This time last year Philip and I had just arrived in Ukraine to start our adoption process. A year ago Thursday we met Leeza for the first time. As I’ve been reading over some of the blog posts from last year it’s reminded me what an insane year we’ve had. In some ways it’s been our best…we’ve seen God move in ways we’ve never experience and got to be a part of something He orchestrated. In some ways it’s been our worst…at many times our lives felt upside down and I’ve been faithless and furious at God for straddling us with more than we can bear. Our pastor has been doing a serious of sermons on the Exodus and I can so clearly see how I’ve been exactly like the Israelites this year, deciding to ‘test the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” As our pastor went through the story and compared it to other verses that showed that the Lord allowed them to go through difficult times to test their faith I could see how He’d done the same thing with us this year. And I could see how so many times I’d failed. He was faithful to do the impossible and keep Leeza alive and bring her home before she was transferred, but then I had a child who spoke no English, who screamed anytime I put her to bed or walked more than 2 feet from her and had bathroom issues so bad we couldn’t leave the house for weeks at a time and couldn’t keep her clothes or shoes on because her only mode of mobility was scooting on the floor. He was faithful to bless her with an amazing ability to learn our language, to learn to start trusting us and doctors who knew how to start healing her body and finding equipment to help her walk. Instead of realizing the provision, I’ll admit, I was consumed with doctor’s appointments that just wouldn’t stop, medications that caused more problems than they solved, fighting a stubborn streak in this little girl that turned any instruction from me into a hysterical fit and getting frustrated that she couldn’t remember anything because of the problems she was having in her brain. As we’re nearing the end of this round of tests…doctor’s appointments are fewer and sometimes we even get a week without one, medications are working pretty well right now, her self control is improving and her brain is growing…God has been good to show me how faithLESS I’ve been and how faithFUL He’s been. Over the past few weeks He’s repeatedly put this lesson before me, probably because He knows I’m slow to learn or even recognize a lesson is even happening. It’s not that I didn’t know I was wrong, I just had no idea what to do about it. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t seem to be enough. I didn’t have enough patience to take all 4 kids to all her appointments, to deal with attitudes and defiance, to keep up with all the extra care she and other kids have required as they go through different stages. I failed daily and felt defeated. As I approached a friend recently about this she gently reminded me why we had chosen to go through this year. It wasn’t to fix Leeza or prove what great parents we were or show how much patience we could muster up…it was to fight for her soul. She wasn’t being raised to know Jesus and we had stepped out in faith to bring her home and give her every opportunity to know the Savior we know.
When that really sunk in I realized just how off-track I had gotten. I had replaced that goal with one that was never going to bring me or our family anything but frustration and exhaustion. It was incredibly humbling, but also freeing because it reminded me that I WASN’T ever going to do this alone. I was going to have to go back to relying on Jesus and His strength and to truly trusting that not only was He going to heal our family, but that He was going to give me the strength and love to raise our children in a manner that glorifies Him. I’m hesitant to say I won’t backslide because I have so many times this year, but for now I can feel His power allowing me to make the right choices. For now I can clearly see the desert of the last year and that it was put there for good reasons…to grow our faith and prepare us for whatever is next. And without the lies before me that I’ve been believing I can start to see the blessings again. I will likely (ok, definitely) spend much time down on my knees asking for grace to get through whatever has happened that day and asking to be reminded that this is a battle for 4 little souls to know their Savior. And today I will rejoice that I have an (almost) 5 year old daughter who speaks English, walks, loves her siblings, feels safe, has learned to recognize the letter ‘L’ (!), is going to school, has an amazing laugh, is beginning to learn who Jesus is and who I am learning to love as my own.