Laney and I should be sitting on a plane right now. Righhhhhht beside these awesome two girls–Kristen and Elizabeth. I say should be–as in…those were OUR plans.
I think I should be on aisle 37, seat B–snuggled in and watching a movie before falling asleep on the 16 hour flight to South Africa…some where over the Atlantic Ocean about now.
Our should be’s–are not always His plans. What we see as detours–are often His devine appointments. They never feel great at the time because we want our plans…but DO WE REALLY? Some times we just have to step back and open our hands…again. Trust bigger. And wait. On His perfect timing.
We have been crazy. This momma has been retreat planning, hosting playdates, chasing 5 kids under 10 and planning a last minute trip to Africa. Richard has been juggling his job and being a pretty awesome husband and dad. He said he’d get the travel papers together–and I said I’d figure out our other kids so he could work some (art camp and other fun!) and work out getting Zeke to my mom’s. Some where in the crazy–the details of all the new requirements for traveling with a minor THROUGH South Africa–we missed. One of our Zambian missionaries reminded us. Twice. Our travel agent sent us the list at least once. And several friends reminded us that not only would Loo need a passport but also a notarized letter from the parent not traveling that she could travel abroad. Check and check. We also needed documentation of her birth certificate. Kinda check. BUT. A copy–we learned wouldn’t do. We needed an original.
Only that last word–original–we discovered after already going back and forth with a Delta agent for AN HOUR who insisted we couldn’t check our luggage the whole way finally called for help. Help came another 30 minutes later–and we when she did–she asked for the original birth certificate–and my heart…DROPPED. I knew we didn’t have an original–and I wasn’t sure if we would be able to find one or get one…AT ALL.
If she had asked us for this right when we got there like she was supposed to–we learned later–we might have had time to actually go get it. If–big IF–we even had one.
We took breaths. Prayed. Thought about sending her with her Aunt April who is traveling in 24 hours on the same trip–and then they showed us the list of requirements of a child traveling through South Africa without BOTH parents–and we knew that ONE of us would have to be there…so I would need to stay back as well. Another DEEP breath as I stood there with two dear friends who have never traveled to Zambia. And now–two women…alone. Immediately–my brain started hearing all kinds of things, “What kind of trip leader are you?” and then then husband of one of the ladies grabbed my shoulder and said, “They are big girls Andrea. God has this. Stay back. It’s going to all work out.”
And so I did.
We waved good-bye…to these two…
(They tooooootally look worried…don’t they;)?! I think they are ready–brave and ready to take on the world!)
We put our luggage back in our van.
We drove half way to Alabama to give Zeke to my mom.
And we ate dinner at Cracker Barrel. And those hash browns. Oh my. I needed those hash browns;).
Even in that store that I love to hate and hate to love…Loo reminded me…
We drove home and talked about all the things that would need to change–in-country flights…overnight hotel in South Africa…cancel this–rebook that. And then…WHAT IF…what if we get home and can’t find an original? We prayed. And we hoped. And I called Vital Records and made plans to wake up at 7am to go stand in line at 8am if it wasn’t to be found.
We got home–and before running to check…Laney and I walked the pasture…fed the animals together–and just basked in the moment that HE HAS THIS. No matter if it was to be found. No matter if an original couldn’t be issued in time. No matter if this trip might not happen. And we were STILL.
We came inside–and I went to our paperwork. Our adoption paperwork where birth certificates and every background identity piece of information is stored. I went through everything…TWICE. And…
Richard started going through other files. And…NOTHING.
So I sat down and went through our travel documents from China a few years ago with Parker and Laney–and I found two manilla envelopes. And I pulled out one–Parker’s original birth certificate! The other–LANEY’S! I screamed, “IT’S HERE!!!!” And we all cheered and I even took pictures!
And I was thankful.
Most thankful—though—not for the birth certificate.
I was thankful that although I struggled with “whose fault it was”–my lips didn’t say what my flesh wanted to say. And to be honest–I think we can’t cast blame on any one (just as much ME…if not all me if anyone!)–but see this rather as God’s divine appointment. Don’t we always want to look for whose to blame when things go wrong and soak more in the WHAT IF’S rather than HIS PLANS ARE PERFECT’S?!
For some reason–the Lord wanted us to travel a day later with my sister and Jody. For some reason–He wants us to be together. For some reason–He wants Kristen and Elizabeth to connect. For some reason–He wants to be glorified more in His saying WAIT.
Because–if we had ordered that birth certificate like we should have and been completely on top of it–like we should have…we also might be able to pat ourselves on the back that we have it together and lead well. BUT–instead…glory to God in the highest because…
…He made Kristen and Elizabeth brave and strong to go without someone who has been before.
…He is forming a forever friendship and story between those two…and making this an unforgettable trip for us all.
…He called us to adopt and trust Him in growing our family…because of that–we have original and extra certified copies of exactly what we need to venture on.
…I’ve never been to Africa with my sister and we are both terrified to fly–just like when we were little–again…we have each other. Thankful to start this journey together tomorrow!
…Laney was calm and collective and reminded us that the Lord has this and today, tomorrow or next year–is perfect timing to go.
And then. I get a text. As I’m writing this. From a friend who runs a ministry in Kenya…
“You were burning on my heart as I passed the airport….I heard Him say for you “Don’t look to the right or left, keep your eyes on Me. You will not be shaken. You will not be moved. Come to me. Come to me. I am all you need.”
She had no idea we had missed our flight–but there’s no doubt those words are from Him. Reminding us He in this–His timing is perfect–and we need to only be still and trust Him.
If we had boarded that flight without flaw–it would have just been a normal, everyday experience. But instead–He wanted to remind us that these are His plans…His plans are greater…and He who has written our family’s story from the beginning can be trusted in every details to the end.
The Lord has something big in store for us this trip…I just know it. And tomorrow–we will check our bags…AGAIN…and if it’s His will–we will board and leave and fly over that ocean. We will snuggle up and watch a movie until we fall asleep trusting we need our rest. Because there are BIG plans to run and love BIG. So…we will trust and wait and hope–not assuming anything…and celebrate everything. Remembering that anything can change in a moment–and anything that changes that we don’t love…isn’t a detour…or mistake…it’s just because He loves us SO MUCH–that He wants His plans to unfold instead of ours.
To God be the glory. His will not ours.
Trusting with you,
Andrea (and Loo!)