Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Isn’t that what life in this humanness is? A constant wrestling between the pain and the joy, the ugly and the beautiful, the waiting and the hoping, the dying and the living? At one moment crushed by the weight of unfulfilled dreams, suffering, loss, death, and all that the curse entails…yet the next moment enthralled by the gift of love, sacrifice, forgiveness, whispered hope, laughter, untamed beauty, and all that grace entails?
All of this, the bittersweet I have witnessed of late:

Peaceful Storm. Tearful Adieus. (French “I commend you to God)*

Beauty for Ashes. Gladness for Mourning. (Is. 61:3)

Family ties strengthened though the family circle is now broken.

Shovels scraping cold earth to fill a grave while the voices sing “Halleluijah, Thine the Glory.”

To love and let go. Heaven homesick. 

Hoping when there is no end in sight. All things made beautiful in His time. (Ecc. 3:11)

Teenager with head in hands, tears soaking sleeves. Aged in grief and heartache, yet child in the desire to be loved and accepted. 

The dying of the summer beauty. The trees dropping their leaves in splendorous death.
The planting of bulbs, sensitive spring flowers into earth that is getting colder by the day. The laying of two bodies into the same cold earth. Believing in the promise of resurrected life. 

Watching loved ones stagger under the weight of an empty chair at the dinner table and an absence in every moment of their life. Watching as they smile through tears, speaking grateful words of their Creator’s faithful provision and believing that His name being Blessed, whether He is giving or taking. (Job 1:21).

 Vivid reminders that life is fleeting. That those I hold dear I must treasure today, because tomorrow is not promised.

 A renewed awareness that my name could be next on the roll call to Home, so I must not waste time with the frivolous and the petty.
Turning the calendar pages and crossing off the days with still no visible sign that we are any nearer to looking into the eyes of our far away child.

Wrestling with the doubts, fighting for this babe of our heart for as long as it takes, yet wondering how long I can go on. Seeking God with desperate pleas. And hearing His reply: “You will find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” (Jer. 29:13). 

All of this, this has been my bittersweet October. 

*Shared by minister at today’s graveside service for sweet Linda

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food...

I am sure many of you have heard the news reports of the drought in the horn of Africa. The pictures are heart-wrenching. The suffering is unimaginable to us as Americans. The estimated numbers of those dying from starvation are staggering. It is estimated more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died in the last 90 days in Samolia alone. Please be in prayer for these dear people, the fathers, the mothers, the elderly, the children. Pray that God would draw them so near and comfort them in their time of despair. Pray that we would not be ignorant and complacent in our comfy, climate-controlled lives. If you feel moved to give financially, here is a great resource for determining an organization (or two or three) to donate to. Click the link here to visit a website established by other adoptive families and view several trust-worthy organizations. If you choose to donate today, send an email to the address provided on the site letting us know, and if the amount you give is over $25, feel free to choose a gift as our way of saying thanks on behalf of our extended family who are in great need.
Above is a video of a song that rings through my head every time I look at the photos of the children who are dying because they've been too hungry for too long. (Pause the music on the sidebar before listening to the video). Oh I hope that my ears are willing to hear and respond to the cries of the children. But even beyond that, I hope that my heart is willing to respond to the words of Jesus in Matthew 25. "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and  you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me...Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

This week marks our 7th month DTE anniversary. This simply means 7 months ago our dossier was submitted to Ethiopia and our names were officially inscribed on the waiting list. It means that we are officially ready to have our names un-inscribed and kindly offer up our spot to the next family in line. It means that we are one month past the original estimated wait time, yet still many months shy of the recently lengthened estimated time.

