Guangzhou!!

Every American family that comes to China to adopt follows the same “formula”.  You spend the first week in the capital city of the province that your child is from.  This is where you have Gotcha Day and Adoption Day.  At the end of this first week, after you receive your child’s passport, each family travels to Guangzhou to complete the second half of the adoption trip.  The second half of the trip is aimed at competing steps required for the child to secure a visa to enter the United States.  This includes a medical exam and appointment at the US Consulate.

Friday we wrapped up our time in Hohhot and flew to Guangzhou.  Being in province is both memorable and hard.  It is the place we met our son.  It is the place we spent our first days together.  It is the place the Lord began to give us glimpses of his sweet demeanor as he grieved less and less and opened up to us more and more.  It was also hard to feel so isolated, being the only adoptive family, not simple to navigate around, and hard to do simple things like find food-allergy friendly food.

Our flight went well (Isaiah is a rockstar!) and we breathed a sigh of relief when we arrived in Guangzhou and then when we showed up at the hotel.  We know our way around here, we can make our way to the Starbucks in the lobby with our eyes closed, we figured out how to find some gluten free food here last time, and there are adoptive families all around this place.  It is certainly a welcome change and being in Guangzhou sort of mentally signifies to us that we are on the final stage of the trip.

With the relief came a pretty significant rush of emotions for me as the reality hit that on the heels of our move to Guangzhou is another transition.  It’s time for Russ to head home.  For months and months of this adoption, we went back and forth about who would travel.  Would we take the whole family?  Would we only bring Elliott?  Would one parent stay behind as to not disrupt her attachment?  When Russ was laid off in January and then took his new job in March, one of the upfront conditions of his employment was that he wanted a week off to travel with me for at least a week.  Those circumstances sort of made the decision for us.  We would come together for Gotcha Day and the harder part of the trip in province, then he would head back home and go back to work while I finished out the trip.

Yesterday morning we had Isaiah’s medical exam.  In order for any new immigrant to enter the United States, they must be evaluated before their visa appointment at the Consulate.  It was loud and chaotic and hot and little man was definitely scared at moments, but he seems to recover quickly.  We spent the afternoon visiting One Link Plaza, a shopping market, and getting Russ packed up to head home.

It’s now Sunday morning in China and the driver just picked Russell up to take him to the airport.  Because of the time difference and layovers, after 3 flights he will land in Houston Sunday night in about 28 hours.  Isaiah and I cannot leave until his visa is completed and safely in his passport, so we will be killing time and seeing the sights together in China until Friday, with his appointment at the Consulate on Tuesday.

We were blessed yesterday to meet another family from our agency that we’ll be spending time with this week, which was an answer to prayer for me to have some community this week.  I’m so sad to see my best friend leave and I’m nervous about being here alone.  I’m trying to be thankful to have some time to invest into my youngest child before we get home and all the sudden there are sisters and a brother and other aspects of life to compete for my attention and to believe that God is going to work in this week.  To believe that He is going to teach me and change me and work amidst what feels very uncomfortable to me.  I would love prayers for Isaiah and I as we tackle this last week together in China.

As for Isaiah, he is doing better and better every day.  He is showing more and more of his personality.  Smiling and laughing and jabbering.  Anytime we are in the room he is BUSY.  He is sweet and animated and just the slightest big mischievous, which is adorable.  He is looking to me for comfort a lot and seems to grow more comfortable with sleeping and eating each day.  I’ve looked at him over the past few days and felt so thankful that he is ours.  The enemy tried hard to stop this adoption, to discourage us just enough.  And I can see why.  This little guy needed a family.  And he is the perfect little exclamation point on the end of ours.

We had to get up early to catch our flight to Guangzhou.  Little man is a serious sleeper!  It’s hard to wake him up before he’s ready.

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Awake finally!  Bedhead 🙂

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Flight from Hohhot to Guangzhou

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Up and down the stairs.  Up and down the escalator.  #hotelpastimes

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Medical Exam.  Mostly not pleased.

