Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ramblings

Ah, the feeling of a good run on a crisp fall day. Yesterday was the first official day of bundling up; I had on three layers! I donned an old sweatshirt for today's run, and although it was wrapped around my waist in less than 5 minutes, still, it was with me...fall has officially begun. Today the boys get to play. No school today. We love our days off. We're in the middle of reading George MacDonald's Princess and the Goblins, a wonderful book I read as a child. George was one of C.S. Lewis's favorite authors, and I can see why. Laughter, suspense, scenery, with a healthy dose of plain weirdness...this book is interesting, to say the least.
I am excited about Clapham. I am amazed how, in their third year of classical education, the boys are thriving. Ethan is consistently picking out great books, living books, to read. Christian continues to be fascinated more and more with nature and science. Their minds are being filled with things that are beautiful, worthy, and true. Mom and I talked last night about "doing hard things." Clapham is hard. But oh, so rewarding. Ethan's basketball program is hard for him...but he's learning. Christian is working hard in football...and it's paying off. He scored another touchdown this last week, made a lot of great tackles, and the smile on his face was priceless. He works hard and comes home a sweaty little mess. I can't wait to read more about "doing hard things." As God reveals how our family is wired, individually and as a whole, I pray that He continues to show us what hard things He would have us do for our good and His glory. God does not call us to a life of comfort; He knows we are fulfilled only through Him and the abundant life He provides...hardly easy, but immensely satisfying.

Now an adoption update: The Lord is faithful to lead. Over two weeks ago I requested info packets from two agencies; they have yet to show up. I have moved on. Some phone calls have not been returned. I've moved on from those agencies. I think He might be closing the door on the agency in CA. And I will move on. The pastor from ECFA has not yet called to schedule our appt. I will be patient, because God's timing is perfect. I talked with an agency yesterday and was encouraged to learn that many moms actually prefer adoptive parents with children. They appreciate the fact that their child will have siblings and that the adoptive parents are experienced. I was grateful for the conversation. Another confirmation that we will be chosen by someone, somewhere. So I can see how, in the little things, God has been shaping this search and shaping our thoughts to conform to His will, educating me more every day, educating my sweet husband too, and turning our hearts towards this little one.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Be Still...I'm Stretching You

This week started with a flurry of research. I talked with ECFA at the beginning of the week and they suggested we go out of state. Since we have family in TX, CA, and AR, I started with those states. By the middle of the week I was somewhat overwhelmed. William graciously diagnosed me with TMI (too much information).
He's right, my brained is TMI'd out. Research is good. Research 8 hours a day is not. Once again -- I have a feeling this will be an ongoing theme -- I had to give myself a huge timeout and pray...and be still...and listen. In the middle of the week, the Lord gave me the gift of information in the form of a phone call, all the way from California. I had pm'd a very sweet woman on an adoption forum and ended up talking with her by the end of the day. As she relayed her beautiful stories of adoption, once again God encouraged me with His faithful -- and often miraculous -- orchestration of her babies' lives, a testimony to me that He will orchestrate our journey to this little one. He is AMAZING! She had great experience with her adoption agency, and as it turns out ECFA thinks they're great too. So I'll call on Monday and get more info from them...maybe this is the one? Meanwhile we're waiting for the pastor from ECFA to call; we'll meet with him before the homestudy officially commences.

William told his parents our news this last weekend, and they were very excited. We had a nice family weekend of football games, a family BD party, and a great church service on Sunday. I am reminded often these days of blessings. I am thankful. Friday has rolled around again, and it's been gloriously summer-like here. The air has yet to turn crisp and cool, and I'm savoring the warm days. Tomorrow the refugee women are registering for sewing classes, and I begin teaching sewing classes in less than two weeks! I'm excited to see God work in this ministry and in these women. I know it's going to be a stretching experience for me, but stretching is what I'm doing these days...in more ways than one.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Prayer of Thanksgiving

What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?

I shall lift up the cup of salvation
And call upon the name of the Lord.

Oh Lord, surely I am Your servant,
I am Your servant...You have loosed my bonds.

To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
From Psalm 116


I am thankful for...my sweet husband, my amazing boys, my loving parents, my faithful friends, my crazy dog...our health, our wholeness.

