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.

Adoption Update!

Hello friends! It has been awhile since I updated our website/blog about the adoption and I wanted to take a moment tonight to share what’s been going on. As many of you who get our newsletter know, we went to Haiti in December to visit our two lovely Haitian daughters. We got our referral on May 29, 2015 after waiting (officially with dossier entered to IBESR) for 15 months. We took our socialization trip the last two weeks of June. We exited IBESR and received our Authorizations of Adoption at the end of October; we were so overjoyed! Then we entered Parquet Court on November  24th, and got our Adoption Decrees on December 22nd, 2015; actually we were in the airport on the way home when we got the email!

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I made 4 of these matching t-shirts right before our trip, they say: I love my sisters!

I have enjoyed working through the Beginner Haitian Creole book by Gloria Guignard Board. She is a blessing!! I studied August to December, and still need to study a LOT more, but on our trip in December I was able to communicate pretty decently! Grace, grace, God’s grace! Selah, our 10 year old, picked up a little, too, and began formed her own sentences as the trip went on. One of the best moments of the trip was when Yemi, our 7 year old, broke the ice in those first minutes of communication by shouting with a huge smile on her face: “Bonjou, tout moun!” (Hello, everybody!) No one expected her to know any Creole, and it was just perfect!

We were SO blessed to bring suitcases full of goodie bags, quite a few Razor scooters, tiny little teddy bears for all the little kids, and tons of games and toys for all the rooms to share. People gave and gave for this to happen. Here are some pics!

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Another Mama Blan (that what our kids call us) and I will be going to Haiti in about a month to visit, and we are praying to get our kids sometime this Spring or Summer. There are still several steps to go!

Currently, our dossiers are in Legalization after Parquet, then they will go to Ministry of Interior, then Passports, then USCIS, then the last serious step: Visa & Medical appointment with the Dept of State, ending with an exit letter a week or less later. Each step has a “predicted” time frame, but really everyone has had different experiences. We are truly in the Lord’s hands and thankful for His timing and sovereignty!

Here is a picture of our four daughters, finally all together for the first time:

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I’m just so excited, and trying to stay calm as I ride this long wave all the way home. God promised from Day One: My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest. And He has done that. It has been long, but it has not been anxious. And for one good reason only–the gift– the free, sweet, kind, loving gift–of communication with my Father in Heaven! When I lay all this at His feet (and often I know He’s like “You really don’t have to say those details again, sweetie, I’ve got this!”) every day, He displaces my worry and fear with peace and joy. He’s a good Father!

That’s one of the most wonderful things He has taught me this year…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.

 

15 Years of Marriage…and the Lies That Add Up

(Ooh, I didn’t mean to make such a scandalous title but now that it’s there, I just can’t erase!) It’s okay, you’ll see where I’m heading as you read on…

Jack and I are celebrating our 15th Anniversary tomorrow, New Year’s Day! I can’t believe it’s been 15 years. I will never forget that snowy day in a packed church where we, with such hope in our eyes, said “I do.” No one could have told us what would come next, what trials we’d face, what mistakes we’d make…we just had to experience it for ourselves.

And along the way, along with the surprises, doesn’t the enemy of our souls just enjoy coming in and devouring that hope, those promises?

The lies do begin to add up as he whispers fears and blame…and after 15 years, I’ve finally learned to call him out and let him know I’m not afraid of these words. They have no hold on me. My choice is made because I bend my thoughts and will and desires to another whisper. Do these lies seem familiar at all to you?

Lie #1…”We have nothing in common.” For me and Jack, this “lie” has lots of truth in it. We are hilariously opposite in truly almost every way. Extrovert, introvert. Hot all the time, cold all the time. Owns seven screens, happy with one. Steak, salad. Small talk, heart talk. Jokes, blogs. Midnight, 9:30. So guess what? This doesn’t have to be a problem. It’s all about perspective. 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us there are different kinds of gifts, and that the Body of Christ is made up of many parts–and no one could do their part well without the other members doing their part well. That’s how it can be in a marriage, too. We can appreciate the way our spouse thinks whether we understand it or not. They are an individual first before they can be a member of a partnership. I like myself, and I like being an individual first. I have every intention of hanging onto what makes me ME. So, in the same spirit, I have been learning to value Jack and his opinions, strengths, and even weaknesses, as I want mine to be considered and accepted. I don’t want to put my convictions on anyone anymore. I get my one life, and so does everyone else! The only thing we need in common is loving Jesus, each other, and our family. That’s the truth to cancel out this lie!

