Saturday, March 31, 2012

Because HE Said So...

I met her early on...she was early in her first pregnancy and it was their first week at our church.  She looked happy.  Tired, but happy.
Her husband was in training, just a year behind mine, and we chatted.

"Do you have children?"

"Not yet,"  I replied.  "We are hoping to soon."

We had been hoping for 6 months...and I was beginning to doubt, to worry, even despair.

My mother had produced babies so easily, I had just assumed I would also.

Almost four years later, our prayers were finally answered.  We arrived home with our son with hearts rejoicing and breaking all at the same time.  Finally he was here, but at such cost to the young woman who loved him first.  Grief intermingled with joy and tears flowed so easily in those days.

Redemption is always wrought with pain.

My friend came to me that week and said she had something to tell me.

"Do you remember when we met?"

"Yes," I said.

"You told me you were trying for a baby and God spoke to me in that moment.  I didn't tell you until now because I wanted to be sure I heard Him correctly.  When you said you were hoping for a baby, He spoke to me and said...

'It is going to be a long time...and it will happen in April.' "

My jaw dropped.

My son was placed in my arms on April 1st.

God knew.  God knew and He had planned this all out down to the very last detail.  He had left no stone unturned.

It happened in April, just as He said.

Now, twelve years later, I remember and I thank Him...for that first "gotcha day" that was so long ago but, today, feels like just yesterday.  For the young woman who still loves him so, and who gave him the beautiful smile that lights my day.  For the promise fulfilled, and the gentle way in which He worked it all out. That I can tell my son this was truly all part of God's plan...that not one moment of his life has been a surprise to His Heavenly Father.

Every beautiful and hard and wonderful thing happened exactly as he said it would, because He said it would  (Jeremiah 1:5)

Thank you, Father...
and happy gotcha day, tomorrow, to my sweet boy.  I'm SO glad we gotcha :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

To my son on his birthday...

Twelve years ago a little boy quietly entered the world and my life forever changed.  He was placed in my arms and suddenly it happened.  In the blink of an eye my arms were filled and I became what I had longed, hoped, and begged to become for four years...
a mother.
My son reading
The Action Bible:  God's Redemptive Story
Illustrated by Sergio Cariello

To my firstborn son:

My sweet boy, you are not so much that anymore.  You are growing up.  Twelve.  You are figuring out what all of this means, this life and emotions and questions and realizing it is all just so complicated.

You are becoming a young man.  Your voice is deepening and your tastes are changing.  You are excited and afraid all at the same time, though you would never admit it.

I love that you still seek my hugs.  I love when you curl up on the couch beside me and let me hold you, let me remember when you were little and soft.  I love the way you love your siblings, the way you baby the 5 year olds and pamper the little girls, the way you make Drew feel so big and important by including him in your basketball games, and the fact that you and Katie are the best of friends.  I love how much you love your father.  You are his shadow and it is a beautiful thing.  He leads you well, and it gives me peace to know you have his example before you.

I love how easily you forgive.  You have been my guinea pig, sweet boy.  You have borne the brunt of my lack of parenting knowledge, of my mistakes.  You have dealt with the seasons where we are too strict and where we are too lax and where we are just flat out scared and don't know what to do next.  But you still love.

These days are hard, I know.  You have so much happening all at once and you want so much to be known for who you are, yet you really don't know who that is yet.

And neither do I.

But I want to tell you something important.  Who you really are is who you are in Him.  Apart from Him you are not living in Truth.  You are dearly loved.  You are important.  You are chosen.  You are set apart and I pray, with all of my heart and soul, that you will live your life remembering always that you are set apart for Jesus.  I pray your faith will grow deep roots and that you will know that you know that you know who He is and who you are in Him.

The first time I saw you, my heart was forever captured.  The first night I held you, I gazed at you in awe.  I remember telling you at 2:30 in the morning that had I known it was you I was waiting for, the wait would have been so much easier.  I could have waited patiently for a decade if I had known how it would feel in that moment to be your mother.
You have my heart, my firstborn son.  You own a part of me that is yours alone.  I cannot put into words the love I have for you, but I will try.  I love you unconditionally, forever, no matter what.  Through the good and the bad, through the agreements and disagreements, I will never be less than proud to my very core to be your mother.