We have dubbed Wednesday nights Family Night. We enjoyed the whole afternoon together...no friends, no phone calls, just togetherness. I read to the boys on the back porch, the cool breeze tempered by the sun. When William came home, we sat down to dinner around our table, candle lit, and told stories. They particularly liked the story about the time I locked myself out of the house when they were super little and had to call the fire department to rescue us all. We laughed. Of course, Dairy Queen somehow happened. Not a planned event, but a surprise from Dad. All in all, it was a sweet night, a blessing from the Lord, another marker of His grace and love pouring out upon our family.

What must I give you, LORD,

for being so good to me?

I will pour out an offering

of wine to you,

and I will pray in your name

because you

have saved me.

I will keep my promise to you

when your people meet.

You are deeply concerned

when one of your loyal people

faces death.

I worship you, LORD,

just as my mother did,

and you have rescued me

from the chains of death.

I will offer you a sacrifice

to show how grateful I am,

and I will pray.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

His Pure and Undefiled Wisdom

Rivalry: opposition, antagonism; jealousy.



The synonyms listed in the dictionary are kind of surprising. Jealousy? Antagonism? In our culture a "good old-fashioned rivalry" is thought to be a good thing...until we lose. And then the mask comes off, the selfish ambition and jealousy revealed, and all those pleasant thoughts about how healthy competition is a good thing, a character-building thing...well, it all rings a little hollow.




13Who is there among you who is wise and intelligent? Then let him by his noble living show forth his [good] works with the [unobtrusive] humility [which is the proper attribute] of true wisdom.


14But if you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry, selfish ambition) in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth.


15This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal).


16For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.


17But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity).


18And the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God's will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace [in themselves and in others, that peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts]

James 3:13-18 [Amplified]



The truth is, I'm a more competitive person than I once thought, and not in a good way. I want all of us to be “better.” These rivalries, even if they’re only in my mind, bring about unrest and disharmony in my thoughts. I have often wished that my kids were more athletic than they are, smarter, more well-behaved, like so-and-so's kids. These are mostly passing thoughts, not ones I dwell upon, but ones that are "false to the Truth."



Thankfully, as the Lord sanctifies me and makes me more like Himself, as He teaches me to have His wisdom, my thoughts will turn from thoughts of rivalry and “being better” to thoughts of harmony, "in a peaceful mind free from fears." Fear drives me to think irrationally about the successes and failures of myself, my husband, and my kids, whacking them wayyyy out of perspective. This is why God tells us to gird our loins with truth. The truth is, His perspective is that my kids are perfect just the way they are. And I love every inch of who they are. I am glad they are not like so-and-so's kids, because then they wouldn't be how God wired them to be.



As the Lord continues to strip away these false thoughts, He is now probing me about how rivalry affects my thoughts on adoption. He has made it our heart's desire to be a mom and dad to a child who needs a mom and dad. It’s that simple. No strings attached.




18"He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.

19"So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.


20"You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name.


21"He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.

Deuteronomy 10:18-21




He has dealt with me in His very wise and loving way. I was once alienated from my God, and when I was unlovely He died for me. Now I am beloved and adopted, an heir. I now call him My Father, who has done these great and awesome things for me which my eyes have seen. He tells me to show my love for the alien, because I too once was one.



So when I think of this little one we are called to love, should I worry and fret about the what-ifs? What if.....something's wrong with her.....she loves dolls (ick).....he would rather play music than play sports....she cries all night (I realllly love my sleep)....other people think she's less than beautiful....other people are prejudice against her dark skin....he has a hard time making friends....and on and on.



The Lord is showing me that many of these thoughts stem from my human wisdom, which he says is earthly, unspiritual and even develish. Wow.



HIS wisdom is pure, pure as a sparkling, clean river flowing with thirst-quenching water. He didn't have a speck of "what-if" thoughts about me. He looked at me and saw glorious possibility, a creation made in His image, chosen and beautiful. I know that when I lay eyes on our precious little one, my thoughts will be His thoughts. He is showing me what it is like to have wisdom from above, pure and unfeigned. He washes away the what-ifs and shows me His heart and teaches me how to have His heart of compassion, undefiled and pure.



As He works all this out, I am grateful for His Word. I am grateful for this journey. Again, Lord, I trust you. Not only with my own gifted, chosen, beautiful boys, but with the little one to come, who is also gifted, chosen and beautiful. Thank you for changing my perspective towards the orphans and the aliens. You love them in a thousand different ways, in pure and selfless ways. You want me to love them like that too.



Friday, September 4, 2009

Expanding Our Hearts

My Wonderful Father in Heaven,
I just had the most amazing conversation with another one of your daughters, and my sister-in-Christ.

