Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ridiculous Faith.

How this all began. The story… we simply didn’t even begin to write. 
Dean and I went out for a date at Olive Garden. On this date I mentioned to Dean that I keep getting this strong impression about adopting an older girl. We talked. We laughed. We both agreed this would have to be from God simply because of the timing. 
As we were getting ready to leave, the family beside us stood up and their daughter was 11 yo and adopted from China. We had a great conversation with them. 
There are moments in this story… we called “God winks”. Then there are “whispers”. Then… there are “shouts”.
This was just a wink. A wink that got our attention… but in and of itself… didn’t say much.
March 1 was Sunday.
Sunday morning… like most Sunday mornings before it….we got up and began our routine of getting a family of 12 ready to go to church. When the children were all situated in their classes, Dean and I sat down with Izrael, Taizi and Nazara. Dean stepped out with Nazara to get a water. We were singing. While singing, I started to cry. Not cry…cry. It was a cry…that I wasn’t doing. The same kind of cry that I cried when watching Taizi’s orphanage video. A cry that I knew God was trying to get my attention. I sat down and started to pray. I remember saying “Ok God. I’m listening. What are you trying to tell me?” and instantly I heard His whisper. “Janice…this next step…this will take ridiculous faith”. I put my head in my hands and sat just processing. Dean came in and a few minutes later leaned over and said something to me. He then said “I’m really excited about this series we are starting at church next week”…and then showed me this:

unnamed

I jumped! I asked in a total shocked voice “where did you get that?” When I told him what had just happened while he was getting water… we both sat there stunned. 
This was a shout. God had totally gotten my attention. We were listening.
Ridiculous Faith. I felt like we had already done the ‘ridiculous faith’…but apparently…not yet.
I was doing life, everything was normal and I kept seeing this picture in my head of us all at the ocean. Playing in the waves and there was a girl with Tirzah. She was Chinese and there was something with her leg. She was limping. There may have been a wheelchair off to the side…I couldn’t get the full picture. Who was the girl? It was so confusing. Who was with us at the ocean? Why was I even seeing this? I just moved on. But something was nagging at me about a girl…and she was older. Tirzah’s age.
Later I contacted a friend who is adopting from Africa. My heart has always loved Africa. Ever since I was a young child. She put me in contact with her agency and I emailed them. They replied asking info about me and our family. I was in the middle of replying when I felt that still small voice just whisper. It wasn’t a shout. It was a whisper. “Janice…no. This is not where your child is…” and I stopped and erased the entire email. I knew. Not Africa.
On Monday I confided in a good friend of mine. She asked if I wanted to see girls about Tirzah’s age that were on waiting lists. I agreed. The very first one she send me I opened the picture and instantly started crying. That same cry. That cry that I knew. I knew this was her. It wasn’t a cry of “oh she’s beautiful she needs a family”… no it was a cry that was beyond me. I was definitely being moved. In fact, she sent me a number of photos of different children and though beautiful and precious… no… not one of them brought tears. I looked back at the first one and again…the same thing. Crying.
As I read more about her I was blown away. This beautiful girl was exactly Tirzah’s age. 2 months older. Yes we’ve always felt strongly about not interrupting birth order with our oldest but we’ve also learned age and developmental age are two different things. It was even more special to see her birthday is my mom’s birthday. 
Ahhh. How do you process all of this? I had just told 3 different friends within the previous 2 weeks that we were pretty sure we were done adopting. And here we were. Stuck in the land in between….not yet started building our house…we are so close. Sitting in our rental home for far longer than planned. And this…? The timing. I mean…the timing. It couldn’t be more…’off’. 
I had confided in another friend who said “Oh Janice…does the timing ever seem right?” and it reminded me of my sweet friend Jenny Groothius. How the one comment she made when God was speaking to us about Chazano and Zunduka changed everything. She said, “When is the timing right Janice? When is the perfect timing…?” and that stuck with me. God sees the bigger picture. 
And He also knows that in my timing…I can be independent. I’ll take care of it. I’ll provide. But right now…? We have to move. We cannot stay here. We are building our house… all arrows have pointed in that direction. We’ve seen God’s hand all along the way. And now we are to begin the adoption process…? Now…? 
As I’m wading through my thoughts that are as clear as mud…it hits me. Oh..’ridiculous faith’. It begins now. Stepping out when the timing is so off. So off that it forces us to depend on God. Can’t do this one on our own. (Mind you…we never have. Yet clearly that’s the hardest surrender for me.)
We were driving around on Tuesday and turned on the radio. I had never heard this song before. That might seem like no big deal… but we know all the songs. We listen to Christian radio a lot. This one… was a whisper. I couldn’t miss the message. 
Beyond Me by Toby Mac
Call it a reason to retreat
I got some dreams that are bigger than me
I might be outmatched, outsized, the underdog in the fight of my life
Is it so crazy to believe
That You gave me the stars, put them out of my reach
Called me to waters a little too deep
Oh, I’ve never been so aware of my need
You keep on making me see
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond me
Yeah, it’s out of my league
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond
Anything that I got the strength to do
In over my head keeps me countin’ on You
I’m leaving the sweet spot, sure shot
Tradin’ it all for the plans You got
Is it so crazy to believe
That You gave me the stars, put them out of my reach
Called me to waters a little too deep
Oh, I’ve never been so aware of my need
Yeah, you keep on making me see
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond me
Yeah, it’s out of my league
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond me
You take me to the place where I know I need You
Straight to the depths that I can’t handle on my own
And Lord I know, I know I need You
So take me to Your great
Take me to Your great unknown
It’s way beyond me, w-way beyond me
It-it’s way beyond me, w-w-way beyond me
Ok. Ok. Yes…stars but they are out of reach. Ocean is just too deep. Beyond me. I’m listening. 
March 3 we had received Poppy’s file from the agency. As I’m pouring over everything and reading through the blurred lines and the unknowns…it hits me…this is an 11 year old that has no education. 
Whoa. Ok… I can do hard things. But… no education? 11 years old?
This was a big one. I told Dean. Every doubt is now filling my mind. Ok we just can’t do that. I mean…yes we homeschool our kids but starting from scratch? At 11? My stomach was in knots. 
When I woke March 4 I woke humming. I was humming a song that I couldn’t place the words to. I had business calls to do and I was so frustrated. Finally they came to me…”thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path…” by Amy Grant.
I googled the words. I haven’t heard that song in years. I love when God speaks through songs. Perhaps it’s the irony of it all. I can’t sing. I wish I could…but I can’t. And God has spoken many times to me…in the night… through songs. 
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
When I feel afraid,
And think I’ve lost my way.
Still, you’re there right beside me.
Nothing will I fear
As long as you are near;
Please be near me to the end.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
I will not forget
Your love for me and yet,
My heart forever is wandering.
Jesus by my guide,
And hold me to your side,
And I will love you to the end.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
When I feel afraid,
And think I’ve lost my way.
Still, you’re there right beside me.
Nothing will I fear
As long as you are near;
Please be near me to the end.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
I will not forget
Your love for me and yet,
My heart forever is wandering.
Jesus by my guide,
And hold me to your side,
And I will love you to the end.

