Thursday, October 4, 2012

fragile

"The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.
I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
Behold, at that time I will
deal with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
and I will restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the LORD."
Zephaniah 3:17-20 (ESV)
 
 


*** If you are unable to view the video, click here:

Keep pressing into the LORD, and keep LIVING A BLESSED LIFE.

With hope,

Friday, April 13, 2012

forgiveness, healing, redemption...and the pit


"Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all His benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."
Psalm 103:2-5 (ESV)

I've been in the pit. Deep in the pit. And, I've been out of the pit. And then back in the pit. And, out of the pit. Again. And again. And again. Sigh.

It seems to be an unending cycle – and, it has yet to let up.

The craziest thing, that I have yet to understand, is that on more than one occasion, I've found myself both in and out of the pit.

At the same time.

(Oh, how I wish you could hear my tone on that last sentence. Despite the anguish I continue to feel, carry and try to process, I'm happy to say that I can still laugh. Oh, how I love to laugh and joke about all of this.)

The one thing that keeps me going is that God has yet to let me down. Not even once. Not even for a single, solitary second.

Don't get me wrong. There are definite days when I feel like I can't possibly go on another single moment.

In fact, I was there last Sunday night. I surrendered. I gave up. I was done.

For some strange reason, God didn't believe me. And, wouldn't you know, the sun rose the next morning and I picked up my puffy-eyed-self and made it through another moment. Another day. Another round of phone calls and bad news and meetings and emails. And bluck. So much bluck. And heartache.

Situations that I want desperately to change and fix. But I can't. And it breaks my heart and makes me feel so helpless. I can't do a single, solitary thing to make all of this better. And that reality stinks.

But God can. And I know He will. At some point, there will be victory.

What seems like, feels like and looks like the end of the road will one day result in great breakthrough. Because my God is powerful. And just. And great. And full of love and mercy.

Despite my grief, despite my pain, despite my despair, and, despite my giving up – my God is still on the throne. He has not, and will not, give up. And I'm so very grateful for that a.m.a.z.i.n.g. fact.

And then there is the flip-side of all of the difficult junk I'm facing. There is healing and restoration and beautiful redemption that is taking place in my life and in my family. And it's SO good!!!

God blows my mind. On any given day, He allows me to experience the death of Winter, the new life of Spring, the joy of Summer and the change of Autumn.

Honestly, I don't know how He does it. But He does. He's beyond words and infinitely beautiful and perfect in His love and care for me.

"The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in love.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
For he knows our frame;
he remembers we are dust."
Psalm 103:6,8,11,14 (ESV)

In the desert and through the storms, my God is faithful. And so very worthy of praise.



I won't lie. None of what I've been through these past two years (plus) makes sense.

Somewhere along the road, things should have started to improve. We should have seen some breakthrough. (OK, granted, we have. But as soon as one situation improves, something else blows up. We have yet to experience a day where we can relax and catch our breath.)

But, we will.

One day, we will.

Until then, I'm sure I'll have another desperate Sunday evening where I throw in the towel and hand God my resignation.

The good news? I already know what Monday morning will bring.

Because He's like that.

Faithful, true and unchanging.

Steadfast. And so very, very patient and kind.

What an AWESOME God we serve!!!

Sweet Friend, wherever you are and whatever season you are in, I pray that God will give you all that you need. Especially when you are ready to give up and give in.

God knows you. He knows your pain and your struggles. He loves you. He will never give up on you. Even when you give up on yourself.

He is the answer to all of your problems. He is the provision to all of your needs.

Trust in Him. Rest in His peace. Let His beautiful love fill you up.

And, most importantly, surrender to Him and all He has for you. His plans are good and holy and pure.

And, as always, KEEP LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

With grace and peace,

Photo: Stumptown Coffee, Stark Street, breve cappuccino

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

giggles & smiles

"Then your light will shine like the dawn, 
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your God will walk before you, 
and the glory of the Lord will 
protect you from behind."
Isaiah 58:8

The blessings and mercies continue to flow from Heaven. God is working amazingly beautiful healing within my family and it is truly a glorious miracle to behold. 

Not all miracles are instantaneous. It's human nature to crave the quick fix. The solution that causes us the least effort or pain.


When God chooses to bring healing and freedom quickly, it is indeed a time to rejoice. 

In my personal experience, however, I've found healing miracles that come slowly, over a long period of time, are even more profound. They bring us to a point of complete and utter desperation. 

We pray fervently for a breakthrough, while doing everything we possibly can in our power to bring about the much desired change. Which thankfully, eventually, brings us to the end of ourselves. 

It's not a fun place to be, admittedly, but it is the very best place to be.

When we've used up the last of our resources, the only place left to turn is to our Creator.

For months on end when asked how our youngest, Sara, was doing, we've used the same word. Over,  and over, and over, again. 

