Category Archives: Prayer

Why I Still Love Our Empty Nursery

Like most young couples, there is a room in our home designated as a nursery. The only difference is, unlike most others, this room was meticulously prepared without even knowing when the baby is going to arrive.

Like the old hymn, Coming Again, I am reminded constantly that our baby’s coming “may be morning, may be noon, may be evening and may be soon”…or it may be years from now.

Yes, the room has all the trappings of what you would expect for a baby’s room, but there’s no child anywhere to be found. Instead, there are grey walls longing for a personalized tree decal to be put on them, an empty, white, sleigh-style crib with Pottery Barn Kids bedding that is used as a clothes rack, empty dresser drawers (minus the old computer currently residing in one of them), a comfy, custom color rocker no one rocks in, and a super awesome, owl lamp (thank you, HomeGoods) that no one turns on. There is a corner full of expensive gadgets (play mat, stroller, car seat, and a baby carrier) that have never been used; some haven’t even been put together.

Most of all, our nursery is filled with a lot of hopes and dreams, but also a lot of fears and worries. Some days I adore going in there. Other days, which are few and far between but still my reality, I have to shut the door and forget it exists.

Many friends warned me that putting the nursery together so soon may not have been the best idea. They cautioned me of how hard it would be to stare at an empty nursery, especially if we waited a long time to adopt our child(ren). They told me it was something they would never do. They encouraged me by saying they would help me whip up a nursery in no-time, once I knew that a baby we could call ours was on the way.

Though I knew my friends had the best of intentions and were just looking out for me, I didn’t listen. And you know what? I’m so glad I didn’t. Though sometimes dwelling on its uselessness (at least right now) can cause me pain and angst, I needed this nursery. I needed this nursery much more than my children ever will.

The Lord knew that, though, which is why He gave me such a clear vision for that small space. I’ve asked Him for a vision for every room of our house (call me weird), as I love decorating but also want Him and others to feel welcome in our home. The people (besides John) I most want to feel welcome into our home are our children, the ones for whom we have prayed for by name for so long.

I want Noah James or Hannah Grace to know (I realize they won’t really “know” but you get what I mean) from the moment they are brought home just how much we have longed for them, so much so that we had a room all ready for them even when we had no idea when they were getting here. No, my children will not be an idol. I want them to feel loved, anticipated, cherishes. Yes, my relationship with the Lord and my husband will always come first (a post in and of itself), but I absolutely adore my kids, and I don’t even know them. Other than praying for them daily, the only tangible way to show them that right now is by creating for them a safe haven that will one day, Lord-willing soon, be their very own.

Hopefully, they both like grey, white and chevron. 🙂

Yes, for now having a completed nursery and no child means I have to stare at a crib that is only used right now as a clothes rack for John’s many suit pants. It won’t be like that forever, though. I know that, though sometimes, like last night, the enemy does his best to whisper fears into my ear and tempts me to allow them to sink into my heart. Sometimes the fear and the worry grips me more than other times; usually when I am stressed (like now — both of us changing jobs in the past month has led to very hard-and-fast transition) it is the worst. During those times, the thought “it’s always something keeping us from being parents” or “sometimes I don’t think this is ever going to happen” creep in. Thankfully, though, by nature I am a positive, the-glass-is-always-overflowing type of person, so those times of utter desperation and deep sadness are really few and far between – not that I don’t have them. I am human, after all.


I won’t lie. Having a nursery when you don’t even have a “due” date is not easy. It’s not for everyone by any means. It is, however, for me.

More importantly, the Lord constantly uses that back room to remind me that He is the Creator and Sustainer of my children, that He is bringing them to us in His timing and His way. He is using it to remind me that my children do exist, at least to Him; they are not just some figment of my imagination, though the enemy would have me believe otherwise. My loving Father is reminding me through sitting on the floor of a room that used to look completely different that He truly does make all things new, either now or when we are glorified and with Him and reunited with our baby we never met. He is reminding me that there can be JOY in the waiting, if I just allow the Holy Spirit to fill me and sustain me. He is reminding me that our journey – all of it, griddy-ness and all – matters.

Thank you, Jesus, that our messy journey to parenthood matters to You.
Most of all, thank you that our kids do, too. Lord, I believe; please help my unbelief.

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under 2014, Adoption, Baby, grace, Nursery, Prayer, Purpose, Sanctification

What 2013 Taught Me

I don’t know what yours was like, but my 2013 was quite the year.

