When God says “no”.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me lately what’s going on with the adoption process. So instead of awkwardly answering the question again and again, I’ve decided to post a blog. We are not adopting any time soon, and possibly not at all. I’m not going to go into all the reasons why, but all I will say is that for some reason I feel really strongly that God is saying “No” to us.  Its been a hard no to accept, but I am learning to accept it. Maybe it will happen 5 or 10 years down the road, but for this moment, its not happening.

I have deleted most of my related blogs, and our fundraising links. I did, however keep the one of our photo shoot up, in hopes that another couple will find some inspiration to use for their own photos. (They did make it to Pinterest!)

And while adoption is not on the table right now, I do know that God did put adoption on my heart heavily. So whatever was donated to us, I am giving to other couples so that they can bring their children home.  Maybe one day I will start a ministry to financially help others adopt. I would love to do that, honestly, and maybe that was the purpose of God putting it on my heart,

I do not know what is in store for our family. Whether we have children or not, that’s all up to God. There’s still a chance He wants to give us a miracle despite being told our chances are slim. But its not something I’m going to focus my energy on.

No matter what, it all comes down to Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  

Our Adoption Photo Shoot

A few months ago, I emailed a young lady at my church who’s photography captivated me. I proposed the idea of a non-maternity, adoption themed, photo shoot inspired by photos I stumbled across on Pinterest. Well, she LOVED the idea! Not only that, but she had a heart for adoption as well. Her family started an orphanage in Haiti, and her little sister had been adopted from there. It took a few months to finally get around to doing the photos, but when we did, she literally recreated exactly what I had imagined them to be. I am excited to share some of them with you here!

Photos by Elisabeth Huijskens of Newsong Photography.

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I am really excited the way these turned out. I wanted the simplicity of an open field, and it was close to sunset so the lighting was absolutely perfect!

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Ephesians 1:5 says that “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (NLT)

James 1:27 says “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (KJV)

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John 14:18 says, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.”

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We had a lot of fun with this shoot! Hope you enjoyed the photos. I promise to have a real blog post soon to update what is going on with us!

Be blessed.
Kelly

 

 

not “my” story to tell.

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
Isaiah 61:3

It is a little known fact that I tried to end my life. It’s not something I publicize often. Not because I’m ashamed of the fact, because I’m not! Rather, because there isn’t much opportunity to bring it up in a normal conversation. Yes, it is true. I tried to kill myself. But I’m not going to talk about that now. I am going to switch gears for a moment, but I promise I will get back to this. It’s too good of a story not to tell. (Yes, as crazy as this sounds, my attempted suicide was a good thing!)

Throughout the Bible, God is known by many names. These names show different facets of His nature, attributes, and character. These names show just how awesome, and powerful, and loving our God is.

A few of these names include:
Jehovah Rapha – The Lord our Healer
Jehovah Jireh – The Lord Provides
El Elyon – The Most High God
Yahweh Shalom – The Lord is Peace

My personal favorite: El Roi : The God Who Sees Me.

El Roi was Hagar’s name for God when He saw her affliction (Genesis 16:13). If you are not familiar with the story, Hagar was Sarai’s servant. When Sarai was unable to conceive, she gave Hagar as a wife to Abram so that she could have a family through her. When Hagar knew she had conceived, she began to treat Sarai with contempt. In return Sarai treated her so harshly, that Hagar saw it best of just run away. It was there, lost and alone that God found her. He saw her hurts. And He comforted her. She said “I have now seen the One who sees me.” But He didn’t want her to keep running. He wanted her to go back to Sarai and face the situation.

While Sarai saw Hagar as a mere slave girl; a person without worth or value in the eyes of most people, God saw Hagar for who she was, rather than what she was. And He cared about her, when it seemed that no one else did. How often is this true in our own lives, when others fail to really see us for us?

Going back to where I began earlier, I didn’t have many friends growing up. In fact, I really didn’t have any. I was too shy to go out of my way to make friends, and I spent much of my time alone in isolation, especially once I hit my teenage years. Around the age of 14, I found myself in a deep depression. I was so deep into it, there was no way out. Being bullied didn’t help either. That just made the feelings worse. All throughout middle school, and most of high school, I was taunted, teased, and bullied. For no good reason, other than that kids are mean! Even in a “Christian” school, kids can be very mean.

