Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Loving God is Weird Enough

On Friday afternoon, I loaded into a van with six other adoptive mamas and headed to the Created for Care adoption conference. You need to understand something about (many) adoptive mamas. They feel deeply burdened for the needs that they see. They feel responsible to be the answer. I’m not bragging, as you’ll see in the post to follow. ACTION does not always equal obedience. WE are never the answer; Christ alone is.

As we shoved luggage into the trunk, some joked that our husbands might groan at us all coming home determined to adopt more, advocate more, fundraise more, help more, do more...

Although we were joking, something in my exhausted heart grew nervous. Since the day we came home with Amelia, I’ve felt an urgency to begin the “next” step. I’ve wanted to know what the next big thing would be that God has for us. After seeing the beauty that Amelia, adoption, and nonconformity had brought to our lives, I learned I can no longer live life by status quo. Out of a desire to challenge the comfort that I daily default into, my mind frantically searched for an uncomfortable next step. More children? How? When? Fostering? WHAT IS NEXT, LORD!?  But God had not revealed what the next step should be.

with Aunt Rebe/Aunt Sister!
So as we headed towards the conference, the heavy gray cloud that had been looming over my head for months… that big, “WHAT NEXT, LORD” question-cloud seemed to lower itself heavily onto my already tired shoulders.

I prepared myself mentally for a barrage of statistics and stories about the vastness of the orphan crisis. Adoptive mamas often focus on how great the need is. Tremendous need. We want to shock ourselves and the world awake to those problems that we so selfishly ignore. I felt sure that during the conference, I would hear of needs that would pierce my heart and make God’s direction clear about who/when/how we would next adopt, and what special needs we should take on. I expected answers from God, but failed to notice the fear with which I braced myself to receive His direction.

You can be sure that when “God’s will” feels like a fearful burden, you are forgetting grace and living by your own strength.

This adoption conference was not what I expected.
Praise God, instead of focusing on the greatness of the need, we focused on the greatness of our God.

And the burden began to lift. It was almost as if I could hear Jesus whisper, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I never realized how legalistic I had become in my quest to live outside of the box.

I listened to at least a dozen godly women recount how God had called them into radical lives of obedience. I sat with pen in hand, ready to jot down how they heard God and how they pursued each “next big thing.” I never got an answer. They all seemed to shrug in wonder at the greatness of a God who orchestrates unexplainable circumstances and beauty into their lives in ways that they never imagined or planned. None of them set out for “radical lives.” They simply set out to know the love of their God. Their lives were a work of the Lord, not of themselves.

I went on a different retreat nearly a year ago and spent the weekend begging God for direction. God clearly whispered to my heart then that I needed to know less about upcoming steps and more about Him, His Word.

For the second time now, God is making it clear: I need to worry less about seeking radical action and instead seek radical relationship to the Savior who is willing to come near. I need to be transformed by the love He offers when I sit constantly in His presence. I JUST. NEED. HIM.

And as my heart unites to His, His plans for my life will unfold perfectly.
Stop worrying about nonconformity. Just love God. That’s weird enough. The rest will fall into place.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Created for Care

Anyone else going to the Created for Care conference this weekend?  I'm beyond excited... Seriously... Rest, worship, and new friends who love Jesus and adoption? It's going to be GOOD! (speaking of rest, check out sweet Caroline getting hers!)  Let me know if you're coming to the conference so I can look forward to meeting you!!


Waiting Wednesdays

For those of you who are waiting...


