Sunday, September 29, 2013

my son was reborn

What an amazing day!  

It started like most Sunday mornings.  I got up a little early to shower before breakfast and then somehow still had a hard time getting out the door on time.

On this particular Sunday morning though, the children sat in the service with us.  It is part of what they call their 5th Sunday Celebration.  During every month that has a fifth Sunday, they offer a baptism at the end of the service and then the whole church stays for a potluck lunch.  

Since we had plans with other friends to go apple picking after church, we just went home for lunch.  My Love grilled steak and we ate outside on the patio in the beautiful sunshine of this crisp fall day.

During the meal, My Love and I started talking about baptism with Brother.  Asking him if he knew what it meant and why they chose to do it.  He seemed to have a general idea based on his last experience with 5th Sunday.

him: But when can I get baptized?
me: Well first you have to accept Jesus into your heart.
him: I want to do that.
me: You do!?
him: Yeah.
me:  You have to believe that Jesus is God.
him: I do.
me: And that he suffered and died so your sins might be forgiven.
him: I do.

I know I said other stuff too that he understood and agreed with but the rest seems like a blur.  Brother went on to confirm his personal faith in Christ and then prayed his own sweet two sentence prayer out loud to invite God to be the Savior and Lord of his life.  I can't remember the exact words that he said (I wanted them to be his own) but that is probably for the best because really it was straight from his heart to God's ears.  The decision was all his own and he initiated the invitation.

Afterward I cheered and told him how angels were singing in heaven today.  That this was the most important decision he would ever make in his life.  Then I told him that God lives in his heart now.  With big eyes he asked, "You mean my heart is his home?"  It was really precious.  Suddenly everything seemed to click in his head.

We went on with our day out with friends and I shared the news with them.  They responded with such excitement for our boy.  Once back home that evening, Brother boldly told the news to two boys on our street that he was outside playing with about his "special day". 

Oh the joy of seeing your child make a decision to follow Christ. 

Tonight as My Love and I tucked him into bed, we told Brother how he wasn't just our son anymore.  He was also our brother.  "Can I call you sis?" he asked.

Oh how amazing it will be to move forward discipling this little boy in God's word.  Lord thank you for choosing him to be yours.  Speak to his heart at a young age so he might follow closely after you all the days of his life.  Thank you for the gift of being present for this amazing day.  September 29, 2013.  

Happy Re-Birth Day Brother.  Today was the day you started a new life in Christ.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

one is coming

It seems like I should probably post something.  I mean, there has been a lot going on but somehow none of it feels like worthy of writing down when so much time as passed.  The truth is we are all a work in progress and yet sometimes we just want to skip to the end.  Let's make a (one-sided) deal though.  I'll get through the busyness of this coming weekend and then we'll meet back here sometime next week for a thorough update.  It is date.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

lift my life


 Babydoll brought a paper cup home from Sunday School filled with dirt.  A tiny seed hiding deep inside.  She planted it in the front yard in the same place that her Brother did the year before.  We watched it grow from the earth into one bloom bigger than her head. Some fuzzy bumble bees called it home for quite awhile.  At some point the weight of the flower became too heavy even for its strong stalk to hold up.  It spent weeks, months growing up toward the sun and then at some point slowly started bending its head down toward its Maker.  Humbled by the beauty that He created.  And yet a perfect example of the sunshine that helped warm the seed enough to start the first sign of growth.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

good steward

He stood faithfully at the entrance of our sanctuary every Sunday morning.  An slender, above-average tall man with straight, fine, white hair parted down the middle and stopping just above the shoulders.  It made me smile when I first learned his name was in fact Harry.  It fit. 

He had a look about him like he was always on a mission.  Like he had a purpose in each action that he did while quietly serving our church each Sunday.  Working the lights, welcoming guests and doing behind the scenes kind of work.  

Come to find out he had been married to his petite wife for 43 years and was the CEO of a local credit union for 27 of those years.  He always greeted you with a smile as he handed you a bulletin.  

