However Long

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So. I’ve been a single mom for 5 years now.

I survived those first few months, on my knees, constantly asking God for strength.

I survived the first couple of years. Grieving the loss of my marriage. Healing from the brokenness. Slowly being redeemed through all of it.

And I finally reached the point where the pain lessened and the days became easier. I stopped struggling so much and believed that we were in a good place. Not ideal, not what I had planned, but we were thriving.

Except for one thing.

I still found myself waiting for a husband. Not consciously. But I guess it was always hiding just beneath my thoughts. I felt like I had proven myself. I had overcome the (seemingly) impossible. I could support us; we were healthy and safe and happy. Now the trial could end and God could send someone to finish redeeming our situation. That we did great, so now this season can end.

Until I heard Jill Briscoe speak a few weeks ago. We were studying James 1.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3

And she said in trials we often ask God, “How Long?”

How long will I be sick? How long will I be hungry? How long will I be alone? How long will I suffer?

 

When what we should be saying is:

However long.

However long, Lord.

However long You want me here. However long it takes. However long it brings You glory.

That’s where true submission is. Not just enduring the trial, and waiting for it to be over. But telling God, honestly, “However long you want to keep me here, I am willing to be in this trial for Your sake. For Your glory. For You to be lifted up and exalted. For Your will to be done.”

Even Jesus asked for the trial to be taken from him. But He stayed in submission.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. Matthew 26:39

I may be a single mom for the rest of my life. And if that is God’s will for me, I’m ok with that. Not what I would have chosen, but the only place I want to be is in the center of His will.

I may always have days where I ask for this to end. But I pray I always remember her words as they echo in my mind now.

However long, Lord. However long.


Living in the In-Between

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Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord Psalm 27:14

And I will wait on the Lord, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; And I will hope in Him. Isaiah 8:17

But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Waiting. These in-between days. They are hard.
We are waiting for so much. We left a home that wasn’t being taken care of. We’re waiting for a new place to make our home. To build our haven. I firmly believe that a home should be the safest haven for our children. A place where they are loved unconditionally, celebrated for who they are and trained to follow Jesus and serve others. I love putting our touches on everything. Our plates in the cupboard. Her art on the wall. We can hardly wait for a home to call our own.
And we are waiting for Sissy. We spent 7 months filling out paperwork, getting signatures, jumping over hurdles. Now we have been on the waiting list to be matched with a little girl from Ethiopia for 7 months. With almost no movement in referrals in the last 4 months. We sit and wait. With absolutely nothing we can do about it.
This waiting is hard. It’s hard to not be able to work towards something and easy to get caught up in the not-yet. Easy to feel stuck and just let time pass. Easy to spend too much time waiting and not enough time living.
We must remember that the waiting is our work for the moment. God has called us and directed us and we are following Him. Sometimes that means standing still and waiting for His perfect timing.
And while we wait, we have a great opportunity to trust. To learn to rest in Him and His faithfulness. To choose joy in the in-between. To play and laugh and go swimming and take a vacation and make pancakes for breakfast on a weekday. To celebrate everyday accomplishments and look for joy all around us. To dream of the future and know that it is in God’s hands. But to spend our energy on the present.
If you are in the waiting with us, may you find joy in your wait. May He strengthen your heart for the journey as you trust in Him.

He Will Wipe Every Tear

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I’m a crier. I wear my heart on my sleeve. For years I tried to stop that, but it’s how I was made. A giraffe can’t take off its spots and I can’t change who I am. And it’s getting worse.

It seems that God has softened my heart even more with all we have gone through in the last few years. Softened my heart for Him. Softened my heart for others who are in pain. Softened my heart for worship.

So, I was recently talking to a dear friend of mine and tears started slipping down my cheeks. I was hurting and sharing it with someone who truly understood. I have apologized to her in the past for crying and she stops me. Tells me it’s ok. Tells me it’s healthy. Tells me it’s healing.

Not this time. This time she wiped my tears.

I don’t know how long it’s been since someone wiped your tears. It’s not a common thing we do for each other. A mom for a kid? Yes. But that’s about it. I was so moved by that gesture. It impressed on me how much she understands and cares.

Then yesterday, I was reading Revelation. The first 90% of it is pretty scary. Earthquakes that shake mountains into nothing, seas and rivers turning to blood, awful plagues that overwhelm the earth. Not pretty.

