a. A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste.
b. Such an advantage, immunity, or right held as a prerogative of status or rank, and exercised to the exclusion or detriment of others.
When I think of someone as privileged, I imagine someone who's grown up with wealthy parents, wears designer clothes and attends some high-class school. It doesn't carry the most positive connotation in my mind. Until today.
Let me back up. Warning....this could take a while. I don't write for mass numbers. I write to share our stories. Stories take time.
We've been working on adopting Sunny from Ha*ti since January 2010. Before we were even officially matched to her we had a social worker in our home getting our home study ready. We were hopeful for humanitarian parole (that's a long story, don't ask:) but deep down we knew this would most likely be another adoption journey. Journeys, like stories, take time. From the very beginning it was suggested this journey could be a brief one. Sunny could be home very soon. From the beginning we've been dying to those expectations.....over and over again. In the last year I've been to Haiti 4 times. It took 10 months to get our papers from the orphanage's hands into the big, important office known as IB**R. That was a long wait. On Feb. 1, 2011 our paperwork (dossier) finally entered this office. It was a huge relief. But the journey's end was still long, long away.
The last week of January 2011 I had a very interesting dream. I was in love with a military doctor. I couldn't see his face - just his fatigues and doctor's bag. His face was like the sun. In the dream I was distraught because he was being called overseas for the next 6 months and I knew I would miss him so much. He reminded me that I needed to finish school and that would take up the six months of waiting. I woke from the dream with such a heaviness. I immediately thought - that's what this adoption feels like.
As the day went on I asked the Lord to show me what the dream meant, if anything. At the end of the day I knew that God was the military doctor - a great warrior/defender and healer. I knew that the "school" in the dream was the Lord showing me he would be my teacher in the "school of prayer" for the next six months. I thought the "defender" part was for Sunny. But I wasn't sure what the "healer" part was all about.
A few weeks later I was in Haiti with a friend. The Lord had prompted both our hearts to go to Haiti and pray over all the orphans of HC*M and over the orphanage itself. We saw some amazing things that week. But one of the unexpected things was my friend asked me a question that led to my telling her about a family member who used to be a freemason. She "just happened" to have a book that detailed how to pray over the curses that often fall on family members of freemasons. I realize I'm freaking some of you out right now. That's not my intent. Again, this is my story, and its true. We began praying against all the 50 something degrees of freemason and without going into all the details, we KNEW God was doing some good things. I was led to pray for this family member's forgiveness, particularly on behalf of my mother who was most greatly affected by this family member. My mother has been sick for many years, about 27 to be exact. So we began to pray over her as well.
Now, first of all, my dad is an amazing man of God and he has been faithfully praying for my mother's healing for all these years. Many others have been praying as well. God heard their prayers and as an answer to their prayers he sent me all the way to Haiti to land right in the middle of this amazing prayer time with this particular friend. It was a sweet time of prayer. I was at peace with having forgiven this family member and that was the end of it for me as far as I could tell.
Follow me carefully here - I'm mixing up a couple of big stories to get to my point. In May 2011 - four months after the dream and 3.5 months after praying in Haiti - three of the families adopting from Sunny's orphanage had made it out of IB**R. Two of the families had entered that office before me. One after, and this family had only been in this office for 2.5 months. Our papers were nearing 4 months in IB**R by that time. I was so happy for those families but so sad we had not made it through. However, I was hopeful we would exit IB**R soon.
A few weeks later, I traveled to SC to visit my family. During this trip I was concerned my mother was dying along with the previously freemason family member. It was a really hard trip. My mother was so sick.
I returned to San Antonio so sad. A few days later I received a phone call and my mom was headed to the hospital. I've shared this story in a previous post so I'll skip to the good part. Within a week my mother was off all her pain meds, all narcotic meds and was recovering from many of her ailments. She was walking, talking and aware again. It was nothing short of a miracle. The week of her healing the Lord reminded me of the dream back in January. He had come as healer before 6 months!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was blown away by his sharing this with me. And, true to the dream, he had taught me something about prayer. Sometimes healing only comes when curses are broken - which often comes by way of forgiveness. The week was bittersweet, however, as my sister miscarried at 3 months during this time.
It was now July. Time for leading worship at summer camps which equaled lots of travel. As we led worship from stage all I thought about was worshipping the Lord as part of the battle in gaining Sunny's deliverance from orphan-life. As we arrived at our first camp in NM we saw the most beautiful double rainbow. I was thinking to myself this was a reminder that God is faithful. I was beginning to think that Jesus would deliver our papers from this office by the six month mark since in my dream the time frame of 6 months was stated twice. Six months would be August 1st. I was hoping God would show himself as deliverer for Sunny by that date and this double rainbow - each rainbow having 6 colors (I know, I'm kinda being a romantic here) was filling me with such anticipation. To top it off, my daughter, Libby, got out of the car, grabbed my hand and said, "God sent that rainbow just for us." I was moved to tears.
On the way home from that trip, a dust storm was stirring up and in the middle of the dust storm, with no rain just yet, another - even more brilliant - double rainbow glowed on the horizon. At this point I am sure - absolutely certain - God is showing me He will do this. But I also recognize the dust storm around his promise. Could it be that I would have to endure more "storms" on this journey?
At some point in July we found out only one signature was still needed. I immediately began praying blessings over the person who needed to sign, asking for God to give us favor with her, asking God to change her heart. But it became clear this would not happen fast.
