Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Most Significant $50 We've Ever Been Given

(Note: I was planning to post this earlier today, thus the mention in Kristie's post of an earlier entry.)

What difference can $50 make? Apparently, a rather large one. Before I get to that, however, I need to back up about a week and start the story there.
Kristie and I have been feeling for months that God was preparing us to adopt in the not-too-distant future, and so we have been praying and seeking His will for us, our family, and our future child(ren) during that time. Briefly—for a week—we thought that He was leading us to adopt a little girl named Abigail from Taiwan. In fact, we were so convinced that He was leading us to her that we chose the name Evelyn Amanda for her. One week after we began calling her Evelyn, we found out that she was being pursued by another family, which left us disappointed, discouraged, and confused. I still think of her often, and I know that if she were ever to become available again, it would take me almost no time to think of her as my daughter, so close had I grown to her from November to March. Whatever they might be, God has His reasons for having led us to her, and after trying once more two weeks ago to confirm whether she was being adopted, we made the difficult but necessary decision to consider her door closed and to consider carefully the other children that He had drawn our attention to recently.
In the middle of last week, we focused our prayers on four children whom we had been drawn to, in an attempt to discern God's will more clearly. They were: (1) Aaron - 2½, Philippines, Klippel-Feil syndrome; (2) YNX - 3, China, Down Syndrome; (3) WY - 2½, China, Down Syndrome, heart defect; (4) WFC - 2½, China, Tetralogy of Fallot, heart defect. By last Saturday, we had narrowed our search to the two girls with Down Syndrome. That day I made an offhand comment in our kitchen that perhaps God wanted us to adopt both of them. I wasn't convinced of that, but I recognized that it was possible and that we therefore needed to remain open to that possibility. Kristie was leaning strongly toward one of the girls, but I had only the slightest leaning and was feeling more than a little directionless about all of this. Neither of us told the other which way we were leaning. Our prayer was that God would give us a clear answer by the end of the weekend, and we have learned that it's often a good indication of His will when the two of us reach the same conclusion independently. So, I was resolved not to tip my hand until my conviction was sure, and I continued to pray.
On our drive to church that Sunday morning, the whole situation changed dramatically. When I woke up that morning without any more clarity than I had had the day before, I was initially discouraged. I said as much in the minivan, and I even told her that I was slightly more drawn to YNX than to WY, strongly suspecting that she would be leaning the other way. She was. That led us to discuss more seriously the possibility of adopting both girls. As crazy as that sounded—after all, that would leave us with four three-year-olds—was that any crazier than adding "only" one more to our family? If we were going to trust God to provide the funds for one adoption, to open up our hearts and the hearts of our children so that we could rescue one more orphan, who was to say that we couldn't—nay, shouldn't—trust Him to do that for two children? The thought of adopting two children was terrifying, but by the time we arrived at church, we were almost convinced that He wanted us at least to try to adopt both of these girls. Interestingly enough, we almost didn't go to church that day because we had had a bad night and had consequently slept in, but we made it to church and, in a shocking turn of events, with a few minutes to spare. Boy, am I glad that we were there! Our pastors have been preaching through the book of Revelation, and the sermon was on the fifth chapter, a scene which takes place before the throne of God. The music selections had the effect of focusing our attention on God: His majesty, His worthiness, His holiness, and the awe of being in His presence. It had been a long time since I had felt that close to God in a worship service. in fact, the last time that I can recall sensing His presence that clearly was our first time back at NCCC after returning from Ukraine with Mikaela. At the conclusion of the service, we were fully convinced that He wanted us to try to get both girls. The idea still seemed crazy, but we were at peace with it—so long as we didn't think too much about the paperwork and the fund-raising ahead.
That night, we caught our Core Group up on what God had done in our hearts that day and asked them to pray for us as we continued to seek His will in this process. As part of that seeking, Kristie wrote to Cheryl Graham on Sunday afternoon to find out whether we even had a shot at adopting both girls. We found out Monday evening that the chances of that were essentially nil. That news hit us hard, and it hit me harder than I had expected it to. I withdrew a little bit Monday evening and through the first part of the day on Tuesday, largely because I couldn't fathom why God would be so clear in leading us to pursue both girls, only to tell us the next day that we could only have one of them. What frightened me about the news we received on Monday was that I was rather at peace with it. Did that mean that I didn't care enough about the YNX? (Kristie's concern for WY was such that there was no way we could leave her behind.) Why would God seemingly change directions so suddenly? Had we misread Him? I can answer the first and last questions negatively, but I'm still not sure about the second. Maybe we'll never know, and I'm okay with that. I pray that YNX will have a family someday soon, and we did commit to adopt WY—whom we are calling Isabelle Noelani—on Tuesday evening.
