No regrets...

The family I'm praying for tonight has no idea there is a storm brewing over the horizon.  A storm so violent, life will never be the same for them again!  They will lose one of their most prized possessions...... their child.     (If I were speaking to an audience right now, that statement would be followed by an eternally long pause...............)

How do I pray for a family like that?  I almost feel as if I have some inside information on their lives that even they are not aware of today.  They will go to bed tonight and probably not even think about the terrible possibilities that lie ahead.  Who knows what will happen tomorrow, as they go about their day?  Their child will likely disobey, talk back, whine, or have a stinky attitude that needs to be addressed.  There will be sibling rivalry, fighting, and disputes over who gets to ride up front or get their turn next.  Will Dad lose his temper and escape to the golf course?  Will Mom utter things she swore she'd never say?  Maybe.

But mothering a dying child brings a new perspective to everything!  I still lose my cool and say things I wish I could take back.  I still wonder what in the world I was thinking when I brought home three little girls ~ all the exact same age!  But suddenly, in light of the reality looming on my own horizon, I am compelled to live a life of no regrets!

When we brought Rachel home from China, we simply didn't know how long we had...  We decided ahead of time that what we could not change in quantity, we would make up for in quality!  More than anything, we wanted Rachel to know the love of a family... to know that she had a mommy and daddy committed to walking through the dark days with her... and above everything, we wanted Rachel to know that the love of Jesus was with her, no matter what!

The reality is that parenting a house full of children demands a lot discipline.  Rachel had much to learn in order to "unlearn" some of the terrible habits formed inside the walls of an orphanage for 7 years, not to mention the many things she must learn for the very first time.  Living within a family unit requires a lot of work, even when learning begins at birth.  We have a lot of catching up to do!  Our home is certainly not all hugs, kisses, and chocolates, and I've yet to be nominated into the "Parenting Hall of Fame",  but our home feels so much different than ever before through the lense of a new perspective.  When you are committed to living a life of no regrets, you make different choices all together!  You choose to see life differently and to live it differently!  If that heart never comes and we end up losing our Rachel, I want to remember this time for what it was.... precious!  I want to embrace every precious moment and look back with no regrets!

Rachel's critical needs remind me how fragile life is.... for all of us!  We could be the family I wrote about at the beginning of this post- living life completely oblivious to all that lies ahead for myself or for the people I love so much.  I have not been promised any special immunity to loss!  I am humbled that as I pray for the healing of my own child through a new heart, I will only receive it through another's indescribable loss.  And I wonder.... why should God give life to my child and yet take life from another?  (It's hard to swallow after typing that!)  Kate has offered her own heart for Rachel several times!  I tell her that is "unacceptable".... absolutely not!!!  But is it more acceptable only when it happens to someone else???  This subject makes me terribly uncomfortable, but it haunts me every time my thoughts turn toward the "new" heart we pray for so many times a day!

Tonight, as I pray for a new heart for Rachel, I am strangely not in such a hurry anymore.  God has been so merciful and has kept Rachel strong while she waits...  "No hurry, God!,"  I whisper, "Thanks seems enough for the sweet summer we've shared and for the joy that fills our home, simply because Rachel is in it!  Let the parents that will soon face the fate none of us want, enjoy this summer with their child too!  Fill their home with laughter and sweet memories, so that when the impending storm blows through, they will look back with no regrets!  And if your plan is to take Rachel "home" instead, Lord, help us to embrace each moment you choose to give, so that our lives will be filled with love and... no regrets!  Amen."

God is for us!

"Real freedom is being free of fear!" 

