One Year of Adoption: Knowing and Loving a Son

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August 7, 2014 and August 6, 2015

I walk out into the living room from our bedroom in the mountain condo. All three kids have jumbled together on the pull-out bed and couch even though the girls have a separate room to themselves to enjoy. They’ve all just woken up. Their eyes don’t swerve from the cartoons on the TV as I cross the room. Jacob is propped on his elbow with his head rested on Lexi’s bent knee.

I sit on the side of the bed and give Jacob a big hug and announce to the room, “Today is one year since we got Jac0b!” No one makes a move. I don’t think it’s that they don’t care, but that we’ve been celebrating every month on the 7th for 12 months straight.

I move out to the back deck in the cool air to watch the steady rain on the field behind us. I remember one year ago it was sunny and hot and we stand in front of a welcome sign on our garage with lots of hope and joy behind our smiles.  The gray rain I watch from the deck seems fit for the anniversary. It’s not that there is no joy or hope anymore. It’s just this is the year that I found God in the storm.

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I heard Lysa TerKeurst talk about ministry yesterday and she said at some point, God will give you a blessing of growth, but a burden will come with it–it’s a two-edged sword. As she talks, I think of the verses that tell us when we are given much, much will be demanded.

Hannah Kallio teaches on her blog about blessing and how the orignial Hebrew word is a word picture of a rope being held between teeth and stretched and straightened.  The blessing is that we are straightened, but the burden is in the stretching. I say it with full meaning that this year has been a blessing.

I read journal entries and posts from this time last year and I was just so excited to take this journey and just to know my son. I didn’t realize the price of a relationship. It costs to build trust. It costs to know each other. It costs to be able to speak to each other without saying a word.

We paid a hefty price, particularly in the first 4 months last year. When my flesh wanted to run from the conflict, I had to learn how to stay and work through it. When my flesh wanted to give up or spew out, I had to learn how to die to that and press on. When emotions overtook me, I had to learn to take those to the Lord and let Him carry my burden. And I only did that with the help of Jesus Christ. I learned what the verse his power his made perfect in my weakness meant. Only through the working of the Holy Spirit and the words of God the Father did I find strength and hope.

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But, oh, the blessing. I know my son now. I have earned his trust. I can speak to him without saying a word. I know what he likes to eat, what colors he likes, what he likes to wear, how he likes his pancakes, what scares him and what makes him laugh. He trusts me in the little things and the big things. He calls me Mommy and doesn’t stop when people are around.

I’ve learned that any relationship is built on a foundation of love, respect and trust. We have laid that groundwork this year.

More than that, my children have learned that this year. Where once there were tears and frustration, there is laughter and well, still frustration because, yeah, they’re siblings. They’ve learned what it looks like to follow in obedience even when sacrifice is required. They’ve learned that love is not always a feeling, but an action of faithfulness and service. But the fruit of that faithfulness is the feeling.

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Personally, God has used this year to discipline me, to guide me, to break me, to love me. Most importantly, I look at this past year and see God has taught me to abide with Him. God can use all sorts of circumstances to bring us to our knees in dependence on him. For some it is cancer, others it is divorce, perhaps some it is financial ruin or grief. God chose adoption for me.

I would not trade a single tear, frustration or smile for the relationship I have built with Jesus this year. He has become my one and only. It is no longer Jesus and something else. No longer Jesus and perfection. No longer Jesus and fear. No longer Jesus and entertainment. No longer Jesus and good works. Just Jesus. He is sufficient for me.

I have fallen in love with his word, with his presence, with his ways. My faith is strong. He is enough and my all. I do not want to go anywhere where His spirit does not go with me. And he is so faithful, He promises to never leave us or forsake us.

So, today I indeed take a moment in the midst of the mundane and celebrate the blessing and burden of this year. I celebrate with a gift of knowing and loving my son and His Son more.

One Year Since The Call

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One year ago today I was working. It was the last day before the July 4th weekend. I was sitting on a conference call and I got a text from Scott that DSS had called. We’d been chosen as parents for a little boy.  I remember the rush of emotions that tried to spill out in tears. Joy. Anticipation. Fear. Panic. Elation. Relief. This was it! The day we’d waited for for years.

In the following days and weeks, I began to see God at work. How he’d planned this for a long time. While it’s been so very, very good, it also was the start of the hardest year of my life.

July 3rd, 2014 was the beginning of a rebirth.

This adoption is not all about me, but it has birthed something new in me. And while I think it birthed something new in a lot of us, it’s not my place to write about those.

