melts our hearts and we simply can’t kiss him enough.

So friends, though we have been slightly in hiding with them over the last month, we do hope you all have the chance to meet them soon. Our “small world” is allowing them to open up and truly be themselves. We are deeply thankful for your prayers and words of encouragement over the last 4 weeks. Heaven knows we needed it. There have been several days we have felt exhausted, desperate and discouraged but God has carried us down this exceptionally great road of adoption and we can see so much progress as we look back at what He’s done. As we rock the babies to sleep at night, we sing, we pray, we cry, we giggle. He is weaving us together, minute by minute, and yes, parenting is a beautiful thing because God created Haven and Triumph specifically for this family and we couldn’t be more thankful and blessed.



June 11, 2012

This was most certainly a day that will forever change our lives. It filled us with wonder and bonded us together forever…

It started with an early morning, restless, unable to sleep after such long travel and anticipation. We meandered down to the grassy courtyard and ate poolside, taking in new smells of burning vegetation and foreign foods. After our meal of simple eggs, fruit, and oatmeal, we were introduced to the robust coffee of Ethiopia. Tasting its strength and energy, we were ready to conquer the day. Before leaving the room, we asked God to bless the day, create a divine meeting with our children and remove any obstacles in our way. Above all, we prayed for peace and joy- the same blessings that come from being adopted as children of God.

The drive seemed to make every second lengthen. There were sheep being herded down the main highways, workers cramming into buses to the brim and every possible combination of driving etiquette without rules. And then we saw the gate: an opening, an entrance, a beginning to a certain bond only God could put together. Beyond the gate was Jane’s House- the beautiful transition home that shows God’s love to orphans. We met the nurse, a greeting involving a handshake and a kiss to one cheek, the other, and back to the first. The front door led us to more nursing staff going into a room with small wooden box cribs, laying side by side. We were quickly told to focus on the last bed labeled, “Amanuel,” a gorgeous, full, happy baby taking in his surroundings. Picking him up, he continued to be content and calm. They placed him in my arms; our beautiful, healthy baby boy. Tommy and I stared in amazement at how perfect his features were and how little we deserved this perfect gift. But very quickly, thereafter, we were told to see a little girl walking through the doorway named “Helen.” Stunning of course, with a petite frame and timid personality, she approached us cautiously but with open arms.

Time stopped… it was so much compacted into one moment. The lengthy application, home study, fundraisers (month after month), the online education, the hundreds of trips to offices and post offices- but most of all the TIME, the WAIT. Holding on to something unseen, unpromised, but worth every second. The time with the children was sweet, smiles, hiding and snuggling. Helen’s eyes were priceless. Amanuel’s smile was unforgettable.

We toured the home seeing about 20 children placed in rooms based on their ages. The home was small, simple but orderly. Injera (home made Ethiopian bread) was piled on the counter top, covered by towels in the kitchen and a lovely woman cleaned dishes in the sink. Beyond the back door were plastic washing containers where all the clothing was cleaned and nearby was the injera stove and cooking area. The courtyard was decorated with colorful, drying childrens’ clothes of all sizes and the greenery of the perimeter was thick and beautiful. It truly was a little oasis of comfort among the surroundings of poverty and despair.

The next few hours were amazing. Helen fell deep into my arms, and as I rocked her she peacefully slumbered. Her skin, lips and eyes were too perfect. She was a little angel we had prayed for. Perhaps, this would be the beginning of our closeness. Perhaps we will always be connected. Perhaps she would always be “safe” and truly her name would be become HAVEN; God’s protection reigning and conquering all our fears. And as for our little boy, Tommy spent time feeding and rocking him. Never did he seem upset or impatient. He was attentive and joyful. Often he smiled and occasionally giggled. A full, happy and healthy baby we prayed for. He was a symbol of God’s goodness despite the world’s failures and our inadequacies. He truly deserved the name TRIUMPH. He was a way to show how God conquers and restores despite sin, pain, and loss.

Our court appointment that afternoon was the most simple but profound moment. A few questions we answered without hesitation. “Do you know this is forever and cannot be undone?” the judge asked us. “Yes!” we answered emphatically. And then, she congratulated us declaring the adoption finalized.

And so the day continued in celebration with an exciting, musical cultural dinner with dancing and communal eating. Honey wine we’d rather forget, but a coffee ceremony we’ll always remember. We were soon to be a forever family.

On Friday, April 27, I woke up like every other day. But it was not just “any” day. Before leaving for work, I placed an awesome new bracelet that I had just bought myself on my wrist that I had never worn before. It read this: “Nothing is worth more than this day.” Little did I know how true that statement really was.

