Sunday, November 30, 2014
Sunday, November 23, 2014
What has been the most overwhelming is the generosity of our friends and family. Becky posted last night that I had a surprise at work. One of the guys I work with raised $130 and put it on a gift card, signed by several co-workers, and a couple managers, and said "here, use this to buy the carseat." I've got to say, I'm blown away by the generosity of the people I work with. Becky was too.
We've received several donations, and honestly, they've been coming quickly enough that its hard to keep up. A friend walked up to us at church, 12 hours after our first blog post, and handed us a check for $100 dollars with the memo line "Operation:Adoption!" One of Becky's coworkers gave her a gift card to Target for $100. We got a $10, and a $20 donation through the YouCaring site listed here on the blog, both within hours of our first post. Becky's parents have donated, and today, someone snuck up and left an anonymous gift, a Christmas ornament and $1000 cashier's check that simply said "For Baby." We have been offered car seats, photography sessions, a crib, a pack-n-play, donated milk from a mama who lost her little one two months ago, and honestly, I'm not even sure what else. Becky has been fielding the texts.
You people, your support, your prayer, your hope and excitement, are overwhelming. I simply don't know a better word for it. I want you to know, we cherish every single one of you. Even just the excitement you have brought to us, has been sustaining. Your gifts are building the story of this little girl, and our journey to bring her home.
We have said, and continue to say, that we don't know how long she'll be a part of our lives. Because of the situation, the accelerated time frame and all, she could be with us for a short time, or a lifetime. Either way, these gifts will go to her care, and, if she ends up being God's gift to another family, they will go helping us bring another child into our home.
Thank you. Thank you.
Now, as is my style, I'm going to submit you to a bit of an anecdote from our first trip to buy baby things. This weekend, we took a trip to Target, to the baby section, and tried to make sense of what all of this stuff is. Now, there are about 300 different sizes of clothes, which was easy enough to navigate. Apparently, I can't seem to figure out what the difference between girl clothes and boy clothes are. Becky, of course, has a bit more of an eye for picking out the difference between a grey and white onesie with penguins and a grey and white onesie with penguins in which every 23rd penguin has a pink ribbon in its hair. (I didn't realize penguins had hair, let alone did I notice the bows)
We found baby a couple receiving blankets, some towels, we got some formula, and then realized that there is a whole aisle in Target, which is not a baby specialty store, of just different nipples for the bottles. Who knew? Actually, I'm sure many of you knew.
Lets not even get into the selection of pacifiers. Becky ended up just grabbing the pink ones, while I pondered whether to get the infant nuks, or the 0-3mo philips something or others. I particularly favor the ones with mustaches, although I've been told they are inappropriate for a girl baby.
We are diving in. You are making this possible. Thank you so much.
If any of you are holding off, I thought I'd mention, if you don't want to mess with YouCaring, we can also do paypal. Jesse.Brimhall@gmail.com.
Here's a picture of a couple outfits I picked out. Can you find the penguins with bows?
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Sunday, November 16, 2014
The Non-Denominational Chapel, called Inspiration Point, sat atop a hill in the middle of a "Y" shaped valley in the center of the camp. From Inspiration Point, the views were pretty spectacular, and all the split-log pews faced east to Roosevelt's Peak. The peak rose about 1700 feet above the camp, and was visible from anywhere you could find a clearing in the pines. Climbing to the peak involved climbing those 1700 feet in just over two miles, which began on a low angle uphill, and gradually led to a 90 foot near vertical climb to the top. At the top, 40 years worth of names of previous visitors were carved in the rocks, high above the tree line of the Mogollon Rim. From the Peak, you could see for miles in all directions; even as far as Four Peaks, about eight miles to the south. The most unique thing about the trail to Roosevelts Peak, was that it was the only trail you could not hike without a staff guide. I'm sure you've guessed that I ended up being that guide.
