Sweet Reminders of God’s Grace

I hope that you reflect often upon God’s grace.  I was in the middle of my work day and had to stop and write this blog post.  My heart was overwhelmed by so many sweet reminders of God’s grace to Phil and I during this adoption journey.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a means to thank the Lord for his unending mercies that are new every morning.

  1.  The gift of new life – Today marks one week since our family welcomed Jenna Kate Eckard.  She is the most beautiful baby girl and such a precious gift to our family!  It’s not just Phil and I that are waiting so eagerly for our child, but also grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I know it’s hard for them to wait.  In the midst of the waiting, the Lord blessed our family with new life!  A child fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God and created to worship Him.  A baby girl that is loved so immensely and has brought so much joy in just 7 short days.  Her birth allowed my parents to experience something that Phil and I cannot bless them with.  But the Lord graciously allowed my parents to celebrate at the hospital with Lane, Danielle, and Joel when Jenna was born.
  2. The kindness of others – My heart rejoices at the kindness we have received over these past 25 months – from those that have supported us financially to the countless prayer warriors that are walking with us in this journey.  In those moments where I simply do not know what to pray, I am comforted by those praying on our behalf.  A dear sister of mine has sent me 7 cards over the past several months.  Those notes of encouragement always come at the perfect moment that I need them.  I was recently invited to a baby shower and, after much pondering, I declined the invitation.  This was not because I do not like baby showers.  I have hosted and attended several.  But, my emotions were too raw.  I told my husband that I just didn’t think I could attend any other baby showers until we had our child.  I know how selfish it sounds, but that is where I am right now.  My pride tempted me to not even respond to the invitation or get a gift.  I just did not want to face those that I knew I would disappoint.  But both the hostess and the guest of honor were so extremely gracious to me.  This expectant mother was so kind and understanding.  She did not judge me in any way!  There have been other conversations with family and friends during our journey when the perfect words were spoken to us at the perfect time.  We do not take your kindness for granted!
  3. A new job, kind of – For a couple of different reasons, Phil and I decided at the end of November that the season at my job had come to an end.  I had been there 8+ years, but it was becoming evident that a change was needed.  I put in my notice right after Thanksgiving for December 13 to be my last day.  I had no plans for another job, but some things on my heart that I wanted to do.  It was a financial leap of faith in one sense as my job had amazing benefits.  During my exit interview, I was asked if I would consider staying on.  I told them what my perfect scenario would be, never expecting it to be an option.  God was gracious!  Not only was I offered my perfect scenario, but even more.  I am now working part time from home and able to do some of the things that have been on my heart for quite some time.
  4. A patient and forgiving husband – Phil has been so steadfast during our adoption journey, especially when my emotions have tossed me from one extreme to another.  He has reminded me again and again that the Lord has called us to be parents and adoption is His plan for growing our family.  My husband graciously loves and forgives me when I get upset over the most trivial matters.  He never harbors a grudge, even when I fail him again and again.  He has patiently endured countless emotional breakdowns.  He is not perfect, but he is the perfect companion as my husband, best friend, and life partner.
  5. Hope – I was talking with a new friend this week and sharing with her that, as believers, we always have hope.  We have hope because God’s Word is the highest authority for our lives and provides everything that we need to live a life that pleases Christ.  God will never call us to do something that He will not equip us to do as well.  We have hope because of what we know about God from scripture.  We are created by the One who can “measure the waters in the hollow of his hand” and “weigh the mountains in scales” (Isa 40:12).  The Bible teaches us that our purpose in life is to worship God and give him glory! We can do this even in the midst of our struggles.  Jesus tells us “I’ve come that you may have life and have it more abundantly”.  There is cause to rejoice even in the darkest moments.  We have hope because of the gospel.  Apart from Christ, the Bible describes us as dead, ungodly, sinners, and enemies of God (Romans 5:6-10).  “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  Only God has the power to save everyone and Christ’s death and resurrection has reconciled us to God.  “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts” (Romans 5:5).
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Home Study Renewal

