Tuesday, September 2, 2008

2 Years Ago....(and the story keeps getting better!)

....we held Libby for the first time, on Sept 4, 2006. To get to that point we completed seven months of paperwork and then waited a LONG 15 months full of emotional highs and lows before boarding a plane headed to the other side of the world. And truly - the whole experience was "other worldly" for us. We were first time parents bringing a nine month old baby girl back across the globe to start a whole new life. We had no idea what we were doing and we certainly had no idea how Libby would change our lives forever. We knew we loved Libby before we ever saw her picture. When we saw her picture we loved her even more and were relieved that she was healthy and astounded by her BEAUTY! At first site face to face - we were blubbering like babies because the word "love" was not sufficient enough to describe the emotion and miracle that God poured out on us in that very moment.

At 9 months of age Libby was terrified at her first site of us. She was pale, sweaty, obviously tired and VERY HUNGRY! But so adorable! We, of course, did not know all her cries yet or how to understand what emotion she was expressing. But thinking back to that cry - now that I really know her cries - she was truly terrified. She is a cautious baby girl when she meets new people - even to this day. So to meet 2 white people (one of which is tall and bald with an intimidating goatee) who were immediately taking her out of her nanny's arms - she was just scared out of her wits. She cried for so long. We just held her and stared at her - we studied her every move, sound, expression. She was the most beautiful masterpiece God ever created and so deserved our awe and amazement.

Within hours Billy was comforting her with a bottle and making her laugh. Today that has new meaning because we know now just how much Libby LOVES to have fun! We were eager every morning to see her wake up. It was fun learning her schedule - when she would rise and when she would crash. The first morning, in particular, we were concerned about how she would react to waking up and remembering that she was with us and not at the orphanage. But God did a work in Libby that first night and when she woke, she smiled as if she knew the difference already.

One of the things I miss the most about our time in China is when I carried Libby in the Baby Bjorn. All day, every day as we walked around town and shopped I could sense Libby's sweet face looking up at me as her eyes studied every speck of my face. I would look down and stare deep into her eyes and smile - reminding her that we were a permanent part of her lives from this point forward. I miss those stares! She really saw me and I really saw her - soul to soul.

When we were waiting to discover who Libby was I struggled with some of the deepest fears about becoming a mother. I'll never forget when the Lord, through His Word, spoke a promise to me that Libby would be "a joy and delight". I was comforted incredibly with those words. And God has been faithful to His promise. If I had to describe Libby in two words - those are the words I would use - Joy and Delight! As I have come to know her deeply her joy has become a constant delight to me.

God has used Libby to open our eyes to so many truths about His own love for us. I continue to be overwhelmed by the thought that the One True God in all His power and majesty loves me and loves my daughter MORE than I love my daughter! I know her cries because I listen to her all day. I know when she wakes and when she sleeps and I know her joy and her disposition because I watch her all day, every day. But still, God loves so much more. How is that possible? This is the greatest mystery.

Well - maybe the greatest mystery is how He could plan, before the foundations of the world, to create such a perfect baby girl for our family to come from across a vast ocean and then fulfill the promise that He would bond her - an otherwise total stranger - to us. Perhaps a greater mystery is how Libby's inheritance could be so completely transformed in that one special moment of grasping her into our arms and hearts- She went from being a lonely, seemingly hopeless orphan to a child of the King of Kings with the gifts of family, love, belonging, hope AND a future - both on earth and eternity in that one second. So - maybe an even greater mystery is that He pursues us in much the same way. Jesus left glory, became poor, lived in this sinful world without a place to lay his head, was rejected by mankind and died a brutal death on the cross to pay the debt of our sin and conquered the sting of death when he rose from the grave- all just to rescue us - the sinful, selfish people who were the very cause of His lonely, gruesome death. He loved us while we were still sinners. How can this be? We had nothing to give so He gave it all and made us His own. Now that's an adoption story!

Just as I believe Libby will grow up with gratitude in her heart for what God put in our hearts to do for her - so I must live in a way that shows gratitude to my Father who rescued me. The only way we knew how to do that was to do for someone what He did for us. We adopted Libby and now we are adopting again. We're just doing what we see the Father do. We don't deserve a cookie or extra blessing for that. It was just our duty as followers of Jesus. He said, "Follow me." And we followed. And though we deserve no extra blessing for that - he showers them on us anyway - through her - Libby Song.

