Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#loavesandfishes

The Friday before Father’s Day I found myself in a quick phone call with my college roommate who I don’t get to talk to often enough these days.  She dove right into asking questions about our adoption process and how close we were to getting to be able to travel and pick up our daughter.

I confided in her my honest feelings, as always, and didn’t hold back that I had a mental wall about how this adoption was going to end.  Although we had paid thousands of dollars in fees along the way, I knew the end was not pretty.  A few days earlier, I had totaled our remaining dues ($7,400+) and imagined our travel costs (airline, hotel, food, etc.), and saw that our adoption envelope had just over $9,200 in it.  We had been consistently living below our means and sweeping money into the adoption envelope, but it clearly wasn’t enough.

My husband and I had touched on the topic in a brief alone moment a week before that.  I didn’t have an answer, neither did my Beloved – there were no more extra funds coming in.  We agreed to just pray about it.

To be honest, my faith was shallow.  I was approaching it as if I needed to come up with a great idea, or succumb to the truth that we were going to have to borrow money to complete our adoption.

Meanwhile, I bravely decided to put my head in the sand and not think about it at all.

After telling Carrie all of this in a much more “blunt-because-you-know-me-so-well” fashion, she immediately turned it around and said that she had been in a Bible study recently and felt like she needed to share what she learned with me….

“Laurie, our God is the God of loaves and fishes.  You don’t know how this story will end, but HE DOES.  You need to turn to Him and commit to Him what you have.  He will provide.”

I’ve been a Christian for a long time, so I’d like to say that she brought me out of the pit and I saw the light.  I know that the Word of God is truth, but I will be honest and say that I felt good for about 90 seconds and then I went back to hiding my head in the sand, sending up some SOS prayers, and ignoring that nagging nervous feeling of helplessness.

The next morning, I was drinking my coffee and scrolling through my Facebook feed when and I jumped over to read this wonderful post written by an adoptive dad (Father’s Day weekend, remember?).  I enjoyed the fact that he made decisions a lot like my husband does and took comfort in his personal experience of not knowing how his adoptions were going be able to work out.

But then he ended his post with this from Mark chapter six:  35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”…
41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.

I immediately went to my Beloved and told him that I had no idea what was going on, but I got the sense that we needed to incorporate the idea of loaves and fishes into our prayers about Megan’s adoption.  He agreed and that was that.

My mom and I spoke on the phone while she was staying with my brother helping his family as they welcomed their fourth sweet baby into their family.  She happened to mention that my sister in-law donated a bunch of items to an adoption fundraiser yard sale that wound up raising about $3,000.  I told her briefly of our dilemma (head out of the sand just to peek at the bright light for a moment), and she suggested that I think about hosting a yard sale myself.

Honestly, $3,000 wasn’t going to solve our problem, and we were seriously considering me traveling alone to adopt Megan.  That would be like Kenyon missing the birth of his child.  I really wanted to bring one of the older boys to help her adjustment as well - but that wasn't going to happen from this point of view.

With time running out, I went back into my mental hiding.

Sunday night is family dinner night at our house and my non-biological sisters who live close by come for dinner every week.  Unprompted, that Sunday night one of my sisters brought me two boxes of clothes, shoes, and accessories and told me to take what I wanted and pass the rest along.  I put them in the garage and thought nothing of it.

Monday morning arrives.

Monday through Friday my Beloved (the morning person) gets up at zero-dark-thirty and runs five miles.  He then comes back, gets showered and dressed, and brings me (NOT the morning person OR a runner) a delightful mug of coffee to wake me from my dreamy slumber so that we can talk for a few minutes before he leaves for his long work day.

I rolled over and cracked an eyelid that Monday morning and saw my coffee on my nightstand, but my Beloved was nowhere to be seen.

The house was quiet.

I was alone.

I reached for my coffee AND my Bible.  It had been too many days and I was feeling a little desperate.

The reading plan
When I read my Bible, generally I follow a 10 chapter per day reading plan that was popular a while back.  I keep a chart in the back of my Bible and always just pick up where I left off.  The 10 chapters take me all over the Bible and I really like the variety.

