Fall has arrived.  This season fills me with joy.  The colors.  The cooler weather.  The anticipation of Christmas.  It’s all quite magical.

fall 4

Fall also brings about a quietness that I have been craving.  I have been waiting for a moment of rest to gather my thoughts and just breathe in the day.

Our current season of life is quite possibly the busiest one I have ever experienced. Interestingly, I can’t even remember why it’s been so busy.  I know there was a lot of traveling, and job planning, and family planning.  Paperwork, to-do lists, packing and unpacking. It’s all a bit of a blur now.  And when life gets full, my mind is messy and I have trouble sorting through my thoughts.

But I need to process and I’m feeling burdened to share what I am learning during this busy time.  I want to allow these lessons to be more than words, to change me, even when that terrifies me.

Courage has never been a characteristic I would use to describe myself.  I am not brave or strong, I have many fears and a lot of anxiety.  But I see courage differently now than I did in the past.  Before, I thought someone who was courageous was someone who was not scared of anything.  They could look my greatest fears dead in the eye and laugh, as I stood there with shaking knees.

I have always thought of myself more as a coward than courageous.  I am not a risk taker, I play it safe, I carefully plan out the routes of least resistance.  To me, it’s practical and even smart.  But it’s not courageous.

Then I started reading stories of people doing courageous things, stories that spoke of their fear and their resistance, and ultimately their submission to a path they would not have chosen on their own.  To me, they are courageous for the things they are doing.  But they were not fearless as they sought out the plans God had.  Some fought and hid, some cried and yelled in anger.  Could this truly be the behavior of a courageous one?

My eyes were opened to the possibility that having courage was completely different than what I had previously thought.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the act of moving forward in spite of fear.

fall 3

This realization washed over me and spoke such freedom to my soul.

Our current life happenings are the exciting kind of terrifying that my mind just doesn’t know how to process.

Because that’s just it, we are terrified.  We got a message that the foster care agency will be finishing up our approval process this week.  After that comes the children.  Children we have never met, who will be dropped off in our living room with few things and little information about where they’ve been.  We will be left alone to parent these children who need so much.

That alone is terrifying.

Yet, what scares me most is the impending change that will come from this journey. The end will be beautiful, we’ll be molded into new people, more like Jesus. But the process will be brutal, as we learn what it truly means to lay down our lives for another.

This may be the closest I will ever come to the labor of birthing a child. I fully expect the emotional pain we will experience to be similar to the physical pain of childbirth. After a time of waiting and anticipating, there will be stretching and ripping and tears and “I can’t do this anymore.”

My fear is that our labor will not last three hours or even 20.  But could last for years and years to come. The question that looms is, “are we enough?”

Can we handle this?

And the answer is no, weren’t not enough, we’re merely human full of flaws and doubts and selfishness. But God is enough and I believe He will make a way if we allow Him to do the stretching and ripping that’s required to bring about new life.

fall 5

It was said very well at church a few weeks ago; some people have calm, beautiful adoption stories and that is wonderful.  Some people have broken, difficult, terribly challenging stories and that is also beautiful.  Those broken stories are no less the footprint of God than the other.

And if we find ourselves on a dark, dreary road it does not mean we have taken a wrong turn somewhere and are no longer following the plans He has for us.  It simply means this is how God has chosen to mold us into His disciples.  This is how He has decided we will learn daily to die for those we love.

Jesus, make us courageous.