This is the last of the preteens...this is your twelfth birthday!  I can hardly believe it has been twelve years.  It has been twelve incredible years with you.  Next year you will usher in yet another new experience for us as parents:  the teen years.  I am scared and excited all at the same time.  I know you are too.  May the Lord bless you with wisdom.  May He mature you into a strong and secure young man of God.  May the love of Jesus fill you and flow out of you into the lives of everyone you meet.  And may He protect your mind, your body, and your spirit...keeping you whole and pure and fit for the incredible calling that I believe He has upon your life.  May you know joy and victory, and may you know Jesus as your constant companion.
May His word come alive and His Spirit train you up in all the workings of the Kingdom.

My precious son, may you walk closely with the Lord all the days of your life.  I love you to the moon...
and back.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hindsight is 20/20

How in the world is it already Tuesday?  I missed two days of intended blogging because things just got unusually busy around here!  I had several moments where I thought, "Ooh, I'll have to write about that tonight!" but now I couldn't tell you what "that" was to save my life.  :)
Blame it on mommy-brain.

So this morning I made a dumb decision.  Coming off of a crazy-busy weekend and allergies that have taken me hostage I let myself sleep later than usual.  I was awakened by Katie padding into my room with a grin and climbing into my bed to grab a few more minutes of sleep.  I got up and dressed, and was soon joined my the rest of my cute crew.
The dumb decision?
I didn't have my alone-time with Jesus.
The morning got away from me and, before I knew it we were knee-deep in long division and phonics and I was E.M.P.T.Y.  I was unfocused and, therefore, so were the kids.  I was distracted and feeling the weight of my poor early-morning decision making and kicking myself mentally for thinking it would be no big deal to push Him aside.  I really should know better.  I do know better.
We got all of our school done, but not even close to "on time" because I was doing it all in my own strength.  I had not drank from the Fountain and was running on fumes.
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
I lived for many years "on fumes."  I rarely woke and went straight to the Word of God.  I would do it later in the day or at night before bed.  But in recent years He has shown me my utter dependence on Him...especially since we began homeschooling.  There is no morning rush to get the kids to school and then hours of alone time where I can go to a Bible Study or whatever.  I have to go to Him first, because once the morning is in full swing it doesn't stop til sundown.  I can't do it without Him.  There are too many decisions, too many things competing for my attention, to many heart-needs in my family for me to deal with in my own strength.  If I am not filled up by Jesus then I will not have an overflow to offer to my children and my husband.  I must crawl into His lap first thing every single morning.  I can't live victoriously or effectively without His hand holding me up and pushing me forward.

I am looking forward to Morning. The book of Nehemiah is my current focus, and it reads like a great novel.   The drama, the focus of Nehemiah on the task God set before him, and the well-placed pauses before the big picture is revealed (Read the end of Chapter 1 and see if you don't feel the intensity!)  Oh, the excitement of a well-placed revelation!

Coffee with Jesus...why, oh why, do I ever miss it?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Words in Season

I can pour out because I know you fill up. I drink from a well that never runs dry. You are abundantly available to me, ever drawing me closer. You call me into communion with you and I am filled with your life over flowing even in the driest, hardest of seasons. You exchange my lack for your abundance, Christ in me the only hope of glory. Christ in me is enough. Christ with me is enough. Christ on that cross and risen for me is enough. You are enough, Jesus.

