After a month off from blogging and a much needed break from social media, there’s so much to update everyone on. Before I begin with updates, if you’ve never taken a social media fast (and I don’t mean for a day or even a couple of days), I highly encourage you to do so. I kept feeling a nudge from Father saying “Come away and rest in Me.” I found myself fighting that invitation and it made me uneasy, sick to my stomach really. “What about my followers? What about the ministry of daily posts? They need me!” Oh, how silly & wrong I was…
When I took a step back and intentionally took an inventory of my time, I noticed a few things. I was spending more time distracted on my phone than with what truly gives me life, undistracted time with the Father. If I’m totally honest, my quiet times in the morning were always accompanied by my phone. I would separate time for prayer, but anytime I saw my phone screen light up, I would tend to the “immediate” (which never was anything urgent in the first place). If I had a few minutes of “dead space” in car line or on the couch, I would turn to my phone. The enemy is cunningly stealing our time from the things that matter most – time with our Father, with our spouses, with our children, with our meaningful relationships. I praise Him for removing the blinders from my eyes and for bringing freedom in that area of my life.
I had so many people say: “I wish I could unplug like that.” “That sounds so refreshing!” “If only my ministry allowed me to disconnect.” “But this is where I get true support on my journey.”, etc. And honestly, those comments broke my heart – not for me, but for Jesus. Perhaps we need to take a look at Who gives us the ability to blog, speak, teach, sing, breathe in the first place and stop being so self-reliant or plain simple addicted & co-dependent to anything other than Jesus. Your life, your followers, your ministry won’t stop because you took time to hear from the Father. On the contrary, could you imagine where He could take you if you carved out time to truly hear from Him without all the noise and distractions?
These are desperate times in the spirit realm: death, disease, depression, loss, and all the other things that come from the pit of hell are coming against the body of Christ. Jesus Himself said in Mark 9:29 “He answered them, “This type of powerful spirit can only be cast out by fasting and prayer.” And if you’re one who can juggle all these things and STILL have a deep connection spiritually, props to you. All I can say is this experience was LIFE.GIVING. and I encourage you to be obedient to His leading when He calls. (I’ll get off my soap box now). *Let me clarify that the Good Shepherd never judged, shamed, or guilted me into this pen of rest, He gently prodded me with His staff into this place where He knew I desperately needed to be – alone and all to Himself. You’ll know when it’s His voice calling you there.
Updates on the ministry: As I posted on our social media pages, we will no longer be posting daily on those pages. In an effort to minimize time wasted on social media, we have decided to follow the Father’s leading in letting that part of the ministry go. We will continue to blog (not on a monthly basis), only when we feel His leading to share something He has placed on our hearts. We may use our social media pages in the future to do live videos together and minister to other couples facing infertility. We feel there is such a need for husbands and couples to feel included in this journey, so we are praying about creativity from God’s throne on how to best go about accomplishing that. I have been teaching a study on the book of Ruth in our women’s ministry at our local church and I have learned so much about a woman that doesn’t quit. We need to weigh the Kingdom effects on every decision we make, and I know there is much for us to continue doing for the Father with our “test” (hopefully one day “testimony”); we will continue praying for His heart on the direction of the aforementioned.
Updates on our personal journey: I also mentioned recently on our social media pages how we were approved with Safe Families and were awaiting our first placement. If you’ve never heard of Safe Families, please Google them and find out if they have a program in your state. We went to an information session about a month ago and fell in love with their mission and vision of the church (not the government) being responsible for the care of orphans. We immediately went through their process and patiently waited for a call. As I was sitting in the kitchen of one of my local Moms in the Making attendees, we got the call for a 6 month old baby girl to stay with us for 4 months. I immediately said a nervous but excited “Yes!” My friend asked me “Don’t you have to ask your husband?” I responded “No, I know he’ll be on the same page.” And sure enough he was. We told our Jia and she immediately went into big sister mode – preparing a diaper bag, the stroller, and car seat. We packed up the car and made our way to pick up baby “L”. I cannot go into much detail on her situation, but our hearts were immediately moved with compassion the moment we locked eyes with her. We stopped at Walgreens on our way home to pick up a few things for her since she didn’t come with much, and the adventure began.
