Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Hairs on Her Head were Numbered

        Joe and I have been emotional wrecks lately. As we celebrate Faith's first birthday, we are reminded what a miracle she truly is. One year ago today, I had lost ALL hope. I hit rock bottom and I was convinced on August 13, 2016 that God didn't want me to be a mother. I had decided I was going to be a really good teacher and love my kindergarten babies like my own and I would be the BEST aunt in the world. Who knew on the exact same day that I was convincing myself of this that my child was being born? Yes, my child that I didn't birth and I hadn't spent the last 9 months growing inside my tummy. Instead, my child that God had picked out to be mine was birthed from an absolute angel. I had hit rock bottom, but 3 days later I met my child and God answered every prayer I had been praying.
       We lost two precious biological babies, but I know I could not possibly have loved either of them any more than I love Faith. It will be neat to get to Heaven and see our babies that looked like us, but it's even more breathtaking to see God's plan unfold and raise this sweet baby who doesn't. God created this blonde haired, blue eyed baby who looked nothing like me so that when I'm in Publix meeting a perfect stranger I have the opportunity to share Faith's story.  When our waitress asks where she gets those beautiful, long eyelashes I have the chance to tell her about our God-given miracle. 
       As of today, her testimony our church shared has been viewed by over 78,000 people. Her story is giving encouragement to those who are waiting to be parents, speaking life to those with no hope, and hopefully reaching the lost on a daily basis. All those years of waiting and He was creating something far greater than we were even praying for. I know without a shadow of a doubt that Faith Elaine Childers was fearfully and wonderfully made by God just for us. 
        Several people have asked me to blog more, but the truth is I wait until I feel like there is something God is speaking to me about. Sometimes He gives me a topic or a line, but this time was the title. Sometimes He speaks and I post it the same day and sometimes it's months later. This title came to me sometime in May and I have been praying about what He wanted me to include in it. Every time I stare at Faith, I am reminded that her hairs are numbered. I prayed MANY prayers for 6 years and He knew the hairs on her head the whole time. "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered." -Luke 12:7
      I want to remind you today that if there is something you are praying for, don't give up. Keep praying and when you think God can't hear you, pray harder. Sometimes we pray about something thinking God should answer immediately and when He doesn't, we give up. However, that's when God wants you to lean in, curl up in His lap, and trust that His timing is perfect.
      The day we met Faith fell on the 4th day of a new kindergarten school year. In Whitney terms, there was no worse timing in the world to get/have a baby. In fact, this is the only time for 6 years that I prayed, "God if it doesn't happen right now, I'm okay with that." When did God answer? During that window of "please don't answer with a baby right now". Would I change her story? No. Would I change her birthday? No. I grabbed my purse, packed my suitcase, and drove to the hospital, because I knew that God's timing was absolutely perfect, even in the midst of chaos! He's a good, good Father and He wants what's best for His children. Give God what you are praying for and let Him work. I can promise you it will be even better than what you can imagine. Don't lose hope! Keep the faith! 

"If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can move mountains."- Matthew 17:20

