If you haven’t read “Part 1” of this story yet, begin HERE.
Now, in September of that same year, about 8 months after “the dream,” I went to a photography conference in Palm Springs. The conference was centered around pursuing our dreams, no matter how impractical or crazy them seem. We were challenged daily to just dive in to following our hearts and doing those crazy things that seem impossible. “Cannonball,” was what they called it. One day, we were asked to write down one thing that we would do if money didn’t matter, and we could pursue any dream and just “cannonball” into life in 2013. What would we do? So I wrote down “If I were to Cannonball into life in the next year, I would adopt a child. I would give an orphan a home, and love.” I couldn’t believe I was actually writing this down. Like this “dirty secret” that I’d kept (aside from telling a couple of friends and my mom), was suddenly “out there.” Chris wasn’t at the conference, so there was no way for him to know about it, but it still felt so strange sharing my secret with my breakout group of 5 lovely strangers. That night, I shared wit the girl I was rooming with (a photographer friend from Minnesota named Ginger) how hard it had been to wait for Chris to come around with this. To keep the faith that this would happen someday. She asked what I thought would be Chris’ major opposition to adoption, and I shared that I was almost certain it would be the money. Chris is extremely financially conservative, and anything that would derail our plans of saving “x” amount for a new house and “y” amount for retirement and “z” amount to pay off his student loan debt…anything to derail those plans would not be welcome. And while I didn’t know exact amounts, I was pretty certain that International Adoption cost around $30,000 (I was right) and that he would basically end up breathing into a paper bag at the thought. So Ginger and I prayed about it, and I went to sleep feeling a tiny bit hopeful. Two days later, on the last day of the conference, something amazing happend. The guy who runs the conference, Jesh deRox, was on stage giving parting words, and said that he had a gift to give someone in the group. A “Golden Ticket,” as he called it, to pursue their dreams. He pulled out a piece of paper. He began reading the words “If I were to Cannonball into life in the next year, I would adopt a child. I would give an orphan a home, and love.” I started shaking uncontrollably. My “dirty secret” was being read to a room of 150 people. My friend Ginger turned around and looked at me with wide, teary eyes. The tears began streaming down my own face as I heard him say “Julie Massie, I would like to give you $5,000 to help you pursue your dream of adopting a child. Can you please come up here?” Everyone looked at me and started clapping. I tried to stand but my legs felt like spaghetti. At that moment, that $5,000 felt the same as five million. His gift was not merely a large check. It was like a promise from God. I know some people will read this who don’t have a relationship with the Lord, and will think that mine are just words of a bible thumper who is grasping at straws to turn any good thing in her life into a “blessing from God.” I’m sure some will think that, but I don’t really care. In that moment, I heard God tell me “You think that $30,000 is going to keep you from saving a child? Ha! I just made this random guy who doesn’t even know you, give you $5,000! I’ve got this Jewels. Trust me. I’ve got this.” I hugged Jesh and babbled something incoherent into the microphone and then trembled my way back to my chair as friends and strangers put their arms around me and congratulated me. Once back at the room, I called my best friend and she and Ginger and I prayed together that God would continue with is perfect plan, and that I would have patience to not tell Chris about the money. That I would have faith that it would happen when it was supposed to. So basically…more waiting. <groan>
The waiting only took another month. Then, “it” happened. I had heard that our church had an Adoptive Families ministry, and that they were planning to do a panel discussion one Sunday after church. They would be interviewing adoptive families, and discussing the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the very ugly truths about adoption for anyone who may be interested. I had a feeling like this was going to be the day he would lay it all on Chris’ heart, but I didn’t actually believe it since at this point, I had been waiting for 10 months with NOTHING. But still, there was a whisper in my heart that maybe this could be it. So about a week before, I casually mentioned to Chris in passing “I heard that on Sunday they are doing this pot-luck thing to give information about adoption to people who have considered it. I know we haven’t talked about adoption in years, but since we used to talk about maybe possibly adopting one day, I was wondering if you’d be interested in going. It’s right after church and free food.” (“Free food” is usually something that gets the old boy’s interest piqued) 😉 He looked hesitant, and said “Well, I mean, I guess that would be okay. But I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I am still on board with adopting one day. After having Spencer, I think I want to have another one of my own. And I just don’t think now is a great time to have another child.” I replied very calmly “Well sweetie, I’m pretty sure they won’t be sending us home with a child as a door prize or anything. It’s just an information thing. I’m honestly fine with not going if you don’t want to.” And then I sat silently folding laundry while everything in my head screamed “PLEASE! PLEASE SAY YES!!!” He said “okay, I guess that’s fine.” And that was it. I spent more time on my knees that week that I have probably in the last 5 years combined.