Until I got to chapter 21.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” NKJV Revelation 21:1-4

He will wipe every tear.

I remembered that there will be no more crying in heaven. I’ve heard that a thousand times. But as I had so recently had someone wipe my tears, the intimacy of this moment etched itself on my heart. God, who will send plagues and destruction and will have a battle with Satan and all of his forces, will then come to be with me. To live with me.

To wipe my tears and make all things new.


The Cross

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God loves us so much that He sent his only son to die for us.

Sometimes I think we have heard those words over and over until they have lost their meaning. We think, yes, Jesus died for me, but He knew He would rise again. Was it really that bad?

Um. YES. It was. I am in a study that has taught all about what a crucifixion actually was. In detail. In mind-numbing, heart-piercing detail about what they did to my Savior. The beatings. The piercings. The scourging. The crown of thorns pushed into his holy forehead. The inability to breathe unless he pushed up on his pierced hands and feet to straighten enough to take a breath. The sword in the side to make sure he was dead. That he was willing to suffer such incredible physical agony for me long before I ever knew him amazes me.

But the true torture of the cross and his death was his separation from his father. God the father had to turn His back on Jesus while Jesus was bearing our sins. In His absolute holiness, He can’t look on sin. So Jesus went through the most physically, emotionally and spiritually devastating time imaginable and He did it completely alone. No one could stand by and hold His hand and tell Him it would be alright.

Yet He chose to obey and suffer for you and for me.

The thought brings me to my knees.

I am so glad that Sunday is coming. I am so glad that we get to celebrate his resurrection and that he completely triumphed over death. And the joy of Sunday means so much more when we stop to truly consider the agony of Friday.


Helpless

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I heard from a fellow adoptive momma that the orphanage in Ethiopia where her son is living, is almost out of food.

OUT OF FOOD.

As I understand it, referral fees (the fees we pay when matched with our children) are huge because they don’t just pay for our child’s care. It doesn’t cost $6,600 to care for one child for 3-6 months in the orphanage. Those fees support the orphanage as a whole. EVERY child there gets food through my fees. So I am thrilled to pay the fees. I want those kids to get fed. Not just my daughter, whoever she may be. I want them all to eat.

When the referrals dramatically slow down, so does the flow of money. And the kids don’t get fed.

It’s almost more than a momma’s heart can take.

So many tummy’s are empty right now. And they’ll still be empty tomorrow. Yet here I sit. In my comfortable home. With my cupboards full.

Helpless.

Almost.

What I can do, is bigger than I give it credit for. I can pray.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
My Father in Heaven loves those kids even more than I do. And He aches with their hunger even more than I do. And He can do something about it. Please, Lord. Act quickly. Bring them home to families waiting for them. With full cupboards and full hearts, just waiting for another one to love. And in the meantime, He is sending other adoptive moms on their first trips to Ethiopia to meet their children, with suitcases full of formula. Hold on, little ones. Help is on the way.

By Faith

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Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

I just read Hebrews 11. Wow.

By faith Noah built the ark when warned about things not yet seen.

By faith Abraham went when he was called, even though he didn’t know where he was going.

By faith Abraham was enabled to become a father, because he considered Him faithful who had made the promise.

By faith Moses chose to be mistreated along with the people of God.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if on dry land.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell after the people marched around them for seven days.

By faith.

By faith.

By faith.

Our God wants our faith. He wants us to believe in Him and trust in Him. Even when we can’t see the end. Especially when we can’t see the end. We are called to step out in faith and follow regardless of the cost, regardless of how we will look, regardless of what others will say. Just step out in faith and follow.

It is so easy to say and can be so hard to do. If we continue looking at our circumstances, the obstacles, the mountains ahead, it becomes all but impossible. So let’s change our view. Let’s stop looking at the circumstances, the obstacles and the mountains ahead. Let’s look at the One who controls it all. The One who has already seen the end and knows each step it will take to get there. He has given us a grand history to look at. We get to see so many ways He already provided all throughout history. Now it’s our turn.

Let’s step out in faith and do whatever God is calling us to do. And let’s cheer each other on and celebrate together each time He moves a mountain.

Or parts a sea.

Or knocks down a wall.

 

Are you with me?


Because He Loves You

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I saw a video in my small group at church a few weeks ago. It was part of the Respectfully Yours series by Emerson & Sarah Eggerichs. This particular video was focused on not finding our worth in our spouse, but in the God who created us and loves us. Loves us so much that He sent his only son to die for us. So much that He waits patiently, hoping we will come to Him and have a relationship with Him.

