That's the point...
...and we're all about it
getting comfortable being uncomfortable
This was the first trip of two required from the Armenian government, the first trip for bonding and the second to attend court and make the adoption official. In a typical adoption season, the span of time between the two trips is about six weeks.
But…you all know what happened next.
Shortly after arriving home in February of 2020, the whole world shut down.
We were heartbroken. We were separated from our daughter by half a world and we had no timeline of if and when we’d be able to bring her home.
Courage is a funny thing when you’re standing in broken places, right? Faith becomes foundational when you have nothing but Jesus to stand on. Learning to walk through hardship produces a peculiar glory; it’s refining and transformative to recognize that our God is the same God on the mountaintop as He is the valley. It’s fundamentally transformative to shift from believing in God, to believing God. Believing He is who He says He is. Believing His promises are true. Believing that His panoramic will smash the Polaroid of the moment, every single time. Circumstances don’t change Him….but he can certainly uses them to change us.
Has anyone ever heard of the Lenton Rose? Now, I’m a newly-minted indoor plant mom – that was a Covid hobby I took up and I’ll tell you what, it’s addictive (just ask my husband….and the 20ish indoor plants taking over our house) – but what is interesting to me about this particular rose is that it blooms in the winter. It’s tolerant to the cold and literally cannot blossom without it.
It gives beauty in a season usually devoid of new life.
It has a soft outer appearance but make no mistake – it’s tough as nails.
I think the Lenten rose is the perfect example of how God uses uncomfortable and difficult seasons in our lives to grow beautiful, deep intimacy in our walk with Him. He uses them to grow fruit and create buds of new life that couldn’t grow without these seasons of winter in our lives.
That’s radical, right?
Our humanity doesn’t like that.
This reminds me of Joshua 10 where Joshua is battling the Amorites and prayed for the sun to stand still in the sky so that he had time to defeat his enemies. When I read that story it always stands out to me that he prayed for the lengthened day. He asked for the sun to stand still. That’s unexpected, right?! How many of us would pray for the lengthened day over the immediate end to the battle?! That's unusual. That’s a bold prayer.
And it’s so significant to me that God granted him what he asked for and that Joshua had to stay in the battle. He didn’t get a free pass from the hard he was currently walking through. God equipped Him for the moment he was in, but he had to keep walking it out.
This is it, right? We get stuck here.
We want the victory, not the lengthened day. We want a quick fix to end the suffering, but we forget that our God is the God of the Lenten rose; growing new life in seasons of deep winter.
For me, it was in this season of winter that taught me how to abide. Abide literally means to take residence inside of; I learned to find shelter in our God. He used one of the hardest seasons my husband and I have ever walked through to growing the budding fruit of surrender. I learned to be still in His presence. I learned that bold strength stands on the shoulders of quiet trust. He used that season of discomfort to grow in me fruits that couldn’t have grown without it.
Six weeks turned to eight months and in October of 2020, we did return to Armenia. We took our (then) family of six around the world to bring Ember home and lived overseas for a month. By God's grace, we brought our family back to America just before Thanksgiving. Our daughter was the only Armenian orphan adopted to the United States in 2020.
I had no idea then how God was using that season of pruning – of refinement -- to prepare me for what only He knew was to come, in the fall of 2021.
I am a former public school teacher. I taught for fourteen years, before resigning my position in September of 2021, because of deep personal conviction – for both myself and for my children. I pulled my three oldest kids from public school and when I left the district I had no idea what God had for me. I just knew he was telling me to go. The incredible thing about growing in relationship with our God is that when we learn to recognize the voice of His Spirit in the small things, it makes the big leaps so much easier to take. I was willing to jump off the cliff without knowing the landing, because I trusted the One who Created them both.
When I left my career last fall and stepped into a season of complete and absolute uncertainty, there was a lot that was unclear. But what was crystal clear was this truth: I am an Image Bearer of my King, He created me to be LIGHT, and I can trust Him to be both the foot lamp and the floodlight as He illuminates each step He asks me to take.
Today, the Hundred Acre Academy is a thriving community of learners. Our deepest desire is to equip and disciple each one of our students in the knowledge of who they are in Christ; and to empower them to walk in the freedom they have because of their Savior. God took a whispered, hesitant yes and multiplied the blessing.
God has illuminated what was dark with his LIGHT….and now we get to run with the torch He has given us.
We engage our culture as the hands and feet of Jesus – our minds, hearts and hands. We live in the awesome, unfathomable and undeserved reality that we are loved by God, adopted by God and forgiven by Christ. We are children of the light.
We stand for one another, boldly and in His name, because....
Courage is Catching
To begin, I'm going to have to rewind to the year 2020 and transport us across the ocean to the tiny country of Armenia.
Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know where it is – I didn’t know where it was either -- until we began the process of adopting our youngest daughter, Ember, from there in 2019. It's nestled between Turkey and Azerbaijan, also bordering Georgia and Iran. It’s a tiny country with a tiny population, but it has a large number of waiting orphans with special needs....and that is ultimately what led us there.
At the end of January 2020, my husband and I boarded a plane and traveled 31 hours around the world to meet our daughter for the first time. Our daughter had spent the last fourteen months of her life in an orphanage, after being relinquished at birth because of a Down syndrome diagnosis. During that first trip to Armenia, my husband I spent ten days with her at her orphanage – getting to know our girl, growing trust and planting the seeds of relationship. We fell in love instantly.
This is important. This place of discomfort where nothing is quite like we'd planned and the world around us looks distinctly uncomfortable.
That sounds about right.
"In this world you will have trouble..."
We can expect the discomfort, because our God has explicitly told us it's coming. But we do not have to fear it. Rather, we were created for it.
God has rooted you in this moment. Stand tall in it.
God has allowed some rough waves to crash over the side of my boat in the past few years, and through each storm He has grown me.
I want to tell you my story, because this is the story of Hundred Acre, and it all points to Him.