I realized recently that it has been nearly 3 months since my last blog post – I guess that is fairly typical for me.  The past few months have been hard, to say the least!  We have been distracted a bit lately with the requirements for updating our home study.  It officially expires in early November.  We had to have all of our background checks re-done, an updated medical report, and one home visit with our case worker.  Most of this process was painless.  I did have one rant on Facebook regarding the state government!  I am still not even sure that they have processed our paperwork.  Our home visit with our case worker was so encouraging.  She is such a kind, Christian woman!  We are so thankful to have her advocating for us.  In the mean time, we have been encouraged to check out pediatricians and attorneys in the area.  We think we have a good option for both, which is a relief.  Otherwise, there is nothing new to report.  Our agency tells us that our profile gets good feedback, but no one has requested to meet with us.  We are still praying that Baby Horn will come home in 2013.  We earnestly desire for this to happen!  It seems more unlikely with the passing of each day, but we believe that with God, all things are possible.  If you are willing, please pray for us daily between now and the end of 2013.  We are not looking forward to another holiday season without our children, but must balance being hopeful with realistic expectations.  My husband is much better at this than I am!  I told him that I am almost to the point of stripping away any emotion.  Pray for those birth families that are reviewing our profiles.  And finally, please pray for wisdom for Phil and I as we think through some decisions in the coming months.  Thank you so much for your faithfulness!  It’s been exactly 22 months since we officially started this journey.

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Grieving the loss of a child that was never ours

This is probably not the most “up beat” post, but likely the most transparent one.  I have been putting off writing this for several days, but I woke up this morning with so many of these thoughts on my mind.

About 2 months ago, Phil and I received an exciting phone call from our agency.  There was a birth mom who had reviewed our profile and wanted to meet us.  We were excited and very much looking forward to this match meeting.  It was 8 days before we could coordinate  everyone’s schedule, but we made the 2 hour drive north on a Wednesday afternoon to meet this birth mom.  Unfortunately, she never showed up for the meeting.  Our agency said that had never happened before, which was not exactly comforting at the time.  We were devastated!  The possibility never occurred to us that she would not show up.  We had a long and emotional drive home.  I cried a lot and thought “why?”.  Why would God even present this opportunity to us.  Why did we have to endure this?  In the midst of many questions, we went back to our normal routine the next day.  As I was leaving work that Thursday, I received a phone call from the agency saying that the birth mom called and still wanted to meet us.  I got excited again and Phil remained very cautious.  We made plans to schedule a Skype session so we would not have to take more time off work and make the 2-hour drive again.  However, the week following that conversation, the birth mom’s phone got disconnected.  We remained hopeful that this was temporary and we could still Skype with her.  This did not happen and the emotional roller coaster continued.  Our emotions were even more heightened since she was due to give birth July 25, just 6 weeks after our first phone call from the agency.  Since we just had a few weeks before the due date, I went into super “get prepared” mode.  I was so hopeful and confident that this was our son.  I packed our “to go” bags the first week of July.  I talked with friends and made a list of the essentials that we would need to survive until we could have our first baby shower.  I finished our Target baby registry and even had Phil install the car seat.  We were hopeful, excited, and ready!  We shared what was happening with our family and some close friends.  In the weeks leading up to the due date, we made few plans.  We wanted to be ready with a moment’s notice to head to the hospital.  Wherever I went, I made sure I could hear my phone ring.  Even though the agency was still unable to get in touch with the birth mom, we felt confident that she would make contact once she went to the hospital for the delivery.  The week of the due date came and went with no phone calls.  It has now been 10 days since the due date and we have heard nothing.

This has been one of the most emotional weeks of my life.  I have told several people that I do not know what to think or feel.  How do we grieve the loss of a child that was never ours?  Is it even appropriate to grieve?  Not only have I been grieving, but also embarrassed.  My pride took a major hit.  I was so confident and so ready – I KNEW this was our son.  I even wrote a letter to our son on July 6.  I was so excited to share with him our journey in the weeks leading up to his birth.  I wanted him to know what I was thinking and feeling.  This is a portion of that letter: “God created you and He created you to be a part of our family.  You are named Ethan Ryan Horn.  Ethan means strong and firm!  It is our prayer that you will be strong and firm in your faith, love, and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is our source of strength and our firm foundation.  Ryan is your Daddy’s middle name.  You share this name to symbolize that you are your Daddy’s son.  Ryan means “little king”.  Daddy is the leader of our home under the rule of Jesus, our King.  He will teach you what it means to be a godly husband and father in the hopes of seeing you as a leader in your home one day.  Horn is your last name.  This shows what bigger family you are a part of.  When you get married, your wife will take Horn as her last name, just like I did when Daddy and I were married.  This means that you and your wife will form a new family.  You will be another generation of Horns, but still part of our heritage. ”

How could I be so confident and at peace and yet be so wrong?  We have known that adoption is God’s plan for our family and we still believe that.  But this baby boy was not to be our son.  How do I process that?  How do I express emotion without letting myself be led by my emotions?  I have cried and cried and cried.  I have felt sorry for myself.  I have been angry.  And I have harbored bitterness and resentment towards others.  And in many ways, I am still struggling with all of those emotions.  This is how I feel.  But, what do I know to be true?