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Gotcha Day, Adoption Day, and the days since

On the night before Gotcha Day, we were still struggling with recovering from our exhausting trip here and feeling the effects of jet lag.  We had not had a chance to even step foot out of our hotel room, which means we were scraping the bottom of the barrel with bottled water (China survival depends on bottled water) and were living on instant gluten free oatmeal.  We sent out a request for prayer for our bodies to bounce back, our spirits to be uplifted, and for us to get our feet on the ground before we met our son.

We woke up on Monday morning feeling much more like ourselves.  We got our room organized, got ready, and went down to the breakfast buffet, which was amazing.  We actually ate a meal for the first time since Thursday night!

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We weren’t scheduled to meet Isaiah until 4:00 that afternoon, so we had a LOT of time to kill.  We spent a few hours that morning walking around and taking in the area near our hotel.  Hohhot is a busy city and the area near our hotel has a lot going on.  There is  big park almost directly behind the hotel, a mall a few blocks over, and near there is some familiar sites – Starbucks, McDonalds, and Burger King.  We grabbed coffee, stocked up on bottled water, and got a few last minutes Isaiah necessities before walking back to the hotel to wait out the afternoon.

After a long afternoon of killing time, it was finally almost time.  We went downstairs to the lobby of our hotel at 3:30, as we really wanted to be down there when he came in.

We wondered if we would recognize him.  We had seen so few photos and videos during this adoption, that we worried that we might not know him.  The second they walked in, I caught one glimpse of his eyes and knew.  He has these big, deep eyes that you feel like you are swimming in.

We went into this Gotcha Day prepared for it to look different than Elliott’s.  The day we met Elliott was beautiful and easy, but we realized very quickly why it was easy, she had no attachment to anyone.  She was simply excited for someone to pay attention to her.  It took many, many months of hard work for her to began to put pieces together of what parents are, of what family is, for her to not look for attention everywhere and began to feel confident that we would always show her love and affection.

In some respects we sort of wanted Isaiah to struggle.  All the literature says that children who have something to lose, who have formed some sort of attachment to their caregivers and who then have to grieve that at the time of adoption, are better able to form new attachments to their adoptive parents.

But the extent to which he struggled we were not prepared for.  We met him at 4:00 pm on Monday evening.  He screamed and struggled to get away from us for several hours until he sort of went into a daze.  Then he calmed down but became almost catatonic.  He laid on me, crying out every once in a while the most heartbreaking cry.  He refused all food, drink, and bottle.  Finally, he let us give him a bottle and he fell asleep.

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We went to bed Monday night weary.  There had really been nothing beautiful about the day.  It was sad and hard.

We were set up to meet with our guide, the ladies from Isaiah’s orphanage, and the people from the civil affairs department at 9:00 am Tuesday morning to complete his official adoption.

Tuesday morning rolled around and we were struggling.

Little man slept solidly through the night, but Russ and I did not.  Jet lag, anxiety, desperately missing our kids at home.  And as little guy woke up, we could see that he was still heartbroken.  On this morning he was still in a daze more than anything.

The first 24 hours together after Gotcha Day are generally referred to as the “harmonious period”.  Essentially it is a grace period to give you time with the child before you officially adopt him or her the following day.

In the last few years that I have been a part of the China Adoption community, I have witnessed a few people disrupt adoptions.  Potential adoptive parents get all the way to China and for one reason or another after meeting the child decide not to proceed with the adoption.  Sometimes it’s because the medical needs of the child are more than the parents thought they would be.  Sometimes it’s because of the behavior of the child.  Sometimes it’s because of the parents’ own fear or culture shock.  Whatever the reason, it’s always heartbreaking.  It’s another loss for the child and often can mean the child is then labeled as “unadoptable”.

It’s one of the reasons we do so much training.  To be prepared for the reactions these babies can have when handed off to strangers suddenly.

