Seven Months Home

I was just reflecting today on all that has changed in the past seven months…well, I can go back even further and say the past year. This time last year, we had learned on Spring Break that there was a mistake in some paperwork which ended in a month-long delay, followed by very bad news in early summer that Orlanka would have to stay in Haiti another 3 months for a TB test. Multiple trips, multiple phone calls to doctors, and multiple prayers finally got our girls, Eva Orlanka and Zoe Woodjina, HOME at last. Our Gotcha Day was August 31st and we landed in Kentucky on September 2nd. Leaving the creche with them that day was just as sweet as I ever had dreamt it would be. They were overjoyed…no more goodbyes.

In seven months, we have definitely had joy but we’ve also definitely had sorrow. One child more than the other really misses the people she loved in Haiti (as expected). There is insecurity at times and lots of need for gentleness and affection, which sometimes in my rush to teach and take care of four kids I’m sad to say I have to be reminded of. Stories and memories come to their minds often about their life before us, and I am recording those. I often ask them to draw pictures and try to remember details. We are blessed they have each other, so they’ll never lose those precious pieces of their identity.  Nighttimes can be hard sometimes; I still sit with them until they fall asleep (thank you, my friend Melatonin!) At first, one child complained that at the orphanage the nanny would sleep on the floor of the kids’ bedroom, so she liked it better there. (I kind of wish I had a picture of my face at that moment. It would be funny now.) We definitely work through strategies for fear at times, and those times are becoming less often. There have been a few instances where they had an idea in their minds of how something would be, only to find out it’s not–such as ice cream. They just recently got to where they can actually eat it. Before, it was too cold, and it wasn’t purple and sparkly like they had seen in pictures (darn Lisa Frank)! They can definitely have their picky moments, their complaining moments, and their unreasonable moments, like all kids.

But the joys…wow. These girls in themselves are an absolute joy. They love to go, they’re also happy to stay. They are quick to obey and want to get along well with their sisters. They have enjoyed every friend we’ve gotten together with and LOVE their grandparents (how could they not though?) They are thankful and they are loving. I didn’t share this with many people before they came home, but the personality and behavior of one of our girls (while living in the creche) was beyond challenging. I was truly worried about how her moods would affect our home. She is honestly the most stable and easy going person in this crazy household!! It is amazing and God gave me a wonderful surprise in her!! They love to learn, and oh how they love their Daddy. One day when I was in the other room, I heard Eva say to Jack (my husband, her dad), “I said to God, ‘God, will you give me a Daddy?’ And He DID!” We all cried…imagining her praying that prayer, the joy of it now answered. Yes, God does settle the lonely in families; yes, He does hear their cry!!

I remember when the girls first came they were so fascinated with/we kept running out of:

Toilet paper

Eggs (they would eat 4 or 5 at a sitting, and 2 or 3 a couple hours later!)

Band-aids

Ice

Barbecue (yes, the meat, the sauce, anything bbq related!!)

These things have calmed down now. They still always want to know what we’re having for each meal, and always want to know if they can have more (long before they’re done with what they have). We’ve finally figured out how to handle some of the more difficult “meal issues” and they only overeat pizza and spaghetti (understandable?!) They do so well with rewards, chores, homeschool, imaginative play, asking with respect, and even talking about their feelings and sharing their problems. Their ability to speak English has increased exponentially, and most sentences they say are about 50/50 Kreyol/English. I’ll end this blog today with two English sentences said to me recently. The first is so completely precious, it’s one of the sweetest things anyone has ever said to me:

Eva (6): “Mom, your face, my present.” (I know!!! Heart melted!!!)

And another, sweet in its own way:

Zoe (5): “Mom, I coming, but I not want to bring my fart to you.”

 

Thanks for journeying with us. There are lots of ups and downs, just like with any family, but we are certainly learning to love and lean on Jesus and therefore are very, very blessed. 🙂

 

 

 

When You Don’t Know How Long You Can Keep This Up

Have you ever felt, about a relationship or circumstance or job, that you can’t see yourself going on like “this” for long? Every now and then, when you get really real with yourself, do you feel that?

The other night I was halfway asleep, but my mind and heart were busy trying to get to the bottom of   why I have been so tired…cranky…joy-less, perspective-less! And this question came to mind: “In what parts of your life would you say, ‘I don’t know how long I can keep this up’?” And I thought through each part, each category, of my daily life, assessing how I felt about each. I came to the conclusion that there were actually several things that I love, but that also held a certain dread and anxiety, a fear of how long I can last for the long haul.

For me, it is the daily-ness of it all, the doing & re-doing of Each.Bless-ed.Thing.One.Million.Times. It’s getting up, meeting needs, (remembering my own), quieting the soul to seek the heart of God, serving, exercising, cooking, cleaning, shopping, schooling, soothing insecure hearts, smoothing miscommunications, learning to tame the tongue and live loving and love living…

For others it may be caring for a special needs child or a parent whose health is failing. It may be a very difficult marriage or a particularly hard season in school or work. Maybe it’s months of looking for a job, trying to complete an adoption, losing weight, breaking free from an addiction, or even paying off debt.

Can we last for the long haul? How can we last for the long haul?

