Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snowflakes



It's 75 degrees and sunny in Ethiopia right now.  Here we've had the most beautiful snowfall.  We woke up to large, fluffy flakes gently falling from the sky.  Beautiful.  I raced from the backyard to the front yard trying to capture them with my camera, but just as I would start shooting in one location, the snow would stop.  The minute I walked inside, they would start up again.    Can't wait to see our sweet baby's face when she wakes up to her first snowfall.


                                      Out of the bosom of the Air,
                                            Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
                                      Over the woodlands brown and bare,
                              Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
                                         Silent, and soft, and slow
                                                   Descends the snow.
                                                                         Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from Snowflakes

Thursday, January 28, 2010

REFERRAL!!!



Christian and I were playing Scrabble Wednesday night when the phone rang.   Oh, how life can turn on a dime in 30 seconds flat.  I knew it was the referral when I glanced at the caller i.d.   My heart dropped into the pit of my stomach, and our Scrabble game came to an abrupt halt.   
Leigh Ann told me about a little baby girl, only three months old, in Mekele.   Amazingly, this tiny little girl shares a name with my mom.  My beautiful, Jesus-loving mom.    It was too much.   God is so good.   She said more info would be sent in the morning.  I hung up with a sob in my throat.  God is so good.
William and I shared one of those looks -- like when you're in awesome wonder of new life and how in the world can we be so blessed and, oh my goodness, can you believe it?  I mean that was quick!  And a little baby?  You're kidding me!!! We thought we were getting a toddler!  I cried, the boys laughed, and William soon became the lone voice of reason.   After all, we hadn't gotten the official referral yet.  Just a phone call...a life-changing phone call, full of hope and promise and love and all those wonderful emotions God lets us experience in moments like these.   
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.  
                                                                                                                                        Ephesians 1:3-6
Part II... 
The next morning we woke up bright and early.  I checked my e-mail 10 times in 10 minutes.  Nothing.  William went to the club for a workout.  I sat down and spent some time reading the Bible and praying.   Well, I tried to sit down.   Eventually I did settle into a passage in John 12.
"Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal."  John 12:24-25
Reckless in your love.   God is reckless in his love towards us.  (Well, Sasha just stopped by and said that this super cute children's boutique downtown is having a sale and there's lots of cute baby stuff, and so I just might have to cut this short!!!)  Anyway, GOD LOVES US SOOO VERY MUCH!  And He wants us to love others recklessly!  This means that whatever that referral says, namely those scary medicals, He has hand chosen this precious baby, and we are to TRUST HIM!  He brought my thoughts to Deb's blog and this post.    God is truly enough, and His power is perfected in our weakness and in our shaky "what-if" thoughts. 
William comes home with Starbucks (I so love this man!), the kids wake up, and we get the long-awaited e-mail.  We open up the e-mail, scan the very lengthy letter, and then we lay our eyes on our daughter for the very first time.  She's beautiful.  She's tiny.  She's ours.  Big, huge eyes.  A long, skinny little body.  So fragile looking.  Fearfully and wonderfully made by God Himself.  We are in awe.  So many thoughts, emotions.  Sadness over the loss of her father and mother and grandmother.  Sadness for the poverty and illness that has broken her family apart.  I grieve for her mama.  Yet, the Lord gives her beauty for ashes.  Her healing has begun.  Our hearts are full.   We can't wait to hold you and love you and take care of you, sweet baby girl.
Later that day, we officially accepted the referral.  Now we enter into another season of waiting.   
We pray, Jesus, for her protection and that she will have favor in the orphanage, that she will be loved and cared for by the nannies, that she will grow strong, and we ask that she come home soon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Boys, Love, Africa, Her

Adoption is an interesting process.  It's so unlike deciding to have a biological child.   We did that like this:   "Let's get married and wait 5.1 years to have a baby.   You know, so we can bond."   5.1 years go by.  "Let's get pregnant now and again really quickly after the first and then..."   I don't even think we prayed about it.  It was really pretty shallow.   Although we "planned" our first two children, I realize now that it had nothing to do with us and everything to do with God's plan.   His infinite grace filled our arms and hearts with two precious babies, the most incredible gifts from Him.  He tenderly showed us all about love...  in the middle of the night, bleary-eyed and desperate for sleep...in the e.r., praying that our sons would be okay...in the stillness of the dark, as we watched them sleep...in the angry, frustrating moments when we blew it.   God loved on us so much.  He taught us about Himself in all of these moments.  Most of all He taught us how much He loves us...so deep, so beyond anything we can feel for our own children.

