IN THE WAITING

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths."

Proverbs 3:5-6

A place to find encouragement when you're trying to trust God in the unknown. "In The Waiting" is the official blog of MyBabysFamily.com; a ministry that supports hopeful families seeking to grow through adoption.

 
 

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Brad Lindemann is the CEO/Co-Founder of MyBabysFamily.com. This blog was originally published on In Business For Life, and has been republished with permission.

The following is an excerpt from from Brad Lindemann’s forthcoming book, In Business For Life: What Being In Business For Life Has Taught me About the Business of Life.


Throughout my personal faith journey, God has reaffirmed His love for me and mine in a myriad of ways. None more moving, however, then the way He arranged for the completion of our family with the addition of our fifth child.


In 1990 we had four children, a fledgling business less than a year old and were in the early stages of recovering from devastating financial losses in recent years. That’s why when my wife started talking about adopting a “special needs” child I thought she was completely off her rocker. So much so, I assumed she’d either come back to reality or the guys in white coats would show up one day to take her away. Either way, my strategy was to wait it out. I had plenty on my plate and couldn’t begin to digest anything else, much less another mouth to feed.


His given name was Samuel Alexander. His birth mother was my wife’s younger sister. A few weeks after he was born, God revealed to Elaine that “Samuel” was going to be our son—a little secret she chose to keep to herself. A few weeks later, her sister called to ask for our help in finding adoptive parents for her newborn. She was at a difficult time in her life and compassionately chose the loving option of adoption. Having been very active in supporting crisis pregnancy centers and promoting adoption, I was thrilled to hear of her courageous decision. Imagine my surprise when I heard my wife say the words that would forever reshape our family tree—“we’ll take him.”


I nearly choked on my Hamburger Helper. Unlike when God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream to give him a “heads up” that his fiancé was pregnant with the Messiah, I was clueless in Indianapolis. After all, there were a million or so childless couples in America who would have given anything to adopt this child…this chosen one. Never mind the thousand reasons not to adopt and only one reason to adopt—because God said to. Seriously, that’s the best you got? Uh ah. I’m not buying it…not yet.


If you’ve seen the movie War of the Roses with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, you understand something of what life was like around our house in the days following Elaine’s “we’ll take him” bombshell. We were like two prize fighters who would step into the ring, punch each other’s lights out (figuratively speaking), then retreat to our corners to rest up for the next round.


While we threw no punches, we did throw an object or two…maybe three. Pity the fool who came through that bedroom door at the wrong time. Can’t recall if we fixed that before selling the house. Though we did stop short of swinging from the chandelier, beyond that it was a three day no holds barred battle of wills.


My best friend, Tim, and I ran together every weekday morning at six o’clock. It was a bitter cold February day in 1990. Our constant banter kept our minds off the cold and our aching legs. For the last three days, we had spent every minute of our run talking about one thing…my wife’s insane notion of adopting her sister’s son. Tim and I were in complete agreement. It would be the biggest mistake of our lives. But, Elaine was standing her ground. How would we ever resolve this, the greatest conflict of our married life?


Before heading in to shower, we stood shivering at the end of my driveway praying that my wife would come to her senses. But God had us at “Amen.” All Heaven broke loose, as I looked up at Tim with tears in my eyes and said words I could not have imagined uttering until that moment. “He’s my son, isn’t he?” Without hesitation, Tim replied, “Yes brother, I believe he is.” God had confirmed what He had revealed to Elaine two months prior.


In the blink of a tear-filled eye, God changed the hearts of two best friends, confirming His plan to change the course of Lindemann family history. His name is Bradley Louis Lindemann II, named after his father. This “chosen one” will forever serve as a poignant reminder of how God can turn our mistakes into His miracles…how He still speaks to His children today…how when two or three are gathered in His name, there He is in their midst. 26 years later, from that frigid February morning in 1990 to this very moment, I have never had a moment’s doubt about our decision to adopt Bradley. He has been a wonderful blessing to our entire family who will soon be celebrating his second wedding anniversary with his high school sweetheart.


God is so good.




If you haven’t read part one yet you should go do that first. It’ll help with some of the details and background.


Sometimes we’re so focused on the finish line that we forget about the individual roadblocks that will undoubtedly occur in the adoption and family planning process. Don’t get me wrong, it is exciting to focus on the end! And we absolutely should because it drives us toward hope. We long for the day when the adoption is complete or when our family planning process finally looks like the vision in our head. Sometimes though, this can cause us to become blindsided by adversity or the unexpected roadblocks of the adoption and family planning process.


