My Gramps is a jokester, and he started off his annual letter to friends and family with a few wisecracks, including one in which he referred to himself in the third person: "Our year has been pretty uneventful...stagnant...boring...mundane...kind of like Jack."
But then, part-way through the letter, he suddenly got more serious. He wrote, "We have a favor to ask you. Mike's daughter Rachel and her husband Ryan are trying to adopt a child. Ryan is just finishing dental school, and Rachel will make a great mother. If you hear of something that might work for them, we would appreciate knowing about it."
This unexpected passage brought tears to my eyes--not because I am sad--because I am so grateful to have the support of so many wonderful family and friends.
Thank you to all of you who have prayed for us, put our adoption button on your blogs, spread the word about our desire to adopt, and spoken such kind words of encouragement.
I had a rough week last week...sometimes that happens with no real explanation as to why. I contemplated switching to an adoption agency with a shorter wait list or trying an even more aggressive fertility treatment. I prayed and asked God what I should do.
My answer came in the Palmyra Temple. I was reading the Bible, and I came across this passage in Philippians. As I read it, I was amazed how each verse built on the next and spoke to me clearly.
6 Be careful for nothing*; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
*The footnote here said, "Don't be unduly concerned about anything." The verse seemed to be saying to me, "Don't stress too much about not having a baby yet. Just pray and thank God for your blessings and tell Him what you want, and then trust Him."
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
*This is one of my all-time favorite verses of scripture. After my mom died, I somehow felt such peace--it didn't make any sense. How could I be feeling peace during the worst days of my life? This verse explains that God's peace "passeth understanding"--it doesn't always seem possible or reasonable. Yet, this peace guards or "keeps" our hearts and enables us to bear even the most difficult challenges in life. Through Him, I can feel peace, even with infertility.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there by any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
*I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about my desperate desire for a child. It can become consuming. I sometimes compare myself to other people and think, "We are the only married couple in Ryan's dental class that still doesn't have children" or "I can't believe that she got pregnant her first month of trying," etc. This kind of thinking is not helpful. It only leads to unfounded bitterness and discouragement. This verse reminded me that, instead, I need to "think on things" that are uplifting and lovely. I need to have hope.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and hear, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you.
*This scripture seemed like a simple instruction: Keep doing what you know is right. Don't become paralyzed by discouragement or self-pity. Push along. Be obedient. Keep trying, keep serving, keep praying. God will be with you.
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, there with to be content.
*"Rachel, be content. Be happy. You have a wonderful life. Enjoy it. Sleep in on a Saturday morning (you won't be doing that once you have kids!); go for a late-night run with Ryan (again, not really possible with a newborn); go on a romantic dinner date or a spur-of-the-moment road trip (hard to pull off with kids). This is a good stage of life--so savor it."
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
The final line of this passage is obviously the most important: I can do and bear anything through Christ. He has been strengthening me through this difficult year. One of the greatest blessings that He has provided is family and friends who are totally supportive and loving.
Spencer W. Kimball said, "God does notice us, and He watches over us. But is usually through another person that He meets our needs." I have found this to be very true.
When I finally admitted my fertility struggles on my blog, a friend brought over a gift that afternoon--a favorite children's book entitled Guess How Much I Love You to read to my future children. When I was going through my ectopic pregnancy and Ryan was out of town, a friend sat with me in the Emergency Room until 3 a.m. When we were first approved for adoption, my sister's mother-in-law sent me a handmade baby blanket with a note: "This is for your baby 'trousseau.' We're praying for you."
Such incredible gestures of love.
And then there are all of the "little" things that people do for me every day--the many times that people have cared enough to just ask, "How are you doing with everything, Rachel?" or "How is adoption stuff going?" It means the world to me when someone says in all sincerity, "I pray for you guys every night."
Tonight, I am feeling peace beyond understanding. I am feeling content. I am feeling grateful and lucky and blessed.
Thank you, Grandpa, and everyone else who cares about us.