I just read these words.  In fact, I read them just in time.  
Words written by Katie Davis.  She lives in Uganda, giving and serving and pouring out her life for the least of these.  She sees and experiences sorrow and heartbreak and even terror that I cannot imagine.
I was just about to write about my day.  
My cup of tea sits just on the other side of my laptop, sweetened a bit and ready to sip.
My five healthy children lie sleeping in their beds.  My dogs are chewing rawhide bones nearby and my dishwasher is running.
It has been a tough day.  
Attitudes were sour, including mine.  Gracie spent a day at the farm with friends and came home happy but utterly exhausted.  Big kids back-talked and little ones argued with my decisions.  Mari refused to eat dinner so was sent to bed early.  The house is a mess.  The laundry has piled up and demands I pay attention.  The A/C repairman will be here in the morning...again.  My feet are tired and I was tempted to turn on the TV and let my brain check out for a few minutes, but I decided to write here instead.  
But God...
He knew I needed a dose of reality so He led me to Katie's blog first, and I am so glad He did.
I can pour out because I know you fill up.  I drink from a well that never runs dry.  You are abundantly available to me, ever drawing me closer.  You call me into communion with you and I am filled with your life over flowing even in the driest, hardest of seasons.  You exchange my lack for your abundance, Christ in me the only hope of glory.  Christ in me is enough.  Christ with me is enough.  Christ on that cross and risen for me is enough.  You are enough, Jesus.
If she can write these words of faith after the day she has lived, then I have absolutely no excuse. 
I have five healthy children sleeping peacefully in their beds.  Yes, one has an empty belly by choice, so I pray He will teach her.  I pray He will break that control-need she still grasps.  
My husband contentedly works at his computer, wrapping up the day.  He loves me through thick and thin.  
My house is comfortable despite the faulty air conditioner.  I have showered and am sipping a delicious cup of tea.  My God is alive and He sees every detail of my heart.  He consistently works in me, revealing the ugly and reminding me of why I am here.  
I choose to be thankful.  Right now I choose to be still and let Him be God.  
And tomorrow I will hopefully awaken with renewed vision, and a supernatural ability to mow through piles of laundry.  :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Proud Little Girl

The littles have just about finished their pre-reading curriculum.  We have taken it slow.  No need to rush five year olds, especially when the youngest has only spoken English for just over a year, right?
We have colored, we have rhymed, we have traced and traced and traced the letters, and we have read...though I was convinced not nearly enough.

I ordered the next level...All About Reading, Level 1 and it's companion, All About Spelling which I have used with Gracie this year and loved.  She is moving up to Level three, much to her happiness!

The box arrived today and the three youngest descended upon the pile of glossy new workbooks and accessories like it was Christmas morning.

How I love new curriculum!

Gracie gasped at the book about homophones, amazed that she is old enough and ready to learn and work out of such a grown-up looking book.  Drew flipped through the book for a split second, then headed upstairs to yell up to DJ that he's gonna learn to read.  (He is so excited.  He has been asking me constantly how to spell things for the past couple of weeks.  He is ready, and I can't wait to see his world open up when he truly discovers all that is contained in a great book.)

Mari opened her book to page one.
I lifted my eyes from the invoice (where I realized I had forgotten to order the letter tiles so each child would have their own set.  Darn.) and my mouth hung open in absolute surprise.

"C.  A.  T."
"R.  U.  G."
"Y.  A.  K."
"C.  U.  P."
"M.  A.  N."

"Mari, you are reading!"

She grinned and continued, turning page after page and so incredibly proud of herself.  Katie and Gracie stood by, eyes wide with admiration.

"Oh, my gosh, you are doing it!  Miss Priss, you are one smart girl!  I can't believe you are reading all by yourself!"

She ran around the table where her book lay open and threw her arms around me in delight.  I stood shocked and excited as I realized how easy it is going to be to teach her now.  Over the past year, her desire to learn had most definitely waxed and waned.  One day she would write her name perfectly and the next decide that she never knew how and nothing could make her.  She would refuse to try something and then sit in fuming jealousy when Drew did it happily and got praised for his work.  One battle of wills after another.  But this?  No one made her do this.  This is her own discovery about herself.  She really is smart, and I think for the first time she sees it. She did something completely on her own, not mimicking a sibling or anyone else.  This was all her.

Or was it all HIM?

Bedtime came and kids went upstairs to don their pajamas.  I sat at the computer ordering those letter tiles that I had forgotten.  All of a sudden, Mari appeared over my left shoulder.  And with such overflow of emotion she said, "I love you, Mommy."

"I love you, too,"  I returned with a grin.  She bounded upstairs and then it hit me.

I can probably count on one hand the number of times she has said that first. Usually it is in response to me saying it to her.  Too often it has been to compete with an older sibling's gush of emotion.

But this was different than it has ever been before.

This was out of the abundance of her heart.  She had to say it or she would burst.  This was a huge milestone for her...accomplishing something big without any prompting from us and seeing us be truly amazed at her ability.

