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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Diamonds

“The formation of natural diamonds requires very high temperatures and pressures. These conditions occur in limited zones of Earth's mantle about 90 miles (150 kilometers) below the surface where temperatures are at least 2000 degrees Fahrenheit (1050 degrees Celsius)…[The diamonds] are delivered to Earth's surface during deep-source volcanic eruptions. These eruptions tear out pieces of the mantle and carry them rapidly to the surface.” Geology.com


God has used our adoption journey to produce some serious diamonds in me.

I've struggled with anxiety for most of my memorable life. When I was 11-years-old I switched from a private to a public school in a new town for my 6th grade year. I started experiencing a 'sick feeling' whenever I would arrive. I felt like a thin wire or string was around my neck and I would pull at the collar of my shirt to create 'space' around my throat. I would gag until it increased into dry-heaving and sometimes actual vomit. I would go home from school sometimes, because I really did feel sick. After repeated events, my mom would take me to the doctor and they would ask me, "Are you experiencing any stress or anxiety?" I would say no. I was 11-years-old and had a limited understanding of stress and no clue what anxiety was.

Adoption is not a simple process. Until you have experienced it, I can only barely describe the amount of paperwork and documentation required, let alone the emotionally and physically draining process from the beginning all throughout. It is all so. much. work. If anyone ever tells you adoption is easy, I would seriously question whether or not they did it legally and ethically.

The day our son was born we had only been chosen by his biological mother one week prior. We had a flight scheduled for the next week, closer to her due date. This made for a very frantic morning—and that sounds like an understatement. They emailed us a list of all of the required documents in order to complete the ICPC process (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) and be allowed to take our son out of the state of Nevada. This list was long and crazy overwhelming and we were missing necessary items. 

Let’s just put it this way: Even the non-anxiety-prone people might have been having mild panic attacks.

The problem was that I had already started having mild panic-attacks during the previous week. I felt sick when I thought about the finances. $40k is a lot of money—money we didn’t and don’t have—we now have $8,500 in debt and close to $11,000 more to pay with post-placement visits, finalization costs, and our last payment to the agency. We tried to negotiate with the agency for a lower fee based on some very logical factors, but did not find favor. We had prayed for that miracle, but when God chose that otherwise was best, we started praying for the kind of miracles that make you think money actually does grow on trees (probably olive trees). And God has definitely been providing, but I will speak more on that in a future blog. 

I was having panic attacks that caused my legs to shake, my pulse to race, and my throat to get tight. It forced me to walk out of places, like my office staff meeting, so I could close my eyes and try not to suffocate or vomit. I was literally throwing myself at Jesus’ feet for mercy, but like most of my life this anxiety was my thorn-in-the-flesh as described by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians

I thought it was bad before I went to Nevada so I entered a whole new ballgame upon my arrival. 

We arrived on Wednesday night, and by Friday morning I was wearing thin. I was living in a mind-boggling paradox. I had complete joy and certainty at the addition of this precious boy—I was elated! I also had a crippling physical manifestation of anxiety that I could not make sense of. I really couldn't understand why I felt anxious. Everything in my heart and head were at peace, but my body was revolting. It was mutiny in the most intimate form.

I knew the Lord was providing the finances, and he was reminding me of that over and over again. When we first landed in Vegas we had a voice mail letting us know that a $3,500 donation had been made to us at 35kcampaign. Thank you, Lord! Click their name if you're interested in supporting us!

I had thought I wouldn’t share these intimate pieces of our journey. As I told those closest to me, “I don’t need people to actually know that I am crazy”. 

The thing about the intimate pieces of our stories is that they expose us; the ugly and weak parts of us. It is in these tender and fragile spaces of who we are, the broken places, that God is most glorified. 

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

When I say physically crippling anxiety, I mean the kind of anxiety that had me leaning against hospital walls as inconspicuously as I could while searching for the chapel. Then laying prostrate on the ground while I tried to calm my entire central nervous system. The kind of anxiety that had me crawling out of the shower unable to stand, and instead curling up in the fetal position trying to breathe while my sister surrendered prayers of healing through the phone. 

It was Saturday. Our little man was about 3 ½ days old and it was time to meet his birth parents and sign papers, but I was naked on the bathroom floor unable to stand. 

Is this the strong, impressive woman everyone thinks she is? Because it is, in fact, the same woman. 
Human. Broken. Weak. 
It's important to share this part, because it reveals that what is so 'great' about me, is not me, but Jesus' life in me.

We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11

While we were in Las Vegas we frequently heard Hawk Nelson’s song, Diamonds. I would lean my head back in the car, close my eyes, and let the tears flow while I tried to take deep, slow, healing breaths. I would then do a check-list of truths in my mind.

I trust God.
God is sovereign.
God is faithful.
This is God's will.
God doesn't lead us using fear--this anxiety is not from Him.
God is in control.
God loves me.
God loves this little boy.
God loves my family.

You see, I believe God could have healed me in those moments. And I know, that this anxiety was not a result of my lack of faith--even though many Christians might try to tell me otherwise. My best understanding of the Truth, is that in God's sovereignty He was allowing me to endure this physical hardship. Because I trust that He is sovereign and good and loves me, then I could trust that He would see me through and use this for my good and His glory. My war was "not against flesh and blood", but I could rest assured who would be the victor.

The song became my anthem and it still fills my heart with strength and hope.

He's making diamonds, diamonds
Making diamonds out of dust
He is refining in his timing
He's making diamonds out of us

Oh, the joy of the Lord it will be my strength
When the pressure is on he's making diamonds

He's making diamonds, diamonds
Making us rise up from the dust
He is refining in his timing
He's making diamonds out of us

I'm no expert, but if Geology.com is accurate, there are some significant parallels to the diamonds formed in our lives. A diamond is formed deep down under the earth's surface and it takes extreme acts, like asteroids hitting the earth, to produce the heat and pressure necessary for a diamond to take shape. Then, it takes a "deep source volcanic eruption", that tears out pieces of the earth and carries the diamonds "rapidly to the surface". 

Not only does high pressure (90 miles of earth) and temperature (2000 F) sound unpleasant, it doesn't sound like a peaceful extraction, either.

Our lives are no different.

Sometimes in order for God to refine us it takes events and circumstances so penetrating that they strike us at the core of who we are. The pressure can feel so heavy we wonder how on earth there will be anything left of us to refine. These diamonds are formed deep down in our hearts and then, often painfully, pulled to the surface through the 'tearing out' of pieces of us--the pieces that need torn out-- in order for the diamonds to rise to the surface. 

As Hawk Nelson sings, 
I'll surrender to the power of being crushed by love
Till the beauty that was hidden isn't covered up

Our character is shaped--it's refined--through the moments that break and rebuild us. It changes who we are and how we respond to the world. It prepares us for what is to come. When the pressure is on we can have hope--hope that God doesn't waste anything & he will produce diamonds in our hearts, in our lives, in us, that we couldn't even dream of.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4 

Tomorrow morning our son will be 7 weeks old and I have been to more than 17 appointments with three more on the agenda for this week alone. I have looked some seriously scary 'possibilities' in the eye. I don't know what the future holds. I have very few answers. 

But I'm not curled up naked on the bathroom floor unable to stand. My feet are firmly planted, my heart is sure, and in my weakness His strength is made perfect. I went through some kind of crazy spiritual boot-camp a couple months ago, but I know it refined me so that I might be better equipped for these days.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19

The Joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b

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