7 months (or six months really) marks a season of budding hope. After months of dampened spirits and darkening doubts, we have found the Lover of our Souls whispering sweet peace and hope into our hearts, and our enthusiasm has been restored. For this heart, hoping in something I have not seen (which is always the case with hope, is it not?) is especially difficult. For one who has an ugly affection with the pride-child named Control, and who often reacts to separation from control with fits of whining, panic, immobility, amnesia, or acid reflux, placing hope in something that is invisible and intangible is impossible. Without a helping hand from the Hope-Giver. While the control freak girl works feverishly to set up protective barriers around the heart, ensuring that no one or nothing can crash the dreams safely hidden inside, the dreams actually begin to die from suffocation. So barricaded are they from any potential vulnerability, never celebrated, rarely spoken of, they begin to decay. But the Hope-Giver whispers of His faithfulness to keep His promises, of joy unspeakable, of endurance, of hope that does not put to shame, of eager expectations, of perfect love casting out fear, and the control freak shuffles back to her grave, her death sentenced already pronounced (2 Cor. 5:17). Her persistence in faking a resurrection is of most irritation and detriment to me.

So, ever so tentatively, I have allowed my hopes to unfurl again. This might really happen! In fact, with certainty it will happen, when and only when, the Author of this hope sees fit. I allow my mind to wander again. What color will the African sky be? What friends will we make, hearts knit together though lives separated by miles and words separated by languages? What will the little face or faces look like the first moment they lay eyes on us? What if the call comes this week?! Will I laugh? Cry? Will that be the moment when my heart finally accepts this concept as a reality and not just a far-fetched dream?

But the hope-thief starts upping the frequency of his uninvited visits. He fills the space with sneers of “The higher your anticipation, the father the fall if this thing crashes and burns!” “If you knew how hard it’s going to be to raise a once- orphaned child, you would be wishing for a longer wait.” And then yesterday his arrival shortly after an email arrival bearing the news of yet another lengthening of the expected wait times was accompanied by taunts: “How funny, weren’t you just saying something about restored hope and having sweet peace in the waiting? You even thought you could receive a referral soon? Your wait is probably just getting started! You might have had joy for a few weeks, but just wait, the despair will be returning any day now.” He steals. He kills. He destroys hope.

Ah but not for long! I know the antidote for his poison. (though too many times control freak girl comes up with ridiculous remedies to try first. They always fail.) I pull out the weapons of the Hope-Giver. Beautiful weapons of promise. (Sound like an oxymoron? His is an upside-down kingdom. 2 Cor. 10:3-6, Mat. 20:16, Mat. 5:44) His promises remind me that the battle is already one. That His faithfulness to me is great, His steadfast love for me endures forever. And I unclench my fist yet again to take hold of the hope He offers. My heart needs continual reminders that trials, suffering, heartaches, are the soil that produces faith and character growth. I call to mind the lessons I have learned about being intentional. (What’s up with this continual learn…forget, learn…forget cycle? Maybe something to do with control freak girl??) Choosing to believe rather than waiting to feel.

“While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving. True saints know that the place where all the joy comes from is far deeper than that of feelings; joy comes from the place of the very presence of God. Joy is God and God is joy and joy doesn’t negate all other emotions-joy transcends all other emotions.” (Ann Voskamp in “One Thousand Gifts”, a book that the Hope-Giver has greatly used in restoring my pursuit of contentment.)

I purpose yet again to look for the gifts, the blessings, the graces of this season, this moment. I am learning slowly, tentatively, to allow my heart to embrace the truth that my head has long known but my heart has often doubted. To let this reality soak down into my soul, that God is good. He is GOOD. His goodness is constant, regardless of human circumstance. He is the giver of everything good and those who seek Him will lack no good thing. He does not give sparingly, or according to merit, but rather gives goodness in abundance, without holding back, bestowing favor and honor and guidance and steadfast love from a cup of blessing that is full and overflowing, splashing down into a dry, thirsty soul, saturating the dessert and satisfying the drought. James 1:17, Ps. 34:10, Ps. 84:11, Ps. 33:22, Ps. 63:1-3, Is. 58:11

