Spring

Winter is my least favorite season, second only to Spring. Hear me out. At least in the Winter you know it’s going to be cold, snowy, dark, dismal. I know I know, many of you love cracked skin and a constant chill in your bones. I am not one of you.

Winter has it pluses; Christmas, warm drinks, cozy blankets, the beauty of a snowfall, and of course snowmen, snow angels, sledding and all that goes with it.

But Spring, Spring is another story
Spring is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It promises bunnies, and tulips and daffodils. It whispers new green life and warm rays of sun. But it slaps you I the face with harsh winds, cold rain, thick mud, and a false hope of warm days. Yes, there’s an occasional flower or two, but can that really make up for the tease that Spring actually is?

Plus here in Lancaster County all you can smell is manure. Yesterday it was so potent that it literally caused my husband and I to stop talking. We couldn’t take another breath until we drove down the road. Even then it was painful.

Thanks Spring.

So for all my venting I do actually have something pretty awesome to say about this season. In the past few days the weather has been so glorious, (I don’t trust it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it) I spent a lot of time outside on our deck. It’s beautiful to sit under the spotty shade of our Maple tree. Because of that, I’ve taken a closer look at something I’ve never noticed before.

The buds.

I mean, I know that’s what happens this time of year; things bud. But in just 3 days, our tree went from Winter bare, to bunches of blossoms blooming, to tiny leaves spurting out all over. It’s almost like our tree is just as happy for the warmer weather as we are. It couldn’t wait to make it’s debut this year.

I was thrilled to witness this change and shocked by how rapidly it happened. For things to happen so swiftly, and for the change to be so drastic, major things must have been happening during those harsh weather days. Things I wasn’t paying attention to. Things I didn’t know about. Things that were happening right under my nose but I couldn’t see. Our little tree was working hard. Even thought I was totally unaware, it was accomplishing its purpose.

What a gift.

In the same way, our little family is waiting to blossom.

This process is moving, and God is at work.

I know things are being accomplished. Practical things like paperwork and signatures and meetings; spiritual things as well. I know God is drawing closer to us, because we are drawing closer to him, and in that, we are drawing closer to each other. I know my girls miss us.  I know our faith is growing. Patience is being built and perseverance is finishing it’s work so that we may be mature and complete not lacking in anything. (James 1:4)

I know Spring time in our family is coming.

For all my complaining about the Winter months and the artic chill, the bitter winds, and the overcast days, I know God is redeeming the season.

In fact, I think I see a few buds.

tree2

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Together

It’s 8am in my girl’s country right now, Monday morning. Everyone is just now waking up, except for those who went to bed hungry. For 5 more days, our caseworker is there. She is hopeful to have something significant happen. 5 more days for people I have never met to work on behalf of my family; 5 more days. The count-down begins.

*Spoiler alert* Transparent moment

It’s exhausting to be hopeful and let down so often. I’m not sure if just today was defeating, or the week in general. Not sure if it’s the weather (dear vacation, I miss you) the situation, or the fact that we can’t defend ourselves. I have no good answers.

Earlier this week I came to the realization that I had a pretty tight grip on this date. So, I let it go. It wasn’t a great night. Living in flux is something I’m a professional at. It seems our lives have been in flux more than the typical family. But this flux is a bit more challenging. There are no absolutes, there are no timelines, there are no complete answers.I love my girls so much; living without them seems pointless.

But I know it’s not. It’s not pointless.

I’m know there are many things I can learn during this time.

Correction; adoptive moms, there are a ton of things we can learn from this time.

The thing I am going to salvage from this time is my purpose right here right now. I’m searching for it. I’m working at it. I’m trying. I stepping out of my fear, social expectations, and stretching my strengths. I mean isn’t that what everyone does when they are emotionally drained?

Come on adoptive mamas, join me.

Count to ten.

Step out of the despair with me. Let’s wipe the muck off each other. Let’s embrace the pain and move forward. Let’s pray each other through.

We’ve got stuff to do. God’s got stuff to do. People we’ve never met have stuff to do, papers to sign. Let’s not be the ones holding up the process. Let’s believe in his timing. For real. Let’s run from jealousy. Let’s embrace each other with joy and grace. Let us be the hands and feet of Christ, to each other.