Those who know me well would probably describe me as "real".  I hope so!  I've never been good at pretending.  Nor have I ever been accused of holding back personal opinions, of which there are many! If I am thinking something, it will likely come out of my mouth, long before I've had time to think about  the wisdom in holding my tongue or keeping said opinions to myself!  The old saying- "What you see is what you get" must have been coined by someone just after meeting me!  :-)

So on that note, I'll just be honest!...   This has likely been the hardest year of my life.  I'd like to believe that another year like this one will never darken my horizon again, but I'm learning with age that life is lived in seasons.... ever changing, but predictable.  It would be foolish of me to sell my "winter clothes", thinking I won't face another blustery, cold season like this one again.  But I'll admit that I am enjoying the spring flowers blooming in my heart these days and this season seems especially wonderful after the suffering of such a long winter!  I feel such unexplainable joy!  And I feel a sense of freedom that I have never known before!  How, I've wondered, is that possible when the past year has included more tears than all of the previous years put together; when even today the ground beneath us is beginning to quake; and the future with Rachel holds absolutely no guarantees of a happy ending?

In reading this, you'd likely never guess that as I type, I have my cell phone nearby... For almost 5 months now, it has never left my side!  I'm waiting for a phone call to finally bring news that a heart has been donated that will ultimately save the life of my precious daughter Rachel.  Because my days are filled with her sweet, happy spirit, it is easy for me to be lulled into believing that she is perfectly "fine"... not living on borrowed time- each day- each breath a miracle!  But lest you think I am living with my head stuck firmly in the sand, I can assure you that I have never been more keenly aware of how incredibly fragile life is... for Rachel, of course, but for each and every one of us too!  The sweet joy I'm feeling these days can only be explained by the overwhelming grace I have found in my relationship with Christ and the sweet realization that with Him, I have nothing to fear!  "If God is for us, who can be against us?"  How sweet to know that God is for us!

In taking a deep look inside my own heart, I am discovering that the benefits of such a long winter season of the soul is a wonderful new freedom from fear that I have not known before.  I didn't even know that I was afraid!  But a careful, introspective inventory revealed some life-long fears that it was high time I stood "toe to toe" with.  There are simply some things in my life that I hold onto with a tight grip.  My kids would top the list... just below them is my husband... then the secure home we've built, filled with treasures I've accumulated over the years.  God seems to be in the business of prying my fingers, one by one, off of those special treasures these days!

God has allowed me to realize some of my deepest fears over the past year.  In some ways, their realization was even worse than I expected.  And during the darkest days, if I would have had the power to do something to change my circumstances, you can bet I would have!!!   But God was doing a work in my heart that would likely not have occurred any other way.  Now that the tears have dried, and my vision is clearer, I can see how faithfully the Lord was teaching me about Himself.  I had spent many years speaking around the country about the sufficiency of Christ.  My mantra became "God + Nothing = Everything".  Tonight as I type this post, I am more fully convinced of that truth than ever before.  And suddenly I realize that I have nothing to fear anymore.  I am free!  God has proven to be the faithful God I've always heard about, but now truly KNOW!  "If God is for us, who can be against us?"  If I've learned anything through facing my fears, it is this... God is for us!!!

A cold wind swept through our home again last week.  Doug was notified that the church where he has been working part time for the past year has decided to "let him go".  We have just months to find another job to provide 65% of our income and the medical insurance that has covered Rachel's care since coming home from China last September.  And yet, I am not afraid!  I refuse to worry about something so much bigger than I can handle!  I will choose to trust God instead.  "But if God is for us, who can be against us?"  If I've learned anything through the losses of this year, it is this... God is for us!

Rachel did not come to us with any promises attached.  We have been asked more times than I can count if we "knew what we were getting into" with Rachel's adoption.  Yes... we knew!  But with God's help we stared fear in the face and did it anyway!  The sheer joy and love for life she has brought into our home in spite of her horrendous beginnings are nothing short of miraculous!  Fear could have stolen this precious treasure without us even knowing what we'd missed!  And even today, my fears could literally taunt me, if I let them!  Will a heart arrive in time or will you have to face the loss of another child?  But I refuse to worry about something so much bigger than I can handle!  I will choose to trust God instead.  "But if God is for us, who can be against us?"  If I've learned anything through the adoption of Rachel, it is this... God is for us!

I am certain about one thing!  Nothing in life is certain!  But I refuse to worry about things I can certainly not handle!  I will choose to trust God instead.  "If God is for us, who can be against us?"  There are just no "if"s about it!...  God is for us!!!  

"Whom have I in heaven but you?  And on earth there is nothing I desire beside you?  My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73