I'm writing this today with tears of joy, gratitude just an overwhelming sense of unworthiness of all the blessings He has bestowed on us this weekend. We had an amazing fundraiser in our hometown of Decatur, TN and it seemed like all of Decatur showed up to support us. It was incredible.
This is just a few of the pictures from the weekend. It was so amazing to see folks helping with the spaghetti dinner and silent auction from sun up to sun down, practically. There were some folks that helped that didn't even know Jason or I personally, but knew other family members and showed up early to help set up, serve and clean up. We can never repay them for what they have done, but they will be cherished in our hearts forever.
Just as the Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now all glory to God who is able through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we may ask or think". We saw His work this weekend, people being the hands and feet of Christ. It was far above than we could have ever thought or imagined! God is always more than enough.
Let me just take a moment now and share that if you are even considering this path, I urge you to explore it thoroughly. We had no clue in the beginning how we would fund this, but we knew God was calling us to this so we took that leap of faith. That's it! A leap of faith and God is providing and we are trusting in Him to do so. He's faithful and He's not going to leave us on this journey that He has called us on.
Please, ask me any questions about adoption, I am always more than happy to answer those questions. The adoption agency's are always willing and ready to answer your questions. If you feel God calling you to this, don't push it away. You will not believe the blessings you will receive when you obey. Jason and I feel so unworthy of all of this, but we are so thankful and give God all the glory.
It's been on my heart for sometime to tell my story. My faith story. This has nothing to do with our adoption, per say, but it has everything to do with God...who eventually led us to adopt.
I'm writing my story on the cuffs of having been to the Brooks House recently. It is a shelter for women who have no where else to go, who have been abused and or addicted something and have nothing and nowhere to turn. We chose that place as our "mission project" in my small discipleship group. In my mind I thought we would go there and share with them our stories and "bless" them and tell them about Christ. Instead, they shared their stories. Their stories of abuse, neglect, brokenness, addiction and loneliness. I was the one who was blessed. They were the ones who showed me Christ in a very real way. It was an incredible evening. After hearing their stories it made me realize even more how much we need to share our stories. No, I don't have a story like my new friend Felicia who was sold at 13 years old for prostitution, and then sold again for drugs at 17. I don't have that story, but I do have my story.
I can't share my story without sharing a little of my parents story. I was born in Albuquerque, NM. My parents met there while my Dad was driving through on his way from Tennessee to California, stopping along the way to make some money to get him to his next stop. It just so happened he stopped at my Grandpa's gas station looking for work. He met my mom there and 4 months later they married. Fast forward about 10 years and my brother was 5 and I was 10 months old. My Dad knew he needed to get back to TN, because the drugs and alcoholic lifestyle he was living wasn't good for our family. So we moved to TN to live near my other grandparents. My Mom started attending church with my Mamaw & Papaw and accepted Christ as her Savior. My Dad, having been an alcoholic, most of his young adult-adult life finally came to know Christ when I was 6 years old. At that moment our entire family tree changed. Had it not been for that event, I'm not sure where my brother & I would be today.
It was when I was 6 years old I knew 100% that God was real and that He had changed my Dad. There was a visible difference in him. He threw away all the alcohol and he became the Dad my brother and I needed. At 6, I knew God had changed my Dad and I had no doubts about how real Jesus is or who He was.
Then life changed dramatically because Dad wanted to start a ministry, a singing ministry. So we quickly became The Standridge Family Gospel Singers. My brother played the bass, my mom sang, dad sang and played guitar & I sang and played a mean tambourine! (ha!) So that was my childhood. Singing with my family from the time I was 6 years old until around 21 years old. We would sing nearly every weekend my entire childhood. To say I was at the church every time the doors were open was an understatement.
When I was 8 years old, I remember going to the front and thinking I had accepted Christ. But as I got older, I realized I didn't know him. I was a rebellious, typical teenager. I was a "good girl" but I didn't have it all together like I looked like I did. Finally at 17 years old I remember walking down to the front of the church having grabbed my Dad by the hand and telling him, I needed to be saved. I didn't have Jesus in my heart. My Dad lead me to Christ at that moment. We prayed a prayer together and I accepted Jesus as my Savior. Everyone I knew was shocked because I had stood up in front of the church and sang and I did all these things" in the name of Jesus." Obviously, I knew how to act the part.
Man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart, and He knew my heart wasn't following Him.
So, fast forward about 13 years and I had a husband a baby a new house and everything on the outside looked all nice and shiny, but inside of me was dark. I felt nothing. I had everything I had ever wanted, but I wasn't happy. I was angry all the time, I was bitter about everything, I had lost all my joy. For really no "real" reason at all. I literally was living my dream, but I was in miserable.
