What is Obvious is This: I Stink at Waiting

My sweet, sweet online friends. I am not in a happy, happy, joy, joy mood these days. I’m lost in introspection and I am, once again, fighting a wave of emotion that follows this path of shattered dreams. I convince myself that it’s not worth this amount of emotional energy – that compared to the problems people are facing all over the world, mine is small and miniscule and hardly worth the river of tears I seem prone to spill.

And yet…

I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking to God over this one. With the statistics rolling through my brain of the millions of orphaned children worldwide that are breathing the toxic air of feeling unwanted, unloved, unneeded and unseen, I question why this road has been so hard for us.

I’ve tried to wrap my mind around this situation from a theological standpoint. I know God to be Omniscient and Omnipotent. The Past and the Future all belong to His Present Now. He is not swayed or affected by time, nor is he a magician who must consult the cracked glass of a crystal ball to understand what will come tomorrow.

So when we began this process, He already knew. He knew we would not finish what we started – at least not in the manner in which we started it. As a balm, I’ve tried to convince myself that this means we were never supposed to have a child from Russia.


I tell myself that God didn’t want us to bring a Russian orphan home, because if He did, we would have been able to do so.


That’s a really nice way to try and weasel my way out of this predicament of heartache, but I must confess I am not doing a very good job at convincing myself of its truth. Because in the back of my mind I wonder What if?

What if we were supposed to and the sin of this world prevented it?

Ah, but that negates God’s Omniscience.

This is the point that smoke trickles from my ears and I sigh heavily.

I still pray for her, even though perhaps she was never meant to be. Because the fact of the matter is quite simply this: There is a little girl in an orphanage in St. Petersburg who could have had a home. She could have had a father to pick her up and tell her that she was loved and wanted and beautiful. She could have had a mother to shower her with kisses from morning until night.

She could have had two big brothers to protect her and a sister to show her the ropes.

I am praying for this little girl and I pray that she still gets those things – her and all of the others like her. I pray that someday the little girl who could have had…will have. Praying this prayer makes it easier for me, in a way. It makes the situation less ambiguous and overwhelming.

Because if I try to pray for the 750,000 orphaned children in Russia I can hardly breathe. But her – the girl that could have had? I can manage to pray for her.

And yet, I still have hope and a sense of wonder at what God is doing here in us? I read this quote by Jen Hatmaker today and it made me gasp because THIS – this is how I feel:

“When you say YES to adoption, you are saying YES to enter the suffering of the orphan, and that suffering includes WAITING FOR YOU TO GET TO THEM. I promise you, their suffering is worse than yours. We say YES to the tears, YES to the longing, YES to the maddening process, YES to the money, YES to hope, YES to the screaming frustration of it all, YES to going the distance through every unforeseen discouragement and delay. Do not imagine that something outside of “your perfect plan” means you heard God wrong. There is NO perfect adoption. EVERY adoption has snags. We Americans invented the “show me a sign” or “this is a sign” or “this must mean God is closing a door” or “God must not be in this because it is hard,” but all that is garbage. You know what’s hard? Being an orphan. They need us to be champions and heroes for them, fighting like hell to get them home. So we will. We may cry and rage and scream and wail in the process, but get them home we will.”
Jen Hatmaker

On Christmas day, when I sat alone in front of the tree, I had visions of a child dancing around it – a child whose face was not yet revealed to me. And I knew I needed to wait, but wait for what? I don’t know what I’m waiting for and I’m so tired of waiting. Were those visions merely projections of something that I just desperately want, or were they true visions of something to come?

I don’t know. I wish I could say for certain, but I just don’t know.

You know what is beautiful, though? God’s mercies in the waiting. On Monday, my newest nephew made his entrance into this world. (His Mom is Becke‘. You know Becke’, don’t you? You should know Becke’…)


Everyone, meet Asher:


I mean…how beautiful is he and how much do you want to kiss those squishy baby cheeks? And you know what? This precious baby is a picture of grace. He was prayed for and waited for and there were bumps in the road, and heartaches to be worked through but God was faithful to deliver what the heart desired.

Some days, when I’m feeling particularly dark, the only thing I can cling to is the knowledge that God is not cruel. I know that He isn’t, and so I repeat it.

But other days I find that I’m able to go a step further and say, He is so good. I look at Asher and I can say without reservation He Is So Good. 

I’m not good at the waiting, but I’m trying and I’m learning and I’m stumbling through it. That’s the best I can do right now and somehow…


I think it’s enough.

Not Impressed

I’d like to go on record with saying that I am so far entirely unimpressed with the year 2013. Really, I’d be fine if we skipped it. Like an old hotel, I’d like to move straight from floor 12 to floor 14. Bell hop? Anyone?

It’s been a rough few days and I have the bags under my eyes, the twisted muscles in my neck and the knot in my stomach to prove it. I look at the calendar and I look to the heavens and I wait. Because things have to go up from here.

