Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Dream Trip and a Bad Dream


When I was a kid, one of my best friends used to go to Destin every summer. I would listen with envy when she talked about the clear water, the white sand, and finding sand dollars in the ocean. My dad was a fisherman, so our frequent beach visits were always to places like Port Aransas, Texas, that could double as a fishing trip.  There is much to love about the Texas coast (minus this summer's horrible seaweed invasion) but you definitely can't see your feet in the water. I confess it makes my inner third grader unbelievably happy to visit a white sandy beach with clear water. 

Two weeks ago when our truck began the journey down 30-A in Florida, Jackson saw a giant sand dune and said, "Mommy, is that sand or snow?" Exactly!

It was a dream to get to visit Santa Rosa Beach with some of our closest friends. We rented a darling beach house that was big enough for 4 adults and 7 kids. 



Holding to tradition, Curtis made awesome sand castles, Jackson got buried in the sand, and I was inseparable from the boogie board. We learned how to find sand dollars with our feet, which was so fun. I'm highly skilled at finding hermit crabs in Galveston (it usually starts with "Ouch!") but this was more challenging. 



Annabeth really took to the water and spent most of the time riding the waves with her little board. She was very fun to watch, even if she did make me a little nervous. 


Crista and I discipled the girls in the (very complex and gourmet) art of making pigs in a blanket. 


Every day we walked across the street to a place called Pop Stop that had "artisan popsicles." Oh my word, they were so good! My favorites were the banana pudding pop and the cookies and cream pop. I have been longing for this place since we got back home. Here is a picture of Jackson encrusted in sand and with a cookies and cream goatee. When he saw himself in the mirror he said, "Whoa." Hahaha! I think he was embarrassed that he had been seen in public like that. 



Here are our beach adventurers. This was taken after we ate a sunset picnic dinner of meatball subs wrapped in foil. It is already one of the neatest memories of our family's life. 


Crista and me.



Right after we took this I said, "This is probably the last picture of us as a family of four." 


On our third night at the beach, I got a phone call from our adoption agency. I couldn't believe my ears when they said a baby had been born who needed a family. No one else was available to receive the baby at this time. Were we open to him? 

Curtis and I were in shock. We had told the agency we were only open until the end of summer and after that we would be moving on. We really didn't think anything would work out at this point. We left the kids with our friends and went on a walk. We found our faith and let our hearts warm up to this possibility. We decided that we would say yes, give it another day to let everything solidify, and then drive home to receive our new family member. 

We didn't tell the kids what was happening or let them know that we were actually leaving the beach three days early, but I couldn't wait for the moment when they would be surprised with the news. I was told to make a newborn appointment with our pediatrician for right after placement. We had neither named nor seen a picture of the baby yet. The doctor's office asked me the race and I didn't even know how to answer that question. The receptionist had to know a name, and I knew what name Curtis wanted, so I literally named the baby right there on the phone. It was very surreal. By the time we got on the road on Wednesday morning, the papers had already been signed. It was looking like all the chaos and emotional pain of the last year was about to make sense. 

The thing I was most excited about was the potential healing of my spiritual wounds. I had lost almost all confidence in hearing the Spirit's voice. I had stopped looking for the God-connections in everything, which comes as naturally to me as breathing. Some of the dearest parts of me had suffered near-fatal blows on this adoption journey. If this worked out, I would know I hadn't misinterpreted what I sensed to be God's direction after all. It would change everything. 

The drive home was going to be 10.5 hours. We left at 6:30 AM so that I would have a little bit of time to shop for an infant carrier before all the stores closed. The placement ceremony would be the following morning. 

When we had been on the road about four hours, we got word that things were not as stable as we thought. And then when we were too far to turn back around, we got word that it was all over. 


A slap in the face. A punch in the gut. Those things don't sound severe enough to describe how this felt. It was like the enemy custom-designed a plan to see how miserable he could make us before the adoption timer ran out. This felt so very personal. 

I had finally accepted the outcome that we would never adopt and had adjusted my expectations to it when this was dangled in front of my face. And when we let our hearts warm back up, left a dream vacation half-way through, and were too far to turn around, it exploded and left us bloody. I felt like a young woman whose ex-boyfriend talked her into getting back together, proposed, and then left her at the altar. I felt stupid, naive, and very angry. 