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Babies Don't Keep

      First off, I want to tell all of the women who are reading this and so desperately want a baby to save this blog post and come back to it one day. I know you desire to be a mother so badly and want to relate to it, but can't yet. I remember opening articles/blogs about babies and crying because I couldn't relate to the love it described that I so deeply yearned for. Mommas, please take a minute to stop before reading and pray for the ladies who so desperately long for what I describe below that you and I both take for granted daily. We are praying and believing that God answers the prayers of those who want children and we can't wait to celebrate with you one day soon!
       Today was a regular day. My child slept almost zero last night which means my husband and I slept ZERO. We have successfully tried to cut the night time feedings out of Faith's sleep schedule for the past few weeks, but after 3 hours of fighting it, we finally gave in to a bottle. She is cutting 4 teeth, we ate an early dinner, she went to bed earlier than normal, etc. I could go on and on as to why we caved, but in my mind, it's's regression. 
        I have learned in the short 10 months of being a mom that our worst enemy of parenting is ourselves. By nature, I am a perfectionist. I have a touch of OCD and I set goals for myself that, in other people's eyes, are unattainable. I will push myself to meet them, even knowing how unrealistic they are in my mind. These traits pay off to be a fairly successful kindergarten teacher because we get a LOT done in the school day, but as a mom, I end up beating myself up. Why does our house look like a tornado hit? Why are there constantly dishes and laundry that need to be done? Why can't I get myself together the way I did prior to Faith?
        Today, as my child napped on my chest, the way she has all summer because time with her is so precious to me, I heard God say "Be still". With her every breath that went up and down on my chest, tears fell from my eyes. You see, waiting to be a mother for 6 years has taught me that the dishes don't matter, laundry will get done, and our house can look like a bomb went off because in 17 short years she will be gone. I know I will blink and she will be driving away with a trunk full of suitcases and I will be a basket case the way my parents were as I pulled off and headed to The University of Alabama. 
       I'm sure to most people, letting her nap on me is time wasted from house chores. Sometimes the enemy even taunts me with "Imagine how much I could get done with one extra hour to myself every day". To be honest, I don't even get to use the restroom without her smiling and pulling up on my legs (TMI, I know). However, every time I see a stack of laundry that needs to be put away, I am reminded that that place on the sofa is the same place that I cried after my miscarriages. The dishes in the sink remind me of all the tears I cried over an empty sink because I had nothing else to fill my time with. The area where all of her toys are sprawled out everywhere is the same place I got the phone call that our adopted baby was born at Christmas and the birth mom decided to keep her. I cried on that clean, toyless carpet for hours with tears streaming down my cheeks as worship music played in the background. Our house was spotless, but our hearts were broken. 
        I know my circumstances aren't the same as most of yours and I'm sure my trials make parenthood different for me, but I just wanted to share my heart with you. Please stop letting the enemy defeat you and please stop thinking you aren't good enough. Enjoy time with your babies, because they won't keep. I feel like just yesterday Faith had her first smile as a newborn and now I'm chasing her all over the house as she screams "Mama", "Dada", and "Ally" (or her version of it). Yes she tries to pull the blinds off the wall, yes she licks the dog because she knows she's not supposed to, and yes she's just like every other baby getting into EVERYTHING, but today I will not let the enemy win. Today I choose JOY. Today, I will enjoy this baby for as long as I can knowing tomorrow she is one day older and one day closer to independence.          
        Thank you, Lord, for this sweet gift and for the gentle reminder to be still. In the chaos of life, You let me enjoy the moment you've given me with this beautiful miracle. Please be with those who long for theirs and we know you WILL answer in your perfect timing. We know they will be wonderful mom's because they will know and appreciate the value of time as they continue to wait. Please be with those who have their miracles and remind them that life is precious and the chores can wait. Help us to prioritize according to your Word, meaning you are first and our family is second. We know everything else will fall into place, as it should. The investment we make in our children is eternal, while the things we stress over the most are worldly items. Thank you for the precious gift of time and for the knowledge to know that when we breathe our last breath we will never say that we spent too much time with our families.  I cannot fathom a love any stronger than the bond Faith and I share, but I know the love I have for this baby doesn't even compare to the love you have for me. For that, I am forever grateful. Thank you for loving us in our weakest moments and for cheering us on even when the enemy has tattooed failure on our foreheads. You have the power to erase anything he writes, because we are a child of the King. Today, we CHOOSE joy. In Jesus name, Amen.

"Be joyful always, give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thes. 5:16-18

