Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Everything Happens for a Reason"

Before I get into my main post, I'm sure that many of you are wondering what is going on with the twins situation that I wrote about in my last post. Since writing, Elias and I travelled to visit the birth parents and had a really nice time with them. We felt so comfortable with them and could definitely envision a beautiful adoption relationship with them. We all had a lot in common and the evening just felt natural. Currently they are talking with another couple, they had a few more questions for us and have asked to meet our parents as they are a huge part of our support system! So to wrap everything up, we are still waiting and they are taking their time so that they can make the best decision possible for these two precious babies.

Now onto the post that corresponds with the title. At some point we have all heard the phrase "everything happens for a reason", many of us have probably even said these words.

Today I call bull on that phrase.

This phrase is often said when either things have been tough and seemingly work themselves out or when things are currently tough and we don't have an answer as to why. They are said to either make ourselves feel better or in attempt to make others feel better. Let's face it, when you are going through a tough time, the last thing you want to hear is that it's happening for a "reason". I feel like in the Christian world, we are less likely to say these words and more likely to use something more "holy" like "it's part of God's plan" or "God's in control". While I fully believe that God can and does use hard times to bring good and to grow us, I don't believe that He causes suffering or that suffering is His plan for us. If we truly believe that He is indeed good and is love, He can't cause these things. Bad things and tough times happen because we are a sinful, fallen people. When God gave us free will, He gave up a portion of his control to allow us to make our own choices. Because we are a sinful people, suffering will and does happen.

All this being said, I do believe that God is all powerful and has the power to heal, do miracles and even take suffering away, but He also has the amazing ability to use that time of suffering and bring really good things. We can't say why one person prays and it seems as though their prayers are answered almost instantaneously while another person prays for the same thing and must endure extreme suffering as they feel as though their prayers aren't even being heard.  I can't say why, when one family walks in obedience when being called to adopt, they end up being doubly blessed by a miraculous pregnancy. While another family walks in this same obedience and prays for a miraculous pregnancy, so that they can experience both sides of having children, but never receives one.

The fact of the matter is, not everything happens for a reason. What would the reason be for a husband losing a wife or a parent losing a child? However, God can bring blessings out of suffering. This does not mean that it was part of His "plan" or that there was a "reason" behind it, but that He can take us in our broken state and heal us little by little, making us stronger and transforming us.  Through suffering He may ignite a passion in us or open our hearts to something that we wouldn't have previously considered.

This is how I feel about the twins. We may not be chosen and if we aren't, I'm okay with that, because I know that they will go to another amazing family that will love them dearly. But if we are chosen, it will only be because we had to walk a road of suffering for awhile. Five years ago, we would have never considered adopting a child with special needs. Two years ago when we began fundraising to adopt we would have never considered adopting a child with special needs. But now, after all of this time, we are willing to say "we surrender" and we are willing to take this step. I don't believe that God made us infertile or gave Elias CF or that it was in His "plan" for us to endure the greatest pain of our lives, but I do think that He has taken this time to prepare us for something greater than ourselves and our plans, and to bring us blessings bigger than we could have ever imagined. He could have changed our situation I'm sure of that, but if He had, we would not be sitting here today waiting to find out if we will be chosen as the parents of these precious little ones with hearts open to accept both of them just as they are.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Prayers needed

Chaos has ensued in the Zehr household! After 3 (now 4) rescheduled foster care home visits, we received an unexpected email on Friday. Our agency reached out to us to see if we would consider a situation that they were thinking about taking on, but needed a family to be on board before they did so. They had an expectant mother who is expecting twin boys in April, one of whom will be born with Down Syndrome. Previously this was outside of our comfort zone, but something on that day made us stop and pray about this. We had to run through so many scenarios in our heads regarding how having a child with special needs would change our lives and future. We also had to think about what God was calling us to and if He was calling us to this situation, we had to trust that the blessings would far outweigh the challenges that would be sure to come. We both felt like God was leading us to agree to be presented to this expectant mother despite the fear and uncertainties that we felt. So, we agreed, they (the expectant mother and friend) viewed our profile and they really like us. They sent a list of questions to us as well as 3 other families, so they can get a better feel for who God is leading them to choose for these precious babies.

