Several weeks ago, I found myself complaining to God that our life lacked adventure. (I'm not quite sure why I even complained since everyone around us thinks our life is crazily full of excitement and adventure!) But I complained. And God heard my complaint, and has responded to it... I think in sort of that manner as we human parents tell our children "If you don't stop crying/whining/complaining, I'll give you something to cry/whine/complain about!". Yep, it's like that, I'm certain of it now. ;-) So I'm trying to embrace a new adventure that is far beyond what I was ready to bargain for.
We were (still are) confident that God was (still is) leading us into this crazy world of adoption, but we kept running into a couple of hurdles over the past few months preventing us from proceeding. First, we were having a difficult time locating any available social worker in our specific county to do our homestudy, never-mind finding one who was "friendly" to already-larger-AND-Christian-AND-homeschooling-families pursuing adoption. (I know there must be families like us who adopt from here, but we were not finding the contact info we needed to schedule it, not even for a social worker who doesn't like families like ours. Just nothing! Every lead on one was a dead lead.) In addition to our social worker search coming up empty, we were hoping for the arrival of a particular minor lump of money, which would have allowed us to pay for that homestudy once we did find a social worker to partner with. In our research of international adoption requirements, we faced some additional hurdles pertaining to Rick's job that needed to be dealt with. Being certain of God's leading into this adoption process, but being frustrated by the pieces not "falling into place", we began to pray specifically about the hurdles we faced, asking God to intervene on our behalf.
The first prayer petition was for just the right social worker to do our homestudy, because the idea of an invasive study of our family makes me a bit nervous. I've been told many times that most families feel this way going into it, but knowing that doesn't calm my nerves. I never have been Martha Stewart and Mary Poppins rolled into one! And I think every adoptive parents tends to believe to a certain degree that THAT is exactly what a social worker is looking for. So we've prayed for God to send us a social worker who is exactly what we need.
The second prayer petition was for the funds to be released to pay for the homestudy once we found the right homestudy person.
The third prayer petition was a job in which Rick could be home with the family more. (For the past 5.5 yrs, his average monthly schedule only allowed him to be home for approximately 2-4 days per month at most, and many of those days "home" were spent running his company truck around town to various locations for repairs, maintenance, etc. before he hit the road again.) So we prayed for a job that would have a fairly regular schedule to it, more family time, preferably something that was Monday through Friday, with weekends off, allowing him to be involved in church again.
The fourth prayer petition was for employer paid head-to-toe medical coverage (including vision and dental, which seems to be what our family has needed most in the past), with no hindrances to covering pre-existing conditions (since the majority of children available for adoption in Ukra*ne have some "condition" listed in their file), and with that coverage beginning the moment the Ukra*nian judge signs the official adoption paperwork.
And our fifth prayer petition was for increased income (yes, we asked God for a very specific minimum annual amount) in accordance to the requirements given by the USCIS Financial Income Chart for our current and future family size.
So with all these uncertainties (beyond the certainty that we were to begin our adoption process), the past few weeks of not blogging has been a time of investing into continual prayer instead. Our apologies to our followers, but God was interacting with us, and we didn't want to interrupt what He was saying and what He was up to behind the scenes. And we wanted to hear God, not just the voices of human opinion. So we kept a lot "close to the vest" in the last month or so. I'm sure you all can understand that! *wink*
When praying about the job situation with one of our wise spiritual counselor couples, the husband suggested that we push on each "job door" to see if it was unlocked and would open. He said if it wouldn't open, it isn't meant to be, period. (Which is exactly what we were experiencing with each job position that Rick has pursued recently.) And if the door opens just a little, where we could see a glimpse of what was behind that door, but to get passed that door would have meant forcing our way through in our own strength and power, then God is only opening that door wide enough for us to see how what was behind it wouldn't be what we would have wanted, or what looked inviting but would not have been best for us anyway. And lastly, if God opens that door so wide that we may walk through it easily, but all we can see is a spotlight on the first step in front of us, then He is calling us to walk through that door by faith, and trust Him to reveal the bigger picture a step at a time, but only after we obey Him. That is truly walking by faith.