I would love to say it had only been a few days since I my last quiet reading.  I would like to say it had been several days.  But I’m being honest here – it had been MANY days.  It is summer vacation.  Five kids are home with me.  Days are long and I have little to no alone time that overlaps with any valuable brain cells.

I looked to my chart and just dug in…..

But I nearly dropped my Bible on the floor after the first few sentences of the first chapter.

It couldn’t be.

What?

I quickly realized that my 10 chapter reading plan that I could have been reading two weeks ago or two weeks from now had me starting at John chapter six.

“Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand”

I read it through, all the while feeling the humility that the God of creation gave me the gift of knowing He was right there with me (even with my head in the sand).  

The God who put the stars in place and knitted me in my mother’s womb chose to encourage me by these three linked messages inside of a long weekend.

He knows the end.

John 6:5  When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

After allowing myself to soak up the story, I texted my husband (and Carrie) to tell him of my reading that morning.  I then asked him how he would feel about putting my full effort behind a yard sale where we could accept donated items and hope for a big turnout to fill the gap.

He agreed.

John 6:8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

I had two boxes of donated items and some random things around the house.  Not nearly enough for a sale myself, but that day I decided on a date and put out the word of our plan.

I fasted in honor of what God was about to do in our lives.  I don’t fast very much, but it made me realize how much more I need to pray.

Friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers brought donations – both small and large.  We had clothes, shoes, household items, toys, furniture, appliances – you name it and it was arriving almost daily.

Several people had their own yard sales and then let us come and pick up everything that didn’t sell.  Friends would do this and then convince others (complete strangers to us) to do the same.

Our garage quickly filled up.

My dear friend and mentor came weekly to sort all the clothes and smaller items so that we would have less of a challenge setting up during the sale.

We listed bigger items on our local online classifieds and made nearly $900 before the yard sale weekend even arrived.

Not only that, but my long distance friends started sending checks in lieu of yard sale items.  Generous checks from people that I know for a fact are not loaded with cash.  Envelope after envelope, I would open and tearfully read through a heartfelt note of LOVE for our family and our soon-to-be daughter.

I had lunch one day with a new friend of mine.  She is a season ahead of me in life and I have come to depend on her for wisdom and thoroughly enjoy every moment I have with her.  She and her husband are some of the most generous people I know.

She encouraged me to not only apply for visas for my Beloved and myself, but for one of our older boys as well.  I hesitated because I always want to be a good steward of the money God gives us, but a week later, I sent three applications to the Chinese Consulate in Washington D.C..

Another dear college friend stopped for a couple of days during a long road trip during the week before the yard sale.  She is artistic and has her own experiences with loaves and fishes in her life.  She stayed up until 1 a.m. one night making 20+ poster board signs for our sale.

Somewhere in there, we found out that my husband received a commission check that he didn’t expect (Remember the Excel spreadsheet guy?  He knows every dollar that is due to him, so this could only be God).  With this check and the yard sale, I was starting to get the sense that this was coming together.

I texted the friend who told me to apply for all the visas and she said: “Isn’t that just like God to meet your need?  I wouldn't be surprised if you have some leftover.”

One night, as the big sale drew near, my Beloved got to catch up with a close friend of his.  This friend and his family are a complete gift to us.  We love them genuinely and dearly, but our friendship may not have blossomed if it were not for a terrible tragedy that struck their family.  We have watched God create beauty through ashes and our faith has grown through the process of pain and slow healing.

This friend insisted on paying for one of our plane tickets.

What?  He surely had no idea what he was offering.  Plane tickets are between two and three t.h.o.u.s.a.n.d. dollars.  Give him an easy out.

Nope.  He was fully aware and all.in.

Yard sale weekend arrives.



Our friends and neighbors came to help us manage the inventory and sales.  One friend that I hadn’t seen in years insisted on being with me for the first five hours of day one.  I didn’t realize until late the night before what a gift (and necessity) that was.

I didn’t even ask her.

I was given the opportunity to share our story many times and just felt complete joy and peace that no matter how it turned out, God had this covered.

Day one:  $1,150

Day two: $1,260

End of day two and my dear mentor and I are starting the clean up process.  I went inside to make us a cold drink and returned to help her pack up the clothes for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters truck that was arriving shortly.  We were high-fiving the success of the sale.  My Beloved was off taking down all the signs.