Hiking the peak involved taking three well- marked, commonly used trails that intersected on their way up the peak, and a fourth hidden trail that started behind a thicket of manzanita trees, and led up the final leg. Many years ago, once you passed the thicket, and you knew where to look, there was a trail sign that simply said the word "TRAIL" with an arrow pointing up on either side. The markings were carved into a pine board, painted red, and left to the elements for years.
So, now that you have an idea of what this all looked like, you get to read a ten-year-later paraphrase of my lesson from Inspiration Point.
Welcome to Inspiration Point, and Sunday morning services here at Camp Geronimo. My name is Jesse and I am one of the chaplains here, as well as the Spade Ranch Director. I work primarily with the older guys, and we learn rock climbing, horseback riding, rifle shooting, trail maintenance, and a lot of other activities. Now one of the most exciting things about my job here, is that I get to lead the weekly hike up Miller's Trail to Roosevelt's Peak. That's Roosevelt's Peak behind me, and it's about 1500 feet above us here on Inspiration Point.
Now looking back over the many groups I've take up to Roosevelt's Peak, I've come to notice that most people fall into three categories. It's interesting to see that we tend to fall into the same three categories as believers.
The first group, are those who hear stories of the hike, of the strenuous task of it, and just decide to admire it from afar. These are the people who decide on their own, without even trying, that they don't have what it takes to even start the journey. These are the guys who are content to sit back and wait, and might even joke about trying to spot you with Binoculars when you reach the top. They either have better things to do, or just lack the ambition to move forward in the first place. We're going to call these the Quitters.
Now moving past the quitters, we come to those who are willing to head out, up the trail, and watch as it moves from flat, to gentle slope, to switchbacks. After about an hour of this, and about a thousand feet above the quitters, there is a beautiful clearing in the middle of the line where the pines stop and the high desert scrub begins. Way up on the side of the Rim, there is this rock outcropping, that is just about perfect bench height on the uphill side of the trail. This is where we come to our second group of people. These guys have just lugged up the trail, they've crossed three of our marked trails now, and are just about to be led to the beginning of an unmarked trail that leads straight up. The rock bench is cool in the morning, and sitting down and taking off a heavy daypack provides them with a cool breeze across their sweat-damp backs. This is where some of the groups is always ready to sit, and wait for the rest to finish the hike and come back for them. This group, we'll call the Campers. The campers feel like they've made their effort, but now that they've achieved something, they're content.
The Campers are contrasted by the final group. The group that won't stop for anything. This is the group that, although they can feel the trail getting steeper, they are willing to go for the top, no matter what. This group, we usually have to warn at this point, because they are going to cross the line from hiking to scrambling, and then again from scrambling to climbing. And in such, they are called the Climbers. The climbers are ready to cling to the side of the short ridge, dodging the 2 surprise cactus (the true desert dwellers say the multiple of cactus as cactus, not cacti. We're not sorry for it either.) hiding right where a perfect handhold should be, and turning straight up to climb a rough natural ladder of rock the final 60 feet to the peak.
This is our final resting place every week, a place where those who are willing to keep going, to make the climb, are rewarded with views that far exceed those from here, on Inspiration point, and even those from the rock bench halfway up the Peak.
And as spectacular as those views are, as great the reward, we have to take the opportunity to reflect on what the similarities are to our Christian Lives.
We have all known someone that fit into each of these categories, and probably, have fit into each one ourselves. I know what it's like to be the Quitter. To be perfectly content with the title of Christian, to watch the others from afar, and even admire their tenacity. To be ok with doing nothing, and to call it a walk of faith.
I also know what it's like to be the Camper. To step forward a bit, to make some movement towards the goal, to find a place that is comfortable, a new level of faith but still a level of comfort, and to sit there. To camp out half way between being an active Christian, and a quitter.
The real goal, however is to be the Climber. Not to simply be willing to keep going if the trail becomes harder, but to keep going when we are far beyond our comfort zone. This isn't an easy task, or an easy place to be. It's the willingness to be there that makes it an adventure, and not just a daunting task.
