*This post got super long so I'm posting it in a Part 1 and a Part 2. Stay tuned in and tomorrow I will give you Part 2.
4 weeks today, friends! WOW!!! This sweet face has been home 4 weeks today. I can't believe how fast the time seems to be going. Another cool "date thing" is that it was 2 years ago this week we were meeting Nora for the very first time. Here is a photo of Nora on that first trip down...
Still has the same infectious big smile and eyes that can light up a room or melt a heart, that is for sure.
Before bringing Nora home, I heard my fair share of "advice" being given by people who had brought their children home and even completes strangers telling me they knew what was up ahead of me with dread in their voices. I recall being told I needed to get tons of sleep now before she gets here because once she was here I would be begging for it with all the sleepless nights I would go through, to go out and do whatever I want to do now because once she was home I'd be deprived of life as I knew it, to prepare our other children that Daddy and I would be focused on Nora so much when she got home that they might feel neglected but that we wanted them to know we still loved them, and even to get my backbone ready for harsh words, unkind actions and tantrums galore from Nora to me as the primary care-giver to her throughout the day. I also was told till I was blue in the face that there would be a "honeymoon" phase for the first month or so and then basically it would spiral downhill from there and THAT was when I'd start to see the "real" Nora and experience what life with an adoptive child was really going to be like...NOT so much joyful, full of laughter, or happiness, but a hard life of uphill and never-ending battles that would make you question why on earth you decided to say yes to adoption.
Typing it all out in that one paragraph comes across kinda harsh, but it was truly my reality in the months leading up to her homecoming. I would get an occasional more optimistic and encouraging or supporting word from a friend (which I LOVED and was so thankful for), but for the most part those who had been there and walked our shoes (or knew of someone's aunt's neighbor who had experienced adoption) were not giving us a whole lot of wonderful feelings about our homecoming approaching. Granted, all of these "down and out" messages were ended with a "BUT it is all worth it!" and a smile that I guess was supposed to induce some sort of reassurance to me that I was still making the right choice to adopt, but the messages themselves were not very reassuring. All of that negativity was starting to get to me. It felt like I was pregnant with our first child all over again with everyone sharing their horrible labor stories right in the 9th month. Why do people do that??? I understand and appreciate the simple beauty of story telling--whether it is a positive life story or a negative life story, but there it is something quite different to share your story and then project to the person you are telling it to that they will surely go through the same thing. No one knows the future. No one can possibly project what happened to them will indeed happen to another. There are too many factors that come into play there. For adoption homecomings there are personality differences of the parents, the children, the aspect of bio children or no bio children, the age of the child, the area the family lives in, the child's experience in the orphanage or birth family life, etc., etc. etc. Way too many factors that make each person's experience--each person's story--completely and beautifully unique to themselves. So hear me well, it's not that I didn't appreciate these people sharing their stories with me, but what was unhealthy towards me was the fact they were literally telling me I would experience the same thing just because I was also adopting. Anyway, all of this led me to a point where I needed God to shine TRUTH into our homecoming situation. I was tired of being excited to finally be at the end of the process and yet feeling as if all I was hearing was that I should enjoy this "bliss" now because it was easy compared to what was really coming our way. Our future was thankfully not written by those around me, however, our future was penned by God Himself and only He would know what it looked like.
On one of the last weeks before flying down to get Nora, I went to our church prayer meeting and the message shared that night was clearly God speaking to me. The gist of the passage of Scripture being discussed was that even though God had His Israelite children wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, that was NEVER where God intended them to settle. God meant for His children to be blessed by the Promised Land...Canaan. His intentions were always for them to have joy, abundance, and prosperity in a land that would meet their every need and bring them delight. They were meant for Canaan. I sat there applying those very words written so many, many years ago to my own situation and found the peace I had been needing. I was God's child and the promise was also given to me. I was never meant to settle in a dry and weary desert. I was meant for Canaan too.
I was meant for the Promised Land where my needs are met, joy is found, and abundance and prosperity are never in short supply. No matter what anyone's homecoming experience was or what anyone thought would be my experience, God was telling me my desert wandering was done and it was time for Him to usher me into my Promised Land...my Canaan...where JOY was going to abound...no matter what life would be like once Nora was home. What a change in perspective! What a NEEDED TRUTH! No more did I listen to the "advice" others were giving me that brought feelings of dread with fears that this too would happen to us in just a few short weeks. No more did I wonder would all of this effort and time in the process of adoption be worth what was coming next. No more did I fear being elated that Nora was home, only to walk on eggshells hoping that the "honeymoon stage" wouldn't end tomorrow. No more listening to the world and all of it's caution and dread...it was all drowned out by the Truth of God's Word...God meant for me and my family to enjoy living in Canaan. And Canaan was coming. Coming to us as a little girl came home to us.
So, now that we are 4 weeks into our Canaan, do you find yourself wondering what it's like for us? Are we really filled with unspeakable joy? Was there a honeymoon stage after all? Was God right or were the people right? Well, let's just say this...I'll take God's Truth over people's opinions any day! Listening to both of them can literally change your perspective and your experience completely...one potentially for the worse or perhaps for the better and one always for the better...it's our choice what we want to go with. This is something I have battled all my life--being a people-pleaser. In other areas of my life I have battled this full-blown in recent years and this would just be another place where the battle continued. No matter how hard I wanted to listen to other people stories and heed all their advice, I had to push their opinions aside because of the negativity they were telling me was going to come and focus solely on what I believed God was saying to me. I had to chose to believe and trust that His message--the message that this experience of bringing Nora home would be one of joy and Canaan-type living--was True despite all the other messages.
4 weeks in and I believe we are truly living in our Canaan. We, as in Micah and I, are not only living in Canaan, but we are living in Canaan with a herd of 4 children ages seven and under who still look to us to meet their needs in tangible ways every day. Ha! Maybe it's not always "bliss" as if we were on a warm tropical beach, sipping a fruity drink, relaxing without a care in the world (which is what I think most people hope Canaan is like), but it is also NOT been any bit remotely like the stories these people were telling me I would certainly experience. So far, I've not lost any sleep really, I've still managed to get out of the house for "me" time, the other children are completely a part of our attention, and even though Nora has certainly had her fair share of fits, she has never made me feel like I'm not still in control of the situation. Now, just like the others could not predict my future, I can't predict my own--perhaps tomorrow will be different than today, but today is good! Instead of what the others told me I would experience, it has been a beautiful time of living as a family in a place where we have been longing to live for 2 years now...all together, under one roof, in Goshen, Indiana. God didn't send the Israelite people to Canaan to sit and bask in it all with their freshly squeezed wine...they still had to work the ground and put in effort to make it each day just like we are having to do in our Canaan with Nora. I believe, the point for them--and for me--was that doing those daily tasks at a place God has always intended for us to be IS paradise this side of Heaven. That daily life within the place God wants me to be--like watching Nora dance and clap to praise music as well as waiting out her crying fit because I won't let her gorge herself on food anymore----IS Canaan. Loving and living as a family of 6 and all that comes with that IS our paradise this side of Heaven and, YES, we are loving it!
So, for more information on the specifics of how Nora is doing and what all Nora is doing, as well as how the rest of us are doing and what we are doing at 4 weeks into our Canaan, stay tuned for Part 2 of this post...coming your way tomorrow!