Friday, January 18, 2013

Postcards from Canaan

Maybe you've wondered why I haven't talked much about Ethiopia since we've returned home from meeting our daughter.

I haven't talked much about how when we finally met Bethlehem, the daughter we've prayed for, fought for, killed a dozen trees for, that it was not a youtube moment. I haven't described just how scared she was of us. About how confused her little face looked as we surrounded her. Or how she cried every time I held her and struggled to free herself from my arms. How awkward and unsure I was. About how even though I expected our meeting to go this way, how I knew that this was even a positive reaction for a child in her predicament, how that knowledge didn't make it any easier on my mother heart.

I haven't told you about how relieved I was when the hour was up at our first meeting and we had to go. About how, instead of rejoicing and feeling thankful, I felt withdrawn, underequipped and worried.

I didn't tell you that in Ethiopia, in my bed, as jet lag forbade my sleep, I cried and prayed and realized and confessed, "God! I don't want to actually DO the hard things! I just want to talk about them, I want to blog about them, but I'm not strong enough to actually DO them!"

I haven't shared with you the guilt I've felt about taking her away from all she knows and is content with, and how many times I had to tell myself that if she were not adopted, she would only be allowed to stay where she is for a year or so before she would be transferred to one of the government orphanages.  And how I force myself to recall the disparaging scenes so I can remember that the government orphanages are no place for children.

I haven't told you how the books on attachment I am reading don't encourage me or empower me. They just overwhelm me and scare me to death.

I haven't shared the voice that has whispered accusingly in my ear every day since December, "You just totally blew that conversation with your kid. Why did you think you were good enough to have more?" "If you yell like that when Bethie is here, it will ruin her. You're going to ruin her. What are you doing? Leave the adoption stuff to the good moms who never get mad at their kids."  "You can't handle this. She deserves a better mom than you. Maybe you should back out. You're in way over your head."

I will tell you that God let me go on like this for six weeks. That He let me worry and fret and withdraw and didn't seem to be hearing my desperate prayers, until Wednesday.

I'll tell you now that on Wednesday, He led me to a bible study, and placed me in a certain group, with a certain woman leading it, so that He could answer me.

About how my leader asked, "When Moses sent the twelve spies to the Promised Land, what did all of them except for Jacob and Caleb report back?"

How being the new girl, I waited tentatively for someone else to answer, but when they did not, I said softly, "We're grasshoppers. They are giants. They will squash us!"

And how she nodded at me and made one remark, one that I had never heard before, never considered, in the years I've known the story of Joshua and Caleb and the ten wimpy spies. That she said, "But God did not tell them to look at the PEOPLE. He told them to go look at the LAND." And then she quickly moved on to the next question.

But I will tell you that those words penetrated my soul and my heart and mind. That I almost gasped and quickly copied her words in my bible. That I realized that since we met our daughter I have been looking at the PEOPLE and not the LAND.

That I have been looking at myself. And my weaknesses. And faults. And sins. And selfishness. And inadequacies. And fears. And failures.

And I've been looking at my daughter's fears. And insecurities. And confusion. And attachment to her nanny. And bewilderment at these strange white people who will take her away from all she knows to a land she's never been.

And when I look at the people, especially my own person, the only logical response is, "I am a grasshopper. This adoption is a giant. It will SQUASH me and I in return will squash her. I can't do this!"

I have always judged those other ten spies. I have always wondered how they could be so negative and doubtful over something that God had promised to deliver into their hands. How they could so easily look over the miracles that He provided for them daily in their quest for the Promised Land. How they could forget who their God was, how strong HE was, how sovereign HE was, how dedicated to His people that HE was. I've always ridiculed them for being so self-focused, so self-centered, that all they could see were their weaknesses instead of the faithful power of a mighty, loving, amazing, warrior God!

But, since traveling to Ethiopia, I have been the thirteenth spy. 

I have been so obsessed with my own grasshopper-ness that I have forgotten that the Lord created and prepared me specifically to be Bethie's mother. In my self-reliance I've spit out the manna that God sent from Heaven for this adoption. In my self-centeredness I could not see that I was relying on the wrong books to equip me to do this work. In my self-obsession I have forgotten that in my weakness, He is strong.

I have wandered through the desert for three years. But when my eyes finally settled on Canaan, Egypt suddenly seemed so appealing. 

The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?

Oh God! Forgive me! I repent from my disbelief!

I have seen the promised land that my good, sovereign God has given to our family. I have seen the promised land that my mighty, awesome God has given to our daughter. He is our rock. He is our salvation. In whom shall I fear?

the Lord said to Joshua...Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, “Let’s go up and take the land—now. We can do it.”

