It’s no secret that music and words are significant to me. For as long as I have known God and walked with Him I have often heard His voice and connected to Him through music.
When we brought Elliott home and throughout the spring of 2016, I spent many, many hours with her strapped to my chest in a carrier. When I didn’t know how to make things better for her and was overall inadequate to meet her needs, she could often be soothed by being worn in a toddler carrier snugly against me. Often, we would drop Campbell and Bennett at school in the morning and go for a walk. So many days she and I walked and walked – just me and my earbuds and my Chinese baby girl strapped to my chest.
I don’t remember the first time I listened to this, but once I did I must have listened to it hundreds of times. For many steps that turned into many walks that turned into many miles, I was claiming this for her life. From defeat to victory. From sorrow to joy. From bondage to freedom. From mourning to dancing. The miracle can happen now. The evidence is all around. The Spirit of the Lord is here.
Over and over again we walked and I spoke these words over her. Over her hard beginning. Over her sadness. Over the fear and the trauma that consumed a lot of our life for those months. Over her future.
In a time where I was often exhausted, often overwhelmed, not sure how or what to pray and felt powerless, I needed this Truth to guide my prayers for her.
As time went by and we began to see little pieces of this girl’s heart transform at some point I didn’t have to desperately claim this over her anymore. I began to see healing in ways that exceeded my expectations. In ways that have overwhelmed me and brought me to my knees over and over again. I saw life begin to flow through her. Before my eyes she began to physically change from an orphan to a daughter who demonstrated that she knew she was loved. At some point I stopped needing to desperately claim it over her because I could see the Lord answering my prayers and working it all out in her.
And then I began to claim some of it for myself.
“We’re not waiting on a move of God, we are a move of God”.
I began to evaluate all these things in the context of my heart. What was the “little bit of faith” that we needed? How did this apply to me?
It was from that place that we wrestled through our second yes.
To be honest, I fully expected our second adoption to look like our first. I expected the process to be good. The waiting to be hard, but the process to be exciting and generally smooth. I geared myself up for the hard work of fundraising and the ache of waiting to get to our child, but fully anticipated that we would sail through all of it with little to slow us down.
I expected that like the first time, the real work would come when we brought our baby home.
If you have hung with us through this adoption process, then you know that has not been the case. I have written quite a bit about how hard this adoption has been. Through the last several months especially, we have struggled. Sickness upon sickness upon sickness. Car wreck. Trip to the ER. Identity theft. Saying no to a referral. Broken teeth. Waiting and waiting and waiting for God to provide the funding.
Along the way we began to wonder why. We began to question if all of this was deliberate. We began to realize and feel affirmed that we were being attacked. These things weren’t coincidences. The enemy was attempting to dissuade us, to break us down, to prevent us from pushing forward.
A few weeks ago, right before Christmas, we saw God begin to answer our prayers. In one week He provided $20,000 and fully funded this adoption. We were matched with our precious son. We received our Letter of Approval from China, giving us China’s official approval to make him ours. In one week, we saw God provide and answer all that we had been waiting for. It was an incredible, beautiful whirlwind.
I think at that point I breathed a sigh of relief. It was over. God had won. There was nothing left to fight. The enemy had no more room or ammunition to mess with us. Our son would be coming home soon.
We enjoyed Christmas and the break with our kids. Our best friends came in town to visit us. We celebrated the New Year (the year of Isaiah!). We got back to school and work. I began to feverishly count down the days and weeks until China. 60 days. We were in the home stretch.
After months and months of feeling like we were under attack, we began to put our guard down. We stopped bracing ourselves for the next thing. I very much put down all my spiritual armor and began obsessively looking at (okay, buying) little man clothes for the newest member of our family. It felt like we shook off the hard and began to focus on the adventure in front of us: becoming a family of six.
And so it felt like the ugliest of out-of-nowhere, sucker punches when Russ was laid off from his job last week.
Less than 2 months away from leaving for China to bring home our fourth child, just after we have been matched with and fallen in love with our son, our primary provider has lost his job.
I think practically I should be concerned about things like paying bills and feeding all these people in my family, but at my core I felt instantly broken for my son across the world. The wait to get to him was already hard. I felt like someone had just thrown up a brick wall in my path.
After a few days of desperate tears and eating of many M&Ms, I found myself at church on Sunday morning. Raw and exhausted and filled with uncertainty and trying to put on a brave face.
That morning the Lord spoke over the music and my thoughts and all my crying.
“This is when you choose faith”.
Here’s the thing. I don’t get to say I am living a life of faith if all I do is point to the work that God has done after the fact and praise Him for his miracles. To walk by faith means that I make a choice right now, in the midst of the part that I don’t understand, to believe that God is faithful to all the things that He has promised me. To believe that when He says that He is ordering my steps, He really meant that. When He said that He was working all things for my good, He meant that too. When He said He would supply all of my needs, He was being serious.
And when He said nothing is impossible for Him, I can rest in that even when things look impossible to me.
Our reality right now is that China recognizes Isaiah as ours. Our paperwork has gone through their process and we have been fully approved to make him our son. They are not interested in the changes that have taken place at this point in our financial situation.
All of our remaining steps in this adoption have to do with securing his visa to come in the US as a new immigrant. The American Government wants to know of any changes to our situation because they want to know that we are going to be able to provide for him once we bring him in to the country.
Ironically, assets don’t play much into this, as far as we have been able to discern at this point. Our amended home study will have to show income up to a certain level in order for Isaiah to be granted a visa to come into the country.
Both our adoption agencies have been beautifully supportive and are working and fighting with us. We are evaluating things like unemployment benefits and if they count, how much income do we need to show, and how much time do we have to do this before we begin looking at travel delays. And although we have some answers to some questions, we are still very much in a place of not knowing.
So here we are. We know who the God of the Bible is. We have seen Him do incredible miracles in bringing our daughter home and in redeeming loss and hurt in her beyond what we were capable of. We have felt Him sustain us through the tough months of this adoption. We have seen Him provide in ways that can only be pointed back to Him.
And now we are looking to Him to pull this one out.
I have found myself going back to claiming this song this week. Having faith, choosing faith, does not mean my emotions just jump in line. I am human. There is a reality of the situation that weighs on me. I am sad. I am weary. Some moments I am fighting against fear. I am ready for things to be tied up all neatly with a bow and feel like a sure thing.
But in the midst of that, I am believing.
How many believe mountains still move?
How many believe God still reigns?
Our Father who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name.
Your Kingdom come.
Your Will be done.
Here and now.