Monday, April 7, 2014

Stones of Remembrance: Finding the Fight Within

This past weekend I was part of a wonderful retreat for adoptive mamas called "Made to Love." Oh my, y'all.  

It. Was. Heavenly.  
A dozen sisters in Christ relaxing lakeside over Waffles, coffee, and S'mores, (not necessarily in that order!) deep conversations and tears as we realized the depth of the kindred spirits around us truly refreshed my soul...I came home rested, truly rested.

I am SO looking forward to the next one!  :)

Saturday night I shared what I felt the Lord wanted me to say to encourage these precious women.  It was so humbling to sit before these women, most of whom probably could teach me much more than I could teach them, and remind them of God's faithfulness and the strength they have in Christ.

I'm sure I talked WAY too fast.

Below are the notes I wrote as I prepared for my talk. I promised I would post them here and I hope they are a blessing to you. God is faithful, sweet friends.   

Stones of Remembrace
{Finding the Fight Within}

Hab. 3:19...
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

Trusting God sounds easy and good when we are waiting for our children, doesn’t it? But what about when that child, who you fought long and hard for, rejects you? What about when they appear to despise you and resist your affection? What if parenting and LOVING your child is nothing like you thought it would be and you feel like you are running on empty with nothing left to give...stretched thin and on the verge of falling apart?

What if you are at the end of your rope?

That is when you go to the altar...built of the stones you have gathered along the way.

In the book “Hinds Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard, a girl named Much Afraid learns to do that very thing.  Accompanied, against her better judgement, by her companions named Sorrow and Suffering she walks through obstacle after obstacle as she pursues the High Places…the place where the Shepherd, whom she adores, will transform her and give her the feet of a deer, able to climb and leap and run on jagged rocks and steep cliffs with grace and ease.  She passes through the desert, battles pride, fear, injury, and loneliness, and after surviving to continue her quest reaches down and picks up a single stone to remember the struggle and how the Shepherd brought her through.  Finally she uses those stones of remembrance to build an altar upon which she sacrifices the human love that has taken root in her heart, which is faulty and frail, as a burnt offering.  Upon it’s painful removal, Much Afraid goes down into the healing stream where: her feet are transformed into Hind’s feet (Like the feet of a deer), her name is changed from Much Afraid to Grace and Glory, and the stones of remembrance become beautiful jewels as she is given new companions...Joy and Peace.

I read this book 15 years ago when I was in the darkest days of infertility. I saw the mirror image of myself in Much Afraid. When she reached the desert and wept at the endless expanse of dry and bare sand before her, I wept.  Actually, I sobbed.  I knew that feeling of hopelessness, I was living it and burdened by it as I prayed and prayed for just one child…unable at the time to understand why God had given me this burning need to be a mother, why He supposedly created my body to bear children yet none would ever be birthed from me, and why He made becoming a mom (for me) so very difficult. 
Then, with the rollercoaster of highs and lows accompanying each adoption, I doubted my ability to do what God had asked. But every time He has given us a child He has overcome the impossible to bring them into our family. Every time, I have looked in the mirror and seen the flaws, the weaknesses, the unfinished things littering my past and struggled to believe that He could possibly use me with all of my baggage to raise up one child in the way He wants them to be raised, yet He has given me five of them.

He has brought me through huge deserts, forced me to admit my (major) control issues, plunged me into deep seasons of loneliness, fear and intense spiritual warfare, and shown over and over again that this journey He has set me on is not (and has never been) about me. It is about Him and His purposes.  It is about modeling, for the world to see, a tiny slice of Heaven here on earth.  It is about proving to a world that doubts and dismisses the Grace of God that He does not wait until we are “cleaned up” or “holy enough” to use us, but that He uses us the process...cleans us up and makes us holy.

The battle that rages around families who follow God’s call for them to adopt is all too real. Some may think we are seeking attention or being prideful when we talk about how special adopted children are, but I believe adoption is one of the greatest spiritual battles we will ever face.   And the battle does not end when we arrive home. 

Bringing our child home is just the beginning of a lifetime of fighting for our children. Our kids, our entire families, are targets for an enemy who does not fight fair. We must be on guard, willing to see that there is more than meets the eye when our children struggle.   Satan uses their stories against them and it takes an incredible amount of prayer and faith, along with spiritual blood, sweat and tears to walk our kids through the attacks on their hearts and minds and teach THEM to fight in the name of Jesus. 
Read Habakkuk 3:19 as written in the Amplified Bible:

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! 
Hab. 3:19 (AMP)

He equips us NOT to stand still in terror, but to WALK!

This journey of faith, this journey of motherhood, is a long and winding path. It is hard and it may always be hard. But God has not called us to easy, has He? He has called us to take up our cross and follow Him.

Luke 9:23-24
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

What does that look like in the life of an adoptive mom? How do we continue to persevere, day after day, when our families seem to be continuously in the crosshairs of the enemy’s target?