We are not 100% spiritual; God gave us bodies and minds to care for, too. Physically, mentally, emotionally and socially, we have to be adults (darn it) and see to it that we invest in ourselves. We’ll reap what we sow. We are free to make changes about a lot of things in our lives. That has been a beautiful thought to me lately–all the freedom the Lord has given us in this lifetime! It’s crazy how easily I forget the choices I do get to make, about my circumstances often and my attitude always.

But even in the most disciplined, or even in the people with the best perspective and sunniest disposition, I think that all of us are met with seasons, relationships, jobs, health issues, or circumstances, that make us put one foot in front of the other and we really don’t know when the day will come that we just can’t take one more step. We can keep our game face on for only so long.

The race is hard, the cross is heavy, and we just don’t wanna anymore. Sometimes.

And God knows it, and expects it, and He is so good to provide the answer in a way that benefits us so deeply…He answers it with Himself.

He answers our limits with His limitlessness. He meets our lack with His abundance.

His Word is full of reminders that He is a fountain that never runs dry, He is the Vine and we are the branches, and He is the Bread of Life, daily manna, who gives sustenance in our desert. He actually really is these things…and He says, “Come and abide.” Come and plug in, come and refuel, come and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing, come and be still and know that He is God and He is good and He is enough. Come and know that while this is our race, it’s not a race, and we can breathe and enjoy and receive…a lot more and more often than we do.

Just a few words from my reading in 2 Thessalonians 2 and 3 today, so fitting after journaling about this very thought right before opening my Bible:

2 Thess. 2:16 “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good word and deed.”

2 Thess. 3:3-5 “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”

2 Thess. 3:13 “And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is right.”

2 Thess. 3:16 “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

We can keep going like this, if HE has called us to, because HE will keep going like this. There will never be a morning we have to wake up and do life without Him, never. We have what it takes because He has what it takes, and He says ALL that is His is ours! It’s scary to not have reserves. I cannot preserve my energy or perspective or even love or hope for tomorrow. I can’t trust in myself. But I can put my trust in the One that never sleeps, never forgets, and never loses heart.

 

 

Something I’m Learning

Yeah, that’s a pretty vague title, but I don’t have time to be clever! I wanted to name it “Prioritizing My Husband (in other words, what I have not been doing for the past 6 months)” but that was too long 🙂

The other day in my morning time with the Lord (and often with Zoe), I was praying for Jack and using the book The Power of a Praying Wife. I quite randomly turned to the chapter/prayer entitled “His Priorities” and began praying for him. But that particular prayer started with praying for HIS WIFE’s priorities before praying for his. At first, I admit, I thought, “Well, sure, I know I stink at this, but what choice do I have? It’s not like I have more time or more attention or more energy to give…” as if I was exempt, as if somehow it didn’t apply to me.

Just a few sentences in, even though I had prayed through these pages before, the Lord was definitely talking to me! I wrote in my journal, asking the Lord to help me learn how to prioritize my husband. Over these past few days, I’ve realized it’s more of an attitude than a list of more I have to do. Marriage is hard work, especially when you feel like you have nothing left to give or you have a hard time getting in sync due to all.these.other.people.in.the.house or just thinking completely different thoughts about completely different things all day long. For me, the difficulty stems from being an introvert and craving time alone, so when a moment of silence arises, I don’t necessarily want to give it up, or when free time surfaces (hahahahaha, but someday it will), I want to THINK MY OWN THOUGHTS! There’s nothing wrong with that, but eventually, BOTH need to be regular things: time for me to unwind and recharge, and time for US to unwind and recharge together. Anyway, here are some thoughts on that attitude change…and how I’m noticing the Holy Spirit lead me in learning how to prioritize my husband. They sound so simple, but I wasn’t feeling responsible to do them and I have a far way to go.

