Posts filed under Jubilee

prayers of the people.

On Sunday, I stood up in front of a room full of people I didn't know and through tears, muttered our truth—"my husband and I have been in the domestic adoption process for almost four years, and this season God is teaching me that part of receiving is asking. So here I am, asking..." 

I stumbled through more words and prayers and please come home soons and then sat down next to Russ, his hand already reaching to wrap around my own. Every part of me was shaking. I didn't plan to stand up and speak. We've done well to remain somewhat in the background since June. But sometimes, you can't win against the overwhelming urgency of the Spirit within and when my limbs turn heavy and my gut shifts into falling feathers, I know. It's time to speak.

But I hesitated standing up for so long. Every time someone else stepped up to the mic, I would feel the nudge. Every time, I would push it away thinking it's just me or what if they get the wrong idea or  don't want anyone to think I'm trying to get attention. And every. single. time. I fought against those words, I would hear how will they know what I've done if you don't speak? 

So I spoke, believing something would shift on our behalf. 

.::.

We said no to a baby boy today. 

The same friend who sat next to me on Sunday and grabbed my other hand when I sat down after speaking emailed me a forwarded message from an out-of-state agency. 

Urgent Adoption Need it said and my heart fluttered in my chest a little when I read the subject. 

This friend didn't know I've thought about today all month. She didn't know that for whatever reason, the 17th stood out as a date I needed to pay attention. 17th and 20th. 17th and 20th. These days have circulated through my heart and soul for weeks.  So when I got the email on the 17th of December (after our own agency shut down for the day) and when I saw the due date set for the 20th, I paused. 

Immediately, I emailed the agency. 
I called my friend. 
I got the phone number and made a call. 
I spoke with nearly everyone who was still in the office. 
I'm pretty sure I was given the personal cell phone number of one of the case workers. 

And when I got a hold of her, my breath caught because could this be it? Could everything be pointing to tonight? 

We spoke for about ten minutes, long enough for me to know the baby still needed a family and this case worker believed us to be a good fit, when the bomb was dropped. 

"What's your budget for the adoption?" 

"I-I'm sorry? We-we don't have a budget." (small chuckle) "We paid off our adoption this time last year....we don't owe anything with the agency we're with right now...." 

"Well, you could probably just get a loan. You'd need to come up with 28,500 dollars before picking up the baby here in a few days." 

I could feel the room closing in around me and I recognized the feeling. I'd felt it before—many times—and I just closed my eyes against it because it wasn't it. It still wasn't right. After four years and countless leads and too many hopeful emails and phone calls to name, we were the ones walking away. 

We got off the phone a few minutes after that, but I already knew the answer. I already knew this baby was not meant for our arms. And it sucked. 

.::.

Sunday, when I stood in front of strangers, it was part of Prayers of the People—one of my favorite parts of liturgy. During these few moments, you gather around each other and help carry the load. Lord, have mercy echoes up and around you when you state a request. Thanks be to God cracks the silence after a praise. And even when you stand up shaking, like I was, the strength you receive from the whispers rising up with you emboldens you.

And after tonight, I'm even more certain of what He's teaching us.

This season, I'm learning that part of receiving is asking. And so here I am...asking. Would you join us in praying our child home? 

It's been long enough. It's time for jubilee.

Lord, have mercy. 

Posted on December 17, 2013 and filed under Faith, Jubilee.

for when you know.

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Perhaps you remember the first time we filled you in on some news. Some friends of ours knew beforehand and gifted us with some amazing pictures, and we parked in an illegal parking lot in downtown Austin and snuck onto the property of a pretty exclusive hotel (they have gates, people) and held the little baby girl onesie and smiled and tried to hide our nerves because it was official. 

We were going to be parents.

And then in less than a week, I wrote another post because I needed to let you know: as official as this whole thing is, it could still not work out. Remember that? I think it's where I began to worry.

Or maybe it was when the birth mom looked at us and told us, "you know, I'm so excited about this pregnancy. I mean, I always wanted a daughter and I can just picture her nursery filled with Hello Kitty stuff..." and "have you considered the name ABCDE? I always loved that name..."