Shortly thereafter, I arrived at work and began seeing patients until I felt oddly prompted to be checking my phone. As I reached for it, I realized it wasn’t there but back in my office. After finding it and seeing the screen light up, I realized our agency had called and was requesting a return phone call… a phone call that would FOREVER change our lives.

This 15 month awaited conversation quickly communicated that we were receiving our “referral,” one of the biggest steps in the adoption process. Our referral consisted of a precious 2 ½ year old little GIRL who is from the orphanage named “BLESSINGS.” Ok, let me stop you here for a moment… a girl??? Really??? We had requested 2 boys or a boy and girl, but thought that since so many people wanted girls and we were open to boys, then we would most likely be receiving 2 boys. Wow- God had surprised us in a great way and had made us abundantly more excited for the new adventure. Secondly, she originated from an orphanage titled, “Blessings,” as stated earlier. For several months, I have felt a deep conviction about this process being a blessing. Not a type of wow, that’s neat, sort of feeling, but an overwhelming life-long blessing that could only have come through pain and heartache. This little girl, thousands of miles away, has already done a remarkable work in our lives to bless us and hundreds who have been following this story. This type of blessing is far greater than what we ever wanted or planned. It is a divine, immeasurable gift that we are just beginning to unwrap. We hope to welcome her to safety, contentment and a refuge built by God’s love.

But there’s more! Our second referral was for a BOY. Our son is a healthy little 6 month old! I was beyond excited to know he was still so young, and I proceeded to learn that he was born on MY birthday- a beautiful depiction of how God sprinkles more of His love on those who wait upon Him. I had really been longing to have at least one “baby,” really not wanting to miss out on this special stage. God heard my prayer and I can’t wait to hold him close. His eyes are big, bright and beautiful, exhibiting his innocent nature. We already know how much we will melt when we meet him. We hope to welcome him to fresh, new beginnings and opportunities for God to triumph over all.

What comes next? We pray that God will pave an expedient path free of obstacles for both of our visits. We await notification of a court date in Ethiopia that hopefully will be the end of June or beginning of July when we will travel to meet these little ones and officially adopt them. Then, we will return home and await clearance by the US Embassy to allow us to return to Ethiopia around the end of August or beginning of September to pick them up and come home!!!

In the meantime, we happily prepare for their homecoming through prayer and saving more funds. We still need about $10,000-$12,000 to finish up the adpotion & take care of travel expenses for both of these trips. We know God has provided all of our needs up until this point and we have no doubt that He will continue to do so. Please join with us as we move forward in humility and gratitude for the greatness that awaits!

REJOICE in the Lord- always?

Dim lighting, cool damp walls, thick musky aromas…a prison cell. Lonely, uncomfortable, overwhelming. Death hovering like a shadow. No promises of tomorrow. And yet Paul a soldier for Jesus sits in this cell thousands of years ago and writes in his letter to the Philippians in the Bible, “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS; again I will say, Rejoice…the Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

How easy has it been in our lives in the past to rejoice when things are going well? When are jobs are successful, we have everyone’s approval, and the income is flowing. When our kids are healthy and performing like little “stars?” It’s not too difficult to find joy when we have expensive cars, a beautiful home and plenty of “things” to keep up with everyone else. But joy shouldn’t be based on circumstances or it will fluctuate.

What happens when our marriages fall apart and the one who committed to love you forever is trying to leave and take your last penny? What happens when the doctor tells us our parent or child is dying of cancer and may be gone in a few months and there is nothing they can do? What happens when our “dream” job turns out to be the biggest mistake we could have ever made and we feel like a failure? Or what happens when the simple monotony of life is swallowing you whole and you forgot what exactly you were living for anyway?

As I sit here writing, my mind skips over several people I know personally, broken and searching for joy today. A single mother caring for special-needs child because her husband has left her. She hopes she can let go of her disappointment but even after 8 years, it is still easy to cry. A young teenage boy fighting for his life against his battle with lung cancer, wishing he could lace-up his cleats for another soccer game but he can barely walk down the hall of the hospital. An elderly man caring for his wife stricken with Alzheimer’s on an hourly basis, loving her but missing his “real” wife who will never return again. A husband who drives hours every day to and from work to provide for his family, surrounded by co-workers who degrade him for his beliefs and encourage unethical and immoral behavior instead.

Where is the joy in this? Paul (writing in prison) tells us Philippians 4:11-13 “…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

And it is as simple as that. EVERY situation, EVERY day, EVERY problem, He is big enough, strong enough, he is at hand. We must rejoice because although our circumstances change and collapse underneath us, he does not. Though we grow tired, he does not slumber or sleep. Though we fall down, his feet are steady.