We knew that we were starting this adoption with no money in our pockets to start anything, and we were nearly thrown into the fire right from the outset. Isabelle was on the Shared List, and Cheryl put in a request on Wednesday morning to have her assigned to Heartsent's list, which would give us three months to submit our papers for PA (along with the requisite $1,300). If, however, China should deny her request, we would have only forty-eight hours to complete the PA application and raise that $1,300. Yikes! Knowing on Tuesday evening that this was a possibility, we stayed up that night in order to get a good start on the paperwork, all the while praying that she would be assigned to Heartsent's list the next day. Cheryl had said that we'd know for sure by the end of Wednesday morning, and so when 1:00 rolled around and we still hadn't heard anything, we were really wondering what was going on. Thankfully, her request was granted, which has given us a chance to breathe. We are not resting on our laurels, though, as we have no intention of waiting long at all before submitting for PA. But, at least we weren't put in dire straits right off the bat.
Soon after committing to her adoption, fear of the unknown began to settle in. How would God provide all of the money that we'll need? How will we have enough strength and patience and focus to complete our paperwork accurately and promptly? Are we crazy?!?! Well, yes, we are, but that's not the point. The point is, God has taken us back to a place where we have to rely completely on Him and, just as it has been with TSC in the past (and present) and with Mikaela's adoption, it's almost equal parts exciting and terrifying. There is a profound joy and thankfulness that comes from receiving one's daily bread almost directly from His hand, and it is also frightening to have to relinquish all control. That's where we are, and all of this hit home this afternoon over a measly $50.
When we filled out our tax return this year, we were due $418 from the federal government, easily the biggest refund we've ever received. But, we owed $711 to the state of Ohio, which was actually not a bad tax situation for us. (Because Kristie is self-employed, we get hit hard at tax time.) That left us with a total of $293 that we would need to pay Ohio, a total which we didn't have after having just bought our first house—and all the necessary household items that can't be collected while living in an apartment—in February. As we were preparing to move, however, I found the security deposit refund check from our second apartment (which we left in 2009), that had never been cashed! The funds had been sent to the Ohio Division of Unclaimed Funds, so we had to submit a form to them in order to receive the funds. We did that shortly after moving into our house. And then we waited. And waited. We received no confirmation that they had received or processed our request, and at a couple of points I nearly gave up hope that we would ever see that money. The day after we committed to adopt WY, the very next day, that refund check showed up in the mail, for $254 and some change. Amazing! When Kristie sat down this afternoon to write the check to pay for our state taxes, we decided just to go ahead and pay the last $39 out of our pocket right now and be done with it. After all, having to pay only $39 of our own isn't too bad, right? Well, apparently God thought so. A few hours after writing that check, we found an unexpected and completely unlooked for check in our mailbox. Our mortgage lender sent us a $50 refund check for our appraisal. We had no idea that this was coming, and the timing of its arrival did not seem coincidental in the least. We had been praying for months that God would provide what we needed to pay our taxes this year, and sure enough, He did. And, as is often the case with Him, we never would have been able to guess where and how He would provide,. Our only certainty was that He would. The arrival of that $50 check this afternoon cemented not only that it is right for us to embark on Isabelle's adoption, but also that He has us right where He wants us: in the palm of His hand. It's a terror to be so close to His might, and yet a comfort to be held so dearly by Him. I pray that He will use Isabelle's adoption to draw us closer to Him, and that He will use her story to manifest His glory to those around us, just as He did with Mikaela's adoption.

- Greg

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Greg ~

    Thank you for writing out in detai about your decision - it is actually encouraging to know that we are not the only ones He had all over the "path" before being able to commit. :) You have a beautiful family. You will be in our prayers!

    Amy for the Joss Posse