  1. When he tries to say something, (yep, 5 girls in the house) take a second to tell the kids their dad is talking and I want to hear what he’s saying. Ask them to wait. Turn my face AND eyes to him until he’s done.
  2. Whether I really want to think about what he’s talking about or not (again, we are thinking different thoughts about a multitude of things all day long so it takes me a while to get on the same page), LISTEN. Give positive feedback even if I can’t give a definitive answer.
  3. Respectfully, not with a major annoyed sigh, tell him when I just can’t listen right now and ask him if he would please remember to talk to me about that the next time we will see each other, such as certain nights after the kids are in bed or Sunday afternoon while they are “resting” in their room.
  4. One more detail about the listening: Always recognize and say out loud that I can see how that might be a good idea, and show respect instead of quickly announcing “that won’t work”, “that’s not what I’m wanting to do”, “that doesn’t make sense to me”…I married a very intelligent, creative man, yet often I act like if he has a plan that doesn’t make sense to me or that goes a different direction than I anticipated, that it will be disastrous. That’s rude and arrogant of me. This wife has got to learn to share the load when it comes to plans and decisions!
  5. Answer texts from him as immediately as I can, and take time to text him at least once throughout the day.
  6. Answer or return a call from him, even if it means our routine gets messed up a little!
  7. Love what he loves. I don’t mean I’m going to follow his hobbies (i.e. looking online at vintage cars, adoring manly men’s beards- oh my, he needs some free time to get some real hobbies!) but I do mean that when he is excited about something, wants me to come, wants me to get on board, I need to at least share the enthusiasm. If I can physically be there, I want to be there, bring the kids, make it a big deal, buy the t-shirt. I can’t do everything. In fact, I can do very little. But I need to be willing to try, to see, if it’s possible to rearrange some things to be by his side.
  8. Pray for him. I’ve always prayed for Jack daily, and I want to continue in this, asking him more often how he would like me to pray for him. Maybe I can start doing this on Sunday afternoon, write the need down somewhere I’ll daily see it, and check in and see how that situation is going the next Sunday. It’s not a rule, just an idea.
  9. Show appreciation for sacrifices and hard work. “Thank you for going to work today! Thank you for coming home! You are crucial and needed in both places!” I need to LET Jack make sacrifices and do things for me more, kindling thankfulness in my heart that I truly should already have.
  10. Find a way to make special time with him happen. I have to get in bed earlier than most adults on the planet, but surely one time a month I can rent a movie, get some of our favorite snacks, and stay up late just us two on the couch for a stay-at-home date. Someday we’ll get to date again and when we do, we will make space in the budget for it, and my girls will see that even though it’s a sacrifice to leave them behind for an afternoon, marriage is an important relationship one can’t take for granted. Until then, I want them to see that my attitude and heart toward their dad is one of gratitude, enjoyment, and respect.

 

 

 

A Moment to Write…

Right now, as I write, there are 4 girls (Selah, Yemi, and two of their friends) upstairs making cake pops while soup for dinner boils on the  stove top…and I am downstairs keeping the little sisters out of their hair!

So, I guess that means: We have found our normal?!

Really, it means that things are going well. We are enjoying Fall Break, and have been very happy to see how easy going the girls can be with going places and missing a snack time here and there. Before Fall Break, we started each day with worship, breakfast, playtime, connection time, then school with Yemi while the girls played quietly, and then school with the littles on the kitchen floor. We really enjoy it, but there is a lot of “herding cats” in those hours! Then a few days of the week we have some activities we go to after lunch. So, we’ve enjoyed a (even more) laid-back routine and several trip to playgrounds, stores, seeing the Little Mermaid at the PAC, and even two restaurants. They thoroughly enjoyed it all. One of the best things to happen this week is that we met up with some friends of Eva and Zoe from Haiti!!!

Yes, Eva and Zoe! I’m surprised but they already are asking to be called by their English names. We gave them these names because of their spiritual meaning–they are a prophetic blessing over them. They mean newness of life and abundant life. I didn’t know if they would use them or not. They’ll always have the option in the future as well.

Let me tell you a little bit about Eva. She’s a really good helper and enjoys being a big girl SO much. She loves to help in the kitchen and she does a very good job! Every day at supper she still says, “I want BIG chicken!” No matter what it is, whether they’re asking for ice or pushes on the playground, they want “anpil, anpil” which means “a lot, a lot!” She loves to play Memory and is really good at it! She likes to sing and sings along at nighttime and in worship time! She has a really tender heart. She can be stubborn and pouty, like every kid, but is reasonable and lets me hold her and help her get regulated again.

And Zoe. She’s hilarious. She loves to laugh, run, and just be silly. She has went from very silent crying and avoiding eye contact in that first week, to tons of affection, hugs, and nice loud wailing when she hurts herself 🙂 She comes to be comforted, and she enjoys lots of snuggles especially from me and Selah! It’s bad but it’s also really funny…when she gets mad at someone, she says “kaka” (poop) under her breath. She’s also singing along to songs…especially (thank you so much, Yemi) “Shake Your Booty”. She and Eva both are good at art, and love Barbies. Their major investment of time one day this week was to put the entire head of hair of several Barbies into braids and beads. Zoe can also get stubborn and pouty, too, but it’s usually short lived with a few minutes on my lap.

We’ve had to start on the medical stuff…bloodwork, immunizations, seeing some followup docs from the whole TB mess. I’m not ready for this and I do not like it one bit. I would have liked to have waited until they had been home at least six months but it wasn’t under my control unfortunately.

The hardest things for me have been the same as any mom, i think!

  1. Being an introvert but having no time alone…I literally ate an ice cream bar that my friend brought me IN THE BATHROOM and they said, “ou fini? ou fini? ou fini?” outside the door until I came out! I never thought I would do that! Ha!
  2. Helping siblings learn to love and accept one another. For the most part, everyone gets along very well, but I think this transition has been the hardest on sweet Yemi. She’s 8 and starting to grow up, but still loves all the small child stuff, too. She’s trying to decide: “Do I want to be a triplet with these littles?” or “Do I want to set myself apart a little as a big sister?” She’s the same size pretty much as the girls, even though they are 2 and 3 years younger than her. She’s done such an amazing job sharing SO much of her stuff!! Room, clothes, all the toys except what is on her “special shelf”, and, well, her parents! That’s not easy but sharing hasn’t been an issue for her. All the kids need a lot of one-on-one support right now.
  3. Going back into “real life.” For a few weeks, I didn’t clean, cook, shop, or pay any attention to my phone or emails or calendar. It was so blissful…I thought, “I can do this!!” But then I started to realize all that I couldn’t leave to grow weeds forever. You know, like the checkbook and the refrigerator…Now we are putting things on the calendar and going places and while I make precious few commitments, with 6 people, there are commitments. And it’s good. It’s real life, and I love all we do…it’s just that this is the real transition for me.

