perpetual thanksgiving: reflections on #theEiland5k

There’s an art print in my bathroom that I look at every morning. It has words by Henry David Thoreau etched in gold brush lettering. It says:

I am thankful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.

Perpetual thanksgiving. These two words define what this journey to adoption has meant to me. Over and over again, God has made it so very clear that He’s intentionally loving on and providing for his kids: Delwin, me and our two kids, certainly. But also a birth mom who, this very day, may be feeling anxiety, guilt, shame or confusion. A birth dad who may be struggling to figure out how he’s going to provide for his new child. A child who is maybe unborn - maybe unnamed. But who’s already known and wildly loved.

Delwin and I said “yes” to this journey, but we had some pretty huge prayers that came along with that “yes.” One of those prayers was for our adoption expenses to be completely covered.

One night at dinner, good friends of ours told us the story of their journey to parenthood. They told us about their miracle baby - who’s now a beautiful and talented seven-year-old. They told us about the story of adopting their now four-year-old son from Ethiopia. We listened as they told us how they organized a 5k to help build community and raise money for their son’s adoption.

Days later, Steph had set up an entire website for our very own Eiland family 5k. We were encouraged as a few people signed up immediately - and then resolved that even if only five people participated with us - we’d be grateful.

But then, closer to race day, we started seeing friends of friends register. And people from our church. And complete strangers. One man from our church, Dave, wrote this note along with his registration:

I retired about two years ago and have been thinking a lot about how I can give back for all the blessings God has given me. I have three wonderful kids (two married and one in college) and five grandkids. We have been attending Willow [our church home] for over 30 years. 

But the story of you two wanting to open your family to another child touched me deeply. My own adult kids went through all the prep to get in the picture book for The Cradle [our adoption agency]. It was grueling, expensive and time-consuming. But after two years of prep they were blessed with two biological kids and didn’t go through with adoption. Their kids are now four and two years old. Their lives are full now but I still see the posts of completed adoptions that The Cradle posts on Facebook and I think, “That might have been their story.”

We are all adopted in God’s family. And it’s a blended family. We are all together in a big house trying to survive and thrive by God’s grace. 

And grace abounds. People like Dave rallied their own circles of friends and family, posting on social media, sending e-mails, and texting - all to tell others about our adoption journey.

It was incredibly humbling and deeply moving.

From the time we posted about the 5k (September 15th) to today (the day after our race), our community has given $9,450 to help us bring our littlest baby home, $4,851 of that in just the last four days. 39 people officially registered for the race - and 98 people ran, walked or drove in solidarity with us yesterday. (That’s just the number of people I could count!)

Yesterday, friends prayed for us on our porch after we completed our 3.14 miles. Another friend ran to meet us along our path as she finished her 5k. My brother walked on a cruise ship. My mom pushed my dad in his wheelchair, with my sister, niece, and other neighbors alongside her.

Perpetual thanksgiving. Filled to the brim, overflowing with gratitude.

I had this thought: God is showing his love for just a handful of lives in our particular journey. How much He must love us. How much must He be wanting and willing to do anything to let us know how much we’re worthy of His pursuit.

So, what’s next? The day before the race, we received the best e-mail: We’re officially home study approved! (Talk about perfect timing.) And even better, we should be receiving the final draft of our beautiful profile books from our friend Hannah over at Kindred & Co. tomorrow. (The first drafts are stunning. We can’t wait to show you!) From there, Delwin and I will determine when to start showing our profile books to birth moms who come to The Cradle to consider an adoption plan. Please be praying for our hearts, as we’ll be entering into relationships with real people with real stories - really soon. And honestly, y’all - my mama’s heart can’t wait to meet our baby.

To our tribe: Thank you for wanting to run this race with us - for lacing up your shoes and sharing our story. For giving sacrificially and joyfully. We couldn’t do this without you. You’ve been one of God’s most tangible expressions of love to us in this season - and we’re floored.

One step closer!

Perpetually grateful,


Ashlee Eiland