How We Got Here…
I’m so in awe of how big our God is – how invested He is in every little part of our lives.
For some time, I’ve wanted to share our story with you..how we got here…but, I guess in the hustle and bustle of things, I forgot that I hadn’t. It seems like by the time I get to the computer to write, my thoughts have condensed into bullet-ed facts and my brain is ready for sleep! I’m so busy enjoying and experiencing life, it feels like I don’t have much space for writing …at least not in a way that could capture the things my heart wants to say so often!
Below is our story…albeit a very condensed version!:
Adoption isn’t really a new topic for us – it’s actually been something we’ve talked about since very early in our marriage, although the conversations have changed in 7 years in complexity and direction.
We’ve known since around the beginning of our marriage that we were supposed to adopt. After a year of trying to build our family on our own with no luck, Ashley scheduled an appointment with her doctor. Words like “infertile” and “fertility options” were thrown around carelessly but punctured deep as we tried to soak each one in. Building a family was incredibly important to us – something we’d always wanted. So, we began looking into adoption – although what adoption “looked like” for us at that time has changed a lot compared to now.
With a little research, we soon found that Ashley was not in fact “infertile” – but, thanks to medication she’d stopped taking over a year ago, her body hadn’t quite snapped back into “normal.” With this new piece of information, we were able to make a few changes and soon found ourselves (specifically, Ashley) pregnant with Lorelei.
With a new baby, our adoption thoughts were put on hold for the time being.
Aurora came without any trouble and then came Aidan. Adoption was still on our hearts, but as we prayed and prayed, we gave reason after reason for why we couldn’t act…at least not for now.
“God, we don’t have enough room for more children…we’d need at least a 5 bedroom house, right?” “God, our life is just too busy…maybe when we’re retired.”
“God, we don’t have the money… with the cost of adoption, won’t we need a $100K job?”
Honestly, we were operating on little faith and a great deal of what the WORLD (not God) said was important and needed. So, for seven years, God has been knocking every excuse we had down.
And, in the meantime, He began preparing our hearts and home and family for this wonderful thing He had in store for us.
We began seeing other families bringing home children…families who had less experience, smaller homes, smaller paychecks, and just as busy lives. We followed the stories of families who adopted, and it seemed as if the common thread was that they were “trusting God” – and not one of them had a jar of 30-40K sitting in the corner. One by one, God put these families in our lives as we watched their journeys and it was if it was a direct response to our excuse-filled prayers.
For several years, we knew we would adopt/foster – we just didn’t know when or what it would look like. We did know, however, that it was to be later.
Then, a couple of years ago, Ashley had a very strong sense that we were being called to Africa. We weren’t sure WHERE in Africa and we weren’t positive why…we just knew. We also knew at that point that we were being called to PREPARE. TO WAIT.
So, we waited. We worked on our marriage and ourselves…learning how to live according to what GOD expected and not what the WORLD expected. We have worked hard to discover the difference between God and the world and what it means to live by each. We learned our weaknesses and our strengths and how to be proactive in our marriage. We heard a lot of people give us advice according to worldly standards that we “deserved” something better and that we should just give up… but, we sought what the WORD had to say and we bathed ourselves in constant scripture – taping it to our walls, putting it in books, Bible studies, and surrounding ourselves with people who could keep us accountable with faulty thinking and worldy-perspectives. We try to tread carefully when we talk about our marriage so as to not give the impression that we have it all figured out… we don’t… We feel that until we die, we will constantly be working on our faith, marriage, family, selves, etc.
But, God began His transformation of two immature and selfish people and with a lot of hard work, prayer, and God-work, we began to see great change.
Several months later, Steven’s unit was mobilized to Iraq. Our marriage continued to thrive as God continued to work in our lives in many ways. Deployment itself was hard, but we were able to learn that we were both capable of more than we thought and there were a lot of great realizations throughout.