Then one week day morning he was driving to work at 6:15am and ran off the road and hit a pole in a single car accident.  Not long afterward, he was in the presence of his Savior and Lord.  63 years old.

I didn't know him at all.  The above description was the extent of my interaction with the usher that was seemingly the face of our fellowship. I wouldn't say I have been grieving his loss, but I was surprisingly shaken by his absence from this life.

One day he was there.  The next he was gone.

There is hope in the lives of the loved ones he left behind knowing they will see him again.  But suddenly my life seems so fragile.  The lives of my children.  My husband.  Why do I waste a moment demanding my own way or harboring resentment or holding onto fear?

The truth is, this life is not my own.  And the very second that God wants to take me home, my mission on this earth will be complete.

So why do I feel like a failure?  I had such lofty plans when we moved to this house, this street, this neighborhood.  I felt called to this community and believed God had big plans to use us here.  But really our days here could be numbered and suddenly I am pondering whether I have been a good steward of the purpose God set before us during this chapter of our lives.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I told My Love I wanted a garden.  I conned visiting guests into casually bringing up the subject so as to encourage him it was a good idea.  He still resisted.  And then one spring day he decided a small little garden in our huge back yard wasn't the worst idea in the world.  He chose the location.  He decided the size.  He planted the seeds.

I was mad.  I refused to participate in it at all.  

What I had hoped was going to be a neat homeschool experience wound up bruising my pride and so I pouted.  It was ridiculous really.  I mean, I should have been celebrating that My Love had finally agreed to let us grow a garden.  But instead I resisted because I wasn't the one in control of it all.  It was ugly.  In my heart (and out loud), I hoped the garden would be an epic fail.  That would show him.  I mean, in my opinion he did it all wrong and just plowed forward without any planning.  

God showed me instead.

There was growth.  In this tiny plot of land in the corner of our yard, plants shot up out of the rocky earth on top of each other and they flourished even without advanced planning by the sower.  Tomatoes are growing on top of squash on top of bell peppers on top of carrots.  But there is evidence of growth.  God sure showed me.  The circumstances weren't ideal.  The space was too small.  The seeds were planted too close together.  There wasn't enough rich soil on top of the rocky dirt.  

But God grew something beautiful and delicious from nothing and it didn't have a thing to do with me.

Something happens when you grow your own food.  You do end up becoming invested in the process. You watch its growth and celebrate each developmental milestone.

Then up pops a late bloomer that you weren't expecting.  You cheer it on and water it tenderly hoping it will produce a crop equal to its nearby behemoth neighboring relative.  You wait and you watch. What is going to happen?

Then there is the plant that grows in size before it fully ripens.  You would have been satisfied with the juicy red fruit two weeks ago and yet it assures you it has more growing to do before it is ready to be plucked from the vine.  You wait and you watch.  What is going to happen?

There is the lettuce that first grew like a normal head and then changed later in the season and started growing tall toward the sky trying to reach closer to the sun.  It almost looks too crazy-radical to eat and yet once cut from the earth the lettuce leaves look the same in the bowl as the previous bunch.  I wonder what made it change course.  You wait and you watch.  What is going to happen?

Nearby the patio is a hanging basket of strawberries that blooms and produces successfully just in time to mold and rot on the thriving plant.  I'm talking dozens of them.  They grow in size along with everything else and then just as they start to turn red, they are consumed by the circumstances surrounding them.  Moisture.  Bugs.  A beautiful worthless bountiful harvest.  You wait and you watch.  What is going to happen?

And then finally there are the blueberries.  We planted five bushes around our patio watching them ever so slowly bloom and then berry and then finally begin to turn blue.  It took months.  We dreamed about all we would do with the berries.  We planned for a bumper crop smiling that we were outwitting the usual high grocery store cost.  And then one day recently, I looked out the school room window and saw a bird hop along the ground and pluck our beloved fruit right off the bush.  I ran outside hollering and noticed our precious plants were nearly bare.  The birds had found them and we were sustaining their life.  And yet a remnant remained.