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Beauty from Ashes

      Most days, Faith is my daughter. I see her as this beautiful child that has the silly personality of her Daddy and big, blue eyes that came from her Pop. Sometimes, I forget I didn't birth her and when people complement how perfect she is, I take pride in thinking I had something to do with that other than prayer (even though I didn't). Her DNA isn't what makes us family, love is.
      Other days, God chooses little things to remind me she IS adopted and she is a perfect gift given to me that I couldn't have dreamed up. It humbles me to know that our daily activities are opportunities God gave to her just by being in our family. Going to a beach resort, swimming in a neighborhood pool, attending an amazing church, playing with a Daddy who will get in the floor and make her laugh, having extended family members/strangers love on her daily, etc. These are just some of the things that I often wonder if she would have had the opportunity to do if her last name weren't "Childers". I don't think God wants me to live in a state of question or "what could have been" for her, but I think He uses these everyday things to remind me what a blessing she is to our family.
      I've been told "The old Whitney is back", because seeing Faith's excitement has given me a brand new outlook on life. The Bible states that God can "bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." (Isaiah 61:3) This verse hung on my mirror and I always looked forward to the day he would give me the former instead of the latter in each phrase. He has finally done all of these things for me and more.
        Recently, I had some issues with my eyes and my Mom told me sometimes tears will flush it out and my response to her was "I don't cry anymore." It was so humbling to hear myself say that out loud. Prior to August, I cried daily. Sometimes it was tiny tears from a trigger of my miscarriages, sometimes sobs from thinking of how old our failed adopted baby would be, and sometimes torrential downpours from pure sadness of waiting to be a mother. I can honestly say I don't cry anything but happy tears now because God has allowed my dreams to come true. This time last year, I was leading an infertility small group and today I got to attend a Mommy and me small group with my miracle.
      Every single morning when I wake up to her sweet babbles, huge smile, and bright blue eyes I'm reminded of how much God loves me. He loved me at my weakest when I couldn't see His plan and He loves me now as I stare at what He saw the whole time. It was as if for 6 years He would drop little puzzle pieces for me to see He was at work, but without seeing the big picture on the cover of the box I wasn't sure what the end would look like. Would it be the picture I wanted? Would there be any pieces still missing when I finished? How long would it take to finish the puzzle?
      All of those things were details God knew, but needed me to trust Him. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do NOT see." (Hebrews 11:1) Some days were better than others because I was sure of what I hoped for, but I wasn't always certain of what I couldn't see. I knew God knew, but my human nature would still question this from time to time. How could I be SURE of something I couldn't even see? That's where faith comes in.
       If God had given me a puzzle piece with Faith's two little teeth or maybe a piece with her beautiful long eyelashes or a piece with her wrinkled nose when she smiles, it would have made all those years of waiting so much easier. However, blindly trusting Him is what got me this far and my faith in God is what eventually brought me Faith.
     If you are collecting His puzzle pieces in your situation, hold on to them. I know you are dying to see your picture on the outside of your box, but cling to the hope that God sees the big picture and He knows you are going to love His end results even more than what you are dreaming they will be. He WILL give you "a crown of beauty instead of ashes" and it WILL be worth your wait. "When the time is right, I, the Lord, will make it happen." (Isaiah 60:22)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