Tears filled my eyes as I thanked God for this gift.

One more brick removed.  Another piece of her heart entwined to mine in this ever-evolving dance of attachment.

I am smiling as I think of her expression as she went to bed.  That sweet smile on her face and the sound of her voice telling her Daddy that she can read "bat" now and her request for a Dora the Explorer book when she learns to read all her words.

I will be more than happy to buy her that new book...and at the rate she is going it will be soon!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Turtle tales and morning

He has been hanging out in our yard this week.  An odd little friend.
 He first appeared under the dumpster.  The girls squealed with delight and promptly made a home for him under a plastic basin at the foot of the big tree.  They named him Snappy, a.k.a. Yertle the Turtle.
He has stayed by the tree for days, but today I looked out my kitchen window and he was on the move.  The kids were still asleep so I grabbed my camera to capture his journey for them.  I chuckled as an airplane flew overhead and Snappy craned his neck to see the source of the sound.

 He lumbered along, unaware of my presence.  I grinned as the shutter clicked again.
 Down came the girls, feet pounding on stairs and bed-heads.  They learned of the goings on and out we went.  We hoped to get closer without making him hide...and we did.
They got within three feet of him but he stayed out...even daring a glance at the girls as they giggled.

Grace teetered on the garden wall, bent over and peering at the little creature who continued his journey.  We wondered where he was heading...and surmised he must be going home, to the creek behind the houses over there.  We hoped he would cross the street safely.
 He did.
We turned our attention to the garden and it's beauty in the early morning.  The Japanese maple with leaves unfolding in red and sculpture,
 another round of daffodils taking their turn,
 and that pretty little groundcover that I planted last summer, coming out everywhere among the mulch and promising a season of countless tiny purple flowers.

 Another Japanese maple, a bit further along in it's show,
 and the phlox...the beautiful carpet of Spring that makes me gasp with it's color.  I love purple.
 We sat on the sidewalk and noticed a glimmer...the dew still sparkling on the grass-tips.
 Teeny little wildflowers that later became treats for the guinea pigs...
 and more daffodils.  Glorious.
 At last, I snapped the rose.  It is there because the new rose bush was just planted two days ago and it was already in bloom...ahead of the others who have been in the garden for seasons.  The empty spot in front of my laundry room window begged for just one more rose, so I obliged.  It will catch up quickly with the others, and soon my view will be filled with pinkish-red blossoms and I just might be willing to do one more load of laundry.  Then again, maybe I will be drawn away...outside with scissors to build a bouquet.
Spring is a solid month early around here, and I could not be happier!

Monday, March 19, 2012


Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor. Job 11:13-19

This verse reached out and grabbed my heart today. I was actually looking up something to bless a child who struggled, and in turn He blessed me.

This odd Lenten fast I have undertaken has started to weigh.

I have missed events...births, engagements, announcements of various importance...and it has begun to be felt more deeply within me.

At first it was simply odd. It was the breaking of a bad habit. Then the habit left me and I was happily unaware of what went on outside of my tangible world. I no longer am missing the little opportunities to incite laughter online or post a clever quip, I am missing friends. I am missing relationships that have endured miles and years because we could easily peek in on one another's lives. I am realizing that I can use modern means of communication for Him or for me.

I was using them, too often, for me.

I like making people laugh. I like showing off the cuteness of my children and getting written "ooh's and aah's" in response. I like spirited conversation and even occasional controversy.

But, as He has so often shown me throughout my life, it is not about me.


I am called to be different in everything I do. From the books I read to the entertainment I watch to the clothes I wear to the words I put out there, I am to choose to be different.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Cor. 10:31

Sometimes I am good at this. I know I am different in many things (some would call me weird...) but am I different in all the places He considers important?

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:17-19

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:25-27

Ouch. The bread of idleness. That is what I had become guilty of consuming...daily...sometimes hourly. A few minutes here, a few minutes there, "checking in" with a clever phrase or even posting an occasional verse. Getting sucked in and ignoring the dishes because I'll only be on for a few minutes...but spending too long reading the news feed and digesting gossip.