 We are in a season of life where we are slowly realizing that God is in control.  It doesn't matter if it all makes sense or is pre-planned.  He can grow something beautiful from nothing in the heart of a person.  We watch and we wait trusting that something is going to happen and it has nothing to do with us.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

written on my heart

I honestly didn't expect to feel this way.  In fact, I'm not sure I have ever before.  Deeply loved someone else's baby like this I mean.

But it just goes to show that what he shared with us was true.  Our friend from church said, "We had been praying for L for so long that by the time we saw her picture for the first time, we were in love."  Or something like that.  Don't quote me or anything.

Another friend's daughter has been home for two years now, and she already knows what I am beginning to understand.  "Some babies are born in their Mommy's tummies and some babies are born in their Mommy's hearts!!" she said.  She really gets it.

It wasn't until I held God's answered prayer in my arms this past week that I started to see what they were talking about.  How God can grow a love for someone through prayer that you have only just met.  I held her as much as I could during the four days they spent with us.  Often little things she did at a mere three months old would take me back to moments experienced with my own children.  The sudden jerking movements of her appendages.  Spontaneous smiles. Lint between little fingers.  Memories that don't come to mind easily otherwise.  

But the funny thing is snuggling this precious life didn't make me long for another infant of my own like it does for some.  As I watched our dear friends bustle about the house getting baby gear together for a day's outing, it almost confirmed my desire not to return to those hectic days of diaper bags and strollers and front packs.  Yes, JP, it gets easier.  

Once again God used this angel baby to speak to my heart.  Does she know what an instrument she has been in the building of my faith already?

I loved my talks on the couch, patio, car, and walking in the rain with my dear friend.  "If God had told me five years ago that the journey would have taken this long, would it have helped?" she asked rhetorically.  "I don't know."  I'm not sure it would have.  The waiting would have felt pointless.  Yes, we would know the exact day and hour but I think we would all live differently (not relying on the Lord) if he showed us our individual big pictures in advance.  

Yesterday morning (oh how it feels like longer), I took H out in the back yard while her parents were getting ready for the day and packing for their drive to the airport.  The air was peaceful and the morning sun crisp.  It was a precious time spent singing and talking to her as she sat nestled in my arms beginning to doze off to sleep.  Praying for her life as I had been doing for years and knowing this little peanut was taking a bit of my heart with her back to California.  Through prayer, God had given me a love for her that can't be explained.

We are in a new place in our family.  A season that I hope to be able to write more about soon.  One where you begin to wonder when the next rain is going to come and if the path we are on now will keep us wandering for longer than we would prefer.

But the waiting is not done in vain.  It is not to make us suffer.  And in fact, I praise him for withholding the big picture.  I think I would be discouraged if he announced the exact day and hour and realized it is still years off.  I might even go so far to say I welcome the wait.  Not because of all the wonderful work he is doing in us in the meantime (which he is), but because I know he is writing the names of faceless little bundles that will one day call me Mama on my heart.  So when I see them--when I hold them--the love will be so deep and overwhelming because we prayed.  I can almost feel the heavenly pen pressed against beating flesh starting to write.

I can not begin to describe how joyful it was to see our friends as parents.  They are still entrenched in middle-of-the-night feedings and burp cloths and drool marks.  But it looks so beautiful on them.

Happy 1st Mother's Day JP!  You are an amazing Mommy.  I love you!

Friday, April 19, 2013


Four days ago on a Monday evening, I went against my own personal rule of holding someone else's newborn.  My dear friend's fourth child came into this world at a whopping 10lbs. 3oz.  He was born the same morning that I came to visit.  He felt heavy in my arms and cried when I unwrapped his double swaddle to take a glimpse at his already chubby legs.  He was perfect.  My friend was feeling great after her unplanned c-section and was discharged two days later.  The kids and I brought them dinner on Wednesday night to their home and Babydoll beamed with a smile from ear to ear as she "held" him in her tiny arms.  C came past his due date, weeks longer than his Mama would have liked but in God's perfect timing.  We all couldn't wait to meet him.

