A word for the waiting…

 

The moment I laid eyes on my son for the very first time I felt God’s grace in a way I had never known. His love washed over me as my love for Grant began to seep into the deepest corners of my soul. I now knew his unconditional love for me in a way I’d read about, sung about, and clung to for so many years… But that day was the first time I had felt it in such a real way. His presence was there in that delivery room as the nurses handed my son to me and our eyes met. Only 6 months after Mother’s Day.

You see all week I’ve been trying to write a blog to encourage those women who are waiting and all they feel is an empty, shallow pain during Mothers Day, as they are reminded of their barren womb. I stared at my computer screen several times watching the cursor flash and the words just wouldn’t come. “But God… I want so bad to blog on my first Mother’s Day!” I prayed… Yet still no words came. He was silent.

As I sat in traffic on Saturday evening, I glanced in my rearview mirror, to check on Grant, and it hit me. All of the emotions came crashing like a wave breaking… and God gave me the words.

I would love to tell you to stay faithful or that His promises are true. I would love to encourage you with another blog about your waiting. But I’m not going to. I’m going to simply say what He placed on my heart tonight for the young woman facing another Mother’s Day without a baby, having to explain your tears to your husband knowing he will encourage you but never truly understand. This is for the girl who thinks secretly that God has forgotten her and tried to tell herself that maybe she just isn’t called to be a mother. Lean in and hear me whisper this and know it comes from a Father who loves you so very much.

It is worth it.

I know you’re thinking “that’s it, that’s all she’s got?” Yep that’s it… And I wanted to just shrug it off too, but God wouldn’t let me. He was persistent because He knew one of His girls out there needed to hear it. So there it is, my Mother’s Day blog, not at all how I envisioned it. Know this… I’ve been where you are. I’ve felt all of those feelings. I’ve hated Mother’s Day. But this year I look at my son’s reflection and the words that consume my heart are simply, it was worth it. I would do it all over again. I would sit through all of those Sunday sermons honoring mothers. I would bear with all the first Mother’s Day posts on social media. I would feel that empty, shallow feeling that no one understood what I was going through again and again, if it meant I could experience the love I’ve known the past 6 months.

And the more encouraging reminder today is that Jesus would too. He would do it all over again if it meant the same results. For Him, it was worth it too.

Trust Him. Lean into Him. Let Him fill your void until He’s ready to give you a child. I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful love story He could’ve written for our family in His very perfect timing. Jesus hasn’t forgotten you. He’s heard your prayers. And He IS faithful.

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Photo Cred: Abby Funderburk Photography http://www.abbyfunderburk.com

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Thanksgiving… One Year Later

One year ago we received the most devastating news… that we could not conceive naturally. One year ago I drove out of the parking lot of that doctor’s office feeling a hopeless, aching pain like nothing I’ve ever felt. That ten minute drive to work felt like it took a year and I don’t think I’ve cried that hard in my entire life. I remember that night Chip held me and repeatedly told me he loved me. I remember my very raw and angry prayer to God asking why He wanted me to experience so much pain. Thanksgiving was the hardest… two of my cousins brought in their new babies and I felt such a desire to hold and cuddle them… in a weird way it brought me peace I had not been able to feel in days. It was that weekend God first put a burden in our hearts that eventually led to our calling to adopt. Little did I know that exactly one year later I would be preparing to bundle my son up and bring him to our family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Chip and I are also celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary and in this past year I have never felt closer to him. The Lord has used our waiting period to strengthen our marriage and teach us how to love each other despite difficult days. Those lessons have proved already to be valuable ones and I can’t begin to tell you how full my heart is as I look back on this past year. If I could offer anything it would be that I don’t know your current struggle, I’m not sure what battle you’re preparing to face or what pain you’re dealing with… but I do know that our Lord does not allow us to go through difficult days unless He is preparing us for something bigger, something better than we could ever dream up ourselves. This Thanksgiving I have so much to be thankful for. We have been abundantly blessed and I will never forget everything Jesus has done for us this year. I know there are people out there who are struggling this year with pain,  I would encourage you to keep trusting Jesus because you never know what blessing He has planned for you this year.

What Am I Doing Here?

I feel like we all struggle with finding our identity at times. It’s a popular issue among teens battling the “Who am I” and “What makes me different from everyone else” questions. But I would venture to say that I’m not the only woman who has had those days where I feel my inner-fifteen year old scream those same questions.