After the deployment, we pursued buying a house – something we had held onto being able to do throughout the deployment. It was one of those things that made deployment a little easier, knowing that afterwards, we’d have enough money saved to put a down-payment down and we’d be able to move out of our rental situation. We soon realized, however, that because we had a foreclosure in addition to bankruptcy, that instead of a two year waiting period…we were looking at a three year period. We were told by several people that we would not be able to procure a loan for a home and we’d have to wait. We struggled to understand some of the details of the situation but felt like that wasn’t the end of the story. Soon, in a whirlwind of events, we were given a loan by a smaller bank and we found a home in town that was nothing like what we were looking for, yet after walking through…we knew it was meant for us. It wasn’t what we thought we needed, yet it was everything we needed and had some features that were uncanny and a testament that this house wasn’t just ours by chance (a fireplace that Ashley had always wanted, a cute little shed in the back for the girls and a large fenced in back yard, Ashley’s favorite flowers planted in the yard, perfect amount of bedrooms and bathrooms, unique little random touches, clean carpet and updated fixtures and tasteful wallpaper…even by our standards!). It was like watching a love letter being poured out from God’s hearts to ours. In a few weeks, the house was ours…and, the owner knocked $10K off the house, meaning our payment would be close to half of what we’d been paying in our small rent payment.
We would also like to point out some finer details that may be less obvious… We had originally been looking at a home in the small town Ashley grew up , specifically in a white neighborhood (we didn’t notice it THEN, of course, but hindsight is everything). The house that we bought is in a great AND diverse neighborhood AND education is within walking distance!
Then, one morning Steven’s boss texted him and asked him to meet him at work early for a meeting…that he really wanted to talk to him. And, to be honest, we weren’t sure what to think. Several years ago, something similar happened and Steven was let go (along with others) and it was hard not to go “there” again in our thought processes. However, in this meeting, his boss ended up offering Steven salary AND nearly doubled his pay. It was unexpected.
Around this time, Ashley began feeling some intense sorrow for the children of Africa – beyond feeling sorry for them, but true mourning. She couldn’t sleep, eat, or be awake without them being on her mind and these children began filling our prayers and thoughts and conversations. As we searched our hearts for what that meant for us, we realized that we no longer felt the “WAIT” that we had for years before, we felt COMPELLED to DO SOMETHING. To act.
Of course, we had so many questions – and, as we began to research more and bring our concerns to God…they just began to be answered. Our questions, funny enough, weren’t some of the “bigger” questions many couples struggle with – they were “smaller” issues. But, nonetheless, they were important to us.
We both agreed to pray separately (as well as together) to make sure God was telling us both the same thing. After lots of prayer and conversation and research, we felt sure of our calling to adopt. Now. We went to our family and told them our decision. We expected a little resistance…even though adoption has been a part of our conversation since the beginning. However, we were met with such peace that can only be from God.
Please don’t get us wrong… these decisions came with a lot of prayer and research. We considered just “coasting” for a while with our new blessings. We considered how easy it would be to be able to have the things we had discovered we didn’t need but would be fun to have. We were tempted to buy all kinds of new things…because we could. There was the truck Steven wanted – how nice it’d be to own a brand new vehicle for once with working air conditioning to ride in to work. There was the fancy blender that could cook soup, puree, chop, make smoothies, and essentially wash itself that Ashley wanted. Not to mention… Disney World! A part of us even fought the urge just to shove money under the floorboards…just in case (but, that’s not really trusting God, is it?) We wouldn’t be honest if we didn’t say we didn’t think about it…and how we could just “rest” for a while. But, as we prayed and talked in depth about our priorities in life, we didn’t feel comfortable with just… being comfortable for the sake of being comfortable.
We wanted our life, including our finances, to reflect our hearts. So, it wasn’t hard to figure out what to do from there.
I am so grateful for those of you who have followed our journey – you, who have lived it with us through the words on these pages. It means so much to us. I am excited to be able to give you a bit of the “back-story,” if you will and look forward to the journey ahead. Our God is AMAZING and I look forward to each brand new day to be able to see His Awesomeness unfold…I just pray that I have the words at the end of the day to share my heart (Instead, I so often feel like the goofy kid who can do nothing more than stand in awe).