Week five was such a great week, that I must recap the highlights.
The week started with a depressing lull Sunday morning with Mark rolling over and saying, "I don't wanna go to church this morning." Frankly, I didn't either. Our lives had been changing by the minute and our bodies were exhausted. Even more so, our spirits were quenched. We'd been going through the motions of life without joy...just surviving really. We needed some encouragement in the midst of our house, church, and friend hunt. Moving to a new city is hard, but it was really hard with a new baby. We're used to going wherever whenever we want, and things change when you have a child. It's a great change, but it's change none the less. The Holy Spirit was nudging me Saturday night to try another church in the area, and Mark briefly mentioned as we drove in the car together that he wanted to try the same church. It was a fleeting conversation, and as we lay in bed Sunday morning, a spiritual battle began to take place. We woke up late, Zane slept until 8:30, which rarely happens, and we had every reason to stay in bed. We both needed to take showers and get ready, give Zane a bath and get him ready, and all eat breakfast by 9:00 so we could make it to the 9:30 service. The 11:00 service would be too late, as Zane usually eats lunch at 11:30 and takes a nap between 12:30 and 2:30. Something (the Holy Spirit) kept pushing me to get up and go to church, so I got out of bed and urged the guys in the house to "haul it" getting ready.
We step outside at 9:05 to pouring rain. The kind of rain a city gets when it hasn't had rain in months. The kind of rain that all of Houston prayed for to stop the wildfires close by. Torrential downpours. But now we were all ready, and by-golly, we were GOING to church. We raced to the car, and headed toward church.
Needless to say, by the time we parked and got inside from the rain, we were 20 minutes late for the service we had planned to go to. No problem. We got some coffee and breakfast and decided to go to the Welcome Center for some more information about the church and its programs. We would attend the 11:00 service and hope for no meltdowns from Mr. Zane.
At the Welcome Desk, I ran into a sorority sister from Texas A&M and her husband. Providentially, we began talking about adoption, and her family is doing foster care. We had an encouraging conversation about God's plan for the orphan and lonely, and how sometimes God's plans look different from what we think makes sense. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a friendly woman introducing herself to Mark. She later introduced herself to me as the Director of the adoption ministry at the church. "A big group of adoptive parents are meeting before the service to gather to go up on the stage. We'd love for y'all to join us!" I laughed for two reasons: 1) I was overjoyed to learn that I was minutes away from meeting a "BIG group of adoptive families". 2) I was tickled that after struggling to get to church and being there only 30 minutes, we were being asked to go on stage. Why not, right???!!!
After meeting a great couple who told us about bible studies, we learned that they were connected to a couple we had become friends with through Mark's work. Shortly after, we ran into our old friends from NOLA who moved here a few years ago. And finally, we were delighted to meet about 20 adoptive families who attend the church regularly and are a part of the orphan care ministry before going up on stage.
The pastor addressed the church about the importance of adoption and the fact that all believers are adopted as sons and daughters of God. He shared his passion about supporting adoption ministry, and the congregation took up a special offering for adoption and foster care funds that assist member who are seeking to care for orphans.
I cannot tell you how I know the Lord speaks to me, I just know that He does. When I woke up Sunday morning, I knew we were supposed to attend this church that morning, and it was so evident that we were to be encouraged there by God. Throughout the week, God continued to show himself faithful by providing encouragement and fellowship in a variety of ways. A new friend has embraced me as an old one, and allowed me to hang out at her house, go to play dates, and attend her small group. There I have met many more Christian moms who I look forward to hanging out with.
I am so thankful that God sees me. I told Him last week, "I don't know how to pray right now, but You know me. I can't explain my feelings, but You feel them with me. Help me Lord." And, as always, He did. He helped me receive encouragement, He helped me find a friend, He gave me joy, and He filled me with new hope. He is faithful.
This weekend, we went to New Orleans to see old friends, and sleep in our house one last time. Miraculously, our house sold after three days of being on the market, and we now wait for closing. It's bittersweet, as selling our house makes it all so real. Being with our NOLA friends was almost as if I had never been away. The only difference was that Zane is actually here in the US now, instead of posted on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror. It was so sweet to see Zane with Eli. Anna and I always dreamed of our two Ethiopian boys growing up together! It will take more effort now, but they will still grow up together, even though it's not quite as we dreamed. The boys got to pick out one pumpkin each at the nearby pumpkin patch that benefited a local school. They both went for the cute, little pumpkins, which was fine with us, as it's the cheaper choice! As I walked through the doors of First Baptist New Orleans on Sunday morning, I immediately went to the stage where the choir and praise team gathered just as we had done every Sunday for years. After the service ended, I entered the fellowship hall and thought, "I need to hurry and get the coffee ready" as I had done for the past two years for our bible study class. In the foyer of the church sat the Women's Ministry table decorated for the Annual Ladies Tea coming up next weekend, and two women sat selling tickets as they do every year in October.
It's funny how when everything in life changes, some things remain the same. Becoming a mom, moving cities, changing occupations, and selling/buying a house can seem overwhelming, but there are constants that keep us grounded and remind us that life goes on. Those constants anchor us and give us hope when tidal waves crash against us. One day, everything on this earth will pass away. There will be no more bible study class after worship services, no more Sunday morning coffee, no more Ladies Tea, no more programs. On that day, one thing will remain: Love. When everything around is shaking, we can stand on God, and there find hope in the new thing God is doing.
"'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, my unfailing love for you will never be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord who has compassion on you." Isaiah 54:10
"See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up! Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19