 

Updates and Praise Reports

Hi everyone!

I wanted to share a quick update with my precious friends/family/prayer warriors:

First of all, Orlanka was able to get in with a wonderful new doctor and she had all the necessary TB testing (and more) at Gheskio, a good hospital in Port-au-Prince. The two ministries that helped this appointment happen were Ti Kay Haiti  and Empower Haiti Together. New friends from these ministries truly were a vessel for the Lord to answer so many prayers!

Secondly, the first two TB tests came back NEGATIVE (praise the Lord!!) and I was there in Haiti to get that report personally a couple of weeks ago. Orlanka did have a fever at that time, and some kind of lung infection was detected while I was there, and she started an antibiotic immediately.  I had a really good visit with Orlanka and Woodjina. There were certainly some hard parts, but our goodbye was calm and peaceful, which shows trust is being built and that’s possibly the best I can hope for in these absurd circumstances.

Today, I actually got to FaceTime with Orlanka, who was at the hospital for an appointment with her new doctor. This doctor could not be more of an answer to prayer. She called me while Orlanka was in her office so that we could FaceTime!! She said she was finished with her antibiotic and looking much better. She also told me she personally checked on Orlanka’s sputum sample, that it was still negative at this time, and that the lab technician said the test will be finished August 19. (Basically, the lab has to wait a full 56 days to make sure her sample doesn’t grow bacteria/”become positive.”) That’s a couple days later than I had thought, but still in the same week I was expecting. I don’t know the exact steps or who does what afterwards, but when the time comes, our associates in Haiti will be getting the report to the Embassy and Lord willing within a week or two, we’ll get her visa and bring both girls home. Lord willing, that means they could be home early September if not before. (There I go saying dates again…I know better…but I can’t help it!!)

Knowing the challenges ahead with language, personalities, grief, culture shock, changes, food, and only God knows what else, we are praying and preparing…but also feeling really ready. It’s kind of like training for a race. At some point, you’re just like, “ENOUGH! I’m as ready as I’m going to get! We’ll deal with whatever when it comes.” This whole journey I’ve imagined as an ocean, and I keep stepping farther and farther away from the shore. Sometimes I have felt like I was drowning and sometimes like I was walking on water, feeling okay with the waves, feeling resilient. It requires so much faith to have no idea what kind of needs or personality or age or the history of a child God will chose to be your son or daughter, or how high and rough the mountain ahead to get to them will be. It’s just a blind jump of obedience. And we keep going further into the unknown as we choose to love those people He gives us. It is always and completely His miraculous life at work in us to do this.

The miracle of getting them home is INDEED a miracle. The miracle of loving them with the love of Christ all of our days is a much greater one. Keep praying for us, and know we are SO grateful for the love, prayers, and support we have received! I feel like, together, we have lived out so many portions of Scripture through these hard times…and may we continue doing so!

We’ll keep everyone updated; hoping to have some great news to share soon! 🙂

Faith Off the Shelf

In all honesty, it feels like a very long time since my faith has been “on the shelf.” I need the Lord all the time and am lost without Him, even on a normal day. Either I’m a wimp, or He has called me to some big tasks, I don’t know which, but it doesn’t matter. He puts me in situations, and has since I gave my life to Him, where I must have faith, where I must believe His word is true even when all I feel is fear and all I see are obstacles. In job situations, relationship issues, learning how to parent kids from hard places, the decision to go back to homeschooling…I kinda thought I was at my full faith potential already!

And then God allowed our adoption to go on a really unexpected path, as if it hadn’t taken enough scary and hard turns in the past 2.5 years! Just when I thought I could not take anymore (and by the way I totally let God know this status update), He did allow things to get worse. At this moment, I have no idea what He is doing or why He hasn’t delivered us yet. I can’t see one step in front of me. There’s nothing else I personally can do, at least not right now, besides pray. I don’t know how or when we’ll get past this, but I know the Lord has a plan. There have been moments I wasn’t sure though.

I needed two major components to come together at the same time in the same intensity.

This confusing, painful trial (component one) had to go head to head with the promises in the Word of God (component two)!

And when they do, even in the worst moments, even in the darkest news, there’s a light.

Faith is activated when we speak and believe God’s Word in a situation that begs to differ, in a situation that looks like quite the opposite of His heart, His character, and what we understand to be His will.

There are dozens of promises God has used to activate my faith here and now in this nightmare with my girls–Isaiah 43, John 14-17, Romans 8, & so many more. But there are two passages in particular that have challenged me to hold on to them:

  1. Luke 18:1-8 The parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow: The widow day after day tells the judge her case; eventually even though he really doesn’t care, she wears him out and he gives her justice. Then Jesus says: “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly! However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
  2. John 20:29 The story of Thomas’ moment of doubt: Jesus has risen from the dead, everyone is super excited, and Thomas says ‘no way, not until I touch where the nails were will I believe He’s alive!’ And all of a sudden, there Jesus is, standing before him, in the flesh. He says, ‘go ahead, friend!’ Then Thomas believes, after touching his side. And dear Jesus says: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I can tell God all day long what I believe His job is. He is so kind to let me. But He also wants to tell me my job.

