Thursday, February 4, 2010

brotherly love

"Finally, all of you should be of one mind.
Sympathize with each other.
Love each other as brothers and sisters.
Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude."
1 Peter 3:8 (NLT)

When you first meet Liam, his excessive energy and enthusiasm for light sabres and weaponry may cause you to assume that he's a boy full of mischief. And honestly, sometimes I get so distracted by his constant need to move and talk that I forget to look a little deeper myself.

That is, until he totally derails me with his tender heart and loving spirit. This morning, my young Liam, humbled me to tears through his sensitivity towards his little sister.

Sara's day started off with three time-outs within the first half-hour of her waking. After I had dealt with her misbehavior, I sat down to enjoy my morning coffee. A few minutes later, I heard Liam ask Sara why she looked so sad. She sat down on the stairs and started to cry. Silently.

You don't even have to know Sara personally to feel the arrow pierce your heart, do you? Watching a four-year-old cry without sound is sad enough to break any one's heart.

Liam immediately jumped to action and ran up the stairs to his little sister. He put his arms around her neck, gave her a very gentle hug and began speaking to her in soothing tones. He immediately knew that Sara was upset about our upcoming trip out of the country.

I joined them on the steps and held Sara in my arms. We talked for a bit, but before long, she was back in the loving arms of her big brother. While Sara typically prefers to be with her Mama when she's upset, this morning she needed someone who understood how sad she felt. Someone who had, just a few days before, struggled with the very same emotions. Her big brother knew exactly the kind of love and support she needed.

I quietly retreated to the next room and listened in awe as my own tears began to silently fall. What I heard blessed me beyond belief. Liam asking Sara if he could pray with her. And he did.

"Dear Jesus, I know that Sara's heart is hurting right now. Please comfort her. Help her to know your peace and your love..."

By the time he finished his precious prayer, the Lord was already responding to his words. As well as prayers that I hadn't even begun to voice myself. The scene I witnessed ministered deep within my own heart. This new season we are entering into is one full of blessings, and yet even positive changes bring their own amount of stress and strain. As I watched Liam loving on his little sister, I felt God lift off some of the burdens I hadn't even realized I was carrying.

He also gave me some precious insight into being a godly mother. Sure, I could give you a long list of all the way Liam challenges me on a daily basis. I could choose to see only his weaknesses and point out all of his faults. Sadly, on some days I do.

Today, however, God gave me eyes to see Liam's biggest strength - his heart of compassion and love for others.

Liam has a heart of gold. He's fiercely devoted to protecting both of his sisters and physically feels their pain when they are hurt or sad. He spent the last several days sleeping in Mesfin's bed to "fill it up with love" before his new brother comes home.

Liam makes friends with babies, kids and adults alike. And, unlike most boys his age, he really enjoys talking to people and making a heart connection. Especially when he sees someone who is struggling or in need of a friend.

Today, I am one proud Mama. Not because I feel like I had anything to do with the special boy my son is - because some days my own example is less than stellar. Nor is it because I think he's better than any other child - because I fully believe that in God's eyes we are all created equal.

I'm proud to be able to call this red-haired-dark-brown-eyed-man-child my son, because in him I see the light of His Creator shining brightly. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the goodness I see flow out of him and sense that God has given me a small window into His own amazing character. I feel proud to be loved by a God that is so good and so very personal as to allow me to experience just a small taste of His awesomeness in such a tangible, real-life way. And, I'm humbled.

Friend, if today is bringing you nothing but stress and struggles, I pray that God would send someone your way who would allow you to taste and see that the Lord is good. I know sometimes it's easier to get focused on all that's wrong and fail to see some of the simple ways God is trying to communicate with us.

My prayer today is that God would open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to His amazing love for each one of us. For it is in Him, through Him and for Him that we are LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Thankful for His love through others,

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

gettin' ready for ET!

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
his faithful love endures forever."
Psalm 136:1 (NIV)

I've spent the past few days doing something that has brought me great joy with each of my children - taking off the tags of their new clothes, washing them and folding them. It really helps make their impending arrival feel real.

It's definitely been a different process buying clothes for a boy who I've only seen in photos and videos. They tell me he's small, but some photos make him look like a typical 8-year-old.

In December, I picked out a bunch of clothes all in size small. And then I saw photos of him that made him look much older. So, I took those back in January and picked out new clothes in size medium. And then I received his actual measurements. Guess what?!? He's a size small! So, this month, I went back and picked out a whole new set of clothes. Whew! My favorite stores are seeing quite a lot of me.

Am I complaining? NOT AT ALL. It is an absolute joy to be able to pick out new clothes for my son who has been through so much these past years. I would just rather have him here at home where I can take him shopping in person. (OK, honestly, I want him home for some many more important reasons, but you get my point!) Soon enough, though! God's timing is perfect.