In any case, the strength to finish out those ten weeks seemed almost insurmountable most days. But in what seemed like a single breath, ten weeks made their way down to four, and before we even knew for sure that the birth mother was going to keep the baby girl, I knew deep in my bones.

I was standing at the sink when I felt it. I was talking with a friend and she off-handedly made a comment about us needing to do something before the baby came in November. The feeling sprang up from a place I didn't even know existed: I don't want this baby, I thought. And then I freaked because ohmigosh. This isn't the baby we're supposed to adopt. 

I brushed off the instinct as nerves - the due date was fast approaching and I knew enough of the emotions and hormones from my friends (pregnant and adoptive moms alike) to know how our bodies react in all sorts of ways before our lives are changed irrevocably.

So when we received the phone call letting us know we wouldn't be parents, the mourning I felt was real but expected. 

Which, if you've ever experienced anything similar, you know that's a perfect storm. 

These past few months have been incredible. I mean that. More than a few times, I find myself smiling because all this? The story-coaching, the eCourses, the book ideas, the ideas swirling - none of it would have happened.

We received another call on Wednesday.

I'll fill you in on the story later. What I want you to know now: there's something to be said of knowing. And in less than two months and 16 days, Russ and I will bring home our son.

----

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Posted on March 19, 2013 and filed under The Process, Jubilee.

where He dwells.

I stood in the sanctuary, watching my friend's eyes tear up as I told her of a recent jubilee moment. "Isn't it just like Him?" she said, smiling. "It's like there are moments where He will just not relent and will come bursting forth in order for His name to be known."

And then she pulled me close and I felt the tears forming - the ones I hadn't been able to squeeze out because for once, my emotions were stunned into silence.

Last week, I felt a strong urge to enter into this season with a sense of holy hush - an expectancy that He could and would move mountains - a reminder of the impossibility of virgin birth and a Savior made human in a rush of blood.

And today, as I pulled out my word for these advent windows I'm searching through, I stared at the piece of paper that said visit and felt that familiar curl of my lip, the one that would probably stave off anyone wanting to spend time with me for fear of grinchy behavior rubbing off on them.

So I walked into my office, pulled out my art journal and started meditating on the word. This is when it hit me.

It is not just one moment out of a million in which we need His presence. It is not just one month out of an otherwise too-busy year in which we slow down and turn our heads toward the heavens.

It is every day. Every minute. Every moment.

And here, in this seemingly impossible moment, He visits. He stays. He teaches me rest.

Things are moving-yet-stagnant in our file at the adoption agency. We feel Him creating something new, even now, even in the conversations with our social worker where we wonder how to prove budgets mean nothing and numbers aren't scary when resting in the economy of Christ.

And so we wait, and praise, and rest, knowing that it is in this impossibility He dwells.

Posted on December 3, 2012 and filed under Jubilee.

welcoming the burn.

it's something i've been struggling with for awhile. nothing seems more difficult for me than to accept a blessing as it is - a blessing. somehow, i feel i owe something. as if nothing good can happen without something bad happening in return. there's always a payment. always a consequence of my something good. 

lately, my something good is staying home with our child. it's buying into my talent, writing, and holding our baby close.

but somehow, i feel like this is selfish. somehow, i can't help but wonder if because i think this our wait will be longer.

thankfully, my therapist is a gospel-reliant woman who speaks truth into the lies wreaking havoc on my heart. yesterday, in her office, she began to unravel the root of this fear. by the time i left her office, i was clinging to the belief that God created me to be a mother and this desire - this hope of quick placement - is not selfish but a blessing from the One who knows me best. 

i don't know when our child will be in our arms. there are moments when i feel this could be very, very soon. others, like this morning, the ache in my heart to see his/her face is so palpable i feel i could reach in and grasp the pain with my empty hands.

but i know now these feelings are natural - and even meant to be celebrated. i see how He's building this mother's heart within me and even though some of the fear from the past still lingers, i welcome the turn - the small bend of my heart toward these emotions so foreign.

