Obviously

Isn’t it great when the answer is obvious? Too often, we struggle with finding the right path when we come to a fork in the road. Should I take the new job or keep the old one? Rent or buy? Regular unleaded or premium? Paper or plastic? The decisions seem endless.

 

A few months ago, as my husband was driving us home from visiting relatives, I checked email on my phone. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was looking at sales for a clothing store. Soon, I was mindlessly clicking shirts and skirts and watching as they flew into my shopping cart. We were home, pulling into the garage, before I could finish my purchase. Steeling myself for the misery of unpacking, I put my phone back in my purse. My husband brought our bags into our room as I sorted out the mess three kids can make in the backseat of a minivan. In a few minutes, he was back in the garage. “You need to see something in our room,” he said. I followed him to our closet where I saw most of my clothes—still on hangers—lying in heaps on the floor. The shelves and rods had finally succumbed to the weight of my wardrobe. This was a sign: I didn’t need any more clothes. I quickly removed every item from my online shopping cart.

 

I wish every decision could be so obvious. If only I had a crystal ball I could gaze into and see how everything will turn out. Just imagine how many bad haircuts and ugly wall colors and disgusting recipes I could avoid. It would be such a relief but also—I have to admit—kind of boring.

 

We’re in good company if we’re looking for signs and omens before taking risks. Gideon (Judges 6) came up with the wet fleece/dry ground and dry fleece/wet ground sign before he went to fight the Midianites. Moses (Exodus 4) got two signs to prove to Pharaoh he meant business—the old rod-to-snake sign and the cured leprous hand sign—not to mention ten plagues. The shepherds got a sign in the form of a baby to announce the coming Savior and Noah got a sign in the form of a rainbow to prove God’s promise of safety. These signs must have been at least a temporary source of relief and an obvious clue for their future.

 

But, most of the time, our future isn’t obvious and the answers seem unclear. When our family said yes to a call to adopt, we didn’t know what the future would bring. Now, three and a half years later, we still don’t know if we’ll be able to bring our son home from Africa. It’s painful and frustrating and I often question the events preventing us from making him a part of our family. But if I can sit and truly search for the answer, it is obvious. I know in this moment, this very second, we were called to be in this place—this very cruel and frustrating place—because we knew we were asked to say yes.

 

So I challenge you to look for the obvious and assume it will be there. The timing might not be right, but expect you will eventually be told what you’re called to do and when you get the call, do it. The signs are there. They may come in a million different ways—in the form of a rainbow or a pile of clothes or a tugging on your heart that just won’t go away.

Happy birthday, buddy

Since it’s already tomorrow in Kinshasa, it’s already our Ezra’s birthday. He’s four now, and four is one of my favorite ages, second only to five (It’s my opinion that five-year olds are the funniest, brightest, and best).

 

I made the mistake of looking at this date on Facebook in the years past, his second birthday and third birthday. My comments were hopeful and I made cakes. I put on a brave face, assuming he’d celebrate with us the following birthday. Surrrrrrrely. But here we are…January 7, 2015…Mokolo na Mbotama Malamu! (That’s “Happy Birthday” in Lingala, by the way.)

 

I have a friend who is going to visit her son in the Congo in a few days. Being a considerate momma, she offered to bring a package to our little fella for us. So what to send to a four-year old who doesn’t know English, has no idea it’s his birthday, maybe doesn’t remember us, and it all needs to fit in a quart-sized freezer bag? Batman and Superman action figures, a tiny tractor with accompanying farmer, and a fist-full of dum-dum lollipops, of course. We also found a fun greeting card that plays a song and has a spinning hamster. Again, he lives with people who don’t know English but, like I said…a spinning hamster. It extends beyond all cultural boundaries.

 

We’ve sent several care packages to Ezra since we first saw his picture in June 2012. We’ve sent cars and books and photo albums and crayons. We’re always grateful when another adopting parent offers to deliver something for us but it’s difficult to find the perfect items that represent our feelings and hope for our future with him.

 

So tomorrow will be difficult. We don’t have any news and nothing to point to the fact that 2015 will be THE YEAR. But we are grateful he’s in a safe place with people who care for him and get him what he needs. We’re grateful he’s made it to four, especially since one in seven children in DRC dies before reaching the age of five. We’re grateful for the time we spent with him in October. And we’re grateful for the friends who continue to pray for our boy. Actually, we’re humbled.

 

So happy birthday, buddy. We love you!

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