When I think with the mind of Christ, I know that we did not lose. We believed God again. We didn't let our comfort or fun sway our decision. We did not operate in fear or self-protection. I know that even if this never, ever, ever makes sense until we meet Jesus, we won the spiritual battle. There will be reward in heaven that the enemy cannot steal, kill or destroy. 

It's been a little over a week since it happened and I'm still sad. I've been surrounding myself with friends as much as possible, but when it's quiet at home my heart is heavy. This journey is over - for real this time. It is very hard for my soul to accept. My subconscious keeps bubbling up hopeful thoughts that the agency may call us again. But we have told them not to. This is the fourth baby we have opened our hearts to. My stubborn self would never give up if my husband weren't saying, "Enough!" I will be glad when acceptance has made it all the way through my being. When you have fought so hard for something it takes a while for your soul to settle down and be still. 

I am thankful that even though it seems like the enemy was allowed to sift us in this process, God restrained him. We were protected from having a child cross the threshold of our door who wasn't meant to be ours forever. I know many people have experienced that nightmare. I myself experienced it during my adolescent years as a brother came in and then went out after 7 years. I had so desired to see the redemption of that difficult experience. 

You know what I learned? I don't get to tell God how to redeem something. He does redeem, but it's on His own terms. Somewhere along the way I made the mistake of thinking it was up to me. 

43 comments:

Sara said...

Amos 9:13 (MSG) “Yes indeed, it won’t be long now.” God’s Decree. “Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—and everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills. I will make everything right again"

Brittany said...

My heart aches for you. Praying for healing.

Ashley Williams said...

I am so sorry, dear friend. My heart breaks for you. Praying that you feel surrounded by the peace only He can give.

amybhill said...

Wow Amanda... I want to speak back into your life after reading that, but I'm not quite sure what to say. I feel like nothing will be enough, but I'm going to try... I'm so proud of you as a sister for recognizing the love and faithfulness of God as being unchanging in the face of the enemy's merciless attempt to break your heart and take your faith. But praise God "These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:7) I am also nodding my head off at your last paragraph, "You know what I learned? I don't get to tell God how to redeem something. He does redeem, but it's on His own terms." Girl, I've been there. I don't even realize I'm doing that half the time - that is, until God refuses to follow the map I've drawn for him. Anyway, I'll be praying for you. Also, if you (and anyone reading) would pray for my dad (Ken) I'd really appreciate it. He has cancer and it really doesn't look good. More than anything, more than even physical healing, I'm asking God to use this to bring my dad back to Jesus. So much love to you in Christ, Amy

Molly Bierens said...

I am so sorry for all the pain you have endured. Praying that you find healing in the midst of the storms you have been through the past year and that you will feel God's peace!

Mrs. D said...

Oh Amanda, I am so sorry. My heart is so heavy for all the heartache you guys have experienced in this journey...Mercy. I am so moved by your honest words. While our circumstances are different, you have given voice to so many of the feelings and emotions I've wrestled with in the wake of my third miscarriage a few weeks ago. Your last paragraph about God's redemption...Wow. Yes, that. I'm so very sorry for this deeply painful journey you've been on and I hope for healing, peace and joy days to come for you and your sweet family. Thank you for your vulnerability and for this post.

Holly said...

Oh Amanda. I am so very sorry. Weeping and hurting with you at this moment. Your friend in prayer, Holly

Julie said...

I am so sorry this has happened. Our family successfully adopted our beautiful boy eight months after he was placed in our arms a few minutes old.

Then God chose to put two little boys into our arms at once . . . it was supposed to be an easy adoption, but was anything but easy. Those around us asked why we stayed with it. Just a little over a year later a sibling was born and we picked him up at 4 days old. We were still awaiting the adoption. We definitely had a hard fight and much to endure, but PRAISE God after SIX long years waiting to adopt our precious boys (which we had in our home the entire time), our prayers were answered and the adoptions of our three youngest was complete. We will celebrate the third anniversary of three of the boys adoption in September.

Although we struggled through the years in anticipation of the adoption, the struggles, the days when we weren't sure if they were actually going to be "ours", God saw us through. He provided peace, love and our long awaited adoptions.

Stay strong and breathe in the peace only God can give. I truly believe God has someone very special for your family.

D said...

Amanda, I am crying as I read this because we walked the same road. We never could have biological children and went through 2 failed adoptions, one with the baby in our home, the other ending with a call as we were going to pick up the baby. They were devastating days of darkness and grief. Eventually, the Lord was gracious and we adopted a wonderful son. May the Lord carry you day by day-at the time, I couldn't tell, but looking back, I know He carried us. "The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it." I Thess. 5:24 (NIV)

Blessing of Adoption welcomes you said...

