Sometimes the question arises at a church event, and sometimes at a birthday party, but on this particular day, the question popped up at Chickfila.
"Is he your biological son?"
Most people that see me with just Gabriel assume he has my dark hair, but when you sit his gorgeous brown skin next to his sisters', you tend to get a few questions. I smiled at the sweet lady asking. "Yes, he is my son, but no he isn't my biological child-we were blessed to adopt him. His birth mother is an amazing woman!" Most often, the conversation will end there, but this particular lady continued, "Do you mind if I ask why you adopted him?" This is the question that isn't so cut and dry. Seeing as how we were in a noisy place and she had to get back to work soon, I gave her the simple answer: "We just really felt like the Lord called us to..." But my answer was followed up by a question I've not been asked before: "What exactly does that mean--that you were 'called' to adopt.
Now that's a powerful question!
I didn't get to go into full detail in the limited amount of time we had to speak, but that woman's question has resonated in my head as I look back at how God has been writing our story...
Years ago, on a day much like today, you could have easily found me in tears--the type of tears that come from deep within you and hurt just as much to let go of as they do to hold inside of you. It wasn't a pretty place, and I certainly didn't always handle it as well as I should have. But in those dark moments, the Lord was working. He was using my pain to bring me to the place I would need to be to be able to accept what He knew my desires really were. My idea of expanding our family meant me getting pregnant, and yet, if the Lord would have allowed me my want, my plan, I would never have had my son in my arms--the child that my heart was longing for but that I had no idea would come to me in such a beautiful and unique way...but God knew, and so God worked. He worked in Gabriel's birthmother's life to guide her to us; He worked in our family's lives to guide us to the agency that Rachel would choose; and He worked in the lives of so many dear family and friends who accompanied us on our journey in so very many different ways.
But our journey didn't end there. As we trusted in HIS perfect plan for our lives, God allowed a desire of our heart to come to fruition, and He revealed that to us exactly one year ago (I started this entry on August 15.) On August 15, 2013, I found out that I was pregnant. We were shocked, and humbled, and yes, a bit overwhelmed! But most importantly, we were reminded of God's goodness...not goodness because He did something that WE wanted. No, goodness in a much more perfect way. Let me try to explain...
A precious friend of mine offered to watch our kiddos one evening so that DH and I could go on a date. We laugh at our "dates," because we usually spend them running errands for the kids, but we enjoy shopping together, and getting to sit through a nice dinner without any tantrums or interruptions and just focus on each other is so nice, and it's a needed time for us to recharge. (As a side note, someone recently asked me if I had a job. As I was responding, DH quickly interjected, "Oh yes! She has a VERY full time job here at home!" I'm so thankful for a husband who recognizes that I'm trying to accomplish what God has called me to do!) We went to one of our very favorite restaurants, and our dinner concluded with fortune cookies. Now, I certainly don't put any stock in a fortune cookie, but I often find that the words inside that crunchy cookie resonate with me in some way, and this one did just that:
"Good news is coming your way."
DH and I laughed about it a bit: I wonder if we will get a call that all of our recent medical debt has been forgiven?! I couldn't help but think of the fact that a year ago we certainly had received some very good news with finding out we were expecting Annie. But the more I reflected on "good" news coming my way, the more I realized how good news is a lot like a fortune cookie--we envision it neatly packaged like a perfectly shaped cookie, but to be able to receive what's inside, we have to break that cookie, and just like you can see in the picture of my cookie, it often crumbles. You see, when I think of the miracle of finding out we were expecting Lucy, I can't help but think of the cancer the doctors found in my husband's body just months before that "good" news, or my daddy's passing just months after learning of that "good" news. And when I think of the incredible joy of bringing Gabriel into our home, I can't help but think of the grief his birthmother has endured. And when I think of the "good" news of Annie being added to our family, I can't help but think of all of the stresses that were surrounding our family in the months leading up to such "good" news. These things come to mind, because I am reminded how easily we allow trials to change our perception of God. We say, "God is good!" when a friend is healed from cancer. We say "God is so good!" when someone lands a new and exciting job. We say, "God is so good!" when we get pregnant after years of trying. Basically, we say, "God is good!" when He allows into my life what I consider to be good. BUT, God's goodness is not measured by MY standards, and it is not based upon MY desires, and it is certainly not in need of MY approval!
What if His goodness IS a cancer diagnosis that will draw someone closer to Christ?
What if God's goodness IS a difficult job that leaves us dependent on Him for strength and financial provisions?
What if God's goodness IS in a couple's struggle with infertility by them not experiencing the heartbreak of a possible miscarriage, or it bringing about the ability to soften their heart towards their true calling to adopt, or in them having the time to invest in children who desperately need a mother and father figure in their lives?
Isaiah 55:8-9 says this:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts."
This means that God's ways are beyond what I can comprehend. But just because I cannot comprehend it does not change the fact that He IS good, all the time. No, His goodness does not rest on my approval. However, His goodness is felt when I will surrender to His ways and lay down my own. His goodness exists even when I cannot see it, but oh, how He desires for me to experience it! L.B. Cowman once said that "The best things in life are the result of being wounded...And it is a broken heart that pleases God."
That long journey that I was on that was filled with so much heartache? It taught me dependance and trust and satisfaction in the Lord my God; it allowed me to experience the comfort of my Saviour; it broadened my view of His faithfulness; and, it now echos of the goodness of my Lord.
So when you hear me say that "God is good" when I'm referring to something exciting going on in our lives, or when I'm rejoicing with someone else in exciting news of their own, please don't confuse what I'm saying. I don't mean that He is only good by my own standards. I really do believe He is good all the time-in those happy times, and in those sad times, and yes, even when my world seems to be falling a part into pieces. So, I'm not sure what "good news" may be coming my way this week, but I pray that I can respond with praise, even if the cookie crumbles...