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Freedom and Good

As the days slip by, our pick-up tickets bought, their rooms ready, both children ready to say goodbye to where they are now, majorly, I think about this journey of adoption, and the greatest thing I feel when looking back over the past few months that almost make up a year is, surprise.We are surprised at this journey, we thought it was going to be different than what it was, and is.I have shared here before where Andrew and I had to bring ourselves, had to prepared our hearts before we said yes to a commitment to adopting Maria, or then, known as Maya.  In the middle of the night, we sat up together, having wrestled with this, had already sent an email saying there is no way we could pursue this adoption to an agency we had previously contacted, and we talked.  And we realized that if we committed to adopt this child, a stranger to us, 10 years old, that our lives would be very different, the road would be hard, and we need to put ourselves in a place where we were ok with losing literally everything we hold dear; our friends, our perfect little family, all our finances, every idol that we clutched to on a daily basis, because God said go–and it was time to decide what is really first in our lives.  Somehow, we don’t know how, somehow we pushed through our fear long enough to say a real yes, because of the hope of knowing God really is good, and the evidence of it in our life.  These were the first whispers of freedom–letting go, we just didn’t know it yet.

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If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

//Matthew 6:30// message
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Which brings me to our surprise–I thought we would be tangled in worry and fretting about the magnitude of this task–but instead we had

freedom.

When we dove into God’s plan, and were incapable of obsessing about ourselves, our comfort, our objects and getting, we experienced the next few stages of freedom.  The first moments that God took joy in providing for us, and we saw and were in awe.  “Wow, God…”

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 
 // Galatians 5:13 //

I was suprised at this journey of adoption because of the amount of freedom it brought to our lives, real, tangible freedom that we feel and experience every day.  I’ll do my best to share a little of some ways freedom is part of our lives now, where it wasn’t before.

America is pretty intense, our priorities, our media, our desires and it can grab anyone without any of us knowing it, and we are living to gain. This year, we have been spending a lot of time in two different, very different countries.

One country is in many ways lacking, it’s hurting, being crushed spiritually.  Birth rates are declining due to unhealthy lifestyles, the littlest, tiniest hurting the most.  It’s not only financial poverty, but a type much more robbing.
But, it also opened my eyes to here.  We have so much stuff, it’s actually hurting us, taking away from our relationships.  So much food, people are sick and dying.  People are drowning in debt, kids have so many toys they don’t know how to play: “An avalanche of toys invites emotional disconnect and a sense of overwhelm,” Dr. Payne, who actually recommends getting rid of most of your toys. Rooms on pinterest are appealing because there are no piles of stuff.

But, sadly, that’s another reason we almost said no, how could we afford it when we had our stuff to take care of, and needed other stuff, and what if something happens to the stuff we have, shouldn’t we have back up funds for the stuff we have?  I mean, isn’t that wisdom?

We learned it was the opposite of freedom.  We tried to step out of our fear and “not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving,” and that’s what this journey brought, an opportunity for freedom from seeking to get.

As we looked at the number set before us on paper, the number of dollars it would take to cross the ocean to ransom this little girl, we stopped buying–anything, and at first our flesh recoiled.  But.  It then turned into a season of our lives where we were not seeking to get.  We didn’t buy clothes for us or for Finley, we didn’t buy toys, we didn’t buy home stuff, we didn’t buy dinners out, we didn’t buy one extra grocery that we didn’t adamantly need, we didn’t buy.  We stopped going to stores.

And what came with this, was freedom.  It took many forms.

Freedom: And when you stop seeking for yourself, you give God a chance to provide not just your needs, but some wants, and you are overjoyed with thankfulness.  Studies show that true joy comes from thankfulness, so people seek out thankfulness, write lists, etc, but in this extreme situation we chose to be in, we couldn’t escape thankfulness, because God really did provide, every step of the way, big and small, but the theme was always, over and over, sometimes daily.  Our hearts had no option but to notice, and look up.  We praised and recognized.

The adoption process is where you put all your money and time into another little life, allowing God to take care of the rest, and you know what they say about God, our vine, and how he cares for us.

Freedom from the rat race: When you take yourself out from working yourself thin to buy stuff for yourself, and instead invest your time and earnings into the life of another, it does something for your soul.  Work and effort have a renewed sense.

But truthfully, I think living way below your means takes confidence.  You need to be confident in who you are and what you bring to the table and not care what anyone else thinks to pull it off.  The hidden joy in that is that your relationships become truer and richer.

And when someone invites you to a fancy dinner out, you say, “No.”

“No, I am sorry but we can’t go with you to that fabulous place.  But, if you want to come here, we would love to share the meal we have with you, and the kids can play in the back together.”

