Making us ready (Part two)

In mid-2009, we decided to pursue an international adoption.  Since that time, more than anything else, we have waited and waited and waited.  At times it was maddening, because there are 140 something million orphans in the world and we want to provide a home for one but we have to wait and wait and wait.  Every time we got frustrated at the wait, we came back to the sense that God was using the time to make us ready.  In the last two years while we waited, almost everything has changed and each change made us more ready.

View from my new office balcony

Job Change

I (John) have worked on providing for our family since before Owen was born.  While I finished my undergrad degree, I worked nights at Palmers.  After school, we moved to Georgia and Fort Worth while I tried being a salesman.  Then I helped my parents in the family business for four years, before finally going to law school.  I worked law school like an 8 to 5 job, and then I got a job at a law firm straight out of law school which was a 7 to 6 job plus a one hour commute there and one hour back home each day.  I was a cog in a large firm machine, and my reward for a good week or month was another rotation in the machine.  I learned a lot, because I worked a lot — which as a young lawyer is a good thing.  And I earned a steady check which was deposited in our account every two weeks.

Like a lot of young(ish) professionals, we found a way to work our bills up to the level of my salary, so it went out of our account as quickly as it went in.  And I was dependent on the firm making the next payroll to pay the next wave of our obligations.  After 3 1/2 years, I was pretty worn out on the schedule and pretty disappointed that the only thing I had to show for the earnings was that we still had our head above water.  As much as I was giving to meet the demands of the schedule, I was expected to give more if I was going to advance in the firm.  One of the named partners called me in to his office to give me a pep talk when my effort sagged.  He told me that to thrive in the firm, I was going to have to put it ahead of a lot of things in my life.  He talked of the things he had given up to rise to his position, and I realized I cared more about what he had given up than reaching the chair he was in.  I think the talk was supposed to motivate me the other way, but either way I am thankful he was so honest and real.  From that moment, Marissa and I began to pray that God would open the door he wished us to go through.

That same week, while our adoption languished in what seemed like terminal hold, I received a call from a good friend in San Marcos.  He let me know that his office space was becoming available and he asked if I wanted to move in and share space with one of the most respected attorneys in Hays County.  That was really it — a space to set up shop; no clients no guarantees of a replacement income.  The more we prayed on it, the more I felt God was asking me to trust him for all this offer was not, so I accepted.  A week later, we got a contract on our house, and our monthly obligations were cut significantly.  I gave notice at my firm, and after three and half weeks that was it.. no salary.. no clients.. no work.

In the six weeks since, a lot of the open questions have come into focus and have been answered.  I still cannot always see what the next week will bring, and we are still absolutely dependent on God to provide the clients and the work for us to make it and we always will be.  I was really always dependent on God to provide for us in the past, but now we have stripped the others in between God and the provision and we get to see him provide.  It is awesome.  I got a new client when an old man he didn’t know in a restaurant I have never been to told him to go see me to help him with his problem.  All of the sudden I am working two adoption cases which found me, and God may be opening a door to more.  I have been hired by a widow with a lot of kids who is being sued by her neighbor — I don’t know how she found me.

Besides being able to use my education and gifts to help real people with real problems, I am in so much of a better place to serve God outside my work.  I now am home every night at 5:30 and never work on the weekend, so I have more time to minister to my children.   Instead of spending my alone time with Marissa complaining about work, I can share praises and learn about what is going on with her.  I am more available to help serve our church and the community.  Basically, I have freedom in so many things because I turned provision over to God.  We thought this move would put us in a better position to pour love into our new child whenever God chose to bless us with him or her.  On my third day in my office, we received our referral.  We were waiting so long it seemed, but God was making us ready.

We do not have this (all by ourselves)

We feel very strongly that we are called to adopt, but we cannot hop on a plane and go get our little girl.  We cannot get her information and our dossier through the court system in Ethiopia, and we cannot even anticipate each problem which could occur to cause us a setback — even those problems we could avoid if we knew.  We cannot love on our baby girl and let her know and feel the security that comes from love.  We cannot take care of her if she is sick.  While the entire region is gripped with famine, we cannot even make sure she has enough to eat.  We have never been as aware of our inability to take care of things or of our absolute dependence on God for the most basic of needs of our child.  All we can do is pray and be faithful.

The concepts of rugged individualism and the American Dream are pretty much the antithesis of being absolutely dependent on God’s provision, so this aspect of our adoption is probably the toughest.  In the church of my (John) youth, the most common refrain about God’s provision was “God helps those who help themselves.”  This is a pretty limited expression of God’s dominion.  Nonetheless, the legacy of that picture of God helping the self-reliant has stuck with me, and I often feel that I should get through life’s challenges on my own.  Marissa thinks similarly, and together we have trouble asking people to help us do almost anything.  Most our challenges seem small, so we usually try to figure it out or end up paying a stranger to avoid inconveniencing friends or maybe to avoid admitting we can’t do something.  That is wrong on our part.

Yet even when we started on the adoption journey, we were pretty sure we wouldn’t do any significant fundraising or ask others to assist us.  If we wanted to adopt, we should be able to pay for it — right?  If we were going to feel any struggles from adding a fourth child, we shouldn’t add a fourth child, right?  Well, wrong and wrong.  There are more than 125 million orphans who should have homes, and if the Church is going to make a dent in the problem, it is going to take those who can pay for it and those who have no idea how they are going to pay for it; it is going to take the child-less and the child-full.  God needs everyone he calls to adopt to heed his call.  Where those families have a need, the rest of us need to provide an answer.  There are a bunch of equally important ways that people can help those adopting and money is just one of them.

Well Marissa and I aren’t just the “rest of us” who should answer others needs, we are also a family who really needs some help.  Someone reading our blog may have a heart to help us, so we have to share our vulnerabilities and be honest about areas we don’t have under control.  Being imperfect does not disqualify us from adopting, because where we are weak, God is strong.  He will make up where we fall short, and God will bring our daughter home.  If you want to help us, we have a new tab at the top of our blog entitled “help” where we will update what we need as we need it.  It will be a dynamic page.  If you don’t feel called to help, don’t click on “help” and you are free to read on about our journey and not be bothered with the direct appeals.