Friday, March 14, 2014

God is in the business of being Awesome

So, we've got some news to share.  News that I've been dreaming of sharing for 18 months when we started this long journey.  News that I know many people have been waiting and waiting to hear.  (and waiting and waiting--I know.)   Now, it's time to spill a lot of stuff. The good, the bad and the awesome.  Did you know that God is in the business of being Awesome?  Of writing stories that only He could pen?  Of working out details that only He could know about?  Of giving answers that only He would even know of the question asked to get that answer?  Yeah, He's good like that.

First, you have to start with this post if you haven't already read it.  (g i v i n g   y o u   s o m e   t i m e   t o   r e a d   i t)   Now, let's go back to November.  The week after Pickin' & Pies, we found out some pretty discouraging stuff that led us to believe that the Madagascar program may not be the best program for us to continue with.  Without sharing too many details, it started looking as if adopting from Mada may not happen anytime soon, if ever.  We were pretty distraught and very unsure of what to do next.  We prayed a lot in that week (and ever since then) asking God to give us guidance, wisdom, discernment, and more trust.  One particular morning I had texted a friend to tell her what was going on and asked her to please pray specifically for guidance.  I sat down to eat breakfast and started to pray, asking God to just speak to me and let us know what He wanted us to do.  As I prayed, the word Uganda kept playing over and over in my head.  I can't really recall that this had ever happened to me before, so I wasn't really sure what to make of it except that I knew I couldn't get it out of my head the rest of the day.  Later I saw the same friend I had texted that morning and told her that I couldn't stop thinking about Uganda.  She asked me when that had started.  I told her it had been all day, but specifically had started at 8:15 when I was praying at breakfast.  She looked at me straight in the eye and said, "Shawna, I was on my knees praying for God to speak to you at that exact same time.  He's telling you Uganda."  When you aren't used to things like this happening, you aren't really sure how to take that.  But this friend in particular, through a crazy Africa story of her own, has taught me a lot about listening to God and those words that keep playing over and over in your head or have been put on your heart.  I shared about my breakfast experience with two other friends that day.  One (who has adopted from Uganda) said, "Looks like you're going to Uganda, sister!" and the other texted back, "He is speaking to you.  Keep listening."  I began to feel that this was a very clear answer He had given me.  So, over the next couple of weeks I started calling several agencies and inquiring about their Uganda programs.  All but one (who seemed very shady) told me that they were not recommending any families join that program.  It was just too unstable, wait times were getting really long and they didn't even know if it would be open in six months.  They were happy to tell me about some of their other programs in Africa, but discouraged any ideas I had of switching over to Uganda.  I started to think that maybe He hadn't been speaking Uganda to me or that it maybe didn't mean what I thought it had meant.  I know He is the God of making the impossible things possible, but I just kind of put those thoughts in a back corner of my mind.

The holidays came and I put off calling agencies for a while.  We were still holding on with Madagascar, but began working on writing a grievance letter to our agency with four other families in our program.  We felt like they had been negligent in a lot of areas and had not been forthright with some information that would have probably made us choose another program from the start.  We finally sent the letter at the end of January.  We waited three weeks for a reply from them and the reply we got was pretty much a whole lot of nothing. No answers to our questions and concerns.  No reason to gain back the trust that we had lost in them.  Three of the five families pulled out of the program at that time and the only reason we decided to still hold on was because the director of our program was actually traveling to Madagascar at the end of February.  We felt like we had invested too much time and money to pull out before we learned of what would come out of that trip.  I didn't want to wait any more, but it did seem to make sense to wait two more weeks after coming that far.  I wasn't expecting much, but we were hopeful that he might come back and say that they were about to start referring kids left and right.  We just didn't know.

