I strive for this verse:

"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:28-30

Friday, December 28, 2012

A long awaited adoption update

So this blog post was something I've been meaning to write since October but with soccer season, the holidays, and normal homeschooling days, I haven't found time to sit down and write about it.  So here I go...

I have always wanted to adopt since I could remember.  It is something that I feel very strongly for.  I brought it up a few times during my marriage and my husband wasn't on board with it like I was, thus we never stepped forward.  When he was deployed to Afghanistan in December 2010, I was shocked when I woke up to an email from him (phone calls were very rare), stating that he felt God has made it known to him that it was time to adopt.  Of course I was overjoyed!  So we started the process, he came home in March 2011.....and I found myself pregnant the next month!  Now over the years of our marriage, we have been extremelly blessed with fertility.  I have many friends that have fertility issues and I am saddened for them but I've been very thankful for each baby God has given us.  With that, my husband has learned how to "control" when we have kids.  We would probably have a few more kids by now if my husband didn't try to control it.  Anyhow, I say that because while we weren't trying to get pregnant that month, because we had our hearts on adoption, my husband wasn't exactly controlling it either as he was just excited to be home with his bride after a year apart :)  Thus that pregnancy resulted in putting the adoption on hold, followed by a move, and the birth of our fifth child in December 2011.  We then moved again in Jan of this year and picked back up the adoption process in February.  We worked hard over the months completing the tedious paperwork, interviews, and saving money....and finally, after a few months, we were at the end just waiting for our referral.  In other words, waiting to receive a picture and notification of our daughter that we have been praying about as a family for the past 2 years!

Then towards the end of August I received and email from a friend from college, who has 3 adopted children and is an advocate of adoption.  Her email confronted us on a few things.  She questioned whether it was the right timing to adopt and whether we think it is wise to adopt an older child out of birth order rather than adopting a child as the youngest in the family.  At first, I was confused and hurt by this confrontation but my husband tried to tell me that she is bringing up issues out of love and we need to pray about it more and see if God tells us differently.  So I prayed and I felt the same so we continued waiting for our referral.  A few weeks later, an older lady in my bible study was asking me about our adoption.  She was describing me her experience with adopting a child when he was 2 years old, forty years ago and how she thought it was what God wanted her to do but now 40 years later she can finally admit it wasn't God's will for her to adopt him and her family suffered.  Her relationship with her older biological kids suffered as the child she adopted took so much of her time and energy and in the end the adopted child doesn't even talk to her anymore.  I told my husband again, and he said "Dena, maybe our friend and this other lady are confronting us because God sent them into our life at this moment to get us to see how maybe we aren't supposed to finish the adoption right now."  Immediately I disagreed and went on with my day.  A few days later I went to God in prayer and told God that my heart is too caught up in wanting to see the adoption complete, to loving a sweet girl that I have dreamed about and that if He didn't want us to adopt at this time, that I couldn't see it because of my own emotions. I prayed to Him and basically told God I will give him a fleece to give me an answer.  Hey, Gideon did it, so why not I?!  I basically said "God, I cannot distinguish between your will and my emotions so if it is not your timing for us to adopt, then I ask you to answer me by stopping the adoption.......and the only way I can see it stopping at this time is if I get pregnant.  Therefore, God, if we aren't supposed to finish this adoption, I ask that you answer me and let me know by getting me pregnant."  You have to understand that during this time, my husband was "controlling" that aspect and has been efficient over the years and when he controls it, I don't get pregnant.  When he isn't careful, I do.  So after praying that, I truly thought, well I won't get pregnant because my husband won't allow it, therefore it will prove that we are to continue with the adoption.  I didn't tell my husband at all about my prayer to God. That was until my period never came......

