Sunday, August 13, 2017

gotcha days, grace, & great, great glory

Five years ago, today, we carried Sophi out the doors of her orphanage. In the Lord's perfect sovereignty and through a series of events that literally bring me to my knees in awe and wonder, Sophi's "Gotcha Day" anniversary is also the day we will be carrying her the rest of the way home


Her new home is indeed a special one. Tonight, Sophi will join her momma, her daddy, and lots of brothers and sisters, including one from her very own birth country. There are so many special things about Sophi's new family, but what is the most precious and beautiful thing of all is knowing that this family has had Sophi on their hearts and in their prayers long before our family ever even knew she existed! This takes my breath away. It's a crazy, glorious testament to the merciful and sovereign ways of our Lord.

Today, Sophi begins the next chapter of what has unfolded to be one of the most incredible of stories. While I don't even remotely begin to understand God's mysterious ways, I am grateful beyond words for the privilege of getting to be just a small part of Sophi's story. Being her momma has been one of the greatest mercies of my life. 


There is so much more to this story that I look forward to sharing. It truly is unbelievable and undeniably a story that only the Lord could write. I'm asking Him to give me just the right words as I continue to share the many amazing details in the coming days and, most importantly, for His name to be greatly glorified!!! I am simply a vessel of His mercy.

In the meantime, I want to invite you to pray for Sophi. Because of her attachment and processing issues, I don't anticipate today being a difficult day for her. She loves to ride in the car, see new things, meet new people, and go new places. This is one of the Lord's many sweet mercies to this precious heart, and I am more thankful for this now than ever before. Still, I know these changes will have their challenges for her, and we are praying (and ask you to join us) that the Lord will go before her and make the rough places smooth! 


We are praying for her new family as well, for the Lord to pour out His grace and His peace on them today and to prepare them for the all the adjustments they will experience in the days ahead. We are praying for traveling mercies for all on this most very special Gotcha Day.

We would also ask you to pray for the rest of our family here. There are no words to describe how difficult this day is. While we are fully assured and trusting that this is the Lord's doing, nevertheless, it is a very hard thing. There are many tears and emotions as we finish this part of our journey. There is great joy in knowing that we have followed the Lord in obedience and have experienced the beautiful blessing of being part of Sophi's journey home, yet there is also deep sadness, grieving, and wrestling over the many mistakes and messes along the way. Laughter and weeping intermingle as we find ourselves learning to rest in the mercy, the mystery, and the sovereignty of our great God.


Just as we carried her out of those orphanage doors five years ago, I will always carry this precious daughter in my heart. Though we have had many difficult days, I would not trade the years we have had with Sophi for anything! The Lord has used Sophi's life to transform mine, and I am thankful beyond words for the gift of being her momma and the sheer privilege of being the first one to tell this little girl that Jesus loves her.


Of the many, many mercies I am thanking the Lord for, I am especially thankful that Sophi is healthy, strong, and happy. Despite all the painful things we have walked through this summer, including Faith Ana's death and a miscarriage, the Lord has been so faithful. He has worked a miracle in Sophi's little life. She has been delivered from an extremely dark and troubling season, and during these past few months, she has been doing so, so well. The Lord has, most assuredly, already been at work preparing her heart for this transition. I truly believe with all my heart that she is going to thrive in her new home. 


It's time to fly, little one! Spread those wings and soar! 

Your Heavenly Father has always had His good and strong hands on your precious life. So, today, as we open up our hands, entrusting yours to another, we know without a shadow of a doubt, His hands have you and always will! 

We love you, Sophi, and, even now, we look ahead with hopeful anticipation to the Greatest Gotcha Day of All Times...

A day when there will be no more tears.

A day when there will be no more goodbyes. 

A day when there will be no more wrestling.

A day when there will be no more confusion. 

A day when there will be no more struggling to find the right words. 

It will be the most glorious day, a homecoming and reunion like none other. 

On that day, we will sing together {you, me, your momma, and everyone of us who have found ourselves by the mercy and grace of God, kneeling at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ}. Together, we will sing and shout and proclaim:

To God be the glory! Great things He has done!

Thank you, each one of you, for the many ways you have supported us, loved us, and prayed for us during this journey!!! We are eternally grateful!

Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, things greater than we could ask or imagine through the power at work in us,
TO  HIM  BE  ALL  THE  GLORY...
Ephesians 3:20


Covered by His mercy,
Melanie

Friday, June 30, 2017

mercy

There once was a little girl who became quite gifted at putting together puzzles. It didn't happen immediately, but, by and by, she grew to love puzzles and even discovered joy in the midst of them.