I know that I should “count it all joy when you face trials of various kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance”.  As followers of Christ, we are called to a life of faith.  And without faith, it is impossible to please God.  We are not called to be happy, but joyful.  In Christ, we can be joyful even in some of the darkest moments of life.  I know that we are called to be parents and in God’s perfect timing and manner, He will make that happen for Phil and I.  It is certainly not on our time table or how we want it to happen.  I know that we serve a great, might, holy, and majestic God!  He is the one who parts seas, causes the blind to see, raises the dead to life, and even blesses the barren woman with children.  He knows the number of hairs of my head and the number of days I will live on this earth.  He knows the name of our children.  As I continue to grieve and mourn over the loss of this adoption opportunity, I have to remind myself of these great Biblical truths.

Friends, we so value and appreciate your prayers.  Thank you for your steadfastness with us in this journey.  We have now entered 20 months since we started.  Yes, there are moments when I think I can not endure the race any longer.  I wonder how I will be emotionally ready for the next adoption opportunity.  But, I know that it is not in my strength, but in the power of the One who created me.

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Hope Against Hope

“In hope against hope he (Abraham) believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” (Romans 4:18-21)

I have been thinking about these verses a lot lately as they relate to our adoption journey.  I have wondered many times what Abraham thought when the Lord promised him a multitude of descendants when he and Sarah were still a childless couple.  How often did he have to comfort his wife?  How many prayers were prayed?  How many tears were shed?

My prayer recently has been that I would not waver in my belief.  In God’s perfect timing, He will bring our son or daughter home.  I must be assured of that!  It is our desire that God would work in a way that brings Him the most honor and glory.  We want our children to see that growing a family is a God-thing.  We have been reminded again and again and again that only the Lord is sovereign.  There have been so many challenges with our adoption process. They tell you to expect setbacks and bumps in the road.  Phil and I have experienced craters in the road!  We have heard our agency tell us twice now, “that has never happened before”.  A dear friend of mine told me several times during their journey that adoption is a battle.  And I wholeheartedly agree!  It’s not a battle with the government or red tape or lawyers (though it feels like that at times).  But a battle against the one that does not want us to bring a child into a God-fearing home.  A battle to rescue our child from a life of poverty, deprivation, and harm.  A battle to believe and hope that God is worthy of His word.  He has called us to be parents.  If not, we would have quit this journey many, many months ago.  We hope to show our children that God’s timing and His way of working is always best.  It’s worth the wait for God’s best!  The challenges and obstacles that we have encountered are nothing in comparison to the greatness, might, and power of our God.  He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe!  He knows the number of gray hairs on my head and the number of stars in the sky.  I can’t wait to teach our children the glorious truths about who God is and how He works.  Until they are brought home, I will keep praying for endurance and joy in the waiting.

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Some New Prayer Requests

Here is how you can be specifically praying for us over the coming months:
Pray for our meeting with the birth mom.  We have not been asked to meet with a mom yet, but once we are, we have decided to not let anyone know at this stage in the process.  It will be the most important and emotional interview of our lives!  We want and need your prayers, but in order to guard our emotions, we feel that it is best to only share the news after the decision is more final.
Continue praying for our child’s birth mom and her family.  This is the hardest decision she will make in her life and one that is made out of the greatest love and desire for the welfare of her child.
Pray for the hospital time.  We have to expect that anything can happen, including the birth mom changing her mind.  It’s going to be some of the hardest days for Phil and I and especially for the birth mom.
Pray for those first several months at home.  We will not have a natural bond with our child and it will take some time for this to develop.  Pray that we have the knowledge and wisdom in how to best cultivate attachment with our child.
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Our Nursery

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Here are some pictures of our nursery.  We are getting so excited!!!

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Adoption Fundraiser

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We had our adoption fundraiser back in early February and it’s shameful that I am just now posting about it.  But, better late than never. We were able to host a pancake dinner at our church, Cedar Creek Baptist Church and we had a great turn-out! We could not have pulled it off without the support of some great friends and family members.  Many thanks to them for their service to us! We are deeply grateful to those that shared a meal with us on Feb 9 and to the countless others that have given us a donation over the past few months.  The Lord has blessed us tremendously during this fundraising process!  He has reminded us time and time again of His faithful provision and His call for our steadfast obedience.  It’s been 17 months since we started this process.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you that continue to pray for our journey!

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