To the mother who's not a mother yet

      I grew up in a southern Baptist church where Mother's Day was always a big deal. The oldest mother always got a special rose and the youngest mother did too. My goal was to get that youngest mother rose one day after I got married. My plans were to have my babies at a young age and have a completed family by the age of 30. (Only by God's amazing grace do I even have 1 baby at 30.)
      One of my favorite verses in the Bible is "Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4. Is your desire to be a mom? Don't lose hope. If He's given you that desire, it's there for a reason and He will answer. There were MANY days when I thought those desires I felt were my desires but then I had to remind myself that if I had them, God put them there. Each time I lost hope He would use someone, some verse, or some thing to remind me that He would answer.
     It is so hard to see others' dreams come true without a hitch while you've waited months, years, or what seems like a century for yours. Some women have no idea how long you have dreamed about that poopy diaper they are gagging over or how tight their clothes are getting as their womb expands or how you have waited for the day you could wear spit up on your shirt to work.
       I can remember an incident a while back where I was holding a baby and it spit up all over me. The circle of women (mothers) all laughed when I quickly gave him back to his mom. They thought I was about to throw up because I wasn't a "mother" so I couldn't stomach it. What they didn't know was I went to the bathroom and cried because I longed for the day when I would have my baby spit up on me. What appears on the outside isn't always the same as what's on the inside.
      A few months ago there was a perfect reminder of all of those things for me, because motherhood is something I will never take for granted. We went to a birthday party and I felt like it was my first "earned" motherly outing. I used to not get invited to my friends' things because I didn't have a baby, but now that I have one it seems I've earned my place in the "mom club".            
        Flash back to exactly one year ago. This was the same house that I left crying from a baby shower because I felt like I was invisible. Everyone was talking about what brand of diapers they love and how their baby wasn't sleeping well, while I stood there and grinned through tears longing for the day that I could relate. I used to refer to it as my "gracious loser face" because that's all I could seem to muster up. (I don't do awkward well.) We were married long before all these couples started dating, and now they all sneezed and had children.
      This time, I participated in conversation and felt like I truly earned this experience I was talking about. Our child giggled on the same changing pad that I had secretly gone into the nursery and prayed over last year. My lap was full this year with our sweet angel while last year all I held was my purse and my broken heart. People looked at me in awe this year while last year was a look of "Why are you here without a baby?"
      This precious couple also had infertility trouble and while their experience was short lived, I still grew close to this sweet soul on her journey. Oh how I longed for the day that our miracles could be friends. While most of my friends moved on with their perfect lives, this friend never failed to check on me and send encouragement along the way. When I didn't feel like I would ever be a mother, she always reminded me that one day I would be a great one. She's also the only person I have ever known that cried when she delivered her baby at the hospital and apologized that it hadn't happened to me yet. Who does that? Someone who truly gets it. I didn't want her to cry because it was the best day of her life, but at the same time she was validating how much she wanted to see God bless our family the way He had blessed hers.
      Last year, I drove away from this same house in tears of sadness and told God I couldn't do it anymore. I could not live with a desire that He wouldn't answer for the rest of my life and I begged Him to take it away if it wasn't of Him. However, as the months toward getting Faith grew closer, that desire got even stronger.
      This year I drove away with tear-filled eyes again, but not from sadness, from pure JOY. Each step I took carrying my sweet blessing toward the car was a reminder of God's faithfulness to show how far He carried me the past year. All I could do was thank Him for this precious and perfect gift that was grinning at me while tears fell out of my sunglasses. She was the desire of my heart and He had answered.
      I know some days are worse than others for you. I know people don't understand and those that do know your struggle don't know what to say to make life better. Just know that your Heavenly Father does. Each Facebook post with a pregnancy announcement, each baby shower invite you get in the mail, and each baby aisle you pass brings you one day closer to your baby. Every sunrise you see is one closer to God answering your prayer. I am praying for you daily and I am believing with you that if your desire is to be a mother, God can and will answer.      
      Happy Mother's Day to all of those who are waiting with pills, shots and treatments. Happy Mother's Day to those who have lost their baby to Heaven. Happy Mother's Day to those who are waiting on that phone call to pick your miracle up at a hospital. This is a day that the Lord has made and one day soon you will be holding the desire of your heart. I can promise you it will make that Mother's Day even sweeter when it does come. Until then, I am praying for you. "Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." ~Habakkuk 2:3

Monday, January 23, 2017

"When Your Faith is Tested"