That's my hope and prayer for you this week; that you would take that next step forward, both in your personal growth, and in your faith. Keep moving. Keep climbing.
Now, I don't remember how I ended the lesson all those years ago, and the notes are long since gone, but that's my prayer for us as we move forward in this journey to adoption. We've already passed on being Quitters. We took a big step forward in even considering this adoption in this time frame. We've also moved past a comfortable camping spot or two on our way. I can't tell you how many times we have already come to a place that would have been an easy place to stop and say "well, we tried, and look how far we got."
I pray that we would be Climbers. That we would be willing to continue down this road, no matter the challenges; that we would be up for anything that brought us closer to God, and closer to this little one.
It's not a perfect analogy, and so few of mine are. Thank you for your words of encouragement, your love, and your prayers as we move forward.
Your excitement is contagious, your words are encouragement, your love is felt.
I hope that when all is said and done, that we can say we did everything we could.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; -2 Timothy 4:7
But you know what?
Because I can tell you what we do have. We have hope and we have joy, for today. And I really thought that I needed all of that other stuff in order to have the hope and the joy too, but I'm starting to figure out that's not exactly true. And before you think I'm all mature and wonderful, let me tell you something else. I didn't get to this place overnight. I didn't even get to this place over the past few weeks. God has brought me to this place, slowly and carefully over the past several years. The threads have been introduced one by one, and the design is being weaved into a brilliant and beautiful pattern, and I believe that God is giving me a tiny glimpse of the other side, a brief look at the work of art that He has been weaving since before I was even born.
There are the threads of grief, of brokenness, of joy, and of pain. The threads of accomplishment, of blessing, of repentance, rebirth, and redemption. And the list goes on and on. And as Ravi Zacharias puts it so beautifully in the book I'm currently reading, The Grand Weaver,
“God the Grand Weaver seeks those with tender hearts so that he can put his imprint on them. Your hurts and your disappointments are part of that design, to shape your heart and the way you feel about reality. The hurts you live through will always shape you. There is no other way.”
And as I begin to see, even now, how it is far from complete but coming together, in His way and in His time. And it is both equally humbling and kind of astounding. That God.
These past few weeks have been some of the most tumultuous I have ever had. Up and down and up and down and up. And then down again. God has asked me to do things in these past weeks that I did NOT want to do, And I've wrestled a great deal today with how much to say here and how much to keep to myself. And I fully believe that part of what I'm being asked to do these days is to be open and raw about the inter-workings of my heart, and what God is doing in it. And so here it is.
These past weeks as Jess and I have delved into this process called adoption, I have wrestled more and struggled harder with the mistakes of my past than I have in many many years. See, it became evident early on that in order to move forward, I was going to have to go back, first. Way back. Back to the time in my life that I view with great grief but also great gratitude. Back to the ugliness and the humiliation and the dark dark darkness. There would be no way to move forward without some serious digging up of old wounds and old transgressions, that although never forgotten, lay somewhat dormant in the comings and goings of my every day life, only because of God's grace. For those who were around at that time- you know the details. For those who weren't- the details aren't important. It's not as much about the mess as it is about what God can make of the mess. Because what's important is that we think we know the cost of following Christ, but often we grossly underestimate it. See, when God gave me a mother heart and called me with my husband to parent, I knew after our first loss that that call and the cost of following that call were going to be higher than I'd expected. And then we lost two more and added a year of infertility and the cost began to climb higher and higher. And when the call to parenthood took a turn toward adoption, we knew the financial cost, time cost, and emotional cost would only continue to grow. And I think we were really at peace with that, but figured that God would take care of us. And then came the cost that I personally had never expected. The cost of facing the continued legal ramifications of my past life and unearthing a new layer of shame and guilt that would accompany my trip to the past, in order to move toward the future.