(chorus)
As I read the words my eyes filled with tears. “When I feel afraid…and think I’ve lost my way…still you are there right beside me. Nothing will I fear as long as you are near…please be near me to the end…” Yes. Yes I was afraid. This was a whisper. A gentle, soft whisper to my soul. A whisper that said “Janice…I’ve given you a light…a lamp. I’ll never leave you. Don’t be afraid. I’m here every step of the way.” 
But still… no education nagged at me. How…? Who…?
Later that day on March 4, Dean took the older 5 kids to the grocery store. We had been talking about my great concerns about this education thing as he left. When he returned…he seemed different. He was beaming. He even asked if I wanted to know what happened on his way. Having no idea something had happened, I was all ears. He said when he got in the van, the christian radio station was on. It was the local one. In our experience… it’s just music. But as he started the van, the words came through the speaker system: “Here I was about to put a child into sixth grade that couldn’t read or write…”. He kept listening only to find out this was a lady’s story of how God called her to adopt this 11 year old boy… who had no education. He didn’t speak English… and couldn’t read or write. Dean sat spellbound through the story and there was no doubt… this… this was a shout. This was God in His graciousness… stepping in through our ‘yet again’ lack of faith and answering the specific concern we were battling. Letting us know… yes… even this. 
Ridiculous faith.
On March 5, I called a friend. Not an adoption friend… just a friend. But a friend of great faith. We talked through what had happened and what God was doing. She said something that resonated with me… “Janice…God has equipped you for this. He is calling you…and He has equipped you and Dean.”
I had to tell myself to stop. Just stop. Stop looking up her special need. Stop researching. There are holes in her file. There are gaps. But nothing is unknown. The God who was so clearly calling us to this beautiful, beautiful girl…He knows every part of her and her story… and ours. He has loved her from the very beginning. 
Late that night, Dean and I stayed up talking. One of the things we noticed is how on No Hands But Ours Facebook page… they had posted Poppy’s photo on March 1 at some point in the morning. 
This was the caption: “We first shared sweet Poppy with you last year. Sadly, she still waits for a family to chose her. Come see her updated pictures, she is precious!”
March 1… is Sunday morning. The morning that God had shouted to get my attention. When He told me this next step would take “ridiculous faith”. We didn’t know this post was made. But looking at it… it was a wink. Perhaps even a whisper. God confirming the timing. Nothing was coincidental. 
This was just a little reminder posted. Her info had been shared one year before, and someone was putting the word out there again. A whole year later. March 1. The day… God let us know… He had a new chapter for our family. (In hindsight we now know that this was also the day my friend had seen the post about Poppy. Nothing coincidental… God was orchestrating every piece of this story. When I asked my friend later about that she said “her face kept coming to mind for your family.” I love seeing how God used so many people to bring this girl home.)
As we sat talking we asked each other a few questions. #1: Do you believe God is calling us to adopt? We both answered a definite “Yes!”. #2: Do you believe God is calling us to adopt Poppy? Again, there was no hesitation on either part. The third question was more difficult… Is He asking us to do this NOW? Remember the timing was my biggest struggle. 
As we sat smiling at each other… both knowing the answer… neither wanting to be the first to speak… Dean looked up. There was a box in the recycling pile in our garage and it was mostly covered up…but one little phrase was visible “What are you waiting for?” This was a wink.  :) He looked at me and said “Yes. Let’s go! Let’s bring Poppy home.” 
We applied with the agency and LOI was sent March 11. We received PA (pre approval from China) today Wednesday, March 18. 
This story… really isn’t about us. Yes… God is using us in His story. But this story… is about her.
This is about answering the cries of her heart. This is about bringing Poppy home. As we have read through the many, many people who have prayed for beautiful Poppy, baffled why she has never been adopted… from the bottom of our hearts… thank you. I had goosebumps reading through the hundreds of comments of people who had committed to pray for her family to come forward. Thank you for praying for her. Thank you for praying for her family. For us.
A friend recently sent me a book that has been amazing. “When women say YES to God” by Lysa TerKeurst. This book brings so much clarity to hearing God speak. One of the things that impacted me the most is when she said “radical obedience really isn’t that radical. It’s Biblical. But we’ve gotten so far away from biblical obedience that now…it seems radical.” We are such ordinary people.
It is God that is doing extraordinary things with our lives. 
The moment we said “yes” I felt like a 100 pound weight came off my shoulders. I felt free. Excited.
Let’s bring our girl home.
Introducing our girl, ZhenAi Poppy. To tell you a little bit about our children, all 10 children have a ‘z’ somewhere within their name. All of their names are very significant, we didn’t make it easy on ourselves just picking pretty names. We focus a lot on the meaning. All of our adopted children have names from their native language as well. Once we said “yes” to God about adopting Poppy, I’ve had the word “treasure” constantly on my heart. When I looked up the translation of Treasure in Mandarin, it is “Zhen”. (pronounced: Gen). We thought it was beautiful, but something was missing. 