"I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done."  — Elisabeth Elliot (Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ's Control)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dreaming

No, the picture has nothing to do with anything... But how cute are all of the cousins on my side of our family!?
Our home computer is dead so I've dropped off of the blogging world lately, except for small updates I can peck out on my well-loved iTouch! (What did people do before technology!?)
But God is using the freed up time away from computers to really spark some ministry ideas in me. I am just dreaming of what He might be willing to do in my life. Please Lord, let it be.
I so long for my life to be ministry regardless of the fact that I'll probably never be on an official "position of ministry." I'll keep on "tent making" happily if God will please transform me into the kind of person whose life preaches, regardless of the circumstances. I know I don't deserve for Him to do that in me but I'm learning that He'll do more than we could ever ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
So how do I get from this dreaming stage to the point where God has radically undone my life and exchanged it for His in me? All I know is that it involves His grace, leaps of faith, death to self, and the kind of suffering and beauty that I'll never deserve... but pray to humbly accept.
Please God, get me there!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Here Comes Monday

What an incredible weekend! I learned so much that my head is reeling and spirit is soaring... The positivity of my dad, the global purpose of the Honduran missionary, the obedience of my sweet "Esther's sister" who is starting Friday night prayer meetings, the AWESOME sermon my husband preached about following God's callings for us rather than conformity, the testimony of Old Testament Joseph...

Plus this amazing feeling that God is leading us to... To I don't know what... But soon! I truly can't wait to see what the week holds.

In the meantime, I'll simply enjoy watching Amelia sing "yogurt cha cha cha" as she eats a Sunday night snack! :) God bless your fresh week, as well!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Weekend!!

So far this weekend, I:
* got a new hair cut
* watched an AU gymnastics meet with my parents and girls
* ran 10 miles... At one time! (hello, double digits!)
* ate lunch with new friends from LaGrange who've decided to adopt two children from Uganda (which will make their 5th & 6th children... I adore big families!!)
* lounged around with my parents... Ahhh!
Before the weekend is over I will also:
* go to a dinner to talk about an awesome Honduran orphan ministry that some people from our church support
* enjoy the usual Sunday get-togethers
* go to the last (regular) monthly meeting for my one year women's Bible study. It's been an incredible year with them. I hate to see it end!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Waiting Wednesdays

For those of you who are waiting...
 "Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life." - Simone Weil
 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting Wednesdays

For those of you who are waiting...
"I had tended to view waiting as mere passivity. When I looked it up in my dictionary however, I found that the words passive and passion come from the same Latin root, pati, which means "to endure." Waiting is thus both passive and passionate. It's a vibrant, contemplative work. It means descending into self, into God, into the deeper labyrinths of prayer. It involves listening to disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holes in the soul, the denied and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely. It means struggling with the vision of who we really are in God and molding the courage to live that vision."  -  SUE MONK KIDD, When the Heart Waits

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sister Babies

I love my two babies.  Yes, they're nearly 2 and nearly 4 years old, but they'll always be my babies.  And they love each other ALMOST as much as I love them.  Check out this precious (although low quality cell-phone) picture of them holding hands walking in from the carpool line to school yesterday.


Let's zoom:

It makes me literally laugh-out-loud joyful to see how those two enjoy each other.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My Surprise

Ok, so I need to tell you what yesterday's surprise was.
Last night, we were having a really fun make-your-own pizza night with our family of four, our roommate Chelsey, our January guest Jacob, and our little friend "Jay."  I'm not great at cooking or creative-family-fun time, so to me, this was a pretty fun night!  It got even better.

Jay and Brad left for the garage for a looong time, and came back with quite the surprise.

Just two days before, I'd blogged my 2012 wish list.  Little did I know that Brad had had it turned into artwork and framed it with Jay!!  I can't explain why it hit me so sentimentally, but I cried. It was just such a personal, thoughtful, quick-turnaround, unexpected gift.

Here's the jpeg:

He hung it in my closet.

It makes me think I'll really be meeting some goals this year! :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Such a Sweet Surprise!!!

Oh I can't wait to write tomorrow about the sweet surprise Brad had for me today! But the bed is calling my name for tonight. :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Waiting Wednesdays

For those of you who are waiting...


"We will wait. We will wait till all is made righteous (glorious) according to the word of God."



— John Piper (A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My 2012 Wish List

Our Christmas was fantastic.

