The theme of my life so far seems to be "stay."
I've lived in the same city my whole life, other than a semester abroad in college.
I attend the church that I primarily grew up at. After about a 4-year period of not being there, Reuben and I realized it was home for us while we were engaged and we've been a part of that community ever since.
We bought our first house 8 years ago and still live in it. We briefly attempted to sell it a year and a half ago and it was clear at that time that we were to stay.
I remember the tearful day at age 18 sitting with my mom at Panera when I realized it made the most sense financially to go to the college in my hometown instead of out of state like I had dreamed.
I remember the job offer in Colorado and then the realization we had that our love to travel other places would likely not happen if we moved as we value seeing our families and would be spending vacations coming home to visit instead of going elsewhere. There's more to that story, as there is any story.
I remember the painful day in the summer of 2013 when our dear friends moved across the country, clearly being called to "go," and it felt so horribly painful to stay. Stay as I always have.
I'm sure I will always struggle somewhat with "what-ifs" because there are trade-offs to every decision that is made. I often feel like my life is so cliche, boring, and not risky because of these things.
But I'm learning more lately that there are times when staying can be harder than going, and just because I'm physically stagnant by the world's view doesn't mean that my heart is stagnant or that I'm the same person I've always been. I'm learning that God can use me where I've been planted and maybe I'm truly called to stay.... at least for now.
For nearly 2 years now, God has been stirring in my heart and Reuben's heart His heart for orphans and vulnerable children. Through much wrestling, talking, tears, prayers, resisting, seeking, and finally submitting, we have decided to take a step of faith and obedience to pursue adoption as the next step in growing our family. It is not a decision we take lightly but one that we are excited to pursue because we truly have total peace and confidence that we are called to do this.
As we gathered information about the various options (international, domestic, foster care), it became clear to us that we were to "stay" yet again. We felt the least called to international adoption (though the need is certainly great) and felt like we were to stay local. While we strongly considered foster care, we weren't at peace with entering into that at this point in our lives. And yet, we kept hearing that we were to do something now, not later, as it is so easy to say. So 2 weeks ago, we sent in the initial paperwork to start the process of domestic infant adoption. We will go through the process of hopefully being approved and then be on a list of waiting families that birth mothers can choose from. It could be weeks or it could be years after approval until we have a child in our home. The birth mother could change her mind before, during, or after the birth of the child. There is usually an ongoing open relationship with the birth mother with this type of adoption.
It feels risky. It feels messy. But this is life we're talking about. Two lives we're talking about. This woman will be in a situation she didn't expect herself to be in. In the face of this situation, she will be choosing life, choosing life at a time that it is too easy not to, even if she doesn't think she can raise the child and faces the horrible pain of relinquishing rights to the child. As a mother of my two girls, I can't imagine.
As a Christian, I am not called to live a comfortable, secure life as I've often thought for some reason. Jesus did not say, "Follow me when it's convenient or fun or easy." He said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). This means surrender, total surrender. Whew, I have a long way to go. But Reuben and I are ready to be available with open hands and open hearts to provide a home and a family for this child and to partner with the birth mom in her decision of choosing life when she didn't have to.
We so desire a 3rd child in our family. God has called us to "go" to grow our family, and yet ironically we are yet again to "stay."
Maybe there will be a time at some point in my life where it is clear that we are to physically "go" far away. For now, I will strive to enjoy the wild ride of staying.