2013 was a year I’ll certainly never forget and wouldn’t necessarily want to re-live. I won’t, though, go as far as to say I wish I could just re-do 2013 all over again. Though it was excruciatingly hard, the lessons I learned within the crazy that was my 2013 were well worth the pain and will never, ever be forgotten.

I’m not going to re-hash my entire year in this post, as there is plenty of posts already written (even whole series — read here and here) about much of what transpired in my life last year; others part of my life have remained more private, as they should.  If you haven’t been reading my blog the past year, just know I, even one with a wild imagination, could never have written the journey through which the Lord asked me to walk in 2013, especially the first 8 months of it.

As much as you’d like to think differently, you can’t change the past. You can only move forward. 2013 was what it was and it’s my job to learn from it, embrace the brokenness that came in many areas from it, and walk in 2014 full of joy and hope, just like I did when I walked unknowingly into the madness that was last year.

So, what did 2013 teach and/or remind me?
Well, lots of things.

Here’s some examples, in no particular order (except the 1st one):

  • God is still good and sovereign. Absolutely nothing can change that fact.

Though 2013 was my hardest yet, my steadfast belief in God’s sovereignty and goodness did not change. Were their moments I struggled with why God allowed me to become unexpectedly pregnant, let alone why He then allowed our child to die? Of course. I’m a human, after all. I am a human, though, who has seen the hand of God all over their life time and time again, even when things look the darkest from an earthly perspective.

  • My life is not about me.

After almost dying at 19, I am blessed to know from a young age that my life is not about me but instead the glory of God being displayed through how I respond to not only life’s highest highs but also its lowest lows. Though I know I didn’t do it perfectly, I hope that this year I brought Him glory through how I dealt with the circumstances He allowed into my life for my refining and His glory. I pray I do the same in 2014, no matter what happens.

  • My marriage is rock solid and can withstand anything that life throws its way.

I didn’t say my marriage is perfect, because it most certainly isn’t; it does involve two humans, after all. 😉 It is, though, rock solid, and it just keeps getting better. 2013 was the hardest year yet for our four-year-marriage. I’m thankful to say, though, that everything we went through this year brought us even closer together, horrible miscarriage included. During this year, at times, we fought a lot. At times, we cried a lot. At times, to be honest, we struggled a lot…but we came out on the other side a stronger, more unified couple. We came out a better definition of two people living “one flesh.” We came out of the struggle closer to the Lord on an individual basis as well as a corporate one. As  a couple, we came out of 2013 changed, changed for good! I can’t imagine displaying God’s love for the Church through marriage with anyone else than my best friend.  He rocks my world. 🙂

  • I long to be a mother more than sometimes I even know.

This could, and eventually will, be the subject of a whole post. Stay tuned. 🙂

  • Adoption (at least our journey) is hard – really hard – but so worth it. We can’t wait to meet Noah and Hannah and pray they join our family at the same time. 🙂

The giant mountain of paperwork hasn’t even been the hardest part. Being married to a really detailed-oriented person, though, definitely helped in that area. 🙂 No, the paperwork has been a breeze compared to other things, mostly emotional in nature, through which we’ve had to work; some of those things are just a part of the usual process (and will be written about in another series) and others are unique to our particular situation. No matter what comes up, though, the important thing is we’re committed to working through it; we’re committed to finding our children and bringing them home. No matter what, we Paynes don’t ever give up.

  • People like other people’s drama and shy away from public expressions of grief.

I learned this lesson back in the Spring/Early Summer. I had thousands of people (mostly strangers) suddenly flocking to my blog to read all 21 posts about our hard-to-believe adoption/surrogacy/pregnancy/miscarriage/adoption journey. Only an 1/8 of that audience read, though, after the 13th installment of the aforementioned series when I was heartbroken, and therefore devoted three blog posts to redeeming my miscarriage; most of the sharing of my posts stopped, too. Not surprisingly, most of that audience (and shares) returned once again when the other more-appealing series resumed for the last 7 posts.

Don’t get me wrong. I sincerely appreciated the concern (or curiosity) others showed (either through reading and/or contacting me) during my large series full of twists and turns. I just was rather shocked that my readership went down so much when I took a break from the other series (since I was initially hiding (even from my own parents) the fact I was sick post-miscarriage) to publicly deal with the intense grief that came with all that drama people loved to read. Though they were much, much fewer in nature, the private messages I did receive from that miscarriage series made the emotional exhaustion from writing them well worth it. It also reiterated to me just how important it is for me to obey His voice and live as transparently as possible, so that He can use me to encourage others who often feel alone in how they feel. I was amazed how alone so many women who have had miscarriages felt; it made me incredibly sad. It shouldn’t be this way, and as long as I’m alive, I will continue to be as real as possible (on that issue and others) so that others feel the freedom that comes with living without satanic shame.

