Monday, June 11, 2012

Praying over crazy big possibilities!

My sis and I are sitting here at a coffee shop that we decided to bunker down at this morning and knock out some work after we dropped our boys off at their first ever Vacation Bible School. If you're a mama, than I'm sure you can relate... It's about efficiency really, we have a precious three hour child-free window to accomplish as much as possible and there's no use in wasting any of that time driving all the way home and back again. Not to mention, who doesn't love to surround themselves with the aroma of coffee and the company of their sister?!

So I've decided to start this blog post well aware of the fact I won't come close to finishing it here at the coffee shop given that I only have 15 minutes left out of my 3 hour child-free window (my oh my, where has the time gone?!)  But, I figured I would get a head start on writing this because my gut tells me it's gonna be a doozy of a post (you know the kind...where you write a sentence and then delete two sentences because it just doesn't seem to truly convey what is stirring in your heart?!) Well I think this is gonna be one of "those" posts. Why you ask?!

Well you see, Joshua and I have been praying hard the last three months! We've been praying over crazy big possibilities that have presented themselves to us and we've been seeking His direction on what our response should be to these possibilities! .....  (And here we are folks, 15 minutes is up and I only got this far.  My sweet boy needs to be picked up at VBS, BUT I will continue later today as soon as I get home and find some down time. I didn't plow through nearly as much of this post as I had hoped, in my head I like to think I'm a super fast speed writer, but in real life... not so much!)

Okay, I'm back! How was that for a cliff hanger?! Oh yeah, that's right... you didn't have to wait, you get to just keep on reading! Lucky you. (o;

So, like I said... past three months... been praying hard! You see, back in March we had a conversation with some wonderful friends of ours, The McBride's. You've probably heard me talk about them as I've been blessed with Mitzi's friendship and privileged to see God at work in her family's life over the past 2 1/2 years. I'm beyond thankful to have had a front row seat in watching God clearly answer their prayers and lead their family to Africa to work for Lifesong Zambia almost one year ago this July.

Let me give you a little history first before I dive in... There are several super cool things about my friendship with Mitzi and it started before I even met her... it's one of those rare moments in life where in hindsight you can see that God clearly meant for two paths to cross! Shortly after Joshua and I made the decision to jump into the unknown world of adoption, when I knew NO ONE else that was adopting or had adopted, when I was desperately praying for a friend that was in this journey too, I had two different people mention to me that we should really meet the McBride family. One of which was the UPS guy down the street where we printed our very first letter announcing that we were going to start the adoption process. I figured if the UPS guy thought I should meet the McBride's... maybe God was trying to tell me something!?! So I did what every "normal" person does and "facebook stalked" Mitzi (that's "normal" right?!) Totally to my surprise, as I was looking through her photo albums I noticed that her and  Shane were from East Tennessee (which is where Joshua and I met, got married, and lived before moving to Dallas) and both of them had in fact gone to Carson Newman, Tusculum College's main rival (where Joshua went to college)?! Both schools are pretty small Christian colleges that typically no one has ever heard of! What a crazy small world, right?! One thing lead to another and I was in touch with Mitzi and knew right away that she was my kinda gal! Down to earth, loves the Lord, loves Tennessee and good cookin', great mama, and just an easy stress-free friend! Truly, she was an answer to prayer! An added perk was she was a pro when it came to the adoption world! At the time, her and Shane were working for a division of Campus Crusade called Hope for Orphans, they had two bio kids and an adopted son from Ethiopia (Hannah's Hope mind you, where Isa will be from!). So during the paper chase phase of our adoption, whether Mitzi liked it or not, she was my go to gal with questions! And she always patiently walked me through all the nitty gritty details of the endless stack of confusing required documentations.

Flash forward to February 2011 and Mitzi, Courtney, and I made a road trip to Atlanta together for the Created for Care adoption retreat. My theory is, once you spend 12+ hours in a car with someone, you're either automatically gonna love them or hate them... and I walked away from that road trip and loved both Mitzi and Courtney all the more! I was able to see Christ shine in both of them and I knew that God had blessed me with two amazing, God-fearing, friends who "got me" and made me want to be a better example of Christ in the world. It's not every day you find those kind of people in your life! Mitzi and I shared on that trip that we both thought adoption was just the tip of the iceberg of God's story and we both felt like eventually, in time, we saw our families in Africa. We both had NO IDEA when or how we would get there, we just felt the burden to go. I think we even halfheartedly joked that maybe we'd go to Africa together one day!
Courtney, Mitzi, myself, and Lara at the Created for Care Retreat Feb '11