But I’ll be honest.  It doesn’t prepare you.

On Tuesday morning, as we prepared to go eat breakfast just an hour before we officially adopted this little guy, we essentially had spent about 18 hours with him while he screamed, slept, or groaned.  And we were scared.

So much of the adoption process is about faith.  Faith in the calling we have.  Faith that God will lead us to the child we are supposed to bring home.  Faith that He has a plan for us when it comes to things like navigating medical needs and personalities.  It has been a journey for us to trust God in so many different ways over the past two years with these two adoptions, but this felt sort of insurmountable.

We reached out to the people who have committed to pray for us during these weeks.  And we prayed together.  Lord, would you confirm again that this is the path you have put before us?  Would you help us walk forward trusting you even when this feels cloudy right now?

We walked down to breakfast sort of timidly.  Isaiah sat on my lap during breakfast and I started feeding him some yogurt.  I offered him banana and he shook his head no.  He pointed to my eggs and I gave him some bites.  I started to see him relax a little bit.  At one point I took a drink of orange juice and he stared at me, clearly interested.  I offered him some and after that first little drink of juice, he smiled the tiniest little half smile at me.

In those 45 minutes, as he drank juice and ate yogurt, we began to see the most darling little personality come out.  He started to feed himself and we saw him use both his hands.  He smiled a big smile after drinks of juice.

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At 9:00 am, one hour after we asked God to give us peace about the huge thing we were about to do, we went to a conference room of the hotel and officially adopted Isaiah Edward Yang King.  Without reservation, yet knowing he still had a process of grieving to walk through.

It’s now Thursday afternoon.  Yesterday and today we have had good days doing some official paperwork, some sightseeing, and a lot of hanging around.  We are slowly learning our boy and seeing that we are slowly gaining trust with him.

Some notable things:

*Isaiah is 27 months old today and is TINY.  I brought mostly 2T clothes with a few random 18 month things.  The 18 month stuff is workable, but still big on him.  Elliott was the exact same age when we adopted her and we thought she was tiny, but she was bigger than him.

*He likes to eat but does not seem starving or malnourished.  He has a head full of beautiful hair and he looks to have the appropriate amount of teeth, unlike Elliott at that point.  He does not seem desperate for food or like he has to have food in his hands at all times, which seems to us like he was probably fed more consistently than some of these babies.

*He is more developmentally advanced and aware than we were expecting.  He says some things in Chinese, which we obviously do not understand.  He is very aware of what’s happening around him.  If we say it’s time to go eat, he’ll get shoes and go stand by the door.  If we get up to leave somewhere, he’ll point to my purse or Russ’s backpack to let us know not to forget it.  He’s picked up a few signs (more and eat) and is very proud of himself when he does them.

*He was definitely loved.  The orphanage director brought him to us and you could tell that she cared for him.  He was given to us with a scrapbook from the time he was in the orphanage and in new clothes that they had taken him shopping for.

*Sleep is hard.  His days are getting better and better.  He’s engaging more, smiling more, and showing more trust.  Naptime and bedtime are still difficult, which is understandable.  Sleep is a vulnerable time.  He is showing a little trust even in that though.  Last night as he was falling asleep he reached over and held my hand.  This morning when he woke up he starred at me for a while, then smiled a tiny smile and crawled up in my lap.

*He is busy!  He climbs up and down off this little bench area in the hotel room, plays with all the toys we have, looks at himself in the mirror, brings us something, then starts all over again.  This morning Russ looked at me and said “he and Elliott are going to be into EVERYTHING”.  No doubt.

We’re breathing a big sigh of relief today to have made some progress.  We are also thankful to be making some headway in our trip.  We have just one afternoon left in Hohhot.  On Friday morning we’ll fly to Guangzhou for the second half of the trip.  The land of Starbucks and gluten-free foods awaits me tomorrow!

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We lived through the trip here. Barely.

We are here!  A little worse for wear, but we are here!