Though I was humbled by my viewership this year, I don’t write for certain stat numbers. I write in order to be able to breathe, to connect with my Creator, to glorify His name and have Him do whatever with it He wants.  Your guess as to what He does with it in 2014 is as good as mine. No matter how many read, it’s all for Him!

  • Living “transparently” doesn’t have to mean giving anyone and everyone 24/7 access to your life, emotions, time, thoughtfulness, etc. without requiring anything from them; no, that would be toxic and will eventually leave you feeling burnt.  Having Christ-inspired, personal boundaries is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and others.

I wrote about this topic in my “mid-life crisis” series.

  • Though he came in contact with thousands, and was followed intensely by 12, even Jesus’ inner circle only consisted of 3 people. Yours will look about the same; don’t kid yourself into believing otherwise.

Not every friend sticks closer than a brother, and that’s OK. Life is full of relationships, each with their own level of closeness. Oftentimes, those in relationship aren’t even desiring the same level of closeness, but unless they’re willing to be honest with one another, one just assumes (and prays) the other will “get a clue”. Somewhere between sometimes and usually, the other party eventually does get a clue and is consequently left confused; that is, unless you’re like my former self, and then often you are left clueless for far longer than expected. In my case, for most of 2013, I also didn’t believe in personal boundaries, so my addiction to emotional harlotry didn’t help my case.

Some friendships are for a season, then fade, then come back again. Some never come back. Some evolve and change over time. You can be someone’s friend without giving them permission to know every single thing about you and vice/versa. You, unbeknownst to me until this year, can also do this while still upholding Christ’s call to love. In fact, sometimes the most loving thing you can do is let things change inside of, or even let go of, a relationship that is near and dear to you.

In rare cases, you will find those with whom your soul connects in a way that is, if I can say, not of this world. You will find people who just “get” you without you needing to explain yourself. They will give you the benefit of the doubt but be willing to confront you when needed. They will desire your good above their own, always without question. They will guard your heart as if it were their own. In your divinely-inspired friendship, you will give and take in a natural, beautiful exchange of wills. Cherish those people. Protect those people with a fierce and loyal love this world does not know.

  • With God’s help, you really can survive anything. Better yet, you can not only survive but thrive while in the midst of the deepest pain, no matter its nature.

I learned this valuable lesson in the physical realm back in 2005 and the emotional realm in 2013.

So what will 2014 bring?

I read a quote on New Year’s Eve that really spoke to me:
“A new year is at hand,” the king said. “We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle, we shall remain undaunted.”
King George VI

That is my prayer for 2014, that I remain undaunted in my commitment to the Lord and His sovereignty and goodness, no matter what befalls me this upcoming year. Whether it be another year of not having the opportunity to be a mother, another year of disappointments and confusion, or even death. By God’s grace, as long as I’m alive, I pray I remain undaunted in my commitment to Him.

Lord, let it be so.

1 Comment

Filed under 2014, Adoption, Baby, grace, Life, Marriage, Miscarriage, Prayer, Purpose

Where Our Adoption Stands

Don’t worry. Our plans haven’t changed (again).
As I told you last month, we’re still adopting. 🙂

Sorry I haven’t really updated you all on our progress lately.
I guess working through my mid-life crisis, and life itself, just got in the way.
There’s been a lot going on here at the Payne’s, I guess you could say.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month, so I figure it’s time to update you again!

I have some exciting news, though, on the adoption front!

If you didn’t catch it in last month’s update….

As of mid-September, we have an official, completed home study! 😀 😀 😀

This makes us officially “legal” and able to take a child, if one would be offered to us. In case you couldn’t already tell, this is a huge, huge deal and was a giant hurdle to cross.

