Those of you who follow this blog and our story, know that we've had an unbelievably long adoption journey. We've spent the better part of 4 years working and waiting to adopt a little girl, without any timeline for matching or travel.
In April our agency told us they felt confident we'd be matched with a child by or before the end of the year. In November, they took that estimate back. For months we thought we could see the light at the end of the tunnel getting brighter and closer... only to suddenly have it grow dim and indiscernible again. It didn't kill my faith... but it sure did bruise and batter it. I found it harder and harder to be hopeful. I still believed God had called us to adopt, and I still believed He was working on our behalf... but I was just... tired.
And then we took a trip to Thailand. Our first stop was to visit The Refuge, our Children's Home for refugee kids from Burma. The kids met us with flower crowns, handmade gifts, letters, and signs. They hugged us and celebrated us, and brought out dinner and treats. The House Parents are dear friends (we actually share an anniversary and were a part of their wedding ceremony in 2011), and they too greeted us warmly. And in the midst of our welcome... the House Mom, SerNeGay, pulled me aside. "I want to show you something", she said. She took my hand, led me into the kitchen, and opened up the refrigerator. Waiting inside was this beautiful cake she'd baked and decorated just for us.
See you soon baby Kate Jackson.
I couldn't hold back the tears. Later, she told me they pray for Kate, by name, every night.
Seeing that cake did something to me. I know we have a lot of people praying for us... I do. And I truly believe those prayers are at work on our behalf... sustaining us, protecting our daughter, and preparing the way for us to bring her home! But there was something about seeing that message in icing that renewed my hope. It was a sugary declaration... a lovingly crafted statement of faith.
I'm reminded of the story in Exodus, Chapter 17, of Joshua and the Israelites battling the Amalekites, while Moses looked on from a hill. He had already used his staff (referred to at this point as the "staff of God") to do some incredible things. God was moving through it in powerful ways! It helped him perform signs and wonders before Pharaoh, that ultimately pushed the ruler to let the Israelites go. It parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could walk through on dry land. It even brought water forth from a rock when the Israelites complained they were thirsty. When Moses was obedient and faith-full, God used his staff to perform miracles. And He was about to do it again.
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua,“Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
- Exodus 17: 8-13
Did you catch that? Moses' hands grew tired. Moses. The guy who talked to a burning bush. The guy who faced down Pharaoh. The guy whose staff parted the Red Sea. He got tired. He didn't lose faith... he didn't lose hope... he just got tired. He couldn't keep his arms up. Because he was human.
He knew God was working on his behalf. The Amalekites had attacked the Israelites unprovoked. Moses knew God would protect and provide for his people. He had seen miracle after miracle. As a matter of fact - a miracle was unfolding right in front of him at that very moment! God was helping Joshua win the battle! That is, until Moses' arms got tired and dropped beside him. That's when two of his friends - Aaron and Hur - stepped up to help. They too believed in God's power. They too had seen these miracles, and they were witnessing a miracle again. They knew if Moses just continued to be obedient (and kept his staff raised, as God instructed him to do) that this victory would come to fruition. So when Moses got too tired to hold up his own hands, they held them up for him.
My arms have been tired lately. I know, without a doubt, that God has called us to adopt a little girl from Thailand. He confirmed that to us in some truly miraculous ways. I know that her name is Kate, and that name has God's hand on it too. I believe that He is working on our behalf behind the scenes, even if we can't see it. And I believe, I truly do, that one day she will be home and in our arms.
But sometimes my arms get tired. Sometimes it's hard to hold this staff of HOPE up above my head for the world to see. Sometimes my legs get tired too. Some days it's hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other on this long, difficult adoption road. And on those days, I desperately need prayers... but I also need action. I need someone to help hold up my hands. I need someone to put my arm over their shoulder, and let me lean on them as I walk. It helps when people step out in faith and show me that they believe in our miracle too.
So when Connie sent Kate a bunny from Cambodia, and Stefanie bought her a cross for her room... when Meredith made her a custom print, and Lynn sent glitter letters... when Katie bought her a special book, and SerNeGay baked and decorated the sweetest little heart-shaped cake... those tangible things showed me that my friends really do believe Kate is coming home. Those were the moments my precious sisters held up my hands.
Sometimes it feels silly to hope, and tiresome to have faith. After all... I'm only human. And unlike Moses - I can't physically see the miracle unfolding before me (even though I do believe it's happening!) But when so many people are praying... when friends say again and again "she WILL come home"... when they say too, with longing in their voices, "we can't wait for Kate to be here!"... it doesn't seem so lonely or so difficult to keep hope alive.
Adoption is never easy. It requires hope, faith, and a lot of strength and determination too. If you have a friend who is adopting right now, ask yourself what you can do to help "hold up their arms". Try to find a tangible way to show that you're believing alongside them! And if it's you going through a difficult adoption and you're arms are feeling tired - give yourself some grace! You're only human. (If Moses got tired, you're allowed to be tired sometimes too.)
SerNeGay gave me such a gift when she made that cake, and so many of you have given me similar gifts again and again over the past 47 months. So thank you, dear friends, for helping me hold up my HOPE when my arms get tired. Together, I know, we will watch our miracle unfold!