        Last week, I took Faith for a routine checkup to be sure her ear infection was gone. I saw several friends in the office with their babies and I still have to pinch myself that I finally have mine. She spit up all over me and all over herself so I had to change her clothes. The nurse and I laughed as she walked me back telling me it would be a good idea to leave an extra change of clothes for me in my car now that I'm a "mommy".
        The Dr. cleared us of the ear infection and continued her routine physical. She started pushing on Faith's stomach and I immediately knew something was different. Faith is usually giggling and smiling every time she wraps her little feet around this sweet doctor's wrist, but now the laughing had stopped and her eyes looked concerned. The doctor kept pushing and pushing and I finally broke the silence with "Is something wrong or is it too scary to tell me?" She said she wanted to continue with the rest of the exam and come back to it before she said anything. Before I could blink back the tears, she was back to her stomach. With a deep sigh, she finally said she did feel something. It wasn't something that she said wouldn't be okay, but she couldn't promise me that it would be okay.
       The tears began to flow. The warm kind of tears that come from a deep place in your heart where it really hurts. She wanted to see us again in a week to see if it grew. I finally got enough courage to ask her what she thought it was so I could pray more specifically over Faith's body. She said possibly the "t" word (tumor) and I didn't hear anything after that. I quickly put Faith's clothes back on and hurried to the car before all of my makeup melted onto my shirt. It was like living in a nightmare and you can't wake yourself up.
       Faith began to cry as she saw me cry. She knew something was wrong, because this was the first time since the day we met she had seen tears of sadness instead of tears of joy fall from my face. I began to immediately pray over her delicate body, begging God to heal what the Dr. had felt. Whatever was physically questionable I prayed for God to remove it. He had done it in so many stories in the Bible and I knew He could do it now. After all, He did give me this precious gift.
        I called Joe on the way home and in between sobs he pieced together sentences out of the few words I was able to muster up. (He perfected this art on the infertility/failed adoption roller coaster our marriage has endured over the years.) He reminded me that God didn't give us the keys to drive the car once He gave us Faith. He would always be the driver and He would always be in control all the days of our lives. He took me back to last January when God wanted me to name her Faith and how much FAITH it took to get her. In 1 Samuel, Hannah gave her baby to God all the days of his life and we had done the same thing with Faith since the first day we met her.
        "You of little faith" I began to think. My God is bigger and He is better than anything Satan could throw at me today, tomorrow, or 10 years from now. When our faith is tested, we either run from God or run to God. I'm so glad He was waiting for me with open arms as I ran to Him on the chilly drive home that day.
       It's an honor to be a child of the King who isn't offended when our faith is shaken. He gives us time to cry and let human nature run it's course. Then, He straightens our crown on our heads and dusts us off even when we fail Him. This lyric spoke to my heart as the CD played on the drive home that day:
"Throwing Your arms around me
You held me like I was Yours
Like You'd been there the whole time waiting, I was found in You."
Street called Mercy- Hillsong United
I didn't know what that next week would hold when I walked into that office with my miracle and her diaper bag, but I did know "And if not, He is STILL good."
         An excruciating week later, the Dr. pushed around on her stomach again at the checkup. This time her demeanor was different and her load was light. After several minutes that felt like hours she said, "Well, whatever I felt last week God has removed. I could feel it easily at her last exam and I can't even find it today. This is what I prayed for. It's gone." Tears of joy fell from both of our cheeks. We were so relieved to get a good report and to know our baby was healthy again.
       Each day, God reminds me how incredibly blessed we are that this little miracle came into our lives on that perfect August afternoon. She is and always will be THE greatest gift I've ever been given. Thank you, Lord, for another miracle and for the health of this precious child You chose to name Faith. With "faith as small a mustard seed", let her move mountains and be a world changer in the days to come.

Monday, October 10, 2016

"Our Rainbow Baby"

       For those who don't know, a “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.  In everyday life, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm giving hope that better things are still to come. The rainbow is more appreciated after just experiencing a storm.  This was never more true until Joe and I made it out of the storm.    
     After a LONG 5 years of waiting and praying, I never thought God could make every tear worth it. People told me that it would all go away once I became a mother, but in my heart I thought there was no way. Many days I cried so hard, I didn't have any tears left. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle." (Psalm 56:8) The only hope I had was in God's word, knowing my tears weren't falling in vain. However, Faith HAS erased every single tear I ever cried. She took the broken pieces of my heart and put them all back together. She has "turned my mourning into gladness" and given me "comfort and joy instead of sorrow". (Jeremiah 31:13)
     Several people have made the comment that "Faith is so lucky to have us" and how we "saved her from a different life", but the truth is she saved me. I was at a place where not being a mother had become my identity. I knew who I was in Christ, but I allowed my pain to define who I was. It became difficult to enjoy holidays, birthdays, and other special events because that meant one more Christmas without a baby. Each birthday, I was another year older than I thought I would be to become a mother. By 30, I planned on having all of my kids and I was approaching that age without any.
      For many years, I was only a mother to my heavenly babies. While I was so grateful for those two angels, I still prayed and prayed for my "rainbow baby" to come along that I could hold in my arms. The day we got the phone call that Faith was a possibility, there was a beautiful rainbow painted across the sky. Somehow God was speaking to me then that Faith would be my rainbow baby.  
    I had tears in my eyes as I drove home staring at God's promise that day. For so many years, a rainbow was a reminder to me that God would never flood the earth again and this time it was different. This rainbow was the promise that I would finally be a mother and that God would be faithful to give me my "rainbow baby." That's why Faith's onesie says, "After every storm there is a rainbow of I am!" 
     God, thank you for this perfect and precious gift from above. I can't wait to wrap my arms around my little ones when I get to heaven, but until then words cannot express how grateful I am for the little one I'm holding now. Please comfort all of the women out there that are still praying for their rainbow baby. Let each beautiful rainbow you paint in the sky be a reminder of your promise to them. "You've never failed and you won't start now." (Oceans by Hillsong)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

