The following post was written by Jacqui Jackson, iHope’s co-founder and CEO, on her Grateful Mommy blog. It can be accessed here: http://www.thegratefulmommy.com
13 years ago, I distinctly remember laying in my bed, tears coursing down my face, as I prayed and prayed, begging God to give me the family I so greatly desired. The outlines were fuzzy, but the heartache was so clear. I had no idea how God would build this family, but build it He could – if it was His will. My prayers were carefully worded – I never prayed for patience (I still don’t honestly), but I prayed for peace. I prayed for sweet babies to cuddle and to love.
My mommy heart was broken as I sat at the crossroads of a journey that would change my life. Being that I was personally adopted, it was as if my heart was programmed to desire and esteem family far above any other thing in this world, and all I had night after night were my prayers, sobbing out to the heart of God, my Father, sharing my most desperate dream and begging Him to make it real.
Fast forward five years, and through the miracle of adoption, I became a mother. I held that precious hours-old child, and everything became clear: the waiting, the wanting, and the wondering. In her face was the answer to my deepest longing, and little did I know that she was the next step in God’s process of refining me as His daughter.
Whereas my prayers before Angel Girl were sincere and honest, they were also incredibly selfish. Had I possessed a modicum of self-reflection, I might have noticed that for myself, but it was highly unlikely. Once I was a mommy, my prayers began to change. My prayers for her health, her salvation, and the trajectory of her life took center stage. I looked at the world through a prism of motherhood, and I found the world lacking.
I replaced heartache with fear as I wondered how in the world I was to raise a Godly daughter in this fallen world. God allowed me many years of searching, seeking His face, and relying on Him to finally realize that ultimately He is her great protector – not me. That was a humbling journey – but God wasn’t done with me yet.
As I walked that road of realization, we began to pray in earnest for another child. Where I began Angel Girl’s adoption with total optimism and excitement, the second began with a more world-weary approach. I now knew the obstacles, paperwork, timelines (none!), and total surrender. More than once during that process, I wanted to just stop and weep. My prayers began to change again as I prayed for our entire family to transition well and for our family to be one that would raise children unto the Lord. Sadly, I was not as hopeful for this happening. I thought perhaps my allotment of miracles was used up in the amazing gift that is my first daughter.
But God doesn’t work under our mental and emotional constraints, and despite myself, He moved mountains, when just 18 days after our home study, we found out about Buddy. The time frame was unthinkable. We had been given parameters in terms of wait times in the form of years, not days. God moved so fast, but the month following this gift proved to be refinement by fire for both myself and my dear husband. We had to lean on one another and lean fully into Christ as we faced an absolute roller coaster to get our son home.
Beat down, weary, but yet ecstatic, we walked through our front door as a triumphant, though bruised, family of four just 10 days before Christmas. I sighed with relief, and I thought in my heart, “Jesus, I have wanted a big family, but getting everyone home seems to be so much bigger than me. I just thank you for finding each of us and for allowing us to live and love now.” My heart, at first full of heartache and then full of apprehension, was now content. It is at that moment that I began to wait upon the Lord.
But Angel Girl had other ideas. Thrilled with the idea of a new brother, just days after our arrival home, she began to pray nightly for our next child, whom we called Nehi. Each child in our family has had a Biblical prayer name as a place holder. We do this because we aren’t praying for a random child; we are praying specifically for whomever God had chosen to be a member of our forever family.
So Nehi, prayer-named after Nehemiah in the Bible, having been home mere days, prompted a conviction to pray in our eldest child. She had seen God work in mighty ways, but unlike her mommy, she was filled with total faith that this could happen again. Battle worn and overwhelmed, I encouraged her prayers, but figured another few years worth of waiting was ahead of us, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around that.
Nine months later, God floored us all. Against all medical odds, I was expecting. We were thrilled and terrified in equal measure. But day by day, week by week, God was faithful in our third child’s development. He graced our family with the first biological child that any of us had imagined, and in so doing, allowed all of us to see clearly His hand forming the inner working of this little family of ours. With a confidence only a child could muster, upon finding out about the newest addition, Angel Girl immediately decreed Baby Nehi 2 (her name choice) to be a girl.
Afraid of bonding issues and heartbreak, we decided to find out early who this baby would be. Amid family and friends, we shared a Baby Reveal where we found out that Little Lady was on the way. The only one who wasn’t surprised? Angel Girl. She called it, because as she told us almost daily, she already had a brother, and now she asked Jesus for a sister. That child’s prayer life astounds me.
So there we were as a family of five, and so humbled to be. Yet God was still working on our behalf and in spite of our obstacles. Two years to the day after God revealed that Little Lady was on the way, we found out that we were expecting again. After years of praying and beseeching, God began to move mountains and did not stop.
So now it is five in the morning, and Baby Boy has spent the better part of the hour tap dancing in my belly as I reviewed our family life. Being given the opportunities to adopt and have biological children isn’t a gift every family is given, but it has given us unique access to speak into a variety of family situations. During both of my pregnancies, God has allowed me opportunities to talk with and minister to prospective birth mothers – conversations I never considered but that were completely God-ordained, for I could speak as an adopted child, an adoptive mother, and as a woman experiencing the joys and pains of pregnancy.
No one but the Lord could have brought that about for me.
So as sleep is finally ready to claim me, I have to smile and offer a humble prayer. God is the Author of our lives. And 13 years ago, this isn’t at all how I might have described Him. But it is a huge part of my story, and as I stand with my family looking from the vantage point of perspective, all we can be is grateful.