Joshua 1:9
Numbers 13:30


  1. This is awesome. And I needed it.

    Our group just started the Beth Moore study, Believing God. She uses the promised land analogy as well. Very powerful. Love this.

  2. "I haven't shared the voice that has whispered accusingly in my ear every day since December, "You just totally blew that conversation with your kid. Why did you think you were good enough to have more?" "If you yell like that when Bethie is here, it will ruin her. You're going to ruin her. What are you doing? Leave the adoption stuff to the good moms who never get mad at their kids." "You can't handle this. She deserves a better mom than you. Maybe you should back out. You're in way over your head." "

    Exactly this. Why I am so afraid of adopting even though I know it is what our family is called to do. Every step of the way, doubting that we are good enough, that I am good enough...

    Good post. I just keep reminding myself that as long as I have enough LOVE it will all work out. And I do have that! I do! I do! And it will be fine.

    Peace be with you.

  3. Speechles!! God,Forgive me, I repent for my disbelief!! AMEN!! So powerful!! Thank you!

  4. This touched me deeply. I will continue to pray for you all. Put your hope in Him.

  5. Thank you , thank you , thank you for being honest and putting a less than rainbows and unicorns light on adoption. Adoption is deep in my heart but it's so terrifying to me. All of the blogs I've read have just been so positive and happy and gloss over the hard parts. I knew that it couldn't all be rosy and felt awful for thinking that. You give me hope that despite the tough things, that it is possible and great.

  6. Love, Love , Love! We all have our giants that we are focusing on instead of God...thanks for that reminder. He is my all in all :)

  7. Such a good word! So glad God spoke to you now. When the going gets tough after she comes home, come back and read this post! Can't wait til she gets to be with y'all. :)

  8. I love this! God is good! Thank you for your beautiful words.

  9. Think of how fewer orphans there would be if the rest of us moms knew that we didn't need to be "supermom" to adopt, how fear is a friend of the devil, and truly trust that God's got our back when we are on His path. Thank you for your honesty, it really encourages me that maybe I too could someday walk down the adoption road. Although seeing the ringworm souvenior is a bit of a deterrent...:)

  10. This is beautifully written, beautifully expressed. I admire greatly, and as a long-time reader, I've seen many different aspects of you as a mom, as a woman. I've read amazing posts that were so spiritual, and I've read regular, everyday posts that made me feel better myself, as a mom, as a woman.

    I've seen you from afar, as a reader, as a teacher, as a mentor, as a co-worker (in the company of Mom, Inc.). Don't let Satan whisper in your ear, not when God is on your side. No worries, you got this. And every day won't be perfect; there will be so many issues in the beginning with Bethie. But it will get better, and she will see mommy in your face someday. Just stick it out, and show her that "unfamiliar" isn't always bad or scary, but that a new start can be a wonderful thing.

    She will be well-loved.

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this... this is the post that I have longed to write for our first adoption but have not been brave enough to do so.... and I feel it creeping back in with our current adoption.

    This left me in tears... thank you

  12. What a moving post. Thank you for being humble and honest about your fears. I am studying the book of James and this verse came to me when reading this post:

    James 1: 27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

    If looking after orphans is a pure and faultless calling from God, then I believe he will provide you with every tool necessary to raise this little girl.

    Your family is in my prayers in the coming weeks. Thank you for your blog which is always inspirational with just the right amount of comic relief:)

  13. What a blessed and lucky girl Bethie is to have you as her Mommy! You will be right beside her every step of the way, feeling her fears and confusion...and training her to trust in God's power instead of her own, just as He is teaching you. Praying....:)

  14. "I haven't shared the voice that has whispered accusingly in my ear every day since December, "You just totally blew that conversation with your kid. Why did you think you were good enough to have more?" "If you yell like that when _______ is here, it will ruin her. You're going to ruin her. What are you doing? Leave the adoption stuff to the good moms who never get mad at their kids." "You can't handle this. She deserves a better mom than you. Maybe you should back out. You're in way over your head."
    I had no idea Satan whispered the exact same lies in all our ears.
    This post was SO timely for me, Missy! I can't even tell you how timely.
    Praise God for His grace in your life, in moving you to this point, in giving you the freedom to do the hard things, actually DO them. I felt like I was reading my journal when I read this post. You've helped me not to feel like such an island (or such a 13th spy all by myself) when it comes to this adoption thing.

    THANK YOU for sharing this!!!