We do it by pulling the stones out of our pocket and choosing to remember the faithfulness of God.

There are many stones in my pocket, as I know there are in yours.

Take one now.
Look at it.
What comes to mind when you turn it over in your hand?
What story of God’s faithfulness in your life are you thinking of?
Feel the weight.
Feel the warmth.
In every trial there is the moment that you realize you are at the end of yourself.
Think of the moment you were fully aware that there was absolutely nothing more that could be done by you.
Remember how you felt.
Remember when you realized that, truly, the only thing you could do at that
point was pray and beg God to intervene.
Remember when He said yes, when He intervened.
This stone, the one you hold in your hand, is a reminder that He did.
God did intervene.

He has proven HImself faithful in the past and now He has called you to take up your cross and follow Him.
Follow Him into rejection…
by your child,
by your friends,
by members of your family,
maybe even by your church.
Follow Him into the difficult dance of attachment, the heartbreak of struggling to love a child who is afraid to love you and will do anything to make you leave. Follow Him into the teen years, the hormones and hard questions and the uncertainty of exactly what will become of our kids, these kids we fought so hard and long for.

Follow Him into the darkness and fall on your knees beside your child’s bed, just like Jesus in Gethsemene.

The enemy roars.
He is after you. He hates you, your children your marriage, adoption and everything it stands for in the Kingdom of Heaven. He does not fight fair and he intends to destroy your family and the legacy God has begun. The battle is exhausting, painful, terrifying, filled with danger and the threat of defeat.

But when you follow Jesus, taking up your cross, though you pray the cup will pass,
though you are Much Afraid
you KNOW in the depths of your soul that,
though the pain is great and the sacrifice cuts deep,
though you will bleed and be utterly alone in the darkness…
that you will submit to His will.

Luke 22:42
Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.

Think back to your early days as a believer.
Did you have the maturity that you have now?
Did you love God well and accept everything He told you without question or pushback or attempting to have things your way?
Were you instantly a perfect reflection of the character of Jesus Christ? I know I wasn’t.
We have to remember, as we raise up our kids, how God refined us.
God used pain, loss, fear, and doubt to bring me to the cross.
He allowed me to wallow in the depths of sin and become utterly miserable so that I could recognize my need for Him.
He allowed me to be shackled by the bonds of legalism and rebellion so that I could be brought to the place where my heart was ready to be set free and my spirit could receive His Grace.

But He gave me stones of remembrance along the way so now, when I fear for my children, when I see their hearts grow stubborn or cold and their eyes refuse to meet mine, I can put my hand in the hand of my King and trust that my Heavenly Father who rescued me when I appeared to all the world to be running from Him will do EXACTLY the same with my children.


If you walk away with nothing else today, I want you to know that your Father in Heaven has given you everything you need in Christ to fight.

YOU MUST FIGHT for your children in the name of Jesus and by the power of His Resurrection! If you don’t do it, who will?  Take your children by the hand and teach THEM to stand and face the Enemy head-on because the battle has already been won on the cross.  You are their mama for a very good reason, God did NOT make a mistake, and you have been given all authority in the spiritual realm to stand in the gap for your children.
Record the victories and gather stones when God shows Himself in the midst of your battles. Then, when you are weary, when you are afraid, or when you doubt pull out a stone from your pocket and remember His faithfulness. 

When the enemy whispers lies and tempts you to give up, tell you that your prayers are worthless, you hurl that stone at his face and yell “NO! God IS faithful and I know this is true because I have the proof right here!”

When you do not feel love for your child, pick up a stone and ask Him to make you a vessel for His love and pour it into the wounded places in their heart.
When you feel rejected by your child, pick up a stone and remember how He accepted you despite your sin and depravity and ask Him to cause you to accept and love your child unconditionally.
If (and when) your family is under attack, pick up a stone and ask the Lord to reveal the true enemy, to help you rebuke him and his minions in the name of Jesus and to fill your home, your heart, and the hearts of your children with the light of Christ.

Finally, I challenge you with this:

Jer. 1:8
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.

Psalm 103:11-14
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

He knows we are weak. It is not a surprise to Him! He intended all along for us to be completely dependent on Him!  He is not fooled by the socially acceptable, airbrushed versions of life that we put on Facebook. He knows our faults, yet He is calling us to get down on our knees and get dirty for the sake of our families. You have what it takes to be a prayer warrior for your children because God has called you to do it.

Remember: He always equips those He calls.

Do not be afraid.
Be ready for battle, wielding prayer like a stone placed in a slingshot.
The stone can only bring down the enemy when it is launched.
Take aim.
Your God is mighty to save.
He has given you many stones in your pocket.
Your God has called you into the heat of battle.
Go. In the power of the risen Savior. In His strength, never your own.

Find the fight within and step boldly into the battle.

Eph. 3:14-21

...For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened
with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.

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