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Post 5 – The Best Years of My Life {The story continues…}

I’ll go ahead and tell you–this post has to come in 2 parts (so don’t be mad when it ends abruptly). Had to do 2 parts because 1…it is THAT sweet of a year and 2…because Amy Levy is my ‘soul tender’ and we meet on Monday night to tend to one another’s souls {which includes Starbucks, decaf, some times cupcakes, vulnerable hearts, lots of listening, encouraging and TONS of laughing}. So…this momma will only make it through Part 1.

Let me also go ahead and say–this story is for His glory not mine–trust me it is NOT by my strength my days get done but by His. These 5 Posts are the stories of 5 beautiful years that I just have to say are my favorite if I had to say which years changed me most…all of which were hard–but ones where ultimately He shined through and was glorified. And this post shines the most light if you read the others first: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3 and Post 4. Trust me:)

While some of you might guess this Post 5 “best year” begins when we were called to adoption…or when we started the process…or when we got our sweet boy’s referral call or the moment we passed court and he was officially ours—these things were some of the wonderful things that LEAD up to the year I want to share tonight. YES, those were all such incredible moments for our family–they were hard, joyful, stretching and beautiful–but the next best year of our lives began the moment our sweet boy was placed in my arms…

I had dreamed of having my boy in my arms for such a long, long time–longer than any of my pregnancies…I had cried at night when I knew he wasn’t well but I couldn’t do A THING to help him or kiss his booboos…I LONGED to hold him…and when he finally in my embrace…truthfully–while it was AMAZING, it didn’t go quite as planned. He was scared. I was different. And it would take time to get to know us as mommy and daddy…BUT oh…the year had begun…

And this…for me–was not only the beginning of the most amazing year BUT it was also a year of another beginning…of seeing every thing–EVERY THING–EVERY THING differently. Suddenly, I had to think of “what might have happened” the first year in my sweet boy’s world–and we had to parent a bit differently. Every cry–he suddenly had someone there for…and once we were there–he was NOT about to let us out of his sight. It was during these days rocking him that I even began to REALLY see the WORLD differently. I would think about what other families go through…what other children go through…what makes us who we are–and dispite all that–He can heal all things.

I had gone into adoption with years ahead of us being a part of an orphan care ministry. I was sure our kids in Africa without moms and dads were going to be okay–because…well, they were in their “culture”…so heck, they might even be better off than a child I adopt into a transracial situation…right? And while I brought home a very happy baby–as we started to connect he got a bit fussy, and I soon saw that REALLY he had opinions now…he now was being given a VOICE…and healing was taking place. And all of the sudden–I started to see things so much differently. Sure–culture is IMPORTANT. Absolutely–I would love if every little one could stay with their first family. But in a broken world–healing needs to happen…and I also am seeing how God uses FAMIY to heal hearts of children who don’t have one. My heart very quickly changed–as there are some things culture or orphanages or sponsored boarding schools just can’t give you…

While I would rock my sweet boy and sing to him, I’d think of all of the children in the world that will never know a lullaby. To be soothed by a voice you know…and that same voice is always there—to tuck you in, encourage you, love you and pray with you. When I saw aggresive and distant behavior change into gentle pats and little kisses…my heart melted–not just selfishly for ME–oh to be loved by this child…but FOR HIM to…to see his heart coming home…he was learning not only how to love BUT HOW TO BE LOVED…HOW TO ACCEPT LOVE. (We live in a world where thousands upon thousands will NEVER know this simple yet powerful and life-changing thing!) There were MONTHS he didn’t want mommy so much–but how can you blame a kiddo who every caregiver he has known were women and they never stayed for the long haul–so why connect to another? Night after night…to rock a little love who often pushes you away and to say over and over, “Momma isn’t going any where…she is always here–I’m here to stay.” And then–to have to THINK BACK because those are things of the past…as he is home heart and soul now.

This part may sound dreamy–and I’ll say–some of it is because God is so good like that–but I must also say, it was NOT easy. In between the lullabies–please remember to slide in physical therapies, doctor appointments, ER visits, surgeries, almost 10 months of only making it 10 minutes in church with the other 50 minutes bouncing in the hallway (not a fan of the nursery and not about to let momma walk away), parasites, parasites shared with siblings, more doctor visits, tantrums, etc, etc, etc…you get the picture. And then…3 precious other children–looking up at you…waiting for their turn.

But in the quiet of the night–as I rock and sing to my four babies, I now can’t help but see millions of little faces…that deserve THIS. And all I can think to sing in these moments where I am so distracted–is Amazing Grace. I think of how much the Lord loves me. How much He loves YOU. How much He loves EACH and EVERY ONE of these children. I think about how my life is NOT ABOUT ME. IT’S NOT ABOUT ME. IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!!!!!! It’s not about what “I deserve”…but rather…what THEY DESERVE.

My life CAN NOT be about ME. It just can’t. Trust me, there are times I want it to be about me–but the truth of the matter is…I gave my heart to Jesus when I turned 18, and I want nothing more than to say YES to Him every time He asks me to follow Him. THAT IS WHAT I BELIEVE I WAS MADE FOR. If it has value in the eternal kingdom–then that is the only thing I can afford to make my life about. And I really believe these children have eternal value–and that He deeply, deeply, DEEPLY loves them. I also believe that He deeply, deeply, DEEPLY wants orphans to have families…and that He is going to call many of us who are able to say, “My life isn’t about me–how can You use me Lord–to love your children…where ever, when ever, how ever…my life–it’s all yours.”

You see, my boy–he changed me. I mean, I totally thought I understood this depth when I loved on orphans in China, Africa and downtown Atlanta–but something powerful happens when the orphan WORD is taken away and made YOUR CHILD instead. Something within you wants to scream AS YOU WATCH THEM HEAL, “EVERY CHILD DESERVES THIS!!!” but all the while knowing…in this life time–it will never happen.

