Last Day BC (Before China)

Noah, here we come

Noah, here we come

What a strange feeling. How to sum up what you’re thinking on your last day in the States before traveling to China to meet your new son? Terrifying. Exhausting. So excited! Teary about everything. So. Much. To. Do.

So, I’m just taking a second to reflect. One year ago today, literally, on March 3rd, 2015 my husband was having his normal quiet time when he says he felt gut-punched by this in John 21: “Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’” Nathan said it was like he’d never read it before. Like God just leveled him and said, “Nathan, if you love me, take care of my sheep.” He got up and told me we needed to look at adoption right now.

Let me back up a bit. I’ve been doing this ministry of speaking and music for about 10 years now. Almost from the beginning we have partnered with different groups advocating for children in need. Children in poverty. Children in trafficking. Orphans. God has placed that burden on both of our hearts, and Nathan and I have had some incredible opportunities to travel around the world and see how these kids are really living. We’ve seen what needs to be done and what can happen when Jesus’ people step out in faith and love people radically, not just with words, but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18).

My heart’s been open for a long time to adoption, but Nathan wasn’t there, and I knew we needed to be in agreement. We worked to get kids sponsored and sponsor a lot of kids ourselves. Then, in November of 2014, we went to Nicaragua with Compassion and when we came home, Nathan said, “I think it’s time we talked about adoption seriously.”

Then I was the one with cold feet. What, now? Our kids were 16, 13, and 10. Our life was busy but frankly easier. The kids are very independent. We love our time with them and are very close. What if we mess this up? Why mess with a good thing? Let’s be real – I was afraid.

2 Tim. 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

I told Nathan we should pray about it. And we did. And felt we were supposed to look into it, but when I got to all the paperwork, all the hoopla, all the MONEY, holy cannoli, I can’t do this! And I was afraid.

2 Tim. 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Then came March 3rd. Nathan came and told me he was just feeling this burden – we couldn’t wait. Of course, now we know that it’s because of Noah – they were doing his paperwork to list him again in November, right when we were in Nicaragua talking about adopting, and the Chinese government had given our agency only until May to find him a family. After that, they were going to pull his file because the chance of him being matched was too low to justify the paperwork. His time was running out.

We prayed and there was such a peace, because God reminded me that I’m not the one who’s going to do it – He is. We started praying right them for our child, that He would bring us exactly who He had for our family and that we would know it.

All along Nathan and I knew we were interested in adopting a child who would have a harder time being placed. We have older children – we aren’t afraid of that. When we’re in other countries, we’re often playing with older kids who don’t speak our language, and they are great. We knew we wanted to look at older kids. I was afraid of major medical, but I decided to leave that in God’s hands. He knew who He had for us.

About a month later we had an agency and they had sent me to look at a few waiting children in Uganda. They have their waiting children listed on a page that is alphabetical by country, so I had to scroll through China to get to Uganda. I was scrolling, and I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “Stop. Look at that boy.”

I stopped and saw Noah for the first time. Of course, at the time I didn’t know Noah was my son, but I read his description and thought if someone had written a description of my son, Toby, that would have been it. He was two years younger than Toby, he loves legos and reading and school and soccer. Only one scary thing – he had a bad heart.

We decided to pray about him and moved on. I was not feeling like I wanted to deal with his heart. Three days later I was on a site that has over 3000 waiting kids and again, I was scrolling when I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “Stop. Look at that boy.” I did, and I was halfway through the description before I realized this was the same boy, it was just a different picture.

Well, that was it really. We asked for his file and started praying about it seriously. At the time, we were told his heart had been fixed and he would just be a little less active than other boys. We got matched officially. And then the next day a cardiologist sat us down and told us how serious it was. It’s very serious. Not at all what we were thinking. And it felt like a death sentence for one of our kids. We were devastated, and went home, but Nathan said to me, “How could we ever live with ourselves if we said no to this boy?” and he was absolutely right. And my immediate thought was clearly from the Lord. It was this: Our job here is not to live a long time. Our job here is to know Jesus. And if we could help this boy know Jesus, we would be giving him eternal life, whether his life here is long or short. So we said yes.

That was last May. We were matched about two weeks before Noah’s deadline. It’s been a long year. Lots of waiting. Lots of praying. Praying that it won’t be too late for him to have surgery as the wait goes on and on, praying that he’ll know immediately that we are safe and love him, praying that he’ll be able to love us back, praying that he’ll know Jesus.

And now, suddenly, here we are. We leave tomorrow. We fly literally to the other side of the world, sleep one night and take a train and then poof, we’re there! He’s there. It’s unbelievable. Pretty soon I can stop imagining how it will be because I will know. Pretty soon I’ll know what size he wears and how active he can be and what he likes to eat, how his hair feels when I ruffle it, whether he’s a hugging kid or more of a high-fiver. These are all things we’ll know. In just a few days he’ll legally be our son. I can start talking about “the boys” because Toby will have a brother. Crazy stuff, that.

This year has been a lesson for me. A lesson in patience. A lesson in trusting God. A lesson in serving and being willing even when my heart doesn’t feel willing. A lesson in being brave. A lesson that God can make you brave even when you know you are a coward. And a reminder over and over and over that this is a precious child of God who is valuable! He is and will be a blessing.

Psalm 127:3 “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.”

We are going thousands and thousands of miles for one little boy with an imperfect heart. Jesus literally came down from heaven for you and me, and he did it even though our imperfections can’t even be numbered.

He loves these kids. They didn’t ask to be orphans. They are a blessing and they are His. And we love Jesus, so yes, we will take care of one more of His sheep. And I know we will be blessed doing it.

4 Responses to “Last Day BC (Before China)”

  1. Jane Friend says:

    Beautifully said, Jennifer. Praying for safe travels, open hearts, and gentle transitions.

  2. jennifer says:

    Thank you, Jane! You have been such a sweet encouragement to us! Looking forward to knowing you better and thank FX again for us!

  3. Helen says:

    I am so inspired by your family. I have always had a heart to adopt. Praying for you, your family and your new son for his health, adjustment and safe traveling for all of you. Blessings

  4. jennifer says:

    Thank you, Helen! That is super kind. We so appreciate the prayers, and know God has been with us every step – could never have done it without Him. 🙂 Blessings to you too!

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