As I sit on the couch, with a fire in the fireplace and lights twinkling, I look at our ornaments. All our ornaments have a special story tied to them, and they mean a great deal to me. I love looking back at a tree full of memories. But this year, one ornament has stuck out from all the rest. This beautiful silver one my cousin gave me several years ago.
HOPE. It's what I've needed the most this Christmas. It's what I've needed the last 36 months of our adoption journey, and it's what I need to get me through the months to come as we continue to wait for our little girl.
We didn't get our Christmas miracle - though I know so many of you prayed with us. We are still not matched with a child. And yes, on Christmas night, I am not ashamed to admit that I snuggled up in Rusty's arms on the couch... turned off the lights.... stared at our tree... and cried until my hair and his shirt were wet with tears. Oh how I long for my little girl to be home!
But honestly, for the most part - I've had peace this Christmas. That was not the case last year. I was miserable (and miserable to be around) last Christmas. But most days were good days this year. I truly believe it's because so many of you were praying for me... for us. Your prayers sustained me. And as I've finally gotten to slow down a little, God has been revealing some incredible things to me about our adoption (and I can't wait to share them here!)
For 2 and 1/2 years we worked constantly to find an agency, and complete the mounds and mounds of paperwork required of us to pursue this adoption. It filled every spare minute of our time. And then suddenly, it was over - and that paperwork went to Thailand. For the last 18 months it's been sitting on someone's desk - and we've had nothing to do but wait. So to cope, I've kept myself busy.
We have traveled constantly. There have been very few days that our suitcases were actually unpacked and put away since July 2014. We've been to India, Burma, Africa, Switzerland, and twice to Thailand for work. We've visited family and friends, and had speaking engagements all over the South. We organized our very first major event for The Sound of Hope. We worked to finish our office space. We started a side business using Rusty's video/photography skills. And we've had very little time to slow down, to rest, to reflect.
I'll admit that it's been easier that way... because if I don't slow down, the grief doesn't find me. If I just stay busy, then I don't have time to sit and cry about my daughter not being home. If my head is full of things to do, then my heart doesn't ache so much. But the truth is, it hasn't been healthy.
I've been sick more often the past 18 months than I have been in years. Bronchitis, fever viruses, colds, and the crud. We've felt the strain physically, emotionally, mentally, and in our marriage - because when you never rest, stress runs rampant. I have run myself ragged and I know I can't do it anymore.
I've talked to a few trusted friends about this, and gotten some great advice from them. One stressed how much I need a weekly Sabbath. The other forced me to order this book. (I'm lucky to have them both in my life! They were right!) I haven't even finished it, and yet this book has been changing my life in the BEST way. (If you haven't read it, you really should!) I've finally started to let myself slow down and rest, and I've heard God's voice in new ways.
I'm looking forward to sharing with you what God's been speaking to me through this blog. I haven't blogged or journaled enough the past 2 years and I know those things give me life! We've had some incredible experiences in all our travels, and I'm sad I haven't taken the time to document or share them. (Look out for some back-dated blogs coming soon from our travels this Fall!)
So as I focus on a New Year, I resolve to rest more and to write more... to get healthier physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I resolve to spend less time checking off endless "to do" lists and more time having hearts to hearts with friends. I challenge myself to not be afraid to slow down and reflect (even when it breaks my heart)... to take time to be creative and not just productive. I commit to working toward a project that I believe is a "God idea" (I'd appreciate your prayers as it's quite daunting! I can't share any details now - but I promise I will when I can!) And most of all... I resolve to keep the HOPE in my heart alive as we continue waiting on Kate to come home.
What are you hoping for in 2016?