Most of the time those days are also the days where I’m struggling with my purpose and trying to figure out if I’m making a difference. The cloudy days where I’m a little more willing to pay a ridiculous price for that cute planner I’ve been eying because lets face it, if I was just more organized my life would make so much more sense.

The truth is I’ve really been searching for my purpose over the last few weeks. Two weeks ago I was in a bad car accident. I walked away without a scratch, yet the other driver didn’t make it. I’ve found myself asking God so many questions, but the biggest has been why—both old why’s and new why’s. Why am I still here and the other guy isn’t? Why I was so close to paying my car off and now am faced with finding another one? Why is it taking so long to be matched with a birth mother? Why don’t I have a baby yet?

I’ve been so confused as to why He hasn’t answered me or given me any valid signs that would help me answer those questions. I’ve been growing more and more impatient and more and more uncomfortable.

Then Sunday came… and in the midst of our church’s series on money, our pastor delivered a message I will never forget. It was a message about surrender, and was from 1 Kings 18:30-35. In the scripture, God brought Elijah and the Jewish people to the point of desperation so He could show them who He is and what He is capable of. Our pastor reminded us that God always hears the cries of desperate people. He also mentioned that sometimes we pray for God to reveal His power, when we should be crying out for God to pour out His grace. That struck a nerve. How many times had I prayed in the past week for God to just reveal His power and do something miraculous in my life to show me my life had meaning. The main point of our pastor’s message is the point that I would like to encourage you with today… Surrender is not when we give God something, it’s when we give God everything.

I’ve been holding onto my desires and my dreams for so long that I haven’t even realized I was still holding on to them. Sunday, I was reminded that God’s purpose for my life is daily surrender. I don’t have to know exactly what God wants for my future, I just have to know that I’m surrendered completely to whatever that future holds. I don’t have to know why the wreck happened, I just have to be surrendered to the fact that Jesus has full control and wants me here today for a purpose. And as far as that purpose goes, I don’t have to know what it is… I just have to surrender my day to Him and my purpose is then found in Him.

This isn’t a big 7 step guide to finding your purpose, it’s a 1 step guide. Friends, surrender is not when we give something, it’s when we give God everything. The Jewish people who gave their water eventually got so much more water in return. When we surrender everything, we get more than we had in the first place. Through our surrender, we find our purpose and identity in Christ.

I’m not sure who is reading this who is feeling frustrated about not being where we feel we should be as far as our ministry or calling, but just rest in the fact that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be in this moment. Jesus wants to use “our water” to one day bring “the rain”.

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Stop expecting, when you’re expecting…

 “The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still…” Exodus 14:14

I haven’t written in a few months because I felt like I should wait for the next big step in our adoption process. I wanted my next blog to be about the phone call we received telling us we have been matched. The truth… waiting is hard. I’ve finished my checklist, all the paperwork has been submitted, we are home-study approved, we registered, the nursery is ready… we just need the phone to ring. As difficult and painful as the first few months were dealing with the sting of infertility and the piles of work and fundraising ahead of us, I think this last month has been the hardest so far. The stillness, quiet, and not having a “to-do” list have left me extremely uncomfortable.

Last Sunday, I found myself angry during worship at church. Our pastor had spoke on how our God is a good God who wants good things for His children, and that His purpose for our lives is for us to experience His joy. I was confused at why He wasn’t giving me a next step in our calling to adopt and really felt abandoned and alone…and bargained in my prayer that if He would just give me a baby I would experience joy. I know, childish right? When I got really honest with myself I knew the reason it was bothering me so much is because Jesus was taking away the walls of “busy-ness” I had built around my heart to protect me from being emotionally vulnerable with Him. I knew as long as I had a box to check I didn’t have to face the ugly truth… that I was searching so desperately for my baby and preparing so hard for him/her, instead of placing my focus and my pursuit on Jesus and finding my satisfaction in Him alone.

Sometimes, Jesus brings us to a place where we feel like we aren’t doing anything and it frustrates us, when we are exactly where He wants us to be… and He just wants us to sit for awhile with Him and for that to be enough. He wants our worship more than He wants our preparations, during our waiting (Luke 10:38-42). So that’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks… sitting still at Jesus’ feet and listening. My heart has grown so full it feels like it will burst and He has taught me so so much during this waiting period. I am content for the first time in a very long time and no longer looking to the next box to check. I am confident He will provide because His promises do not return void and He wants more for me than I could ever want for myself.

