Wednesday, September 28, 2011

7 years

7 years. What an amazing journey it has been. I love this man more now than I ever thought I could, and I am sure I will say that again in another 7 years. I love this picture because it represents what God has done in and through our marriage. I am still in love. I think I had an initial fear that after 3-5 years when you know "all there is to know" about a person, that things wouldn't be as exciting. I was afraid I wouldn't have that excited feeling when I heard the garage door open or his car pull in the driveway. It is so not true. I am still so excited, privileged, and honored to love this man! I pray it is a love that our children see. It is not a perfect love, but I hope it points them to our Savior. Marriage is definitely a process that will show our selfishness and cause us to lean on Jesus. I find that in the hardest of times, I have switched John onto God's throne. I have expected John to fill the places in my heart God only made for himself. John is an amazing man and I am not sure why God poured his grace over me so lavishly when he gave me John. But i am so thankful for a companion that knows me, balances me out, calms me down, challenges me, encourages me, is so in sync with me, and someone that we can walk the difficulties of life with and it actually still be fun! So we celebrated 7 years and I couldn't be more thankful for each day we have had together. Praying God makes an impact on his kingdom because we are stronger together than we would have been apart. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

God is stirring...

So i just finished reading Started backwards in 2007 and worked my way to present. (I highly reccommend you do the same, or just go to and pre-order her book, it comes out Oct 4., seriously, just do it now.)What a challenging, heart wrenching, beautiful picture of the Gospel with hands and feet.  It has challenged me in ways I never have felt before, it has made me frustrated, made me rejoice, and God has used it to breathe a new breath into my heart.  Alongside of that I have been digging into scripture, Isaiah, Psalms, Job, John. And i started the book radical by david platt. Wow. I have been inundated with what following Jesus can really be like if we grab hold of it in the way God intended.  This has been an awesome month and a half of God emptying me of self and filling me up again.  I have never felt so close, communed with, spoken to, affirmed, directed, and fulfilled. What a picture of abiding he has given me. Man, what a perspective change when i am fully focused on him.  "things"of life just fade away without effort of trying to "put them away". This past 6 months has been the process of God answering 3 major prayers in my life over the last 2 years.
Prayer #1- What is our family mission? How will this guide our giving strategy? What are 3 areas we want to focus in on giving and do it well with kingdom impact in mind?
Prayer #2- What is the next step in the story you want to write for us God? We don't want to miss it and settle in the mundane.
Prayer #3- Is our family complete? If not, put a desire so deep in our souls we know it is you, and fill our capacity, take away our selfishness, and multiply our wisdom.

