Calling forth the courage- preparing for international adoption travel.

A path in the sand.  Something so beautiful about a clear path forward.

Not tomorrow, but the next day.  That's when it gets real, doesn't it?  When you've counted down the months to weeks and the weeks to days.... and the 7 to 6 to 5 to 4.... and suddenly the thing you've been waiting for is happening not tomorrow, but the next day. 

 Our first trip- of three- is almost here.  Not tomorrow, but the next day we'll be boarding a plane to fly- well, across the state, and then another plane across the ocean, and finally one last one across the continent.

This is my first trip overseas.  (I thought I'd start out big.)  Overall the peace I wrote about last month has continued to surround me.  I though I'd be a nervous wreck by now, so I am humbled by this gift of peace and assurance the Lord has blessed me with.

But then every once and I while I start to get overwhelmed with the what-if-I-forget-something-important fear or the what-will-we-do-if-we-miss-a-connection fear or (my personal favorite) the what-if-we-get-sick-from-the-water?! fear.

In those moments I need more than a prayer for peace.  I need to call out courage and confidence.  I need the we'll-figure-it-out and God's-got-this assurance.

In those moments, I go back I go back nine months, three weeks, and one day.  I go back to that cool afternoon in September.  I go back to the desperation I felt.  I go back to the thick throaty prayers of Why God?! and What do you want from me?  From us?  For us?  I go back to the silence, the unanswered prayers, and months of waiting for God to act and lead us according to his will.

I go back to that September afternoon, when I- in a moment of desperation completely indistinguishable from the thousand of desperate moments before it that made up my I just want to be a mother existence- prayed, "Please God, allow me to find a moment of encouragement, a word of direction on the radio as I drive to the grocery store."

Praying.  Pleading.  It's not a far drive from our house to the grocery store.  I scanned through radio stations for 10 minutes.  A cheesy Christian radio song.  Sigh. Commercials.  I held my breath. Another cheesy Christian radio song.  Another sigh.

Pulling into the store parking lot, I reached forward to turn the volume down when the song ended and a man's voice came through my speakers.  He introduced the show and then the topic:


At this point my car was parked, my grocery list was in hand, and my seat belt was unbuckled.  All I had to do was turn the key and open the door, but I couldn't.

Out of the place where only silence had been before, came a still, small voice.

Stay in the car.

So I did something I had never done before nor have I since: I sat in a parked car and listened to an entire radio broadcast.  I marvel at the timing; Michigan seasons don't often allow for car sitting and radio listening.  Half and year it's too cold to sit in a parked car and it's much too hot the other half.  There's about a week in September and a week in May when it's comfortable enough to do it.  I guess it was that week.

As I listened I felt a sense of conviction and purpose I can hardly express.  In my heart I knew that this would be a defining moment in my life.  As I listened to a family testify to God's provision for their international adoptions, I began to cry.  They talked about the parts that were hard that they thought would be easy and about the parts they thought would be hard, but turned about to be easy.  Most of all, they talked about the joy. The purpose.  The meaning.  The beauty.

My tears were so hot on my face and it felt like a warm, cleansing bath for my soul.  In that moment all the yuck that had been muddying the water in our path forward was washed away.  I knew exactly the next step to take.

Where moments ago I had plead for guidance, I began to pray my way forward.  I spoke aloud in the car words of praise and promise and understanding. John and I had been talking about adoption for months already, but with little idea about how exactly God wanted us to move forward.  In this moment I knew without a doubt in my mind that God was calling us to international adoption.  Mostly I just prayed the word yes.  I had no idea what this road to adoption would look like and yet I knew exactly what it would look like.

It would look like faith.

After groceries and inviting John into my experience and a dinner I hardly felt like eating, I was online following the radio broadcast to links to websites, clicking through the magic of the web with it's million connections, following the pull in my heart forward: clicking, typing, reading, and then finally seeing his face.

11:51pm on September 26, 2011 I stared into the face of a beautiful 15-month-old Russian baby boy with piercing blue eyes, whispering to God, "Is this my son?"  

Not tomorrow but the next day, we'll get on  a plane to meet this little boy and sign some papers to tell the people who matter that from our end- the answer is, "Yes."

So when I face those fears about preparations or travel or health- I call forth that day in September.  I go back to the surge in my heart and the hot tears on my face that showed me the way forward.  I go back to that moment of total conviction and absolute clarity.  I bring that moment into the present and I am able to call forth all the courage I need to move forward. 

From a woman in a grocery store parking lot, to a baby in Russia, to all the planes in the sky and the germs in foreign water pipes:  he's got the whole world in his hands. 

Not tomorrow.  But the next day.



  1. I am so, so, so excited for you! I will be praying hard for you guys as you travel!

    Did I know you were from Michigan?!?!? I live in Indiana, but grew up in Michigan!

    1. Cool Abby! I am originally from Ontario but I went to college here and then moved here not too long ago! :-)

  2. That was wonderful to read; can't wait to hear how it goes, and I pray (in the meantime) that the water doesn't make you sick; that you can get real rest on the plane(s); that God prepares your son's heart to meet you; and that He prepares your hearts to meet him and have to leave him again.
    [this is srmmm09!]

    1. Thank you Michelle! You are so sweet and I love your prayers!

  3. Amen!
    Happy travels. :)

  4. Jillian,
    I don't know that we've ever met in person - quite probably not, though in some ways I feel as if I know you just a bit. My husband Kevin and I and our family have been in Burlington for 13 years now. He pastors at Faith CRC and I teach Gr4 at Trinity. I know your mom and enjoyed the huge blessing of having her as a TA in my classroom the year before last. I taught the VanderMeulen twins the year your mom was so sick, and we prayed for her fervently through that. So I know a little - the wedding, journey into ministry, waiting for your son...and I've followed the blog along the way. I don't know if I've ever commented before (the strange awkwardness of the blog world where you can know the intimacy of what's shared without knowing the sharer in person), but certainly felt compelled today. Jillian, you write beautifully - compiling this journey in words will always be something you and your family will treasure. Kevin's brother and sister-in-law have adopted twice from China, and we so love our niece and nephew - whose earliest days we know little about, but who are now beautifully grafted into our family. I commit to praying for your trip - for safety, for the peace of God to continue to still your heart, for rich time together for you and John and your little guy, and the courage to leave him in God's hands until the next time.
    Sincerely, Jacquie DeRaaf

    1. Hi Jacquie! Yes I know exactly who you are! Thank you so much for following our journey and for your words of encouragement. I love that adoption is already a part of your family and I pray our little one is grafted in just like your niece and nephew have been. I cherish your prayers; thank you for them. And thanks for commenting!

  5. Hey Jill!
    Just wanted to let you know I've given you the Liebster Award! :)
    Check it out here.

  6. By the time you are reading this, I am guessing you have safely arrived in Russia. I will be praying for your safety and the Lord's guiding hand on your trip. What a comfort to know we serve a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has been faithful to bring you to this point in your journey and will see you safely through.

    To think of your little one there not knowing how his life is about to change just overwhelms me with emotions. Just as the Lord implants the "ABBA" cry within us upon our spiritual adoption, I pray He will give your little one that same kind of response to you and your husband.

    "The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."


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