Not love like we know as humans. We use the word “love” for things that don’t matter. We love food, cars, music, tv, the weather (or not!). We have used “love” so loosely, that it has lost all meaning.

That is not how God loves us. He loves us with an unrelenting, passionate, faithful, constant, immoveable, unconditional love. Love we can’t experience anywhere else. And when we wonder if we are worthy of God’s love, when we feel unloveable and unlovely, it doesn’t change God’s love. His love for us isn’t based on us. It’s rooted in His character.

So the next time you ask why in the world God would love you, hear the echo of Emerson Eggerich’s words like I do.

He loves you.

Because He loves you.

Because He loves you.

Because He loves you.


Adoption Loss

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I remember the first time I heard the term “adoption loss”. I had never, in all my years of wanting to adopt, truly stopped to consider the loss that comes with it. I knew there were orphans in the world, kids who needed forever families. But I hadn’t stopped to think about the past that brought them to that point. Maybe I wasn’t ready to face it.

I am now.

When I receive my referral for a little girl, I will probably learn some of her story. She will have had a first family. She will have lost them to death, abandonment or simply because they were unable to care for her. It will be her story to tell, not mine. But it will be very real. And it will always be a part of her story.

Aaron Ivey, gave a sermon at the Austin Stone Church that I saw on youtube, called “Adopted: the Cost of Love“. In it, he spoke of orphan care as actually joining in the suffering of the orphan. That bringing an orphan home and parenting them, requires a person to join in the orphan’s suffering and feel it with them. I know I will never fully grasp how much my child’s heart will hurt over this. But I also know that God can heal. And that God is already bringing me closer to my child. Not knowing who she is doesn’t matter. I love her. And my heart hurts to know all she has been through and is going through now. Yes, it may seem crazy. But maybe crazy love is how God heals us.

This scripture keeps coming to me:

“This is what the Lord says — he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: Forget the former things; do not
dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and
streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:16-19

He parted the seas once. He will do it again. He will part the seas and bring orphans to the forever families that are waiting for them. We will acknowledge the past, but not live in it. And we will see God doing a new thing. In us. In our family. For His glory.


Perfect Provision

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Sometimes I wonder how God does it. Only briefly, because I know I’ll never understand. But He knows ahead of time what we will need, when we will need it and how He will provide it.

Case in point:

We held a fundraising concert for our adoption a couple of weeks ago. Not a huge crowd, but those who came were very generous. Some even gave us money for “tickets” days after the concert, because they hadn’t been able to make it that night.

Two days ago, I got the invoice for the next small supplemental fee for my agency. It was a little less than I thought. Yesterday, I got the invoice from the venue for our concert. Again somewhat less than I thought. And guess what. The concert raised enough to cover the venue fees and our supplemental fee, with $20 left over.

Exactly what we needed, when we needed it. I don’t expect God to provide for the adoption all at once. I think He takes great joy in showing us that He has this. I don’t need to worry for a moment.

He so has this.


The List

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It’s official. We have dotted every “i” and crossed every “t”. We have been through 7 months of interviews and paperwork and approvals and fingerprints and government seals. And we are finally on the list. The elusive list of waiting families who have conquered a mountain of paperwork are rewarded with. The list that lets us take a break from paperwork (for the time being). The list that lets us rest in the goodness of God and how He has already brought us this far.

Now we get to wait. We get to plan and prepare. We get to dream about the day our little one is finally home with us. We won’t know her name or see her precious face possibly for many months. But we have overcome such hurdles already.

My daughter and I climbed a mountain together when she was 5. I can hardly believe we made it, but we did. Clingman’s Dome in Smoky Mountain National Park. It was a long, hard climb. And we took many breaks. We would catch our breath for a few moments, look at the road we had already traveled, then look ahead at where we were going. And we would start climbing again. It was so important to me that we make it to the top.

ClingmansDome

And we finally did. We took pictures. We laughed. We cheered. The view was great, but the best part was really accomplishing it together.

So here we are with another mountain to climb. We have been walking diligently, faithfully. We have made amazing progress and can look back at the path we have covered so far and how God has walked with us every step of the way. And we get to look ahead to the great adventure before us, knowing He will continue to be with us, every step of the way.

But for the moment, we get to rest and celebrate.