Because no one understands how we feel better than we do.

In the meantime, as we seek to encourage each other, let’s accomplish some dreams, realize some goals. Let’s deepen our knowledge and broaden our achievements.

Our families need us to. They need us to be dependent on the Lord, not on them. They need us to have quiet strength to exude grace. They need us to be patient. They need us to work hard. They need us to develop the gifts and strengths we’ve been given.

They need us to be better for them, whenever it is that they come home.

So, let’s stop trying to control the situation and trust our maker. Let’s be controlled by our principles not our emotions. Let’s pray. Let’s work. Let’s grow. Together.

What are you going to work on? What are you going to complete? Who are you going to be when your kids finally come home?

 

Set My Heart on You

All my life I’ve wanted to be wise.

Wise and in love with Jesus; fully dependent on him and him alone. I’ve made strides to be that person, but I never felt like I made substantial progress. I wasn’t using this time on Earth well. I have been inefficient with the days God had given me. I had so much to learn, I still have so much to learn. The more I learn, the more I don’t know.

About 2 years ago, when we filed paperwork for our first adoption, when made a commitment, told our families, and fronted thousands of dollars, I knew I was in for it. I knew that I would be a different person at the end of this journey then I was at the beginning.

I was ok with it.

Over the past 2 years the lessons I have learned have been tremendous and good. I have watched as God provided strength, wisdom, people, encouragement, joy, love, laughter, perseverance, energy, and family. Did I mention support?

God has made himself known in so many ways that feel good. Everything I mentioned above – feels good, is life giving; uplifting.

But God makes himself known in hard ways as well.

Here, in the waiting, I have never felt a more constant ache; almost a gnawing. It’s like I am always hungry for my girls, hungry for their affection and laughter, hungry to have them home, hungry to love them, hungry to be complete. I am always hungry and never satisfied.

Yet I have never been closer to Jesus.

Hungry for his Word, aching to understand it; striving to hide it in my heart; turning to it for comfort, singing it for peace, holding onto its promises. Not that he will grant me my desires, but that He will be with all of us no matter what.

I know that there are reasons for the wait that I may never know or understand. I know there are excuses presented that I will never believe or accept. But I also know that

Dependency on my father, is more important than delivery of my children.       

This is hard to type, and harder to voice. I want Jesus close to me more then I want my girls close to me. If we have to wait, so I can draw nearer to God, then please let us wait. This waiting is bitter, but I have never found such sweetness in the Lord than right now.

No matter when and even if you bring them home, I am thankful for this time. It’s been you and me. Actually, it’s been you carrying me. You uphold me with joy, peace, and kindness. I will be satisfied in your love and trusting in your knowledge, your power and your grace. I have set my heart on you. I have set my heart on all that you are. Thank you for carrying me. I will cling to the promise that you will never let me go.

Set My Heart – Vertical Church Band https://youtu.be/A8pMqbDAEP0 @verticalchband

 

Think about His Love

Sometimes I think about being on that boat.

An unapologetic scent of fish; seagulls flocking on the horizon. Mist of the water finding it’s way across the deck while the wind tangles my hair. Warmth from the sun, signs of life surround and hues of blue cascade on the open water.  It’s a beautiful thing, being a tiny speck on a grand ocean. It unlocks an appreciation for this beautiful world. Makes one feel small, almost a comfort of sorts.

Without proper warning a storm is upon me.  The wind has changed, demanding my respect and threatening my very breath. Sunlight has evaporated, and the blues turned dark, gray and cold. They thrash against the vessel in a tyranny of rage. Desperate to save myself but frozen in fright; I don’t know where to turn, what to do, or where to go. It seems that no one does. No one has answers. No one can help. Any attempts to salvage the ship and avoid ruin are in vain. A simple shore excursion has turned, without warning, into a violent and imminent death.

As fast as it came, it’s gone; without explanation; without effort; beyond my comprehension or understanding; not a moment too early or a moment too late. A calm has broken through the thunder and split the clouds. I can breath again. Surefooted, relived but alarmed, I squint in the unexpected glare.

And I’m reminded of his love.

Think about his love, Think about his goodness, Think about his grace, That’s brought us through. For as high as the Heavens above, So great is the measure of our Father’s love.

