As I was reading over my previous posts, I really felt like I should clarify something before I finish this part of the story. When I sensed that we had 'just stepped out' of God's will, it was not some uber-spiritual moment. I did not hear the voice of God shout from the heavens "TURN BACK! THIS IS NOT MY PLAN!" He didn't spell out any messages for me in the sky. (That would have been nice, but alas, it was not so.) Embarrassingly enough, it felt like just plain fear. There were hurtful comments, horror stories (you know, the ones that always sound something like, 'I knew someone who adopted kid with special needs, and [insert worst-case scenario here]'), and even some well-intended concerns that made us fear what the future might hold. At the time, I did not realize I was stepping into battle, and I was completely unprepared. Every harsh word was like an arrow that struck me right in the heart.
'Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.' 1 Peter 5:8
Looking back, I can see God's fingerprints all OVER the situation. But in the moment, it seemed as if Satan's tactics were getting the best of us. Were we really just scared? Did we let people speak fear into our hearts? Were we just not trusting God? I still struggle with these questions every now and then (compliments of the enemy, no doubt), but God always reminds me that His sovereignty exists even in our weaknesses.
'You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done...' Genesis 50:20
Even if Satan had 'successfully' preyed on our weaknesses with intent to harm us and derail God's plan, God intended it to ultimately carry out His will -- His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Ok. Back to the rest of the story. So I crawled into bed, and just as I closed my eyes, Shannon Dingle's face popped into my head. It's no secret that my mind wanders sometimes -- the laundry, the kids, what I'll make for dinner the next day -- but it was very odd to think of Shannon before drifting off to sleep. I knew her from a Bible Study I attended for a few weeks about 2 years ago. And that was the extent of our relationship. We knew of each other. It's not like we didn't like each other, we just went to different churches, lived in different towns, and our paths never really crossed again. But we did manage to stay loyal facebook 'friends' ;) About 3 weeks prior I had seen one of her status updates:
'My grandmother last night: "So what's this business
about adoption? You two make beautiful children, so you shouldn't
bother with raising someone else's kids. Those kids could have something
wrong with them too, you know, like special needs."
So at what point should we tell her that we're planning to adopt a child with special needs?'
[Yes, folks. God can even use social media if He so desires]
Suddenly, it all started coming together. I felt that I needed to write Shannon right away -- it couldn't wait until the morning. It was after midnight when I started typing the most awkward message. Ever. What do you say to someone you haven't spoken to in 2 years? Especially when you're basically telling them that you think God might be telling you that they should adopt a specific child. I was almost certain she would think I was crazy. (Little did I know that God had already been at work in Shannon's heart, preparing her for this very moment.) She responded by telling me that she and her husband, Lee, would pray about it, and she asked if she could share this adoption need on her blog. In my mind, this was a big, fat, sugar-coated, 'Nope!', but I still felt sure God was up to something. Within 3 days we had exchanged several messages and spoken on the phone a couple of times. I'll never forget how my heart stopped when I heard Shannon say, "I was going to advocate for her on my blog -- but something was keeping me from doing it. I've done this several times before for other kids, but this time I just felt like I was looking at our daughter."
And 5 months later, that's just what she became.
Meet Zoe Amanda Dingle (formerly known as 'Baby Jesse') -- fearfully and wonderfully made by the perfect Creator.
Through the struggle, I could only see my little piece
of the puzzle, but the Master was looking at the finished product. He
knew exactly how He wanted Zoe's story of redemption to play out, and
He knew Chris and I had to experience this season in our lives to
prepare us for what He was calling us to. And so now we have put on the full
armor of God. We are prepared for battle. In His unbelievable
grace He has revealed His power and sovereignty to us. And through the strength and confidence that can only come from Christ, we will
unshakably fight to ransom our daughter.
Click here to read Zoe's miraculous story, see more pictures, and meet her family!