“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  -Hebrews 12:11

Where do I even begin?  The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of chasing down paperwork for our adoption and believe it or not, through this, I have learned a lot about myself and about my level of surrender and trust.  Things have not gone as planned…not one time…and my faith has been tested to its limits.  I now realize that God has been babying me with grace for much of my Christian life.  My habits of laziness, of rushing ahead foolhardily into things, of overlooking details or wishing they would go away, of distrust, of impatience, they have for a long time been bathed in grace.  God allowed me a good bit of leeway in my areas of weakness and I fully took advantage of it.

So what changed?  I found myself asking God that very question this week.  For one thing, my level of submission has changed.  He has my “yes”.  With that “yes” comes a whole new deeper level of relationship, and some difficult new lessons.  He is teaching me to not only completely trust Him, but to trust His timing as well.  He is preparing me to walk into things that will require complete and sometimes intricate obedience and a level of trust that I obviously do not have at this moment.

Last week, I came to Atlanta prepared to complete our paperwork that needs to be sent to China for our adoption.  This is called a dossier.  It is the second level of paperwork in international adoption.  the first level is the home study.  The home study consists of the state that you live in researching your background, your healthy, your finances, your parenting ability, etc and then writing a nice little 10 page report to state their findings.  This is only one piece of the dossier.  There are about 13 pieces of official paperwork sent in a China dossier and several other unofficial pieces.  Each official piece of paperwork must be notarized, then that notarized document must be authenticated at the county level, and then that county level authentication must be authenticated again at the state level.  Once that is all completed, it has to be sent to the Chinese consulate to have a final stamp of approval before it goes to China.  So there are 4 steps to securing every piece of this dossier and China expects perfection down to the letter.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Just find a notary to notarize all 13 pieces and you are set… only each piece must be notarized at the place where it is signed.  So your medicals will be notarized at your doctor’s office, your professional letters at your employer’s office, your criminal record letters at the sheriff’s office, etc.  This means more than likely you will end up with notaries from several different counties that will have to be authenticated at these different counties clerk of court before they go to the Secretary of States office in Atlanta (at least that is how it works in Georgia).

Since we recently made the move to Albany, my paperwork was all over the place.  I had notaries from several different counties, so lots of legwork to get done.  Not only that, but up until May 7th, we had hoped to reuse our dossier already in China and just add the updated home study…no such luck.  May 7th came and went and suddenly I was faced with putting together an entire packet ASAP as we made the lock on Jessica’s file…knowing that she will age out in November.  Can I just tell you that this freaks me out???  I don’t like the pressure of deadlines that I cannot meet on my own.  My trust of God’s timing has been hugely tested and I have failed over and over again this past week.  I want my paperwork done and I want it done NOW!  Can I just be honest and say that I have not wanted God’s timing on this… I have wanted mine.   God’s might be that we get Jessica the day before she ages out and that just completely freaks me out to go into a process like this and have to trust to the very last day.  Okay, God… I’ll trust you as long as all our approvals are here like 2 months before we have to be there, so I don’t have to work at trusting you anymore after that…right?  I have some major rebellion popping up here… just being honest.

So the last thing I wanted was to be faced with notaries that could not notarize properly…twice… a frustrated government employee that didn’t want to work late… a birth certificate that the county had not certified when I went out of my way to pick it up (on that trip I went to the completely wrong address on the GPS and it ended up being 22 miles from the right one)…and multiple mistakes in paperwork that meant starting back at step 1 when I had already finished step 3.  In two weeks I have made 1 trip to the Lee Co Courthouse, 1 trip to the Dougherty Co Sheriff’s Dept, 1 trip to the Dougherty Co jail, 2 trips to the Walton Co Sheriffs office, 2 trips to the Walton Co courthouse, 2 trips to the Gwinnett Co courthouse, and 3 trips to the Secretary of State’s office in Atlanta…security guards everywhere recognize me.  None of these places are exactly within walking distance, so no, it has not been fun at all.  In the midst of it, however, God showed up in ways that said “My timing is perfect”.  He had a woman, who was only filling in for lunch at one of the courthouses, authenticate our docs who had known my husband in high school.  Her name is now on our adoption documents.  He had me bring docs to church to be notarized that ended up being prayed over in Sunday School.  He sent specific songs into my life at just the right moment just to remind me He is in control.  In the midst of chaos and mistakes that I will never be able to figure out the “Whys” behind, it has been so obvious that His Hand of discipline has been on me.  I am learning grace…through faith.  “Grace through faith” is a whole lot different from “grace because I am a milk loving Christian”.  I am being forced to grow up in Him…like that eagle pushing her eaglets out of the nest when they are ready to fly… 

And my attitude has been crap.  It has stunk.  After every brick wall, I have fought and cried.  I yelled a whole story the other day at David over the phone and then “boohoo”ed into his shoulder this morning when more mistakes meant more trips.  I have been so angry I could scream, so disappointed I could sob, and so sick of papers that I could throw up.  I pulled up today on my 3rd trip to the parking garage attached to the Floyd West Tower in Atlanta where the Secretary of States Election Division sits on the 8th floor (Step 3 for the dossier papers) only to be alerted by an email that another mistake had been spotted and I must start over on 2 pieces of paperwork.  I heard the enemy so loudly in my head “That’s it!!!!!  I’m not doing this anymore.  I quit!  I’m just going to go home to Albany and throw this paperwork into the pool.”  I was throwing quite a temper tantrum inside my head when God AGAIN for the 25th time in two weeks said “Candace, my timing is perfect.  Why won’t you trust me?”  And I realized that as much as I harp on trusting God…as much as people think that I do trust God… all it takes is a few brick walls and I am back to relying on this physical world…on what I can see and touch and feel.  Yet NONE OF THIS…NOTHING HERE ON THIS EARTH has ever done for me what my Savior has done.  He is completely reliable….He is eternally faithful….He is the only thing worth depending on.  There is nothing else…NOTHING ELSE…to place trust in.

I finally think that a bit of this lesson has made its way through a crack in my thick skull.  I know that my God is faithful.  I know that He is gently teaching me how to trust Him more.  I know that He holds the perfect plan and that I would never want to make my own edits to it.  Talk about authenticated!!  He is the REAL THING.

So when I go to the Gwinnett Co courthouse for the 3rd time tomorrow and the Secretary of State’s office for the 4th time…as I am driving those 40 or so miles from one place to another, I will pray with all my heart that this is the last time I will have to visit these places, but I will also rest assured in my heart that even if it isn’t…His timing is perfect.