I think stronger friendships can be forged with multiple hands working in the kitchen, and many papas chasing babies in the yard, and everyone bringing a little bit to make a whole.  Friends formed in holding hands around food you made yourself while saying grace to a God who provides in your lacking, always, or maybe best.

With a cease to the influx of items into our home, we could reanalyze the items we have.  We put old things to new uses, found new homes for things we don’t need to new people.  We refurbished and got creative.  I suppose some people might call that being green, and even this felt freeing.  We felt more capable, and less like we needed to buy solutions to our problems.

We couldn’t afford art on our walls, or to buy cute decor, but each morning when my son sees his painting on the wall, he is proud, and points it out.  That to me is hidden joy in the journey.
And to get things done, you can’t go out and spend so you truly have to get creative with what you have because the only other option is to go without.

And yes I will be wearing the same clothes I have been for years, but at least I can find hangers in my closet.  Gifts are a whole new thing in your life.  When someone gives you a gift, you truly feel so grateful, and so much love to them.

We have freedom in our time from going to stores, from having to make returns, from hoping someone might notice our new things, freedom from trying to look cute, cause you don’t, and that’s ok–it doesn’t matter.

Traveling, holding and loving children in orphanages who just need you has given me so much freedom as a mother, a freedom I wish all mommies could feel.  Even level headed moms can feel lacking if they aren’t giving their kids 100% organic, grassfed library books at gymnastics/tap/ballet class three times a week.  After coming home from both trips, I know my time with my son is good, and it’s what he needs, and that freedom I feel bonds my son and I even further.  I also feel no problem setting close boundaries with him, I won’t feel guilty about choosing to let him enjoy only a small amount of extras, but I know it’s better for him.  Pinterest has no power to guilt.

Freedom from finances.  When this process is over, Andrew and I will have a starkly different approach to how we handle our finances, with a human and eternal mindset, and not in everyday indulgences, no matter what the commercials might offer–because I know it’s all empty.

Here’s our greatest freedom:

Freedom from fear.  Our faith in God is not the same it was before we started this process.  How often did we put ourselves in situations where we actually needed God?  Needed him to come through for us?  Not many if it could be avoided.  But, while adopting, we needed God more than we ever did before, and he lavished love and care on us, and the closeness we feel to Him, is irreplaceable.  I don’t know if we will ever feel anxiety and fear in our daily lives in the same way we used to.  God is seriously here, with us, daily.  And that is the biggest blessing, the biggest freedom we have. If God were to take our lives tomorrow, we know it would be for good, and in that we feel freedom, what can we fear?

***

I like the balance this journey brought to two parts of the world, too much and too little, a bit more evened out.

This is a picture of freedom in my life:

 Holey shoes.  Not buying new shoes, but putting my money in a better place.
This is freedom, family time by the fire.

This is freedom, cleaning out closets and giving it to children you really love.

Freedom, seeing God provide for you in every way– I am not sure in our culture if there is ever really a time to be in that situation.  Here’s a tiny example, one of many on this journey:

Realizing I needed a hamper for Maria this week, and not even having the option to register for one on Target.  The next day, my friend emails me, “Random, but I have a pink and white hamper for you?”

The day before our court trip, being overwhelmed with what we had to do, including spending $ for meal bars for our time on the go.  That day a friend stops by with two big bags of meal bars and other food from her husband’s new company, randomly.  The same day, our unspoken need–but then all three of us knew.

The day we say we will give up on the idea of buying a home for a least 10 years to seek out this adoption, ‘take it God, it’s yours,’ and a few hours later, the opportunity for us to have a home is made.  Just a few hours.

***

What I’m saying is, if God is asking you to do anything, no matter how big or how small, it’s because He loves you, and because he wants what is best for you, and those you love, and his plan is bigger than just your plan for yourself.  Don’t stress, don’t worry, relax.

If it were left up to Andrew and I for too long, there would still be two orphans in the world, but you may have been impressed with our awesome new dining room table, our pictures from our Peruvian vacation or new bathroom sink.  And at the end of it all…what a waste.

Yes there were times while we were waiting for court that I wish I could go back in time to the person I was, ignorant to what was happening to children in other places in the world, so that I could invest my heart and soul into decorating my house, or cooking the perfect meal, assembling the best fall outfit, but even the hardness of that wait brought fourth things that I look back on now, and I am glad they are part of my soul, the person I am, the mother I am, the friend and wife.

When God called us to adopt, I knew there would be sacrifice, but what I didn’t know was that what God was asking us to give away were the things holding us down, trapping our souls in hidden anxiety and toil.  And what I didn’t know was that when we gave those things up, gave them to him, it was so that our hands and hearts were free for what he had.  God has so much to give, he is abundantly full of life’s richest blessings, and we are often too busy clutching onto the false idols, waiting for fulfillment in things that never will fulfill…

*********

If you are in the adoption process, don’t stop giving because of your task, keep giving.  Plus it helps the wait.