My friends, thank you for journeying thus far with me, for looking over the barriers, into the dry, sometimes dirty soul of mine, and still loving me. I have just one request. Will you continue to pray with us? I know it has been longer than you (or we) expected, and perhaps there are much harder days yet ahead. I simply ask that you pray for our hearts to be at peace, trusting in the faithfulness of our Father. While we wish that this season of waiting would soon pass, we desire much more that we would be students to whatever lessons He has for us. If it takes many months for us to learn, we want to accept it with thanksgiving, knowing He gives nothing but good! And if one day you are talking to me, and you catch a glimpse of an unsightly barrier around my heart, remind me that hope does not put to shame!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hard Questions

Adoption brings with it new and unusual conversations. And comments. And questions. For the most part, I welcome questions. I like to ask questions myself (too many, in my family’s opinion), and I appreciate others asking me questions because it shows they have an interest in my life and a desire to understand and relate to my journey. This is certainly true for adoption. Questions give me a good reason to advocate for adoption and orphan care, they give me an opportunity to mention the name of Jesus, they remind me that my friends and family have not forgotten even though they have not received any exciting answers to their questions for several months, and most of all, they give me a brief (or possibly not as brief as the asker was expecting) moment to ramble shamelessly about a topic I am most passionate about.
But I am finding that not all questions sparked by the statement “we’re adopting” are easy to respond to. At least not in a way that is simultaneously polite, honest, and God-honoring.

Here are a few of the not-so-easy questions we’ve been faced with thus far:
1) Why international instead of adopting from the U.S? This is one of the hardest for me. I don’t have a quick easy answer. Well, actually I do, but until about a week ago, I always felt a little bad using it. The honest, quick answer is, “because we feel this is where God directed us at this season of our life.” I often feel apologetic using this response, because it seems like a pat answer for such a big discussion. A week or so ago I was sharing our adoption journey with a woman, and she asked this question. I gave her the above response, and then said something to the effect of “I know that seems like a really brief answer, I feel like I should have more specific facts.” Her response startled me, in a good way. She said “that’s the best answer you could give me! If that is where God has led you, that is where you better go, and that is good enough for me!” Her answer changed my perspective, and from now on I won’t be so hesitant to give that response. There are various points that could be discussed on this topic. For Dave and I there is certainly a sense of urgency when a country has such severe poverty and disease that 1 in 6 children die before their 5th birthday; however there are obvious flaws in the foster care system too. The bottom line is, every child everywhere needs a family. I always conclude this response with “We are very aware that at some point God may call us to foster or adopt domestically, and in the mean time we very much support those who are caring for orphans locally.” Most of the time people are understanding. On occasion I sense a bit of an attitude about meeting our county’s needs first and I’m tempted to respond with something like “Oh so you must be adopting domestically then? How can we support you in that journey??” I can usually refrain from any sarcasm, realizing that it is not known for its effectiveness in spreading the gospel, but I do find it highly frustrating when such comments are made by individuals who are not remotely educated or involved in orphan care, whether “here” or “there”. Yet it is a good reminder to me in other areas to guard my tongue from speaking words of criticism. The whole “take the log out of your own eye before you try to pick at the splinter in someone else’s eye” is a lesson that I constantly need reinforced in my heart.

2) Ethiopia…aren’t those people black? This question is just awkward to me. If the question is simply an attempt to mentally locate Ethiopia on the globe, I understand. I’m not too great at geography either. However there could be more tactful ways of wording the question, such as “Oh, where is Ethiopia?” If, on the other hand, if the motive is simply to make a statement about the obvious skin color differences, why not plainly ask “how are you preparing to deal with racial differences?” (Which by the way I would likely respond to with “well, first of all, we are actually the same race, the human race, all created in the image of God, and all relatives through Adam”, but that is another conversation for another day.) However I do not deny the differences and challenges that we will likely face by having a diverse family. If that is a burden on someone’s heart, I am very open to hearing their heart and sharing my own concerns and prayer requests. The differences are real and though they aren’t as big of a deal as we tend to make them, they aren’t to be ignored. I simply wish that certain questions could be thought out for a moment and worded in a graceful way. But if the next time you see me you want to discuss skin color and can’t seem to remember any of my handy suggested wording, go ahead and pop the awkward one on me, just be warned that you may get a blank stare for a moment while I try to formulate a polite answer, or an unexpected giggle since my response to awkwardness is often uncontrolled laughter.