He invites me to persevere in prayer, He wants to find his children asking, showing they haven’t grown bitter and too disappointed to come.

And He invites me to believe He is good, wise, loving, and in control long before I see it with my eyes.

“I am not ashamed, because I know Whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” 1 Tim. 1:12

 

What the Spirit Desires: A Cure for Worry?

All semester I have longed to truly trust God and see the effect of that trust in my feelings. I wanted His peace that everything was going to be okay, but constantly the concerns of my life were on my mind like if I forgot them, He would, too.

Then several weeks ago, this happened. I had no intention of blogging about this, but I kept feeling like I should share. In a nutshell, the Lord said to me:

“Lyndsay, thank you for going to the nations, learning languages, loving and serving your family, and being so concerned about obeying Me with your life. But dear one, I have this one thing against you and you desperately need to hear it. You do not trust Me. You don’t relax under my care and power as a child of Mine would. While you’re physically obeying, you’re worrying. You’re wondering if what “you’re” doing will be enough and if you yourself will be enough for all the problems surrounding you. It’s a shame. I have peace and life for you if you’ll just allow Me to accomplish in your life all I said I would in My way and in My time. You do not need to be or do anything except trust and abide in Me.”

I had to just think on that for awhile and then repent, all the while knowing I could not fix myself. That’s the awesome thing about repentance. It’s not saying, “I agree with You, Lord, I am wrong, and I will do better.” Nope. It’s “I agree with You, Lord, I am wrong, and I am completely bankrupt in every. single. area. of. my. being.” And HE promises to take that heart and make it clean; He also promises to bring solutions by the power of His Spirit once we realize our inability to live His way.

He wants me to live at peace and enjoy life as I follow Him. But how, if this (sadly) doesn’t come as easily as it should?

 

Romans 8:5-17 has our answer. Reading the whole text would be great, but the gist is that our minds can either be controlled by the Spirit or by our natural, sinful nature. 

The things I usually am all in a tizzy about, needing desperately for them to work out soon, are not bad things. They are actually all things that I believe by His Word to be His will. So that led me to skim over this part of Romans 8, because I never realized that my sinful nature can take over even in the midst of daily obedience and doing things HE has led me to do.

My mind constantly on these things working out in my way and my time, adding a smidge of “I better get this right or it’ll all fall apart” made my so-called obedience a big fat adventure in missing the point. Repentance truly was the step to take, not a self help book on worry, and the next step after that was to let God show me how to have a mind ordered by His Spirit.

We can choose at any time to set our minds on what the Spirit desires instead. Let’s get specific if we’re going to do it, right? What does the Spirit desire? Here’s just a short list…

*That we would know the character qualities of God and trust His heart

*That we would know the Word of God as a comfort and a sword

*That we would know and claim personally the specific promises of God for each individual trial we face

*Full surrender in prayer, acknowledging we don’t even know what to ask, and rely on His intercession (Rom. 8:27)

*That we would know how to praise and worship God, being lifted above this realm for healing, relief, and transformation

 

And lastly, back to Romans 8, the Holy Spirit who is such a good friend and wants so much for us in the Lord, He longs for us to know that we did not receive a spirit that makes us a slave again to fear, but we received a spirit of sonship. “And by Him, we cry ‘Abba Father’. The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we also may share in His glory.” (verses 15-17)

What are we supposed to set our minds on? What the Spirit desires.

What does the Spirit desire? That we would receive our spirit of sonship!

 

Three out of four of my children were once orphans.

That’s not an easy title to break free from, even after the adoption papers are signed. I can love them, show them my intentions, and care for their needs all day long, and they blossom, and I begin to think Ah, they are beginning to see themselves as daughters! But the moment I say “no”, or even “not now”, I see it in their eyes. They’re orphans again. The trust isn’t there yet. It’s all sight; no faith. It’s every man for himself; this supposed caretaker, this supposed parent, is not what I hoped for because they will not bow down to me and bend at my command!

When we are disappointed with God’s decisions in our lives or when we don’t see His power working quickly enough, we can easily take on a spirit of an orphan–bitter, untrusting, fearful, self-protective, focused on losses, controlling, angry!

No matter what I do for my girls, I cannot make them receive their new status as daughter…but it is still their’s, like a gift all wrapped up, waiting to be opened and enjoyed.

The same is true for us.

It’ll take time for my daughters to trust me enough to relax and go with the flow. It may take years, but I know the first step would be for them to really know me and their dad, and what we’re all about, to be immersed in our heart for them.

For us as believers to truly be just that–believers–we are going to have to know God, get past the little verses taken out of context and truly eat His Word, and get in step with the beat of His heart. We’re going to have to immerse ourselves in His heart for us, which is revealed through His Word, prayer, worship, and community. There’s a “new normal” the Spirit longs for us to embrace!