See, I've dealt with it all. I accepted responsibility, walked the road of repentance, and experienced mercy, grace, and big true huge redemption that only Christ can offer. And I stand in that, knowing that I am forgiven and all has been made new. And God took my shame and He took my guilt too. but this. This unwelcome blast from the past. This new layer. I was completely unprepared for. The guilt of knowing that my past shortcomings might now have a direct effect on whether my husband, who carries no such burden from his past, might have the chance to be a father to a child? Friends. This burden took me to a new place of brokenness and of heartache. To the on your knees, face in the carpet, Please God don't make my husband pay for my mistakes, place of shattered everything.
And I begged and I pleaded with Him. Please do not ask me to do this. Once again, you think too much of me. I have done everything you have asked of me. And I have endured these past years of grief and pain and great loss. Please. There has to be another way to follow your call. To be a mother. Don't make me do this.
And I wrestled. Hard. For a few days. And only my husband who lives with me saw the place that God took me in order to get to where I am today. It was real and it was raw. And there was no solution and no quick fix. And some days the most honest, most real prayer that one can muster comes down to a mere "Help me. God, please help me." And it isn't profound. And it isn't pretty. But God honors a willing heart and an honest prayer, imperfections and all.
And so, He has given me the strength to press on.
And as I sit here, considering all that has transpired in the past couple of weeks since that time, I can't help but ask God why He continues to put up with me. Why He continues to wait out my selfishness and my pride with so much patience. The fighting and the railing against what is being asked of me-- the spoiled brat who wants what I want without having to sacrifice anything in return. Who wants it all to go perfectly and the way I had always imagined. Wants wants wants, me, me, me.
"Becky, this is not about you."
And I will be honest and say that I never intended to write any of this here. For all of you to read. And even now am considering if maybe I will need to make some edits before posting. But the point that I started out wanting to make and am hopefully finally getting to here, is that none of this is about me. It isn't about Jesse. It isn't about what we want. It isn't about us at all.
Which is precisely why the photo announcements and the ultrasounds and the party planning doesn't matter. Because all of those things, as fun and as wonderful as they are, are not necessary in order for God to work out His purpose in my life and in Jesse's life to bring us to parenthood. They are not necessary for people to be able to sit back and watch and say, "Only God could do that." In fact, maybe they need to disappear so that He can do just that! What is necessary is that I maintain an open heart of obedience to follow wherever God asks me to go-- even if that requires a few nights here and there with my tear-stained face in the carpet of the room that I had always planned on being my child's nursery.
I still want all the stuff. I want a big party. And I want the photo session. And I want that moment in the doctor's office where I can hear a heartbeat for the first time. And I hope that one day, God will allow Jess and me to experience the joy of those moments. But for now, He has called us to a different kind of joy. To the joy and the peace of knowing that we are right where He wants us: crazy as it all may seem. To the joy of encouraging and loving one of the bravest young women that I have ever had the privilege of meeting. Who has a heart to honor God with her life and the life of her sweet daughter. Who is willing to make the most ultimate of sacrifices. Who is a true mother warrior. And just getting to be a part of her journey has been such a gift-- we are grateful and honored to be a part of it. God has something huge in store for her. Huge. I love her and maybe some day I will find the right words to express how much respect I have for her and to remind her just how worthy and just how loved she is.
And do you want to know what else? God has somehow restored some of the joy to pregnancy. The joy that we felt that first time, that changed every experience thereafter and robbed them of their potential joy. God has brought it back. Because we are paper pregnant. And I feel joy, and I feel hope. And there is something really beautiful about the stripped-down version of "expecting" that I am experiencing right now. If there is a homecoming in the next few weeks, it will be far from perfect. I'm fighting the lung crud and have zero energy to purge the guest room, clean the carpets, or organize every cupboard and closet in the house. There just won't be enough time. And so, if that day comes, it will not be luxurious and it will not have a lot of stuff. But when I see it in my mind, it is humble, it is precious, and it is beautiful in its simplicity. And we will offer all of the love that we can possibly muster to that child for however long the Lord allows us to be in her life. Plus, there will be time for parties and for celebration later. It will come because I believe that the God who loves me and who has a purpose for my life has woven it into the tapestry already. We may be waiting another two years or ten years for that season, but it will come. He is proving even right now that He has not forgotten us. And that for today, we have already been given all that we need.