Ai is love. Together it is translated as Treasured Love. ZhenAi (Gen-Eye). Even though she has never known the name Poppy, hundreds of families who have advocated for her and prayed for her, know her as Poppy. 

12 comments:

  1. This was great news today! I've been praying for Poppy to find a family. Prior to us asking to review our daughter's file, I saw Poppy's file and had a nudge from God myself to adopt our little girl because of how long Poppy has waited for a family. Praising God today for your obedience. Looking forward to seeing her coming home!

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    1. Mary thank you so much for your sweet words and generous donation! You are a part of her story!

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  2. Alrighty....this will be time number three to try and comment:). Just wanted to say that I have been praying for Poppy for a while. At the end of February of this year my heart was overwhelmed for her. So I prayed and asked friends to pray and emailed and texted and prayed, and you guys found her! Praise Jesus for your hearts and your obedience! Our big ole family is praying for "y'all" from Alabama! :)

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    1. Thank you so much for reading our story and most of all for praying! We are so indebted to all you prayer warriors out there that never gave up! <3

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  3. SO HAPPY! GOD IS AWESOME! Praise and prayers from Ohio! Our family looked into Poppy and she was so on my heart! We received a no (on Friday the 27th) because i am single with 4 adopted daughters - required 2 waivers, was so saddened and prayed through it Saturday, you all found her on Sunday!!!!! God is so cool! So excited to watch your story come together!!!!

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    1. Emily! I've read every comment on every post ever made on Poppy's behalf. I totally remember your comment about your efforts to get waivers. You are amazing and I'd love to know more of your story! Thank you for praying for our sweet girl, it means so much to us!

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  4. I just started advocating for Poppy in February! So happy to know she has a family. :)
    ~Christine
    www.ifwelovehim.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you Christine! Thank you for advocating for our girl. <3

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  5. Love this! Love the unity between you and Dean & God revealing the pieces through both of you. Absolutely love her name and the meaning!

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    1. Thank you Steffani! She's so beautiful and God's story is just amazing! XO

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  6. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. As you walk forward and are seeking how God will help you with the finances, please know that there are organizations that can help with grants and loans; Gift of Adoption, Show Hope, LifeSong for Orphans just to name a few. I serve on the WI chapter of Gift of Adoption. If you would like to learn more, please feel free to look up our website or email me at krygiel.jeff@att.net.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments. Yes, being our 5th international adoption we are aware of most of the mainstream grants, thanks for the reminder. :)

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