Linking Arms

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Our pastor told a story in church on Sunday about a tribe in Africa that spread out to find a missing little boy and couldn’t. The next day, they linked arms and tried again. This time they found the boy, but it was too late. The mom cried out “why didn’t we link arms sooner?”.

It’s an incredibly sad story. But the image of everyone walking arm-in-arm, looking together, has stuck with me. As I sat and heard this story, I suddenly saw all the people linking arms with us to get our little girl home. Just me and my daughter for a moment, then so many others joined us.

I have taken part in some projects lately to give hope in Africa. inCourage, an amazing group of women, got together to fund Mercy House in Kenya. So far, they bought a van, built school rooms, bought a generator and a computer lab and are working on building an additional home. This is for single moms in Kenya, so they can keep moms and babies together. It’s a beautiful thing.

Last week, Lisa Jo Baker asked her followers to help build a community water project in South Africa. In less than 12 hours, it was fully funded.

And it got me thinking. I played an incredibly small part in both of those things. I am saving most of my pennies for our adoption, but felt so moved to help out in whatever small way I could. So I linked arms with all the other ladies and we got it done.

I can’t get the image out of my head. And I am so grateful for those who have already linked arms with us on our mission to bring an orphan home. My friend who told me I could sew bags (even though I don’t really know how to sew). She then figured out a pattern, sewed some samples, taught me to sew them and made about 20 bags for me to sell.

My friends who surprised me with what they called “a very small amount” to help with the adoption, that really isn’t small to me at all. Every single dollar counts.

The couple who told me last week that they support me and want to help with the adoption.

The people who have purchased necklaces and coffee.

My sister who is going to sit with me at a craft fair next week.

My mom who cut the strings on at least 25 bags, so far.

My little one who puts every single coin she gets into the fund for “Sissy”.

There is such a long way to go. But it means the world to me to have so many standing by us, linking arms to rescue an orphan and bring her home. One day soon, she will have a loving haven of a home. And I am so grateful to each and every person who will help get us there. Linking arms in prayer. Linking arms in support. Linking arms with a hug that makes the waiting bearable.

 

 

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My Hope is in the Lord

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Life in this world is hard. HARD. And the little platitudes, like, “but God is good”, just don’t cut it. Not in the midst of abandonment and broken families. Orphaned & trafficked children. Starvation, grief and anguish that punctuate our world.

There are days when I am not sure my heart can take one more story of brokenness.

I imagine you might feel the same. So we go along, pretending that everything is alright, because the problems are too big for us to handle. Too big for us to have an impact on. We serve and give our money, but hold tight to our hearts. Attempting to protect them from any more pain.

Then another broken soul crosses our paths.

I have heard so many stories of single moms. Abused, threatened, in danger. And I watch God work to heal and restore. So glad I get to be a witness to His glory. Then I file it away and keep going with life. But there’s always another story. Another woman whose husband walks out after 15 years of marriage. Another family left broken and hurting. More kids confused and scared about what the future holds. Another cancer diagnosis. Another lost job. More pain.

And it brings me to my knees.

Some days, I look around and don’t know how God can stand to watch how we treat each other. His beloved. I don’t know how He can stand to see more weeping.

But I do know this.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…  Isaiah 43:2-3

God didn’t just watch Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they were in the furnace. He went with them. And He sent an angel to physically walk through the fire with them. And He will do the same for you and me. Through our furnace. Through our floods. Through our deserts. Through our wilderness.

I am so grateful for the One who goes with us through it all and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The next time you find yourself taken to your knees by the suffering in this world, please remember that God is right there with you. Cry out to Him and find how close He really is.


The End of the Storm

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I have been living in fear. Fear of the storm. The waves have been tossing my boat around and sometimes I am very sea-sick. Other times, I am just watching the waves building up, about to crash down on me. And dreading them.

But I know the One who controls the sea. I know the One who controls the waves. They can only do to me what He allows them to do to me. And He has an eternal purpose.

I can’t see it. I sit here in my boat, looking at the waves immediately around me. That’s all I can see. I can’t tell what waves are coming or how those waves are going to affect me. I can’t see what amazing lessons I am going to learn or how I will be changed into His likeness through it all.