Stuck. 

Every day was a repeat of the day before. Sara was stuck in her pain. Stuck in her struggles. Stuck in her fears. Stuck in the games she was playing. 

Stuck in the muck. 

And as far as we could tell, she honestly did not mind one single bit. She didn't care about the life she was missing out on. No amount of reward or consequences were enough for her to desire to stop being stuck and begin to move forward.

It was frustrating. Exhausting. Wearing. And sad. Very, very, very sad.

Sometime after the new year, we suddenly found a new word. Healing.

I can't pinpoint what exactly changed in Sara's life or heart. But I do know that something big changed within my heart.

I stopped counting the days. I stopped my striving towards fixing Sara. I surrendered to the process of healing — in God's way. And in God's timing. Most importantly, I started loving without condition and without constraint.



The above photograph shows Sara making sand-angels. It brings tears to my eyes because it shows that healing and growth can and do happen in big and little ways. 

You see, we are a beach-lovin' family! Every time we've added a child to our family, we have taken a trip to the beach shortly after their birth or adoption to introduce them to one of our greatest loves. (OK, so babies obviously can't appreciate the beach, but it's symbolic to Geoff and myself. Grin.) 

If you happen to share our passion for sand and sea, you can understand our disappointment when we placed Sara on the sand as a toddler and she immediately *shrieked* in terror. Her sensory receptors were completely overloaded and she did NOT like the beach.

It took many, many visits before she was able to allow even a single grain of sand to touch her skin. It took months before she began to allow her feet to inch past the edge of the beach blanket. Finally, after about a year, Sara discovered the joy of digging and playing in the sand. It was truly a day of rejoicing for all of us.

This past month, we took the newest member of our family, Jeremiah, to not only share our love of the beach, but also help him break free from his former career as a guide dog for the blind.




Thankfully, Big Jer didn't have any of the sensory issues Sara had. He quickly found his "inner-pup" and went absolutely *CRAZY* digging, running and learning to play catch.

Side note: This interesting formatting is what happens when you copy and paste from Biblegateway.com and don't catch the background color until you try to preview your post. Sorry if it's bugging your eyes out. I know it doesn't look very pretty. I have to laugh, though, because the imperfectness of it matches my life all too perfectly! I've grown to appreciate flaws and scars. And, quite honestly, I would much rather spend the next hour lovin' on my sweet fam! Thanks for bearing with my messiness. It's great to be human, eh? :-)


Along the way, Sara found her "inner-pup" as well and had a blast digging and crawling around on all fours. (No kidding. The video footage of both of them is hilarious!)

This beach trip was as polar opposite to Sara's first trip to the beach as it was to the trip we took a few months ago. Sara was stuck in her muck and as such was absolutely miserable to be around. The rest of us had fabulous time grilling hot dogs and throwing around a football in the sunshine. Sara, however, preferred to sit on a blanket and work on making restitution for her poor behavior on the drive to the beach.

But as I said, we have a new word now. Healing. Movement forward. Progress. Stuck no longer. Being set free by God's love and amazing grace. 

And it is a beautiful thing to behold.

Instead of rude behavior behind my back, I am blessed to hear Sara say every ten or fifteen minutes, "I love you, Mama. I'm so glad you are my mommy!" Coupled with a big, sloppy wet kiss on my cheek and followed by a huge smile.

And we are giggling. A lot. Together. And it is so freeing and healing. 
Love does that. As does surrender. And trust. In a God that is bigger and greater and more wise than I could ever be.

Sara is still a work in process. But then again, I am too. 

This morning, after asking me sweetly if she could please massage my feet before she ate breakfast, Sara showered me the most yummy words this worn-out and weary Mama's heart could ever hear.

"I love you, Mama. I love that God chose me for you and you for me. I love your 'Caucasian-ness.' I also love that you love me. You are the greatest mommy that I could have found." Then she hopped up, handed me a tissue, and said, "Just in case you cry of happiness." (Her exact words. Grin.)

And I did.

And then I gave her a big, sloppy wet kiss on her cheek, told her how much I love her "Chinese-ness," and followed it with a huge smile.

God is good. All the time. 

When He brings healing quickly. And, especially when He brings it slowly. Because that is truly where the best things happen. During the long, hard, difficult and painful process of healing.

I am so incredibly grateful for His love and grace. For the gift of His Precious Son. And for giving us a new word. In His time and His way. 

Healing!!!

My little girl is no longer stuck. She is healing. And I am blessed.

My Sweet Friend, if you are waiting for healing for yourself, or for someone you love, please don't give up. Keep your eyes on Jesus and trust in His unconditional love and devotion for you. 

Surrender to His will and timing. He knows you intimately and His plans are perfect for your life. I promise you, one day stuck will be a word of the past and healing will come.