I can see his face, never threatened by the storm or alarmed by the winds. Instead he is kind, calm, and gentle, powerful and loving.

I know he knows better and bigger then I do. I know he loves better and bigger then I do. I know he does not see this as a challenge but instead an opportunity for him to be glorified. I know he is for my good.

When I take my eyes off of him, I fumble and fail. But when I look at him, and focus on him, I am reminded of his incomparable goodness. His perfect love. His unsurpassed knowledge. His limitless power. There is nothing I want more then to be focused on him, see him work in every detail and then give him all the glory.

So great is our God, that he allows no room for fear, doubt, or despair. He has gifted me with trust. He is sovereign and he is good.

God may I be totally satisified in you. Meditating on your grace, kindness, generosity and love. May this storm be a beacon for your glory. May this life be a platform for your name. May this family be a parallel to the Gospel.

May the name of Jesus be lifted up.

 

The Helplessness of Prayer

I’ve become aware of the difficulty of the English language. Our girls have often used words incorrectly that sound alike; like play and plate, high five and Wi-Fi. We’ve often stood staring, puzzled by what it was they were actually trying to communicate.

It’s interesting how hopeless and helpless sound so much alike. I want to be careful not to confuse them in my daily walk. They lead down different paths and have very different endings.

I’ve mentioned before, when we said yes to these adoptions we jumped in the deep end. I’ve also said how thankful we are that we did! Swimming in the deep end is stretching, but God is an incredible lifeguard. This is a lesson we’ve learned well; but like so many lessons, this lesson is multi-faceted.

Now we are learning about helpless prayer.

Helpless is exactly how I feel. I can do nothing from here. I can’t make governments step up, paperwork fly, and money appear. I am often heartsick and helpless to change.

Then I realize that’s exactly where God wants me.

It’s in our helplessness that he can move. It’s in our helplessness that we can be saved. When we are helpless, we have no choice but to fall into him.

If I didn’t I would be hopeless.

Hopeless is a scary word. It means emotional turmoil and devastating days. It means black. It means no future. It means finality; debilitation, despair. It means no hope.

Hopeless prayer isn’t really prayer at all. If you were hopeless, would you bother to pray? Would you have the strength? But helpless prayer; that’s when miracles show up.

Wine at the wedding. Water at the well. Health for a child. Strength for a paralytic. Food for the thousands. Sight for the blind. Life for the dead.

I don’t like being helpless. I seem to always have a gnawing hunger, a tension in my soul. I have to remind myself that God wants me to come to him broken. When we are broken, he is our strength.

During our fundraisers many friends encouraged me with Ephesians 3:20. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…..”

I’ve appreciated it greatly and found comfort in this verse. But here, a few verses before the promise, have I found my strength for this season…

Paul praying for the church in Ephesus;

For this reason I kneel [pray] before the Father,  from whom every family [even mine] in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you [because I am weak] with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, [his love for us] may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, [for me and my family] and to know this love that surpasses knowledge [his love is greater than my knowledge]—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,  [bigger than me] according to his power that is at work within us, [yet through me] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

It’s in this prayer of helplessness, that hopelessness is abolished and power in Christ is found.

This is the promise I will cling to. This is the prayer I will pray.

Helplessness is a weakness my Father can use. Hopelessness is a devestation of the soul.

Watch your English….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sundays are Hard

Sundays, for as long as I can remember, have been hard long days.

With a Dad in the ministry, then attending a church 45 minutes away, Sundays were a long day. Dating a Pastor’s son didn’t shorten them. Sunday school, church, family lunch, then church again that night.

As a youth pastor’s wife, the same schedule exists. If there’s no Sunday night commitment, there’s usually a meeting, a lunch, or an event to prepare for. No wonder Mondays are for face plants on the couch.

Sundays got just a little bit harder this year.

Two things happen every Sunday.

I’m reminded of just how big God is.

I see hundreds of people who love my children.

Both of them are wonderful gifts I am given. I embrace them with all of my being. That means I usually just stand at my chair, coffee in hand, and cry through the worship.

I’ve become a complete mush over the past few years. I refuse to be ashamed of my tears.  I often think that if we truly understood the love God has for us we would be crying more often. In my case, everything relates to my kids.