Our original flight left at 7:15 am from Houston, so we elected to say goodbye to our kids and go to a hotel close to the airport on Thursday night.

Our flights would take us from Houston to Detroit.  Then Detroit to Beijing.  Then Beijing to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.  When we booked our original tickets, I spent a long time going over details like layover times, seat assignments, and reserving gluten free meals on flights.  There is no way to make traveling across the globe simple, but we had thought through as much as possible to make it as easy as possible.

When our alarm went off at 3:30 am, we had an email from Delta saying that our first flight had been pushed back by two hours.  Apparently with some of the recent storms on the East Coast of the US and high winds, there were quite a few flights that were being effected.  We knew that this would effect our subsequent flights and we would likely miss the next flight we had scheduled.

We got to the airport at about 5:15 am and waited in line at the Special Services counter.  The gentleman had to do some maneuvering and utilize a flight with United, but he was able to get us all the way to Beijing.  We would have to figure out about changing our flight from Beijing to Hohhot.

We rode the train over to the United terminal and stood in line there with our new itinerary, only to find out that we had been put on that flight standby.

We went back to the Delta counter and stood in the line, also calling the 1800 and talking through our choices with the lady on the phone, as the long was now 4 times as long as it was the first time we stood in it.

Ultimately we concluded that our best option was to take the United flight to Seattle and hope that we made it off the standby list.  Every other flight option had us getting to Hohhot late on Sunday night or on Monday sometime, having us potentially miss Gotcha Day.

We went back to United, got our boarding passes, went through security, and finally stopped to eat something.  We got to our gate and began the waiting.  As it turned out, I had a seat and only Russ was on standby.  This was the good news.  The bad news was that we had checked our luggage and we found out that too late that even if we weren’t going, our luggage was.

Russ was the second person on the standby list and we waited anxiously for about 45 minutes.  The first person on the standby list didn’t come and we knew that we were just waiting for one person not to show up.  After they loaded everyone and waiting until the required 15 minutes before the flight left, the lady at the counter called his name.  He got the last seat.  She hugged me, told me to go get our baby, and I cried as we boarded the plane.

The flight to Seattle was fine until the last 30 minutes.  The captain had warned us that there would be turbulence.  This was an understatement.  It felt like a slow motion roller coaster that would never end.

By the time we got off the plane in Seattle, I was a mess.  I had been fighting a headache all day and had maxed out on the amount of migraine pills I could take.  The turbulence had pushed me over the edge and I had a lot of anxiety about getting on the next flight.

By the time we boarded the flight to Beijing, I was feeling better.  We ate, prayed, and regrouped.  A nice man offered to switch seats with one us so that we could sit together and that flight was pretty uneventful.

When we got to Beijing, we started moving as quickly as possible.  We had been forced to reschedule that last flight earlier in the day when all our other flights had been changed.  We only had 2 hours, which is not much time considering we had to go through customs, get our luggage, find out where to check in and recheck our luggage, and go through security again.

We made it on the flight (literally by the skin of our teeth.  2nd time to run for a flight in the Beijing airport!), only to sit on the runway for 2 hours before takeoff.  At that point, we were just done.  Exhausted and thirsty and hot and nauseous.   I had taken so much medicine to fight a headache and eaten so little, that it’s a miracle I didn’t throw up.

Our guide picked us up after we landed in Hohhot and we finally got to our hotel room about 2:00 am.  We got settled, ate something, and went to bed.  Sleep helped some, but I woke up feeling pretty awful still.  We spent all day today (Sunday) sleeping on and off.

We meet Isaiah tomorrow, Monday, at 4:00 pm.  We are hoping that we sleep well and feel more like ourselves tomorrow.  Because of my food allergies, it’s difficult to find things to eat in China.  We didn’t have the energy to even try to find food I could eat today, so we ate oatmeal and peanut butter crackers instead.