Now His plan for our next children is different and not nearly so neat and tidy.   (I am certain we were not ready for anything but neat and tidy 12 years ago!)  When researching adoption,  I remember clicking on so many websites.  I am a researcher.  Nothing thrills me more than delving headlong into a subject so that I can eventually come up for air and feel somewhat educated about something.  Well, with adoption it just gets more confusing.  It makes you feel really overwhelmed and inadequate.  Too many decisions, too many limitations, so many orphans.  Trusting in the Lord with all of your heart suddenly sounds like a really good plan.  But this sweet child has been bathed in prayer from the beginning, and God led us to Africa.  He's finding her for us, us for her.

As God has softened my heart towards Africa, He has revealed a people who are so beautiful to me.  I remember reading "There is No Me Without You."  I was touched and inspired.   Every week when I go to sewing class, I am uplifted by the smiles of African women.  It's my weekly blessing to be around them!   It's my little peek into African women, their culture, their language, their joy.
 
Little did I know at first that our little one would be from Africa.   As I look back now, I see that He was guiding us there all along, even when we didn't see it at first.  He redirected us, and now He has chosen a little girl halfway across the world to be our daughter.   I ran into this blog today from Sasha's blog.  She drew me in quickly to her life in Uganda, and I can hardly read her stories without weeping.   Her post of October 23, 2007 is good.   It reflects what I've but just glimpsed as God has opened my eyes to this country.    Yes, we are blessed in the U.S.   But we are impoverished in so many ways.  

I feel nothing but honored to call Africa my daughter's birthplace, the country she now calls home.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Evacuating the Orphans


http://orphanevac.com/


http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=353584


http://www.klove.com/news/


Please join me in praying for these precious orphans.  Apparently, there has been no food in the surrounding village for 12 days.  Violence is rampant, and it is difficult for the relief organizations to reach them.  Our church is praying Proverbs 21:1 over the petition to evacuate them.  We are also praying for their day-to-day care and that God's will for these children be accomplished.  Our church is sending a medical team on Wednesday to the orphanage.  Thank you for your prayers!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Boys


Thursday, January 21, 2010

So Random...So Amazing

Adoption update:  Our dossier is in DC for authentication and will be heading to Ethiopia on Friday.  We are #3 on the wait list, so that means we should receive a referral in a couple months, give or take any number of days!  It seems so random.   I imagine brokenhearted little children lined up in a row, or just names on a list, and then all the hopeful parents lined up in another row, just names on a list too, and matched up according to the order.  Number  3 child goes with Number 3 parents.  How odd.   If we would have been a week or two later with our dossier, or she had been in a slightly different circumstance...
Thankfully, our little one has a Heavenly Father who has placed her in that line just so.    Amazing.

"For I know the plans I have for you..."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Appropriating God's Words

Several weeks ago, God brought me to this verse:

Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by your name, O Lord God of hosts.  Jeremiah 15:16


This has been a prayer of mine for years, that His words become for me a joy and the delight of my heart.  For many years, it just wasn't so.   But He is faithful, and now I can say this verse has become a reality.  Now I pray that His words are not only a joy and the delight of my heart, but that Isaiah 55:10-11 will drive me on my knees to pray, for it is a powerful thing to speak the words of God in prayer.




 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
      and stay on the ground to water the earth.
   They cause the grain to grow,
      producing seed for the farmer
      and bread for the hungry.
  It is the same with my word.
      I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
   It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it."

      


Several years ago I did a Beth Moore study, "Believing God."  God used it powerfully to speak to me about just believing Him. Just believing Him, for me, has been a challenge.  Haiti...unanswered prayers...God, are you good?  Are you faithful?  Are your promises sure?  I know, of course, the answers to those questions.  How I long to be like Abraham,  who "did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God."  Some days I'm more like Ezekiel when God asked him, "Son of man, can these bones live?" (While the hand of the Lord was upon Him, E was surrounded by very many, very dry bones.)  Ezekiel responded, "O Lord God, You know."  Not exactly a hearty response of faith.   I am grateful to the Lord for giving me Ezekiel's testimony.  The Lord then asked him to prophesy over those dry bones and tell them to come to life.  He did.  They came to life.  Regardless of how Ezekiel felt at the time (less than a pillar of faith) he responded in obedience and prophesied the words of God.  I remember in that study long ago Beth Moore talking about the power of God's spoken word.   She reminded us that God spoke creation into existence; He didn't think it into being.