For anyone wondering if this is a road they should travel - the road of adoption - I don't know the answer for you. But I can tell you that the beautiful, miraculous work of adoption will draw you near to God in ways you could never expect. If His heart is truly to be close to "the least of these" and to bless the "poor in spirit" or to "defend the cause of the Fatherless" then please know that as you do the work of the Kingdom of God you will find HIM to be more intimate, loving, faithful, powerful, compassionate, and near to you than you thought possible on this earth. Every cost of following Him in this journey is worthwhile.

If you haven't been convinced yet... let me share with you a special story about how Jesus has used Libby to reveal to me His love for me and His love for her recently.

In the last several months I have become quite bogged down with the burdens of this world and I've been feeling angry - sometimes for no obvious reason. I shared with Billy on several occasions that I needed his prayers as I ask the Lord to show me the root of my anger. I was ready to be done with it, but just didn't know how. Last night I was particularly frustrated with Libby because I kept asking her to stop jumping on the nap-mat I was trying to fix for her first day of "Mom's Day Out". She wouldn't stop and in an effort to finish the task I continued to work without stopping to deal with her disobedience. So she kept on jumping on the nap-mat and inside I could feel the anger rise in me each time she ignored my words. She went to bed that night frustrated with me and I was frustrated with her. When I laid down to go to sleep I confessed all this to the Lord and begged for His mercy and grace over Libby and I both.

That night I had a second dream about a person of significance in my earlier years of life. The first time I had this dream, several weeks before, I woke up with my stomach in knots. How this person in my dream treated me when I was trying to talk with her and do for her, was so hurtful to me, but I couldn't completely understand why the hurt went so deep. Last night I dreamed basically the same dream again and the Lord began to show me why it hurt so much. I can't go into all the details here - for the sake of time and the sake of this person who just didn't know any better - but just know that it was the first time I realized that I had been carrying around a lot of hurt over not being heard and not being seen during a significant time in my life. I don't know what all the "Love Languages" are according to Gary Smalley - but my love language is apparently "being heard"a. If I know I'm heard and seen - I know I'm loved. If I feel unheard and unseen - I feel unloved. I went back to sleep asking the Lord to reveal to me the depth of this hurt and to set me free from it.

I woke this morning, still juggling the dream around in my head. I dropped my sweet Libby off at school and went to the gym. As I jogged, I listened to a worship CD and began asking the Lord again to set me free and show me what he had started to reveal in this dream.

And then - the Lord did just that. My mind went back to the times I tried to share my thoughts - in words or in actions - with various people in my life only to find that I would not be heard and would not even be acknowledged as I acted out my frustration from not being heard. The Lord revealed to me the generational nature of this and began to show me that I have believed, since that time, that I was not loved enough to be truly seen or heard - even by Him. It's hard to explain how big this revelation was to me. It affected every area of my life - from how I've been choosing (or not choosing) my friends based on who I thought would listen to me, to how hurt I felt when Libby or Billy didn't listen to me (hence my deep frustration with Libby the night before)- to all the years of vocal trouble I had (which God revealed to me was bc I had come to a point of thinking that if no one else really wanted to hear then I didn't want to hear myself - what would be the point). This was indeed huge! I was being set free in that very moment from a stronghold I was not even aware of just days before. The Lord even revealed to me that I had been putting the impossible expectation on Billy to know my thoughts before I even said them - now that sounds crazy, doesn't it? I truly had the romantic notion that to be really loved meant that Billy could look at me from across a room and know exactly what I felt or needed. So ridiculous right?

But wait - that's something we all want - to be known - really known. But God, in His love for us, has reserved that ability for Himself alone! All this time, what I have expected from family, friends and especially Billy was the thing that God wanted me to come to Him for and Him alone. We know from Scripture that He knows our thoughts before we even have them. He knows the number of hairs on our head. He collects our tears in a bottle and has recorded all our days. He is intimately acquainted with me - with you. So here I was in the gym and then, later, in my car fully grasping the kind of love God has for me - the kind of love that really sees me - that really hears me and I'm crying like a baby - in gratitude, in great joy. (I'm sure everyone around me thought I was crazy - a smiling, sobbing crazy woman!) And I'm reminded that as much as I love Libby - I will never know her like God knows her. As much as I am intimately acquainted with Billy - I will never know him like God knows him. And neither of them can fulfill that role for me either. And I began to realize - if I am set free from this unbelief that God really hears and sees me - and I truly believe that He does indeed see me and hear me - I don't have to be angry anymore - I'm heard, I'm loved and I'm satisfied in Him. No one has to make that happen for me anymore! Oh - there is so much freedom in that!

