The year 2010 will soon come to a close, and this week I have found myself thinking a lot about the events of this past year, and what it held for Shane and I. I guess six words sum up how I feel: it is well with my soul. I wouldn’t trade a single moment from this past year – not a tear, not one moment of bad news or disappointment, not a single piece of gov’t paperwork, not a minute. This year my faith was tested and strengthened, my relationship with God deepened, and my worldview broadened. He taught me things that I would never have learned had I not “been through the valley”.
There are several specific things that I have learned this year. One, I need God – each and every second of every day. During our fertility battle with all the pills, tests, procedures, and disappointments, I could not have gotten through a day without precious moments in God’s Word and tearful prayers. I journal my prayers…I look forward to reading them to my kids many years down the road. During the last six months with our adoption journey, I have depended on God so much. I depend on Him to take care of our finances, to take care of our son and his birthmother, and to give me peace each day knowing that soon I will be a mother. God has never let me down. He is so good.
Two, I have learned that it’s not all about me. There is a whole world out there full of hurting and hungry people that need their physical and spiritual needs met. Before this year I wanted to save money so that we could buy a nice house…now we are praying about downsizing from our comfortable rental home so that we can have more to give. Compared to how the rest of the world lives, we live in a mansion – we live in luxury (the dictionary reference of a luxury is “the enjoyment of comforts and pleasures in addition to those necessary for a reasonable standard of well-being”). I’m not saying this to puff us up, I’m just trying to be transparent about the change God has made in our hearts. Allow Him to change yours too. Do you need the latest and greatest things? Does God call us to climb the corporate ladder, drive nice cars, buy a nice house, have only our “own” children, save every extra penny for extravagant vacations, and take “love your neighbor” only as being nice to the person who lives directly next door to us?? No.
Three, I have (naturally) learned so much about adoption. God put a love for adoption in my heart as a teenager, but it wasn’t until this year that the love truly grew. Soon after love grew in my heart, it started to grow in Shane’s as well. Shane found this statistic on the Grace House web page and read it to our church on National Orphan Sunday: “There are as many orphaned and vulnerable children in Ethiopia as there are people in greater NYC.” (Follow this link to more heartbreaking statistics of orphans here and around the world http://gracehouse.info/?page_id=655) So, what are we supposed to do about this? God tells us in the Bible. In James 1:27 it tells us “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you”. Not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone IS called to care for orphans. You can do this by praying for the orphans of the world and for families to be raised up to adopt, pray for families who are already in the adoption process, go on a missions trip to help meet the needs of orphans and orphanages around the world, become a foster parent here at home, or give of your financial resources to help a family adopt (as many of you have already done for us, and we are so grateful). There are many ways to be obedient.
God put two different books in my life this year that have really been an integral part of opening my eyes and changing my heart. Besides the Bible, nothing has stirred my heart more. I fully recommend these books – read them and let them change you. Let them strengthen your faith in Christ and change your desires. One is Radical by David Platt, and the other is True Religion by Palmer Chinchen, PhD. Before I started writing this post, I was reading a chapter in True Religion. I love this:
“If there is a way to a stronger heart for God, what is it? How do I have it? The way to a strong physical heart is not to rest it. Sitting on the couch watching too many episodes of Family Guy will atrophy your heart. Your heart is a giant muscle, and the only way to a ferociously strong heart is to work it out, exhaust it, make it beat hard. Climb a mountain. Do something so difficult your heart feels like it’s going to beat right out of your chest. I believe it works the same way spiritually. When you get up and get out and live your life for Christ, your spiritual heart beats stronger. I know this has been true in my life. My most difficult moments have been the moments that have shaped my heart most for God. They are heart-aching, heart-breaking moments I wish I could take back, but I know they have made me large-hearted and brought me closer to heaven. All I can tell you is what I know: When your heart begins to feel like it is a hundred miles from heaven, give your life away - mentor, serve, give, share, hold, encourage, love…and let God grow your heart.”