Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lanterns and Miracles

If you've ever seen the movie Tangled, then you're probably familiar with this iconic lantern scene. As the story goes, the kingdom's princess was kidnapped as a baby... but her parents never gave up on finding her. And so, every year on her birthday, the King and Queen (and everyone in the kingdom) send up lanterns with the hope of finding their lost princess. It's a breathtaking sight, and one that I'm sure many have wished existed somewhere beyond a Disney movie.

What most people don't know, is that this actually scene does exist in "real life". It is based on an historic Thai festival. Each year in Thailand, the people participate in Loy Krathong and Yi Peng on the full moon during the 2nd month of the Lanna calendar (usually in November). Loy Krathong is a festival throughout Thailand, where people release lotus shaped vessels (usually made of banana leaves and candles or incense) onto the water as a way to send away their bad luck, while paying homage to the water goddess. The Lanna tradition in Northern Thailand, however, also includes sending floating lanterns into the sky while making a wish or saying a prayer. There are literally thousands of lanterns sent up on this one night in Chiang Mai. As you can imagine, it is an extraordinary sight, and one I've always hoped to be able to experience.

As luck would have it, last Fall the House Mom at our Children's Home in Thailand got married. (This is the Children's Home we established through our nonprofit - not the one where our daughter lives). We were invited to the wedding, and with the use of sky miles, we were able to attend. Somehow, the dates corresponded perfectly with the Lantern Festival - and we were thrilled to be back in Chiang Mai in time to participate.

We met up with our friends Jesse and Jenny who live in Thailand (and who are also adopting from Thailand) so that we could all experience the evening together. We talked, laughed, and looked in awe at the beautiful sight surrounding us. With each hour that passed, more and more lanterns filled the air!

Finally, we decided to send up our own lantern for our little "lost princess" . Rusty and I wrote a note to our daughter on our lantern, then lit it and began praying for Kate as it filled with hot air. When it was almost too hot to hold anymore, we pushed it up into the sky and held hands - hoping to watch it drift out of sight.

Unfortunately... it came crashing down into a group of strangers! Luckily they caught it, and pushed it up into the air again. It struggled... and we thought we were going to see it crash into the trees and burn. Suddenly the crowd (of a couple of friends - but mostly complete strangers from ALL over the world) began to chant. "Go, go, go!" You could see them all holding hands, waving at our lantern, clapping, cheering, and praying it would make it! Together we all willed it to make it over the trees, and at the last moment - IT DID!  Once it was out of sight, I turned around and burst out laughing.

"Isn't this just like our adoption?!" I asked Rusty. "We wanted it to be this beautiful thing... we hoped it would go as planned... but instead, our hopes almost crashed into the ground! Our adoption has been so much harder than we expected. It took the help of a few friends - and even some strangers all over the world - cheering us on and praying for us to keep us going the past 4+ years. And ultimately, it was by the grace of God that we "made it over the trees" without crashing and burning." (It takes a village, right friends?)

I am grateful though, that in the end the lantern for our little "lost princess" did make it high into the night sky. And after we sent it up, my friend Jenny and I sent up another special lantern. On this one, we wrote the names of all our friends waiting for children - through adoption or infertility. Then we sent up the lantern with another prayer... for a miracle for our families, and each family represented on the lantern. (That one went up without a hitch! haha!)

Well let me tell you friends.... I am convinced that 2016 is a year of miracles. Jenny and I wrote 9 names on that lantern. 2 of them are friends of hers I do not know... but I do know that out of the remaining 7, one has been matched with a child, one has brought a child home via adoption, one has seen renewed movement in her adoption after years without it, and THREE friends - three of those precious women we listed - are pregnant with MIRACLE BABIES without the use of fertility drugs (one after waiting for 10 years!)

And now, here we are, waiting and believing for our miracle. If you've been following along, since we were matched in April we have been praying for August travel dates. We were told from the beginning that the normal travel timeline would be November at the earliest - but that it could also very likely be a year or more before we would travel to get our daughter. We were told about all the approvals that had to happen before travel, and that many families have been waiting 10 months for just the first approval (Article 16). And yet, we felt God was speaking "August" to our hearts.

I know it doesn't make sense, but I also couldn't shake this word. And though everyone may think I'm crazy, I decided I'd rather be wrong (or even crazy) than be faithless! So, for the past 14 weeks we have been standing in FAITH, believing God for this miracle. We have hoped, and prayed, and prepared... and asked our friends (and perfect strangers too!) to pray and believe with us. And unfortunately, we have seen 6 Thai Adoption Board meetings pass without our approval.

We are down to the wire friends. Tonight is the 7th Thai Adoption Board Meeting since we were matched with our daughter. If there is any hope of us getting August travel dates (even August 31st!) then our approval has to happen tonight. Not only do we need a miracle for approval tonight - but we will then need a few more miracles to get our other approvals (US Immigration & US Embassy) to go through faster than usual as well!

The odds are stacked against us... but we are praying for a miracle anyway. I've seen this quote show up at least 5 times during the past few weeks, and I think it's very appropriate for where we are tonight...

"Difficulty is the very atmosphere of miracle - it is miracle in its first state. If it is to be a great miracle, the condition is not difficulty but impossibility." 
- LB Cowman

Friends, our situation is absolutely impossible in man's eyes... so that means we are in the perfect place for God to show up and show out! Tonight, around 8pm CST the Thai Adoption Board will begin to meet. They will meet through the night... most likely until around 5am our time (Thailand is 12 hours ahead of us). This is our last chance for August travel dates. We need our Article 16 approval TONIGHT!

Will you join us in praying for a miracle? Matthew 17:20 says, "if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."  Well tonight, we need some mountains to move. We need every mountain that stands between us and our daughter to move out of the way! We need for our file to be presented, and we need for it to be in the right person's hands at the right time. We need favor, and APPROVAL, and a speedy release of our paperwork to the US.

Tonight, I will be dreaming of a dark sky filled with faith, hope and prayers (instead of just lanterns). Please join us as we wait expectantly for our miracle. We are looking forward to the day our little "lost princess" is HOME!