Today, Friday, this sweet family was back at the hospital and C was having major surgery after only four days of life to put his "insides where they should be".  After profusely vomiting and finding blood in his diaper they took him to the ER where they did tests to find his appendix floating around in his body and issues with his bowel and how organs were attached to each other.  Bringing him in as soon as they did, being born past 40 weeks and being such a high birth weight saved his life.  They drove him by ambulance to another hospital to do the procedure.

Psalm 139:13-16 came straight to mind.
 "For you formed [his] inward parts;
    you knitted [him] together in [his] mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for [he is] fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 [His} frame was not hidden from you,
when [he] was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw [his] unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for [him],
    when as yet there was none of them."

Just four days ago I was holding this precious gift in my arms.
Today I was on my knees praying for his very life.    

Baby C came through surgery great.  Everything was put back in the right place and his appendix was removed.  Praise GodFor none of C's days have been a surprise to his Maker!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


At 4:30pm on Sunday, Babydoll had her seventh seizure in the past year.  The day before we were celebrating her third birthday with friends realizing it also marked five months since her last seizure.  God is good.  We were home together waiting for our friends to bring over their three kiddos so they could go on their last date night before baby #4 arrives.  Babydoll was on the couch next to her Daddy and suddenly slumped over.  She had woken up the night before with a stomach ache and a low grade fever.  We were managing it.  As we watched out little girl's body jerk, I called Brother into the room.  We had explained the episodes to him in the past but this was his first time witnessing it.  "What is happening?  Why is she doing that?" he asked.  We did our best to explain but he seemed concerned.  In less than a minute, the movement stopped.  My Love scooped her up and took her to our bed where he could hold her while we waited for our little girl to wake up and come back to us.  We prayed.  It was such a gift for Brother to have the distraction of friends over.  They had a great time.  I took Babydoll's temperature.  101.4 F.  She rested on her Daddy's chest peacefully unresponsive.  We prayed.  Brother brought her blankies and her babies.  What a sweet boy!  An hour later she came to but she remained lethargic --which is to be expected-- for the rest of the night.  Everything about this episode looked the same as every other one.  We had hoped she wouldn't need to experience another seizure but God was with her and continues to protect her mind and body. 

Shortly after the seizure stopped, I sent a group text to ten in our family.  Within seconds replies came back telling us they were praying for our Babydoll.  And that is when it hit me.  We come from a family that prays.  Every single person from the families we were raised in knows the Lord.  What an overwhelming blessing!  To know that even from afar we can seek prayer from loved ones and the God Who Sees hears each word lifted on our behalf.  Oh how he loves us!

Please pray for our Babydoll when she comes to mind.  We expect to take her in to her new pediatrician (since leaving active duty benefits) for a well child visit in the next month.  At that time, we will be seeking his second opinion about what direction to go with her care next.

God is good and we continue to trust her in His hands.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

the beginning of our adoption journey

It has been so long that I don't even know where to start.  We have been blessed to be in a season where we are hearing clearly from the Lord and also seeking His face daily together.  There is a reason he keeps us in the waiting, people.  It is in the waiting that faith can grow.

So I guess I'll just start from the beginning.  Or what I believe to be where it all started.  God prepares us each long in advance for what he foresees.  It is only when we look back that our eyes are opened to the possible reasons behind some of the experiences of life.  If only I would have chosen to be thankful in each moment rather than trying to figure out what God was going to do at the time.  He brought us here.  And we are thankful that he didn't reveal his whole plan--of which we are cerain we still haven't seen a glimpse of--but rather led us slowly by the hand to this point.  Had he shared the news long ago, we would have laughed and doubted.  And I guess in some ways I did do that even back then when the idea was casually brought up from time to time.  The idea of growing our family through international adoption.