Posted on March 6, 2012 and filed under Adoption, Jubilee, Mom-Heart.

a different kind of redeeming.

a week before my birthday, russ and i contacted our agency and let them know we were planning on switching to domestic. they were understanding and let us know they would pass on our information to the domestic adoption board who met and went over family profiles before placing them in the program. but. i was told "not to be surprised if we weren't accepted - especially if there was an overwhelming number of caucasian couples already enlisted in the program."

huh.

i didn't really think anything of it, but a few days later we received notice that we were not accepted. back to square one. we started researching agencies in the area and found dead-ends in almost every case. fighting faith, i let go and began praying for God to lead us.

the day before my birthday, russ & i were in the car and i felt an overwhelming pull to pray for some friends going through the domestic adoption process. they'd gone through some rough spots and i just really, really wanted them to find placement. so i prayed. and more than anything, i knew that's what i wanted for my birthday: for them to be placed.

my birthday came and went, and i fought a lot of self-worth issues. birthdays haven't always been the highlight of my year, and secretly i thought the redeeming of my birthday would come in some magical party with lots of friends and me being the center of attention. {which, let's be honest...i really hate being the center of attention} so i think in a small way {and fighting complete selfishness}, i was disappointed in the way my birthday looked - i mean, i even had to work. {i know, sob story.}

needless to say, i woke up the next morning a little more logical and thankful for how my friends celebrated me. {i really do have the best friends in the world} AND...in the middle of my work day, i got an e-mail from the friend i prayed for earlier in the week. there's a possibility of a baby...the e-mail said...and my heart seriously jumped out of my chest. i texted her immediately and asked when she found out, and she told me the week prior - they had just decided to pursue this match.

i texted her and told her i was moved and thankful and full of praise because this was the only thing i wanted for my birthday.

and i was giddy and incredulous and just flat-stupified that my prayer had not only been answered, but that it was answered before i even uttered a word.

that week was rough. as it usually is with domestic infant adoptions, there were a few moments where we were unsure whether or not our dear friends would come home with a child. we prayed, we fasted, we cried and prayed some more. before we knew it, the tide shifted and pictures were posted on facebook of a beautiful baby girl - she was coming home.

never before had i seen such intricate parallels between our own adoption in Christ and an adoption of a sweet, precious child.

to think before the beginning of time her placement was chosen and hand-crafted by One who set the earth in motion is humbling and beautiful. just like it is with you and me - just like our hearts are woven into His before we even know of His love.

and this isn't even the end of the story.

the day before my friends came home, the mom called me. we talked of the past few days and how God moved on their behalf. we talked of new baby smell, the heartache and joy of adoption, and how i couldn't wait to see the fro this girl was already rockin'.

then my friend's voice got quiet and she said, "elora - i really wanted to call you to let you know how much it meant to me that you prayed for us to get placed. when i got that text from you i let my sister know because...well...our daughter was born on your birthday."

my birthday.

there are still no words to accurately describe my feeling in that moment.

suddenly, i remembered sitting in the hot car with the afternoon sun beating down on my arm. i remembered praying God...please...i just want them to have a baby...

and then i remembered turning and telling russ and us laughing and secretly wishing it would really happen. i had no idea. i had no idea they'd already been contacted about a possible match. i had no idea the very next day...on my birthday...a beautiful baby girl would be born and placed with her forever family who waited and prayed for her.

once again, the theme of redemption echoes itself across our life - nothing is left untouched by His hand.

even my birthday.

