Monday, January 25, 2010

A look back at our story

 I'm having trouble blogging right now because there is so much going on that I can't share just yet and my heart and mind are all jumbled. So instead of telling you about what's going on right now I thought I'd share a bit of our story....

As a little girl I can remember hearing about children who didn't have a family and my heart went out to them. I didn't even know the word 'orphan' yet, but I knew that one day I wanted to help one of those kids and give them a family. The way I saw it then was that I wanted to bless one of these kids in some way, but what I didn't realize then was that God intended to bless ME through adoption!

In my head I can understand that God calls us all to get involved in the lives of orphans. James 1:27 says "religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress." Not to make this a selfish endeavor, but when we do this He pours His blessing out on US...can you believe how amazing our God is?! Several months ago we clearly heard God's call to adopt, and since then we have had a front row seat to His work! I can't tell you the exact moment that I knew we were supposed to do was more like a gradual awareness of it, and a peace...but at some point Clint and I looked at each other and said we're going to adopt...and we're going to do it now, aren't we?! Maybe that seems anticlimactic but that's how it happened.

Let me back it up a little....  When Clint and I met we felt a spark - a certain something that I couldn't quite figure out. I fought it for a long time but decided to keep praying and seeking God's will for us. Meanwhile, Clint was praying too...we both knew we had to get this right. We were both adamant that this was it...marriage is sacred and there will be no reversing it. I was divorced previously and had seen how devastating that can be first hand. Plus, there were kids watching us...and not just Matthew, but all of the students that both of us were involved with, and we knew we had to be a testimony to God's plan for marriage. Thankfully we both realized that the only way we could do that was to give it completely to God...and so we prayed...and prayed...and prayed...for 6 solid months! I am SO grateful for this time. It not only laid the foundation for our marriage (which is more incredible than I ever could have imagined marriage to be), but it prepared us to hit the ground running. Clint works tirelessly for our students which is a big job. This is a huge blessing to both of us...but it also makes for a crazy life!

Apparently we like 'crazy' though (Matt will quickly agree!), because we found ourselves praying fervently for more kids. Our students are amazing, and they responded by bringing friends to youth group activities and we saw so many new faces at church on a weekly basis...but after 6 months of praying these prayers God threw us a curve ball. He told us that He had even more kids in His plans for us - we just had to go to Kazakhstan!

Obviously this was exciting news! God wanted us to add to our family quickly, and He was doing it in such a super special way. We were thrilled, but we were hit with doubts...and lots of them. How will we be qualified to do this? We've only been married a year. Where are we going to get the money? No adoption agency will want to work with us. Would our families, friends and church support us? We don't speak their will we be able to communicate? And the worst was whether or not we'd be able to love them the same way we love Matt. I'm not proud to admit those things.

The verse God kept bringing me to was this... God will make this happen, for He who calls you is faithful. -1 Thessalonians 5:24... and the reality of it hit me. We can't, but God can...and will. Not because of our goodness or merit, but because He is faithful and wouldn't call us to do something and then leave us hanging. We are flying blind, living day by day in total faith...because that's the only way we can. God intended for us to be up against something so huge that we had to admit there was no possible way that we could make even half of it work - that's the only way that we, as stubborn and sinful humans, would rely on Him completely. And I'm here to say that there is a lot of FREEDOM in that! :)  So here is my probably lame analogy...  I used to be the director of a department that created and ran a big international, multi-million dollar program (my successes had absolutely nothing to do with me, and everything to do with God). While it was awesome to see God work through me that way, it was also an incredibly heavy load to carry - I was the boss and everything that happened (or didn't happen) was my ultimate responsibility. If you've ever been 'the boss' you know what I don't sleep well, and chances are you have ulcers too. The good news is that it's  not like that with God -- we can find peace in knowing that He ultimately takes responsibility for working out all the details, and whether it goes the way we want it to or not, we don't have to lose sleep over it! Yes, I still have to do my part, but at the end of the day I'm not the one truly carrying the load. Thank you God!!

Through our one little step of faith - saying okay to God's calling - we are seeing, in a whole new way, how faithful, loving, sovereign and merciful He really is. He has answered our concerns and quieted our fears with amazing quickness and tenderness. The adoption agency accepted us within hours of receiving our application. Our family, friends and church were thrilled for us...and we found out that God had also called our friends to adopt as well. When the bill for the first big chunk of money arrived we couldn't pay it, so we prayed quickly about it that morning...and by the afternoon more than enough unexpectedly arrived. And the best part was that our hearts quickly began to ache to be able to meet and hold our child!

Faith isn't always easy! In fact, it can be really tough, and it often comes with a cost. But God says "I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness - secret riches." (Isaiah 45:3)  He wants us to do the hard thing and look in the dark and dirty places that aren't easy to get to, because that is where He is at work - and where His treasures are! He may not be calling you to adopt, but He is probably calling you to do something hard this very day, and it is my prayer that you will say yes to Him and receive the treasure that He has for you.