If I am going to take part in these things, if I am going to glorify Him, I have to be so careful. I am so easily tempted to talk too much when I am using my actual physical tongue. How much more am I tempted when I am online with a potentially large audience?

Yes, I have to be so careful. I must be sure that what I say, what I type, is pleasing to Jesus. That I am not simply trying to gain attention for myself, but that I am letting Him use me for His that others may see Him.

It is not wrong to be funny. Of course not. But it is the underlying attention-seeking that is wrong. I want to be different and I know it is a battle that will continue until I am face to face with Jesus, but I want to live in a way that brings honor to Him and causes others to see Him more clearly.

Yes, that is my prayer.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let down

A week of my little brother's household descending upon mine is over.  3 nieces plus my 5 equaled eight wild kiddos running rampant through the house...that is, until we banished them to the great outdoors.
"It is 85 degrees, for cryin' out loud!  Do you know what Uncle J and I did when we were kids?  We played outside...ALL DAY!  Shoot, we left after breakfast and wandered the neighborhood til dinner...and that was before cell phones were even invented!  Now y'all go outside and play! Hot?  It's not HOT!  It is perfect weather!  Yes, you can eat outside.  Y'all want' chicken nuggets and chips?"

My little brother brings out the redneck in me.


They all waved goodbye this morning as they hit the road for the two-day drive home.  I swallowed hard to squelch the lump in my throat as Gracie and Drew sobbed.  Oh WHY do we all have to live so far apart?

After they drove away, the kids and I set to work getting things back to normal.  Lunch with a friend, laundry, dishes...the normal stuff.  Then Daddy and DJ prepared for their quick trip to Nebraska to celebrate my brother-in-law's retirement from the Air Force.  That was just about more than sweet Gracie could handle.

"There are just too many people leaving today," she sobbed.

"I don't want Daddy to go away," cried Drew.

"But honey, it's just for two days."  But there was no comfort.  Drew turned into his big brother's arms and bawled before DJ climbed into the car with Daddy.
Oh, the sadness.

When my faithful husband called to say they were boarding the plane, I informed him that there had been "weeping and gnashing of teeth" since his departure.  He chuckled.
I sort of chuckled.

So now I sit in evening quiet with four kiddos settled into their beds, right?

Well, not exactly.

Katie is in her bed, immersed in a good book.  She will read until her book lands on her face.  That makes me so happy :)
The other three?

All in my bedroom.
Three little pallets surround my bed in Daddy's absence.  They were asleep within 30 seconds of their sweet heads hitting the pillows.  They have been up extremely late with their cousins all week, so they are truly exhausted.  I wonder who will climb into my bed first?  Probably Drew, my touchy, feely, lover-boy.

Such sweetness exists in this night.  Three little hearts needing me near, just wanting to be close.  Three little chests rising and falling in the deep breathing of sound sleep.  It is like a song...their breathing.  I will fall asleep with a smile on my face, and awaken with knees and elbows poking me from both sides I am sure.

It's all good.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Be back shortly!

Sorry for the lack of posting!  My little brother and his sweet family have descended  upon my house and all the wonderful craziness has kept me away from my blog.  I have lots to write about and will do so shortly!  Be blessed, friends!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Heart of a Missionary

My husband and I sat tonight as a dear man and brother in Christ shared his heart and the vision God has given him.  His name is Fikri Youssef.  We have been blessed to partner with him for the past 6 months.  He is an Egyptian born Christian, married to a Bolivian woman, who is a missionary to America.

A missionary to America?

That may seem odd to you.  It was to me, at first.  But did you know that the United States of America is the world's third largest mission field?  There are over 195 MILLION unchurched people in the US.  These statistics blew me away.  I live in the Bible Belt, for crying out loud.  Almost everyone I know is a Christian...
or are they?

