If you have been following this blog or any of my social media accounts in the last few months, you’ll have read a few posts about J, my heart-daughter, whom we are in the process of adopting. When we set out on this journey, we knew it would be strenuous one. The process is long, and the emotional roller-coaster that everyone said we’d find ourselves on is furious; the highs are high, and the lows are very, very low. We are often impatient, caught in the in-between, the now and not yet; often overwhelmed, seemingly buried under mountains of paperwork and tasks to check off lists; often heart-tender, full of the longing and ache to wrap her in our arms at long last.
Of course, that doesn’t even begin to touch on the financial strain that adoption places on a family. Domestic and international fees, travel costs, immigration bills: the numbers grow higher and higher, and it all adds up to tens of thousands of dollars, quite literally. When we began this process, we were a one-income family–and on a pastor’s salary, no less. The part-time work I’ve woven into our schedule since then, a few hours a day around the demands of caring for our family; it helps, but really, only a little. Our savings account was emptied weeks ago. We have been overwhelmed by the love and generosity of our village who have donated, bought t-shirts, spread the word, and sent us messages of encouragement and support. Yet the almost $20,000 price tag still remains.
A few days ago, we wrote a check to our home study agency, and as Kyle signed it over, I mentally calculated what would be left in the adoption fund. The short answer: not much. And in that moment, I felt the familiar grip of panic in my throat, the panic that comes when I fix my eyes on what is seen rather than unseen. Because this place we are in; a season of utter dependence on God; of walking by faith, even when our knees tremble; a space of what can sometimes feel like fumbling in the dark–this is familiar territory for me. When I started missions and non-profit work nearly a decade ago, I found myself in this same situation. But God. For nearly five years, there was always, always enough for him to send me back. Always enough. I’ve learned, deep in my soul-core, that this is who he is.
So a few days ago, I hit my knees and laid it all out there. The doubts. The questions. The fear. The panic. The faith. The ache. The plea. And in that clear-as-day gentle voice I’ve come to know and love so well, I heard him remind me. “I am giving you manna.”
Manna. The mystery substance that God fed his people with in Exodus 16. Daily nourishment that literally means “What is it?” The Israelites were sent fresh manna each morning, and each person was to gather enough for their need: no more, and no less. If they tried to hoard their leftovers it spoiled, except for on their Sabbath, when they would have need of their reserves. For forty years, the Israelites ate manna. For forty years, it was a gift straight from God, and it sustained them. And it wasn’t until they’d reached their promised destination that it was replaced with the milk and honey of abundance.
Can you see? Do you understand how good he has been to us? The money needed to cash the check for the home study was our manna, and once it was gone, our adoption fund was empty again. Likewise, the money needed to make the deposit to the adoption agency was manna, as was the money to set aside for immigration services. Once gone, we hungered like the Israelites. But God fills us with enough; no more, and no less. We don’t get to hoard or stockpile; we are given only what we need, as we need it. And this is grace.
As Kyle says, this mindset is so counterintuitive to the culture of mass accumulation that we live in, and I suppose that might be what Jesus was touching on when he talked about his upside down kingdom. This life of faith seems strange, sometimes. And by no means do we do it perfectly. We are still learning the sacrament of dependence, this art of trusting what we cannot see. We fear sometimes. We complain. We doubt. And through it all, he is still good, and he is still enough.
Our t-shirt campaign, this next stage of manna, runs until September 30th. We set out with a goal of selling 50 shirts, and we are thisclose to reaching that number! If you haven’t already bought a shirt for yourself or your loved ones, please consider it. We chose the design because even though J. is not our biological daughter, she is already a part of our family because of Love.
We also still have our YouCaring campaign active, and this has no expiration date. Down the road, it is our plan to switch our fundraising over to a platform that will provide tax-deductible receipts to donors. However, this is not possible until our home study is complete. If you would rather wait until that is done, and choose to simply pledge your support for now, we understand and humbly say thank you for your gift. That said, a few bucks here and there on YouCaring helps keep the momentum going.
Friends, family, village; you have been so good to us, and we are humbled, and thankful that you would choose to come along on this journey with us. Our hearts cannot wait for the day we get to bring J. home and show her all the people who have helped to make that possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
k, e, a, & j