I was holding my breath from the time you started talking about getting the call about a baby....I am so so sorry- Like all the other sweet ladies who posted comments, my heart also aches for you. We adopted our precious daughter (at birth) after 11 years of waiting, agonizing, fasting, crying, big girl fit throwing (on my part), etc...Don't give up Amanda- maybe take a break and a step back to let the emotions settle but don't give up- If God has put adoption on your heart He will see it through- only He knows how and when But when His timing has come you will celebrate, between you and He, like you have never celebrated. God Bless you and your family!!

Maryellen said...

You are so brave. So brave to open your heart again to the risk - all for love. You are so brave to trust in Gods purpose in all this. I am so sorry it hasn't turned out as you hoped and dreamed. You are an encouragement and just so brave. Sending prayers . . .

tiggerdaisy said...

My heart is so heavy for you. But girl, you have it so right...God is in control and you have won the spiritual battle. Thanks for sharing your heartache with me (and the world) for it is such a reminder of the fact that mans plans will fail but God's will succeed.

Much love to you and your precious family. May God's healing anointing cover each of you from your head to your toes and every space in between.

Rebecca

Deborah said...

Hurting for you.

Karen said...

Thank you so much for your being open and honest about all of this. My heart aches for y'all having to suffer each of the adoption losses. God is in control and will provide you with complete peace and comfort. I believe God will use your sharing of this painful journey to help you heal and to help others who are going through the same or similar experiences. I never lost a child through a failed adoption, but lost many through failed infertility treatments and a biological child a few months before she was born. I know hearing your story, what you learned, and the insights God has given you, is encouraging and enlightening to me even all these years since our losses. God does redeem all things in his perfect way and timing. We may not see how or see that happen this side of heaven, but I have complete faith that it does.
Keeping you and your precious family in my prayers daily.

marlece said...

I'm sorry with tears, it is difficult to understand at times....bless your heart.

Mary Ann said...

I do not know you personally, but have followed your blog. I have come to believe that not everything that happens in our lives is good. We serve a Lord that can use all things and redeem all things for good, but the fact is not all things are good. Events happen that are a result of the broken world we live, people's selfish and sinful choices, and it is okay to reel at the punch. I am so sorry you are sad. I pray these next few weeks hold supernatural grace and peace for you and your family.

This Is The Day said...

Wow, Amanda, my heart is just aching for you, but my head is rejoicing that you have let God use this for His glory. Sending up prayers for you and your family as you heal.

Dionna Sanchez said...

I remember reading your twitter post and there are just no words to ease the hurting heart you are feeling right now. I love how you ended your post by saying God redeems - and it's up to Him how to do it. Only if we could have His vision at times! I do KNOW that He will work this out for good - some day, some how. Because you love Him dearly. In the meantime, I'm so so sorry.

Amy Beth Gardner said...

Well, that was a roller coaster to read. I can't imagine actually living it.

On your behalf, I am --

Angry. Disappointed. Hurt. Frustrated. Confused. Angry again.

And, determined. This whole story just makes me furious at the enemy. God has given you a dream and I want to see it fulfilled. I don't know how, when or why, but I am now so angry on your behalf that I am going to join you in sincerely praying the answer in -- whether the answer is a baby in your home or an explanation in your heart.

I love you.

Kate Shapiro said...

<3 <3 <3

thenewbec said...

You are amazing & a perfect gift to your family. Nothing is wasted. Prayers of solace.

Jamey Lynne said...

Wow... I am so sorry. God has not abandoned you. He will use this for good.

Sandy said...

Ditto to what so many of the others have written...I think of you and often pray....now I know why. May God's unbelievable peace be yours in abundance.

Dorinda Peyton said...

When I read "I had lost almost all confidence in hearing the Spirit's voice. I had stopped looking for the God-connections in everything, which comes as naturally to me as breathing." my heart hurt so badly because I know that pain too. Praying that He restores our confidence that we, his sheep, hear his voice because we belong to him.

destinmimi said...

Oh Amanda, saying I am so very sorry just doesn't seem enough, but I am so so sorry you, Curtis and your family(I know your mama is heartbroken for you)had to endure another heartbreak. Life is so hard sometimes but God is faithful and He will see you through. love and prayers!