Right now for me, to abide means (a) to live in a place of knowing my bankruptcy, my inability to be who God is calling me to be and (b) to constantly be filling my eyes, ears, mind, and heart with what the Spirit desires.

I’m the type that needs to know what my job is.

This—abiding—this is my job. And the more I do it, the easier it is to see how very, very well He is doing His.

 

Some Good News for Struggling Hearts

It really doesn’t matter the exact circumstances. We all have hard things in our lives; we are in limbo about this or that, we are all waiting for something. We all have people in our lives that we pray for; we watch them bobbing out there on the waves that only Jesus can calm.

And sometimes WE are those people bobbing out there on the waves that only Jesus can calm.

That has been me for a while. I’ve been feeling a little untethered from the boat, a little unglued.  It’s exactly what I fear: That when especially hard times come, I will not be able to keep it together. So, I’m coming to this blog today with such honesty…and with some good news as well!

  1. John 15. Jesus says, “Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself…” Let me just stop there. I’m a branch. I can’t bear my own fruit. Right now, the fruit I want to bear is: a steady heart, believing God is good, simple trust, patience, joy. But “it must remain in the Vine. You cannot bear fruit unless you remain in the Vine. If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” The whole chapter goes on to explain this thought: “remain in my love and your joy will be complete”. My heart has sort of been in shut down mode with others and a little with God, too. I don’t want to “Be still and know that He is God!” (Ps. 46:10) But until I do, there will be chaos in my soul and the fruit that I long to bear and benefit from will not be there.
  2. Psalm 51. David says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” When you’ve been under stress or grieving or just having to surrender again and again (and of course I’ve just described life here), it does not take long for a spirit of disappointment, bitterness, and distrust to sneak in. We begin to see life from a defensive position, trying not to be hurt again. But the pure heart I long for would be void of that response…where there is now disappointment, bitterness, and distrust, this bold and honest prayer asks for a pure heart. Think white, clean, open…pure. We’re asking in this prayer for a steadfast spirit, a spirit that doesn’t go up with the good news and down with the bad, but is set on something, Someone, that keeps it steady. When we ask for the joy of our salvation to be restored we are really saying, “Lord, all these other wants and hopes have taken precedence over the gift of your salvation. Help me remember again, in awe and wonder, that my greatest need has already been met thru Jesus.”
  3. Luke 8:22-25, the story of Jesus and His disciples in a boat when a big storm came up. Jesus was sleeping through it. (Gosh, that feels familiar…”God, are you asleep? Don’t you SEE what’s going on down here? You could do something and You’re not!”) The boys say: “Jesus, we’re going to drown!” Like, “Hello!? Don’t you care?” And Jesus wakes up, meets their need, and says, “Where is your faith?” I kinda wish Jesus had done a “re-do” with them at that moment, so we could know exactly what response to the wind and the waves they should have had. Were they not supposed to wake him? Were they supposed to rebuke the storm themselves? Were they supposed to get tossed overboard and at the bottom of the ocean still be hanging onto stubborn faith that He would take care of them? I’m not going to pretend to know the step by step process of what to do when you’re scared and wondering what God is planning. But I do know this: Jesus was in the boat with them. And He is in my boat with me, too. When I say I’m going to drown under all this, He says, “Where is your faith? Don’t you think that me (the Master, the great I AM) being with you is worth something?” We are going to rock on these waves awhile. This is life. But He’s holding us while we rock; He’s that close, and He’s whispering in our ear that He knows we’re afraid but that learning to trust Him, learning to relax into His chest and hear His heartbeat, is worth something…may be worth everything…may be the very reason we’re here. Perhaps if the boys were to do a re-do they would wake Jesus and say something a little more like this: “Jesus, we hate storms. It feels like it’s going to hurt us more than we can bear. Please make it stop, but until You do, can we lay down there with You?”

The Story in the Middle of the Night

 

Lately, God has been bringing to my attention some things I need to know regarding my children who are adopted, two of which are older and not home with us yet. I’ve been praying He would help me know all I can in order to help them transition and heal. I wanted to share this particular topic with my friends and family, and thought this blog might be the best way. Thank you in advance for reading and those of you involved in the lives of any adopted children, I pray this touches you like it is touching me.

We adopted one of our daughters seven years ago, when she had not even reached her 1st birthday. We were elated to get a baby, and I remember thinking, “Oh, we are so lucky to get a baby because she’s too little to even remember her past life or have any traumatic effects from it.” But little did I know, as well as this sweet girl adapted to life in a new family and home, of course blossoming with healthy food and daily nurture, she had impressions on her brain and for lack of a better word, heart, that would never lift. Now, at the age where she can cognitively grasp what the first year of her life really was and all that she lost in it, there is grief and that shows itself in many forms. God brought the education we needed to help her navigate through the feelings that she couldn’t put words to before…but it is a process, and one we will always be in to some extent. I was incredibly clueless about what was going on inside of her precious heart and mind.

Can I go a step further in vulnerability and transparency here to say that I actually have been angry at her for not being more grateful? How many times have I thought, “But you have this now, you have us now, don’t live in the past. God rescued you! That’s what you have to focus on!” For those of us who came from somewhat stable backgrounds, that thought might make perfect sense if there’s at least some sensitivity added to it. And also, the Bible tells us to rejoice in all circumstances and be thankful, right? Well…

God wanted me to really get this, so He woke me up in the dead of night with a story.