Our most specific prayer requests are for rest tonight, for us to feel like new tomorrow, and for us to get our bearings tomorrow.  And of course, for Isaiah and ourselves, as we are less than 24 hours from meeting him.

It’s hard not to feel distracted and discouraged.  This trip has started off HARD.  We desperately want for things to get smoother from here so that we have the energy and mental presence for things to be about him.

WE ARE GOING TO CHINA!!

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On Monday of this week our Article 5 paperwork was picked up from the consulate in Guangzhou.  We had officially completed all of the steps and were waiting for China to grant us travel approval.

For some reason the travel approval wait is haaaard.  Even though it is generally short, usually under a week, something about it being the VERY LAST STEP makes it a little excruciating.

Last week we saw a few people get TA after two days.  I was convinced that we would get ours Wednesday.  Our caseworker generally calls early in the morning when there is any kind of news (they are an hour ahead of us), so I started anticipating her call around 7:30am.  By 10:00 I knew that Wednesday wasn’t our day.

So I was CERTAIN that it would be Thursday.  I woke up Thursday morning and kept my phone close.

Again.  No call.

Mentally I resigned myself to Friday.  Friday would be our day.  As long as we didn’t have to wait through the weekend!  I went about my day and headed out for some Spring Break fun with the kids.

Mid-afternoon I missed a call from a number I didn’t recognize, then immediately after that I got a text from our caseworker, Amanda.  She was home with a sick baby boy and had been notified by the office that we had in fact gotten TA that day!

After all of the waiting, the pain of the unknowns, the struggle of watching to see if God would provide, it was all over in an instant.  No more steps.  No more delays.  We are finally fully cleared to bring our son home.

Our agency submitted our choices for our Consulate Appointment, the appointment at the Consulate in Guangzhou the second week of the trip in order to secure Isaiah’s visa.  Last night as we slept we got an email with a confirmed Consulate Appointment, which is the determining factor of when exactly we will travel.

We leave Friday, April 7th and we will meet Isaiah on Monday, April 10th.  Russell will fly home on Easter Sunday and after adventuring in China by ourselves for a few days, on Friday, April 21st Isaiah and I will make our way back to Houston.  Family of six!

We are coming, Isaiah!!

MudLOVE!

Many months ago, in the thick of fundraising for our adoption, I applied to be a fundraising family with MudLOVE. One day in early January, I almost emailed them to stop our upcoming campaign. Through the provision of God and the generosity of others, this adoption was fully funded! I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to pause and a few hours later my husband was laid off.

Although we are THRILLED that Russell started his new job today, we have occurred unexpected costs in updating our home study and filing updated paperwork to US Immigration along the way. In addition, because of our travel delay we will now be in China during the trade fair that happens every April, which will mean higher flight and hotel costs.

Today we are kicking off our MudLOVE campaign to fill in the gaps. 50% of the proceeds from the products we designed will go towards our adoption and every purchase of a MudLOVE product provides clean water for a week for an individual in the Central African Republic.  I own one of these bracelets and they are beautiful!

The link to our fundraising page is: https://www.mudlove.com/collections/fundraiser-marketplace/products/king-family-adoption?variant=37675372303

We are so grateful for the support of so many!

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Back in business

We are officially moving forward again!!  We had quite the week last week.

After a month of our adoption being paused, last Tuesday our Supplement/home study update to USCIS was approved.

On Wednesday Russ accepted a new job.

On Thursday we received the email we have been waiting for from the National Visa Center.

On Monday our Article 5 paperwork was dropped off in China.  The consulate in Guangzhou is now going through all of the immigration documents to prepare for our appointment during the adoption trip.

The Article 5 will be picked up on Monday, March 13 and we will officially be waiting for TRAVEL APPROVAL.

I think because we had been paused for so long, the end felt very far away for a while.  Now we are thinking we will travel in just over a month and I am all kinds of not ready.  Time to start making packing lists!

Also, because it is just so ridiculously cute, our baby boy engaging in some water therapy.