3) Don’t you want to have children of your own? This question is very multidimensional. First, let’s address the phrase “your own”. Please remember that I say all of this with kindness and understanding, I have asked many of these questions and used the same phrases myself. But as I prepare to welcome a child into my family who will be the object of much attention, questions, and comments for the rest of his/her life, I am becoming more aware of how some of our commonly used phrases sound and what they are actually implying. I want to do all I can to 1) protect my child from any preventable pain and humiliation, and 2) open other’s eyes to how their words may affect others. So back to the question. Technically, I will never “own” a child. I see it more as being a grateful caretaker to a life that God has lent to me for a little while. He creates each child, He gives, and He takes away. But I know that may seem technical, and I don’t mean to nitpick every phrase apart. Secondly if I am going to claim some sense of “ownership”, any child in our family will be equally ours. Giving birth does not make a child more “mine” than adopting. Now that I have dissected the question, let’s get to the answer. Yes, If God blesses us with biological children at some point, we would be delighted.

4) Do you have infertility problems? Speaking of awkward questions…I feel like this question should come with a password question. “This question may only be asked if you are a very close friend or family member of Dave and Carrie. You must answer the following password question. ‘Is Carrie a morning person?’ If you know the correct answer, you may ask the question. If not, I apologize, but you are not permitted to advance further.” There are certain topics that we all know are not socially acceptable to bring up to strangers. For example, I would not walk up to someone in Wal-Mart and say “Oh you have a lovely family, but why only 2 children, did you have trouble conceiving?” I feel like the fertility question falls into this category. First, if we had walked down the painful road of infertility, I would likely not be excited about discussing my grief with any random passer-by. Second, adoption does not immediately mean fertility or lack there- of is an issue. I realize that choosing adoption as first choice is not common, but it seems best not to jump to conclusions just because someone makes an unconventional decision. And third, unless you know us personally and have invested time and prayer in our lives, it simply is not your business. Allow me to bring up the topic and offer however much or little information I feel is appropriate, rather than interrogating me about such personal family matters.

5) Good for you, I could never do that; I just couldn’t love another child like my own child. This is not exactly a question, but it’s another hard responder, so I decided to include it. No, we are not good, or amazing, or impressive. We are weak, self-oriented, greedy people who have been redeemed and made new and are continually being shaped and molded in the hands of the Creator God. Any and all of the “goodness” you see in us is a direct result of the Spirit of Jesus living in us. Now that we have the first part clarified, let’s move on to part B. I am no expert on this. I have never felt a mother’s love for a biological or adopted child yet. But I have made a few simple observations. The first is that in other relationships, shared genetics does not result in an automatically stronger love. I have many friends that are much closer to me than cousins. The man that will be by my side for the rest of our lives is not (closely) related by blood, yet I love him as much as I could love another human! The point is, love is from God, and He does not give us greater or lesser amounts of it depending on whether the recipient is genetically related to us or not. While there may be different feelings involved in adopting versus giving birth, I am confident that the Source of love will supply and fill me with a love for the family that He builds for us that knows no biological boundaries, and I believe He can do the same in your family.