All I wanted, was for everyone to see me for who I am. Not for what I looked like (I wasn’t exactly the prettiest girl in school), or how I dressed. If they only took the time to know me, they would have seen that I was a nice person with a huge heart, and someone who liked to laugh and have fun. Instead, they chose not to know me, made judgements, and spread rumors.

It wasn’t long into my depression, when I began to cut. Sometimes I would burn myself. I still have the marks on my arm 18 years later. They’re not scars, I prefer to call them “battle wounds”. They are there to show that I am a survivor.

When cutting and burning became not enough to deal with my pain, I overdosed on pills. More than once. I don’t know how many times, to be honest. After so many times, you begin to lose count. I was desperate. I was desperate to die and feel no more pain. I remember at one time thinking I would be surprised if I lived past the age of 20. But at the same time, I was desperate for life. I was drowning in a deep ocean, and I wanted someone to see me and rescue me, because I was suffocating and could not ask for help. But everyone was blind to me, as if I weren’t even there.

In November of 1995, I went on a nightmare of a camping trip with my church youth group. To this day, I really don’t care for camping and I think this trip has a lot to do with it. There were 3 tents. Two for the boys, and one for the girls because there were fewer of us. The other girls made a huge deal out of who would sleep next to me in our tent, because no one wanted me in there to begin with. What a way to begin a “fun” weekend. We came back Sunday evening. Monday evening I overdosed again. I couldn’t take all the hatred anymore. I just wanted out of this life.

Obviously, since I am writing this, I did not die that night. Instead I spent the entire night throwing up in my bed, too weak to even get to the bathroom. And then I went to school the next day. Like I always did the next day.

My mom picked me up early from school that Tuesday afternoon. She was taking me somewhere, but I didn’t know where. We eventually pulled up to the emergency room, where I was greeted outside by my youth pastor. I was confused. I had no idea why I was there. My youth pastor pulled me aside and told me that after I went off to school, my mom went into my room and found my empty pill bottles on the floor, and my sheets and blanket bunched up in my hamper. I have to admit, I was furious that she even went in there. But it was part of God’s desperate plan in getting to me.

I was checked in to the ER, but there was little they could do at that point because I had already thrown up. All they could do was give me a nasty charcoal drink to hopefully absorb anything that made its way into my bloodstream. At that point, almost 24 hours after my overdose, I was still feeling a pretty huge buzz from the cocktail I swallowed the night before. They sent a counselor in to talk to me. I did not want to talk to her, but I bitterly told her all I had done to myself over the past year, my feelings of self-hatred and everything else. That night I was admitted into the behavioral center, where I would spend the next two weeks.

For most of those two weeks, I was bitter and angry that my parents would put me there. I did not belong there. I could not wait to get out. Individual counseling was okay, but I was extremely uncooperative during family counseling, where in at least one session the counselor told me to leave because of my attitude.

I think it was a little over a week into my stay, that I met God. And it wasn’t some generic, someone reads you a bible verse about salvation and says “Jesus Loves You” sort of thing. What I experienced, was very real, personal, and almost supernatural. The God I met, was the same God Hagar met while she was running away: El Roi.

To give a little background to what I am about to tell, there was a gentleman my parents only knew through telephone conversations. I don’t remember how they “met” to begin with, and it doesn’t really matter. But he and my parents formed a faceless friendship for a reason. God had a plan through this friendship. The night I found myself in the hospital, this man called my parents up and said he just felt as if he needed to call and asked if everything was okay. So they told him what happened with me. And that night, this man who I never knew of or met, who lived about 100 miles away, began to write. I don’t think even he knew what he was writing. The pen was just moving across 3 pages of yellow legal pad. A day or so later, he personally delivered this letter to my parents, where they met face to face for the first time. He asked them to deliver the letter to me.

I had the letter in my hands, and as I began to read, God was speaking to me in a very real, very personal way. And when I say personal, I mean PERSONAL. Three pages of things only I knew about myself. Things I kept hidden inside, away from everyone else. I am talking about specific thoughts, specific feelings, and situations that only I knew. So accurate, it was scary. How could this man I never met know all these things about me? The answer is simple. HE didn’t know. But GOD knew. God told him what to say to me, so I would listen to Him, because He had been trying to get my attention for a long time.