Just typing this profound truth has given me renewed joy and hope. I have lost my father to a horrifyingly aggressive brain cancer at age 45. I have watched my mother suffer from sickness and fatigue for years and struggle through a very difficult lonely second marriage. Tommy’s parents divorced when he was six, and he had to divide his life in half as well. He has had brothers who have struggled with severe addictions, causing strife and worry for years. And their cure is still uncertain. We spent thousands of dollars on achieving a degree/job that I completely left to start over from scratch again and pursue something different. Now we are buried in thousands of dollars of more debt. Tommy and I struggled for years with no children and two miscarriages. We pray for 2 children in Ethiopia that we hope to be ours but have no assurance of who they are yet or if we will meet them and call them ours. The circumstances in our lives have been amazing and awful but God has never changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. And we REJOICE, because rejoicing brings peace and understanding that only God can provide to help each and every one of us pull through the dark, cold prison cells of our lives.

We all must wait…

As many of you know, I work as a physician assistant in an orthopaedic surgery/ practice and have been blessed to touch the lives of hundreds of patients over the last 4 years. This process is a bit tricky. Patients come in to the office, sign in at the front desk, fill out all the necessary paperwork and take a seat waiting to be seen. Sometimes, they wait 15 minutes. Sometimes they wait an hour to finally be able to verbalize their complaints in hopes that I will have an answer as well as a solution to help their pain vanish and their limbs work magically again. Often, I have to order MRIs, more tests or even recommend physical therapy or surgery which of course is not an instant cure, but may require time. Just waiting. Hoping everything is going to turn out just fine and those arms and legs will be just as good as they were before their injury.

And, as many of you know, Tommy works as a real estate/broker and has done an exceptional job with hundreds of clients over the last 8 years. The process is also a little tricky. Buyers will search sometimes for weeks, others months until they find their dream home. Offers are tossed back and forth until a reasonable price is accepted. An appraisal and inspection of the home are carried out and if everything is in line, the buyers and sellers await the loan approval. For the most part, this whole process is supposed to take 30-45 days and at the very most 60 days. But then there are those wonderful transactions known as “short sales.” Awaiting approval for a short sale can often be 3-6 months and believe me, Tommy has had to deal with banks that are slower than molasses and it may even be 9 months. Just waiting. Hoping everything is approved, loan documents can be signed and those special shiny keys are in the hands of a happy buyer.

Tommy and I are the buyers of the longest short sale process imaginable it seems. We are the patients stuck in the doctor’s waiting room being told we have a condition that may take a very long time until we will feel “normal” again. And even though it feels like other people have their keys and are moving into their dream homes or other patients are walking by happy as can be, we have no other choice right now. We have officially been on the wait list for our adoption for 8 months and no concrete news up to this day. But God knows this. And we know that God knows this. So, we hold tight. One day soon, we hope to get that special call that will forever change our lives!!!

And isn’t it true that all of us wait for things throughout our lives? God is not about instant glorification- but a process that causes us to focus on him rather than ourselves. We are not in control. Whether we are waiting for that hopeful acceptance letter for university or to meet that special person to become our spouse, or a job offer to provide for our families, or news about our child’s test results from the doctor… (the list goes on), God wants to teach us something very important about how big He truly is. We can trust him for the results.

So, continue to pray for our children as they wait too for a “forever” home, not knowing when that will be. Pray for us in our jobs, that we will be encouraging to others who are waiting for things as well. Pray for Tommy and I that we will encourage each other when it feels like the road is steep and sometimes our legs are a bit weary. May Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer,” be on all of our hearts.

Today January 18, 2012, marks 1 year or 52 weeks or 365 days or 8,760 hours or 525,600 minutes or 31,536,000 seconds of time since we started this adoption process. (and 6 months on the official wait list!) This period of time included filling out applications, fingerprinting, talking to a social worker, retrieving every important personal document we own, writing letters, completing online classes, going to LA to have documents sealed, taking passport photos, sending information to Texas and Washington DC and the list goes on.  
 
This lengthy time also included wonderful fundraising events such as hiking through all parts of beautiful sunny California or bootcamp/pilates workouts that inspired people to reach a new level of fitness abilities.  More importantly, these events gave a people a chance to connect to others and meet people in all walks of life.  I know for a fact that by spending a couple extra hours on Saturdays with all of our supporters, I have been shaped in a way I simply can’t explain. It is so wonderful, and it has brought me so much refreshment during the drought!
 