So I challenge you to allow yourself to be vulnerable with Jesus, set aside some time for Him to break down walls in your life. True fulfillment doesn’t come the way we think it does—through our striving, achieving, conquering, and acquiring.
Jesus teaches us in the scriptures that true joy and fulfillment comes through sacrificing ourselves for others—through being vulnerable even to those who reject us. It comes through pouring out ourselves for others, and trusting God to fill us back up (John 12:23-25). Jesus uses circumstances in our lives, especially our places of woundedness, brokenness, disappointment, and rejection, for good. We are all reliant on Him all the time, but all too often, we fail to grasp this. When bad things happen, we turn to Jesus (just like David did in Psalms) with our fears because we have nowhere else to go. At that point in time we realize that no friend, no doctor, no medication can fill the deepest longings of our hearts, and so we cry out to Jesus.

When we feel like we just can’t do it or don’t want to be vulnerable, we can be reminded that He became vulnerable to us. He died naked, abandoned, and alone on the cross. Even God turned His back on Jesus on the cross, so Jesus could experience hell for us. Just as He did for the cross, God can transform our weakest, ugliest, most shameful places into sources of beauty that can bring Him glory. This has been such a sweet reminder that we will never “arrive” or know all there is to know about Him. He has so much to teach me and I have so much to learn from Him. It’s in this vulnerable state that my prayer has changed from “God, make me a mother” to “God, mold me into the mother you want me to be… no matter how long it takes.”

So, it’s not that He doesn’t want me to be excited or plan for this beautiful promise of a baby. It’s not that checking all of those boxes were wrong. Jesus wants me to be expectant during this time, but to be more expectant of what He has planned, than what I do…

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Infertility Blues… Again.

I woke up this morning with a suffocating lump in my throat. The sickening pit in my stomach, the desire so strong I could explode, met with the realization that I may never be… pregnant. After being 18 days late, this morning… I felt all of that hope crash all over again. I know some of you are thinking, “but aren’t you and your husband called to adopt…” or “how selfish is she to want to be pregnant when she’s adopting…” Trust me, I’ve said the same things to myself over and over again. A good friend of mine who has walked in my shoes shared some wise words to me once that adoption does not cure infertility. I couldn’t agree more… adoption does not cure infertility, but daily searching for my identity in Jesus and finding my fulfillment in Him does.

I am no where near perfect… I have struggles on a day to day basis just like everyone else. I squeeze my toothpaste from the center of the tube, forget to replace the toilet paper roll, let dirty dishes pile up in the sink, and I struggle with real sin every single day. Finding my fulfillment in anything but Jesus is sin, but the beautiful thing about all of our sin is that it’s never bigger than Jesus and His grace covers it all.
My husband and I were called to adopt a newborn baby domestically eight months ago. Since that time God has grown me in ways that I can’t even describe and has proven His faithfulness again and again. I know that He has big plans to use our story to bring so so much glory to His name. I have made incredible friendships with people literally all over the world since our announcement. I’ve heard stories similar to mine with all sorts of amazing journeys of how God brought a baby into their lives. I cannot tell you guys how much your encouragement, prayers, and support have meant to me over the past several months. Know that I still struggle, I still feel pain, and I still battle with infertility. At the same time, I have such a deep longing to get the phone call that could come literally any day now, from the birth mom that Jesus has for us. I cannot wait to be able to tell our baby the beautiful story of how their adoption impacted so many people, and how they were loved and pursued before they were even conceived. My struggles with infertility in no way lesson my burden and calling for the child we are adopting.
I decided to blog today because I know that keeping these feelings to myself rob God of potential glory and I want nothing more than for Him to use every single bit of our journey to help encourage others on their journey as they go through similar emotions. Honestly, I immediately felt guilty over the excitement I have been feeling the last 18 days that I might be pregnant. My mom reminded me earlier this morning that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). This means that He allowed these 18 days and the feelings that have accompanied them, as part of His preparation in us for what’s to come. If nothing else, it has reminded me that God has given us exactly what we needed when we needed it throughout our journey, His timing is perfect, and He isn’t finished with our story.
Thanks for reading! I appreciate your prayers today…

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Remember…

Just blown away today that we serve a God who always provides what we need. 3 months & 17 days ago, I announced what then seemed impossible, that we were going to adopt a baby debt-free. Today I checked our adoption account balance and one word hit my heart—remember.

I remember sitting in the dr office when they told us a baby was impossible. I remember going to the bank to open our adoption account and them asking if we would have the minimum amount required for an account within 60 days to avoid a fee, and me telling Him that I knew The Lord would provide. I remember, even recently, friends shocked that we weren’t getting a loan for our adoption. I remember laying in bed listening to Chip encourage me that Jesus has a plan and has called us to this and would not fail us. I remember 107 days ago not having a penny in that account, and today when I looked at it The Lord reminded me what His faithfulness looks like. It’s so easy to focus on the $6,000 left we need to raise and not the $9,000+ that Jesus has provided already.