As my recent storm subsides, I know there will always be storm clouds on the horizons. And sometimes directly overhead. But my God will also always be with me. Telling me to get out of the boat. Did you notice how He didn’t wait for the waves to calm before calling Peter out of the boat in Matthew 14? He calls us to trust Him in the storm. Through the storm. After the storm. Always.

I may be slow, but I am learning. He has called me to act. To stop holding so tight to the sides of the boat that could sink anyway, and instead to hold tight to Him. The only one who won’t sink.

So I got out of the boat. During the storm. I took my first step out of the boat towards the service He wants me to do. And as I keep moving forward, one step at a time, it’s so good to know who I am holding on to.

And it’s good to see the storm subside for now.


Grace

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A girl in my middle school (way back when!) had Spina Bifida and some other physical issues. As you can imagine, kids were mean. She had very few friends and was shunned by a lot of the class. She was my friend.

For 3-4 years, we hung out together a lot. She threw me a going away party before my teen mission trip. I went downtown to a big fancy restaurant with her and some other girls for her 16th birthday. I can’t even remember what all we did together, but we had fun. The one day that sticks out most in my mind is the field trip to the zoo. She couldn’t have walked it, so she was in a wheelchair and I pushed her all over the zoo. And, of course, jumped on the back and rode down the hills. We had a ball.

Somewhere in high school, we grew apart. I don’t know exactly what happened. There was no big disagreement or anything, we just went separate ways. And after high school, we completely lost contact. I remember looking her up once and visiting her at her apartment after she got married. She was so happy. She was living her best life.

Then, several years ago, I remember reading that she had died. A year before I found out. I couldn’t go to the funeral. I was too late. I have always regretted the way our friendship ended and wished I had done more. Every so often, the regret creeps up and catches me again.

Fast forward to last Friday night.

We went to the adoption party for a new friend of mine who finally was able to complete the adoption of the son she has had as a foster child since he was 9 months old. In walked, the mom of my long lost friend.

It took her a while to figure out who I was. When it finally clicked, (with a shocked look on her face) she said, “Are you…”

I finished it for her. I always expected her to be angry with me over the friendship that melted away. Instead she threw her arms around me and started introducing me to all these people as her daughter’s best friend in high school. She was overjoyed. I was overcome. She proceeded to tell me how she knows my new friend (who just adopted). Not only did they teach at the same school for many years, but she and my friend’s mom were college roommates. So their families grew up together and were/are incredibly close.

My new friend stood up in my lost friend’s wedding.

Seriously.

My new friend is an amazing woman who loves the Lord and is full of life. She is so fun and so caring. All I can feel is God’s grace, saying it’s ok. Sometimes friendships don’t last and look, she had this other girl all along. She wasn’t alone.

I can hardly breathe for the beauty and grace of it all.

 

 

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Perspective Shift

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I am waiting. I have been waiting for what feels like an eternity. Waiting for someone else to make a decision that will affect our lives greatly. It’s not so fun.

I think we all encounter circumstances like this more often than we like. Waiting to hear if we got a job. Waiting to hear test results from a doctor. Waiting to meet the right person. Waiting to have a child. It’s all out of our control. And we don’t like that.

At least I don’t.

I have been working on that. I am re-reading Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. Wonderful book. I know in my mind that God is sovereign and I choose to trust Him and His wisdom. It’s an active thing. When I don’t feel like it, when I worry, I choose to trust Him anyway. Sometimes we just have to will ourselves to do something. Our emotions want to go another way, but we CAN choose to control them and give it all to God.

But this wait I am in is getting long (don’t they all?). I am choosing to trust, but it’s not easy. I keep waiting for someone else to decide about my life. And it has been bothering me. Until now.

A couple of days ago, someone prayed for me in my small group at church. They prayed that I would remember that I am not waiting for someone else to decide. It’s not truly in their hands. God is in control of this hard thing and everything else. It finally clicked. I knew it with my head before, but now I know it with my heart. I am not waiting on these other people to decide anything. I am waiting on God.

I am waiting for His will to be accomplished (whatever that is). I am waiting for His perfect timing (whenever that is).

I can DO that!

My God, the God who loves me and works all things out for His glory and my good, the God who is sovereign over all, is working. I just can’t see it yet. But I can feel how He is working in my heart and changing me to be more like His son during this trial. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

My storm will pass. Your storm will pass. We can do this. Just keep clinging to the One who knows you and loves you and works all things together for your good, the good of those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

 

 

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Gratituesday – My little one’s teacher

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Seriously.