  15. Thank you so much for being so brave and sharing this with everyone!
    Deuteronomy 31:8 -- "The Lord is the One who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."

  16. Hear me say this friend...every day will be challenging, some days will be hard, lots of tears will be shed and there will be days that you question what you are doing and why...but everyday the Lord will get you through, heal that sweet child's heart a little more and whisper in your ear, well done! You can do this and you will bless and be blessed. Trust a momma who has done it and knows how you feel! covering you in prayer and believeing that God has called you and will equip you!!

  17. I love this post! Thank you for your raw honesty and for bringing it back to the truth of the Word of God. Powerful!

  18. Thank you for this. We too are adopting from Ethiopia - it will be awhile - we just got on the waiting list. But I have already felt all of these fears you described. And I completely relate with not wanting to DO the hard things. :) I appreciate your words of truth. I keep coming back to the fact that what He wants from me is obedience. EVEN if I'm scared to death. Love your blog. Excited to follow as you bring your daughter home.

  19. I JUST heard a teacher (Dr. Karl Payne) on "In the Market with Janet Parshall" on Christian radio yesterday. He said that when you hear those voices, pay attention to the pronouns. When the voices say, "YOU will never this or that," it is the enemy speaking to you. God would NEVER say such discouraging things to you. So believe what the LORD says - that you can do ALL things through Him who gives you strength!!!

  20. It is rare that anybody talks about the ugly. We do the hard parts all day, every day. We have been for 3 years. When I look back on the first year and how far we've come since then, its truly amazing...even when some days don't feel like there has been any progress made at all. You'll get through it because its what you were meant to do. 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

  21. Look at the land, not the people. I've never seen that distinction. Love it!!

  22. Oh, Missy... thank you. Our 2 yo has been home for just over six weeks now. I can so relate. I'm beyond glad that my Lord can, too :)

  23. The most worthwhile, important things are never easy--if they were, everyone would be doing them for larks. And some things have painful, sobering down sides. Recognizing them and acknowledging them makes you--in my eyes--very brave, very responsible (as opposed to irresponsible, not in the sense of guilty), and very truthful, all of which makes me admire you and makes my heart go out to you.

    And that's even before you get to the part of the post where the grace of God comes in <3

  24. Oh my goodness. So beautiful and so encouraging! Thank you for writing this. My husband and I have just started discussing adoption, and every time I lose my temper with our two daughters I think I could never be "good enough" to parent an adopted child. This was exactly the reminder I needed of who our God is! In our weakness, He is strong!

  25. Just remember the night you brought your firstborn home and the baaby cried and cried and you couldn't figure out was wrong? You took it a step at a time, you had family to help and slowly you found your groove togther and figured out the baby's needs. You will find that place. We adopted a three year old from Ethiopia and while she didn't cry when we held here, she was wary of us. It took time, holding her lots, soem sleepless nights as we went to her again and again to reassure her that we were still there. Slowly she began to trust us, love us and today you'd never know that she hadn't been with us all along. Trust in yourself, God and that brave little girl. You'll be amazed!

  26. I've done this before, but I'm still plagued by the same kinds of fears you're talking about here. (I'm a slow learner, I guess.) And it is HARD to watch our kids be terrified, or grieve the only life they've known. But I also know that God has hand-picked our girls for us, and us for them, and He is more than capable of making something beautiful out of the pain and uncertainty. Great big hugs to you!

  27. Missy,
    I love your honesty. I love your willingness to share this. It's SO hard, as an adoptive mama, to recognize these things in ourselves and say them out loud. Love ya girl!

  28. Isn't it amazing how one line in the midst of a whole hour can rock your world? I've got a post brewing on something someone said this week at my Bible study.
    But anyway, thanks for the perspective, and prayers for you. This parenting thing isn't easy no matter what the circumstances. :)

  29. How strange - very timely for our own circumstances too. But our situation is totally different. We've had to fight battles these past few months that we never anticipated. We've come across some really horrible, self-serving, deceitful, you-name-it nasty people along the way, again and again. We have cried out, 'God, what is going on here? We followed you to this place where we knew no one and it's horrible! What's going on?' and finally we have come to the place of 'we have to leave this place', uprooting the kids all over again. But whatever God's plan is, we are following. Because our God raises the dead.

    Also, I always thought I'd have to be a never-ever-shouty, always gentle, perfect mother to even consider adoption/fostering. I think of it as something intangible for the future (you know, the future where you somehow become perfect?). Yet actually, all things considered, we do a great job. And I'm sure you do too, Missy. You tackle things head on and you have a passion for being the best mother you can be. So what if you're a grasshopper. You belong to God ;-)


  30. This is amazing. Preach it, girl! You wrote this about adoption, but it resonated so strongly with me in dealing with my 2 food allergy/other special needs kiddos. Sometimes the path we are on seems so much scarier and harder than we can deal with. Thanks for reminding me that God is good and will provide. Thank you.