If you have donated, thank you so so much! Keep sharing our story and keep praying! If you feel led to donate now, you can by clicking the “donate now” link at the top right of our blog.

He is so so good to us and I cannot wait to see how He plans to continue to use our adoption story for His glory!

I try and stay in touch with my readers on a personal level through social media. Share this post to pass it on, and then click here to find me on Facebook.

What’s This Adoption Puzzle Thing?

We are so excited about our adoption and we KNOW without a doubt that this is EXACTLY what God is calling us to do. Not in a year, not in 5 years, but right now!

Our best guess is that our adoption will cost close to $15,000 – $20,000. So, in an attempt to help offset some of the costs, we are asking people to sponsor a puzzle piece for $5 per piece. If you buy a puzzle piece, we will write your name on the front of the piece. Once all the pieces are sold, and the puzzle is completed, we will frame the puzzle with the names facing outward. We would like to hang this in our nursery as a thank you to all of the people who are helping us make this adoption possible, and so that our son or daughter will grow up seeing the names of each person who prayed and supported their adoption story.

If you would like to sponsor a puzzle piece, you can make your payment through Paypal. To donate through Paypal just click the link on the right-hand side of this blog. You’ll have to put in the amount of pieces you would like to sponsor, at $5 per piece.

Please note that you do not have to have a Paypal account to make this payment online. Just click on the “Donate” button and then scroll down the page to the section that says “Don’t have a Paypal account?” Click “Continue” and it will take you to a page to make your payment without having to create an account.

If you are not comfortable with Paypal, but would like to purchase a puzzle piece or two, feel free to send me an email. I’ll let you know our address and you can send us a check. My email address is elizabethadoption@gmail.com. And if you would like to buy more than one puzzle piece, we would be very grateful!

Thank you all for your ongoing prayers and support!!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” – Jeremiah 29:11

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Abundantly More…

This past Saturday was our Yard Sale Fundraiser…

I had set a personal goal of $300, and after weeks of preparation and organizing I woke up Saturday morning and asked God to show up.

First of all I want to thank ALL of the sweet people who donated their items to our yard sale! We had SOOOO much stuff and it was awesome!

Next I want to thank everyone who took time out of their Saturday to come help set up, sell, and clean up afterward… we seriously could NOT have done this without your help. Shout-outs to: My parents, grandparents, sister, brother-in-law, Walter Tollison, Karen Neal, Justin & Simone Carroll, Kirk & Jen Morris (and Bekah), Lauren Fincher, Brittany Bridwell, Josh Hellums, Andrea Addington, Tiffany Vatakis, Tami & Mackenzie Peterman.

I also want to thank each person who came out to support our yard sale! It was awesome to see so many friends and family members who wanted to help us bring home our baby!

At one point I remember looking around and fighting tears just because of how many of my dear friends showed up to shop our yard sale and how determined they were to come help us out. God taught me so much on Saturday and one of those reminders was simply… you can’t do life alone, and with Jesus it’s pretty much impossible. He continues to send us old friends and new friends to love on us and encourage us daily… these people (you know who you are) have become family… and our child is already blessed to have you in his/her life.

Throughout the day my incredible sister would come empty the cash drawer so that we didn’t have too much at any one point in the day. Around lunchtime we were blown away by how much we had already removed. At that point I decided we would stop counting… I wanted us to wait until the end to count everything out together.

All in all I was floored by the outpouring of love, support, and encouragement shown by our community on Saturday. God pressed into my heart all day that Chip and I are NOT alone in this journey and that the best is yet to come!

After the crowd died down (around 4pm) we decided to take all of the money inside and start counting… so Jessica, Lauren, Simone, and I went inside and began to count. Jessica kept track of the totals—and was the only one who knew the final number. We went back outside to make the big announcement and were surprised when we saw about 5 cars of people STILL shopping. God was not done…

Finally once everyone left we gathered everyone around to hear the totals and to take some pictures… Jessica announced the donations first… which were $325 alone! God provided my personal goal in JUST donations! Then… he opened the floodgates! Our yard sale put us at over $5000 total in our Adoption Fund! I’ll just say that God knows EXACTLY what He is doing and that He already knows how and when He will provide the remaining $10,000.