So, let me tell you from my perspective. This has been the hardest, longest, most joyful-filled, frustrating, hair-falling-out, tears-rolling-down, happiest year of my life. This year we’ve been pressed down and shaken, busy forming both a new family and new individual inner beings. We have been wrapped in a cocoon, old things being transformed into new things.

I’ve been doing a study with IF:Equip on the beatitudes and my friend Hannah has shared so much wisdom about what it really means to be blessed.  She explains:

אשר, a Hebrew word that we translate “blessed” or “happy”, has at it’s core a picture of being held in the teeth, stretched, and straightened. Imagine what happens to a coiled rope if you pick it up, hold one end between your teeth and pull. All the kinks are straightened through pressure. That straightening under pressure is what Jesus meant when He said “blessed”.

We truly have been blessed.  God’s been working out my inner kinks through the pressure.

So today, on the anniversary of that beginning, it feels like another new beginning, the cocoon is opening and we’re beginning to see the fruits of all the labor. So much work is to be done, and yet I cannot help to stop and celebrate how far we’ve come–the absolute blessing he has placed in our lives.

Last night at dinner I announced that today was one year since our call. Lexi jumped out of her seat and ran over to Jac0b, who also jumped out of his seat to run away from Lexi. Lexi eventually caught him and gave him a big hug which he returned. Emma jumped up and did the same.

An hour later they were all fighting over virtual space on Minecraft.

That’s how this year has been. Moments of joy and frustration rolling one after another.

Today I celebrate God’s plans, God’s wisdom, God’s discipline, God’s love, God’s power, God’s authority. All and only through God has this been possible. God gets every single ounce of the glory. I could not have done this year without him. He’s so good.

But we also glory in our sufferings,

because we know that

suffering produces perseverance;

perseverance, character;

and character, hope.

Romans 5:3

Romans 5:3

Easter 2015: Adoption, God’s Plans, and Our Identity

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My words have been mostly quiet here lately. I’ve sat down so many times to type out some words to you, but as I told someone recently, I feel as if God has frustrated my words. He has been whispering these past few months how he is doing something new. I don’t know if it’s so much of a circumstance or calling, but I feel newness deep inside. He is changing me. The words shared on Feathers are changing me. And it is today, on Easter when we are reminded of Jesus’s life, that I feel this new life the most.

He is indeed birthing something new in me. I am not sure I have the words for it yet, but it’s like a holy rumbling inside. I get the feeling it is new faith, a belief I’ve yet to experience. The more I walk in God’s path and let go more of my own, he replaces the empty spaces with Himself. Today doesn’t feel like a culmination of all his works, but perhaps a scenic pullover on this mountainous path.

I look back since last Easter and see that it isn’t just the deep in me that has changed, but our outside circumstances too. I sit here and write while I watch Jac0b play with the girls and Christ has never been more real to me. Do I need a Bible or an empty tomb to prove he is real? No, I have a little boy with blue eyes that tells me He’s real. It’s not to say I don’t love God’s word or believe in an empty tomb, but I just have this inkling that we can know that we know because of our experience with Him.

A third child was never in our plans. Our plans were for 2 kids, a dog and white picket fence. And then we started following his whispers, to be his hands and feet in this broken, broken world. We kept following the whispers until they were shouts. We couldn’t not adopt.

So we checked checkmarks and listened as friends told us we’d have a sandy haired boy. We doubted his call and waited and waited, and then, he was here. In the flesh. God’s call was no longer something written on paper or only of the soul, he was a little boy that moved in and took our last name. It is in this reality that I know Jesus was resurrected. This adoption was God’s idea, God’s path, God’s promise. All God. A dead God cannot do what He has done these past 5 years in our hearts and family. On our own, we would not have followed this path. But what a beautiful, redemptive path it has been.

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Last week we finally received Jac0b’s new birth certificate. We applied for and received his new social security card. If you look at both, it is as if the old Jac0b did not exist. He is now, and forever more, a Bennett. And yet, his past is still there. We can’t forget it or don’t want to. We honor the path he walked. It is because of that path that we more wholeheartedly celebrate and embrace ourselves as a new family. I look at him in our picture and see a little boy that was rescued from an uncertain future. He may have felt forgotten at times, but God was very busy at work to place Him into our family.

In the same way, I understand our adoption as children in Christ more this Easter. We have a past and it has gotten us where we are, but now we are part of a new family. We have a new identity. Because of His death and resurrection, our names are written in a book of Life that says we are His. We can embrace our past, but also fully live in the freedom of our present because of our salvation from that past. We can rest because he has redeemed and adopted us.