It was truly an extraordinary thing.



Piece by piece, day by day, she learned to persevere and do the task that was was set before her. Slowly and patiently, she plugged away. She worked so very diligently, although it was, most assuredly, a difficult feat.

She watched as things began to fall into place. Some days, waiting and wondering how it would come together. Sometimes, wrestling with a particular or peculiar piece. 

Puzzles are hard, she surely must have thought. But, somehow, she knew: just because it's hard doesn't mean it's wrong.

Can you remember that, dear wrestling and waiting heart?



It took time. So much time. So many minutes, so many hours. Sometimes, many days passed before the picture would even begin to take shape. 

This puzzle-loving little girl, she knew what it meant to persevere.

When it was hard. When it didn't make sense. When she couldn't see how it was all going to come together...

She simply kept at it.

Did you hear that, dear puzzled heart? She simply kept at it.



Y'all, this girl would put together puzzles without even looking at the finished picture on the box!!!

This is the truth!

She didn't need to see. Not with her eyes anyway. But with her mind and with her heart, she just believed that it would all come together. 

She just believed.

Just believed.

JUST BELIEVE.

Listen well, questioning one. This is Truth:

Faith believes that the pieces will eventually fit, that it will all come together, and that in the end, there will be {always} a glorious masterpiece.



This girl, though held captive in so many ways in that broken body of hers, was captivated by her puzzles. She was gladdened by them. Now this was impressive. This is inspiring.

She loved seeing something unrecognizable become something unmistakable.

She loved witnessing something overwhelming transformed into something overcoming.

All the little pieces perfectly fitting together, connecting in a precise way, and, ultimately, creating such a beautiful picture. 



So fitting, isn't it? This child who loved puzzles was very much a puzzle herself. Her life was a puzzle, and her death, weeks later, is still a puzzle. 

We don't have all the answers. We don't know why, but we know Him. And without a doubt, we know Him even more deeply because of her.

Three years. Three years, to the very day, she was home with our family. During that time, this little girl and her puzzles taught us all so many, many things

She and her sister, both, imparted a life-time's worth of lessons on love and loss, suffering and joy, pain and perseverance, faith and failure, grace and mercy. 

These precious, puzzling two...



We learned through their adoption journeys and through their days as our daughters.

We learned through their coming home here into our family, and we are forever learning as one has gone away to her Forever Home and the other is preparing to go away to her new home.

Their time in our family and their time leaving our family and every moment in between puzzles me in a way that is beyond anything I could ever express with my words.

Yet even in my wrestling, this is what I know:

Faith Ana is finally free. She is restored and whole. Right now and forever. Her puzzle is perfectly put together, not a piece lost or missing. It's entirely complete as she is forever Home with her Forever Father. And I can praise Him for this. I will praise Him for this.

And, Sophi, sweet Sophi...

In spite of everything...
In light of everything...
In the midst of everything...

Her puzzle is taking shape in a way I never could have imagined. And, y'all, it truly takes my breath away. It's beautiful and perfectly planned in ways that could only be pieced together by the Father who has held her life in the very palm of His hands from the beginning. And I can praise Him for this. I will praise Him for this.



Yet, it, too, is very much a puzzle. It's one that is still being put together. Prayerfully and patiently.

Her story with it's many tiny little pieces. Crooked, crazy-shaped, confusing pieces...



How our story was connected to hers...

How her story is connected to theirs...



How in His mercy and through His sovereign plan and by His perfect provision, He is putting all the pieces together.

Listen well, dear wondering, wrestling heart. I want to say it again {and again}: 

HE is putting all the pieces together.

HE IS THE ONE putting all the pieces together.

Over the years, in all the many moments these girls have been mine, there have been so many miracles and so many mercies. Oh, so many, many mercies.

There have been so many pieces of their puzzles that have challenged me and changed me.

There have been many hard and costly pieces. But they've all been right pieces and all good pieces and, most importantly, they've all been God's pieces. This is His masterpiece. His glory on display.

There have been pieces that have broken my heart and pieces that have brought my broken heart closer to His.

And there's pieces that I just don't understand. And that's ok. 

It's ok.

Hear that, doubting heart, troubled spirit, and questioning mind? 

It's ok. Really, truly. It's ok.

I don't have to understand the puzzle to be able to praise Him for the picture that will one day be revealed. 