Ya’ll in just a little over a month we have raised over $5,000! That is PHENOMENAL!! Keep praying, keep sharing our story, and if God lays it on your heart… keep giving. He IS a promise maker AND a promise keeper, and we are humbled that He is giving us front row seats to watch Him work miracles in our life!

This weekend is Easter—the ultimate picture of hope. As believers we know that Jesus conquered death and with it He also conquered every single difficult season we will ever encounter in our lives. Trust Him and He will never let you down!

I’ll close with a note from my journal that I wrote the morning before the yard sale… “In His suffering He thought of me, in my suffering, if I look to Him… He’s all I need.” We love each and every one of you SO SO much and are so excited to see what’s to come!

Again, if you would like to donate you can at http://www.mycaring.com/babyb and if you would like a t-shirt please shoot us an email and we will get your size info and address.

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Mommy To Be

The last few weeks I have sat down to write and just couldn’t find words to put down… I knew that God would stir my heart when the timing was right and give me the words to say, so I stepped away for a little while and waited. Days went by and still nothing… I just couldn’t figure out how to express what I was feeling…until today—and it’s still pretty messy… but I’m going to write it anyway.

I’m scared to death… and have so many feelings going through my mind about this whole “becoming a mother thing.” I know that God is preparing me little by little but so many questions overwhelm me every time I think about the ticking clock getting closer and closer to me becoming a mom.

I cannot describe to you how badly I want to be a mother. It’s so close to real physical heartache sometimes that I have to get my mind off of thinking about our baby. I’ll find myself dreaming about what he/she is going to look like and longing to the baby noises. But in the midst of all of the excitement I also experience real fear about my inadequacies in becoming a mother. I have been so abundantly blessed to grow up with such an incredible example of what a godly mother should look like. My mom was the BEST mom, hands down! Maybe that’s why I am so terrified… I mean how do I just all of a sudden take on all of those traits that she exemplified? Being patient, gentle, kind, loving, creative, fun—while teaching me right from wrong… how do I do that?

I know the “right” answer is that I will grow into that role and that God will give me everything I need to be the mother He wants me to be… but that doesn’t make it any less scary. For me this is like telling someone that they will be sailing a ship soon… could be a month or it could be a year before it happens, but not to worry that when the time comes they will have everything they need in order to be a successful captain. Ok, so it’s not exactly the same thing… but that’s what it feels like to me.

So I’ve started being really blunt in my prayers with Jesus lately… I’m asking Him to make me a mom that will glorify Him. And instead of asking Him to take away my pain/heartache/fear, I’ve asked, “Jesus, let me see you.” Here’s an excerpt from a book I’ve been reading written by our pastor that has really encouraged me in this area, over the last few days…

Every time I’ve walked through the fire, He has allowed me to do so in order for me to see Him more clearly and follow Him more closely. How would we know He’s a healer if we didn’t experience times when we needed to be healed? How would we know He’s a Savior if we didn’t experience things we needed to be saved from? How would we know He’s a provider if we didn’t experience times when we thought we weren’t going to make it? If you feel like you’re walking in a fire that is seven times hotter than you’ve ever experienced, my challenge to you is to pray this bold prayer: “Jesus let me see You. Teach me who You are in this fire.” – Overwhelmed by Perry Noble

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7 Days…

Seven days since we made our adoption announcement. Seven days full of my inability to express my gratitude for all that Jesus has done. Seven days of Satan not having any ground to stand on in his attacks…

Today I woke up feeling different though. Today I am struggling with fears and insecurities. Today I have cried 3 times.

Why is it that when God has moved in extraordinary ways right before our eyes, it only takes a split second for us to doubt His faithfulness?

I received an Instagram direct message from my best friend a few minutes ago and it could not have been anything but Jesus because of the perfect timing, so I wanted to share it with you guys…

The truth is everyday is not going to be easy—but no one ever said having a baby was easy.

On this 8th day, I am thankful for SO much that God is doing in our lives, so I am choosing to reflect on those things.

I’m thankful for:

– Friends who move when God asks them to

– A God who keeps His promises and is capable to do ALL things

-All 1228 people who have liked and shared our page

-Everyone who is praying for us and our baby

-Each and every person who has already given a donation. Today we have raised $1300 of our $40,000 goal (in JUST 8 days)!

Thank you all for sharing my story and for all of the encouragement we have received. Chip and I are eternally grateful and cannot wait to share with our baby the names of each of you that helped he/she come home.

I try and stay in touch with my readers on a personal level through social media. Share this post to pass it on, and then click here to find me on Facebook.