The last year has also been filled with literally owning a T-shirt shop in my car… you laugh but it’s true.  I have carried around boxes and boxes of T-shirts, tank tops and sweatshirts for several months, delighted in the interest of hundreds of you who not only bought them but wear them!  There is not a fitness class I teach where I go and don’t see our apparel catching my eye.  Beautiful shirts that remind me one day there will be 2 less orphans in this world, and we will be that family walking hand in hand under the trees defending the cause of orphans.
 
But a majority of this last year has simply been waiting… and waiting some more.  “Have you heard anything about the babies?” I frequently get asked in the hallways of work or over the phone from our friends.  “No,” I respond, “But maybe any day now.”  And during this waiting time, I find myself busy, but calm.  Anxious, but peaceful. Ready, but patient.  I find myself going on long walks with my dogs in the morning and simply praying for our little ones, asking God to protect them and hold them while I can’t.  I ask him to provide just the perfect children to blend in to our family.  I pray for their health, ability to flourish, and a desire to do the right thing as they grow.  Above all, I pray that they will seek the Lord with all their heart for nothing else really matters.
 
So today, January 18 is a very special day as we look back on all God has brought us through and how so many of you have blessed us greatly.  And we will march on, one second, one minute, one hour and one day at a time until we meet our babes.

The Colors of Our Adoption

The Ethiopian flag consists of three horizontal stripes of green, yellow and red. A light-blue emblem in the center features a five-pointed star. The green stripe symbolizes the fertility of Ethiopian lands, the yellow stripe symbolizes the country’s religious freedom, and the red stands for the blood sacrificed to maintain Ethiopia’s freedom. The five-pointed star is a symbol of the unity of the country’s many different regions and ethnic groups.

As many know, we chose to design one of our adoption T-shirts with these flag colors as a way to represent Ethiopia. We love and admire the ideas and reasons these colors were chosen and the importance they are to the people. Just to be a little creative, I’ve chosen these colors to represent things for us and our adoption of these two little ones.

Green stands for growth. As we reflected on Thanksgiving about the things that we were thankful for, one of the things that we found ourselves most impressed with was the growth and change that has taken place in both of us this last year. At the dinner table last year, we found ourselves burdened and heavy laden with disappointment and loss. We felt as if we were spinning in circles or worse yet, going backwards. This year, we have sensed a profound movement in the forward direction, and though we are not at a “destination”, we sense our branches extending towards the sunlight. It is obvious to us that this process is completely necessary to “grow” us. We started the adoption paperwork in January this year and have officially been on the wait-list 4 months now. We may hear something from our agency next month or several months from now.  We simply do not know. God will determine when the referral will come. It will not be a minute too soon nor a minute too late.

Yellow stands for friendship. The friendships that have started, developed and flourished because of this adoption have been amazing. There are truly people from so many facets of our lives that have supported us through this process.  Whether it has been through emails, letters, messages, buying raffle tickets or T-shirts or coming to several fitness events (so you could suffer for days!), truly amazes us.  People we’ve only met once or heard of our cause from friends or just simply want to help, have combined to be an army of compassion and strength for us.  Our family members are so encouraging, and many of them will travel with us when the time comes. At this point in our adoption, we have been able to raise $17,000 because of YOU, our FRIENDS.  We can’t thank you enough!!!

Red stands for passion.  We can honestly say we are passionate about this adoption.  Every day that gets closer seems to fuel the flame a little brighter, a little stronger, a little hotter for our desire to meet, hold and love the children God has hand selected for us.  We find ourselves being so overwhelmed by God’s graciousness in adopting us as his children and we can’t wait to extend this gift in a similar fashion.  I’m sure as soon as they arrive, we will find ourselves in chaos and exhaustion, but for some amazing reason we’ve already told each other, “I hope we can do this all over again one day.”  Only God gives you passion like that.

The blue pointed star stands for unity.  We pray that the transition from the two of us to the four of us will be a smooth process.  That we would find unity with each other and as a family.  That we would connect to others who have adopted or are in the process so that our children will have a sense of belonging to others in their community.  We are praying for patience, peace and perserverence for all the unknowns of the future.  We’re praying and ask you to also pray for our babies’ health, emotional stability, sharp minds, an understanding that they are deeply loved and most of all an openness to Jesus.

The colors green, yellow, red and blue are truly a beautiful combination.

Fundraiser Update

A sincere thanks goes out to all of you who have ordered shirts/tank tops or sweatshirts in the last 2 weeks. As of today Tommy and I have sold 163 shirts total! Thank you so much for your support! Your constant encouragement and financial support has truly touched us and has allowed this process to be joyful!

