Thursday, December 3, 2009

is there room?

"She wrapped him in cloths
and place him in a manger,
because there was
no room for them in the inn."
Luke 2:7 (NIV)

For the past couple of years, I've struggled with decorating for Christmas. After repeating the same tradition, year after year, it's lost some of its appeal. Honestly, it feels like a whole lot of work to put it all up and then take it all down.

Or course, decorating our home is one of our children's highlights of the season. And so, we decorate the tree, hang up the stockings and put the lights up outside. They become giddy with excitement when it's finally time to haul out the boxes of decorations.

I have to admit, having children really helps keep the "spirit of Christmas" alive in our hearts. Getting excited over Christmas as a child was fun, but, it really is more awe-inspiring as I watch the joy of season grow within my children. It gives me a completely new perspective.

I realized as I helped my children finish decorating our tree this year that part of my struggle has simply been allowing the world to define my meaning of Christmas. We all know the true meaning is to celebrate the gift of Jesus and what His birth means to all of God's children. But, when the shopping starts and the "to-do" list grows, it feels like just another tradition in great need of meaning.

This year, God is helping me to realign my focus and thinking to His. I feel Him asking me if I have room in my heart for Jesus. I have to admit, my heart has been feeling an awful lot like a messy stable lately. There's some serious cleaning out that needs to be done. Thankfully, my Creator is always up to the task.

I feel my Father's unconditional love remind me that His Son is not turned off by my stinky, dirty heart. He was born for those of us who are sinful, broken, poor and in need. That's me!

I'm in great need for my Savior and I'm humbled that despite my own sinfulness and need, He desires to not only visit my heart, but reside there. Because of my great love for Him, I in turn, desire to face the sinfulness in my own heart and do my part of the cleaning.

Bad attitudes, impatience, selfishness and laziness aren't the offerings I desire to lay at the feet of my King.

And so, as I enter into my favorite time of the year, my primary focus will be on preparing my heart for my precious Savior and loving those He has placed in my life.

It sounds like a great plan, doesn't it? But it's never as easy as it sounds. It's not something our human flesh can pull of on its own. Thankfully, we don't have to.

Friend, I pray that God would continue to bring our focus back to Him, His love for us and the gift of His Son, Jesus. He understands that we get busy and distracted and His grace always covers us. At the same time, He delights when we make an effort to stay connected with Him and keep our hearts open.

May we both receive fully the very best gift we can ever receive.

It is through the Christ Child, born in a manger in Bethlehem, that I am LIVING A BLESSED LIFE! I pray you are as well.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

still praying...

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding."
Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)

We're halfway there. Our agency let us know today that our son's orphanage representative was unable to attend court today. Thankfully, they knew in advance and were able to notify M's uncle in time. We've been rescheduled again to December 15th. It's a delay, but still earlier than we originally expected.

The good news is that MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) has signed off on the approval letter for our adoption. That's a big step, one that several other friends have had difficulty receiving in the past.

So, it's not the news we had hoped for, but we're staying positive and continue to trust in God's goodness and timing. Thank you, again, for praying for our new son and our family. We are eternally grateful!

As the Holiday Season kicks off, I pray the Lord blesses you abundantly with His sweet presence and rich love. I know how easy it is to get caught up in the doing. May we both find creative ways to let some things go undone, simplify others and enjoy the blessing of just being.

God is good, even (especially) in the wait. By His grace, I am LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

With JOY,

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

more prayers for Luke, please

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show
them they should always pray and not give up."

We are so thankful to all of you for covering our new son's court date last week. As you know, there was some confusion with the Ethiopian calendar and all court cases were postponed. We had expected our appointment to be pushed out another month. Instead, our agency notified us that our case will be heard December 2nd (which here in America is actually TONIGHT!)

We're not sure why other family's dates were postponed longer, and continue to pray that their cases will be heard sooner and pass the first time around. Waiting can be emotionally draining and our hearts go out to them.

Our family is very hopeful that our appointment will hold, Luke's case will be heard, that his paperwork is complete and that we will hear news tomorrow morning that he is officially our new son. Our prayers especially cover his uncle, who will need to travel a great distance and appear in court. We pray that God will give him peace of mind and heart, and provide all of his needs for his immediate family. It's a difficult situation, one that most of us are fortunate to not need to face.

We are so grateful to all of you for supporting our journey this past year through your friendship and continual encouragement. We are so appreciative of your continued prayers for our family and new son.

May God bless you and your family abundantly, and may you know how very dear you are to our hearts (whether we have met in person or not!) We are so blessed by you!!!

Today, I am extremely excited for the future and so very thankful to be LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

In His peace and JOY,

Photograph courtesy of Geoffrey D. Ivey (new lion in Africa, Oregon Zoo)

Monday, November 30, 2009

trapped?

"When Pharaoh let the people go,
God did not lead them on the road
through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.
For God said, "If they face war,
they might change their minds and return to Egypt."
Exodus 13:17 (NIV)

God always knows what's best for us, and I am so thankful for that. It's a truth I've needed to hold on tightly to lately. Like the Israelites, I've felt trapped with seemingly no where to go.

While my circumstances are quite different, I can relate to how they must have felt as the Egyptians closed in behind them with only the Red Sea before them. They had no way out.

Did God made a mistake? Had He brought them out of captivity, only to abandon them? What about the promises God had made? Death seemed their only option. Was this really the end?
NO. God had greater plans for His children. Just as He did for His Son, Jesus, on the night He was betrayed and crucified. What often seems like the end is simply the beginning.

I am so thankful to be reminded of God's brilliant performances throughout history. Granted, His ways don't always make sense to me. Oftentimes, they seem to be far more complicated than my human mind can comprehend. However, His ways are perfect and they are always for my own good and His glory.

Not only did God protect the Israelites, but He completely destroyed their enemies. The same miracle that delivered God's children also defeated the Egyptians. How's that for brilliance?

So, today, as I come to the end of myself, I realize that I can only sit on the beach crying and complaining for so long. I have two options. I can either head back to Egypt and remain in captivity -or- I can choose to press forward in faith, trusting God will make a way through my own Red Sea.

These seasons of struggles can be so very hard. It's important to remember that pain always serves a purpose.

In God's economy, no pain is ever wasted. He delights in growing, refining and healing His children. The way is sometimes incredibly difficult and the process can feel oh-so-long. But, the good news, is that God is doing a mighty work in and through each one of us. He loves us and has good plans for us.

Keep pressing into God, my Friend, His faithful love will always bring us through. We may feel trapped, but the reality is that God is on the brink of bringing us amazing breakthrough and deliverance.

Today, inspite of my struggles and pain, I am LIVING A BLESSED LIFE because my God is a mighty God!

Stepping into the sea,