Thursday, March 31, 2011

Content Whatever the Circumstances


I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Phillipians 4:12
This verse is my current life prayer.

How much contentment do we waste by choosing stress, frustration, anger, jealousy, insecurity, greed?

How often does God shake His head in wonder as we toss aside the gifts He offers – PEACE and JOY – to instead feast our eyes on the famine of everything we can find wrong...

with our life,
or our day,
or our moment?

God, teach me GRATITUDE so I can say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Phil. 4:11b.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It May Be Cool & Rainy...

But I am ready for summer!!!


Oh how I love those chunky thighs!!



Monday, March 28, 2011

Amelia: Back to Uganda


Last night, Amelia got a taste of her roots.

The amazing organization that started Amelia's orphanage sent a Ugandan children's choir to tour the U.S.  This organization works very specifically in the exact area that Amelia is from. We even met some people at the concert who remembered Amelia from her orphanage!  The 50 minute drive to the church where they performed was more than worth the trip!



When the first Ugandan child took a microphone and I heard that familiar, beautiful accent, my heart almost burst in praise.  Oh thank You God, for the Ugandan people. Thank you for the incredible diversity you created in people, in accents, in music, in dance.  Thank You for cultures coming together to praise You. Thank you for the precious Ugandan treasure sitting in my lap, who is beginning to love me, and know me as "Mama," and thrive in the home You gave to her.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Wonder of Water & Cardboard

Some pure silliness. Happy Friday!

Amelia enjoys that American tap water is safe to drink!!
video

Caroline learns to sled without a sleigh or snow.
 video

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Working Woman

I started working again today.
EEeeek!
I am so thankful to have a job with incredible flexibility... and I'm not just saying that in case a coworker finds and reads this. (paranoid much!?) I leave the house before anyone else is awake and am able to pick the girls up at the end of a short day in Mother's Day Out. Who am I to complain?

Still, I found myself driving to work in the pre-dawn dark with a lump in my throat.


We waited for Amelia for so long. Then we left Caroline for weeks while we went to Africa.  I am still so in awe that my two daughters are living with me, laughing with me, growing before my eyes in REAL life, rather than the harsh light of the computer screen.

I know, I know. It's fine for women to work, so long as family is priority. I know that the Proverbs 31 woman arose early each morning to begin her own work day -- perhaps the only clear parallel I see between myself and her so far! I know that work existed in the Garden of Eden even before sin entered the world. Work is not a curse.

Still, I can cry a little about it, right?



And then I will dry my eyes and thank God.  Thanks to the book that I am frighteningly more obsessed with each day, I keep a tiny notebook with me at all times now to write every single blessing I notice, from the mundane to the profound.  I probably had more to write in that book today at work than I have in a single day yet... that Amelia did so well today. That both of my children love their school and are taught the joy of Christ there. That I have a job that provides so much, that sharpens my mind, that prioritizes my family, that allows me to visit the adult world during mommy-hood.

And if I sound like I am overcompensating and convincing myself against my true emotions, well... maybe I am. Still, I am determined to learn to worship & serve God here, now, in every circumstance.  And so today, I thank my Savior.

Monday, March 21, 2011

End of the Wait

I am so tired of waiting for joy.

I am so tired of saying that life will be great when ______.

When I meet my husband.
When I finish school.
When we have children.
When Amelia gets home.
When our finances change. (not that we lack!)
When my schedule clears.
When my work situation is different.
When this.
When that.
When
when
when
when

THIS is the life I am living.  Here and now. And it is a gift from a God who loves me more than my tiny brain can fathom. A gift so big, I can only unwrap it in tiny layers, and I haven't even begun to see a drop of this Life's glory. (Because He is the Life.)  Do I think I deserve something better than the oceans of grace He has flooded onto my life?

I AM TIRED OF WAITING.
I am DONE waiting for joy.

I remember when we were waiting for Amelia, God began to whisper to my heart that I wasn't REALLY waiting for Amelia.  He whispered this to my heart: "You are waiting to see ME." Yes.  I see now that I was!  And wow... how He is now showing Himself to my open, starving, begging-for-more-of-Him heart.