When I met my wife’s children, they were already praying for a new dad. And not just any dad, but one with kids (four kids)! There was a reason for their prayers. My wife had full custody, and their biological father was only permitted supervised time. Over the course of time, he would abandon this time and in the process his biological children; one of whom was facing a debilitating heart condition that would later take her life.


Like I said before, every adoption story is unique. This one has equal parts loss and victory.


Roadblock 1: An Absent Biological Father


It is not my place to judge.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:37-38‬ ‭NIV‬‬

All I’ll say is that it had become apparent that it was no longer healthy for the children’s biological father to be part of their lives. Even with that in mind, we couldn’t legally do anything about it at that moment. He had parental rights and was legally allowed weekly supervised visits. We certainly weren't going to violate those rights, and it was his responsibility to make sure that he followed through.


So we started to pray for something to change. Our first prayer was health for the kids, and our hope was that "health" meant that I could adopt the kids.


So we prayed and we waited.


One week went by with no contact, then a month. Soon it was two. This was becoming a pattern. And this pattern put the topic of adoption back on the table. It was always a dream before, but now it was looking like a reality!


And the waiting? Well, we realized that this was part of the answer to our prayer!


Roadblock 2: The Tough Realities of Being an Adoptive Parent


There are some tough realities about being an adoptive parent. And one of them has to do with the fact that your kids are facing an absence in their life. At some level, they're facing abandonment. At some stage in their childhood development, this abandonment manifests in a tangible way. I wish I could say it is super easy to identify. It isn't always easy for us as parents to notice, and it can be even harder for kids to vocalize how they are feeling, or to understand that they are feeling something.


And here’s another tough reality, at some point you are going to be so mad at their biological parent(s). Like super mad. You're going to find yourself caught off guard by your child's pain. I wish I could say this is only going to happen once, or infrequently, but it might not. It'll likely be a constant possibility for tension.


It is so important in these moments that we have a strategy of grace. Because like it or not, biology may end up being a critical component of who our children are. And ready or not there could be some “emotional baggage” that will unexpectedly show up in your child’s development. Our children need us to be spiritually mature in this area. They need to be told who they are in Jesus. They need us to tell them what their Godly identity is. And they need to know why we are so dedicated to being their spiritual fathers and mothers. They need to know that we have grace, and in this process, they'll learn what true grace looks like. As parents, we must commit ourselves to be practicioners of God’s grace in our conversations and our actions.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I still must actively give my frustration and anger toward my children’s biological father to God. It is a work in progress, and so am I.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:31-32‬ ‭NIV‬‬

When you’re the adoptive parent and the biological parent is still present in the child’s life it opens up a whole host of variables and unknowns. Will they sign off on giving up their parental rights? Will they challenge the legal process? What about their extended family? Will a family member lay a claim and try to block the adoption process? So, are we facing a contested adoption? Will it be uncontested? Every state is different in their requirements.


Even when a parent is absent it doesn’t mean that it is easy for anyone. Having an abandoned parent or two is a huge stressor for kids.


As parents, we’re active prayer warriors for our kid’s health - physically, spiritually, and mentally.


If you are considering adoption or exploring the adoption process I highly recommend talking to behavioral health and mental health counselors ahead of the process. Your legal counselor isn't enough. They're going to advise you on the legal process, and help you to understand and navigate potential outcomes and costs. Talk to a mental health professional. This will prepare you for some of what your future child(ren) are facing in their current environment. Interview others who have gone through the process. Find a support group, mentor, or another person who has adopted a child and talk to them about what it is like.


This will help you to define your prayers for your children. It will bring clarity of expectation.


And if you don’t have clarity or don’t know what to ask for, ask Holy Spirit for help.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Roadblock 3: The One Year Wait - When Waiting is the Only Strategy


Once we made the decision to pursue adoption, our situation required a one year wait. And at any moment that clock could start over.


One year is a really long time. This meant that we couldn't start the legal adoption process for an entire year.


Birthdays, sports seasons, hospital visits, school events, church events, these were all triggers for the other party to reach out. And in some cases, we had to reach out to notify the party of an event, a health-related expense, a change in health care coverage, it seemed like there were always reasons we had to reach out.


Day by day, week by week, month by month that time passed.


And we had to wait.

Because here is another reality for an adoptive parent: there will be a season of unexpected waiting. It could be a year or like Abraham, it could be even longer!


During our wait, another unexpected roadblock would emerge when our daughter's health worsened. This would change everything and stretch our faith further than we even thought possible.






