I almost laughed when I looked at the title of my last blog post “off the mat.”  Back on May 9th, just two weeks removed from having our adoption journey disrupted, I claimed that we were going to get right back up on that horse and keep riding, and that not finishing the course the first time around was not a major incident, but only a minor blip on the radar.  I didn’t misrepresent myself at all – that was truly my mental attitude and what I wanted to happen.  But, as you can see by the six weeks of no updates, among other things, we didn’t quite hop back up, I guess.

Let me start off by saying – that’s not an easy thing to admit.  Like a lot of people, Jaclyn and I take a little pride in having some mental toughness.  We are hoping some of it rubs off on our brood, but it’s hard to envision mental toughness when you hear from the backseat a whiny voice stating displeasure over not being able to watch a movie in the car for the long 18-minute drive to church.  
It’s also not an easy thing to see.  I have basically gone the past 5-6 weeks under the assumption that I truly shrugged that one off and moved on.  But this past week, God has shown me how useless my own mental toughness is, when not paired up with his spiritual guidance. 
A quick route to making every offspring, and sometimes every one, in our family miserable is when Kara, our oldest child and only daughter, gets reprimanded in some way.  If Gabe (8) gets in trouble, he takes his punishment, withdraws for a time period, then moves on with life.  When it’s JP (6), there will be tears and volume, and often a stuffed animal, a pillow, or a nap (and eventually his Mama) are required to recover.  But none really disrupt the other two that much, unless it was a multi-child pile-up.

Some of you may take a little offense to this, so this is my pre-disclaimer.  If you are what Jerry Clower would term a “she-coon” or “women’s libber”, you may take umbrage to my contention.  Kara is a pre-teen female.  Key term in that description:  female.  She is starting to deal with hormones that most females never actually learn to deal with.  Aaaaannnnnddd, she has already figured out the female characteristic of – “if I’m not happy, no one else is going to be either.”  Kara getting some type of reprimand, regardless of how severe, will have a trickle-down misery effect on the boys.  Sometimes she gets both of them with one fell swoop (that phrase is Shakespeare, by the way, folks. . . this isn’t some hick blog you know!), and sometimes she gets one of them miserable enough that he takes the other one out too.  We know that we take a calculated risk anytime we hand out punishment to her.  

But here’s the part that ties in to where I (and I think we) have been mentally and spiritually for the past several weeks.  For Kara, this is not a conscious effort on her part.  And when we’re in a bad mood (females and males – I’m done just picking on the former), we rarely take that out on others in a concerted effort either.  Kara is making decisions from her sub-conscious that are affected by the mood she is in.  
Here’s a side funny – since I wrote my first blog way back last September, there have only been a few occasions when I didn’t update it every week.  We know that there are a great number of friends that have been prayer warriors for us during this entire process, and it’s never more evident than when I skip a blog week.  I will get an email, a Facebook message, or someone will stop me somewhere and ask where the blog update is.  It gives us great joy and comfort to know how many of you are invested in our journey.  But, since the match with Tiffany was disrupted, she kept the baby, the agency kept our payment, and we said we were getting up off the mat, I haven’t had anyone ask where the latest blog update was.  There were occasional pries on how the process was going, but no one calling me out on being as diligent as before.  You felt sorry for us and were hesitant to ask.  Then, time passed, and we all pushed the situation to the back burner and plodded along.  Don’t feel guilty – I’m not trying to do that to anyone – we were in the same boat.  
Oh, we tried to look the part, and even fooled ourselves for a time.  We would look at situations that agencies sent us, decide whether or not to be shown, and carry on.  But my faith, which brought us to adoption in the first place, carried us through the uncertain times, and allowed me to grow closer to God by making those steps, vanished.  It was replaced instead by my intelligence and worldly discernment.  There have only been a handful of birth mothers to look over in the past six weeks – maybe 5 or 6.  I don’t think that I gave any of them a true, prayerful consideration.  I gave them a thoughtful one – where I turned them down because of something in their profile I didn’t think met our standards.  Or, they didn’t look stable enough (on paper) to make a decision like this, and I wasn’t getting burned again.  I no longer turned it over to the One who has the master plan and let Him guide my decisions.  I suddenly became smart enough to do that for Him.  I didn’t like the feeling of getting so close to holding my fourth child only to have to go all the way back to square one.  I didn’t like the way it felt when I took the leap of faith, only to fall on my face.  And the real kicker in all of this – I got to this point just like Kara does – without doing it on purpose.  
My situation is not unique – we do it all the time as followers of Christ.  We go through a great Bible study, or hear a word from a pastor, speaker, or read it in a Christian book that re-focuses us on Christ for a time.  But, as soon as the world throws something in front of us – it can be major, like our disrupted adoption (that’s the official phrase, by the way), or something minor like being too tired to get up early for a quiet time with Him – then He goes back to the “something else” on our plate instead of the priority that He should be.  God tells us in Revelation 3:16 that when we are not white hot on fire for Christ, we make him physically sick.  I am sure that my weak faith over the past few weeks has had Him nauseated.
So, this time, I really am getting up off the mat.  For a few reasons I don’t mind sharing with you (in no particular order).  First, my unborn child needs a family.  Second, my three kids are watching to see my model of what a follower of Christ looks like.  Third, my wife needs a Godly leader in my house.  Fourth, because I hate losing and Satan has been undefeated in my life for the past few weeks.  And fifth, because there is no other joy that compares to being in the center of God’s will.  
So, continue to pray for us as we prayerfully consider any birth mother situation that we come across.  And, don’t be afraid to ask us how it is going, or where the update is.  We might need that to refocus.  I know that for my part, we are going to continue to pray and be ready to take another step of faith should the opportunity arise.  Jaclyn is going to do what we should have done weeks ago – complete the nursery and have it ready at a moment’s notice.  I still can’t wait to meet him or her (only ONE, Jaclyn!)
By the way, today’s verse came from my quiet time this morning.  Very funny, God. . . 
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.  – James 1:2-4

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