You see it was three years ago that we started praying for our dear friends as they walked the journey. We helped F and M welcome two precious gifts from God to their forever home and we continue to witness them thrive in a family full of God's love and grace.  We prayed again when they jumped back on the adoption train and brought home their third miracle several months ago.  Oh the gift of watching followers of Christ walk in obedience even when it is hard!  It is so powerful.  So I guess it was really a couple of years ago that the seed was planted.  In My Love.  I remember stating clearly that adopting internationally was good for them but not for us when he brought up the idea.  We were supporting them through prayer.  No matter how much they wanted us to catch the 'bug', I kept my heart at a distance.  Two kids.  That is what we always said we wanted.  And we had two kids.  

In the spring of 2012, I started seeing Haiti everywhere.  Has that ever happened to you?  You aren't seeking out a particular word or idea or object but suddenly every time you turn around there it is.  I didn't think much of it at first.  I just remember noticing the repetition.  In the meantime, we were waiting by the phone to receive our first foster care placement.  We prayed for the little children who God knew he would bring into our home.  That wherever they were in that moment that the Holy Spirit would be bringing them comfort.  That he would bring them peace about the fact that he was preparing a place for them to live in safety and love.  Perhaps that is when my heart really started opening to the idea that there may be someone out there on this earth already who will one day call me Mommy.  The sense of urgency seemed physical.  

Then my dear friend KB went on a short term missions trip to Haiti during the summer.  She called me one day during naptime here and we talked for 2 1/2 hours.  It was one of those days that God kept the children sleeping the whole time.  My friend needed to share her heart in the overwhelming visions and experiences that surrounded her.  So I listened.  At one point she made reference to the 107 (or so) orphans that live at the ministry she was serving in.  For a brief moment, a rush came over me and I thought, "What if my children are in Haiti?"  Honestly it never crossed my mind before then.  "Can you adopt from the orphanage there?" I asked.  "No,"  she said.  I settled back into listening and yet something was slowly being awakened inside me.  Once again, an example of someone in our lives walking in obedience even when it is hard.  KB, I love you.

A few months went by and we didn't feel like God was leading us to knock down doors in regards to foster care.  We stayed in touch with the social worker but really started feeling peace in the season God had us in.  I started to wonder if he had us waiting during this time because he wanted to direct us somewhere else.  On October 1st, I reached out to my friend M (who has adopted three older children from Ethiopia in two years) and asked her a question that really opened up the concept of adoption to someone beyond the two of us.  I told her not to freak out (but of course she did), but I wanted to know how God revealed to them where they would adopt from.  If he spoke it to both of them or if one just jumped on board when God confirmed the country.  I felt like God was pointing my direction toward Haiti but I didn't want to just drag My Love along with me.  I wanted to feel like God was revealing his will to us both.

From there we started praying more regularly about God's timing for adoption and that possibly being from Haiti. 

When I contacted M, I made no mention of our prayers.  I told her I wasn't ready to share details.  She respected that.  18 days later I got a text from her.  "So?  How is everything going?  Is it Haiti?"  I stopped right in my tracks.  My heart was pounding as I stared at my screen.  We had shared this information with NOBODY.  Not wanting to give anything away and choosing to play a little dumb I started my response with "Is what Haiti?"  She replied that she was reading on a blog about a friend's trip to Haiti (which I had been following) and that my family had come to mind. might be thinking that this was no big deal but I am telling you that in that moment I think I lost my breath.  It felt like God reached out of heaven and spoke directly to my heart through my friend's text.  I think she was a little surprised too when I confirmed her suspicions.  The more I thought about it, the more I adored a God who can literally pick a country out of a hat and put that on the heart of a close friend.  I am sure that happens in our lives more than we think.  We shake it off as a random thought when really it is God wanting to use us to bless someone else.  I can't tell you how many times I have gotten a random correspondence where the person isn't exactly sure why they are sharing something with me but it ends up being perfectly timed.  Those who choose to be obedient even when it doesn't make sense.  God is amazing.  