“Only if you are willing to pray sincerely for God’s will to be done and are willing to live the life apportioned to you will you see the breathtaking view of God that he wants you to have, through the windows he has placed in your life. You cannot always live on the mountaintop, but when you walk through the valley, the memory of the view from the mountain will sustain you and give you the strength to carry you through.” - R. Zacharias, The Grand Weaver
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Did I mention that my plan was to be curled up in bed with my puppies, watching reruns of Parenthood and falling asleep right about now?
But I can't wait any longer. It's time to let you in on a little more of what's going on at Casa Brimhall these days. (I know, I know...you already know more than you ever wanted to...)
No, we are not pregnant. And let me just tell you what-- for the second time in a row now, there is NOTHING magical about wishing upon a star during the fireworks show at Disneyland. Nothing. Well. Maybe you could wish for an ice cream cone or a new pair of shoes. But that baby? Forget it. I've tried twice now and it didn't work.
But in all seriousness (that was me joking--it's okay to laugh....) no we aren't pregnant, but we do have some. News? And even though we shared it with our closest friends and family a few weeks ago, we think it's time to share. We want to share. We want you to hope for us. To wait with us. To anticipate with us. To pray with us. And we want you to continue to be a part of our family journey. So many of you have offered your condolences, your kindness, your encouragement, and your support over these past couple of grief-filled years. You've been a part and we want that to continue.
I'm sure this will be the least shocking thing that you've heard in a while, but sometime in mid September, we began the first steps of looking into adoption. We printed out some information, talked to a couple of friends who had been through the process, and asked God to show us what He wanted us to do. We began investigating a local agency and started figuring out what the first of like a hundred sets of paperwork might entail. We didn't really discuss what we were doing with anyone and decided that when we returned from our Disneyland trip at the end of October, we would get serious about getting our application into the agency.
And then the phone rang.
It was Karen. And I was worried. Now. Let me tell you something about my phone and Karen. That statement made me laugh.) Okay, but seriously, when it comes to Karen, she's typically the source of most of my text messages and many of my emails. Like. Probably almost all of my text messages are between Karen and me. And when I'm in the kitchen doing something and my text indicator buzzes five times in a row, one right after the other? Well, I don't even have to look because I KNOW it's Karen. (It's funny because it's true.) All of this to say that while the two of us are in constant communication either about just our lives or about ministry-related activity, we actually don't get to do a whole lot of verbal communicating. And so when I saw that number one, she was calling, and number two, I knew she had to be at work, my heart sank because I thought-- oh no, whose baby has died now? I know that sounds terrible, but that's kind of the reality of the position we are in with the ministry and the loss mommas with whom we get to walk. And we are grateful to be where God wants us. But again-- all of that to say that I knew something had to be up and I thought it might be terrible news, whatever it is.
And so I picked up. And she asked if I had a minute to talk. So when I asked what's up, she told me that she'd just gotten a call from her mother in law. Which wasn't unusual-- but the reason for her mother in law's call was definitely out of the ordinary. She was calling Karen because she had recently reconnected with an old friend who just the night before told her that she found out that her young daughter was pregnant. Sarah* had just told her mom the night before that she was pregnant and that she wanted to give her baby up for adoption and wanted to know if her mom knew of any Christian families who were looking to adopt. And so as I sat, the phone to my ear, Juno shoving a tennis ball into my lap and Jesse washing dishes in the kitchen, my jaw dropped and I stared at the coffee table, unable to react. See. This gal had just talked with her sweet mom and asked for help to find a home for her baby. Her baby who was due to be born on December 11th.
Now you know why my jaw was on the floor.
Fast Forward to today, 11/15. Also, this is Jesse now, because I think I may have a gift for a slight bit more brevity, and you might be looking for that.