Wait for ME!

As I closed my eyes in sleep just after midnight last night, one of the most incredible years of my life slipped into the past.  This year marked the answer to so many long awaited prayers for our family and for me personally, I can hardly process it all.  Until now, with a few hours alone while my husband carries the load for me, I have not even found the time or the words to write it all down…  So many answers I don’t know where to begin…  So many thoughts I can hardly express them.    

From the vantage point of another new year, I honestly can’t believe how much has changed since we celebrated the beginning of 2015.  Only 365 days ago found us in a long and extended period of waiting.  My ailing father was waiting to breathe his last and finally be relieved of the earthly struggle he had known too well following a massive stroke 12 years ago.  We stood vigil by his bed and waited with him.  And yet, as we prayed for the mercy of death to come take Daddy home, we prayed for the gift of life our daughter, Rachel, needed to survive. 

It had been almost 3 years of waiting for a new heart for her and I admit that I had begun to grow weary and less hopeful with each passing day that the outcome I desired would be the culmination of that waiting. 

Just one year ago, we were also waiting far longer than expected to bring our fifth daughter home from China.  I found this wait hard to justify on any spiritual level, because it meant a 5 year old orphaned girl would spend another day, another week, another month, without a family of her own.  Yet I was helpless to speed the powers that be in China to do anything about it! 

All that waiting meant that much of my life and many of my personal desires were on what seemed an eternal “hold” for another day too.  Even my promised trip to Israel with Doug was postponed until our days of waiting were through.  “Waiting” had become my calling card and I didn’t like it.  But if there was a lesson to be learned in waiting, I certainly didn’t want to miss it or give God any excuse to repeat or prolong it, so I slowly surrendered myself to the lessons it seems only long periods of waiting have the ability to teach.

You know the rest of the story, if you have been anywhere nearby to hear the celebrations ringing through our home as God’s awaited answers came one by one…  

Daddy finally found peace in death in the early hours of January 4, 2015.  I watched as they tenderly came to collect his earthly tent and I wept as I watched one season of my life as my Daddy’s girl, give way to a world without him.  

On April 7, 2015, in Jinan, China, a 5 year old girl we would name Rebekah, walked into my heart and into my life in ways I did not expect or even know were possible and ended the long wait to wrap my arms around this precious gift from God.   I am honestly at a loss for words right now…  I keep typing and retyping words to somehow convey how one little girl can wedge herself into a 50 year old heart and leave it so radically changed I almost don’t recognize myself.   

I had only known Rebekah for about one hour when she fell asleep in my arms as we drove away from her orphanage for the last time.  Something so unimaginably huge had occurred in my heart in that hour that I literally felt that it might burst from within me.   I called Doug at home and told him to ready his own heart for what laid ahead.  If this little girl could do such things to me, I could only imagine what was to come for her softhearted Daddy!  One viewing of Rebekah’s homecoming video when she finally met her Daddy was enough proof that I was right in my warning!  Rebekah affectionately calls Doug “Baba-YeYe” and, yes, he melts at the sound of it every.single.time!

“Praise be to God for this indescribable gift!”
Then, on May 5, 2015, after 3 years and 2 months of waiting, a call came from Rachel’s beloved cardiologist, Dr Fricker.  It did not occur to me when I answered the phone that afternoon, that God’s answer had finally come!  Everything we had hoped for… prayed for… and waited for, was finally to be!  A perfect match had been found in the immeasurable loss of a mother and she had chosen to give life to our little girl.  I was waiting by the Emergency Room entrance, pacing up and down the sidewalk in the cold night, when Rachel’s new heart arrived on an ambulance at 4:30AM the next morning.  This particular wait was different than any I had ever experienced, because I knew that as this gift arrived and ushered hope to our daughter, a mother’s hopes and dreams for her own child had ended.   I followed the cooler containing Rachel’s new heart through the hallways of the hospital and to the elevator doors that would take it to the operating room where her broken heart was being removed.  On May 6, 2015, Rachel received the gift of a new heart.  The old had gone.  The new had come.  Our waiting was over.     

2015 included TWO precious grandsons, Luke and Elliot!  And then... another for next year too!

And yet, 2015 held even more unexpected gifts for me!  Another wait ended.  Precious friends flew into town, graciously took on the heavy responsibility of caring for my five daughters, and sent Doug and I away to Israel for the trip of a lifetime!    There are many blogs to follow and thoughts that have yet to find their way to paper to be shared.  But, for now, they are safely tucked away in my heart as the culmination… the sweet reward… and the immeasurable gifts from God in waiting!    

Each year I ask the Lord what He would have for me in the year ahead.  The one behind me was so monumental and the culmination of so many difficult life lessons, I wondered what God might have next.  He was not slow to direct me and that direction was so much clearer than usual that I knew He had no intention of waiting for January 1 to get started!

His words resounded through my thoughts again and again…  
I could not escape them… 
       “Be still and know that I am God”   

When I saw this bracelet in Israel with those words written in Hebrew, I knew it was a gift for me.   But it occurred to me today that, even in this New Year, God is still calling me to wait!   To “be still” is to wait.  But it is more!  God beckons me to wait for HIM! 

I have spent many of the past years waiting for the outcomes I desire or the fulfillment of my hopes and dreams.  God holds something far better in Himself… in knowing HIM.  He calls out to me for 2016 and for every year that follows…  “Be still, Lori… Wait for ME!”

Our entire family was gathered together to celebrate what Christ has done and all He is yet to do in and through our lives as we seek to serve Him!  Following are some of my favorite people in the world and some of the photos that bring a smile each time I remember our special time together!

Who wouldn't love Auntie Abby?

Rebekah is a natural born Auntie and lover of babies!

Hang on.... Abby needs a hug before we can take any more photos!

Now she's ready!!!

Poppy and his little Buddy!  All is right in the world today! 
This will never get old for this Lolli and Poppy!  May there be many, many more to come!

Oh, how this man loves his GIRLS!

This ball of JOY will either keep us young... or kill us!!!!

Sarah and Rachel

A rare treasure... Together with all EIGHT of my babies at once!

Ryan, Schaeffer, and Elliot

Russ, Steph, and Luke

           From our family to yours...  HAPPY NEW YEAR!  
                      May God's blessings overflow to you!