"Amazing Grace" - Adoption Story Part 1

Happy Wednesday!
On my last post I announced that my husband and I were recently called by God to adopt a child from Africa. I thought it appropriate to share our story by first filling you in on how God has prepared my mommy heart for all of this. Full disclosure, this post won't answer most of the questions you might have about our process, but it will put every detail of our journey into the right perspective. (Part 2 will answer more questions)
And justsoyaknow,  I'm keeping it real here folks. My life is a relentless love story about a merciful Creator who called me into a life of redeeming grace.

xoxo - Mandi

"So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him." -1 Samuel 18:50

Oh what victory!

My "Goliath" for most of my life has been fear. I fear many things, but nothing more than love and loss.  I opened myself up too much as a young woman. I was vulnerable in many ways and, therefore, I was hurt deeply. I gave a lot of big pieces of my heart to undeserving people in search of a love I would never find this side of heaven. These hurts left gaping scars that still cripple me.

From my perspective now, I can see all the poor choices that constructed a wall of fear around me.  I, myself, helped Satan with the building. And inside this wall I could not give or receive love. Each year the wall grew bigger. I could have friends, I could have relationships, but I could not love enough to be hurt. My prison kept me safe.

"Then [David] took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag, and with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine." -1 Samuel 17:40

In 2008 God put the first of 5 stones in my pouch - my dear husband, Nathaniel. Did you know that David grabbed 5 stones but killed Goliath with just 1 shot?

"Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground." -1 Samuel 17:49

David only needed one stone. But guess what, he took 5. The number "5" in the Bible is the number of grace. I think together those 5 stones represent the power of God in David to do what David could not do on his own; Defeat the enemy.

My first stone, Nathaniel, opened me up to love and vulnerability again, not without caution and question though. The power to break through comes from all 5 stones, God's Grace - insert Zachary, Charlotte, and Elizabeth. 

For almost 2 full years I've had 4 (adorable) stones breaking down my wall, piece by piece. I love these children and my husband way too much for comfort. The Goliath sized fear wells up often and I hurt just to think about loving and losing. When God says "trust me", I ache. When he says "let go of them, I have them", I hang on tighter. I am more comfortable in fear than in trust, because I have lived behind the safety of this wall for far too long.

Fast forward to January 2017. We started attending a new Bible Study where I have learned more about God's Grace than I ever thought there was to know. (Thank you Mark and Christine Landis for not only teaching Grace, but living it right before our eyes!) In the same month, but entirely separately, God shattered my heart with a burden and a passion for adoption. As I've started to understand grace, I've watched God's hand pulsing Nathaniel and I toward orphans in Africa and aligning us with His power in us to adopt. But for the first 4 months, all I could do was ache and cry out to God for these homeless, starving children that are dying without a mommy. I stopped being able to function in our every day life. Some days I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I could only hurt..... for the first time in years, my love was set free and limitless. For the first time I was not afraid, I was stirred to relentless compassion for a hopeless people. And God was giving me my 5th stone before I even met it face to face. I knew I could not save them all (although I've thought about how we could adopt millions of children), but somehow, saving one feels like a chance. Thinking of one less child hurting and starving and lonely and hopeless..... well, it's better than none less. And as I'm dreaming of a million child orphan rescue, I realize that really, I'm the one being rescued.

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..." -1 John 4:18

God revealed His love for me and my adoption by Him every single day during those long and painful days of hurt. I could understand His decision to send His Son to save us. I could feel his burden for my lost soul and my need to be rescued. And I could receive His love for me, finally.

"In love he predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his PLEASURE and WILL." -Ephesians 1:5

Thank you Lord, for my 5th stone. I praise you for the 4 children plus one amazing husband you have put in my pouch to help me be victorious in all you've called me to. I pray fervently for orphaned children who struggle with fear, that they would know and receive your grace. You are present with each of them RIGHT NOW and that amazes me. Thank you for being present with my son or daughter in Africa while I cannot. I love you. Amen

One more thing, I have a weapon David was lacking that day..... a sword. Ephesians 6:17 says to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. David did not have a Bible because most of the Bible was not written in David's day. But I do!

"So Mandi triumphed over fear with a sling and a stone; with the sword of the spirit in her hand she struck down fear and killed him." 

Not to us, but to Your Name be the glory!