I think that conversation was the beginning of the heart process for me.  God was leading us to adopt from Haiti.  And yet the waiting continues.  Obviously during that time last summer and fall, our family was going through a lot of changes.  My Love left active duty service after ten years.  He was able to stay home with us on leave for his last 80 days.  Then there was the stress of getting hired on as a government employee and trusting that God would provide even though My Love was taking a pay cut.  It really wasn't the right time to add something on top of that from our worldly perspective.  I eventually told My Love that I would not begin researching the adoption process until he felt like God was telling him it was time.  That was a huge thing for us.  For me to give up the control I mean.  Meanwhile, God kept repeating himself.  He put people in our lives at our church to encourage us.  People who have adopted and confirmed that everything we were sharing was exactly what they also walked through. 

By early 2013, I felt like I had received a promise from God.  Or at least a clear vision that our family would one day include adopted children from Haiti.  Even though my heart throbbed for the someday, I started finding contentment in the waiting.  I finally got around to looking up the qualifications that their government has for adoptive familiesIt was momentarily discouraging but I wasn't shaken.  I clung to his promise.  Just because it might be hard or take a long time, it really didn't make me think like we should pursue somewhere else.  Haiti was planted deeply in my heart by this time and there really was no denying that God was repeating himself.

And than Baby H was born into this world in late January.  A little girl long awaited and prayed over and who didn't join her forever family a day too early or too late.  God is always on time, people.  We rejoiced with them and the prayers continue for their precious growing family.  And then something happened.  That very next week in my women's Bible study, we started learning about El Roi, the name of God that means "The God Who Sees".  It was then that I had this realization that just like God knew when our dear friends would bring home their baby girl, he also knows the exact children who will one day be in our family in the future.  It overwhelms me at the timing of it all.  Baby H's life has been a testimony of God's faithfulness.  But she is also evidence of who El Roi is.  I pray that she always knows the love of her heavenly father. 

So the waiting officially began.  To be honest, I kind of started forming an attitude of "when is God going to wake My Love up so we can get this thing going already".  My heart was weighing heavy and I started inadvertantly putting pressure on My Love to get the memo.  That is what controlling people do when they try to convince themselves that they are submitting, you know.  Not good.  And God called me on it.

The Lord started talking and made me realize that I wasn't waiting on My Love at all.  It didn't really matter if My Love was exuding the same amount of passion as me or not.  The fact was God was literally telling us to wait.

From my God Calling devotional...  

February 7-
"Only a few steps more and then My Power shall be seen and known.  You are, yourselves, now walking in the tunnel-darkness.  Soon, you yourselves shall be lights to guide feet that are afraid." 
(note: I read this passage the same morning I heard Audio Adrenaline's song King and Queens)

February 8-
"Possess your souls in patience and rejoice.  You must wait until I show the way.  Heaven itself cannot contain more joy than that soul knows, when, after the waiting-test, I crown it Victor, but no disciple of Mine can be victor, who does not wait until I give the order to start.  You cannot be anxious if you know I am your supply."  

February 11-
"Your path is difficult, difficult for you both.  There is no work in life so hard as waiting, and yet I say wait.  Wait until I show you My Will...  Again, I say wait.  All motion is more easy than calm waiting.  So many of My followers have marred their work and hindered the progress of My Kingdom by activity.  Wait.  I will not overtry your spiritual strength....all your activity could no have accomplished the journey so soon.  Oh, wait and trust.  Wait, and be not afraid.

So yes.  God has been crystal clear.  We are in a waiting period.  Our desire to be obedient even when it is hard is stronger than ever.  And really God is giving me a peace about this season that I white knuckled just a few months ago.  He is working.  And we are letting him work in and through our lives while we are waiting.  God is doing big things in My Love, in me, and in our marriage that perhaps would not be given priority had we plowed ahead at the first thought of adoption.

A few of the qualifications that we would need to seek waivers on if we moved forward at this point?
*One person in the couple must be at least 35.
(My Love turns 35 this summer)
*The couple must be married 10 years.
(Our decade milestone will be celebrated in just a few months)

God knows what he is doing.  We could wake up tomorrow (or years from now) with a huge sign telling us to start the paper chase and then it could still be a years more until we actually bring our children home.  But he is sovereign and he sees what we do not so we are choosing to trust him in the waiting.      

We would be thankful for your prayers.
There is surprisingly more still to share. 
Stay tuned...