I love my daughter’s teacher. She is amazing. Her love for the kids just overflows all over them. My daughter didn’t really want to go to school. Transitioning to all day kindergarten was hard and she just wanted to be home with me.

But there’s this teacher. A teacher who totally gets my kid. Totally. My kid is incredibly creative and has the most wonderful imagination. But in the classroom, I know this often translates to being pokey and not always paying attention. It’s how she was put together and we are working hard to keep her wonderful traits and correct some that need a little help.

And this teacher gets it. She loves my daughter exactly how she was made. She encourages my girl and redirects her in love and sees her tender heart.

This is all in addition to the fact that my girl is excelling in math and can read like crazy and now loves school.

PLUS with the team teaching approach, she will still be one of my girl’s teachers next year. God so knew what He was doing when He placed us in this town I never planned to live in.

 

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Gratituesday – The Little Things

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I’m thinking back over this 3 day weekend we just had. We didn’t do anything spectacular. Nothing truly out of the ordinary. But it was filled with such sweet moments.

Moments of creation. I have been making lots of necklaces for my etsy store. Each time I watch a new design come to life, it gives me joy. I want to wear all of these necklaces. (as does my little one!)

Moments of laughter. Sitting at the table after lunch with the family, laughing with my sister and mom. I love those moments. And I love that we live close enough to have them often.

Moments of working together. My daughter is really taking an interest in the jewelry I am making to sell on etsy. She wants to help me design, play with colors and yesterday, she even helped with the photo shoot. I have loved every age so far, but it’s really amazing to see her grow up and start helping with bigger things.

Moments of remembrance. We went together to the cemetery to lay flowers on my grandparents’ graves. My grandfather served in WWII and I want my daughter to understand the sacrifice of those who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Moments of love. Watching a movie. Snuggling before bed. Random hugs throughout the day. Stolen kisses that she wipes off immediately. Making pancakes for her in the morning.

So many little moments to treasure up.

 

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Gratituesday – One Small Step

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God has placed something big in my heart. And He won’t let it go. It seems insurmountable to me and on my own, I am sure it is. But I am not on my own. If God asks us to do something, He makes it possible. Sometimes I think He is just waiting for us to say yes, and once we do, look out! He puts the wheels in motion and overcomes every obstacle.

I think again about the loaves and the fish that fed the 5000. He didn’t NEED His disciples to help. He could have just done it on His own. Food could have appeared in front of every person there. But it was important to have His disciples involved. Just like it’s important to have us be a part of His plan today.

So I take one small step. And then another. I tell Him I will follow, again. I am so glad He doesn’t walk away each time I start to wonder. Each time I take back the HUGE task of making things happen. It’s just my job to obey. To say yes, and follow through.

I am so glad He knows me and loves me and understands that each step is an act of faith and following.

 

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Gratituesday – Daffodils

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I love daffodils. Seriously. Yellow daffodils are like sunshine to me.

We didn’t live here last spring, so I didn’t know what flowers would be around. The landlords take care of all of the gardening, so we just get whatever there is. And they have some beautiful plants and flowers around.

But yesterday morning after dropping the kiddo off at school, I got home and noticed a whole line of daffodils filling up a flower bed along our driveway. I am not a gardener. So seeing the plants before the blooms didn’t tell me what was coming! But along our drive, in all their sunshiney yellow are these glorious daffodils. There were 5-7 blooms in the morning. By the time we went out after dinner we had tons of blooms. I had no idea it could happen that fast.

We have had some hard days in these past few weeks. And the daffodils bring such joy. What a contrast. What a demonstration of God’s love for us that my favorite flowers would bloom up all over our haven.

 

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Gratituesday – I am Grateful

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I am Grateful for…

 

Truth, even when it is hidden.

Light, that cannot be quenched by the darkness.

Joy, flowing through every day, even the hard ones.

Hope, that anchors my soul in the goodness and sovereignty of God.

Peace, that catches me off guard when I least expect it.

Love, that pours out from every direction.

Prayer, that draws me closer and hides me under His wing.

Worship, that reminds me of who He is

His Word, that comforts, encourages, strengthens

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In Christ alone