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Not lacking anything

It’s been 6 weeks since Russ was laid off.

In so many ways, we have experienced so much goodness over the past 6 weeks.

We have seen God provide.  In big ways and small ways, He has financially taken care of us.  He has used people, opportunities to make extra money, and even random checks in the mail to sustain us and lift the burden of finances.

It has been a joy to spend so much time with my best friend.  Even in the midst of unpleasant circumstances, there is no one on this earth that I would rather spend time with than Russell King.  We have laughed together, we have dated each other more, we have cleaned the house together and marveled at how much daily sweeping these kids necessitate.  We have ate more meals together and prayed more together and had fun with our kids.  It has been a gift to have 6 weeks of time with my husband with less stress of life.

I’ve watched my husband have a renewed passion and depth in his relationship with the Lord.  I’ve watched him begin to build new relationships and deepen relationships that spur him on in his relationship with God.  He is a great man, a faithful man.  It has been beautiful for me to see at the core of who he is, when things don’t go his way, his response is to press into the Lord.  I have been reminded in the past 6 weeks that marrying Russ was one of God’s greatest provisions in my life, many times in ways that are still being revealed to me.

Him being home has lifted some burden from me.  I would not trade the past two years for anything, but as he has given me some margin with his everyday presence, I have realized that there has been a lot of wear on me.  More than I had realized.  Navigating the adoption process, fundraising, traveling to China, bringing Elliott home, walking through her adjustment, saying yes again, doing it all over.  Over the past 6 weeks, as Russ has been home full-time and has shared more of the burden of everyday life, childcare, and getting kids where they need to go, I have been able to be quiet.  To process.  To have space to do something other than function in all the roles that I function in.  As I have done so, I have felt some of the strain of the past few years melt off of me.

I have been learning how to make the choice to be vulnerable.  Not vulnerable behind the screen of my computer, but really vulnerable.  I have been learning that I don’t always have to be the one to fix other peoples’ problems.  In the middle of this moment where lots of things have been unknown for us, I could let people love me.  I can let people minister to me.  I can let people see where I am hurt and scared.  I could be prayed for.  And it really will be okay.

And finally, I have been learning how to endure.  I read a quote sometime in the past month or so.  It simply said “Try staying open when you want to shut down.  It changes everything.” My tendency is to retreat.  When things feel overwhelming, when it is hard, when it hurts.  M&M’s and the quiet corner of my room have been my haven many times over the past few years when I just couldn’t deal.  And when I can’t physically retreat, my tendency is to live behind the closed doors of my own mind.  As I read this quote and made a determination to try and walk this thing out by faith, I found that staying open is hard.  It meant that I had to trust God to help me endure in ways that felt a little beyond me.  It meant choosing to live in the middle ground sometimes, where I acknowledged that I had more questions than answers and was honest with God about not knowing how to navigate that.  I have been learning that I can withstand and stay open, to God and the people around me, in ways I did not know.

But in the midst of all of these good things, beautiful things, that we have experienced in the 6 weeks since Russ was laid off, we have very much been living in the tension of waiting.  It has been a hard place for a mom who at her core already feels like the little boy across the world is her own.

Immediately after he was laid off we began the process of talking to our agencies about updating our home study.  The bottom line at this point is that our paperwork has already been processed through China, so any changes that are made only effect US Immigration, who processes Isaiah’s future citizenship and the visa he needs to enter the country when we bring him home from China.

The steps that happen at this stage in the adoption process build on one another:

You get I8oo approval from US Immigration (USCIS)

They forward that approval to the National Visa Center

The NVC issues you a GUZ number, which allows you access to fill out an online application for an immigrant visa.

The NVC then forwards your information to the consulate in Guangzhou, China.  This is where we will ultimately have Isaiah’s appointment during the adoption trip.

You get an email from the NVC saying they have forwarded all your information.  The agency needs this email in order to drop all the rest of your paperwork off at the consulate (this is called Article 5).