Yesterday God used Kelly to teach me how to pray...again.  I am apparently a slow learner, as I have heard this sort of thing time and time again, yet it fell on me afresh yesterday, touching my spirit deeply.

Revival comes as we speak God's word in the dead parts of our lives to repair the damage done by sin.  We are faithful to speak His words, not our words.  He promises to act according to His word.  Our lives will be changed by His word.  It will prosper everywhere it is sent.  It's not up to our feelings, only our faithfulness to speak God's word.  Yes, it requires immense faith because we ask him to do something we are unable to do.  


He acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.  Isaiah 64:4

But before we wait, like Ezekiel, God tells us what to say.  His words align me with God's testimony about who I am in Christ in any given situation.  We quote Scripture because there is objective truth in the words of God.  God hears and moves to act accordingly. Quoting His word allows Him to have greater control over my life and circumstances.  He enlivens His word and opens the hearts of His people to believe it.  He strengthens us and works more powerfully in us according to His word.  We quote His word when we want the presence of God to bear in a situation.  It can feel foolish, but even the cross is called foolishness for those perishing.

What is not currently a reality but by the authority of God's word brought into reality?

Father, thank you for teaching me to pray your words.  Help me to lay aside my feelings of the moment and boldly prophesy your words, speak your truth, and rest in your work, knowing that your words will accomplish beyond what I can even comprehend.



Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti


"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock."  Matthew 7:24-25


No matter how many times I look at the pictures on Yahoo, I still cannot wrap my head around what's happening in Haiti.  William has a co-worker who ministers in Haiti, and he sent a link to this blog.  Now I know how to pray and help.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fabric!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Reflections on Prayer

"Meditation introduces us into the inner life, fasting is an accompanying means, study transforms our minds, but it is the discipline of prayer that brings us into the deepest and highest work of the human spirit."

Richard J. Foster, The Celebration of Discipline


We are reading The Celebration of Discipline at our house, a reputed Christian classic that I'd never heard of two months ago.  As I continue to learn about the mysterious, amazing discipline of prayer coupled with faith, the Lord is teaching me several things.   One is that, for reasons unfathomable to me, He has invited us to join Him in His work.  The greatest participation I have in His plan lies in my prayer. Prayers are woven together from heaven to earth, bringing us into communion with the Lord and accomplishing all sorts of things for God's glory and our good.   Together.  As Kelly put it this morning, God has ordained the process, and we get to participate in the process.  He made it so.  Prayer is an act of faith, humility, and  -- above all else we do -- prayer assures that God gets the glory.  I loved that statement because, it's true, when I perform an act of service, read the Bible, fast, attend Bible study, there's always that feeling that I've been good....which invariably leads to pride in some way, shape or form. Prayer is an act that no one else knows about...except One.   It is an act that takes place in silence, in stillness of thought, in a posture of humility, yet boldly coming before His throne of grace.

For me lately, to pray in faith is to bumble around, grope for the right words, and then to give up all together, finally driven to just sit in the Lord's presence and listen.  In silence.  The faith is in knowing that He knows what's going on and He knows the best outcome, the perfect timing, and I can rest.

Be still and know that I am God.



Ethan gives himself four shots a day.  God told me He is going to heal him.  I believe Him.

The second thing I'm learning about is timing.  In BSF this week, Lisa commented that prayer is a passing opportunity.  She pointed to Matthew 26, where Jesus asked the disciples to pray and they, being so very tired, slept instead.   I can relate.  How many times have I fell asleep right in the middle of prayer, or not prayed at all because I wrongly believed it didn't matter anyway.  And then I've experienced the opposite, times of prayer so powerful, so effective, so beautifully revealing the Father's love and provision, that I wanted to savor that moment forever.  A seized opportunity that bore fruit...right away.