I thought we would see God most in the wait. In the trial. But oh, thank You God! The real miracles in this heart of stone I carry have begun in the days since we got home.  God is going to change me. I know He is.  He wants to show Himself to me. To us. To whomever is hungry for the Only True Joy.

I will leave you with an incredible quote from the book I am currently obsessed with. I now think this:  During the painful darkness of our adoption wait, I was in the cleft of the rock, being shielded from God's consuming glory by His covering hand. But now... oh chilling miracle... He has lifted His hand so I can look upon the back of a Holy God passing by.

Wasn't that too His way with Moses? "When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back" (Exodus 33:22-23 NIV)
Is that it? When it gets dark, it's only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock an covered me, protected, with His hand? In the pitch, I feel like I'm falling, sense the bridge giving way, God long absent.  In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams.  But maybe this is the true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by.  The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by.  God is in the tremors.  Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by.  In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can't see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting an earthquake.  Then He will remove His hand.  Then we will look.
Then we will look back and see His back.
Yes, God.  Help us look back and see YOU.

 
I am learning so much about thanking God lately... that "praying without ceasing" is to pray with eyes wide open, looking at every gift God has given us and thanking Him with every breath for it.  Of course, it is easy for me to say this during the golden season of life God has graced us with. My prayer is that I learn gratitude even when it's hard... even when our days become more hectic because I begin to work again, or something goes wrong, or our hearts begin to feel tainted.

For now, though, I'll glory in God and learn the habit of thankfulness, praying that it sticks once the waves become bigger than we expect.

God created the amazing...

the ugly...

the hilarious...

and the beautiful...


We are thankful for it all.

With friends on the zoo train
Amelia with her buddy Drew

Caroline with friends Mary Townsend and Julie

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Illusion of Stress

Amelia, are you okay?

Breathe, baby.

SHE'S LOST IT!!!

I am not stressed. I am not stressed. If I repeat it enough times, perhaps I will not be stressed!

Every now and then, Amelia looks like she's on the verge of one of her when-we-were-in-Africa break-downs. She hasn't had a breakdown of that magnitude in the U.S.  She's done great. But when she looks like she's thinking about losing all control -- about screeching at a glass-breaking pitch and flailing her petite body with all her strength -- my own body fills with feverish fear.

I know it. When Amelia loses control, I also have no control. There is little I can do to comfort her.  And so I tremble and pray that my almost-always-happy-girl will keep her precious smile and sweet laugh.

What?


Do I fear that I am losing control? Why? I was NEVER in control!! God always is. 

And stress? 

Stress is just a cover-up for fear. Stress is an illusion I build to pretend like it is actually ME who is juggling all of those balls that dangle in the air. I stress because I think something -- anything -- is up to me. 

Here is a little secret...

It was never up to me.

Thank God.

Thank God, Who holds ALL things, even my pretend juggling act, and keeps His loving control at all times.

HE is in control.

Now breathe.  

Ahhh.

No more stress.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mom Humor

You know you're really the mom of two when you think jokes like this are really funny...



Friday, March 18, 2011

Blaspheme

You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are. You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies -- though that never occurs to you.  Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet [God's] beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is.
  -  Jean-Pierre de Caussade
Oh God, open our eyes -- my eyes -- to those seemingly terrible things that are actually BLESSINGS from Your wise and loving hands.  Don't let us blaspheme You by refusing to see "bad" situations as the avenue You are choosing to show Your glory and love.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Weight of Glory

Ann Voskamp, on wanting to see God:

"How I want to see the weight of glory break my thick scales, the weight of glory smash the chains of desperate materialism, split the numbing shell of deadening entertainment, bust up the ice of catatonic hearts.  I want to see God..."(from One Thousand Gifts)

Amen and amen and amen.

I want to see God, and I want the weight of His glory to crush all that enslaves me and keeps me from Him.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Party People!!!

These days...


life...


is...


a...



party!!!!





So much fun, in fact, that I haven't had time to come up with a real post. Or real pictures. Hope the random and blurry shots of bed-jumping at least make you smile a bit!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Perfect Timing

Just when I feel physically and emotionally exhuasted

Just when my spiritual cup runs dry and I can't bring myself to make time to run back to my Savior -- except to lift up a breath -- a "dear Jesus, intervene and pull me to you!"