This is the first time I’ve really grasped what an adopted child goes through and how it changes them on the inside, regardless of what they are told or even know in their head to be true. As you read this story the first time, try not to make comparisons with adoption, just read it as if you were truly the main character. Imagine this with me, please:

You are a young adult, living with a significant other. You have a job and while things have never been easy, you think you are doing okay. You’ve never moved, you’ve never really seen past your community where you work and live, but you have familiarity and you like it. Voices, scenes, your daily routine, and ultimately that significant other make up your life. But one day, you lose your job and there are absolutely no other opportunities available. You loved that job. It gave you such a sense of identity. It was your thing and you felt good about it. Now it was gone and before long, you have to file bankruptcy. Bankruptcy! Has it really come to this? You always had this sense of “things will work out”, but it slowly ebbs away as you begin living on the street. Worst of all, your significant other that you had been with as long as you could remember, leaves, weeping. You think if they’re sad to leave, then why don’t they stay with me and weather this storm? If they want to be with me, why can’t we do this together? But they can’t and you end up in a group home with a hundred other adults that are also in the same boat.

You feel an incapacitating weight that daily drags you down as you try to figure out what happened. You have no pieces to try to put together, you have nothing.

Time passes in this exact situation, and you learn to make it through the days. Circumstances reinforce the thoughts and beliefs that have taken hold–that you don’t deserve better or that hope only leads to disappointment– although you do your best to not think or feel anything at all. Others in the group home leave, going away and never coming back to tell about it, always with a new adult who came looking for them all smiles, usually of a different color skin and total gibberish of a language! Your friends do seem glad when they leave with these people, so you begin to hope you’ll have that happen to you, too, even though you really don’t know what it’ll mean on a day-to-day basis, what it’ll truly be like.

And one day, it happens. All of a sudden, there is a person clearly interested in knowing you and taking you out of the holding pattern you’ve been in. You don’t know very much about what is changing, you just know it’s going to be a big change and you are going to have a significant other again. You can tell this by the way they’re looking at you and even hugging you, and that makes you feel good, but you remember feeling good before and where did that get you? You have forgotten what it felt like to have a job you loved and earn your own living, that sense of pride. You have forgotten what it felt like to never question if your significant other would leave, that sense of calm and confidence. You have forgotten what it felt like to not live in the past and future; you don’t even realize you forgot how to live in the present.

You are in a whirlwind of new everything for a couple of months. Everyone around you is celebrating, everyone is asking you if you like your new clothes, your new room in your new house…even your new significant other is looking at you in expectation, like aren’t you thrilled?  As an adult, you’ve had enough life experience to understand you are in a better situation. Yes, you grasp that. Having nothing was horrible. The group home stunk. You are glad you have a job again! You are relieved you have plenty of food! You are enjoying the warmth and kindness and attention of your new significant other!

But what you have learned and what you have become cannot be turned off. You’ve learned to emotionally, physically, and socially survive by not getting too excited about anything, by not getting attached or used to anything, anything at all! In that group home, every possession was destroyed, every friend left, every bed room changed, and nobody ever asked you how you felt about it, not to mention all that happened before the group home life. So, yeah, you’re enjoying things for the moment and to a certain extent, but then a shadow falls over your face and while everyone else is celebrating how great this is–because it is great–you just feel scared and sad, and angry that you can’t just enjoy it, that you can’t just toss the past in the past and believe that it is a new day. There’s a fear of jumping in with both feet only to lose it all again. There’s a fear of messing it all up, so that creates a fear of even trying to connect with your significant other or to do a good job in your new occupation. All the feelings of those terrible years are stored deep inside and they come out whenever a situation in your “new life” even barely resembles those experiences. You don’t realize that’s what’s happening, but you do notice that you don’t have the same reaction to things, good or bad, as others do. You eventually get to the place where you know the facts by heart: I’m loved, I’m taken care of, I have a good life ahead of me. But when you’re all alone, you’re really not sure.

Thank you for “going there” with me. I hope something in this story made it real to you, like it did to me. And what we can’t fully understand, we can believe anyway because it’s true, like it or not.

It is my deepest prayer that my girls would have total healing and complete victory. I pray that someday they could be so strong in their faith and belief in God’s love for them that they could say, as Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers yet someday became ruler of all Egypt: “What my enemy intended for evil, God used for good, both for me and to save many lives as well.” We all have wounds that eventually lead to beliefs about ourselves, God, and the world. But when those wounds happen in childhood, the healing takes incredible bravery, patience, perseverance, and help from others who are in for the long haul with that child. 

Please remember this when you are with my children.

As a speaker at the Empowered to Connect conference said last year: “My children bled before they came to me, and they shall not bleed under my care.”

I know it’s hard to know exactly what that care will need to look like, or what you can expect from them. So I say, don’t expect anything. Receive them as they are right now. Don’t judge them for what they feel. This may be a one-sided love for awhile. Give with no strings attached, really. Just love them and if they’re not acting loving toward you or others, take them aside and pour your love on them even more. And please remind me to do the same.