Much love,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Home study draft is DONE!

Whohoo...the forever-long taking, much stress inducing, endlessly prayed about home study draft is finished!

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the home study report is the long document that a social worker drafts about your family after meeting with you approximately 3 times. They are the ones who have all of the verified paperwork and fingerprints that we ran around for over a month to gather (and then waited for 3 months for Matt's final forms to come in). You have to answer all of these questions about how you grew up, what you like to do, how you and your spouse communicate, and every possible question about parenting. Even though you feel like you've written every last detail of your life for this person to look over, when you get the final report you feel like you're reading about a total stranger. It's really weird! Random events from your life, results of police reports (before you call me Mom & Dad, I'm clean!) and little comments that you made here and there are strung together like it's you in a nutshell. As I read it I really wished I had been more's hard to see this stuff in black and white! We had an amazing social worker who, thankfully, liked us and did a great job on the report...but it's really odd all the same. All I could think was, "Yikes, I'm SO lame!"

All of this has just made me even more appreciative that we have such a huge God who still takes the time to know each of us fully, individually, personally and completely. He doesn't rely on some synopsized version of us that He refers to like a doctor's chart (or home study report!) Even more than that, He doesn't expect or require us to be able to speak clearly or eloquently when we present ourselves and our requests to Him. He doesn't really even need words since He knows more about us than we even do ourselves, and yet when He gets them, or our still presence before Him, He translates them into His glorious, perfect words - He cleans us up and makes us beautiful!  I don't ever have to worry that He got the wrong impression of me, but even when I screw up big time and wish He would, He loves me all the same. Sometimes it's at those times when we have made big mistakes that we can feel His loving arms around us most clearly, and He pulls us close and holds us tight and whispers in our ears that He won't let go of us. Thank you so much Lord, that I am not reduced to my ineloquent human words in Your eyes!

Oh Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, oh Lord. -Psalm 139:1-4

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What a weekend!

We had amazing weekend skiing/snowboarding in the mountains of NC. It was so needed, to spend some time with just the three of us, and tons of fun! Matt tried snowboarding for the first time and did great, and I was happy that skiing IS apparently like riding a comes back to you.

                                        Old-school on the right is me :)

After the fun on the slopes we got to spend some time enjoying Boone and Banner Elk.

                    For my friends in GA, yes, that IS solid ice on the left!

                                        Gotta love the mountains!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Medical Records are Here!!

Just want to share with you all what God has done most recently in our adoption...

As many of you know, we completed all of our homestudy except for one piece of information extremely quickly. The only hold out was that Matt's pediatrician had "lost" his shot records. For the past 3 solid months I have called everyone I could think of, and tried every possible way to track down this information...schools, specialists, etc. Nobody could find anything and they all told me how odd it was. 

We were obviously praying about it and felt that God had it and in His perfect timing He would reveal it to us. On Sunday my husband and I felt that we should add this issue to our church's prayer service request list...and yesterday MULTIPLE groups called me to tell me they had the records!! Who says prayer doesn't work?!

I stand in awe of an awesome God who does things that go beyond coincidence even for the most solid of non-believers, and I thank Him for friends who know my God, and can understand and celebrate with me!

May God's hand be on all of your families as well!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

eyes on The Prize

I need to let everyone know that I am not writing this blog because I think I am really wise or in any way qualified to 'teach' you anything. In fact, I struggle with just the opposite and still have to smile at God's calling to be a pastor's wife. :) I am writing it to share my heart in a completely transparent way, and to help me sort through the powerful feelings I am having as we answer the call to adopt. In short, I am doing this to be faithful. If it gets confusing, or messy, or I use bad grammar, or its not funny enough, or you don't like what I have to say -- I am sorry. If you can challenge me biblically, or give me assistance, or add insights of your own -- please do! If you want to ask questions, or hold us accountable, or encourage us, or love us in spite of our flaws -- please do! If there is anything I can do for you, or anything you want me to share about -- please ask!

That being said, here is what has been on my heart for the past few days...

When you are adopting so much of your time and attention are focused on the process that it is so easy to forget that our ultimate "prize" isn't really our child, it's The Child. Please understand, our littlest Brogdon is a most amazing prize and is incredibly wanted and loved less than a child that grows inside me. Those who know me know how much I love being a wife and mom, and I in no way mean to confuse people or lead them to believe that my family isn't extremely important to me. My family is such a cherished gift!  But sometimes I struggle with letting other things in my life come before God. We are clearly called to keep God first...with nothing between us and Him...and sometimes this is easy, when things are obvious. But when its something that is otherwise good, like adoption, the lines are much more blurry...and I struggle with this. Keeping our eyes on Him isn't a selfish request on His's for our benefit...because when we take our eyes off of The Prize to focus on the temporal prize we sink like Peter.

