What a difference a year can make in your life! It was one year ago today that God first got my attention regarding adoption. I know that many of you have heard our story, but for those who haven’t, this is how it all began.
During the months of July and August 2008, God began to show both David and I that He had SOMETHING that He wanted us to do, and we began to pray that He would lead us specifically to His plans for us. I was thinking that it might be getting involved in a local pregnancy center or homeless shelter for a few hours each week. Our lives had been greatly impacted by a Crown Financial small group Bible study that we had just finished, and we definitely wanted to spend more of our time “volunteering” for the good of someone else. I began praying very specifically each morning during my devotions that God would show me what He wanted me to do. “What kind of volunteer work am I suited for, Lord?”
On the morning of Friday, August 22nd, I prayed that God would bring something to my attention that very day. “Maybe, Lord, You could have me meet someone at work today who is involved with a volunteer organization, or maybe You could have me hear a prompt of some kind on the radio today?“ The selfish, human part of me immediately began to put parameters on my request: “But what if I hear one of those heart-wrenching ads about foster care or adoption? Obviously, I wouldn’t think about anything THAT drastic. You wouldn’t let me hear something like that, would You, Lord?” As I tried to give God directions, I felt Him gently asking, “Are you REALLY willing to go where I ask, or are you just giving it lip-service?” I felt chastised, and answered, “Okay, I’ll just listen today, and I won’t put any requirements on this.”
That day was the second day of a new schedule at my job. I had started working evenings the night before, and therefore, I was to start leaving work at 4:00 instead of at 6:00 on Friday. As I left the parking lot that afternoon, the CD that I had been listening to in my car ended, and I decided to turn on the radio instead of re-starting it. The last time that I had been able to listen to WCRF (Cleveland’s Christian station) in the afternoon, they had been playing music at that time, but obviously the programming had been changed, because as I turned on the radio, Focus on the Family had just begun. Dr. Dobson started out by saying that the program that had been planned for that day was supposed to be someone talking about organizing your home. I thought it sounded extremely boring and was just getting ready to go back to my CD, when he continued: “However, we have decided to postpone that program. Instead, we are planning to replay a program that was recorded about three years ago when Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman came to talk to us about how the Lord led him and his wife to adopt a little girl from China.”
Those of you who are Christians will know what I mean when I say that it can become pretty obvious when the Spirit is speaking to you. I listened with a sort of fascinated dread as the program started, and I couldn’t stop the chills running down my spine as Steven began to talk about how there are 150 million orphans in the world, that 60% of Christian families have considered adoption but that only 2% of them ever get around to doing anything about it. I was absolutely horrified by those numbers, and I was extremely convicted by them. God had given us so much – how could I be unwilling to offer that to someone who had REAL need? I sat there with tears running down my cheeks, alternating between “How can I ignore this?” and “God, You’re joking, right? I realize that I’m feeling pricked by this, but You can’t mean me! I cannot believe that You would let me hear THIS after our talk this morning. YOU HAD THEM CHANGE THEIR PROGRAM ON THE FIRST POSSIBLE DAY THAT I COULD HAVE HEARD IT??! You ARE kidding, right?”
That evening, without really wanting to, I found myself asking David, “So…how do you know when God is telling you something or when it’s just coincidence?” I shared the details of the afternoon with him, expecting him to say something like, “Oh honey, I wouldn’t worry about it. I don’t think that was really meant for us in particular.” Instead, David looked very thoughtful, and said, “I just think that we need to pray about it. God will show us exactly what He wants us to do, and we need to be ready to listen.” His answer made me nervous, and I replied, “Well, I’m not going to think about it. There is NO WAY that we can have a kid. I love my life just the way it is.”
Yeah, well, once God gets your attention about something, He has ways of keeping it! It's a very long and amazing story, but for about the next month and a half, I argued furiously with Him - laying out all sorts of tests for Him to prove that He really had adoption in mind for us. He patiently answered each and every one, until it became completely clear to both of us that we were definitely supposed to adopt a child - specifically a child from Ethiopia, and we signed our contract with AGCI at the beginning of December. Eventually, we got to March, when we received the referral for a little boy named Yikealo - ONE DAY after the approval of our home-study. We hadn’t even heard the news yet that our home-study had been approved when Julie called us with Yikealo’s information! Looking back from this vantage-point, it is so obvious that God led us each step of the way, at exactly the right time to have Yikealo as part of our family. It isn’t what I thought I wanted, but I’m so incredibly thankful that God doesn’t always give us what we want.
May each one of us be open to God’s promptings and willing to go wherever He leads.