Unfortunately, somehow I lost the letter not long after I received it. I still kick myself to this day for not taking better care of it, and storing it a safer place. So I don’t remember everything that was written. But what I do remember very clearly, word for word, was the first paragraph, which I am about to share.

Listen to My word. For My word is True. Men may lie, but I do not lie, for I am the Truth. Listen, I have had my eye on you. And what I see in you is not what others see in you, or even how you see yourself. For My eyes are not clouded over with wrong judgement.

This was El Roi, the God who Sees, speaking to me. And when everyone else failed to see me, HE SAW ME. And He LOVED me, despite the fact I had been oblivious to His presence.

I don’t remember His exact words, but He told me I was never alone. That every time I thought I was alone, and I was crying, He was sitting right there with me, crying too. He wanted so badly for me to turn to Him, and rest my head on His shoulder. But that I didn’t even know He was there.

He went on to say that every time I heard voices that I couldn’t make out, it was Him speaking to me, but I just wasn’t listening. This was one of those “specific things” I was talking about. No one knew about this. Sometimes I’d insist that someone was quietly saying something I couldn’t comprehend, only to look around and find no one near me. He told me that when I do hear these noises, to stop, quiet myself, and listen, and I will hear His voice.

He also foretold me that there would times in the future I would face even more uncertainty and sadness. That I would feel like giving up. He told me when that time came, to come to Him, and He will keep me strong. I didn’t understand how that could be… I mean, my feelings were almost instantly reversed after reading His letter to me. But God is God, and He is always right. He knows my past, present and future. And like he said it would happen, those times of desperation came, even sooner than I expected.

I went back to school, and continued to be bullied. This time it was worse. When it became known what I had done to myself, I was labeled psycho. No one liked me before, but they despised me now. I even had a teacher go along with the cruelty. A teacher!! A person who should be trusted, stooped down to the level of my peers. This teacher called me a freak to my face. It was very hard to deal with. Feelings of worthlessness and suicide started surfacing again. I had to switch antidepressants because I started doing the same things I was doing before. I had forgotten to lean on God for strength. I was attempting to deal with it on my own.

Eventually, I remembered His words to me and I learned to lean on God again, like He asked me to, and trust Him to be my strength. Even when I wanted to give up. It is because of El Roi – the God who sees, that I’ve found the strength I needed to face life and live life.

Even to this day, 18 years later, circumstances arise and I think I am not strong enough to pull through. I feel weak in spirit and in faith, and I want to raise my white flag, and say “I give up!”. But God gives me the strength I need to face whatever comes my way. Whether its financial hardships, family or marital conflicts, infertility and the uncertainty of ever having a family, El Roi sees it all. He sees beyond what my own eyes and heart see. He sees beyond what others see in me. He loves me, and will never fail me. When things seem hopeless, he has a purpose for it. Every battle I go through, whether you see the wounds or not, plants a seed that grows into a living, flourishing tree that gives God all the glory.

I’m here today, alive to tell His story (It’s not my story to tell), because he saw a purpose in my life, even when I didn’t.

a sudden change of plans.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

We all have plans. We plan out our lives so precisely, down to every detail. Who we will marry. Where we will live. What kind of car we will drive. Where we will work. How many children we will have. Our plans become our focus in life. They are what drive us in life. But will things always go the way we plan? “Of course they will,” you answer. “They’re my plans, right? I worked hard toward them. I deserve them. There’s no reason things shouldn’t go according to how I planned, because I’m in control!”

Wrong. Skip a turn. Do not pass go.

Like most people, I had my life planned out.
1. Have a full time job: check.
2. Meet and marry the man of my dreams: check.
3. Buy a home: check
4. Have a dog: check, check, check (Yes, one dog mysteriously multiplied into three. I’m still trying to figure that out. When I do, I will write about it).
5. Have children:

….Not everything goes according to plan.

In case you are wondering where this is headed, go back to number 5. Look closely to the right. You will see an empty space. Those were my plans. They were my dreams, my hopes, and desires. Why shouldn’t I have that? It’s not like I am asking for a billion dollars in my bank account. All I’m asking for is a little human or two to love, and who will love me. Is that too much to ask?

When we began trying to start a family, I was not expecting, nor was I prepared for what the future already had in store for us. Even when we were told that our chance of conceiving was less than 2%, I stayed positive and still held on to faith that we would defy those odds. I guess you could say I was in denial. After all, infertility happens to other people… it would never happen to me. And GOD is greater than those doctors! I’ll prove them wrong!