    By the way, I plan to share this with everyone I know - hope you don't mind!

  31. wow. preach it, sista!! "But when my eyes finally settled on Canaan, Egypt suddenly seemed so appealing." I need to marinate on that one for a while.

  32. wow thank you for that! we are 2 1/2 years into the process for ethiopia and the wait times only get longer, everything is expiring and costing more and more money and i just keep thinking how exhausting it all is. I know that we are supposed to go to Ethiopia,I know the Lord has a dautghter for us. I know all that to be true and unchanging and yet its so hard sometimes to keep going. And all the while my 3 oldest kids ask every day when we are bringing her home. Thank you for your honesty and transparency.

  33. Oh I love this!!! Sharing on facebook. Hope you don't mind. :)

  34. I love when God does this to us, the other day I was arguing with him at church (very mature I know) and then suddenly the pastor read a scripture to answer my complaint, I wrote it up on my cabinet in my kitchen and I am sure everyone who sees it is think what in the world, why would she put that verse up there, but it was His answer to me that helped me to see correctly.

    It is going to be super hard, but it won't be as hard as you think, and more than hard it will be a blessing, the rewards are bigger than the sorrows that I can guarantee you. You are an amazing mother, you are going to be such an amazing mommy to Bethie.

    PS- I think it's super good to read the books, knowledge helps, but stop if it's scaring you, and know that they're not always right, or always apply to each child. I often want to cuss out Karyn Purvis, when I do just what she told me to and then my child definitely does not respond in the way she said they would and she gives no further help on what to do then!! :)

    And this is too long, but I am praying for you! And if I could give any advice it is this, the most important thing to me in this journey has been being a part of a support group of other adoptive parents, hearing their stories, knowing I'm not crazy, being able to ask for prayers for something I would be embarrassed to ask of friends who don't understand, it has kept me sane!

  35. Love this post! BTDT with all of it. With our first adoption, my daughter didn't want anything to do with me - and it was so hard to be rejected. With our second adoption, I was my son's favorite - and it was so hard because the bulk of the discipline fell on me. (He was 5) We're getting ready to travel in March for our third adoption (a 10 year old boy) and I often wonder why God keeps calling us to adopt when I can't handle the kids I already have! And I read the horror stories about older child adoption, and I just really don't want to go there. Thanks for the beautiful reminder of Who and What I should be focusing on! God will give us the grace to face what He has called us to.

  36. Excellent post!!! Thank you for being so transparent. This spoke directly to my own fears & my fear of sharing my fears (what a mess, right?). ;o) Grateful, sister!

  37. Melissa, I really needed to read this today. I've been struggling with the exact same thing not only about our adoption, but about some other things about which God is calling us to step out in faith. Thanks for taking the time to share this with all of us and encourage some sisters in the Lord.

  38. Thank you for this. Going through some hard days raising teens, and I, too, have been looking at the people. I so needed this today.

  39. Wow! It IS so hard! And none of us are "good enough", but God walks us thru it.
    I withdrew with one of our adiptions, all of my bloggy friends who had just adopted were painting such a rosey picture--why was I having such a hard time? We need the honesty you posted!

  40. Thank you so much for sharing. We are on a wait-list for two from Ethiopia, which is so exciting, but also daunting. I look at the kids I have and wonder how will I ever be able to parent two more. Thanks for the reminder that it is not about me. I'm so thankful that there is a much bigger story.

  41. I love your honesty in this post. "I have wandered through the desert for three years. But when my eyes finally settled on Canaan, Egypt suddenly seemed so appealing." Oh, how I know the feeling!

  42. As another adopting mama, this post was so encouraging to me. thank you!

  43. I hear the same inner voice in my head about becoming a foster parent. I talk about it - I want it - but until today I didn't want to actually DO anything. Scared I would mess it up, looking at my flaws and using them as an excuse as to why I cannot parent children who need a parent. But today I made the call because I'm trusting God to provide.

    And then I read this and it was like an affirmation - putting my shameful and insecure self talk into words and then rendering that inner voice useless. *thank you*

  44. I was just checking on my kids before bed, and I thought of you and all the oceans deep motherly love you already have, and that God will continue to grow for Bethie.

  45. This is just so. good. Thank you. Thank you for being willing to share even the hard stuff.



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