They soak up everything around them and everything I do. They watch me on my phone. They watch me drive. They watch me talk. They watch me fart. They watch everything.
Today I took two of my boys to our weekly one-on-one java chat. TJ before and Tyler after school. They both had questions and in the process, reminded me... they are soaking up so much. They are sponges.
After walking that long, devoid road of infertility, we chose a different path. The new path of adoption was still full of unknowns, but perhaps a little less barren. Along the way - I had cried out to God. In the beginning, I had cried and sobbed for a child. For a baby to grow in my body... a child that would have Cory's blue eyes and freckles, maybe with hair the color of mine.
Then, the Comforter worked in my heart. He pried my clenched fingers open in order to release those desires... He didn't need to replace them with a passion to adopt - that was already there. But, I was shoving that desire down, because a biological child was first on my priority list. When it became apparent that no child would be coming from this body, I grieved.
I mourned for what we would never have... for what I would never experience. And yet, there was hope in adoption. We moved slowly through the home study - through loads of paperwork and red tape and meetings and money raising. Crawling along, we worked through emotions and biases. In our hearts grew a knowledge and passion for birthmoms. My heart broke the more I read and watched and observed of birthmothers who place their children with another family. I grieved for them and for me. This journey wasn't all about me and Cory anymore. Our sorrow would be shared with another. Different sorrows, but the same. Yet, ours would be comforted.
Finally, we hit the homestretch. Matched! A mom chose us to raise her little girl. We met and talked and chose names. Baby showers - Check. Diapers stocked - Check. Parenting books read - Check.
And then, 2 pink lines. Four years I had waited for that second pink line. Four years of tears and hope and tests and hormone-crazed cycles and ... Now, when all that is done. When my heart has moved on. When a another woman is counting on us.
But, we were still willing and wanting to bring our baby girl home - to see this adoption through. So, we told the woman, but still hurried to finish the nursery and find a pediatrician and ... The baby came early, September 13th. And the woman held her little girl and her family gathered around. And they decided to parent. And a part of me grieved, while another part rejoiced that this family would be able to stay together.
So, now our adoption plan is on hold. We are busy with doctor appointments and heartburn and kick counts... Only 4 more months until this little girl makes her debut. So while there are still days when emotions run haywire inside my heart... I can look back and see God moving in me. Changing my heart and head. Rooting out judgemental, insensitive beliefs and words. Giving me eyes that truly see people - not their angry words or mean actions - but their hurt and loneliness underneath.
I wouldn't have chosen this path, but I wouldn't trade it. Because of the hurt and fear and loss, I am a different person. I am better and stronger and I look more like Him. And I wouldn't trade it.
So, I have learned about true gratitude. I have learned how to cry out to God for my needs and wants, but to say - If You have a different plan, then I'm thankful for what You are doing. I might not like it all and I might cry and feel pain. But, I know, I'd rather Your plan than mine.
FIGHTING THE “
Over the last year, Ignite Student Ministries has seen some significant changes, particularly due to the addition of the LC2 and the shift to 2 student services every Sunday morning during the adult services. It has been a year of watching God work in profound ways as new teens have made faith commitments and taken steps closer to God!
But with these changes our leadership team has been growing aware of a flipside danger that every Student Ministry faces to one degree or another… and it’s called the “Island Mentality”. In essence, we bring our young people to the “Student Ministry Island” during their teenage years, they grow and develop closer to God during that formative time, but then we “ship them off” to the “mainland” after graduation and discover that many seem to get “lost at sea” in this voyage back home. A Student Ministry can look like an island when the teens are not given consistent opportunities to integrate and blend with the adult ministries of the church.
Our leadership team recently got away together for a weekend and “Fighting the Island Mentality” in our setting was one of the things we discussed. From those discussions, here’s where we’re starting to land:
There’s intentionally never anything ISM-related happening during these adult midweek services, and we encourage our students to be there for it! It’s an opportunity to worship, learn, and build community with the adults in the church. If you have a teen actively involved in ISM, get them actively involved in Common Ground too!
Every 2-3 months we shut down our student services one week and encourage the teens to join the adults in the main auditorium. These are not the Sundays to miss!
Real long-term growth in our students will be seen as they develop personal habits during their teenage years that will help them grow on their own. The beauty is that these habits are not dependant on a person or a program in the Student Ministry. Encourage your student(s) to continually utilize the many resources at the “Habits Shack” in the youth room.
Parents… we need your help in fighting this “Island Mentality”! Are you in?