I can just praise Him.

I will just praise Him.


These girls and their puzzles...

They've pushed me, pulled me, pained me me, puzzled me, but more than anything, they've played a part in producing in me a heart so completely overwhelmed by my Father's faithfulness, His lavish love, and His unrelenting mercy.

My words fall flat, and all I can say, all I can do, is simply fall on His mercy.

Puzzled, yet praising Him and always proclaiming, for now and forever:

All is mercy.


For everything that happens in life
 there is a season, 
a right time for everything under heaven:

A time to be born, a time to die;
A time to plant, a time to collect the harvest...
A time to cry, a time to laugh,
A time to mourn, a time to dance.
A time to embrace, a time to part.
A time to hold on, a time to let go...
A time to be quiet, a time to speak up...

I have seen the kinds of tasks God has given to each of us to do to keep one busy, and I know God has made everything beautiful for its time.

God has also placed in our minds a sense of eternity; we look back on the past and ponder over the future, yet we cannot understand the doings of a God...

We can only stand in awe of all God has done. 

What has been and what is to be - already is.

That's so we'll quit asking questions and simply worship.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
The Voice & The Message


God often seems to place His children in places of deep difficulty, leading them into a corner from which there is no escape. He creates situations that human judgement, even if consulted, would never allow. Yet the cloudiness of the circumstance itself is used by Him to guide us to the other side. Perhaps this is where you find yourself even now.

Your situation is filled with uncertainty and is very serious, but it is perfectly right. The reason behind it will more than justify Him who brought you here, for it is a platform from which God will display His almighty grace and power.

He will not only deliver you but in doing so will impart a lesson that you will never forget. And in days to come, you will return to the truth of it through signing. You will be unable to ever thank God enough for doing exactly what He has done.


We may wait till He explains,
Because we know that Jesus reigns.

It puzzles me; but, Lord, You understandest,
And will one day explain this crooked thing.
Meanwhile, I know that it has worked out Your best -
Its very crookedness taught me to cling.

You have fenced up my ways, made my paths crooked,
To keep my wand'ring eyes fixed on You,
To make me what I was not, humble, patient;
To draw my heart from earthly love to You.

So I will thank and praise You for this puzzle,
And trust where I cannot understand.
Rejoicing You do hold me worth such testing,
I cling closer to Your guiding hand.

Streams in the Desert



"Remember, I told you that if you believe,
you will see the glory of God."

John 11:40



Perhaps there is also something in your life causing you to question God. Do you find yourself saying, "I do not understand why God allowed my loved one to be taken. I do not understand why affliction has been permitted to strike me. I do not understand why the Lord has led me down these twisting paths. I do not understand why my own plans, which seemed so good, have been so disappointing. I do not understand why the blessings I so desperately need are so long in coming."

Dear friend, you do not have to understand all God's ways of dealing with you. He does not expect you to understand them. You do not expect your children to understand everything you do - you simply want them to trust you. And someday you too will see the glory of God in the things you do not understand.

Streams in the Desert




Make us feel that mercy is our life.
Teach us deeply that freely we have received, and freely we must give.
Make us broken-hearted, happy, useful sojourners. 
In Jesus' name, we pray, Amen.

John Piper
Life as a Vapor



Though He slay me,
yet will I hope in Him.

Job 13:15


Job answered the Eternal One.

I know You can do everything;
nothing You do can be foiled or frustrated.

You asked, "Who is this that conceals counsel with empty words void of knowledge?"
And now I see that I spoke of - but did not comprehend - 
great wonders that are beyond me.

I didn't know...

Before I knew only what I had heard of You,
but now I have seen You.