If you are thinking about adoption but are afraid.  Don’t be afraid.  “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (

SURPRISE!  Freedom.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.  // Galatians 5:13 //

***
She is, and always will be, my inspiration
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{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Patty October 26, 2012, 11:53 pm

    What a beautiful story of obedience and blessing God has written!

  • Kimberly October 27, 2012, 4:26 am

    I read this tonight on our way to a weekend at my parents in the car on our 3 hour drive. I read much of it aloud to my husband who was also so interested and it sparked great conversation. I am truly floored by your wisdom beyond your years. My head was shaking in pure agreement with the truth you speak and my heart and soul was asking why I can’t figure it out and get it together enough to free my family from the bondage of the western world mentality of “stuff.” Wow. Such great pearls of wisdom in this post. You should write a book! Thank you for always sharing what God has placed in your heart.

  • draft2010 October 27, 2012, 4:48 am

    So awesome Amy, it’s so cool what God is doing in your lives and how he’s using you.So inspirational in if you just listen to God and go all in for him what can transpire!

  • Laura Marino October 27, 2012, 6:15 am

    Thank you for this post Amy. I needed it. This is a tough stage for us as we are fundraising and getting our spending under control. Pondering how we will be able to afford our adoption… wondering how we can save extra money when it seems like we can’t live with anything less than what we are used to. You gave me a lot ot think about.

  • Lou October 27, 2012, 2:01 pm

    Amy…I live to read what you write. As you know I don’t always see what you see or necessarily agree – we are both spiritual people, just spiritual in different ways. I guess maybe because we come from different sides of the coin.

    Regardless of where our beliefs lie – there is no question that you, Andrew, Finley, Maria and Elijah are meant to be together as a family, and your journey to get to where you are now is one of inspiration to others on the same journey, and also to those like me who have an overwhelming desire to just do what they can, when they can, where they can.

    Lou xxx

    • The Tiny Team November 3, 2012, 5:09 am

      Thank you friend, your words mean so much! Love that no matter what, we have so much in common 🙂

  • Carla October 27, 2012, 3:21 pm

    I love this post! It is so true, this is the same freedom we have discovered…absolute dependence on and ultimate resting in our idol crushing Savior. I may have holes in my jeans that I’ve worn for 3 years but we’re not lacking for anything that matters. We’ve been overwhelmed again and again by God’s faithfulness. We began our adoption process without a clue how it would be paid for, now 9 months later we’re not only now funded but we unexpectedly have enough money (God provided a way to sell more stuff ) to return to love on “our” kids in Mexico for the month of November. We’re hoping to travel to China in Jan. to bring home our son Elijah! I love that you said “keep giving”…it’s easy when you’re raising money to stop being generous to anyone else, to not tithe, not to give in any other way but our adoption…but receiving so much from Jesus and the generosity of his people has made us want to give even more! We decided at the beginning that, although we cut out lots of spending, we would not cut out any giving…and we haven’t regretted it for a second. I can’t wait to see Maria and your Elijah in your arms again…this time for good.

  • Kate October 27, 2012, 5:05 pm

    I love your perspective. I cannot to wait to see the amazing people ALL your kiddos will become with parents guiding them with such a solid perspective on what God truly wants for us and from us. I can’t wait to meet your kids!

  • Traci October 27, 2012, 8:27 pm

    Amy this was one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read about adoption. God is so good. We just have to open up to him and allow his blessings to pour upon us. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  • Alicia October 28, 2012, 6:33 am

    Wow! Such powerful and true words. I’ve typed a million different things in this comment box but erased them because I don’t even know exactly what to say. I will just say thank you for being faithful to God and for sharing your story and heart. This just hit home so deeply with me. I think about you guys often and you are often in my prayers. I don’t know what God is calling us to right now, but you have encouraged and challenged me so deeply and this post just adds to that. You and Andrew are such an inspiration, seriously. Praise the Lord for you guys!

    • The Tiny Team November 3, 2012, 5:08 am

      Thank you friend. Gos will lead you someplace marvelous, praying for you!

  • Jed and Kimber October 29, 2012, 5:23 am

    So good, so true. We’re moving to Ukraine next year and just recently sold most of our stuff and moved in with a bachelor friend who is letting us live with him for free. Ha! All of our stuff is in our 2 rooms in his house and I’ve never felt more free. God brings such blessing with sacrifice. It’s a beautiful, wonderful thing. I’m so stinkin’ glad He knows better than I do. 🙂

  • babyarnie October 29, 2012, 6:06 pm

    Wow! Thank you for this inspiring post. May it inspire many more to listen to the voice of God. Thank you for your obedience!Can’t wait to see your babies reunited with you.