August 1 rolls in and out. Crickets and tumble weed is all we could hear. Actually - it wasn't silent. There was lots of talk about private adoptions in Ha*ti becoming illegal. There was also some information shared that made it seem like getting the third needed signature would demand a much longer wait. Despite the less-than-encouraging news...Still we prayed. Still we worshipped. The six month mark was long gone, but our hope was not.
On August 22, I heard from our orphanage that our dossier was finally signed along with 5 other family's from the same orphanage. But a person in charge there was refusing to hand them over (all 6 dossiers).
Ours was the only family aware of this information at that point. A burden too heavy to carry alone, we asked a few friends to pray. Each day - as with the rest of the summer since May, we yearned for the phone to ring with good news - all. day. long. every. day.
I had planned to visit Sunny back in June but postponed the trip thinking we may get out of IB**R any day and if I waited then I could file our I-600 at the embassy on a later trip. Now, it was time to go see Sunny whether out of IB**R or not. I have not visited her since Feb. That's 7 months with no visit. I just need to see her and let her know we are moving forward and trying to make progress on her adoption. I bought tickets for a fast approaching week of September- hopeful that maybe, just maybe, we would exit IB**R before then and be able to file papers. This would also allow me the opportunity to look Sunny in the eye and say "next time I come to visit you're coming home with me."
So, as you can imagine, we have continued praying. In the meantime we had to make an unexpected trip to Amarillo. A few days later I learned that my grandfather had died - my mom's father. I traveled to SC for the funeral and had the wonderful opportunity to lay eyes on my mother for the first time since she was healed. She looked magnificent. I spent my 72 hours in SC somewhere between speechless disbelief and utter tears of joy. After my grandfather's funeral that Friday, I checked my phone. A message from the pastor of the orphanage sounded hopeful. I called him back. He was excited to tell me that FOR SURE our dossier would be in his hands by next Wednesday. Four long days of waiting to go after a whirlwind 2 weeks of unexpected travel and the chaos of a new school year for this homeschool mom. Can you say tired?
Tuesday night I worshipped the Lord with all I had as Wednesday rolled in at 12AM. I sang nearly every hymn in the hymn book in the quiet solitude of my master bathroom. I was so excited to see God finally deliver us from this part of our journey. If we got out of IB**R we could possibly have Sunny home in 4-6 months. And time is running out for being able to get an embassy appointment during my upcoming trip, which would mean having to make another extra trip to Ha*ti soon.
Wednesday afternoon I found out that only two dossiers were going to be released. No one knew which wo family's dossiers and we would have to wait one more day to find out. I was fairly certain ours would be one of the ones released simply because we have been in that office 6 months and 31 days. Surely the Lord would deliver our papers before month 7 rolled in. It was our time. One more night of waiting.
So I woke up this morning hopeful, but the Lord clearly has a different plan. The 2 dossiers released today did not include ours. The lawyer returned to IB**R twice today to fight for us. They don't know what is going on. And they were met with unwavering staff.
When I received the disappointing news today I was in a bit of shock initially. Just needed to cry and think. A sweet friend was here and immediately prayed over me. I felt kinda speechless for the next few hours. But as the day went on I realized I had a beautiful opportunity to choose to hear the Spirit over my flesh. In my flesh I could be angry. I could fret. I could be bitter, feel hopeless...or at least defeated. But the Spirit kept putting a smile on my face. Seriously. Even through my tears I felt this still, calm and co-grieving presence telling me to hold on. To trust.
I don't understand why the Lord healed my mother within the 6 months but did not show me his deliverance of Sunny in 6 months. But do I have room to complain? My mother is HEALED!
Perhaps I interpreted the dream wrong. I did have another dream two nights in a row in August. The first time I dreamed it, I was a student having to walk alone early in the morning before the sun was fully shining. I knew I should be concerned about being alone so early in the morning but I made it to the classroom just fine. The second night I had the same dream but a bear tried to attack me along the way. He bounced off me like I had a shield around me. I was protected and walked off the path into the woods. Along the journey I saw a tiger, a python, a panther...all kinds of animals that were there to harm me. But still I arrived at school safe and sound. In my quiet time the next day, the entire passage was about God protecting me and delivering me from all harm. That was the first time I considered that maybe his showing himself as "defender" was just for me all this time. A protection over me as I learn to pray for Sunny. Maybe he was right on time after all (I say this realizing he is ALWAYS on time).
I'm not protected by my father's wealth. I'm not wearing designer clothes. I'm not in a high-class school. I am, rather, protected by my Father, clothed in the garments of salvation and learning from the Master about how to talk to him and battle alongside him. I am privileged to pray for Sunny. I am called to it not to be defeated. But to fight the good fight until its over....even while wounded. Just as my father faithfully prayed for my mother's healing for 27 years, so I am called to faithfully pray here in our 21st month on this adoption journey. I have been given the great privilege of watching my dad consider his calling a privilege when most would have considered him greatly under-privileged. I have big shoes to fill and no excuse to disobey.
Great is Thy Faithfulness is fast becoming my anthem song. My brother and I sang it in my grandfather's funeral. I've been singing it all summer..."strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow". My Teacher gives both. I had enough strength for today. I still have hope for tomorrow. Pray with us for our dossier to exit this office. Your prayers have kept our heads lifted, our hearts strong. Thank you.