Job 42:1-5

XOXO,
Melanie

Saturday, June 10, 2017

forever home

Faith Ana Blackmon
December 19, 2007 -  June 5, 2017

A baby girl was born in Kazanlak, Bulgaria on December 19, 2007. We do not know this special child’s natural parents or any of her family in Bulgaria. We do not know the circumstances of how she came to the Home for Medical and Social Care for Children Orphanage in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. We do know that her name was Fidana Zeynep Alieva and that she had been in this orphanage for six years. We also know that she had been born with a defect known as spina bifida and had some surgery as a small child. We know that this child’s Heavenly Father had a plan for her life which included Will and Melanie Blackmon and their family in Opelika, Alabama. 
Fidana became Faith Ana Blackmon and arrived with Melanie at the Blackmon home on June 5, 2014. She immediately knew Will as “Dada” and was quickly laughing at the antics of the Blackmon boys, Web, Palmer, Hank, and Barrett. She also had two sisters, Sophi, who had been previously adopted from Bulgaria, and Evie, as well as a baby brother, Haddon. So Faith Ana, at age 6, joined a large, loving family in a totally different place. She may not have realized that she had traveled halfway around the world, but she knew that she was in a place where she was dearly loved. Of course, in a child’s mind, Faith Ana may have simply thought she had moved to a different orphanage, which is somewhat true, as we are all orphans needing to be rescued and saved by our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Faith Ana continuously heard the name of Jesus in her three years with Will and Melanie. Jesus always said to bring the children to Him. We know that when Faith Ana died on June 5, 2017, her spirit was instantly with Jesus, and she is in His loving arms. While we may not fully understand how it takes place, we also know that in the “twinkling of an eye” Faith Ana will have a new body, a special and fresh creation of God. Her earthly broken little body which was paralyzed below the waist will be strong, beautiful, and glorified. She will stand, walk, run, jump, play, and praise our Lord for all eternity.
Despite her challenges, Faith Ana wanted to learn new things, and she did her best at adjusting to life with the Blackmon Bunch, which grew with the additions of Georgi and Camp. She knew all of her brothers, sisters, and other family members and interacted with each of them. There was mutual entertainment and lots of laughter. Also, there were struggles, but Faith Ana persevered through her several medical issues with an easy-going personality. There were victories along the way. She learned to dress herself, and, using her wheelchair, she was able to do other tasks. She became amazing at putting together 300 piece puzzles. Her smile and warm welcome were a joy for everyone. 
Our hopes and plans for our children may not always be realized. Will and Melanie had those for Faith Ana, but we recognize that God’s ways are above our ways. We have trust and confidence in God’s sovereignty, and we know His love for us and Faith Ana. She is now secure in His presence with no pain, no uncertainty, and no more struggles. Will and Melanie are so thankful to God for giving them the privilege of three years to the day of being Faith Ana’s parents. 
Will and Melanie are also grateful to their family, friends, neighbors, prayer warriors, and encouragers who stood with them during the adoption process, health issues, hard days, and this time of deep loss and hurting. They are forever grateful to the doctors and nurses who did their best to help Faith Ana and them with the difficult issues and decisions. They especially want to thank Dr. Sara Smith T for her steadfast and loving support and encouragement and the gift of her time. 
Faith Ana will be greatly missed by her parents, Will and Melanie Blackmon, her brothers, Web, Palmer, Hank, Barrett, Haddon, and Camp, her sisters, Sophi, Evie, and Georgi, her grandparents, Bill and Judy Blackmon, Kay Ingram, and Stan and Sophia Martin, her great-grandparents, Bill and Patty Martin, her uncle and aunt, Allen and Tiffany Martin, her cousins, Allen, Langston, Ellie, and Mary Chapman Martin, her uncle and aunt, Collin and Caroline Bradley, her uncle and aunt, Rob and Laura Yeargain, her cousins, Brett (Kaitlyn) Dudley, Kaitlyn Dudley, and Millie Dudley, and her great-uncle and great-aunt, Joel and Jan Martin.
There will be a graveside service on Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 2:00 P.M. at Garden Hills Cemetery in Opelika, Alabama. Jeffcoat-Trant is handling the arrangements, and Rev. Mike King will officiate.  In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests donations to be made to First Baptist Church of Opelika, Alabama and designated for the Faith Ana Memorial Fund to help children through adoption and foster care, to care for their families, and to bless their caretakers.







Home - June 5, 2014





Forever Home - June 5, 2017

So, with confidence and hope in this message,
strengthen those with feeble hands,
shore up the weak-kneed and weary.
Tell those who worry, the anxious, and fearful,
"Take strength; have courage! There's nothing to fear..."

Then, such healing, such repair:

the eyes of the blind will be opened;
the ears of the deaf will be clear.

The lame will leap like deer excited;
they will run and jump tirelessly and gracefully.

The stutterer, the stammerer, and the tongue of the mute 
will sing out loud and clear in joyful song...

An aura of joy never-ending will attend them;
they will clasp gladness and joy to their hearts,
while sadness and despair evaporate into thin air.

Isaiah 35:3-7,10

XOXO,
Melanie

*A special thank you to my sweet dad who wrote Faith Ana's beautiful obituary.