"And You Will Call Her Faith"

        On Monday August 15th, we got a call from a precious nurse at the hospital that a baby had been born over the weekend and the birth mother did not want to keep her.  She wanted to find an adoptive family and by God’s grace, our names were thrown into the mix.  The doctor showed her our picture and adoption book, along with other families, and told her to sleep on it.  Joe and I didn’t get too excited because we have learned to be guarded and the walls around our hearts are about as high as the Eiffel Tower.  Once you’ve been through such a low valley for so long, it’s hard to dig yourself out and jump up onto the mountain top until there’s a real reason to do so.  We always thank God for possibilities in our adoption journey, but we also knew we had a long road ahead. 
         We both went to work on Tuesday like a normal day when we got the phone call that she chose US.  Her last words to the doctor were, “I want Whitney to be the mother of my baby.”  We rushed home and packed our suitcases.  The baby’s bag had been packed up since November when our other adoption fell through.  For the last 9 months, I prayed it would be a girl and God answered my deepest desire.  Our nursery walls were pink, our car seat and stroller were pink, and all of our clothes were pink.  We raced to the hospital squeezing each other’s hands so tight that they turned blue.  We listened to worship music and praised God the whole way there.  I couldn’t listen without crying because God had given me the hope I had prayed for in the shower that very morning.  A week ago we were crying over another failed IVF cycle and this week we were heading to the hospital to see the face of our miracle.  It’s amazing how quickly God can redeem your story. 
         When we pulled up to the hospital, both of our parents were standing out front and we were both shaking like leaves.  On the ride up the elevator I felt like I was going to have a heart attack.  It was like waking up on Christmas morning to see what all Santa left as a child.  The nurse invited us in the nursery while our families stood outside the window with video cameras and other cameras.  I can remember walking up to her bed with so many fears running through my mind.  Would we connect?  How long would it take for her to know me as her Mommy?  How will I know she is my daughter?  I thought it was impossible for God to meet my expectations after all this time of waiting.  There is no way what I pictured in my head, dreamed about every night, and prayed for for 5 years could be everything I wanted it to be.  But…when I saw her face, it was even better.
         She was everything I had dreamed of and more.  I had never seen a more beautiful face in my life and when she looked into my eyes I could truly see the face of an angel.  Her face took every piece of my broken heart and put it all back together.  Her eyes erased all the pain I felt from miscarriages, failed adoptions, and all other disappointments over the past 5 years.  This was my baby that God had created just for me, my hope I had been praying for.  Laying there in that baby bed with no name, a standard blanket, and a plain white shirt reminded me of the love of our Father.  She was an orphan until the second they put her in my arms.  She found love and a last name just like Christ adopted us as orphans.  He loved us at our worst, He died on the cross and gave us a new last name.  As a Christian I was chosen and now this baby was also chosen.  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” –John 14:18
         I was so scared I was going to drop her because I was crying so hard – shaky shoulders and all.  Joe and I gave a new meaning to “ugly cry” that day and I’m not sure we will ever be the same.  They called us “Mommy” and “Daddy” as they put on our hospital bracelet and it was the sweetest thing we have experienced in our marriage.  They walked us to our hospital room, a private suite away from the other families and they treated us like royalty.  Everyone fell in love with this sweet baby and they were so excited to see her find a good home.
         They walked us in and asked what we wanted them to write on her name card and I quickly answered “Faith”.  Last January was a low point for me.  Getting over our failed adoption at Christmastime was really tough and I can remember driving down the road with tears pouring down my face as I cried out to God.  I finally got to a point where I was really open with God and He knew my inmost being so He wanted me to tell Him my real thoughts and feelings.  I remember praying and saying I couldn’t do this anymore.  I thought my heart could not possibly break any more and all the pieces were already gone.  Never in my life have I heard God in an audible voice until that day.  His response to my prayer was “And you will call her Faith.”  I had to pull my car over because it startled me.  “God, does this mean I’m going to have a girl?  I already have a name chosen that Joe and I picked on our first date” and His response again was “And you will call her Faith.”  I lost it and I just kept thinking this isn’t the Old Testament where God spoke audibly.  I’m not special enough for God to speak to me like this.  “And you will call her Faith” He kept speaking to me over and over again. 