The consulate takes 2 weeks to process the paperwork.

You then wait to be granted travel approval.

In order for us to qualify to bring Isaiah in under an immigrant visa, we needed to show that we had income at 125% of the poverty level for a family of 6.  Within a few weeks Russ had secured a very part-time online teaching gig that put us just over that number.

I had a grand plan when he was first laid off that we would be able to time all of this just right.  The ball would keep rolling and while we were in the 2 week Article 5 wait, US Immigration would be processing our updated information.  We would do all the steps we need to and still stay on track for end of February or beginning of March travel.

So it was unbelievably disheartening when our US Immigration officer informed us that he would have to contact the National Visa Center and tell them to pause our case until our home study update and supplement to our immigration paperwork was approved.

That was the middle of January.  Since that point, we have watched the days tick by knowing that we are losing weeks with our son.

This past week at our staff meeting at church we were talking about how we approach stress in our lives.  At our most honest with ourselves, when we look at our response to stress in our lives, what role do we allow the Holy Spirit to play in comforting and effecting us in our stress?

We went around the table and talked about how this looks for us and what scriptures we tend to gravitate towards for comfort.  I shared 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 with the group.  For many years, I have read this chapter regularly in times of pain or stress, particularly these last few verses.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

So the point is, we take our gaze off the problems and we put our gaze on the things, the One, that is eternal.

As I have reflected on this Scripture over the past week, I realized that over the past 6 weeks I have been attempting to do this, but I have been going about it the wrong way.

I have believed that these troubles weren’t the end.

I have believed that God was writing a bigger story here.

I have believed that if I walk this out by faith I will see Him do something amazing.

But I have also believed the miracle will come in the form of everything coming together just right, everything making sense, us understanding the “why” behind everything.  Why did Russ have to get laid off?  Why does our travel have to be delayed?

I have believed that God could bring all of these fragments of our story together to give us this big climax where everything is wrapped up nice and neatly.  And everything would just make a whole bunch of sense.  After all, that was having faith, right?  That was looking at the things I couldn’t see, yes?

Because isn’t that how God gets glory?  Doesn’t He show off and do big things and make things work out just so.  And in THAT His name is made famous?

As I realized all of this, I realized I was limiting God to not much more than a creator of fairy tales.  Some sort of puppet master.  A writer of romantic comedies.  If all I need is for Him to work everything out just perfectly, there’s no need for a relationship.  I could just sit back and watch the show.  I felt like maybe God was telling me that the point of all of this wasn’t some big elaborate spectacle.

So what is this point then?  If there is a bigger story being written here, shouldn’t the end result blow my mind?

A few days ago, the Lord led me to James 1.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I realized that maybe the point of this is not for the fanfare.  Maybe it’s not be for the perfectly timed everything.  Maybe the point isn’t to see God pull everything out just in the nick of time and eventually understand how all the puzzle pieces fit together.

Maybe the point is me.

Maybe the point is that, through faith, I am changed by this.  I can look back over some hard things in my life and point to a common thread – as I have walked through hard things and trusted God, He has changed me.  It’s not a new concept for me to understand.

But for some reason, it felt like a lightning bolt to realize it in the middle of this hard moment.

As I was processing through all of this and asking God for clarity, I felt like He shined a flashlight on some areas of my life and heart that He has touched over the past 6 weeks.  Perseverance.  Staying open.  Being vulnerable.  Bending but not breaking.  Renewal.  Choosing faith.

We are expecting to hear about our approval any day.  Russell has some solid job prospects at this point.  There is a part of us that would love some resolution and answers to these questions we have been asking.  The weight of waiting for our son is hard.  That doesn’t really ever end for me.

But we are making a choice to live right in the middle of this place for as long as it lasts.  In my devotional this morning it said “trust protects you from worrying and obsessing”.  I am choosing to believe that God is going to pull this out, for sure, but that I am not just riding out the storm.  I am being changed by it.

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