This morning, I flipped open my (in)courage daily inspirational calendar to this quote by Holly Gerth:

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

“I’ve always thought of those words in the context of believing in God…But that morning it seemed the One Who Loves us whispered that part of faith is also about believing that our obedience makes a difference – when we can’t see the results.”

The past few days were hard for more reasons than one. I talked my kids through the events that have transpired over the last few weeks and it broke my heart. I sat with my nine year old as anger and pain and doubt clouded his crystal blue eyes.

Why would God let this happen?”

“We have a good family and we want to love a little girl who needs a family. Why wouldn’t God let us love her?”

“Why do these bad things happen?”

“What’s going to happen to those kids in the orphanage?”

His questions were great. They were deep and real and honest and beautiful and I didn’t fully know how to answer them because I have the same questions. So I told him.

I told him everything I’ve been telling you and myself for the last ten months. Hope is slow. It’s so slow that sometimes we can’t see it.

I told him that God promises to be the Father to the fatherless and we have to believe with a faith beyond our sight that He is there with those children. We have to believe that they experience God in ways that we never will because He is all they have. We have to trust that He hasn’t forgotten the children – all the children – around the world who are waiting for love.

We have to believe and in this moment, we must build an altar for our kids. We must set a place for them to look back on and remember. We must guide them in this thing called faith that so often requires blind action.

Officially, our adoption is not yet terminated. There is still a thin thread of hope, but that thread gets dimmer each day. I feel like I’m preparing to lose a child. I imagine that this is much like it feels to miscarry. We haven’t given up hope entirely, but we are preparing ourselves to move on.

But can I share the miracles in this story of ours?

Friday, after I listened in on a call from the Department of State for adoptive families in process, I hung up the phone discouraged and defeated. I sat next to my husband and sobbed in his arms. In that moment I felt like it was over completely.

You see the thing is, I’ve always thought I would adopt a child from Russia. I’ve been waiting for so long for God to give us the signal to move forward, but I never once doubted that He would. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t bring home a Russian child. Not once.

But Lee, my steady and wise husband, has a different vision. He has a passion for adoption…not just Russian adoption. To him, whether the child comes from Russia, India or America doesn’t matter. This brought me a lot of comfort, particularly because the idea of adoption was initially difficult for him to embrace. He had deep reservations, but in the course of this past six months, God has really opened up an excitement in Lee about the beauty of building a family through adoption.


Later that night, I sat down and opened an email from an old college friend who didn’t even know all that was going on inside my heart. This is part of what it said:

I’m writing to you because God has been sending me clear messages for you. I’ve been praying for you all and following along here and there on your journey. And every time I read one of your posts, I get an image of Christ riding in, like a soldier redeeming this situation for good. EVERY TIME you write something about the current situation in Russia or your heart breaking over the possibility of loss, the words “promise” and “redeemed” come flashing in my brain. I immediately get a sense of urgency to tell you that God will follow through on the promise He has given you. He is good. He has made a promise to you. He planted seeds so long ago in your heart for this country and for the people there. This horrible situation will be redeemed. His promises will be made known to all who know you and hear your cries.

She ended her message with a beautiful prayer that I have printed out and read over and over. Because I’m so heartbroken right now that I don’t know how to pray. But her prayer gives me the words to lay before the altar.


My heartache goes beyond the potentially failed adoption. There are other things mixed in that have worked together to form an emotional tsunami. But this one thing I know – God is good. He has not left the throne. Right now, I cling to the fact that our faith must be manifested in obedience. Like the quote mentioned above, we have embraced our faith through obedience and we are learning more and more each day about what it means to live courageously – even when the steps of faith don’t look like we thought they would.

We took a risk in moving forward with the adoption. It was a step of faith. It was obedience. And in our obedience God has worked miracles. I pray He’s not finished. I pray that the redmption of this story does include the completion of our adoption.

But I’ve no doubt that our family’s story is not finished yet. I believe my friend’s vision. I believe that God has redemption in store for us and we wait in expectation with hands held high. And when it is all said and done, no matter what the outcome may be, we will build an altar of remembrance.

We will look at our children (all four of them?) and we will point to these days and we will say, “Look, kids. Look at what God has done. He is faithful!”

Pray with us?


We Wait, We Weep, We Pray

UPDATE: So Putin officially signed this ban into law yesterday, devastating us and hundreds of other familes who were waiting. There is a thin thread of hope that they will allow families currently in process finish, but for us to be counted in that group, we need to be filed with the Russian officials before January 1. WE NEED A MIRACLE!

So officially, we are at a bit of a stall at this point. Yes, the law Putin signed states that effective Jan. 1, Russian adoptions are closed, but what exactly that means for those of us in process is unclear. The law is being challenged as it violates Russian Family Code and is against the Hague Convention on Children’s Rights, which Russia has signed. There is a petition with 100,000 signatures on it at the Duma asking the law to be annuled, but the likelihood of that happening is pretty low. With New Years and Russian Christmas on January 7, we likely won’t know any more until around the 10th of January. So we continue to wait and pray and hope that something changes.