It feels good to end the year so well, surrounded by loved ones and so much to be thankful for, during a season of Christ and Advent (though, as always, clouded by my own sin and busyness and materialism and stress – but still somehow wonderful despite me!).

It feels even better to face a fresh start. A new year. A blank calendar. A chance to reflect on the past and set goals for the future. A time to dream big and lean on God with our greatest, most frightening hopes.

What do I want for 2012?
Here is what I want:

To love better.  To work harder at home.  To say “yes” more.  To be thinner. :)  To support my husband.  To be more thoughtful.  To leave my own head.  To become an extrovert.  To run in races.  To sell our home.  To learn to live on less.  To be more generous.  To live with hands wide open, so that as blessings of time, money, stuff flow in, they instantly flow out.  To write more.  To be fearlessly creative.  To not care what others think.  To stand up for myself.  To have pretty hair. :)  To spend more time with my girls.  To go… just go… even if we don’t know what that means… because neither did Abraham when he left Ur.  To live as though Christ is center of all – because He is.  To read the whole Bible.  To study a few books of the Bible in depth.  To feel my passion for Christ reawaken.  To drop legalism.  To embrace grace.  To eat better.  To teach my girls to eat better.  To cook more.  To tackle some big, secret projects.  :)  To drop other big, secret projects.  :)  To shun comfort in favor of growth.  To delete “circumstances” from my personal definition of contentment.  To stop thinking of excuses.  To ski.  To play tennis.  To take trips.  To pray for those who wait.  To think globally.  To love globally.  To encourage others to not only adopt, but to see the God-story that is played out through adoption.  To celebrate birthdays in my family like they’re going out of style.   To end the year amazed at how far we’ve come and head spinning at how we ever got there.

And there’s more. Brad and I still haven’t sat down to goal-plan for 2012, but I hope we will this weekend. I do not want an accidental life. I am ready for all that God has for us.

How about you?  Are you making plans for the life God has for you?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Patience

Happy New Years to you!!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Last year, I wrote an angry post blasting 2011 for appearing without our promised daughter.  Oops.  Sorry, 2011.  You did, in fact, bring Amelia home.  Hehe.  This January 1st, I fed my TWO girls a pancake breakfast before loading the TWO of them in the car to go to church.  What a difference a year makes. :-)


I have to say that I am happier with who I am today than with who I was a year ago.  I've had quite a few victories this year.  I'm not sure what my last year's resolutions were, but I know that this year, I love God's Word ten times more than I did last year, and FINALLY am in the Bible consistently.  I am gaining an understanding of what it means to let God be my strength when I don't have enough, and it's enabled me to serve more and fathom SOME DAY finally following God's voice wherever He leads.

Of course, it's not all improvement... I've lost a lot of the raw spiritual passion and dependence on God that came with the painful wait we were enduring last year, and I'd love to get that reliance on Him and absolute fervor back.  I do not want to grow cold.  I can feel comfort seeping in to every area of my life, and I see spiritual red flags waving wildly.



On a lighter note, I forgive myself for the ten pounds I put on this year because

  1. This time last last year, I was depressed about Amelia not being home and was half starving myself... the happy me can't compete with that :)
  2. despite the ten pounds, I am healthier by far this year with my new running routine, and 
  3. I just like me better these days, even when my exterior isn't what it used to be.  


Don't get me wrong. I still have some fitness resolutions in mind.  :) I just won't hate myself if I don't keep them.



2011:

  • one niece and one nephew born!
  • ridiculous adoption delays culminated in a travel date to get Amelia!
  • 3 weeks in Uganda, a million small miracles, bringing Amelia home to a sister who loves her as much as we do
  • my dad finds out he has a slew of heart problems, has surgery, and then has 2 strokes
  • my dads recovery is miraculous (but keep praying for even more recovery!) and he even goes back to work!
  • my brother, sister-in-law, nephew, and niece move home from Japan
  • a million new possibilities in store for 2012... 


Welcome 2012!