And in case that's not convincing enough--- as I sat in my car pondering all of this I picked up my "One Year Bible" which has certain passages for each day of the year. I turn to today's passage - Sept. 2 - and I read this, "At just the right time I heard you...Indeed, the 'right time' is now. Today is the day of salvation." II Corinthians 6:2 As you can imagine - the sobbing began again. I couldn't believe how perfectly God placed this word before me. The passage goes on as Paul is explaining to the Corinthians that he doesn't want them to waist the gift God has given them and that he also doesn't want them to close their hearts to him.

And in that moment I realize that I've been doing just that - I've been closing my heart to those dearest to me and even to God Himself. Out of the hurt of assuming that I wasn't heard or seen I just stopped sharing, stopped approaching, stopped letting people in. And this was the moment that I, by God's mercy and love, was being set free from that dreadful chain of unbelief. Not only did God see and hear me - but He planned before the beginning of time for me to read THAT PASSAGE on THAT DAY - so I would know how specific his love is for ME!

And if that isn't moving enough - I met up with Billy and shared with him this whole story after lunch. We cried together and sat amazed thinking of the way the Lord set this entire day up for this beautiful revelation. And then, Billy gently said, "I'm so glad this happened today because as you drove out of the driveway today I was thinking, 'I'll never be able to satisfy her the way she needs.' He was carrying around the great, horrible burden of my impossible expectation and I didn't even know it. But on THAT DAY - THIS DAY - I was set free and so - Billy was set free too.

I can not express the freedom I feel today - the comfort in knowing I don't have to struggle to be heard - the joy in knowing I am heard and seen by the King of Kings - the rest in knowing how different my prayer life will be in believing I am heard - the healing in knowing my husband doesn't have to struggle under the weight of my sinful expectations- AND - the joy of embracing motherhood for what it is. It is the journey of knowing Libby - the joy of really seeing her and hearing her the best the Lord will allow as I turn the table on the enemy who would rather me cycle through the curses over my life before this day - and then - the joy of teaching her the wonderful truths of how her Heavenly Father knows her - her every thought, her every move, and yes - - - Oh Yes - even the life she had in those 9 months before we took her in our arms. Every thing she will one day wish she could know about her past that I cannot ever have the ability to know or share with her - Her FATHER knows........And He has reserved the right to that knowledge for Himself so that she will be drawn to Him - the one who knows what she can not even know about herself. What a mysterious and yet completely comforting love He has for us.

Now does that make you cry or what!? I'm blubbering again.. gotta find the tissue and sleep under my Father's banner of love over me tonight!

The King Who Rescues The Weak And Takes Them To Be His Own Is The King Who Sees You and Hears You. It Is Impossible To Hide From Him! May He Be Your Strength and Joy As He Rescues You!


Shannon said...

Wow! Our Father is so faithful to us! Thank you for sharing your heart. This was great reading material for me while I was awake almost all night--gotta love insomnia. Thanks again for sharing:-)

Holly said...

What a wondrous story, Cindy. I have no words, just tears...and joy...and a prayerful heart that today (everyday) will be a day of salvation.

What a blessed family you are.

Love and prayers,

Wendy said...

The nanny in your photo was one of the nannies who brought us Larkyn.. Happy Anniversary!!!

As for your dream.. once again our creator in his simplest of ways has shown us the way

Enjoy your day

Burkhalter Ministry said...

Wow, Cindy...so awesome how God is.. your story challenges me to seek the Father, that he will reveal the source of some of my struggles. I appreciate you sharing how He spoke to you, and healed you.

I too think my middle daughter has a great desire to be seen and heard.. sometimes it is overwhelming to give all three my undivided attention... I desire for her to know that she is seen and loved..

Thanks again,

kristin said...

I will read this will full consentration when I have time, I wanted to let you know I got your message though! Thank you for thinking of me!

Katie Kyle said...

I don't even know what to say other than thank you. Your words are a greater source of encouragement today than I can even begin to articulate. Our God...wow.

Look forward to seeing you at IGo in November. Thanks again!

Katie Kyle

Alli said...

I can relate as I am a "smiling, sobbing crazy woman" too in the presence of God's revelation! Thank you for typing all of that out. Love that! This is so neat because a theme over my life for the past two weeks has been that my God IS the God who sees. You are heard and you are loved, my friend! So blessed to have you as a friend and sister-in-Christ! Love, Alli