  • Rebecca Higgins October 29, 2012, 7:30 pm

    Beautiful and insightful post, Amy. I wish more people here in the States could gain a better perspective by being introduced to the realities of life in other cultures.

  • trippingdifferently.com October 29, 2012, 8:27 pm

    Beautiful! Amen! Thank you for this wonderful wonderful post which is full of blessings and so full of God.
    May i have permission to repost or quote you? Thanks. May God’s amazing blessings rain on you and your family always.

  • Rebecca Higgins October 30, 2012, 4:42 pm

    I heard a quote on Christian radio as I drove into work this morning that said, “God wants us to be flowing rivers of blessing and not stagnant ponds of entitlement.” You are allowing God to make your lives a flowing river to bless others while sadly so many in this country (even in the church) have become stagnant ponds of entitlement focusing on “their rights” rather than being willing to lay them down for others and for the sake of Christ. God bless you! My prayers and thoughts are with you as you prepare to bring your family home!

    • The Tiny Team November 3, 2012, 5:07 am

      This really stands out to me, a perfect word picture in my mind, oh my. This comment stood out to many of my friends as well.

  • Squiggly Rainbow November 1, 2012, 9:34 am

    Amy – wow. This afternoon my Miss Grace (who just turned 13) and I were talking about what makes her happy. It was such a blessing that the things she loves are to be int he garden, reading a book and being with her family. Honored I felt, blessed to have received God’s gift too of freedom from ‘spending’. I pray our journey with adoption is what He wants – our Australian laws ever so interesting and restrictive. God bless you xx What size is Maria? Grace is growing out of size 12 at the moment (not sure what US sizing is) – I could send them to you? xx

  • Emily Clare November 3, 2012, 7:03 pm

    I have tears in my eyes as I read this because such truth warrants such emotion. Thank you for sharing and reminding just how complete God’s provision is. There have been so many moments in my life when even the smallest need or desire was fulfilled or that I was able to play a part in God’s plan to fulfill another- which has really come about by trying to live life more simply. If we “provide” for all of our own physical wants we don’t leave room for God to show us how good He is to sustain our physical bodies as well as our souls. I still have so far to come but I am grateful for lessons learned and those shared by wonderful leaders like you and Andrew! <3

  • Tabitha and Warren November 17, 2012, 4:30 am

    I love your blog. We are also adopting. Just this week I had an experience similar to yours with the hamper except in my situation, God provided a box spring. Your words are encouraging. Thank you.

  • daniellem02 November 22, 2012, 12:21 am

    So beautiful and profound. THANK YOU

  • my_own_clan November 26, 2012, 4:36 am

    Yes.

    I’m sitting here in room 110 at VMI, my littlest, and newest (it’s been a week), is taking a nap and I’m devouring your blog. I’m headed home tomorrow.

    Each of us belonging to God is given a chance (and, mercifully, chance after chance) to join the Lord in his work, seeing his Kingdom come and his will being done. So pitifully few say Yes to him, and often even yes-men and women miss the call.

    It comes everyday, his call, and answering it cannot be anything but intentional. I am encouraged by your intentionality. But, mostly, I am encouraged by God’s faithfulness. Your story is miraculous, and ordinary, all at the same time. I am, once again, encouraged, it is not Amy that is special, and it is not Ariena, it is the God who rules over all.

    Still, your witness is changing the world; bringing Glory to His Name. Thank you for that. I look forward to meeting you, on That Day.

  • Julie December 21, 2012, 11:58 am

    I found your blog through a friend who quoted you on Facebook! I have spent an hour this morning reading your blog. I love this post so much! It puts into words so much of my feelings since we followed God down the adoption path. We have two Ethiopian daughters and will be heading to China in a few months to bring home a 5 year old daughter. I have seen your beautiful daughter on RR for a while and always thought she looked like the sweetest child. I am so happy she has found you – what a joy she is! God bless you and thank you for so eloquently sharing about the adoption experience!

  • Holly and David July 6, 2013, 3:07 pm

    Part of the reason I read your blog is for your perspective and insight. 🙂 Thank you.

  • italianfoody July 7, 2013, 11:17 pm

    Thank you so much for this! It’s beautiful, encouraging, and challenging. Thank you for sharing your heart and what God is doing in your life. Inspiring.

  • Tiffany January 24, 2014, 9:18 pm

    Amy, your blog is so encouraging. I am adopting as a single mom and sometimes the fear, worry, finances, just seems to be too much. I have read one of your posts after another tonight. Your words are so comforting.

    Thanks for being a bright spot in my day.

    best to you and your beautiful family.

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