Posted on October 11, 2011 and filed under Faith, Jubilee.

change of course

while russ was in africa, i stayed home and recuperated. for a week i struggled with clinched fists and angry tears - wondering what russ was doing and fighting bitterness about not being able to make the trip. slowly, God began working in my heart. i started believing His own heart toward me and recognizing my hesitancy in accepting His love. i also started to realize just how reluctant i was in starting the adoption process because...well...starting it meant finishing it.

it meant becoming a mom.

i didn't know this, but on the other side of the world, russ was dealing with his own revelations. working with the orphans broke him and lit a fire in his spirit. he came home saying things like it was the most difficult thing to see those kids come home on the plane knowing we still had a few years and i've never been more ready to become a father...

i started tackling my resistance through my step study at recovery. i'd notice moms pulling daughters close in stores and feel the preemptive tightening of my chest. i'd remember how ic:orphan ripped open a seam in the mom-heart i fought so much. and i never really accepted this work i was doing to recover until a dear friend looked at me and said, how brave of you to face this now. 

it was then i understood the past few months - the word jubilee - wasn't for us to cling to in preparation for our baby. not completely. it was to cling to in our own path to freedom.

and in His perfect love He allowed us to stumble through pain in order to refine us. 

i became more and more ready for this process to be over. the excuse of the school year was quickly becoming a misnomer with summer approaching, and the paperwork sat collecting dust on my dresser at home.

what i felt was strange. i experienced both a growing awareness of my baby waiting for me as well an uneasiness about international adoption. in the middle of june we called the dossier organization and got information about beginning the process. we started fundraising and setting aside funds.

but nothing felt right.

believing it to be my own selfishness, i continually prayed until one day a friend posted something about in-country adoptions in ethiopia costing families 150 dollars. this meant an ethiopian family willing to adopt an ethiopian child would pay 150 dollars to bring this baby into their home.

our international cost would allow the placement of at least 200 kids. 

seeing this discrepancy was the last thing for me. i knew there was no way for me to justify the expense - not when our 30,000 dollars would make such a huge impact on a village willing to adopt. i started questioning prices again and started praying for God to lead us in the direction we needed to go. the next day we got an e-mail from our agency letting us know the average wait time for a referral was 15 mos. from dossier landing in ethiopia. that would place our wait right at three years since waiting for a court date & the second trip could take up to 6-8 months.

it was almost as if the clarity was instant. i could not do this. i could not wait for a year while my child was in an orphanage across the world. others have - and others will - but i realized it wasn't for me.

and i was okay with it.

so russ i talked and i explained to him what God had been doing in my heart since january. he knew the recovery stuff. he knew the hesitation to become a mom. but i never really mentioned my reluctance toward international adoption until that night.

in many ways, it felt like we'd come full circle. almost a year later, we were considering a complete change of course. we sat across from each other, just like that day in starbucks, and agreed to look into domestic.

the next day, i walked into my gym and playing on the television was 16 and pregnant...the adoption special. 

as i listened to the stories of these birth moms and adoptive parents, something slowly began surfacing in my heart. it wasn't until i was just about to leave that i realized what i was feeling.

it was peace.

i walked out of the gym smiling because never had i been more ready to be a mom. 

 

there's still more to this story - and still more i'm processing. check back later this week as i begin to tackle some issues i see with the perception of domestic adoption and fill you in on some decisions we've made since changing from ethiopia. also - you can still give! check the donations link to the right of the page - we've had about ten people sign up for the 100 for 1 campaign and we're still looking for some more who will join :)

Posted on August 9, 2011 and filed under Jubilee.

realizing it's not about us.

within a few days of 2011 starting, i couldn't get away from God's radical grace. at the precise moment we were about to go under, God placed us within a community of friends who are more than just a "small group" - we're family. three of the families are going through adoption and half of us left for two weeks to serve in kibera this summer, one of the largest slums in africa. january is also when russ & i began the recovery program at our local church. more than just a place for those with addictions, it's a breathtaking view of God's love for us even in our mess. i started meeting with a sponsor the first week and almost instantaneously i was faced with some things from my past i needed to work through in therapy. i realized then God's mercy - the delay in our adoption program allowed for us to truly dive in deep with the recovery process.

this was hard.