"I will cry to God Most High,
To God who accomplishes all things for me.
Great is your love. It reaches to the heavens.
Your truth reaches to the sky."
Psalm 57: 2, 10

Another testimony of Your faithfulness. Another testimony that You are trustworthy and true. Yet another reason to believe you. How many, Father, do I need to hear before I give this heart of mine fully over to your will and let go of the fear of The Unknown. You KNOW! How many times have I witnessed in amazement the orchestration of good things in my life? Even the not-so-good parts, You've redeemed and made beautiful!
And then there was the conversation last night at my bedtime (You know how much I cherish bedtime!) in which you blessed me and showed me AGAIN, through a friend, how You e..x..p..a..n..d hearts and change lives...for eternity! Conversation after conversation, and again through the Psalms, the Proverbs, Romans, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, even on Moody radio yesterday, You work and say "Trust me." I trust You.
My friend said that the adoption process strips you. Only a week in, and I understand. As I ponder the intricacies of adoption -- racism, love, grace, redemption, the what-will-they-think? thoughts -- I truly do feel stripped down to truth. What is my truth. What is Your truth. Once again, I am grateful that my identity in the One and Only Jesus is firm, yet being refined and sanctified. Expand my heart, O Lord. Give me Your eyes, Your heart.
"Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to You I lift up my soul."
Psalm 143:8
You are the One who accomplishes ALL THINGS for me. Thank you for your guidance, holding our hands along this path you have chosen for us, leading us in truth and grace. You are beautiful to me.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

5 Days After the Decision

Wow, who knew adoption could be so complex, beautiful, yet sometimes laced with corruption and oh, so much heartbreak? After Day 1 of research, I felt hopeful and excited. Day 2 brought about a feeling of being assaulted by the Internet, thousands of posts, blogs, websites, forums....get me out of here! I could not sleep. Then in my quiet times the Holy Spirit shows me that God is my trust, my hope, and He goes before us in this journey. He already knows.

"In peace I will both lie down and sleep."
Psalm 4:8
We can rest assured that He will guide us to this little one, that He will guide a mom to us! Is it hard? Yes! Will it be emotional? Yes! But
"Blessed are those whose trust is in the Lord, whose trust IS the Lord.
For he will be like a tree planted by the water, who extends its roots by a stream
and will not fear when the heat comes.
But its leaves will be green,
and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit."
Days 3 and 4 lead us to think we'll pursue this adoption independently. And we believe she might be Hispanic, maybe somewhere here, maybe in CA or TX....Oh, Lord, where is she? My heart is already breaking for her mom, who has to carry a child, knowing that this baby was not in the plan, and staying awake at nights wondering what to do. Staying awake just like me, wondering what I can do, where I can find her. I don't know...yet.
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
Psalm 143:7

My 38th Birthday

My 38th birthday was awesome. William took The Day off work, and we celebrated all day long. In the morning I ran with my dear Sarah, and William made the short trek to Starbucks for my birthday latte. Ahhh, I am made happy by the smallest delights of life. Before long, Christian appeared and said those wonderful words, "Happy Birthday, Mom." My sleepy-headed Ethan joined us downstairs a bit later, and as we went about the routine of sending the boys off to school, I felt grateful for my precious family.


My birthday fell on a cloudy, cool day, not the greatest weather for August, but actually great for golf. William and I played nine waterlogged holes. Actually, he played, I attempted to play! He was pretty patient with me until the last couple, when he would sweep my ball into the hole with his foot if it got even remotely close!
Over lunch we talked about lots of stuff, mainly God's continuing pull on our hearts toward adoption. I felt peaceful about the conversation and by the end we both agreed that we needed to trust God and leap forward. We want to live a life with no regrets, no misses on God's plan for our lives...and someone else's little life. Our purpose in life is to glorify our Heavenly Father, and He is a Father who has an amazing heart for children, and gives us that heart too. This journey begins full of uncertainty, full of what-ifs, but we began it joyfully. I can't wait to see who God adds to our family!
Later we pick the boys up from school and.....Christian got his hair cut! He loves his long hair, but, alas, school requirements force him to submit to the shears. I'm happy to report that he lived, we lived, and he's looking awfully handsome. By the time we got to P.F. Changs -- my birthday dinner...yum! -- he was in good spirits, and we had a lovely time. I would give an arm and a leg to know how to make those vegetarian lettuce wraps...oh. so. good.
We ended the day watching Connor and Dominick's football game with Grandma and Grandpa, Joe and Claire. It was a sweet day, full of family, full of promise.

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