Friday, July 10, 2009

one step closer!

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west."
Isaiah 43:5

We are still awaiting our official referral and won't be able to share photos of our sweet boy until our adoption passes court in Ethiopia.

Our dossier is finally complete(!) and is flying to Addis Ababa even as I type!!! (Wish I was with it! I have such a peace this time around. However, knowing that "M" has been waiting for his new family for over a year is difficult. To say the least.)

As we wait to bring our sweet boy home, we pray that the Lord would continue to keep watch over him. We pray that the Lord would keep him safe from harm. We pray that He would keep "M" healthy. That He would provide safe drinking water and enough food to satisfy his hunger.

We pray that the Lord would minister to his heart as he continues to grieve over the loss of both of his birth parents. And, we pray that the Lord would prepare his heart for the huge changes that are to come. I can't even imagine all that he has been through and all the changes he will need to adjust to. It won't be easy.

As we pray for our son, we pray also for the the other 147 million children who are orphaned worldwide. A number too hard to even begin to process. But, a number that we all own.

I am fortunate to live here in America, the land of great abundance. My lot in life was assigned to me by my Creator. And yet, frequently, I try to imagine what I would do if I was born elsewhere.

What would I do if I was dying and didn't have our good friends, Chris and Ruth, agree to raise our children? My heart literally stops beating for a second as I try to allow my brain to wrap around that possibility.

What would I do?

I would pray that God would knock on some one's heart and ask them to make room in their hearts and home for my children. I would pray that they would say "Yes!" I would trust God to provide for my children's new family each and every step along the way.

There are no other options.

I just can't imagine.

No, we can't solve the problem of 147 million orphans. But, we can choose to say "YES!" to whatever God is calling us to do. Because, my Friend, His plans for you and I are absolutely amazing. He will never leave us with more than we can bear.

In fact, when we do respond to His calling on our lives, it's as if Heaven opens up and abundant and rich blessings begin to flow.

It's a beautiful thing indeed. Joy like you have never imagined.

I see it every day in the face of my youngest, Sara. Four years ago, she was left wrapped in a quilt in a safe place waiting to be found by the next passerby. Her little heart is still healing from the loss and trauma she has experienced, but she know joy.

She brings great joy to those who know her. She knows love. She showers us with her sweet love daily. She is a treasure to our family. And we adore her! (Even on her most challenging days. Like today, when she missed a much needed nap!)

Adoption may not be what the Lord is calling you to, and that's alright. He will show you His will for your life and use you in amazing ways to be His hands, feet and heart to a world in need.

I encourage you, however, to search the Scriptures to learn more about God's heart for widows and orphans.

I ask you, humbly, to pray for the countless children who are waiting to be united with their new families. (It's difficult enough for me to wait for the phone to ring or the mail to come. Can you imagine waiting for a FAMILY to come?!?)

In whatever way you enter into loving the least of these, you will be blessed. I guarantee it! Don't let another minute go by without saying "yes" to His calling!

Saying "yes" to God even when it's scary and uncomfortable is what LIVING A BLESSED LIFE is all about!

With grace & JOY,

Thursday, July 9, 2009

and then again...

ImageChef Word Mosaic -

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23—24

On one hand, it's not about me. It's all about Him and my desire to glorify Him.

And yet, it is about me.

This morning I was reflecting upon all that the Lord has been teaching me lately; especially in regard to how quickly I allow myself to be offended by others.

It's a reality that we all sin. However, when I am quick to notice and judge others for their actions and words, it's no longer about them. It's about me.

There's a reason why a mother being impatient with her daughter in the library offends me.

There is a reason why a father being hurtful to his son in the grocery store bothers me.

And yes, there is a reason why overhearing one of my children making rude comments to a sibling pricks my flesh.

These are all areas where my own heart has been wounded. In order to allow my first response to be compassion and love, I need the Lord to heal me.

I'm thankful that He is shining the light on these broken areas by allowing my spirit (and flesh) to be offended by others.

The key, however, is to not allow myself to get in the space of trying to correct, fix or change other people. (After all, even my four year old knows the verse about not trying to take a speck out our brother's eye when we have a plank in your own!)

My desire is similar to David's. I long for the Lord to reveal my sin to me, especially sin that I am so accustomed to that I am unable to see it.

I desire to bring my sin before the Lord and allow Him to wash me clean. His love is so good—and He is so faithful!

"Because of the LORD's great love
we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22—23

If you have people in your life, Friend, that are offending you for any reason, I encourage you to ask the Lord to show you why.

Don't worry, He's gentle and kind! Once He shines His light on an area in need of healing, His love and peace will overcome you.

Gone will be the voices of judgement and pride that try to keep us trapped in sin and pain!

He loves you, just as you are. And yet, He desires to see more and more freedom and victory in your life. He has so many blessings to shower upon you! And you are worthy of every last one.

Are you LIVING A BLESSED LIFE? I pray that you are! :-)

Thankful for His mercies.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

God's will, not mine

"Jabez cried out to the God of Israel,
"Oh, that you would bless me
and enlarge my territory!
Let your hand be with me, and keep me from
harm so that I will be free from pain."
And God granted his request."
1 Chronicles 4:10 (NIV)

I'm in the middle of rearranging the contents of my kitchen cupboard in hopes of making it more kid-friendly. (Why didn't I think of that before?!?)

Could it be that I'm nesting in preparation of my new son?!?