Fikri and his beautiful wife recently followed God's call to move to Miami, Fl.  They have settled into a tiny apartment in the midst of the student community in order to reach the nations for Jesus Christ.  
Why Miami?  
According to the ministry website,, Miami is one of the most unchurched cities in America. Over 300,000 college students pursue their education in this multicultural port city.  These students come from all over the world.  In fact, many of them come from nations in which it is illegal...under penalty of share the gospel.  But these kids arrive in America from various Middle Eastern countries and Fikri is able to sit down with them at Starbucks and share boldly the gospel of Jesus Christ in complete freedom!  Not to mention the HUGE Latin American community that dominates the city of Miami...the fields are definitely ripe for harvest.  (John 4:35)
In less than six months, 23 students have responded and are meeting weekly for discipleship training.  The harvest is painfully slow but steady because the battle is fierce for their souls.  Faithfully plodding forward despite the warfare is exhausting for Fikri and all of those given the task of fighting for the eternities of these students.  The students are there to live the college life...partying hard and hitting the beaches of Miami.  But God has placed this seed, this obedient man and woman of God, to cut through the thick weeds of immorality, godlessness, and deception that thrive in Miami and plant a church that proclaims the Truth of Jesus.

Plant Miami  is the real thing.  It is a movement of God.  We can impact the nations by reaching their youth right here in the US!  Please consider joining in this work.  Give generously to Fikri and this ministry.  Pray for them as they have faced serious hardship from many directions since their arrival in Florida.  Share this with everyone you know!  May the Church join hands in support of God's work and see a revival sparked and the good news of Jesus spread like wildfire! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

From Painful to Precious

I really am a good mother.
I promise.
Tonight, though, I may have lost a "mother of the year" point or three.

My children are involved in AWANA at our church on Wednesday nights.  It is SO much fun and they are learning tons of Scripture, way faster than I could have taught it I am sure.
So tonight, after Awana was over, my two youngest were running in circles in the parking lot...full speed...with some of their friends.

You know what is coming, right?

One of the moms warned the kids to slow down and exactly 3.2 seconds later I heard the sickening sound of a knee slamming into concrete.

All the adults went "Oh..." and I turned to see Drew kneeling and holding his injured knee to his chest.  I picked him up and observed the damage:  Three nasty "strawberries" glowed angrily against his brown skin, blood beginning to pool to the surface.  I cringed and sighed as I held and comforted my baby boy.  How many times have I said "Don't run??"  "Honey, that's why Mommy keeps telling you not to run on the concrete."

"I'm sorry, Mommy,"  he whimpered.  "I'm sorry I ran on the concrete."

As I held him, I realized something that made me a bit, um, embarrassed.
My son not only had on shoes which had the soles coming apart, but they were on the wrong feet.
How did that get by me?  No wonder he fell.

Two bandaids later we were on our way home, Drew crying out often because those darn strawberries hurt.  Once home, he seemed to get distracted and feel better so I set to work stocking my purchases that had been in the trunk and getting things ready from my brother's arrival with his sweet family this weekend.  The kids asked if they could lay on the bunk beds in the guest room while I worked and I said yes.

Then my ears picked up the sweetest words...

Gracie:  "We should pray for his knee to feel better."
Mari:  "Yeah, we should!"
Gracie:  "Ok, let's do it."  Then I heard her voice lower and begin the prayer.  I couldn't make out the words so I crept closer to the door in order to hear...
..."And, Lord, please touch his knee and make it better."

I took a peek and there, on the top bunk, sat three of my babies in a circle.  Holding hands, their eyes were closed and the expressions on their sweet faces were nothing less than intense concentration.  They were doing some serious business.  My eyes filled with tears as I took a mental snapshot of the precious scene, realizing that I was suddenly standing on holy ground.

Drew:  "God, thank you for my family.  Thank you for my sisters and Mari who is my friend.  Thank you that my boo boo is getting better."
Mari:  "Dear God, thank you for Bree..."
Drew:  "No, Mari, you can't pray for Bree because she didn't have blood on her leg."
Gracie:  "Well, she still got a boo boo so we should pray for her."
Drew:  "Ok."
Mari:  Continues her prayer and finishes in true Mari form..."In Jesus' name, AH-men!"

And to think, I get to be their Mommy.  God is truly the giver of good and perfect gifts.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Where, oh where?

This is another post I wrote for a local ministry...thought I would share it here as well.  :)
Happy Monday!

..."How did you decide which country from which to adopt?"