The morning I found out I was pregnant, I cried.  I have never cried before when I found out I was pregnant.  I didn't cry because I was upset, because I was overjoyed and surprised to have another life growing inside of me.  I cried because I knew what it meant.  That, despite my doubt, God answered my prayer exactly as I asked and confirmed to me that we weren't to finish the adoption at this time.  I mourned the loss of my daughter that I literally had dreams about.  The first 2 weeks I found out, I was a mess.  I was excited to be pregnant and carry another sweet baby into this life.....and I was heartbroken for the loss of a daughter that I've been waiting for.  Around that time I asked God, why? Why can't we adopt?  Did we misunderstand you?  Did we hear you wrong in the first time?  I then had a vision, as though God was sweetly whispering in my ear....."Dena, I called Abraham, a man of great faith, to sacrifice his only son, as a test to his love and obedience to me.....in the end, I changed the course of plans and provided a lamb when I saw that he indeed was faithful and obedient.  Likewise, I was testing you.  I knew your heart was ready, but I had to test your husband.  I was testing him to see if he would be obedient to my calling for your lives.  And he passed the test."  This vision gave me peace.  I don't feel like God is saying we won't ever adopt.  I just am confident that He has told me that now is not the right time for whatever reason.  

So where are we then on the adoption?  I spoke with our agency and put the adoption on hold until the fall of 2013.  At that point we have to let them know if we want our case closed or if we will continue on where we left off.  I have no idea what God will have us do but I'm more than ever confident that He will answer me at that point and I'll know then.  My heart is still so huge for adoption so I can't see that God would shut that down for good.  I am just opening up more and realizing it may be another way than I see, it may not be through adoption in the sense we were going about but I do believe that he will fulfill that desire of mine one day.  

I'm thankful for friends and family who have prayed for us through this process.  I'm thankful for friends who confronted me when it may have been hard to do.  I'm thankful for God answering me in the exact way I asked Him too, when I doubted He would.  For now, we will wait until God tells us to step forward to adopt and in the meantime, I will enjoy this pregnancy and rejoice in the life growing inside of me as I wait anxiously to hold this sweet baby in June 2013.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thirty years ago, I witnessed my mom's murder....my life was forever changed.

Thirty years ago on from this day, on December 27, 1982 my precious mother was murdered in front of me by the man I called daddy.  I decided to write about the tragic day that changed my life forever.  That day I not only lost my mom, but I also lost my dad. My beautiful mother died at 24 years old.

I remember so vividly that day.  I was 3 years old and my younger brother was almost 2 years.  In my little childish mind, I thought that my mom was at the store, but it wasn't until years later in my teens that I found out that my parents were actually separated because my dad was physically abusive to my mom.  My mom apparently allowed my dad to have my brother and I for a visit at Christmas....but he never returned us to her.  So when she came to the house to get us, she obviously was upset, although I thought she had returned from the store.  I remember how my brother and I were in the bedroom napping and I awoke to my parents arguing very loudly in the living room.  I quietly came out of my room and watched them argue.  My father then angrily stormed down the hall, past me, so I followed him into the kitchen and watched him rush over to the kitchen counter and grab a big sharp knife off of the counter.  I had no idea what he was planning to do but I continued to follow him back to the living room as he was oblivious to my little feet trailing behind him.  The next thing was the most horrible thing I have ever seen as I watched my mom scream and cry and try to run for the front door while my dad ripped her shirt open in the back during the struggle, then raise his arm and stab that sharp knife into her back.  At just 3 years old, I didn't understand everything that happened but I did know that my dad just hurt my mom and I remember crying and running to my brother and wrapping my arms around him and hugging him and I remember I was confused that he wasn't also crying.  My memory goes blank and the next thing I remember was my dad pushing us onto our front steps to the arms of my favorite neighbor and he took us to his house.  At my neighbors house I could hear sirens and the adults were at the kitchen table talking and visibly upset to me and tried to distract me with toys.  However, I quietly snuck away and crawled up onto the couch and opened the curtains to look at my house.  At this exact moment, I watched emergency personal push my mom on a stretcher and slide her into the ambulance.  I started screaming, "I want my mommy!".  My neighbors rushed to me, scooped me up and hugged me and my memory fades again.