One woman was in the driveway with her two children walking the aisles.  I walked out of the house with two drinks in my hands.  In passing, I thanked them for coming and told her kids to fill a box for $1.

There were no other shoppers.

I handed Pati her drink and the anonymous woman walked up to me.

“Are you Laurie?”

“Yes I am.”

(Shaking my hand) “I’m Lynn.”

Lynn handed me a folded check.

“Lynn, do I know you?”

“No, you do not know me.” (as I’m opening the check)


At this point my tears are falling.  Lynn is walking away from me saying something about having their own adoption story, but it is a complete blur because I can’t believe what just happened.

I follow her, mumbling something about the words thank you seeming inadequate.  I wrap my arms around her.  She hugs me back but seems determined to get to her car.  She doesn’t even call her kids to the car – it’s like magic – they just know to get in.

And she drives away.

I’m still crying and I silently hand Pati the check.  Now she is crying too.  She reminds me not to call my husband because she wants to see his face when he sees the check.

I obey.  We cry.  In shock, we continue to pack up things for the charity pick up.

My husband returns.  I show him the check.  HE CRIES.

That night I returned to the story in John 6.  John 6:12  When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.”

Let nothing be wasted.

My first thought after receiving the $4,000 check and after I returned to my right mind was, “I want to be the one dropping off the check!”

We had not yet booked our tickets, but we already started talking about tracking every single penny through our electronic envelope system.  Any extra will not be wasted.

Donations continued to arrive via postal mail, PayPal, and simply handed to us unexpectedly.  One donation was mailed directly to our agency to reduce our fees still outstanding.  A Noonday party benefitted our adoption costs.  We think we are quite close to covering all of our travel costs with the possibility of having “baskets to gather” after we are through.

We have purchased three round trip airline tickets and a single one-way ticket.  We have booked hotels and reserved a guide and transportation services.  Megan's older brother Andrew will meet her in China and help us convince her that our family is pretty great and we are excited for her to be in it.

We have great plans to help another adoptive family or set up a grant for a specific orphan that needs a family.  Our cup is overflowing.


Off to China we go…..

3 comments:

  1. Dear Laurie,
    Loved reading your words!!! Thank for you chronicling God's amazing faithfulness through the loaves and fishes. Mighty God, He always blows us away with His provision. In awe... praying for you, praising Him together, and waiting for even more amazing stuff ahead for your family. With blessings, lotsa love, and a big hug too... gracee

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  2. Thank you for your testimony. We are currently fundraising to go back to China & get our third child. As the provider of our family I am much like your husband as I am constantly counting beans, bullets, & band-aids. Our first adoption allowed us to use our savings to help off-set the costs. This time, we are deep in the red, but God has called us to go...now. It's difficult to choke back the tears as I read/re-read your testimony, but I am constantly reminded that it's not about comfort, but obedience. My whole career all I could think about was being comfortable - toys, travel, more toys, etc. Now, I'm realizing daily that I really don't want to be comfortable anymore - I want to be obedient. Whether you know it or not, your words have served as a wonderful encouragement. Praying for you all as you model true, Biblical discipleship.
    ~Josh Fowler

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  3. My dearest Laurie, I am in awe of the beauty of your story and your words, and your faith and your faithfulness, and the trust with which you are putting this incredible family together, and the strength that both you and Kenyon exhibit daily to make it all work out for the glory of God!!! I am truly blessed that he decided to knit you together in my womb, because you teach me so much still and I could not love you more or be more proud of you!!! Can't wait to see you on your return from China and meet my 13th grandchild! I am truly blessed!

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About Me

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Messy and wonderful perfectly describes my life as a wife and mom of five. I'm passionate about advocating for orphans by telling their stories and encouraging adoption and orphan care. My schedule is messy and wonderful as I am charged with four sons and one daughter. We love living in our little mountain ski town. We do a little camping, a little skiing, a little hunting, and a lot of laughing and loving. Life is dirty and loud around here but we wouldn't want it any other way. Okay, maybe a little less dirty!

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