Hindsight. It's one of those wonderful gifts, a real treasure, that allows us the perspective in looking back on an experience with a much clearer lens than when we were living that situation.
You can imagine the number of times I have reflected on our adoption journey. This experience is something I never want to forget because it has truly been one of the most incredible adventures I've ever taken. That is really the reason I started this blog in August 2007. I didn't want to forget these very special memories, and I want them to stay alive in the stories written in my blog so that our kids can have them even after we are gone.
One-hundred and thirty-two days we waited for LOA. I look back, and in some ways it feels like a blur. The pain is still very present, especially when I see other moms still stuck in that wait - 90, 100, 115, 130 days. The pain resurfaces and hurts all over again. There were so many days of heartache, though they were balanced only by my trust in the Lord's timing. I could shake my fist and scream how angry I was with God's plan, but in my next breath I could repeat Romans 8:28 "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
Called. Boy were we called. And I love God...I really love God. So, even though my heart was broken for at least 100 days of that wait for LOA, I could trust that He was working all things together for GOOD.
But the question was...WHOSE good?
I am finally realizing that this life we live isn't necessarily about us but instead about Him and what He wants. What He wants is for goodness and light and love to be present ALL over the earth...not just in certain pockets of the world among certain people. Sometimes, things start with a decision, and heart-wrenching obedience turns into something more beautiful, more wonderful than any other life previously imagined. I am seeing now how when we follow God's lead, we have the opportunity bring Him so much glory.
When Lisa and Andy Bauermeister approached us to see how we felt about them raising money to help bring Tucker home, we were humbled beyond understanding. This was a gift that would really help our family, as well as other adoptive families. As of today, 148 donations have been made to #runningtuckerhome, totaling $10,972. However, that number doesn't really reflect the number of people involved in the fundraiser. The first t-shirt order that raised $500 meant 50 people got involved. The second t-shirt order provided t-shirts for another 39 people, and from what I can tell, a third t-shirt order is being placed! I see orange #runningtuckerhome shirts all around me, and it is awesome. After this third t-shirt order is complete, the fundraiser will spill over past $11,000. A 12 year old girl held a babysitting night and taught more than 30 children about Tucker and China, and she raised $431 all because the Holy Spirit left an impression on her heart to act. It is unbelievable and humbling, and sometimes I just can't wrap my mind around it.
In July, when the fundraiser was really climbing, hindsight gave me the perspective to understand that our long LOA wait had to take place in order for so many to be moved by our story. Sometimes I would just sit at home and think about the number of people praying for our family and our little boy half a world away, and it would bring me to tears. To know that little children were folding their hands together, asking God to bring Tucker home soon is enough to melt anyone into a puddle.
We received LOA on 8/8, and over 500 people read that blog post. I couldn't believe it! Another 153 people "liked" our announcement of LOA on Facebook, and 47 left personal comments. You guys know how to make a family feel loved and supported! I don't think it's any coincidence that 9 days later Andy was running a 100 mile trail race in Leadville, CO, as the momentum just continued to build. Andy wore several tattoos during the race: a #runningtuckerhome tattoo, a John 14:18 tattoo, a picture of Tucker tattoo, and a tattoo of the race trail's elevation in Colorado. Many of us wore our #runningtuckerhome shirts to show our support. Dozens of people were writing on Facebook asking for updates and celebrating as Andy got closer and closer to the finish line.
It was very emotional to go to church Sunday, August 18th knowing that Andy had been running since 4:00 a.m. the day before. He was running and walking through the night while the rest of us slept warm in our beds. Yes, of course Andy wanted to finish this race for his own personal satisfaction, but the desire was even greater knowing it would help Tucker and other orphans come home. He and Lisa had taken a story that Ryan's and my friends, family, and coworkers knew, and they extended the story and opportunity to help to their friends, family, and coworkers. So as we stood at church singing God is Able at the top of our lungs, all I could do was imagine Andy and Matt (who was pacing him) trudging along the trail, willing their bodies to take another step and another step forward. I knew Andy had endured 95 miles or so already, and he was truly in the final stretch. Once church ended, and we were driving home, I called Lisa's phone to see how Andy was doing. She answered, out of breath, and said that she was with him, and they were running toward the finish line together. I asked if I should hang up, and she said to stay on the phone. I just cried. To hear her encouraging Andy to keep going that she could see the finish line...I get choked up thinking about it. I started yelling into the phone, trying to cheer them on! They were doing it...they were going to complete a 100 mile race. I heard the crowd cheering them in, and then Andy crossed the finish line. I continued to cry and thank them for everything they had done for our family and for other adoptive families. We said our goodbyes and hung up. Just a few hours later, the $10,000 goal was reached. I cried again. Who knew there would be so many tears shed this past year?!
I've invited Andy and Lisa to write about their experiences the past few months, how this fundraiser has affected their own personal stories. I am excited to share that with all of you once they are ready! I think it's amazing how not only did God know that Ryan and I had a son in China and that we would bring him home to live with us, but God also knew that Andy and Lisa would make the decision to get involved. God knew that they would spread His message to visit orphans in their distress. God knew they would raise over $10,000 to help the least of these. Adoption is expensive, but I know God is using their fundraiser to show people that money can be raised to help pay for adoption expenses. There are so, so many good people in this world who are willing to help our family, and most of them have never even met us.
The momentum has continued to build since the race ended. Next time I hope to write about an awesome experience related to our adoption that I got to have last weekend. Tucker's immigration was approved, we were assigned a new case number for the Embassy in China, and now our paperwork is being processed at the Embassy. Although it's hard to believe it, we getting closer to our trip to China. It is going to happen. I can't wait! I am thankful for hindsight - it helps me see that this adoption journey is not just about us. It's not just about Tucker or a 100 mile race or a fundraiser. This journey is about all of them combined and so much more than we will ever understand in this lifetime. I'm just thankful to be part of it.
|Photographs by Lemongrass Photography|