In that process, you grow–you realize YOU can’t save the world–but you can do what He calls you to. While you watch His faithfulness in the transition–you see how HE CAN BE TRUSTED, how His plans may be hard BUT THEY ARE GOOD AND PERFECT and you surrender yourself more deeply to your Heavenly Father…asking for Him to show you His way.

Months passed and we continued to mold as our family adjusted and molded together. December soon came–the fun of Isaac’s first Christmas and all the joy that comes with celebrating one of the most sacred and sweet holidays. I will NEVER forget the moment I felt God speaking to my heart telling us He had something for us to follow Him on–it was just after Christmas when all is calm…just when things began to feel more peaceful. (Really Lord?! I was just getting the hang of this! You have something else for us?! Isn’t this how the Lord often chooses to work! SO WE CAN’T GET THE GLORY FOR IT–BUT ONLY HIM!!!) I was taking a shower when I felt the Lord speak to my heart. (I know…the SHOWER you are thinking? But consider my crazy family, and it’s some times the ONLY quiet this momma gets!) I felt Him speak clearly to my heart. Although it wasn’t audible–it was so clear to me–that I even spoke back and I was caught off guard that I spoke back so quickly. Okay some of you officially think I’m a nut–but I know when He speaks to me–and I was certain we must follow…because through seeing His faithfulness I just love saying YES.

While at the moment I was unsure of the how, when and where–I know my Savior’s voice–and I was certain He was beginning to call us. And so in the midst of one of THE BEST years of my life–while learning to help a sweet child adjust and simply enjoying the moments with our new one–we were certain He was asking us to do something. While we looked at our lives and saw ENOUGH craziness–I knew that He had more for us concerning His will for our lives and for our family. I’ve often heard people say, “God will never give you more than you can bear.” But check this ditty out–that isn’t a Bible verse. If I only live with what I think I can bear–then how do I live knowing my desperate need of my God? If we live without needing God–then we aren’t really living at all–we are just existing. But if I ask for His will instead of mine–then I can be sure I’ll probably have more than I can bear–but He will bear it for me–AND HE WILL GET THE GLORY!!! And it will be a story more beautiful than the one that I could have written myself. Amen?!

(…Part 2 of Post 5—continued tomorrow. It’s midnight here–so I have to call it a night! I’ll finish this one tomorrow night–and I’m SO EXCITED to share the rest…the sweet place where the Lord is leading us!!!)

Elle J - May 3, 2011 - 1:18 am

Oooooh, Andrea!!! Way to leave me hanging … but you know I will be back tomorrow/whenever you post Part 2 of Post 5. =) xoxo

Christy - May 3, 2011 - 5:55 am

First Mitzi’s story, and now yours – you girls are changing a culture’s way of thinking and I am blessed to know you even from afar!

Kandra - May 3, 2011 - 7:59 am

Can’t wait for the second 1/2!! 😉 People misquote that bible verse all the time… 1 Corinthians 10:13…love what you said about your “desperate need of God.” Beautifully said.


Kim - May 3, 2011 - 9:54 am

I can’t wait to hear more!!

Kim - May 3, 2011 - 11:36 am

Tomorrow can’t come soon enough. I know I’ve said it before … but I feel certain you gotta best seller in the making! Love & Blessings from Hong Kong, Kim

Kristin - May 3, 2011 - 11:47 am

Thank you for your post today. I’ve been home 4 weeks with our little guy from Ethiopia and today you helped me to realize that what we are experiencing with him is healing. THe first 2 weeks were great! Then the next two followed with hospital stays and many doctors appts. Thank you for reminding me that healing, not just physical but emotional healing is a process…one that could take years. God is so good! Our lives are so full of the richness He so wanted us to experience. Can’t wait to see where He’s leading you next.

Lisa - May 3, 2011 - 1:56 pm

Andrea what a cliff hanger!!!! I can’t wait to see where God is leading you and to see the rewards of your obedience!

Kelly - May 3, 2011 - 2:28 pm

Oh my soul, tears flowing…my favorite part…”something powerful happens when the word orphan is taken away and made your child instead…” I pray too that many many more orphans will be called sons and daughters instead! Its wonderful to watch your journey and it helps encourage me in mine and the new things that God is calling us to do… I feel the same way…like really Lord? Now? 🙂 But you’ve got it right…it points us back to our need for Christ in what He calls us to do and Him receiving the GLORY!

Dawn - May 3, 2011 - 3:54 pm

He he he….that is if I can squeeze a shower in the day for myself? just kidding…kind of.

LOVE hearing God’s crazy for you!!!! 🙂 You know when you are soo very desperate….that you HAVE to HAVE HIM!!!! That is where we should be. Not where I want to be – well because I have lots of control issues, but God has a funny sense of humor on that too 🙂

Alison - May 3, 2011 - 5:51 pm

AMEN, girl!!! If we could handle everything on our own, then we would walk through life not realizing our need for Him. So glad that He puts us in places where we have to totally DEPEND on Him! It’s truly the sweetest place to be! Can’t wait to read the rest of the story…

Tiffany - May 3, 2011 - 10:38 pm

Oh no…I have to wait until tomorrow for the rest…so not fair! 🙂 Wonderful post…so true…being called, being stretched, being completely changed…love your heart – always listening for God’s voice.

Elizabeth Smith - May 3, 2011 - 10:57 pm

…hoping what I think is what is coming….
love you andrea!

[…] Post 5 – The Best Years of My Life {The story continues…} […]

Mama Mimi - May 4, 2011 - 2:29 am

“If I only live with what I think I can bear – then how can I live knowing my desperate need of God?” –> SO POWERFUL FRIEND!!!!