This week wasted no time. Father to the fatherless, defender of the weak …

“Well, I’m done. I’m not even go to attempt to sing. There goes that.” I stood there and listened.

Our God is a STRONG GOD. There is NO ONE HIGHER. He is FAITHFUL to provide.

A thousand people surrounded me singing the lyrics,

Sing out                                                                                                                                                                         Lift your hands and shout out                                                                                                                      Awesome is our strong God                                                                                                                                          Mighty is our God.

I couldn’t sing, and there was no way I was going to be able to lift my hands. Not because I was sad, although I was, but because I was desperate. Desperate to cling to these promises. Desperate to have faith in this truth. Desperate to see God move again, here, in our lives, in our family, soon.

When I’m in this place of desperation and hope I often notice my little one’s friends. I see acquaintances who have written incredibly generous checks to help pay these enormous fees. Friends who have given so much time, love and support to us, I wonder how much more we can consume. Or how we will ever be able to repay them. I’m surrounded by people who love our kids. Who love us.

I am just so thankful, for all of it; the grief, the joy, the difficulty, the help, the opportunity to share; the ability to write this blog. This is so worth it. Any amount of hardship, amount of ache, any amount of long days. It’s all worth it.

I say that without any mental hesitation.

Not only because it’s allowed us to love our girls, but it’s broken us and grown us. We are wiser, kinder, gentler people. We are more dependent on The Father. We are more trusting. We are more content. We are more intentional. We are closer to Jesus because we have no other choice.

He IS a Strong God. There IS no one higher. He IS faithful to provide.

Living in these promises is a blessing beyond words.

Harder Sundays are better Sundays.

 

 

 

A Miscarriage

Several months ago a close friend told me she was pregnant. After years of difficulty trying to conceive, this news took me by surprised.  I was instantly filled with joy for her, and instantly filled with dread. I hated it, but I had a very real sense of fear. Her soon to be family seemed to be too good to be true. My first thought was,

“What?!!!? Are you sure?? Are you kidding??”

My second thought was, “Don’t. Move. A. Muscle.” 

This was a miracle. I wanted to see this little miracle be born at full term; pink, healthy and screaming. 

We have our own little miracle we’re working on. I don’t have a baby on the way; but I am tiptoeing on dangerous ground. I feel like I am coming to the end of a high risk pregnancy. I’ve been careful. I’ve followed Dr.’s orders. I’ve eaten plenty of leafy greens. I haven’t lifted over 5 pounds, and I’ve limited my coffee. (Now you know I’m joking here). All signs point to health. 

“Baby looks good.” as they say. If I can make it full term, I’ll have two boisterous girls lighting up my life with their laughter and love. 

I’m scared. I don’t want to be scared. I don’t like to be scared. I’d rather be strong and fearless. I’d rather have the valor of Jael, or the courage of Esther. But I’m just scared. I’m scared for me, for us, and for them. I’m scared of what may happen, what may NOT happen, and how long everything will take. I’m scared of things falling through, governments changing, or travel going awry. I’m scared because my family is hopelessly precious to me.

This winter hosting only deepened our love for our girls, and them for us. Summer hosting was superglue bonding. Winter hosting was the duct tape you wrap around for good measure. I’ve tasted this joy. I’ve felt the warmth of this goodness. I’ve embraced the tears as I’ve soaked up the laughter. I don’t want to see it fade. I don’t want it to slip out of my fingers into the darkness.

I’ve dreamed the dream and I’m aching for it to come true.

I have to choose to love instead of fear. I have to push onward instead of crumble to my knees. I need to breath deep, walk forward. I need to wait. I need to trust. I need to be strengthened. I need to grow.

I am choosing to be thankful for every moment I’ve been given. I am choosing to be thankful that my eyes were opened. I am choosing to be thankful that the world has needs I felt I should try to answer. I am hoping for good, but I know I have already been blessed beyond my worth.

As this fear and valor clash in my core; I have no choice but to run straight into the arms of my Daddy. He knows what we need. He is for my good. He is my comfort and calm. My only shelter from the chaos and source of contentment. He’s had this in his hands long before it was in my heart. He will see us through full term.