On Christmas night, after the gifts had been unwrapped and the harried activities of the day ended, we put the kids to bed. The house was quiet and still smelled of cinnamon and love. I sat on the couch with a cup of hot tea and stared at the Christmas light and prayed.

Last week, Russia proposed a ban on US adoptions. I prayed for peace and for wisdom for the leaders. I wondered what our Christmas would look like next year. Would there be another child dancing around the tree? Would she be here? I prayed and I asked God to give me a specific word on the adoption.

Then I sat in the silence and waited.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe the tree to ignite in flames and a voice to speak to me? Maybe a sign or a phone call or something significant?

I didn’t get any of those. Instead the word “Wait” kept rolling through my head. At first I thought that word was coming from me, that subconsciously I was just telling myself to wait for God to give His obvious answer.

Then I realized it was coming from Him. The word “Wait” was rolling out of my heart and repeating on a loop in my mind. Wait. Wait. Wait.

Yesterday, Russia’s parliament unanimously voted to uphold the ban and still I chose to wait.




Today, Putin has said he will, indeed, sign the bill. Today I wept. They were hard, hot bitter tears. Our paperwork officially went to Russia just this week. We were right there – right on the cusp and I feel heartbroken and sad. I told you recently I have been fearing the floor would drop out from under this whole process…

And yet still I feel that I must wait. I don’t know what this means for our family, I really don’t. Just thinking about telling my kids that there’s a chance this won’t happen brings on a fresh crop of tears. I’m sad and I’m scared and I’m confused, but I will wait.

This doesn’t change the fact that I feel our family is incomplete. This doesn’t change my desire to adopt. It doesn’t change my deep, deep love for the country of Russia, for the people, for the culture. So many things have remained the same and so I wait.

What will God do? We have a mountain of completed adoption paperwork. Do we go to another country? Adopt domestically? Wait and see if things open with Russia? I don’t have answers to any of those questions. So I must wait.

And while I wait, I will probably cry. And while I cry I will definitely pray.

We are headed into a new year. There are so many possibilites. I am waiting to see what God has in store.


Will you pray for us as we wait? And please pray for the 750,000 children who are currently living in orphanages throughout all of Russia. They are the true victims in all of this…

I weep for them

I tuck them in tonight and the hugs are just a little longer, just a little tighter and just a little sweeter. Hot breath against my cheek as I breathe in deep. That one smells like vanilla yogurt, her snack of choice. The tall one smells like Dimetap, the result of a flu bug that’s taken hold.

And the little one.

The baby.

The one who turns five in less than 48 hours.

He smells like the outdoors. Dirt and sweat and bundled energy mingle and swim and it’s him that brings the knot in my gut – it’s his giggle in my ear that brings a wave of nausea. He will be in kindergarten next year. He is 42 pounds of innocence and youth. He is them. They were him.

And in a single breath, they were gone.

I wander to my bedroom and step into the closet. Gifts are shoved behind the door, waiting to be wrapped and tucked beneath the tree. Gifts that I poured over as I determined what would be the one thing that would make his eyes sparkle. I look at the gifts and I weep.

I weep for the mothers who are looking at the unwrapped gifts tonight. The gifts that will never be opened. The gifts that will remain untouched. The sparkle that will never appear again.

I weep for them.

Motherhood is a sacred kinship. It is a sisterhood unlike any other. We are different, each one of us, but when we are mothers, we are the same. We breathe our babies deep. We rock them at night and memorize the crease beneathe the chin, the freckle on the center of the nose, the cowlick on top of the head.

We trace their lips and kiss their fluttering eyes.

We sing and rock and we know each sound. We know the serious cry, the offended cry, the hurt cry and the frightened cry. We put barbeque on this plate, ketchup on that one and hot sauce on the last one because we know. When they’re knit inside our wombs, they are knit directly to our souls.

It’s motherhood.

And when the sounds stop, we all weep because we feel it cut deep inside – so deep we can’t even breathe. The smells don’t fade and their voices echo in our hearts. Tonight, I listened harder, watched closer and committed it all to memory. I felt it in the depths and when the room grew quiet and the breathing of the three who hold my heart grew steady, the pain in my heart cut like a knife.

Tonight I weep for them. The mamas and the babies. The quiet that will never cease. The hearts torn wide open and laid bare. I weep for them.

And as the tears pool hot in the corners of my eyes, I whisper a prayer.

Sweet Jesus be near.

There’s no sense to be made of this. There is no policy to be set. There is no explanation that will quell the silence and the pain that floats and storms inside the quiet.

The quiet.

The quiet.

There are only tears and prayers as together we weep.

I know them. They are me and I am them.

And tonight I weep.