Do we love God more today than we did before? That is the ultimate reason for our journey -- in this adoption story, but in life too -- to get to know Him more, and then to love Him more. Everything else is just "chasing the wind" as Solomon so wisely puts it in Ecclesiastes (thank you Sunday School!). God did not call us to adopt because we are the best parents He could find (I have to laugh at that one!), it was because He wants to deepen our relationship with Him! Through the struggles, setbacks, challenges, excitement and joy, the point is Christ. The other day I looked at the counter at the bottom of the blog and saw that we have been 'waiting' for a little over four months already...and I got discouraged...until I realized that I understand more of His heart than before and I am at least closer to yearning for Him the way I want to.

We are SO blessed to be called to adopt - doubly blessed in fact. Not only is God blessing us with a wonderful new child and member of our family, but He gifts us with a deeper relationship with Him as well. Wow - I stand in awe!

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2

Friday, January 8, 2010

Reminiscing about our wedding...

One year ago this week I married the man of my dreams - he was everything I had on my list (literally), and a whole lot more! God had us wait a long time but we did things completely His way and it has been worth it -- His hand has been felt so strongly on our marriage. I have truly loved every minute of being married to Clint and am so eagerly looking forward to our future together. Who would have thought that before we'd even been married a year we'd be well into an international adoption?!

This week we have been thinking back to the wedding itself and really loving how it happened...  we didn't want a big affair (since most everything we do already leans towards being public), but we didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by leaving them out...and we really wanted our students to be there too. So, right after Clint finished preaching at Uprising (the Wednesday night youth service) we surprised everyone by going straight into our wedding ceremony.  It turned out to be exactly what we wanted -- all about God, just right for us. In the end our only regret was that my family couldn't be there... but other than that it was truly perfect!

I remember the doors opening and walking in with Matt (after hiding in the closet...haha) and seeing my soon-to-be husband at the altar, and all of our awesome students filling the pews on either side of the aisle...really cool. I definitely felt like a movie star because they all had their cell phones our and were taking pictures! :) By the way, those of you who still have photos and videos on your phones, please send them our way!!

Matt, who made my gorgeous bouquet all by himself, was so excited about everything and was with us the whole time. What a huge blessing!

One of the best things about the way we did it was that it didn't dominate our time, attention and thoughts. We were able to keep our focus on God and on our marriage...not the wedding itself.

Signing off, but I'll leave you with a few more photos of our big day...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blurb and a Request

There is this really cool program/website, called Blurb, and with a few clicks it slurps every part of your blog (that you choose) -- posts, pictures, comments and all -- into a beautiful hard-cover book. How easy is that! Since we won't be able to do a traditional baby book, I am hoping to someday take our blog and turn it into our kiddo's version...will hopefully give the little cutie a good sense of how loved and wanted they were from way back before we even met them. :)

So now I have a big favor to ask you, and I'll start off with a compliment (very heartfelt I might add)...  We are so blessed to have such awesome family and friends, particularly since they join us in excitement about our addition of another little one! Your comments, on facebook and by email, are so precious to us... and that is why we would love it if you would leave some as comments on the blog itself. I know it can be a pain to get started but I think the end result will be SO worth it! By all means, keep leaving notes in facebook and commenting to us in person, but maybe add in a blog note once in a while?!

And for those of you that we haven't met yet but are connected to as fellow families on the adoption journey, or just fellow bloggers --your comments are appreciated too. Advice, encouragement, or just knowing you stopped by for a visit, is really nice!

Much love,
Lauren & Clint

Monday, January 4, 2010

Being "Pregnant"

When I was pregnant with Matt I remember feeling different almost immediately...I just knew I was having a baby. Before too long my belly started growing - there was undeniably something going on. That reassuring bump that you look at or just rub your hands on is always with you and provides constant confirmation, to you and the rest of the world, that there is indeed a child on the way. With this "pregnancy" I don't have that luxury, but the child at the end of the journey is just as real, just as wanted and just as loved. This is a hard place to be sometimes because it's easy to doubt that it will ever happen...adoption is not a 9-month-and-done kind of thing.

I have gotten to the point where I just have to start preparing in some visible way...just to keep from feeling like the whole thing is a dream. So whether it's crazy or not we have started to get our house ready for our growing family!

I have always wanted an old wooden highchair but couldn't find one. Well, my awesome husband (with the help of my fabulous mother-in-law Marie) found me one for Christmas! Matt seems to like it...wonder if we'll have any jealousy issues.... :)  Over the next few weeks I'll post some more pics of stuff we are doing to get ready, so stay tuned....

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Praying that 2010 will see amazing things happening in the lives of our friends, family and others on this amazing adoption journey! May God bless you immensely in this new year!

Much love,
Lauren & Clint (Matt too!)