God gave us the word jubilee to cling to - and for awhile i thought "how beautiful - it's our year of jubilee because we're adopting and oh how pretty a picture..."

i kind of forgot the grittiness that happens in the process of redemption.

and so one night, i sat and cried with my community group about the overwhelming sense of sovereignty i felt in God's hand being there exactly when i needed it. a year ago, my situation would be crippling - i wouldn't find the strength i need to get through the fear and the questions and the doubt...but now? now He placed us within this...family of believers who love us diligently and fight for us through prayer. and part of me resisted the process. part of me {still} struggles with the issues of therapy.

but i'm beginning to understand anything is worth holding my baby in the end - any sort of pruning. any sort of sanctification.

because as i'm figuring out, this process is so not about russ and i rescuing a baby from doom. it's never been that way and i cringe whenever i see this picture within the church of us rising up and saving kids from obvious destruction. this process - this calling of adoption - has more to do with the jubilee of our own hearts and the understanding of how He fought for us.

it took less than a month for me to realize this, but another three to fully understand.

in february, russ & i had the opportunity to attend ic:orphan - a conference where ideators met in order to discuss the implications of the orphan crisis. raw with my own insecurities {i was one of the "bloggers" attending} i shrank away from truly ingesting some of the information. like the foster care system in america funneling trafficked teens and children. or the rate of trafficked children in international adoption. or the church's inclination to see orphan care as "adoption" and only adoption.

because what about those children who aren't adoptable?

this conference came within weeks of russ & i leaving for the horn of africa in order to work with orphans there. these orphans are usually of somalian decent and because of their culture, are not adoptable.

i started struggling then. because are they not worth loving? are they not worth some type of ministry?

and why do we feel we need to open up yet another orphanage when in the Bible, there's nothing about take care of the orphans among you and place them in an institution. 

for the first time, i became passionate about the local church doing something about the orphan crisis. i began to understand the importance of ministering to local pastors - empowering them to do good and incorporate theology that embraces the Truth that we are adopted in Christ - and what better way to see this in action than to start adopting locally? i heard about seed adoption and their ministry in ethiopia and finally felt like i had an answer to what i had been struggling with for some time. i wrote my notes, processed, visited with my therapist and started packing for the horn.

a week before we were to leave, my gallbladder malfunctioned and i went to the ER only to find myself incredibly sick. there was no going home - i was put on severe antibiotics and monitored throughout the night before having surgery the next morning.

africa was out of the question.

i would stay home, by myself, while russ traveled with the team - the day he left we got an e-mail from our agency letting us know the government in Ethiopia had severely slowed the process down {accepted 5 cases per day as opposed to 50}. my mom heart flinched but i had no room to react.

at that moment, adoption was the furthest thing from my mind.

Posted on August 3, 2011 and filed under Faith, Jubilee.

story of jubilee.

the morning after russ & i submitted our request for information about the Ethiopian adoption program, i found myself driving down to my parent's house for my cousin's wedding shower. it was beautiful outside - the sun radiated from this deep blue sky and the fall air was a refreshing turn about from the sweltering heat of the early months of the school year. i look back at this moment and remember a deep sense of hope and excitement. for the first time in months, i knew we were on the road God wanted for us. i was listening to gungor's beautiful things album and praying for our future child[ren] - for their protection and for the process to be smooth and quick. my mind immediately went to names, and i started asking God to give me a name for this period of wait. a name i could connect with our child[ren].

i felt the whisper in the hidden spaces: jubilee

i knew the minute i heard the name that it was for us. i called russ and told him and he agreed. it was perfect. my sister christina mentioned with tears in her eyes, oh elora, it's the year of jubilee! and we giggled and did a little dance in my parents' driveway. driving home, i spent a lot of time in prayer. the feeling of celebration and rescue settled in my bones and i didn't waste anytime that evening buying this domain and setting up the blog.

the next week, rumors of oneword2011 began filtering through my twitter stream. last year, i watched others claim a word and was amazed at how God used it to shape them. when the announcement came that it was time to start thinking of a word for 2011, i didn't even have to give it a second thought.

my word was jubilee.

and before 2011 even became official, i realized my word weighed heavier than i ever anticipated. this was our word - this was our promise to cling to - not just because of our precious baby/babies waiting. this was our word because of the jubilee needing to happen in our own story.

Posted on March 24, 2011 and filed under Adoption, Jubilee.