Prayer #3 was answered with a resounding clarity back in May. Prayer # 2 was answered partly while answering #3, yet this has taken on a much bigger answer. Part of that answer was answered in adoption, but I still feel like there is something bigger God is bringing into our story or asking of us. I am not sure what it is, but i know it is big and I am excited and terrified (in a good way) of it. Prayer #1 has been being answered since Christmas. We know our family is about these areas, and we will all (kids included) sacrificially give to it.
1. The unreached. We have a heart (thank you God for exposing us to it in ministry together with Cafe 1040) for those who have little access to the gospel, live in areas hostile to the Gospel, or have no way of knowing of Jesus. This is God's biggest heartbeat. To save the lost, and we believe he wants us on board with that.
2. College/Young marrieds- this one is still developing and morphing. We know we want to pour into young adults the perspective God has developed in us of how to have a healthy marriage, fight for it, and stay committed to it.
3. Orphans- God asks us all over the Bibles to care for the orphans. There are currently about 147 million of them. There are currently 2.1 billion people professing Christ. Look at the odds here, we could totally fulfill God's heart to love and care for the orphan if less than 10% of us heeded these verses. I used to use the cop out of "well we are all called to different things, that just may not be something I am called to". I have now learned that was Satan keeping me from answering the Lords call on all of us! (*Not only to adopt the orphan, but more so just to care for them in some way- financial, physical, etc) I think God was not picking and choosing followers which would follow this command. See James 1:27, Deuteronomy 24:17-21, Psalm 82:3-4, Psalm 68:5-6, Exodus 22:22-23, Psalm 10:14,17-18, Isaiah 1:17, Proverbs 31:8-9, Matthew 18:5, Matthew 25:40, Job 29:12, Psalm 146:9, John 14:15-21, Hosea 14:3, Jeremiah 49:11, Malachi 3:5, Jeremiah 22:3, Jeremiah 7:6, Jeremiah 5:28, Isaiah 1:23, Psalm 94:6, Job 31:16-18, Job 24:9, Job 22:9, Deuteronomy 14:288-29, Isaiah 10:2, Ezekiel 16:49. I was shocked at how many times the Lord commands it or says he despises when the orphans are oppressed or have injustice. We are also called to love our neighbor as ourselves. This doesn't mean our next door neighbor. This means the children God created in his image. I love a way that I read about this, God did not accidentally create too many children, too many orphans. We just have a calling that we are ignoring... I think too often we see images and hear statistics and are numb to them. Satan wants us to be numb, for it not to affect us. He wants us to see that image of the malnourished orphan on TV or the internet and not think of her as our own daughter. He doesn't want us to feel for her as if it was our "neighbor". Satan has won for far too long.

This is not a rant and rave intended for you, just the intensity in my heart of what God is showing me and what I am finally responding to after years of trying to turn it down in my heart and being blind to it.
Thank you God that you are a God who answers prayers, draws close, and is patient when I do not understand what your heart beats for.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Brave boy

He did it! Now for those of you who don't know my kids, a little description. Reese is my fearless, take on the world child, speaks to anyone and thinks their her best friend, loves new situations, big rollercoasters and jumping from high places.
Wheeler is my analyzer, he is timid in new situations, takes a little while to warm up, is soft and kind (most of the time) and likes to observe a lot (unless their is a ball in the mix). I blame part of it on his 27 trips to the doctor and ENT for 27 ear infections in 26 months, 2 surgeries and lots of adults holding him down most visits to dig wax out of his ears while he screamed and looked at me like why in the world am I letting this go on. Needless to say, that is what i attribute to his hesitation around adults...rooted in reason or not...i am not sure. 
Anyway, be it church or school, wheeler hasn't always done real well with the drop off.  Even at school last year where he went 3 days a week, if he caught sight of me leaving he would cry and run towards me. We had many talks, bribes, discipline, love and hugs about it. Needless to say, gearing up for a new school, new location, no kids he even recognized... i had my doubts. 
For the last 3 weeks of him crying as we went to his room at church, i was reminded of this verse and prayed it over him. Preparing for school, i told it to him. 
Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you."
Wheeler did awesome. He walked right in that class, put his lunch in his cubby and didn't take a second look back. 
Small miracle it may seem, but big for Wheeler. I am so proud of the man he is becoming.  When he has courage in his heart, i know he will be a man God will use. He is so kind and thoughtful. He has good things to say, he just sometimes needs that push of boldness to know it is worth saying. 
I hope my little guy remembers this verse for many years to come! Happy first day of school Bud!