Over the next 7 months, this was the only hope I had to cling to was knowing one way or another I would have a daughter and her name would be Faith.  I prayed over this for a while before I told Joe because we both had our hearts set on our other name and everything was already monogrammed and ready to go.  We were driving home from church one day and I told him, “You may think this is weird and I know it is, but God wants us to name our daughter Faith.”  I prepared myself to defend my reasoning and how I knew this was God’s desire, but he said “It’s perfect.  I love it.” 
Faith became a common theme as it surrounded me.  My kindergarten students would get me things with the word faith on it, my friend got me a bracelet that had the word Faith pressed in it, Joe got me a “Faith as a mustard seed” necklace that I wore every single day.  God always gave me a daily reminder somehow to remind me of His promise.  Even in TJ Maxx shopping with my mom and sister I would have to walk away when I would see it on something because I would tear up so badly when I saw it on anything.  God would be faithful and I knew it, but it just wasn’t time yet.
Everyone always has a neat story about how their parents came up with their name, and I pray that Faith will always be able to share her story with anyone she comes in contact with.  She’s the most prayed over baby I have ever known.  5 years of prayers from family, friends, coworkers, church family, neighbors, students, strangers…everyone has prayed for this miracle and she is here now.
We enjoyed our stay at the hospital so much.  The doctors, nurses, and custodians loved on us like we were part of their family.  They even gave us the steak dinner that they give “new parents” and said we were no different than anyone else.  When they came to wheel me out and take her home, I was a WRECK!  I had only been wheeled out for surgeries after miscarriages and this time I was getting wheeled out as a mommy carrying my sweet baby girl.  I could not get over God’s goodness and provision in our lives.  We loaded her up carefully in her car seat for her first car ride and both of us sobbed uncontrollably.  She slept the whole way home as we sang her praise songs with tears flowing down our cheeks.  “Faithful to the End” by Bethel has been our song that kept us going on our hardest days.  When it began, we couldn’t even sing a note.  All we could do was raise our hands in honor of our God of miracles who had brought us out of the valley and placed us on the mountaintop. 
We got home and introduced Faith to her new home and her big sister, Ally (our dog).  For 5 years we would put Ally’s “Big Sister” shirt on when we found out we were pregnant or we were chosen by a birth mom only to take it off a few weeks later, but this time she was wearing her shirt and she would never have to take it off again.  It was a beautiful reunion that I couldn’t have dreamed up in my head.  She climbed right up and smelled Faith and laid down beside her. 
We had to wait 5 days according to Alabama law for her to be ours and those were the longest 5 days of our lives.  We enjoyed every second of feeding her, bathing her, changing her, even getting up in the middle of the night felt like a perfect dream.  We kept waiting for someone to pinch us, but we are awake and this IS our child.  If you don’t believe in miracles, please look at the face of our baby because she is a living miracle.  She is my favorite answered prayer besides God healing my grandmother from breast cancer.  Please continue to pray for us in the days ahead as there are still hurdles for us to jump over and hoops to jump through.  Also, please pray for our birth mom.  She is the most selfless person in the world and she gave us a precious gift we couldn’t give ourselves.  Please pray she will have peace in knowing she picked a family who couldn’t possibly love her baby any more.  Also pray for the families who were not chosen to be her parents.  We have been there many times and nothing crushes your spirit like putting yourself out there only to be rejected.
There is no doubt this baby was meant to be ours.  She was conceived right around the time our other adoption fell through and as hard as that was we know God was using it to prepare us for Faith.  In November, we bought everything we needed for a baby girl and we were able to enjoy this adoption so much because we were already prepared.  Faith was born 5 days after our heavenly baby’s birthday and born a week after our failed IVF cycle.  I could go on for days about how God orchestrated every tiny detail.  He is the “God who performs miracles” and there is NO doubt about that.  We will never stop praising Him for as long as we have breath in our lungs.  If you are reading this, you probably prayed for our baby many times and we thank you from the very bottom of our hearts.  Because of you and your faithfulness, we now have everything we ever wanted on this earth.  Adoption is truly a miracle.
“FAITH is having confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” -Hebrews 11:1