I was sitting in church one Sunday thinking to myself something has got to change. I have got to do something, I am miserable. I literally thought to myself "I wish my friend, Deanna, was doing a bible study, because I would do that. I guess I should start reading my bible?!" Right after the service Deanna turned to me and said, "Hey, I'm doing this bible study/small group thing, you wanna join me?"
"YES!!!" I think I probably scared and shocked her with my response, but I knew right away God was calling me back home. I wasn't doing anything "wrong", but I wasn't living for Him and He was telling me to come back. I thought, "Ok God, this is you telling me to get back on track, I hear you loud and clear!"
I started getting into the word, learning really for the first time, EVER, how to study the Word, how to absorb and focus on scripture and praying on a daily basis. How to take that scripture and apply it. And the fire that was once there, started to rekindle. I enjoyed His word, I enjoyed church again. I was no longer just going through the motions of being a good little church girl. I got it this time! I understood what grace was and what love He had for us. I realized what it's like to walk with Jesus on a daily basis. I understood what it meant to surrender yourself to Him and it was all good.
I'm so thankful for that turn around in my life, because just a few short months of my "revival" and d time of growth we had a miscarriage. You can read more about that in previous posts. This was probably the hardest time I've ever went through. I knew I could get mad at God and turn away from Him or run to Him. I'm so thankful I ran to Him. It was during that time I learned to trust Him in all circumstances no matter if they seem unbearable or if they don't make sense to us. He always turns them for our good! Now, we are adopting a little one from China. You can read about His perfect timing here. Had it not been for that time of loss, grief and total dependence on Him, we wouldn't have this honor and privilege to be adopting. And I'm not sure if I would have learned His voice and learned to heed that voice had it not been for that time.
Through these last two years I have been growing and seen my family grow in their faith and walk with the Lord. No, it's not always easy, but nothing worth going after ever is.
Obviously my story isn't complete....but no one's is until we reach Heaven...so in the mean time I will just say...
To Be Continued....
So now I challenge you.....What's Your Story? You never know how it will impact someone else's life and ultimately show them Christ. Please feel free to leave your story in the comments. I would love to hear it. If you don't have a story, send me an email, I would love to talk to you more about how to start your story. Thanks for letting me share mine.
I was gently reminded this morning what I was doing on this very day last year. In my celebration of our Dossier being sent to China, I had forgotten the pain of this day. God reminded me today that His plans are perfect, His timing is perfect and He always and only wants what's best for us. He is a Good, Good Father.
It was this very day last year I was sitting with Jason in my OB/GYN's office waiting for the results of tests that were taken on me. Waiting to know whether this little baby inside of me would live or not. The doctor came in and by the look on her face we knew it wasn't good news. I could continue to carry this child until I miscarried naturally or go ahead and start the process because there was a 100% chance that this baby would not survive. I have no doubt God can do anything and miracles happen every day, but that was not His plan for us. That day was the hardest day of my life. It was March 17th, 2016. I will never forget that day. I was crushed. But in my weakness, He is made strong. In my sorrows, He gives me joy. I knew joy would come in the morning, I just needed to trust Him. I'll not say it was easy, or that I just accepted that I wouldn't be delivering my baby in October as planned, but His ways are higher than mine. He knew exactly what our family needed. I trusted Him to take care of us.
Now, fast forward one year to the day. We are adopting a sweet baby. Our Dossier is being sent to China one year after our lives were turned upside down. I love how God works. He always turns things for our good. I would never know the joys of adoption or what God has already taught me through this process had it not been for March 17th, 2016. I'm not saying that day isn't still hard, but I'm thankful for the joy in the morning. I'm thankful his His grace, mercy and love and that no matter what He has me. Always.
Just keep enduring friend, morning is coming!
So what does this mean for us? What is our next step? The next step is more waiting. But now we wait with anticipation of meeting our child. We wait for that file to come in with our precious China Baby on it. This waiting is fun. It's like the last few weeks before giving birth, yes it's hard, yes it's sometimes miserable, but it's also exciting! I don't know our exact timeline, because it all varies, but it's closer than it was 6 months ago. I know that much! ;-)
I'm most excited that our Dossier is done. Someone asked me what a Dossier was...well here's the official definition: "A dossier is a collection of documents that are necessary to meet the legal requirements for adoption from a foreign country as well as the immigration requirements of the U.S. Government." That includes everything from brand new birth & marriage certificates to US Immigration service forms from which we had to go to the immigration office to do the forms. This Dossier has taken us 6 months to complete. It's been a lot of running, waiting, filling out, waiting and more filling out. My friend Tausha, who has also adopted, said that paper cuts are the stretch marks of adoption! HA!! So true! But that part is over. Thank you, Lord!
We can almost see the finish line of this amazing journey. It's in our sights. We just can't lose focus now. We are coming little one!