While I'm working, I'm listening to a few teaching messages that I downloaded. I just finished listening to one based upon the Prayer of Jabez. The pastor spoke about the challenge of living within God's will.

He asked the following questions:

* Am I living small enough so that I can control what happens?

* Am I living so large that my life is way out of control?

* Am I believing small enough that I miss out on the blessings God has for me?

* Am I believing large enough so that God is able to have His way with me?"

Something to think about, isn't it?

We received word yesterday that the courts in Ethiopia have closed unexpectedly for two weeks. It looks like our official referral won't happen in the near future.

However, I'm choosing to believe God that His will be done, and enjoy the sweet peace that choice brings. God is SO good!!!

And now, my Friend, it's back to my kitchen project. :-)

Choosing to trust God's will in my life and letting Him out of my safe little box, keeps me LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

With JOY and FAITH,

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

it takes practice

Jesus said, "Therefore, anyone who
hears these words of mine
and puts them into practice
is like a wise man who built
his house on the rock."
Matthew 7:24 (NIV)

Is it truly possible to make forgiveness my first response every single time I am offended by another?

I think so. With God's help. And yet, it still requires effort. And practice. Lots and lots and practice.

But, here's the thing I've already found. The blessings I reap when I make forgiveness my first response are immediate.

This is one of God's truth's that don't necessarily require a season or more of waiting for the seeds to produce a bountiful harvest. The only thing that may take seasons (or years) is learning how to forgive every single time.

The day after God began to teach me His deeper truths about forgiveness, He gave me an opportunity to really put it to test.

I needed to grab a few things from the grocery store in order for Chelsea to make the traditional 4th of July flag cake.

Just as I picked up a pint of blueberries to inspect, a loud, angry voice caught my attention. I couldn't help but look up and listen.

Across the produce section, I watched sadly as a man began to verbally assault his wife. From what I could tell, he was not happy that she wanted to purchase a bag of prepared salad. At least I'm assuming that was the reason behind all of the expletives punctuating his irate comments.

I took a deep breathe and felt my brain try to process what I was witnessing.

My initial reaction was honestly to stare until they realized they were being watched. I'm not sure what good that would have done, but perhaps it would have put an abrupt halt to their "discussion."

Perhaps if I ran across the man elsewhere in the store, I would have given him a "well-deserved" dirty look. After all, by that point, I would have believed anything that Pride was telling me to do.

If I was "lucky," I would have happened upon the woman shopping alone so that I could find some way to encourage her. Granted, my look or words wouldn't have been pure, because Judgement was already having it's way with me.

I know all of this because the previous week I had allowed my flesh to steer my shopping cart, with Pride and Judgement whispering in both of my ears. I had turned down an aisle just as a young couple became frustrated at their toddler son.

He was riding in one of those race car grocery carts and clearly having a hard time being still and quiet. His mother snapped, "Tyler! Knock it off! Now!" Of course, he didn't listen.

The next moment, the father kicked the race car. The little boy cried as though he himself had been kicked. I almost joined him in his tears.

The scene broke my heart. I felt for this family, clearly overwhelmed and struggling. The grocery store has the ability to bring out the worst of all of us.

While I understood the father felt out of control and frustrated, I admit to not having kind thoughts towards him. The mother saw me and pretended that nothing had happened.

I had no idea what to do and so I gave the little boy the most encouraging smile and sad face I could, praying it conveyed lots of empathy and love. And then I tried my best to pray for this family.

Forgiveness wasn't my first response and therefore my spirit and flesh began to battle.

I've had bad days before. I personally, try not to shop with my children because I know that my brain requires me to focus fully on either my children or my task at hand. I'm just not a patient person when I've got a long list of items to locate and purchase at the lowest price.

I honestly was trying not to pass judgement, but the justice part of me really wanted to do something to protect that sweet child.

I was trying to be godly, and yet my flesh was rearing it's ugly head. And there I was, stuck in the muck of sin.

As I thought back to the young family and the trouble I allowed my flesh to get me into before, I knew there had to be a better way. God's way.

I chose to forgive. In that moment, Pride and Judgement were defeated.

I whispered a pray in my heart of forgiveness for this man's choice to hurt his wife. And I forgave her for not being able to set a healthy boundary. I prayed that the Lord would bless their marriage. That He would bring healing and forgiveness between them. I prayed that He would give them fresh joy and love for each other.

And then I moved on to pick out my strawberries. My spirit was at peace. Instead of planning how I could bump into the couple in order to sneer at the man, I felt myself praising God instead.

As I left the produce section in search of a white cake mix, I came face-to-face with the man! The next thing that happened felt like an absolutely miracle. And really, it was.

Deep within my heart sprang an overwhelming sense of love and compassion for him. I found myself looking into his eyes and a warm smile spread across my face before I even knew what was happening. There may have been some tears of joy as well. :-)

It felt so real. So good. So pure.

This was not my flesh. This was not me. This was Jesus coming alive in me.

It happened in just a split second, and yet, as I pushed my cart past this gentleman, I felt his spirit soften. God was working; I felt it within my spirit. Something miraculous happened in that moment.

I knew in that instant that I longed to experience God's love working within me more and more. I long to be like the good soil that receives the seed Jesus taught about in Matthew 13.

I realize it's going to take practice and a lot of grace and patience. Change doesn't happen overnight. However, every single day I am faced with countless opportunities to make forgiveness my first response. Towards others and myself.

I am LIVING A BLESSED LIFE because God gives me opportunities to learn from my mistakes and try again.

Thankful for His love,