...followed by a huge dose of smiles and giggles...and hopefully a day spent thoroughly rejoicing in God's magnificent creation of sand and sea!

Keep pressing into the LORD, and KEEP LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

With joy and great rejoicing,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

a (really) good day


"For we are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Back in November I shared about the struggles my youngest daughter is going through. Today was a good day. A really good day. God gave us a HUGE win.

Today I took Sara for her quarterly neurological evaluation. We do therapy with her every day at home to help her brain to heal. It was a rare day in that the two of us were able to go off alone while Geoff worked from home and supervised Chelsea & Liam's homeschool.

Our appointment went well. Sara is working hard and moving forward in her healing. I was able to learn new insights into her behaviors and struggles, as well as glean some new ideas on how to help her continue to heal and blossom into the little girl God created her to be. It's been a long, slow process. But little-by-little, day-by-day, we are seeing progress.

On the way home, I decided to surprise Sara with a special congratulatory lunch for all of her hard work. (And to stretch out our time alone together just a tad bit longer. It's amazing how much her behavior improves when she's 1:1 with Geoff or myself.)

After our drinks arrived, Sara looked me right in the eye and said, "Thank you for being my Mommy."

I hadn't realized how very much I needed to hear those six little words until that moment. Sara has been through so much in her short life. Just a few months ago, she decided to name the different "mommies" she has had while getting ready for bed. After she named me, she blithely asked, "Do you think I'll have a fifth mommy?"

Ouch. (On so many levels.)

Today, however, her words were sincere and so heartfelt. Her words brought a smile to my face and explosions of sheer joy in my heart.

We finished our lunch and then ran a few errands together. I heard many more "thank-yous" for the special time we were having together and again after we got back home. Aside from our lunch, we didn't do anything out of the ordinary, but given my prior batting average, it was one of the best days we've shared since August.

One of our stops was to the library. As soon as we got out of the car, Sara pulled up the hood of her sweatshirt. As I took her hand, she asked me if I could please pick her up. When I asked her why (she's not so tiny anymore!) she said she wanted to share her hood with me so I didn't get wet in the rain. (Smile.)

After picking out a nice stack of new books for Sara to read (she has a voracious appetite when it comes to the written word,) we headed back to the car. It was dark and the rain was pouring down even harder. As we hustled back to the car to get out of the rain, (the shared sweatshirt hood idea didn't work out so well) we passed another mother and daughter.

The little girl was at least a few years older than Sara and was using arm crutches to walk. It wasn't the crutches that caught my eye. It was how slow and difficult each and every step was for her. A quick glance back at her progress confirmed that she was only moving forward about an inch at a time. At best.

Meanwhile, the mom followed closely behind her, gently guiding her, ever-so-patiently. In the dark night with rain plastering both of them. I'm not sure that either one of them noticed the rain as their efforts required their calm, undivided attention.

A lump formed in my throat as I marvelled at their tenacity. And patience.

I felt both inspired and convicted. Sad to say, I'm honestly not sure if I would have the same patience that mom had. Even if it was daylight on a dry day.

I don't know their story or what led them up to that point. Regardless of the details, their every-day-life situation challenged me deeply.

My Sweet Sara, while not limited in her physical capabilities, is very much restricted in her daily life. I'm not able to do the "normal" activities with her that most moms of 6 year-olds can enjoy. Sara has a very thin threshold when it comes to sights, sounds and activity. Her senses quickly become overwhelmed and her stress level sky rockets. The trauma she has survived has left her hyper-alert. She needs very tight boundaries and parenting techniques specially geared towards children healing from RAD.

In the time that Sara has been a part of our family, we have worked in many different ways to help her heal and grow. We have experienced progress - but the process has been slow. Snail slow. You know, the kind of progress that even if you are staring at it with great attention, you still can't see any change or movement? That's where we've been. For quite some time now.

As I reflect back on the mom and daughter in the rain, my still-being-refined-flesh cries out to my loving Savior.

"Lord, please help me to be more patient. Help me to die to myself. I don't want to try to rush or push Sara. Sometimes I'm so tempted to just pick her up and move her to where I want her to be. I know I can't. But the impatience screams at my every day. Please forgive me and help me to learn from the example I saw tonight. I can't do it on my own. I know that. I've tried. Too often. But with You, I can do all things. Thank You for Your love and grace. And forgiveness. In Jesus' name, Amen."

The photo above is a coffee cup that Chelsea painted last month. (I love her creativity!) I'm so glad that I took a photo of her work while it was still in-process. Such a good reminder that God's not finished with me yet. Nor is He finished with Sara.

May God open our eyes to the work He is doing not only in ourselves, but in those around us. And may we always rely on His patience and grace when the progress seems impossible to see.

Keep pressing into Him and KEEP LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

With grace,