I write about my experience, not to get pity but to help you understand the pain and memories that I experienced that followed me throughout my childhood.  I had nightmares for many years and dreams of my dad trying to kidnap me.  I lived in fear.  I feared that my dad was under my bed going to stab me so I slept on my side every night thinking that he would miss my back if he tried.  I feared that he would find me walking to school and would kill me too.  I was a hurting, scared little girl.  As a side note, my dad served only 10 years in prison for my mother's murder while my brother and I were raised by my mom's brother, his wife, and their two children.  I could go on about more pain in my childhood but I am focusing on this major incident and how it changed my life.....as it drew me to my Savior. 

Fast forward 15 years and now I'm 17 yrs old and at church camp for the first time.  I grew up in a non God loving family that didn't attend church but God changed that for me when he brought a friend into my life that came from a God fearing family.  I began attending church with them and learning about God.  Now all my life up until this point, I always believed that there was a god but I was very angry at him for allowing my mom to die.  However one night that week of church camp, I truly met my Savior.  It was as though He whispered to me that He didn't allow my mom to die, but he was always with me and He loved me unconditionally.  I wept that night as I accepted His love and chose a relationship with Him.  Yet, all the pain, anger, memories, nightmares continued on into my first year of college.  I was still having nightmares of my dad in college.  I still was sleeping on my side in fear of him under my bed.  I knew none of it was possible but I still lived in the fear of the 3 year old.  

But this is where it all gets exciting!!  The nightmares did stop!  They stopped when the pivotal moment of forgiveness entered my life.  During that first year of college, I grew closer in my relationship with God and He was pressing on my heart that I won't experience true healing until I can truly forgive my father for what he had done.  I realized in a new way that just as God forgives me of my sins, I have to forgive those who sinned against me, including my father.  And at that moment I came to a place in my heart that I was able to relieve all of the pain and anger to God and allow his healing.  I tracked down my father's address and found out that he was back in prison on a different account.  I sat down and wrote him a letter to tell him I forgive him and a good friend prayed with me and prayed over the letter before I sent it.  He wrote back to me and the moment I received that letter, I was scared again and had to pray that God will calm me down and take away my fear.  We continued to write back and forth that year and then during the summer of 1999, I went to the prison that he was at, at age 19yrs and met my father for the first time since I watched him take my mother's life.  It was strange but healing.

I can honestly say from the moment that I truly forgave my father for his actions, the nightmares went away.  The true fear I had disappeared.  I no longer was scared of knives.  It was amazing to be healed of all this because I thought they would never stop.  It is because of God.  God has truly changed my life for the better.  He is my comforter, my healer, my daddy.  I came to His feet because of the pain I experienced 30 years ago and while I wouldn't ever want to relive what happened to my mom, to my brother, or to me on that dark day, it helped shape who I am.  It brought me to Jesus.  I understand forgiveness in a deeper way because I was able to give forgiveness to someone who hurt me so much.  I don't hold onto the pain or hurt anymore.  It is my story.  My mom died because of a man who allowed sin to control him, a man who didn't know Jesus.  It wasn't what God planned for because he allows free will, but He used that situation to help shape me into who I am.  Because of my experience, I have been able to reach out to others in pain and share with them God's amazing healing power when you turn to Him.  I have a huge heart to adopt which was shaped because of the experience I have loosing my parents and finding Jesus as my true father. Jesus took what man meant for bad and turned into good.  My savior can do this and he did it with me in my life.  If I didn't watch my mom die 30 years ago, I'm not sure if I would have a relationship with Jesus to this day.  So for that, I'm thankful that God drew me to Him when I needed his love and comfort.  

Thank you Jesus for being my Savior, lifting me from the darkness, allowing me to forgive, and loving me.

My beautiful mother on her wedding day, in 1978.