Last time I checked, though, even if you’re legally able to say “yes,” to a child, it’s rather rare to just get called out-of-the-blue and offered the opportunity to parent one, not that it couldn’t happen if the Lord saw fit, though! 😉 

That being said, logistically, we’re making progress.
Not enough, though.
There’s still much work to be done. :/

To be completely honest, October wasn’t a fun month for me. I had grandiose hopes and dreams for the month with our call to fasting/prayer for our adoption, ones that (for the most part) did not come to fruition. When God wasn’t meeting my expectations for the month, I oftentimes struggled with feeling depressed, emotionally tired, confused, alone, and every other negative feeling the enemy tried to throw at me. I didn’t always stand firm on the promises of the Word. Many times, I let my circumstances, ones that weren’t changing fast enough for my liking, determine my level of joy instead of my confidence in Him and Him alone.  Many times, though I was participating in my own call for prayer and fasting, I wasn’t actively participating. Instead, I was just going through the motions, tapping my foot, waiting for Him to “just do something” because we were doing all that we could do and seemingly getting nowhere. Consequently, during those distracted times, I missed out on seeing what the Lord was doing in our midst, even if those things upon which He was working weren’t at all for what I had been praying so fervently and weren’t exactly fun to process.

You see, God certainly did move in October; it was just mostly in ways I hadn’t planned. In hindsight, I am reminded of the verse in Isaiah 55 (v.8) which tells us, ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.”

The Word tell us that man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart (I Sam. 16:7). How does that relate to us?

The Lord showed me that oftentimes I, like most people naturally do in my situation, have been coming at the adoption from a purely logistical (“outward”) standpoint. After all, if you know anything about adoption, there are a lot of logistics to think about. When I wasn’t thinking about the logistics, I was thinking about our child and the awesome privilege and responsibility it is going to be to be their mother. Obviously, these were all good things on which to ponder. God, though, in His divine sovereignty and goodness, has been coming at it all along from a holistic standpoint. Moreover, because He so lavishly loves us and longs to reveal Himself to us, He has been thinking not only about not only our precious child and all the details that go with bringing them home to us but, just as importantly, about ME, about US, this whole time, too. 

Though we (especially I) couldn’t see it for the longest time, He hasn’t left us in the desert. We aren’t aimlessly walking around year-after-year, experiencing trial after trial, locked out of the “Promised Land” of parenthood because we’re being “punished” for whatever reason. No, He knows exactly what He is doing, and, contrary to the lies Satan would have me believe, His goal isn’t to break my heart; actually, it’s quite the opposite. No, before He allows us to enter the new “land” of parenthood, He sees the utmost importance in beginning to heal our hearts (in particular mine) first before He moves us elsewhere, especially into such an important season as the one upon which we are about to embark.

No, He isn’t purposefully withholding parenthood from me to torment me. No, instead, He longs for me, for us (individually and corporately), to feel whole before He moves us to a different, very challenging land. The Lord loves us, and our children, enough to tend to our hearts before He ever brings them into our lives.

Sure, He could have parted the waters by now and easily allowed all the tangible, logistical things to fall into place for us to be able to adopt. We could have been richly blessed with a child (or more than one) and going about our lives with our newborn(s) feeling extremely tired but blessed. He chose not to, however, because we never would have felt completely whole. Consequently, things never would have been completely as they should, and the Lord loves us too much to allow that.

He loves us too much to allow us to gain what we want tangibly but, in the process, settle spiritually and emotionally for much less than we could have with Him and with each other as husband and wife. He loves our children too much to leave their parents (i.e. us) as broken beings unable to fully embrace and appreciate our family for what it will be. All this time, He hasn’t been withholding from any of us but instead protecting us, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Though I couldn’t say it much last month, I am so thankful for that fact. I am so thankful that God did not abandon us in October but instead was preparing and healing our hearts, in particular our marriage, in ways that are crucially important for the well-being of our family once we finally do become a family of three (or four 😉 ).

So, where do we go from here?

  • Well, we pray. And then we pray some more. We have extended our October month of fasting/prayer into November and would love to have your support in our efforts to be bathing our adoption in prayer. You can find an outline of our specific requests (which have been updated) by going here.
  • We refuse to lose heart.
  • As Charles Stanley would say, we “obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.”
  • We stand back in awe and wonder and watch Him move.

Lord God, thank you for how You’re moving. You are all we need.