At home, I'm helping to prepare the hearts of my three children here as they start to realize that we'll be apart for awhile. As excited as they are to enjoy an extended sleepover with their good friends, they're starting to feel a bit anxious. Thankfully, they all know how deeply God loves each of them. This morning we spent some time remembering all of the ways He has been faithful towards our family. We prayed about each of their concerns. And, we recited our favorite memory verse:

"Don't worry about anything,
instead pray about everything.
Tell God what you need,
and thank him for all he has done for you."
Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

Sometimes faith comes easy, other times we have to dig deep. Wherever you are today in your journey, I pray that God would give you all the reminders of His faithfulness you need today. I trust that He will continue to pour out His love and graciousness upon you, Friend.

Let's keep pressing into Him and continue LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Enthusiastic for the journey ahead,

blessings through others

"He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress,
and for his children it will be a refuge."
Proverbs 14:26

I'm so very thankful for my husband today. We have quite a lot going on in our lives. Through it all, Geoff has remained prayerful, stopping a few minutes before he heads out the door for work to pray with me. He thanks God for all of the provisions He has blessed us with. He asks God to help us be good stewards of those blessings. He prays that God will help us to see Him and hear Him in all situations. He asks God to draw us closer to Him. And, He lays our needs and burdens before the Lord.

Geoff's faithfulness to God has given us sure footing during this crazy adventure we're on. Even when bad news has come our way, he trusts in God's goodness. Even when I start to fret about Mesfin's well-being, Geoff reminds me that God is keeping our son secure. Whenever I feel anxious about the unknown future, my husband reminds me of all God has done so far within our family.

God is using Geoff to help me keep my eyes steadfast on Him and I am so very grateful. As he fears the LORD, he in turn, is providing safety and security for our family.

I am reminded again, what God taught me yesterday. God knows exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. Sometimes God calls me to be an encouragement and faith builder for others-while other times, God allows others to help me see His hand and heart more clearly.

Whatever season you are in, Friend, be assured that God loves you and has good plans for your life. Look for the blessings He brings your way through the people He has placed in your life.

Today, I am especially thankful to be LIVING A BLESSED LIFE! I pray you are as well.

With JOY,

Monday, February 1, 2010

He knows our limits

"When the king sent the people out of Egypt,
God did not lead them on the road
through the Philistine country,
though that was the shortest way.
God said, 'If they have to fight,
they might change their minds and go back to Egypt.'
So God led them through the desert
toward the Red Seas. The Israelites were
dressed for fighting when they left the land of Egypt."
Exodus 13:17-18 (CEV)

I'm a month into my Grace for the Moment Daily Bible, and I'm really loving it. I tend to need a dose of Old Testament, Proverbs, Psalms and New Testament, as well as the tear-jerking excerpts from Max Lucado's writings.

This morning I read the above verses from Exodus and received them in a fresh way.

God knows exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.

Sometimes, God calls us fight. The Israelites were dressed for fight, and up until this point, God had wowed them beyond belief with His amazing display of power and miracles. It seems like their faith in God would have been strong enough to prevent them from returning to Egypt and to their old lives of bondage.

But God knew better. He knew their limits. He knew their weakness. He knew when to push them just a bit farther to allow them to both grow and trust Him more. And, He knew when to back off and allow their faith to catch up. Even if it meant taking the longer route.

The next chapter of Exodus is the mind-blowing story of God parting the Red Sea and destroying every single one of the Israelites enemies. It doesn't get much better than that.

This morning, Geoff and I woke up feeling a bit down. We weren't quite sure why, until we acknowledged that if our timeline had worked out, we would have just finished our first day with our new son. It didn't happen.

God took us the longer route. We're still on track and fully believe that our journey will be successful, but God knew that the best place for us right now is on the shores of our own Red Sea. He knows that in this place, with the sand between our toes, all we can do is trust Him to deliver us. And He will. In His timing and His way. It may not be the way we imagined it to be, but I trust that it will be even better.

God's ways are perfect every time.

This morning, I logged onto my laptop to find not one, but two emails with updated photos of Mesfin. Our sweet boy.

Sadly, it was a permanent front tooth that he lost playing soccer. And, his left eye seems to be infected. But, thankfully his care center has a nurse on staff and will give him the care he needs, until we can take over. Oh, I can't wait.

Until then, my son is under God's watchful eyes and loving care. He knows Mesfin's needs and I fully trust Him, and His timing.

Friend, whether God is calling you to fight or whether He is calling you to rest, I encourage you to trust His leading. He won't steer you wrong. He has good things, very good things, in store for both of us.

God is good, all the time, and in Him, I am LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Thankful for His timing,