That brings us up to last week.  There is a website called Rainbow Kids that has a composite list of waiting children all over the world.  "Waiting children" are kids who are considered harder to place with an adoptive family because they are older or because of some special need they have.  Several agencies have waiting children that are available at the orphanages they work with and they put up a picture with some general information about the child on this site.  They give you their approximate age, if they are considered healthy or not and what continent they are on.  I have looked at this sight just about every day for the last four months.  I have shown some of the children to Jonathan that I thought were cute and he has just smiled and said, "Yeah, they are cute." But ultimately (just like with the name) he couldn't "go there" until we knew for sure what was going to happen in Madagascar.  I understood, but I still looked anyway.  So last week we were in Oregon for my nephew's wedding.  Jonathan and the boys had left on Monday while I stayed with a dear friend for the rest of the week.  I realized it had been a few days since I had last looked on Rainbow Kids, so that night I decided to open up the site and see if any new children had been put up. There had been. One of them was a little girl.  And her name was...

Lullah.

Are.  you.  kidding.  me.   {just got chills all over again}  I kept staring at the name, at HER, making sure I was seeing this right.  Her name was Lullah!!!  Yes, yes, I could see that it wasn't the exact spelling that we have used, but COME ON PEOPLE!!!!!!!!  That is not exactly a common name, here or in Africa.  I don't care how it's spelled.  Her name was Lullah.  That was enough for me.  *And just a note about her name (if you didn't take the time to go back and read this post!)- I truly believe that God gave me that name.  It wasn't like we each had a long list of names that we liked and we narrowed it down to something that we both could live with.  That was the only name we could come up with and I had no idea where it had even come from.  It was just the name that had been put on my heart.*  I texted Jonathan in the middle of the night Nashville time and told him to look at Rainbow Kids when he had a chance.  I wasn't able to talk to him until late Tuesday and he hadn't had time to look.  He said, (kind of sarcastically) "What- is there a child on there that you want to bring home?"  I said, "Yeah.  There is one girl.  Her name is Lullah."  His response was almost a whisper- "What?"  I was thinking I was going to have to do a little convincing, but I didn't.  The name was enough for both of us to inquire about her and just see what happened.  I had already sent an email to inquire about her of course, but it wasn't until Thursday that I actually talked to someone at the agency that was representing her.  The girl told me that yes, she indeed was available, what the process would be like and what the next steps were should we chose to move forward.  We had been talking for a while when I finally asked, "Can you tell me where she is?" to which she quickly replied, "Oh yeah! She's in Uganda!  Did I not already say that?"  No, no you didn't.  I would have remembered that.  I was shaking uncontrollably at that point and my heart was beating something crazy.  Those three days that I had been waiting to talk to the agency about her, I kept feeling like Gideon.  Part of me was like, "Her name is Lullah.  The end." and another part of me was freaked out and like, "Well, I don't know...It does seem like it might be something..." I kept telling God (and my friend Kimmee that I was staying with) that it wasn't like I needed more confirmation, but if she happened to be in Uganda then  OH MY WORD.  And she was.  She is.  She's five years old and she is beautiful.  She has been put on hold for us and we are working to get her home.  She will hopefully be ours-- soon.

Yesterday we officially withdrew from the Madagascar program and from our agency.  We did get the report of the director's trip to Madagascar last week.  It was just more confirmation that we need to be doing something else.  So, we are.  And we are okay with that.  From the beginning of this journey we have always known that switching countries was a possibility.  We've just heard of it way too often.  So we tried to never get attached to Madagascar itself, just to the fact that we were adopting.  Of course the longer we were in the program, the more we began to love the country and get excited about bringing a child home from there, but I think after this many months of there being a strong possibility that we were going to switch that we had already grieved the change.  Now, once it has happened, we are fully at peace with it and ready to move on.  We are working on getting our home study updated and a new dossier put together.  Once we do that, we should be traveling *somewhat* quickly for our first trip to meet our girl.  Please pray that this new paperwork phase (ugh) will go super fast.

I still can't believe what I've just written.  My, how things can change in a week.  God has shown us where our daughter is and we couldn't be more grateful to Him for the way that He has revealed His steadfast love for our family.


(from December 2nd post)
We're not sure exactly what road we will be taking in the next few weeks, but we know that He will lead us down the right one because He already knows where we are headed, and I have a feeling that He's got something very special planned.