Just when our 11 month old JUST-adopted daughter has spent hours yesterday crying and is trying with puffy eyes to recover today, and my guilt level for her sadness is through the roof

and our three year old has had a bad reaction to a vaccine

and I spend the day drying tears, cleaning messes, fielding phone calls, and wondering when Jesus will fill me so I can bless anyone else...

Just then...

My daughters begin to laugh uncontrollably. They hug each other and their parents; they giggle & play.


Yet another dear friend brings us dinner that nourishes our hungry bodies almost as much as her friendship feeds our souls


My husband offers me backrubs, affection, time to myself, and a full nights' sleep -- he will get up with Amelia tonight.  I could melt into his sweet arms with gratitude.


I spend an hour reading a beautiful, poetic book that turns my eyes to God, all while listening to Brad's new worship CD. And I am reminded that God is so clear in art.


Just when I was empty, feeling like nothing, God decided to turn our night into something.  A beautiful something. Art. I can see Him so clearly in the art of our lives.


God created the world out of nothing,
and as long as we are nothing,
He can make something out of us.
   - Martin Luther


Friday, March 11, 2011

The World is Closing In

My brother is a missionary to Japan, living there with his wife and two small children. My parents were on a plane to Japan when the earthquake hit today, so they could not land in Tokyo, but instead headed to another Japanese airport.  The earthquake's aftershocks are still shaking my brother's home, but the tsunami did not touch them.  Our entire family is safe, thank God. But my parents are stranded in a strange land where transportation systems have been shut down, and not a soul seems to speak English. They don't know where they are or how to get to my brother. We are hearing very little from them.

I sat in a waiting room at the pediatrician's office today and watched horrendous scenes of devastation in Japan. We've seen scenes like this before from other catastrophes around the world. Only this time, my family is in the country affected. No, they are not directly in the natural disaster. But they are affected. The T.V. was not showing "some distant land." It was showing my brothers' home and my parents' location.


The world is closing in.

I cannot look at the beautiful Ugandan princess in my living room without remembering that 1 out of 5 people in Uganda is an orphaned child.

I cannot watch the news today without my stomach churning with anxiety for my family -- even though I know that they were not injured. Even though I know that God is in control.

Perhaps this is how it is supposed to be. The orphans in Uganda are supposed to feel like our daughters and sons. The victims of a deadly earthquake and tsunami on the island of Japan should cause us to grasp our hearts and pray as if it were our own family there.  Today, it is my family there. Will you pray?

God, unite our hearts to yours. Help us love the people of this diverse world like family -- the way that You love them. The way that You love us.

UPDATE: MY PARENTS MADE IT SAFELY TO MY BROTHERS' APARTMENT IN JAPAN. ALL ARE SAFE. THANK GOD. LET'S KEEP PRAYING FOR THE REST OF JAPAN, AND THAT THEY TURN TO GOD IN THIS CRISIS.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ethiopia

Have you heard about Ethiopia?  I heard recently, and my heart dropped to the floor.

Our friends the Godwins,
waiting on a court date for their daughter Zoe.
The processing of adoptions from Ethiopia may be cut by as much as 90%!!  I think of our friends (pictured above) who are waiting on their baby girl -- whose face they know -- and my heart just sinks with the memory of how terrible it felt when Ugandan adoption came to a standstill.  The bottle necks, the uncertainty, the seemingly endless silence...

The Lewis family from our town, also in process
to adopt from Ethiopia.

Yes, our family's adoption delays were orchestrated by God. Yes, every sleepless night and tear-filled day brought us closer to Jesus. Yes, each bit of waiting changed us and shaped us and blessed us.  But it hurt. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. And so I hurt for our friends... for every family who will have to wait even longer to hold the children they already love.

Please pray for God to redeem the situation in Ethiopia... for each family in process to be brought closer to God through the wait, for each child to feel His comfort until they are placed into a home, and for the process to be improved because of the talks and changes they are making now.