Tara G. said...

You are courageous. Love and prayers.

Judy said...

Thank you for sharing this pain with us. I read this post to my husband tonight and we both could relate so much. Different circumstances, same feelings and struggles. We hope for healing of our spiritual wounds, for faith that won't quit. It just helps to know that we're not alone.
Thank you.

Ganise C. said...

I am truly so very sorry. May the Almighty manifest Himself as the Lord who does indeed heal you. Exodus 15:26. This is the verse I am clinging to.

Karene said...

I was vacationing with you vicariously and crying with you at the end. My heart goes out to you, Amanda. I relate in a different way, as Friday I suffered the loss of dream I have been pursuing for 5 years. As I struggle with God over this, your words have encouraged me to trust that He is in perfect control and that His way is best, even when I don't understand.

Laura Reimer said...

This is a beautiful testimony of surrender. With all my heart, thank you for sharing what it means to follow Christ and to live out the walk of faith that is sometimes/often a crawl (as your dear mama has taught us). My heart breaks for you and yet I rejoice in the way you have chosen to say, even in this LORD, we give thanks to You. Proverbs 3:5-6 can seem so easy until we have to live it out. You and your precious family have shown us how this plays out in a heart-wrenching experience. Bless you. Prayers lifted for each of you.

Missy June said...

The emotions of reading this were hard, I imagine the living of it was horrific. I'm so sorry. Like you, I wanted to write my own redemption story, but God had another plan that I couldn't accept until "my" way, "my" dream was pulverized.

Your faith and family will keep you afloat, but it's okay to hurt. He know.

Thank you for sharing.

Missy

Ashley Honea said...

So sorry to hear about your heartbreaking journey. But God is a God of redemption. Praying for your healing.

Bethany Liv said...

Oh I am so, so sorry for the suffering and pain and loss. I will pray for you.

alice said...

I don't know you, but I am so, so sorry. There is a quote from the book "Stepping Heavenward" that has comforted me during many hard times: "There is a reason God has afflicted me that I would admire and adore if I knew what it was."

Casey Springer said...

I won't say all the cliche things that I am sure you have heard a million times. You are showing courage in that you are sharing the ache. So often the devil beats us up over and over by keeping us alone. I'm so sorry that you all have had to face this again. Much love and prayers.

Mary said...

As others have said, I was enjoying reading about your vacation... and then came to your comment about the last photo of a family of four. My heart started to beat faster and to hope.

I'm so sorry that this happened again. I'm also bewildered and angered by the agency employees who can say things are guaranteed when they are not.

I remember when your cousin lived with you all. I hadn't realized your adoption desires incorporated the idea of redeeming that situation and loss. You wanted to restore what the locusts had eaten. And God does promise that He will do that. The "when" and "how" can certainly drive us crazy and wear us out, however.

Christian Discernment Moms said...

I am so sorry Amanda.

Julie B. said...

Amanda, I don't know what to say either, but the word that keeps coming to me is beauty. I don't even know in what context to say it -- just maybe write beauty on a card and put it somewhere you can see it until He reveals what sort of beauty He will bring? There will be beauty. I think you are an amazing young woman. xoxo

Talley Family said...

I am so very sorry! I have been where you are and understand your pain! Many prayers!

Deborah said...

I have prayed for you over the years, and I continue to do so. I am so sorry for the pain, and so glad for our Father's faithfulness. Praying... <3

RealBeWhoUR said...

I am so sorry to hear this news Amanda..praying for you and your family as this turn of events effects you all. Wish I could say something to help but only God can heal your broken hearts.
On another note, we were in Destin Fl with our family apparently when y'all were down the beach at Santa Rosa. People that do not believe in God should look at places He created (like the Destin area) and so how beautiful His creation is and realize this did not get created by chance. That being said, God knew this most recent heartache would come to you and your family. I don't know why He allowed this hurt again to happen to you all but I am sure He will use you to minister to others who have experienced the same pain. Praying for you now and always as you know, God is always faithful but the enemy Satan wants to hurt us anyway he can possibly hurt us.

Renee Groff said...

Amanda, I am just so, so sorry. My heart breaks for you. I have experienced the same emotions in different circumstances. The verse that I fiercely claim over and over again is "I would have despaired unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." May God heal your heart. Thanks for being vulnerable with us.

Shannon said...

Oh, Amanda. I am so, so, so, sorry. Please know prayers are being send your way.