At times it may feel like He has forgotten us, but He has not. He is working all things together. We just can’t see it yet.

I look at our picture from last year and ask myself if I would rather have skipped all the hard parts and go back to where we were. Without hesitation, I would do this a thousand times over. This Easter, I believe God more, I understand my identity in Christ more and because of God’s resurrected son, I love a son that I never knew I’d have. And man, he’s pretty adorable, isn’t he?

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Adoption: 7 Month Update

Today marks 7 months with Jac0b. I’ve been trying all week to write an update. I don’t want to miss marking it, but I couldn’t find the right words. As it turns out, I didn’t have the words at all.  Jac0b had just 8 words that sums up how things are going.

Last night the girls had friends over. I knew they would stay up late and I knew if I let Jac0b do the same, we’d have a rough day today. So I insisted he went to bed early. He wasn’t happy. I had to get my Mom-voice on.

After teeth brushing and more pleas to stay up, we eventually fell into bed. He’s usually pretty talkative at bed-time, but he was quiet. He’s fiddling with a few toys he keeps around his bed and for the first time and out of the blue he says, “Now it feels like you’re my real mom.”

That.

That is how it’s going. It’s all happening. It’s not easy and parts are messy, but we’re bonding. We’re becoming family.

My desire is not to replace anyone as a real anything, but I do want this relationship with him. I do want to be his mom and not just a caretaker. He’ll always have his birth mom and he’ll always have his foster mom, but for our 7 month anniversary, he gave me the gift of being his real, adoptive mom.

Feathers: 5 Days!

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Feathers release is 5 days away. I probably should be scared, but I’m not.  I take that back, I shouldn’t be scared because the Lord is with me, but a version of Amy would have been scared. But, let me tell you, I have seen the Lord. I feel truly like I am standing on holy ground. God is so faithful, guys.  Just so faithful.

Every single step of this I have been so clueless and so inept and yet, every time I brought my weakness to Him, He has guided me. I’m not saying this podcast is perfect and I don’t look like an idiot sometimes and the sound is perfect, but God is in it.

Let me give you a glimpse into just a few things that really feel like God-things to me right now.

First, the release date.  It took me forever to even get a release date. I was waiting for it to be perfect and I think I said it in my last post, but I just got to the point where I just needed to be obedient and release it.  I felt peace about March 10th, but I didn’t pick it strategically. I just felt like I could get it done by then. It just happens that it’s the month we are celebrating 7 months with Jacob home. If you need to know that significance, you need to read this post.  Also, the date is on 3/10. 10-3=7.  Yeah, I don’t consider those accidents.

Second, the choice of the first two episodes. I interviewed several guests and then really struggled on what order to release them. Some of them have similar tones or topics and I wanted to stretech it out. God kept leading me to two interviews and just today I began to see the significance. Their stories are tied together, not literally, but in their topics. Both stories include foreclosures of homes and between the two stories, God’s people are led and taken care of by His hand. You’ll see more of what I mean next week, but suffice it to say God is being clear that He can handle it all. We can trust Him with whatever he is leading us through.

Third, the Lord led me back to my journal to see when I began to think about podcasting. On December 10th I wrote, “So drawn to pdocasting, but about what and with whom? What could I talk about forever?” Y’all, I was so clueless what this would look like and He was so faithful to lead me through. And yes, I could talk about these God stories forever.

Fourth, it’s exactly 3 months from December 10th to March 10th. The 3 isn’t particularly significant that I can think of right now, but I love that it’s the same date.

And finally, the December 10th date is signifciant for me.  I have felt for a long time that our adoption and in extension of that, our feather story and this podcast, is a redemption story in response to my emotional affair. December 10th just happens to be the date many years ago when things began to go all wrong. This is personal for me because back then I would say, “I feel like I could talk to you forever.” It’s hard to admit and I don’t like it, but God is so faithful and He’s redeeming those words.  He has put a new story in my mouth and I will talk about HIM, the one true lover of my soul, forever.

He’s so good. He’s so good.

I don’t know what else to do, but just invite you into the stories. To invite you to know our God better.  He just wants to be with you and love you and these stories will help you know him better.

My prayer right now is simply that He increases our faith. Whatever point we are in our journey with Him that He would just scoot us one step closer to Him and that we would trust Him and say yes no matter how he’s leading us.

I hope you’ll meet Him there.

5 days.