Little did Mitzi know that it wouldn't be long at all before God got to work at opening one door after another door for the McBride's to actually be in Africa (we were both thinking we had like a 5 year time frame, ha!)! She had no idea it was going to be that following July that they would pack up and move, but God made it pretty stinking clear that this is when He wanted them to go! I won't get into all the details for the sake of keeping this post from becoming a novel, BUT you can read more about their incredible journey HERE! Truly, from an outsiders prospective, it was such a privilege to watch and see them be obedient and faithful to say YES even when it stretched them and even when they didn't have all the answeres! The point of this not so brief history of how God brought the McBride's into our lives, is so that you know- I truly do believe that God is in the details. I have no doubt He's weaving together a beautiful big God-size story through the little every day occurrences in life. Even a casual passing conversation with the UPS guy... Even when we're praying along side of someone else and we have no idea that their story may also be our story too?! (o;
So, the McBride family courageously moved to Zambia last July and took on the HUGE task of heading up the Lifesong Zambia school. They have made tremendous progress with the educational programs and even more of an impact relationally with the Zambian staff! Currently the Lifesong Zambia School only goes through grade seven BUT they're expanding! You can read all about it HERE! It's good stuff that makes my heart beat fast and leaves me with a permanent smile on my face! Here's a glimpse into the Lifesong Zambia School, check it out! 

Zambia November 2010 from Lifesong for Orphans on Vimeo.

 So that leads me to the exciting and big news that Joshua and I have been laying at God's feet over the last three months! The McBride's approached Joshua and I about the possibility of joining them there in Zambia! With the launch of the high school, they're are in need of an American teacher/leader that is willing to partner with a Zambian teacher/leader to help head up the high school portion of the school! We've skyped a couple times with the McBride's and we've emailed back and forth numerous times over what the job would most likely entail, and truthfully, it sounds like a perfect fit for Joshua! Discipleship and mentoring as well as curriculum development and teaching are right up my man's alley! The fact that the McBride's are already there and blazing the trail for us, brings peace to this mama's soul. The little "contingencies" I let God know about after returning from Uganda about how He would get our family to Africa, are surprisingly all being met with this particular opportunity! Which makes me smile because that's just the way God works! Now, all that being said... this is by no means a done deal!

The time frame of it all, at this point, is the main thing that is up in the air. You see, this whole possibility panning out, is all really contingent on when we bring Isa home, how he's doing,  and how our family is functioning! That's a pretty big unknown, and we totally get that, but it's our number one priority!!! And so we're praying through what that might look like and trusting that the Lord will be clear if this is a step we should take as a family! That being said, so far, we have not hit any red flags or road blocks that scream, "No! This is not meant for your family!" If fact, every time I've been overwhelmed at the thought and begged God for clarity, He has answered in unique ways confirming that we should just keep taking one step forward at a time. I can guarantee one thing and it's that I will continue to plead with God to be a burning bush and speak loud and clear as to what His will is for our family! WE ONLY WANT TO GO WHERE GOD IS LEADING US!

The reoccurring answer to our prayer is, "Keep taking one step forward at a time unless I tell you to stop". To which we say, "Okay Lord! You've proven to be faithful over and over again throughout this journey! We will trust you!" So you might be wondering what this "next step" is... at this point it appears to be making a trip to Zambia to check it all out for ourselves! After much thought and discussion, the best time for us to make this trip, not to mention the most cost effective way, is for Joshua and I to go to Zambia on our way to Ethiopia when we travel for our first court trip to meet Isa. Of course, at this point, we don't know when that's going to be. BUT it's our game plan as of now! We've talked it over with both our social worker and our agency case worker, and they both agree that the best time to make such a trip is the front end of our first trip. Our prayer is that this visit will help provide clarity if in fact Zambia is where God wants to use us and if we can see our family there. 

Sigh, this does mean that before too long, we're going to have to start what appears to be the never ending process of fundraising again to help cover the cost of the additional leg of the flights for Joshua and I. So my apologies in advance if you're tired of seeing my homemade Africa tee-shirts or whatever other kind of creative little thing I can whip up to help bring in the extra money! I promise I'll do my best to make cute things that you actually want to buy! (o; Please also know that both Joshua and I are taking on any extra work we can to help bring in money! Joshua is actually in Utah right now for the week doing this AP Reader thing that will bring in an additional $1500 that we'll put towards the tickets and he's continuing to mow several yards in our cul-de-sac. I'll put any additional money I'm able to bring in with photography and dog sitting toward it as well! I don't have a set amount at this time that I know the airfare is going to cost us because I just don't know exactly when we'll be traveling- so my game plan is just to try and build up a cushion in our adoption savings account and trust that it'll be what we need to cover the flights!

Deep breath, okay so this whole thing is just so much bigger than us, and I get overwhelmed & humbled every time I think that God would use plain ole' Joshua and Hilary as a part of such an amazing story! Even if this entire thing doesn't pan out the way we think it might and His plans are something totally different, I'm cool with that, I'm just privileged to be used in whatever capacity! All I know is that I want to be obedient and keep taking one step forward at a time unless He tells us to stop. And so we'd ask that you too would pray for us... That we would be keenly aware of God's direction and agenda, that we would have the courage to get uncomfortable when we need to, that God would prepare our family for whatever lies ahead, that God would bring Isa home in just His perfect timing and that we would know without a shadow of a doubt what the best thing to do for our family is! We are beyond grateful for your prayers and support, thank you!

I'm excited to wait and see how this whole things unfolds! God sure does write the best stories! (o;