Thank you so much for reading.

No Longer Orphans…but Daughters

One of the most wonderful things God has shown me this year is the peace enveloped in the privilege of being His daughter.

 

If I had to say what I long for the very most as a mother it would be that my daughters would have victory over any barriers that would keep them from reveling in the love and protection their family and their Heavenly Father provides them. I know that was a mouthful of a sentence there, but the reality is that adopted children often have a very hard time truly relaxing in the simple gift of love. Their hard past makes it a little (or even a lot) complicated to enjoy all that they now have.

 

And doesn’t that sound a little like me and you, too?

 

This summer the Lord allowed me to swallow a seed and it’s been growing…the seed of confidence that what He says about my being related to Him really is true! Let me share an excerpt from my journal…I’ve been waiting for just the right time.

 

(I wrote the following on June 26, 2015, in Haiti, after listening to Melissa’s Story, a podcast from Jonathan and Melissa Helser)

 

“This is the day God delivered me from a spirit of fear and made me to really understand what was standing in the way of my joy and peace. I was living from an orphan’s heart, a heart full of disappointments and fear of more, a heart of distrust. I was a daughter of the King I just wasn’t letting my heart feel and my mind think from that status. I thought and felt and acted like an orphan just not quite believing God was good. It’s the great lie whispered in every tragedy: God is not good.
When a child doesn’t trust their parent, all kinds of mental and emotional problems happen, and when that parent is actually wonderful, what a sad story that the child would miss out on enjoying that stability they could have had.
 I decided I would not waste another minute of my life consciously doubting whether or not God was good.
If He loved me, and adopted me, it was time to let that carry its full weight and set me free. No more saying I believe it but it having no real effect on my feelings of dread.
This is the happiness of the believer–to let go of how your life has to be and ENJOY being His beloved, highly favored, cherished child, whatever He decides that should look like!
I’m ALL IN. I’m tired of being a worry wart. I’m tired of wondering if He’s good or if He makes mistakes. I need my Abba and I’m choosing to trust Him and know I’m not forgotten…know He is coming back for me, know He never stops thinking about me, know He weeps when I weep and rejoices when I rejoice, know He can see and orchestrate things in the future that I can’t comprehend, know He really is good and He really does love me, know I can be little me because He is Who He Is. If I know all of that, and I can honestly say that I do, then regardless of what He allows me to face, I really do not have anything to fear because He is the One Thing I must not–but could never–lose.
And every single sentence I just said about ME choosing to dwell with God AS A DAUGHTER NOT AN ORPHAN is happening before my very eyes in the seen realm…what will it take for these little girls to know they are no longer orphans? That there’s a room prepared for them like they’ve never imagined? That everyday half a dozen grandparents are whispering their names to the God they entrust their beloveds to? That their place at the table sits open and ready and no one else can fill it but them? That I dream of snuggling under covers and eating ice cream and helping them find their callings and really knowing them like only family does?
They don’t know these things…yet. It’s just words to them right now. And it really will take faith for them to believe it. And it really will take faith for me to believe He is speaking these same beautiful thoughts over me. I’m no longer an orphan; I’m in. Not even as a slave or a worker bee, but a precious child. There’s a room prepared, and a life to live until then carefully planned as well. In Heaven, the cloud of witnesses spur me on, the Holy Spirit intercedes with groans words cannot express on my behalf, and Jesus Himself, my dearest brother, goes to the Father for me and pray God’s will over my life. He says my name to the Father daily! I’ve a place at that table and His banner over me is love. He loves the story of my life, and revels in knowing me, behind the eyes.
My ability to speak it and write it is sadly inadequate, but just like with me and my Abba, my girls can either trust us and have a happy childhood…or not. They’re not gonna get everything they want or always be happy with us, but they can trust us and have a happy childhood…or not. There will be a huge transition of going from a disappointed, distrusting orphan to a content, relaxed DAUGHTER, but this is my prayer for us both. Healing matters, but you know what it really requires is faith. I’m choosing to accept that seed of daughtership, that seed of confidence to believe He is good, perfect in all of His ways, and worthy of my trust.
I pray that I will never be the same and that I will enjoy and relax and sink deeply into being my Daddy’s girl, and let Him fight my battles, write my story, and meet my needs. I pray I can LIVE that trust, seeing the fruits of joy, peace, security in who I am, and be that example by God’s grace to these girls, until they relax in our arms without a care in the world as all children should.”
I can honestly say in the months since I have truly been changed. Active petition and thanksgiving, with true surrender and excitement about what my Abba will do in His great love for me and others I am praying for, is the scene of my prayer life now. Worry is displaced by the choice to trust Him, and He makes me carefree when I come to Him and am renewed by His Word and truth. Trust has led to surrender, which has led to peace, which has led to joy, which has led to thanksgiving, which has led to having light even on the dark nights. And when I get lost again, it’s trust that I have to go back to. It’s square one.
That seed is the beginning and as Matthew 13 describes, the smallest of seeds can become strong arms, a plentiful home for the birds of the air to find refuge. May it be so in our lives, because the world is full of sparrows, looking to know their worth.