Welcome, 2020

Maybe I misinterpreted, but as the end of the year posts began filtering into my feed it seemed like most people were as eager to say goodbye to 2019 as we were, looking forward to this new year with renewed hope and anticipation of things to come.

We’ve had some time to think about it, and now I’m not quite as relieved to see 2019 gone.  Don’t get me wrong, 2019 was a hard year for our family, filled with uncertainty and doubt and loss, things that tested us in all sorts of ways; yes, I am looking forward to a new year and a new start.  But, I’m thankful for everything that happened and the way that it did.

All of our uncertainty about work and health and friendships and our family, our adoption, our “baby sister” that we waited so long for led us here.  I have to question if we would be as ecstatic if we hadn’t gone through our own personal drought.

I really don’t think we would be.

And of course, hindsight is always 20/20, right?  It’s amazing how just one variable, one unknown turning known, can change your whole mindset.  That’s what happened to us.

In October, we inquired to review the file of a little girl in Taiwan; we had enough unknowns and variables going on already that we figured “what was one more?”  Of course, we fell in love, not with her picture, but with everything we know about her, and knew almost immediately we wanted to be her parents.  When our social worker helped us with getting our home study Taiwan-ready (changing it from domestic to China to Taiwan), she said “If you end up adopting her–if Taiwan says yes–you’ll have an amazing story of all the things that happened to bring her to you.”

As it turns out, she’s right.

We didn’t plan on this, but we hoped for it, hoped for it with everything we had.  The night before we heard that we were chosen, I wrote in my journal “I’d rather hear nothing at all than a no, because not having an answer is not a no.”  Mind, body, soul…every hour of every day, almost every minute there was some part of us begging God to hear a yes.

1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 

Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

And Hebrews 11 begins with “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” 

We hoped for a yes.  We prayed for a yes.  We know He could have said no.  But now, looking back over all of 2019, the parts we loved and the parts we’d rather forget, we know that all of that uncertainty was preparing us for this.

Because the irony?  2020 will bring us just as much, if not more, uncertainty.  The “great humbling of 2019” will continue on.  We don’t know when we’ll travel.  We don’t know what challenges she’ll face once she’s home.  We don’t even know if we can fit our three carseats/boosters in the backseat of our car.

But we are so excited, so thrilled to know God has chosen us to be Abigail Jade’s parents.

Abigail: a father’s joy. Her Father’s joy.

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Do Small Things

It’s finally December, and while in some ways 2019 has flown by, in other ways we will be glad to keep moving forward.  This past year certainly hasn’t panned out the way we anticipated or hoped.  Does it ever though?

When we started out the year, as you know, we made changes to our waiting game, effectively closing one door and opening another.  Now, over a year later, we’ve had more doors open and close than we knew what to do with.  While we’ve been relatively quiet, please know that expanding our family by adoption is still our main priority (and you can follow in a private group here).  The thing is…now?  We only know what we’re hoping for.

Our season of “waiting” began five years ago this month…which we both agreed seems crazy to think about.  Five years ago we began the adoption process (12/12/14), and, fun fact, neither of our boys were even born yet!  We’ve been in some form or another of anticipation or of not having answers, but still knowing what we were hoping and waiting for since that date.  While I don’t pretend that our waiting season of anticipation is remotely comparable to the Advent season, i.e. the birth and coming of Christ, it’s a somewhat easily understood analogy to make.

Hope and anticipation for something can be really fun.  It’s nice to look forward to something.  On the short term, we’re really looking forward to surprising the boys at Christmas with the gift of a Disney trip…who wouldn’t be excited for that?  And on the long term, the wait that’s been going on for over a year now, we’re still looking forward to Jet and Judah’s baby sister (whoever and wherever she may be).  Both boys picked out gifts for her in the Amazon toy catalog, unprompted, so I know they’re also excitedly waiting.  (Although, to be fair, one boy’s gift suspiciously looked like something he chose for himself.  It’s probably not the boy you think it is.)

On the flip side, when that hoped-for-something doesn’t happen…when plans change…it can be hard to keep the momentum going.  While we wait for the unknown to reveal itself (Into the Unknown, anyone?), for all of our half open doors to completely open or close, we know that not having the answers right now is okay.  Still though, we are faced with a choice of how we spend this in between time.  Do we sit, wait, and do nothing?  Or do we find things we can do now?

I’m not a huge fan of at times overused quotes, but I found one a few weeks ago I never actually heard before that’s great for our family while we are in this middle stage: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” -Mother Teresa

Do small things…with great love. 

We teach the boys that to love someone is to look for ways to serve them, to make some sort of personal sacrifice to show others what they mean to us.  There are quite a few examples in the Bible we can think of, but right now off the top of my head I’m picturing Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, and the woman washing Jesus’s feet with expensive perfume.  (Side note, no feet have been washed sacrificially or in servitude in this house to date.)  But, this is the easiest explanation for them on their level of understanding.

And so, if you stop by our home and a small person asks you “how can I serve you?”, no, we are not training them for a career at Chick Fil A.  I also know this isn’t a new concept of doing an act of service or kindness each day during the advent season. (Here are a couple resources here and here you can use for your family if you want.)  Instead, we hope this becomes a heart habit for them, something that goes beyond the 24ish days of Advent and what they’ve been practicing up until now.  As a family, we continue to look forward to and anticipate what 2020 will bring while focusing on how we use our time during our own season of waiting.

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