Rewind to the 80s/90s (YES, I'm O-L-D). A little white girl growing up in the country sticks of north central Texas. A seed is planted. I tell my friends, "I'm going to adopt a little black baby." They looked at me like I was nuts. I had fallen in love with these beautiful creatures. Kind of weird considering I went to school where my graduating class of 54 students had ZERO black kids. It wasn't just that they were different. I didn't know God then but looking back I knew God had placed something in my heart that showed me their beauty and told me I was made to love one (or many) as mine.
Fast forward to 2005. Ben and I are living in Italy via the US Air Force. We have been trying to get pregnant for almost a year. We are packing up and heading back home to NW Arkansas. We're pregnant! Isabella Grace is born July 2006. I don't notice that she is tiny. All I see is that she is mine and she is perfect. Looking back on the pictures of her as a newborn, I wonder what the nurses were thinking as they let such a tiny being come home with me.
It's January 2008. Bella is 18 months old. I'm sitting in a hospital room, laughing and reading books with my mom and my aunt as we wait. The day before Ben brought Bella up to the hospital. It was the last time my Nana coherently spoke. She sat straight up in bed and said, "Oh my Bella!" The next day, a Monday, was the last time she woke up. She wanted to call EVERYONE and tell them how much she loved them and that she was ok. That night my Nana went to Heaven. She told me to have babies. Her favorite holiday was Christmas. For her, the entire month of December was Christmas. I think she baked every.single.day of every December.
The next week I went to my first ever women's bible study at Fellowship. God placed amazing women in my life that day. They showed me what a Christian woman, wife, mother, follower, life was all about. I wanted it and I'll never forget the moment Christ came charging into my heart. I'd never again be the same.
Three months later, I'm pregnant. I'm having a boy and he is due on Christmas Day. I try to imagine what it must have been like-a teenage girl in a cold manger knowing the Son of God was to be born from her body-beautiful. There was bleeding through my entire pregnancy and too many scares and lots of bedrest. Hunter Thomas was born December 12... 13 days early, exactly like his big sister. Nana (now known as Bella & Hunter's GiGi) would have loved kissing that chubby neck.
Fast forward four months. The bleeding has not stopped. On a Friday, I hear the dreaded words, "It's not good. It's cancer." I cry out in fear. I fear for my family, my babies. And He lifts me up. He holds my hand and does not let go. The cancer had started to grow and every female organ in my body was removed (gory details). I immediately went into post-op menopause. I feel for women who have to endure that for years stretched into years. The cancer cells were zapped every day for 6 weeks. At the time I was in warrior mode. I fought to survive and beat this for my family. I did not let myself think that I might die or that I would never again bear children. Surviving was my focus.
Fast forward to a year ago. I'll go take a potty break while you read and catch up.
Fast forward to today. God has been doing A LOT of work in the hearts of many. He has opened my eyes to see there is still TONS of work to be done. I'm thankful for the peace He has given me, the clarity, and the knowing patience. And for the people He has brought into my life.
I'm here. I'm watching and waiting in the silence. There are days when I see His light shining on our family, preparing us for the child He will make for us and us for. There are days when I think He is crazy-us?!?! really?!?! There are days I want to sell everything, pack a few things, and move us to Africa. I want to be His hands and feet... here?... there?
I don't know what His plans are and I have no clue what He has in store for my family. I pray that He continues to give me wisdom, discernment, clarity, and the courage to pray for my husband and his heart and my family as it is today and what it may be in the future. He has planted seeds that pull at my heart strings. Seeds of desire to learn more about the orphans in this world. Seeds to explore everything so I can be ready when he makes our family's path be known. Whether that path is adoption or orphan care or advocate for His children. To steal the words from an awesome inspiration (I met the beautiful wife/mom of this family at Fellowship's Grief Shared group after my Nana went to Heaven)... "I don't know."
To be educated. To be surrounded by others who don't have the answers. To learn from those who have been there and have something to share. To learn from those that have gone before and already learned. To surround myself with others that feel God tugging at their hearts. To hear the heartbeats of others that were uniquely created by Him to care for orphans-here, there, every where. To ask questions. To hear answers. THAT is why I'm going to Idea Camp: Orphan Care.
For now I pray. I look to Him in the silence. I remove the blinders so I can see the neon red flashing signs so he doesn't have to bang me on the head. I pray. I dream and I wonder. I love my family and fight to keep us centered on Christ in everything we do. I pray. I don't know how. I don't know when. I don't know where. But I know God knows and for me, that is enough.