I am asked this question often. And I would like to explain why I answer the way I do:

I often hear and read about impassioned conversations regarding adoption that involve trying to convince prospective adoptive parents of why they "should" adopt either domestically (meaning from within the United States) or internationally. Those who have adopted domestically rightfully feel passionate about why they chose to do so. They see the need right here, in our own backyard, to provide loving, Christian homes to babies who otherwise might have been victims of abortion, neglect, abuse, etc. (To date, over 54 million American children have died due to abortion) or to children who are in foster care (over 500,000 nationwide) and who desperately need the stability of a forever family. Couples who have adopted internationally also feel passionate about their decision, even down to the "whys" of which country they chose...citing the statistics...147 million orphans, millions of victims of slavery, sex trafficking, child sacrifice, abuse, poverty, etc.

What about me? Well, my husband and I have adopted both ways, so when I hear these arguments I cringe. It is so easy for us, as Christians, to get on a soapbox and assume that, because God called "me" to adopt either internationally or domestically, it is therefore the "right" way to do it and everyone else should follow my lead if they want to be in His will.

But here is reality. God chose our children before the foundation of the world. He planned our families and determined who, when, and from where our children would come. He calls us and leads us to our children.

When we accept this and realize that we are but instruments of the Lord, then we are much more likely to walk forward in humility and encourage our friends and prospective adoptive couples to do the same. The statistics are bad for all children in need of a home. They are all at risk. But the greatest risk? It is the risk to their souls...their eternities.

Matthew 10:28
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill thesoul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

We must remember what our number one purpose is on this earth.

It is to share the love of Jesus.

When we mix legalism in with the call to adopt, we push aside the Holy Spirit. Many of us are called to adopt, but we are not all called to the same country. We are also not all called to adopt older, younger, infant, Caucasian, trans-racially, or special needs children...but we are all called to obey the Lord's specific calling for our families.

We must put Jesus first. He is the reason we do what we do. He is the one who guides our steps and smooths the path to our children. He is the one who can use our obedience to change the life and eternal destiny of a child.

And they all deserve that.

So how did we make our decision? How do YOU make the decision?
It is an enormous task to process all the possibilities and attempt to narrow things down enough to actually start the adoption process. You can only make the decision by listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Pray, pray, and pray some more.Seek the Lord and investigate all the risks, costs, statistics, and adventures of both domestic and international adoption. Look at the age, marriage, travel, and other requirements of all the countries and see where you qualify. And then continue to pray, trust His leading, and go for it.
Don't let fear, finances, or the opinions of others slow you down or tempt you to stop moving forward. If God has called you, then He has called you and He expects you to obey. Stand confident in your decision and rejoice as you see the walls come down and the path to your child (or children!) open up before your eyes.
God knows you, and He knows your heart. He knows how He has equipped you and who will best fit into your family. He knows the children already in your home and what their emotional and relational needs are. He sees the beginning and the end at the same time and already has all the details under control.

Trust Him...oh, I wish I could shout this! TRUST HIM and enjoy the ride! No matter where your children come from, whether you have an airport homecoming or a quiet arrival in the night, you will learn things about yourself and about your Father in Heaven that you would have never known any other way. Whether you bring home a newborn or a teenager, you will be brought to your knees by the experience and you will learn to depend on Him and walk in His strength as never before.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Out of the mouths of babes...

Oh my sweet  Drew.  I just never know what will come out of his mouth these days!
As we folded laundry, I allowed the kids to flip on the TV as a reward.  We ended up on TLC, watching Untold Stories of the ER.

Yes, I know it is weird that my kids (including the littles) like that show.  I keep the remote at hand so I can change the channel if anything immoral or too graphic comes on.  But they are morbidly fascinated with it.    Especially Katie, who has medical school dreams.

So a group of drunk college students descends upon the ER in all their vomitous glory.  (Yes, I am aware that vomitous is not a real word.  But isn't it gloriously descriptive?)  One of them goes into seizures and nearly dies.
I took the opportunity to talk about why getting drunk is a sin...because God loves us and wants to protect us from scenarios such as this.  All five of them were wide-eyed, agreeing with every word I said.  Then Drew had a thought.  About one of his friends, "B".

"Mama," he said...dead serious and obviously concerned.  "B drinks a lot of root-beer."

Oh sweet hilarity.  I love my boy.