Could anyone have warned me how miserable sleepless nights are? The first 72 hours were grueling to say the least! Feedings every 3-4 hours after having not done this for 14 years, I was ONE-HOT-MESS (and if you know me, you know how much I love sleep – it’s right up there with coffee and chocolate). By day four, I was getting the hang of it and now I was the one waking up before her and I didn’t look so shabby anymore in the mornings. I am blessed to have a job where I work remotely from home, so I was able to somewhat keep my normal schedule. The one thing I refused to give up on was my workout routine at Orange Theory Fitness. I am convinced the Father was intentional even in that small detail – I had started working out 5 days a week about 4-5 weeks prior to baby “L’s” arrival, and I am convinced that (and obviously the Holy Spirit’s strength) is where my energy came from to conquer those zombie days. I give so much props to all mothers! You are all beasts and I celebrate and cheer you on.
We had made our summer plans around baby “L” being around, we gathered donations from the four corners of Chicago (we literally had a room full of stuff for her), our church family pulled through in some AMAZING ways – diapers, clothes, swings, pack-n-plays, toys, shoes, you name it. I had so many women texting and offering support through prayer, meals, baby items, babysitting, etc. It was an experience I will forever cherish – the body of Christ truly pulling together to support one of its members. The way they loved on this little girl without even knowing her was nothing short of a miracle. I am so grateful, it brings me to tears. Our families were also equally supportive through keeping us in prayer, sending us texts, and calling through Facetime/Skpe to see baby “L”. And then we got the call…
Six days into having her in our home, we got a call that baby “L” needed to be removed from our home because the Mother had made other arrangements and didn’t want to participate in Safe Families anymore. I lost my breath for 1-2 seconds and was immediately overcome with grief. I called my husband and let him know, I also texted our family/friends to update them on the news. That night was full of tears, cuddles, book readings, rocking, singing, and lots of praying. The next day we took baby “L” back and we drove away with broken hearts. So many people were praying us through that moment, and we could feel God’s supernatural strength overtake us. This experience, coupled with 2-3 months of many other experiences, has led us into a place of many questions for the Lord as to the future of our family in regards to our desires to grow it. We have been in a quiet place of rest, trying to lean into what it is He has for us. Will we continue to do Safe Families? We don’t know (somehow my heart tells me we will). This experience was so hard on us emotionally and we know what we signed up for – these are temporary placements and anything can happen. I tell myself – perhaps our hearts just aren’t built to handle something like this since we get attached so easily, but my spirit tells me that I know us and I know like many other times, we will go through the pain if it means obedience to God. Honestly, baby “L” became our own – we never saw her any differently and we loved her as such. In retrospect, my husband believes the Lord was saving us from greater heartache – if she would have stayed a complete four months, could you imagine the pain of detachment?
I choose to celebrate all the good that happened in those 6 days: the miracle of witnessing the true love and support of our church family, the miracle that took place in each of our hearts as individuals to truly love and embrace the orphan without restraint, prejudice, or judgment, and the miracle of watching baby “L” look at me with a serious and skeptical face the day she met me to a smiling face full of joy and trust. Please continue to pray for baby “L” and her siblings. Please continue to pray for their mother. I trust that God can care for this family far better than I ever could. I find myself scrolling through her pictures/videos all the time and my heart literally hurts – I miss her smile, her smell, her babbling, and yes – even the nighttime feedings.
Please also pray that the Lord would clearly speak from Heaven as to the direction He has for our family. And if He doesn’t, He is still God and we will continue to trust Him. We have found a deep peace in His sovereignty and His character. If He has not responded in almost 7 years, He has a good reason and a good plan. We are no longer battling month to month with negative pregnancy tests. We are no longer desperately searching for a way to make our dream of a family come true on our own terms through other means. We have come to a complete halt that has led to a place of rest – rest from the crazy monthly/yearly cycles of questioning God, tension in our marriage, and places of deep darkness and despair. Praise the Lord He has brought us through and we will settle in this new place until He says so.
I have been asked: Do you think you’re giving up because you’re weary of the battle? Maybe it’s too hard to keep believing for the impossible? Could this be the enemy getting you to quit? But my friend Meredith from “It’s Positive” worded it best: “We’re mature enough spiritually to discern peace that comes from God and masqueraded peace that comes from the enemy, we know the difference. That kind of peace doesn’t last.” And she’s completely right – this place where we are could never come from the enemy and I know that deep within my spirit. This is a good place. A place of true surrender and dependence on Him. I’m not giving up, I’m leaning in, really closely. I invite you!
Psalm 23 has become my mantra these days and it has found such a deeper meaning here:
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord