The embers, still hot from the night before, seemed to puff out their chests in crimson the moment the air current changed. With a stiff paper plate my sister fanned the glowing-bellied coals until they ignited. Barely licking the dry kindling but not quite ready to bite, she whipped her tool of choice harder and faster pushing those tiny tongues up further until they reached her meticulously placed straw and twigs. The edges crisped an orange hue before the flames grew to consume them.
As sisters do, we chatted about life as we sat beside the fire ring warming our chilly extremities in the cool morning air. The sun poked through the natural holes gaping from the spread of leaves overhead to warm our cheeks as we watched the fire. But, as fires do, the flames calmed and slowed, retreating back to the embers that had given them life. We continued our talk as my sister knelt back down into the mixture of dust and ashes just outside the fire ring and rededicated herself to building it up again. Furiously, she waved for a few moments then sat back on her heels breathless and chuckled.
“‘Fan into flame…'” She quoted a partial verse from 2 Timothy before adding, “Then fan again.”
Friends, if I’m gut honest with you, when we began this journey of adoption I had a picture in my head of what it would look like. There were qualifications to be met and boxes to check off in order for our family to look and act and be just right; to embody this perfect image I’d crafted. I really didn’t realize I’d formed this illusion until each turn has required my quiet surrender of what I’d envisioned to move forward.
And for a while now, I’ve been building walls. Walls high and thick and strong to protect what I thought to be this perfect picture. These walls have so zeroed my focus in on this illusion that at times I’ve doubted my own desire to continue with this adoption journey as it differed from what I had anticipated. The call to tear down my walls and give up my ideal, has been a constant, daily war waged within me to allow the vulnerable, fragile places of my heart to remain open and exposed to both possibilities and disappointment. Often, I find myself longing for retreat, desiring nothing more than to close in my heart and protect what is left of the shattered pieces. Life would be easier to just accept it as is and attempt to find ease and balance with what we already know, wouldn’t it?
But then I think of my sisters words that have churned in my heart far longer than the flames consumed damp wood that chilly morning. “Fan into flame. Then fan again.” Heather Avis, author of “The Lucky Few” and a mother of three adopted children, two of which have down syndrome, said this:
“Where God resides, where His heart beats the loudest, is not in those easy, comfortable places. So if you want to hear God’s heart beat more fully, understand Him more fully and sit in the worth and value of life and humanity, then you have to be willing to step into those hard places. You can have easy. That’s fine. But you’re missing out on the heartbeat of God if you do that.”Heather Avis
Today we said yes once more to have our profile presented in a situation outside my picture of perfection. It’s a road I never expected to walk. In fact, this is the one avenue I knew I didn’t want to traverse, the road of special needs. Yet here we are saying yes to the possibility of down syndrome being our intimate, daily reality. Again, with honest transparency, I’ll tell you: We’ve said hard yes’s before and I have nervously bit my fingernails in the background, anxiously hoping and at times even praying we wouldn’t be called to act upon our yes. And at each of those turns, I’ve been ashamed of the relief I’ve felt at the no answer. But in the last twelve hours, I have once again had to come face-to-face with a reality that sometimes God’s best for us doesn’t come with the easy, predicable road.
I can’t say this is the one. I really can’t even say this one feels any different than the last possibility we encountered. But I can say, with confidence, the air current is changing. God is stirring this heart of mine, moving boulders of insecurity and the anxiety of uncertainty to bring me to a place of utter broken surrender where His heartbeat can more fully reside. And I can say this picture of our “perfect family” is useless without the fingerprints of God working in the details.
So here I am, kneeling in the dust and ashes before the glowing-bellied coals, to pick up the Word of God and fan into flame once more this passion and privilege to grow our family through adoption. And there I’ve laid my picture as kindling. I can see the edges crisp an orange hue as the outer layers peel back. And though damp with my tears of surrender, I can see the flames licking at the frail entity ready to ignite. It probably won’t be entirely consumed right away. That’s okay. I’ll just be here, tearing down walls to build a fire.
I’ll fan into flame.
Then fan again.
If you’d like to join us, we’d love to have your support.
Pray for this baby boy’s family, his mama and daddy and their decision. Pray for his development and health. And pray for us as we await their decision.
And if you feel so led, here’s our link for financial support as well. We love linking arms with family and friends who feel like family. https://www.purecharity.com/text-editor/teamreadadoption