"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV


As the Lord revealed to me what he wanted this blog's central theme to be about, the idea of encouraging others in the midst of their individual journeys became crucial to its focus. I remember sitting down, praying, and asking God what the "domain name" of the site should be, and he lead me to Proverbs 3:5-6. Upon first reading those verses, they seem like a straight forward set of directions that will keep you on the "right path." But the depth, and the magnitude of these "simple set of directions" is much more complex and edifying than it first leads on. Today, I would like to dive deeper into these verses to show you how to draw strength from them in your hardship.


In a sermon John Piper preached in 1982 on Isaiah 64:1-4, he explains that there is a specific "spirit of waiting" we must keep during our journey; what he calls being in a place of expectation and dependence on God. "But now here’s the essence. Now, get this carefully, because we’re so prone to think that waiting means stillness, but as soon as we start acting — preparing a sermon or a lesson, going to work, preparing a report, staying up late to work, work, work — we don’t have to wait anymore. That’s not the case because — and this changes all of life — there is a spirit of waiting in the midst of work... (see more)." Essentially, Piper is saying we can't just act on what we believe is the right thing to do. Earlier in the sermon, the first thing he addresses is the importance of letting God lead us in anything we do, or asking God, and waiting on his answer for any questions we have. The Holy Spirit can't really direct a believer if that believer refuses to let him be the guide.


This, "spirit in the midst of waiting," is your submission and eagerness to act in obedience and by his instruction when that answer is provided. If God says, "go here so that this specific thing can be accomplished," all He wants you to do is go there. Then, when you fulfill your part, He does the rest and what He set out to do will be accomplished (Isaiah 55:11). In anything God plans for us, when he lets us have an active role in completing that event, it's because of his mercy. It's not because we caused the accomplishment of that event; no rather, it's God accomplishing what He wants to happen by His sovereignty. He is just using you as a means to glorify him; which is an incredible honor.


So what does all of this have to do with Proverbs 3:5-8? As Piper delved deeper into how we should wait for God, Proverbs 3:5-6 gives us a "high overview" motivation for our obedience. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight," is in summary, an applicable process, to every long journey of waiting on God.


When you trust that God is going to work things out, despite what circumstances you face, and when you choose to believe in his wisdom, follow his instruction, and trust in his faithfulness--He works things out, or as it says, "he makes your paths straight."


This isn't a clear cut process, there is no A+B=C for an outcome. Life is messy--you will have paths that will lead you in all sorts of confusing directions that will even make you wonder "when," "why," or "how" God will work it out. But the idea--the central theme of trusting in Him--instead of trusting in what you can do on your own--is clear. If you let God lead you, and you trust him even during the times that it hurts; He will bring you to the ultimate outcome. His plans for us are so much bigger than we can comprehend.


Proverbs 3:7-8 gives us a critical explanation as to why it's important to lean on God's wisdom. "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." It's critical to trust in the all knowing Creator's wisdom over our own, because his ways are beyond us. Which reflects back to Isaiah 55:8-9, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"


God isn't saying "because I am God and all-knowing, you need to believe me and just do what I say." He understands it's more complicated than that; he understands how you feel even if it seems like he's so far away. God truly gets what it feels like to live in a broken world; the anxiety, the worry, the fears that run rampant through our mind. How stressful it is to just try and take one step at a time without knowing what's to come. He knows about how terrifying it can be, with us being so limited in understanding what situations we have to face, and the lack of control in the unknown. Because He's been there, through all of this; He bore our sin and walked in our shoes as Jesus Christ.


Understanding that God's ways and thoughts are "higher" than our ways and thoughts is not God admitting to you that he has a "better-than-you-do-perspective (which don't get me wrong he does);" it's Him simply stating that there is more than the physical eye can see. At the end of Job, God never answers his questions he prayed through his suffering throughout the book. He simply gives Job insight into the complex workings he oversees on the regular day to day basis. This, is similar to what he states in Isaiah 55:8-9, because He has an eternal perspective that He's not revealed to us. And whether we like it or not, He didn't reveal it to us for good reason. God doesn't show you every future outcome of "what's next," because as limited beings, we wouldn't be able to understand it. It's either a raw truth you have to let sink in, or it's comforting the way it's intended to be. He loves us; His all-encompassing love gives us this compassionate method of trusting in his perfect ways to completely take care of us in all life circumstances which he summarizes in Proverbs 3:5-8.


Instead of trying to have it all figured out, Proverbs 3:7-8 encourages us that it's a lot easier (and will be a much more peaceful route) if we just trust Him to do that for us. That's what it means when it says "it will be health to our bodies and nourishment to our bones." Because in reality, mental and emotional stress can do major damage to the physical body if not kept in check. So it's Him pleading with us, through his wisdom and compassionate love, to just BELIEVE that He will take care of it. Rest in him because it's true; He most certainly will.


"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Isaiah 55:1 ESV


 
 

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