And I have saved the hardest for last:
6) How long until you bring your child(ren) home? I have given various answers to this question. A sample of them are “hopefully by Christmas”, “hopefully by the end of this year”, “Hopefully in the next 6 months”, and a multitude of others that usually involve a breakdown of our agency’s expected wait times and rattling off various month and week increments to try to make some sort of an estimated guess. But the raw honest truth of this question hurts and that is why it is the hardest to answer. I DO NOT KNOW. Again, I am so thankful that people still ask us. Sometimes I fear that it will take so long that those around us will forget. Sometimes I fear that everyone will get bored with continually getting the same answer and will quit asking. I have worried and fretted, moaned and whined, and begged and pleaded for the waiting to be short. I have never felt so out of control of my life. Yet that realization in itself is amusing, because who are we kidding when we think we do have our life in control? A five year plan?? We have no idea what tomorrow may hold for us, let alone years in advance! This journey has been such a good faith exercise, constantly reminding me that God knows the future, that He has plans laid out for our lives, and that He alone can and will bring them to pass in His time. My new favorite saying is “God won’t be a day too early or a day too late.” His timing is perfect. Now if only I could rest in His timing and leave it confidently in His hands! And so we press on. And we continue to answer questions (just not too awkward please!). And thank you for continuing to share in our excitement even though it’s now been a year since we first told of our adoption decision. And wait with eager expectation!

*Please be reminded again that even though I have shared my feelings on some of the questions we’ve been asked and the phrases that we don’t especially care for, I am not offended and will not be offended by your question, even if it comes out awkward, as long as I know you sincerely care about us. My intent is certainly not to make anyone nervous about asking questions, but rather to remind all (myself included) that it always pays to think before speaking, and because I’ve been amused at some of the odd questions I’ve received and thought I would let you in on the humor.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The heart of the Matter

Excerpt from a letter we wrote explaining our decision to adopt internationally...

In response to your letter to us voicing your concern about our adoption process, we would like to share with you a little of our vision and why we are on this journey.

First, it has been made clear to us through the Word that it is God’s will that we should care for the needy and the orphans. While it may not be adoption for every family, we are certain that it is God’s desire, His command even, that every member of the body of Christ participate in caring for the least of these (Mat. 25:34-40, James 1:27, Ps. 68:5-6). For us, God laid adoption on our hearts as the way to fulfill His calling.

Choosing where to adopt from is complex. It is God’s plan that every child everywhere should be loved and cared for by a family. Unfortunately, the consequences of a fallen world mean that sin, disease, and poverty leave children orphaned all over the world. While we are open to caring for a child from here in the U.S. and are aware that at some point the Lord may lead us to foster or adopt here, we felt at this time to pursue an Ethiopian adoption because of the dire need. Ethiopia, like many other third world countries, is desperately poor. They do not have foster care options like we do here. In Ethiopia alone there are aprox. 6.4 million orphans, a staggering number we cannot even comprehend. 1 in 6 children there die before their 5th birthday. Because food, clean water, medication, and doctors are so scarce and therefore disease is so rampant, the life expectancy of the people there is very low, and 43% of their population are under 15 years old. Many of the orphaned children who are not adopted will try to survive on the streets, begging, selling themselves, experiencing horrors we cannot even imagine. When we learned of these conditions and considered the people there in light of Mat. 25:35-40, how could we not reach out to them?

In contemplating a child becoming a part of our family who would look a little different from us, we again looked into the Word. Unlike the animal kingdom, God sees humans as one race, the human race (Acts 17:26-28). We all have the same body make up. Though there are small variations in DNA (the DNA variations in any two people would typically differ by just 0.2%, and there is much more variation within a people group [e.g. within Caucasians] than between people groups [e.g. Asians vs. Caucasians]) the differences are miniscule and all peoples can reproduce. The differences between us, such as slightly different amounts of melanin, the coloring pigment that gives each of us different skin tones, do not define who we are. Whether we adopt a child with more melanin who has dark brown skin, or give birth to a child who has no melanin and has white (albino) skin, does not affect how God views them because they are all His children, created in His image, and therefore it should not affect our relationship with them because we have the mind of Christ Jesus in us (Rom. 2:11, James 2:1-13).