Daily, I prayed for God to change the situation, grant a miracle, and make me a mother. I had faith that He would.  So, I continued to plan and dream. I imagined what our children would look like. In my mind, my children had olive skin and dark hair with blonde facets that shimmered in the sun. They had blue eyes. They were beautiful. They even had names. I planned on how I would tell my husband the big news that we were finally expecting. How I would announce it to my parents and grandmother that they would be welcoming their first grandchild and great-grandchild into the world. I searched for midwives in my area that assisted in home births, so that when I was ready, I knew who to call. It was all planned out. I was just waiting for it to happen, holding onto a verse from Psalms the Lord showed me:

He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.
Psalm 113:9

I had several people tell me that infertility was God’s way of saying I am not supposed to be a mother. That I should accept it and move on.

Excuse me? Who are you to tell me what God’s will is for my life? That I am not meant to be a mother? Did God tell you this? Because last I spoke to Him about it, He promised me a child.

Often I would get asked, “Why don’t you just adopt?”
Just. Adopt.
Just
adopt?

As if just adopting would solve all my problems. As if just adopting would magically replace what I never had to begin with. As if just adopting was an easy fix. Just another trip to the grocery store. “Hey honey, let’s go to the baby store and buy ourselves a baby! I wonder if they have any red-head girls in stock today?”

The word adoption left a sour taste in my mouth. I cringed every time I heard it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was against adoption, because I wasn’t. I actually wanted to adopt since I was young. But on my  terms. And these were my terms: Have children. Adopt children. There was no “this” or “that”. I wanted both. I would have both, because it was my plan.

MY plan…

What about God’s plans? What if your plans don’t align to His? What if He’s telling you to give up on your plans, because He has something better planned? What then? Do you just say “Okay God, sounds good!” and turn your back on your dreams, and never glance back? It’s not an easy task.

I went to bed one evening, with that sour taste in my mouth. I will never consider adoption until I’ve used up every possible resource to have my own child. Even then, I may never consider it. It will never ever replace the void inside my womb.

Out of nowhere, the next morning, I woke up realizing that I had spent so much time planning and dreaming about having a family, focusing on the unimportant things, that I failed to realize that it’s not blood that forms a family. Rather, love is what creates a family. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, adoption was no longer a “replacement”, or “consolation prize”. Adoption became a very beautiful act of love. A way to have a real family. I had a sense of peace about it. But there was still that struggle. It goes something like this:

God: So, this whole “baby” thing… I want you to adopt.
Kelly: Sure, God. You know I want to adopt too. But put a child inside me first. And then we’ll talk about this adoption thing.
God: I’m not going to do that.
Kelly: C’mon, God! Please! I know you can do it. Give me a child. You promised!!
God: I did promise that. I am going to give you a child. I want you to adopt.
Kelly: Can’t I have both? Please?
God: No. Adopt.
Kelly: But what about my PLANS?? I had my life all figured out, and you come along and change it??
God: I have something better in mind.
Kelly: But God….
God: Don’t argue with Me.
Kelly: But…
God: Trust Me. Ok?

It is an ongoing conversation. I know it’s not a conversation I’ll even win. God always has the last word. So why do I still want to kick and scream like a child to get my way? Maybe that’s because, in a way, I am a child. I am God’s child. God’s adopted child.

In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
Ephesians 1:5

I am not His daughter because he had to have me. I am His daughter because He wanted me. He chose me. If God adopted me into His family out of love, shouldn’t I be willing to do the same?

Since God is my Father, surely, like any parent, He knows what is best for His child, even when His child can’t see the big picture. But as children, we need to learn to trust that our parent knows what’s in our best interests, even when we don’t like it. Even when we don’t understand.

I may not know exactly why He planned it this way. I may never know why. But He does. I may no longer have the slightest clue what my future children will look like. But He does. And that’s what matters.

Before closing, I’d like to briefly retouch on Psalm 113:9:

He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.

Just in writing this post, something was revealed to me about the promise God gave me in that verse. It doesn’t say that the barren woman (some translations use “childless”) ever became pregnant.  It only says that she was given children. And maybe…. just maybe, they were adopted.