Since agreeing to being presented to this couple, some new information has surfaced. We would like to proceed and our agency wants us to proceed, but we have to determine whether or not we can afford to proceed. We have been very honest with our agency about the fact that we do not want to enter into a situation that we cannot afford to complete, hence why we had moved onto foster care. They are willing to work with us as much as possible, but there is a certain amount of money that has to go toward paying the workers that will be working on this case. At this point we are asking for payer as we contemplate whether or not we can move forward. Is this what God has been preparing us for for the past 5 years? We have known for awhile that He has been preparing us for something bigger than ourselves, but this type of situation was not even on our radar! Are we supposed to just step out in faith and trust that somehow everything will work itself out? Is this the reason that our foster care home visit keeps being cancelled? To put it simply, our heads are spinning.

As of right now, we are moving forward until the expectant mother makes her decision. If she chooses us, we will need to figure the rest of the details out at that time and probably fill out as many grant applications as we can get our hands on! If she doesn't, we will proceed with becoming foster parents and trust that that is the capacity that God wants to use us in. At this point, we are not rescheduling our home visit until decisions are made with this situation. I have to say, it's reassuring to know that both we and the expectant mother are seeking God in this huge decision, but it's also terrifying to let go and trust that everything will work out if we are chosen! Please pray for us and even more so for the expectant mother as she makes a very difficult decision to determine who she feels God is leading her to choose to parent her children.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 in review

2013 has been a big year of changes for us. I never would have thought at the beginning of the year that I would be sitting where I am today. It has had it's ups and downs and certainly has not turned out the way I expected. To be honest, I truly thought that this was the year we would become parents, but as you know, it wasn't, and I have to be okay with that. So here is our year in review.

We began the year living in Poland, NY. I was working in NY Mills and Barneveld doing massage therapy while coming up to Lowville twice a month to offer massage therapy at Brookside Senior Living Community. Elias had just begun working with his dad in Lowville so that he could return to school full time as a computer network technician.

Around late spring/ early summer, we knew that a change needed to happen. With him being in school, we simply were not making enough money to make ends meet. I had been looking for additional part time work for awhile, but nothing worked with my massage schedule. So, we began talking about our next step needed to be. We had felt as though we were supposed to move back to Lewis County for some time, but we hadn't thought it would be at that soon. However, since nothing was opening up near Poland for me and Elias was already working in Lowville with his dad, we began exploring the possibility of moving back to Lewis County.

One day, I expressed interested in beginning practicing massage in Croghan and I was given the suggestion to contact one of the salons in town. The owner of that salon stated that she didn't have the space, but she recommended another space in town. I contacted the owner of that salon, went to view the space and decided that since the rent was reasonable, that I would take the plunge and begin offering hours there in July. We began looking for places to rent in Lewis County, found a house in Croghan and moved in September.

Around that same time, we completed our final big fundraiser to raise money for our adoption and came to the conclusion that, despite the generous donations from a number of people, there was no way that we could raise enough money for a traditional agency assisted adoption. We then decided that we would begin pursuing opening ourselves up to become foster parents unless a private adoption situation came along, which is something we are still open to in case any of you hear of anything. We began submitting all of our paperwork to Jefferson County DSS while they requested additional paperwork from The House of the Good Shepard in Utica where we took our foster care classes.

While all of this was happening, Elias begin his second semester as a computer network technician, while continuing to work with his dad. My massage business was not growing as quickly as I had hoped and I was blessed to begin working part time in October for a husband and wife company, only 8 minutes from our home, as an office assistant. The hours are very flexible and still allow me to focus time on my own business.

Currently, we are still waiting on becoming open for foster children, but this week we are once again scheduled to have our home visit, then we will need to get physicals and DSS will need to write up our homestudy. At that point, if all is in order, we should be able to be open to foster children!

I'm sure this next year will also be full of ups and downs, but I pray that the downs will grow us more in Christ and that the ups will bless us more than we could ever imagine. Many blessings to all of you this new year!