Leave a comment

Filed under Adoption, grace, Marriage, Prayer, Purpose, Sanctification

October & Adoption: A Call To Prayer & Fasting

I just love October! 😀

Every year, I wait in anxious anticipation for these 31 days of Fall bliss. Though we are apart much of the year, my love for October never wanes. Every year around this time I look forward to my pilgrimage to Mennonite Mum Mecca (what I’ve lovingly named a local nursery), so I can pick out my gargantuan mum (for only $5.50!!) for my front porch. I unashamedly dig through the pumpkin bin at Meijer (go ahead, judge me!) for the largest, most uniformed-in-size pumpkin, because they’re all the same price but far from created equal. Oh, October, it’s true – You and your gorgeous foliage, crisp air which begs for boots and sweaters to be worn, and granted permission to indulge in all things pumpkin makes you oh so beautiful to me. 

While reflecting on my love for October this morning during my devotional time, the Lord gave me an idea to make these 31 days not just fun for me but spiritually meaningful to me. Really, Lord, you’d do that for me? Yes, please! The best part? All of you get to be involved! 🙂

From October 1-31, we’re asking people to join us, as we boldly come before the throne of Grace regarding our adoption. Now that we’re officially “legal,” due to having a completed home study (insert huge sigh of relief) as of last month, now seems like a perfect time to start our quest to involve others in our journey to parenthood.

[Update: We are extending our call for prayer & fasting into November. Additional prayer requests are below in bold.]

Will you join us?

Before we begin, here are some things you need to know:

  • We as a couple are committing to being in daily prayer, as we have been, for our adoption.
  • We firmly believe the Lord is working in our midst and is going to make us a family of three, in His timing and way, for His glory.
  • We trust and believe that the Lord has known our child before the foundation of time and has specifically called us to love and raise them.
  • We are committed to loving our child with reckless abandonment and doing everything within our power to bring them home to us.

Especially during this month of corporate prayer and fasting, though oftentimes our situation can make us feel isolated and, we rejoice in the fact we’re not alone. We know that there is POWER in corporate prayer and are excited to see how the Lord uses this sacred time to strengthen our (and your) faith and further our adoption for His glory. I saw the power of a corporate call to prayer around this time 7 years ago, when I was finishing the first edition of Breathtaking, and am expecting just as awesome things to come of this time around.

We believe the Word calls us to pray not only in an expectant, but also a specific, manner, so we’d ask that you partner with us to pray/fast for the following:

Prioritized, Immediate & Specific Requests:

#1: The Lord’s Glory – Most importantly, that through all aspects of our adoption, the Lord would be glorified.

“Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”
Isaiah 26:8

#2: Child(ren)’s Birth Parents:

  • Pray that they both will come to know the Lord, if they don’t already know Him.
  • Pray that they both the birth mother and birth father (if applicable) feel nothing but loved and respected by not only us but everyone with whom they have contact while the adoption is being finalized.

#3: Our Marketing Plans:

  • Please pray for me as I work on completing the “life book,” which will be used as a tool to introduce potential birth mothers to us.
  • Pray for wisdom and clarity on what to include (as this will be the first impression birth mothers are given of us) and how to disseminate that information.
  • It may sound silly, but as one who is not crafty by nature and is highly sentimental/takes this stuff really, really seriously, the “life book” planning really stresses me out, so please pray for peace to reign when I’m working on it.
  • Pray for the website design and our friend, Becky, who is helping us with both the “life book” and the website. We hope to launch that site (“The Paynes Adopt”) in the very near future.

#4: Our Finances:

  • Adoption is very, very expensive and can come with many unplanned expenses (potentially traveling out of the state, etc.). Please pray that we are able to complete our adoption debt free, which has always been our goal, no matter if we adopt within the state of Ohio or not.
  • Pray for me as I look into adoption-related grants and plans strategic and planning well-received fundraising ideas to help supplement our adoption account. *If you have ideas for fundraising, please feel free to share!

#5: Our Spiritual & Emotional Health/Stress Level:

  • This process can be extremely emotionally-taxing for both of us for different reasons. The stress level at our home can run very high right now, as we prepare tangibly and emotionally to add a little one (or two) to our home with potentially only a few days’ notice.
  • That we will keep our hearts open to what the Lord would want to teach us during this season of waiting and walk into our adoption spiritually and emotionally whole individually and corporately-speaking.

If you would feel comfortable sharing with us your commitment to join with us in concentrated prayer this month for Baby Payne, please either send me a message or join our Facebook group dedicated to our month-long event. If you are wanting to commit to praying certain days, please feel free to share that with us, as well. Obviously, we will continue praying after October ends, but we’re rather excited about seeing how God moves amongst us this month!

Thanks in advance for your prayers! God, have Your way!

Leave a comment

Filed under Adoption, Baby, Prayer