So we tried every door in front of us for a new job for Rick. About a month ago, he received an invitation to attend a group orientation (wives were invited as well) for a possible job change. We knew only a minimal amount of information about this job position (another driving job, based in North Dakota, which did NOT excite us in anyway), however it was enough to pique our interest. It was a door that was unlocked, although we didn't know yet how far it would open. So on Friday, August 12th, we drove about 3 hours one way to this meeting. The information given was like drinking from a fire hydrant! Following the group orientation, they held private interviews for those still interested in the job. When it was our turn, the recruiter looked over Rick's resume (particularly the skills he acquired in the jobs he'd held prior to long-haul trucking), and with puzzlement, asked why Rick was applying for the driving job if he was more than qualified for this other particular position, which paid more. So he told us more about this other position, which we'd had no knowledge of prior to that day. The longer he talked, the more we realized the details of *this* position were exactly what we'd been praying for in regards to a new job... except for one thing. It would require us to relocate the whole family from the mountains and greenery of the Pacific Northwest (where we always thought we'd live the rest of our lives) down to a dry, flat, nearly treeless area of Texas!!! That was the one thing we forgot to pray for... to stay in the PNW!!! This move would require that we leave all of my (Michelle's) family behind, as well as pretty much everything our children ever had any solid memories of, to go to a land of which we knew nothing and no one. We came home from that meeting so incredibly torn. We thought the view beyond the doorway was clear when we first pushed on that door, only to realize that we could see nothing except the step in front of us. And we had until Monday - less than 72 hrs - to make that life-changing decision between 1) not taking the job at all, 2) taking the position in North Dakota, or 3) taking the position in Texas. The whole way home, we discussed the pros and cons of each, how it would affect our children, extended family and friends, as well as how it would delay our adoption process, yet might be exactly the reason God had already been delaying the homestudy to begin with, etc. We quickly did a lot of research on the various locations, the homeschooling laws in Texas and North Dakota (as well as Montana - since the position would have been near the state border), and how far it would be to the nearest friends and family we had in each location. Because we were getting back into town so late in the day, we decided to wait to discuss the details with our children until the next morning when everyone was fresh and well-rested. In the meantime, the two of us did a lot of praying, and crying. Big steps of faith can be scary at times. And we were two little children reduced to tears by the monsters in that infamous closet. But God also kept calming our hearts in a way that is unexplainable. Needless to say, we went to bed physically exhausted and thoroughly rung out emotionally.
On Saturday morning, we called for a family meeting and shared with our children what the job change offered, that we were leaning toward taking the job, and the fact that it would require us to relocate the family either east or south. We allowed our children to share their thoughts, their concerns, their questions, their tears, and their excitement. It was a family meeting with a lot of high emotion!! Between Rick and I, we were leaning more toward the southern position, and our children echoed our sentiments on the choices. We ended by praying as a family that God would direct our path, showing us very specifically and very clearly where He wanted us to go. When our family meeting ended that morning, and children dispersed their various directions for work or play, and we went ours, I logged onto my Facebook to find this photo posted by a friend just moments earlier...
(Used with my friend's permission)
Now, I hadn't checked the exact time on the clock while we were in prayer as a family, but I do believe she posted it while we were still gathered around praying for God's direction! That would be SOOOOO like God! Don't tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor!! If He can speak through a donkey, He can surely speak through a waffle the shape of Texas! Since then, we've had multiple confirmations that we are to take this job in Texas, even though we know we will greatly miss the Pacific Northwest. We PNWers have an incredibly blessed and beautiful outdoor life here! Even with all the confirmations, it doesn't stop our human brains to reason that this decision to go south is absolutely absurd, and to ask ourselves what we were thinking by accepting this position there! We've never made, or even really considered, a move that had so much uncertainty to it. But God always seems to swoop in and give us peace at just the right times, and He keeps lighting up the next step once we chose to put our foot on the next one in front of us. So we let the company know we were willing to take the position in Texas, and they asked us to attend one more group session for those accepting this specific type of job assignment. At that meeting, we were given a few more solid details about what to expect, and a second private interview with another company official, that helped confirm that God was answering our very specific prayers. And one week ago today, we got that call that Rick has definitely been hired, pending the outcome of his drug screen (which shouldn't be an issue for him). This means he will likely be on his way to Texas for specialized training within the next two weeks or so. He'll have approximately 90 days of training, and soon thereafter the rest of the family will be relocated down to Texas as well. So we're still unsure if we'll be having a White Christmas here or a Tumbleweed Christmas there! LOL I suppose it doesn't matter if we'll finally get to be together as a family again.
Somehow I think this is faith testing ground for our adoption journey, especially considering how international adoption can be so uncertain until the end, requiring a constant faith walk and keeping tuned into God for the details. When adopting from Ukra*ne, you do not get to place any "hold" on the child(ren) you hope to bring home. You don't know if the Ukra*nian government will even approve your request to come to their country to choose your son(s) or daughter(s). You don't know how the child(ren) will react to you. You don't know for sure what their medical files might contain. And on, and on, and on. Adopting from a foreign country is such a journey of faith, in which most steps are only lit up one at a time. But walking by faith is pleasing to God. And that is our goal... to please Him, and Him alone. It is comforting to know that as our adoptive Father, He is faithfully faithful to us. And He doesn't ask us to do anything that is to harmful to us, but only that which is for our betterment. In that fact, I can rest in peace as we begin packing up our life here for this big move to the south in the coming months. Although we won't be able to proceed with our actual homestudy until the whole family has arrived and settled in Texas, we are going to use the next few months to focus on our fundraising (the slowest part of any adoption process usually), as well as gathering the documents we will need for the completion of our homestudy and dossier preparations. And as always, we greatly appreciate your prayers for our family during this time of big changes. It looks like our life will be full of adventure in the coming months! Oh, me and my big mouth!