To quote a mother of 12, six of them a part of her family through adoption; “A Christian worldview does not overemphasize any one culture nor does it place importance on the amount of melanin in an individual’s skin, their eye shape, their hair texture, not the shape of their nose or the size of their lips. Race, culture, socio-economic status are not how disciples of Jesus categorize people. God loves diversity… He Himself has the most culturally diverse, multi-racial family ever.” (J. Groothius)

Ultimately, we feel like diversity in the family of God gives us a little glimpse of heaven, where we are going to be spending eternity worshiping Jesus and enjoying the company of brothers and sisters from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Rev. 7:9). Diversity in our family now is just a taste of what we anticipate experiencing in our big family for eternity.

While the hands and feet of the Body all have different roles, and not everyone is called to adopt, we do feel that adoption is something that is very much a part of God’s heart, and is clearly woven throughout the gospel message. We know that Jesus’ primary reason in coming to this earth was to do a great work of redemption, to make a way for us to be adopted and become the children of God and joint heirs/siblings of Jesus (Rom. 8:15, Eph. 1:5). It seems only natural that we, having been the recipients of such an indescribable gift, and having been given the Spirit and the mind of Christ, would want to offer this same redemption message of love to the least of these.

So there you have a little glimpse into why we have made this decision to adopt. We know this venture is big. It has not been easy and we expect it to get harder. We know it is an idea that takes some time to ponder and get used to, and we aren’t asking you to be immediately excited about something that may seem so unusual. We simply ask that you would consider what the Word of God has to say, and we would appreciate your prayers; for us, and especially for the 147 million orphans around the world who need families and ultimately need to know of the love of Jesus.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Eager Expectation

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for Him.” Is. 64:4 (shared on weekly encouragement email from our agency).

In pursuit of an opportunity to share the journey of our adoption with interested family and friends, to document important milestones so that we can reflect on them later and share them with our child, and in the mean time, a space to try to unwind the crazy musings of my mind by writing rather than by rambling to my husband (the latter is more than supportive of this endeavor!) I am stepping into the blogging world.

Our current adoption happenings can pretty much be summed up in one word. WAITING. I could conclude now, but I would hate to end my first post so abruptly, and you know I always have more than just one word to share. As so much of my life currently seems defined by waiting, God has been offering me object lessons in what it is to wait in hope. I have become a rapt observer of the seasons, particularly spring. This season is filled to the brim with imagery of the gospel message. The new birth, the resurrection, the restoration, the awakening, the eager expectation! While many creations of spring are wonderful displays of these metaphors, my favorite this year is the trees. One privilege we have in our climate is the opportunity to observe the splendid array of deciduous trees.

They spend nearly half of the year without leaves, their bare, gnarled limbs completely void of color or apparent beauty. But in March, there is an awakening, a sense of expectation that begins to fill the air, and even the trees show evidence of this anticipation. (At this point you are welcome to call me a tree-hugger. It wouldn’t be the first time. However, I am not an extremist. I simply love to observe nature, and also love to exercise my literary right of personification.)

All winter they have stood, branches stretched to the heavens, swayed by the wind, exposed to all the harshness of the elements. This winter, the trees around us withstood a brutal storm. As they were being assailed by heavy rain, the temperatures dropped, covering nearly every exposed piece of bark with over an inch of ice. And then the winds came. And they were broken. Their devastation could be heard as cracks rang out in the still night air, results of branches being torn from trunks, and for some, the end of their life as their entire being hurtled to earth.

Yet in the days to follow they lifted their scarred, tattered branches to the sky, continuing to do the only thing they can do. Glorify their Creator. And wait with eager expectation. It is as if they know that no matter how painful the winter, how long the dreary days of March seem to stretch, that their Creator is perfectly faithful and on time.

And He will once again array them in the magnificent beauty of spring foliage. Yet even as they are again clothed with the splendid greenery, their scars only seem to remind them of an even greater future glory, when they will be restored to their original created state. Void of any implacable insects. Free from destructive disease. Healed of all grievous wounds. But until that great day they fill each moment, every day and night, whether winter or spring, in sunshine or rain, testifying of the greatness of their Creator. So you see, My Creator is teaching me a few things about what it means to wait with eager expectation.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 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 with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Romans 8:19-27