Then, Sunday came. When we arrived in church, they played this video below.
Apparently they were devoting the entire day to “Orphan Sunday” and the pastor talked about how God has called us to take care of the orphans. After church, at the panel discussion, my stomach felt like it was taking a ride on a roller coaster, only the rest of me wasn’t invited. We spent the next hour or so hearing people talk about their adoption experiences, and meeting some very nice people and their adorable children. We walked out to the car, got in, and sat in silence. Was he going to feel like I had Shanghai’d him into an entire morning of adoption talk? Would he be mad? I broke the silence and said “So, I suppose it’s kind of obvious that this is something that’s been on my heart.” He nodded, and said “I suppose. And I have to be honest, this whole last week, I kind of feel like I’m being hit over the head with a two-by-four about the subject of adoption. Between you mentioning this panel discussion and then some guy at work telling me about his adoption and then I turn on the radio and they are talking about adoption and then I see TV ads about the orphan epidemic…I think God knows that sometimes I need to be hit over the head with a 2×4 in order to get a message across.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He felt like God was talking to him about this??? I didn’t want to push, but I asked “How do you feel about all of it?” He responded “Well, it’s something that scares me. But if God is putting this on my heart, I’m inclined to at least pray about it and give it some thought. What do you think about it all?” I then told him a very watered down, Reader’s Digest version of the past 10 months. I didn’t want to overwhelm or pressure him into anything by sharing how passionately I felt about it. I told him that it was something on my heart, but that I didn’t care if it took him 5 years to be okay with it…as long as he was willing to consider it, I would leave it up to him and God. Meanwhile, my inner control-freak sulked in the corner, because she and I both knew it would take years for Chris to be okay with this.
3 days later, Chris walked into the room and casually said “So, what’s the next step?” I looked up from my work and said “What’s the next step in what?” He said “In our adoption.” I literally did a double-take. Cartoon style. “Uumm…I suppose the next step is for you to feel 100% on board.” He looked at me and said “Oh. I thought we’d already decided that. I’m in. So what’s the next step?”
I almost knocked him over when I lept across the room at him and squeezed him with every ounce of my strength. “Are you sure? Like, 100% absolutely sure??” He just laughed and said “Yeah! Totally!” I still didn’t believe him. I said “Sweetie, I really am okay with you taking your time to think this through. It is a HUGE decision and it’s going to be a really long, expensive, HARD process. It’s not something you can just be ‘okay with.’ I want to make sure you’re prepared for this.” He looked a little insulted as he grabbed my shoulders and said “Look. I don’t know how to make you believe me, but I am 100% certain that this is what God wants for us, and I am 100% on board with all of it. I know it will be hard and expensive and scary, but I know that God has put this desire in my heart, and I’m not only “on board” with it…I’m excited about it!”
Aaaaaaand then the tears came. Big crazy ones. Well…I had tears. He just grinned a lot like a guy who had just been told that he was about to become a daddy. Which, he had.
And then, after 10 months of prayers and tears and faith and feeling closer than ever to this huge God that created the entire universe…we grabbed each other’s hands, and we cannonballed.