Feel free to order more shirts at any time in the future from me or online at www.tommyandkendra.com/buy-adoption-shirts. On this website, there is also a ‘BUY COFFEE and TEA’ tab that allows you to see our Higgins’ Family Adoption shop where there are fair trade coffees, teas and gift boxes available with a variety of flavors. 40% of your purchases go directly to the adoption as well! Great holiday gifts 🙂

Once again thank you so much- God has used you to bless 2 small children in Ethiopia. I can’t wait for them to meet you! We could receive our referral any day, so we are anxiously excited & will keep you posted.

Kendra and Tommy

It’s kind of hard to believe that exactly one year ago on our anniversary, July 1, Tommy and I were mourning our second miscarriage.  Stunned, lifeless, angry, and so very sad.  What in the world were we going to do now?  We had just spent our last pennies on the second IVF procedure and read the most wonderful word “pregnant.” We were sure that our plans were finally coming together, but a few weeks later everything fell apart.  What in the world were “we” going to do? “We” were not going to do anything.  God was going to do EVERYTHING. He was going to change our thinking and desires to be more like HIS and not our own.

Now, one short but incredible year later, we have watched God transform our lives.  The joy and longing to adopt has become the biggest blessing we could have ever imagined.  It wasn’t Plan B, it was always Plan A, we just needed God’s gentle hand of direction. We started the adoption process just 5 months ago.  We officially turned in our application January 24, the homestudy application was turned in March 14, the I 600-A application was sent in April 25, and FINALLY after 2 long months of hearing no response, we received the I 171-H approval from immigration/visas on June 24.  We are DELIGHTED to announce that we were able to mail all of the official documents required (dossier) on June 29 to Washington D.C.  It officially arrived there July 1, once again on our anniversary, perhaps as God’s special love message and gift to us that He does work all things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose. (Not our purposes, but HIS).

Is everything going to be just perfect now? Only God knows what lies ahead.  Continually, we ask Him for a smooth process. The dossier will be reviewed carefully and sent by our agency soon to Ethiopia.  We will then officially be on the waiting list for two children between 0-2 years old (2 boys or 1 boy/1 girl).  We have no idea who they are or anything about them until we receive a referral, which could be anywhere between 6-12 months from now.  What in the world do “we” do?  Wait, pray, wait some more.  We let God work, the way He always has and will.  The babies will come not a minute too soon or too late than what God has intended!

The Artichoke

Over the last few months, I have grown to see the power of the process not only throughout this adoption but also through life itself. Growth is essentially time creating beauty. Often, the hidden treasures of this life are revealed after a painful process of God peeling away the unnecessary and ugly parts of our character.

Take the artichoke for example. This sharp and seemingly inedible vegetable presents itself with several layers of bitter leaves. At first, as you strip away the skin piece by piece, there is little moisture or any savory flavor from the plant. But through patience and diligence, as you dig deeper to the core, a surprise awaits. Not only does the thorny bitterness disappear, but an awesome center of delicious goodness emerges. If the time and energy were not invested to pursue the middle of this healthy food, the only thing that would have been apparent was the rough and distasteful outer portion.

We are God’s artichokes. We have been uniquely made by Him with an inner being that God desires to be sweet and pleasing. That beauty is displayed and shared with others in a powerful way after a long and sometimes laborious process of God peeling away the waste. The challenges and suffering we endure in this life are not wasted because essentially these enable God to peel away another layer, to dig deeper into who He really wants us to be. If we never encounter trials or never learn from sin or never have days that push us to humbly acknowledge how small we are in comparison to God, then we remain the sharp, dry, seemingly useless vegetable that an artichoke appears to be. But if we let God “prune us” (not a pretty process) like he talks about in John 15:2, we will bear more fruit and become even more beautiful.

This adoption journey is definitely a tool God is using in our lives. It’s pruning us. It’s peeling us. It’s challenging us. We often grow weary from the sheer time frame alone. Why does it have to take so long??? But hidden under the bitter and prickly layers of time, effort, struggles and tears awaits God’s sweet gifts. If we are truly to become the people he wants us to be, then we must be pruned and all the dead branches of unimportant details our lives must be cut away. We must be peeled, one leaf at a time, in order to reach the delicious center. We must learn to WAIT, to trust, to seek Him first, to take joy in the process. God uses even the most difficult of times to define who we really are. May this time of longing for our two little children make us into the people and parents God desires for us to be. May the center of our lives be a pleasant offering to God.

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