This is going to seem like an odd way to start this post, but have you ever had a panic attack?  I’m not talking about a moment of anxiety or fear, I’m talking about a full-fledged “Am I dying?” panic attack?  This girl has lived with them for my entire life.  Anxiety made itself my best friend for MANY years and held on like I was the last person on earth that would dedicate my life to it.  I have had so many “Am I dying?” moments that on several occasions I have laid on my face and asked the Lord to call me home. 

A little over two years ago, I was on my face at the best worship event I have ever attended crying out to the Lord to change me.  At that event, He challenged me to imagine my life without the fear, without the hold that anxiety had on my life.  He said to me “Daughter, I see your heart and I love your heart.  I’m going to use your heart.”  I am so undeserving.  I have no huge talents or gifts… there is nothing super special about me… believe me, there are only weak things over here.  Weaknesses piled to the ceiling, but a heart that has only ever sought to be right with God, to be pleasing to Him, to walk in His ways, to glorify His Name.  My weaknesses often get in the way of that, but thank Jesus that He sees straight to the heart and He lifts us up in His strength and does AMAZING things that we could never even think to ask.

My Dad posted this on one of my Facebook statuses today…

“I turned 56 the other day. But when I was a young man of 19, her mother and I were given a baby girl. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was always amazed by her. It was amazing to hold her in the palm of 1 hand. It was amazing what her little mind could grasp and contain. She always struggled with anxiety but within it was a determination. I remember when we lived in Indiana when she was little. It was the dead of winter, snow and ice on the ground. She was staying the night about 4 blocks away with a little friend. About 2am I heard a knock at our door. I opened the door and there she stood, in her footie pajamas. She wanted to be at home more than anywhere else. She had slipped out the bedroom window and walked home. This little girl, now a strong young woman, still amazes me. These children belong with her.”

I tear up every time I read this because my Dad rarely gives glimpses into his heart, but today I saw myself in it.  But I also laugh every time that I read this because I remember that night very clearly and I could only have been 9 or 10 years old, but I remember running home in my footie pajamas (thank goodness they make those again for cases like mine!).  I remember that I wasn’t afraid of leaving without notifying anyone or of the dark or the cold, I was only afraid of not being at home… I just couldn’t find safety outside of my small comfort zone. 

The anxiety in my life and my tendency toward panic has shaped me in a way that has thrown me closer and closer to the only true Refuge of life.  Mark Bearden mentioned the other day in a Refresh session that the Lord asked him to make a choice, “I can deliver you from your circumstances or I can be your life.”  Now that may look like a hard choice to make when we are talking about panic attacks because there is not much on earth worse…as a matter of fact, my worst fear is not death, it is panic.  But ultimately that choice is easy for me, because even panic free, this girl cannot live without my Savior.  I know too much, I have seen too much, I have experienced too much to even think about that question without a quick “You BE my LIFE!”

I say all this to make it very clear that David and I did not make adoption happen on our own… as a matter of fact, we did not choose adoption.  We chose Jesus and He chose this path for us.  He continues to make that VERY obvious.  This time He has taught us much about grace and faith through our Naomi and Jessica.  If I told you every detail of the story, we would be here all night so I will give you just a taste of what the Lord has done.

  • We started this journey deciding to adopt again and receiving the referral of a 2 year old angel who is missing an ear.  We decided to name her Naomi Grace.  She has a new name and she doesn’t even know it yet!
  • We started this journey, not only having no idea how we would pay for this adoption, but struggling tremendously to keep the company and our personal finances afloat. 
  • We came across “Jolie” on Facebook (yes, it can be used for good. it’s a tool, people) and we immediately sensed a call to her
  • We made the decision that God was calling us to “Jolie” (who we are naming Jessica “God beholds” Faith) and that this journey would indeed take faith since she was aging out before the end of the year.  God also broke through all of our boundaries as we had agreed not to do a teenager and not to displace our birth order (moral of the story: never tell God what you won’t do)
  • We realized it would take a miracle to reach Jessica in time and we began to seek the Lord.  We also asked Him to prepare her heart for us.
  • A girl named Katie Hale emailed me a few months later and shared that she had spent a whole week with my daughter sharing love and the Gospel with her alongside an organization called “Bring Me Hope”.  She taught her how to pray and brought truth to the lies the enemy was telling my daughter.
  • We were able to establish contact by email with my daughter through a translator and emailed back and forth for weeks.  I was able to not only establish relationship with our sweet girl, but also to coach her through some really hard stuff and to teach her more about Jesus.
  • In the meantime, it was very hard to believe that we would reach Jessica in time.  Our process had several hang ups and with every passing day, the impending date of November 3rd became heavier in our hearts.  At one point, I literally had to offer this girl up to the Lord and say, “You know what the plan is for our girl’s life.  This is Your’s.  Whatever You say, we will do.”  The same night that I did that, my sweet friend, Emily Flynt wrapped her arms around me and whispered, “China is not going to let this girl age out.”  I can’t explain it, but after that night I had the faith to believe she would come home.
  • Early in the process, I had told David that I wanted to take the kids with us to China.  I didn’t feel like Kate was ready for an extended stay away from Mom and Dad and I wanted Jordan and Nathan to experience their sister’s country.  We both wondered at how we would come up with the extra funds to do this, but we decided that if God could provide the adoption money, He could provide the travel money too.
  • Last month, it made me almost sick to think about how much money we needed to actually get to China.  It weighed and weighed on me. I begged God not to let me be sitting here with TA and no money to travel.  The Lord had told us not to fundraise, but to watch and see how He would provide so that all the glory could go to Him.  Just two weeks ago, the Lord released some payments that had been on our company books due for almost 6 months.  David commented that it was almost as if the Lord had been holding the money in escrow.  We have almost what we will need to wire to China.
  • Today I had just finished packing the last suitcase, I had just received all of our passports with visas in the mail, and I got THE phone call.  Our TA is in the system.  the last piece of the puzzle has found its place and we will be headed to China before the end of the month. We have our plane tickets booked and our suitcases packed (we have to go to Loganville for a week before leaving for China to get everything in order at Ascend because we will be gone for 3 weeks).

I don’t have sufficient words to end.  I can only say that by His grace, He is teaching us that faith in Him includes faith in His timing.  He is an ON TIME GOD.  He. does. not. fail.  He doesn’t.  You think that He has failed you in one situation or another, but what you don’t see is how He is working all of it together for good.  I still look back on my childhood sometimes and wonder why in the world I had to suffer SO MUCH…SO MUCH with anxiety.  I wonder why God would let a small girl spend sleepless nights in absolute terror… why He would allow her to be afraid to go certain places… why He would stand by and watch her beg Him to take it away.  And then I remember that I learned how to pray in those nights, that He saved me from many mistakes in those places, and that He heard and answered my every cry even as a child.  I am glad that He chose to make Himself my life instead of making my path easier.

I still struggle, especially with travel.  I feel today like Joshua about to enter the Promised Land and fight some giants and all I can hear God saying is “Be strong and courageous!”  You think He had to tell Joshua a lot of times, there ain’t no telling how many times He will have to tell Candace.  Yet today, as I watch Him lower the sun below my sight line, I am assured that the same God who has carried me, as a man carried his daughter, all the way until I came to this place, will carry me to China and back with my sweet daughters.  He will. Amen.