Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Year Ago...

A year ago, on Matt's 29th birthday, we accepted a referral for a tiny 3- month old baby boy. Over the past year we have watched Roland grow up in pictures. We have seen him sleepy or sad, alert and curious, and happy and smiling, in pictures. The first several months we only received pictures of him laying in his crib. Then, for a few months we saw him sitting upright, either on the floor or in a chair. In the last pictures we received of him, he was standing, with a supporting hand from one of the nannies. In one picture we have even glimpsed new baby teeth emerging.

The three of us have missed out on so much together. We have missed an entire year of gazing into each other's eyes, and reading, snuggling, playing, singing, teaching, comforting, laughing, and building lifelong bonds of love and trust. Young children yearn to be adored by their parents, but I doubt if Roland realizes that such a thing as parents even exists. From what I hear, the nannies at the transition house are capable and kind, but they have 80 children in their care so I know they do not spend all day doting on our little Roland.

Last Fall I was really hoping we would be celebrating Matt's 30th birthday in Congo, meeting our son for the first time. However, it looks like we will have to settle for dinner and a movie again this year.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Be Careful What You Pray For

I just finished reading Kisses from Katie and I am so glad I finally got around to it. I'm sure many of my blog readers have already read this book. If you haven't, it is about an 18- year- old girl from Tennessee who quits her normal American teenage life and moves to Uganda. Over the next few years she teaches at a school, serves the poorest of the poor of the area, starts a ministry that educates and feeds the community's children, and legally adopts 13 orphans. Reading this book stirred up a lot of thoughts and emotions in me. Of course her story is truly inspiring, but as I became immersed in the pages, I also felt guilt, jealousy, and even a little anger with God.

I have been pretty depressed lately. What was making me even more sad than the anguish of being separated from my son was the feeling that God wasn't working in my life. There are many areas that I know I am not called to serve, as I am not a college graduate, I am not musically inclined, I am not a leader or public speaker and I don't have any obvious special skills. So, for a long time I have felt that the best use of my life is to be a mother, specifically to children who do not have a family. It just seems like the perfect fit, but for some unknown reason it has not worked out yet. I've begged and pleaded with God to bring Roland and other future children to me so that I can be their mom and so I could start serving Him. Even though I believe adopting Roland aligns with God's will, I also believe he asks us to serve Him in the here and now, not in some undetermined time in the future. In my desperation I have talked to Matt about pretty impossible options: moving to Congo to care for Roland until he is allowed to leave the country, or starting another adoption while we wait for this one to finish. I have been very conflicted about not yet being able to do what I feel I was made to do for God. I just did not understand why God was not helping the adoption situation, since I thought it was His plan for my life. Why was He not using my life for amazing things, like He was for Katie and other people?

I have been wrestling with these thoughts for a while, but reading Kisses from Katie really emphasized them. One Saturday night I felt especially moved after reading the book and I prayed with more openness and surrender than I think I ever have before. I did not ask for Roland to come home soon, like my usual prayers. Instead, I asked God to take my life and use it. I told Him I was available and willing to serve him now. I asked Him to work through my life in a way that would glorify Him. I told God that this was the only thing that really mattered to me anymore and I would do whatever he asked of me.

The next morning I felt led to read the Book of  Jonah while I ate breakfast. I sleepily thought to myself, "That is a really weird story," but the main theme was not lost on me- When God clearly asks you to do something, you should do it! When I arrived at church I was fairly amazed that our guest speakers were the local directors of Royal Family Kids Camp. I had never heard of this organization before, but I felt instantly connected to it. I had tears in my eyes the entire time as they talked about how the goal of the camp is to provide a week of safe, carefree fun to children in foster care, and teach them about God's enduring love. I knew this must be an actual answer to my prayer so right after the service I wiped away my tears and told one of the directors I would like to volunteer and he handed me an application.

When I got home I was excited to share the news of this opportunity with Matt, who had just woken up (he works nights). I just briefly told him about the camp and how I was thinking of being a counselor ("big camper") and his first response was, "Can I help too?". {Love that guy!}

To tell the truth, by the following day the "high" of God answering my prayer mostly faded away and my humanness crept in. My concerns were based on: self- doubt (I don't know what to say to these hurting, troubled children. What if something comes up and I don't know how to handle it?  What if my campers don't like me and they don't have any fun during camp?), reluctance to leave my comfort zone (The camp schedule looks really busy and I doubt I will get much sleep; I will just be really tired the whole week), and practicalities (We can't afford to pay the camp fees or to board our dogs for a week).

Fortunately, I have a husband with a servant's heart as well as the confidence to follow through with things. It is a lot harder to talk myself out of going to camp when Matt is already committed to going. A few days later, we watched the movie CAMP, which is specifically about Royal Family Kids Camp. It follows the story of pretty much the worst counselor ever during his week at camp. The movie boosted my confidence a little because I figure I will at least be better than that guy. I have a couple other thoughts I keep reminding myself whenever doubt starts creeping in. First, I prayed for an opportunity like this and God provided it to me and I feel like He is leading me to do it. I better follow through with it if I don't want to end up like Jonah! Also, if 18- year- old Katie can leave her life behind and completely move to Uganda to serve God and some of His neediest people, then I should be able to handle working at a summer camp for a week, located 30 minutes from my  house.

For a while I have felt that the puzzle pieces of my life are floating around aimlessly in the air, not fitting together how I had planned. I do not know if this camp will just be something to be involved in while we wait for Roland to come home or if it will be the start to a new path in our lives. Either way, I definitely feel it is a step in the right direction. I am very interested to see how God will use this one week in the grand tapestry of our lives. I pray that God will continue to lead, guide and use us according to His will (and that maybe I will be able to get at least a little sleep at camp).

If you are ever in the mood for some inspiring entertainment, I highly recommend reading Kisses from Katie and watching CAMP (available on Netflix). Be warned, though, they may move you to do something!

The trailer for CAMP