At the end of the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18, Jesus asks, "...when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"  It occurred to me today that I oftentimes have faith that he will heal or provide; however, do I have faith in his timing?   The Lord is eager to answer our prayers, yet His eagerness sometimes does not translate into immediate answers.   Yet we can be filled with confidence that He will gladly give us a God-aligned desire...just maybe not today.

Father, I thank you that you call me to a life of prayer.  You are my hope, my peace, my all.   Teach me how to pray.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Another Step Closer

We received home study approval from DCFS!  Now we can send our dossier in to our Ethiopia agency!!!  Usually the approval takes 4 to 6 weeks.  It took ours 2 weeks!  Thank you, Lord, for your favor!  One step closer.   Our dossier is basically ready to go and will be mailed off this next week.   


Our friends are in Ethiopia as I write this, seeing their daughter in person for the first time.  It's one of those times when I wish I could be there, with them, to experience those rare, sacred moments in life when God gifts a family with a child.   It's one of those years.  Sweet babies will be born and little children will come home, finally.   We are so blessed, so excited to experience this journey... and we are not alone.  We get to walk with our family and friends on their journeys of new life too.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Project 365 and Waiting

The challenge (and it will be a challenge!) is to photograph something every day.  Yes, every day of the year.  Last year I made it less than a week.   Today is the 6th of January, and I can say that I'm enjoying these little stolen moments with my camera.  I've been walking through my days differently, more aware of my surroundings and the beauty God puts in front of me every single day.




Even in the ordinary, He shows me the good, the beauty, the worthy things to contemplate.




While I'm not too keen on waiting for trains, or anything else, God teaches me how to wait, be still, take in the landscape around me...

 the local Starbucks on the corner (delighting many a soul daily)
  the sun breaking through the moody clouds   
me, in my warm old van, communing with God the Father as I wait


The loss of an ability to wait often brings with it the inability to be fully and joyfully present now.
Paula Gooder, "The Meaning is in the Waiting"


Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes...
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "Aurora Leigh"




Monday, January 4, 2010

No Sleep

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city, 
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
                                                             Psalm 127:1-2


I was so anticipating a productive, in control, Martha Stewartish sort of morning.  Up for an early run, the laundry put away, a very spiritually productive quiet time, and a sweet send off for my family.  So I went to bed promptly at 9:00, set the alarm for a chipper 4:53, and then got down to the business of deep, restorative sleep.  But it never came.  I was up All. Night. Long.  All Night Long is a space in time that I don't care to experience, and never have.  I love my sleep, and I love the above verse that tells me that my Father gives to His beloved even in his sleep.  
I am reminded by nights like these that well-laid plans are in vain unless these plans are built by the Lord.  When I abide in Him and rest in the fact that He is accomplishing the work, His plans will not fail, even when I lose control and things are not as I thought they should be.  
My laundry did get done.  I sent the family off peacefully.  I did have a great quiet time.  The run, though, had to go.
Thank you, Lord, that despite my very crabby start to the day, in your infinite grace, you gave me the gift of deep restoration, the kind that is way better than 8 hours of sleep.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Another Vacation Morning




Friday, January 1, 2010

Room Inspiration


New Years Day 2010




"My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work."
Jesus, Savior of the World


"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."




Thomas Moore
Irish poet (1779 - 1852)

An ordinary winter scene... extraordinary when I took the time to notice


As I reflect on these two quotes, one from my time in the Bible this morning and the other from a blogger's website, I think of the simplicity of Jesus' life.  His work here on Earth forever changed humanity, forever changed our hopelessly torn relationship with God the Father.  And yet He lived in simplicity, as a carpenter, performing ordinary everyday acts while waiting for God's timing to reveal Himself as the Son of God, Savior of the World.  In fact, His very sustenance, His food, was to accomplish the will of the Father.  And oftentimes God's will is expressed in the simple acts of everyday life.
As we began a new year, I pray, Lord, that you teach me to glorify you in the ordinary acts I practice every day.  Transform my mind and my heart to view your will for me, your plan for me, as food for my soul.   Turn my heart away from those worthless things that so easily entangle me and distract me from Your purpose today.  You are the Bread of Life.  You partner with me every day, just as Jesus partnered with God.  

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