Monday, September 5, 2011

No guarantees

Life doesn't come wrapped in a pretty bow.  God doesn't allow life here to be heaven, this is not heaven.  Heaven is yet to come and heaven is guaranteed perfect.  Life here however, come with no guarantees.  I have been surprised the several responses from strangers and friends alike about what we are getting into in adoption. I think these are normal reactions to a new venture. John and I have thought through scenario after scenario of what this could be like, but then we got to a point of just trusting... wondering and worrying was only taking me to a place of fear, and His love casts out fear, so I will rest there.  I think it is interesting how our culture is coming around adoption.  We would never hear the news of someone expecting their first child and then bombard them with stories of still borns, down syndrome babies, and terminal illness in toddler-hood. However, this is some of the types of responses we have gotten. Horror stories of "adoption gone wrong" or hidden diseases or children who end up turning on their parents.  God has again taken me to a place of rest and trust.  Life doesn't come with a guarantee.  My marriage didn't come with a guarantee of health or longevity of our lives. I watched my dear friend die right before their 4th wedding anniversary.  Our kids didn't come with a guarantee of health, long lives, or a guarantee of what choices they will make down the line.  I spoke to a girl last weekend who buried their 5 month old fetus.  Just the same as our adoption doesn't come with a guarantee. Our child or children may have hidden illnesses not mentioned in a report, or may want to hop the first plane back to Congo when they turn 18. Or, just maybe our child will grow in a home where they accept Christ, flourish, and grow to make a impact for the Kingdom with their story. I don't know what their story will be.  I have accepted these things only because this is what God has called us to do, and as he has called us, he has given us peace to handle those situations if they arise.  But i also know he works for the good of those he loves.  If pain is part of our good, i will walk in that. But we want to, as a family, love on this child or children no matter what they look like, what ailment they might have, or how long they might be with us on this earth. Just as Christ has painted so beautifully in the Gospel.  He called us out, adopted us into his family even when we were at our worst. We had all sorts of "hidden diseases", "attachment disorders", and baggage.  Yet with his love, we had a transformation.
I am so excited to love on these children just as we get to love on the ones we already have. To teach them who made them so beautiful and special, to point them to the One who has allowed our family to be different and unique, and to give them a home that is welcoming and a love that is unconditional. It will be a challenge, and there will be days when it will be tough, we have seen that on our journey thus far in our 7 years of marriage and 5 years of parenthood.  That is just part of life I guess. But I am so glad to be following a Big God, who knows the stories of our life and knows just how to handle each bump, fear and failure. There are no guarantees in this life on earth, but such an amazing guarantee of the God who gave himself for us, and let us trade places with his perfect son, so that we could be called sons and daughters.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

hurry up and wait

We are approaching the waiting stage. I am waiting on our lady to finish writing up the home study so that I can include it in our petition to the US government to be seen fit as parents (haha...too late i guess). Then I will wait on that approval and stick it in the dossier packet i have waiting to go. Then we wait on Congo government and then wait on a match- or referral as they call it. And if the Lord has us take two children, we will wait on a second referral, then we will wait for Congo to finish court proceedings to give us rights and the child's paperwork to leave the country and the US visa and immigrations  stuff to let the child/children in the country.  I am not a very good wait-er. Especially knowing our children are just sitting in an orphanage when they could be here with us. However, i am trying not to wish the waiting by, but to let God prepare me for what we are walking into.  I have already met opposition, worked through not getting frustrated at people's reactions, and faced disappointment. Even though it has in a sense been a spiritual battle this last week, i find God hasn't let me fight alone.  He has given me more of himself, more confidence and affirmation in what He has called us to, and more joy, excitement, and amazement that he has let me be a part of His story in this way.
Two things that have gotten me through this other than a lot of scripture and prayer is having Bethany Dillon/Matt Hammit's version of in Christ alone on repeat on my iTunes and enjoying Such a reminder that "from life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. no power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from his hand. Til he returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I stand."
My prayers for this week
-getting funds ready for the next phase
-for the waiting to be quick and fruitful.
-for our child/children in kinshasa congo. That God is already writing our family into their hearts, protecting their minds and hearts, and giving them peace and comfort.
-for our kids at home that they may continue to have such open hearts, generous spirits, and excitement to share the love they have with new family members.
-for John and I to continue to grow our marriage and into parents that can shepherd these children's hearts.

these are the moments

sometimes I need to let go of my type A personality and just let the kids jump in puddles.  Sadly, we did get our boots on and locate the umbrellas right as the rain let up...but fun none the less.