Lie #2…”He’s changed.” Well…yeah. That happens to people over a decade and a half. The only way I could recognize Princess Leia in the most recent Star Wars movie was by her eyes. And she’s just as beautiful…but obviously she’s changed through the years. Someday that’ll be us. And not just our physical appearances, but we all evolve through time mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially. We aren’t always going to like what we’ve become or what our spouse has become. But here are three things I’m learning to do to combat this lie.

First, we go to God’s Word, which reminds: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive what grievances you may have…” (Colossians 3:12-13) We are MUTUALLY accepting, having compassion, being patient, with ONE ANOTHER. Do I really think he’s the only one who has changed, who has built up a mound of grievances and idiosyncrasies? Whether I see it or not, I am being loved and accepted as I myself work to love and accept. As we love and accept even things we don’t like (I’m obviously not talking about sin, evil, abuse, etc) people tend to unfold, and their layers come off. They let go of defenses and you connect. It’s a beautiful thing to see someone free to become who they really were meant to be, and they will never become that if someone is pressing them. It’s scary, it feels risky, but it’s really good. It’s offering to someone what you would hope they would offer you as you grow into the best version of yourself.

Second, we pray! When we pray for our spouses, no matter how long it takes for fruition, our perspective and heart toward them changes very quickly. I have seen so many times where I chose to not start a difficult conversation, but prayed for several days or weeks instead, only to see my husband’s countenance change and he himself bring up the problem for us to discuss. We can trust the Lord, He’s a good Father! He knows what we need, and He loves our spouses and is quite capable of speaking to them! (I love and recommend the book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian!!)

Third, we set our hearts to serve and obey the Lord with our own lives first. I can’t live Jack’s life for him and I’m not supposed to. He has duties that are not mine to perform. I can support him by doing what is on my plate faithfully and joyfully, and trust him and the Lord with what is really not mine to worry about or accomplish.

And last but not least, Lie #3…”If I had married so-n-so, I’d have…” Ugh. This one’s really a sad and desperate attempt of the enemy to get us when we’re down, because we rationally know there’s no way to know what would have happened if we had chosen a different path. We never know what someone else’s home life is truly like either. This thought, this lie, is a mirage in the desert. I think I could have been happy with several different guys that I liked in college and Jack could have been happy with several different girls he liked, too. Why? Because we CHOOSE to be happy. “God’s will” for our lives wasn’t one choice 15 years ago, His will for our lives is right now, every single day. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us what God’s will is for us: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is God’s will for us. In what we chose, or in whatever situation we find ourselves in somehow, this is God’s will for us. Our active stance is to take joy, pray, and give thanks.

 

The lies have a way of adding up if we listen to them, but so does God’s Word. We can go from strength to strength, building precept upon precept, living out the love He gives, without condition.

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These Days…

One of my best friends came over the other day to sing and record (a cover), and after telling her what a beautiful voice she has (REALLY, I enjoy listening to her more than the original singer any day), she said, “I just have to sing.” I totally feel the same way. I just have to sing. But maybe even more so, believe it or not, I just have to write. And as I had that thought, my next thought was, “Oh yeah, right, there’s this thing called a blog and I think I actually have one of those, thanks to my awesome husband who knows I just have to write.” 🙂

I tend to only write when I have majorly serious things to say. I want to stop that. I want to believe that my normal might be encouraging or relevant to you, it may make someone laugh or think or be in their moment a little more and even if no one reads, well, that’s actually okay, too, because it did that for me.

So here’s what is on my mind these days…

I wonder if I’m the only one who loves their to-do list but also despises their to-do list. Now I don’t mean the kind of to-do list that is random and temporary, like make a dentist appointment, pick up someone at the airport, etc. I mean the list that is an almost every day kind of list, the necessities. Okay, here’s mine:

*Spend time with the Lord, having my heart and mind renewed in worship, the Word, and prayer (While it’s a discipline that I can’t live without and wouldn’t want to live without, it is still a discipline to settle down my soul with Him.)

*Spend time interceding for whoever He puts on my heart, especially and usually adopting families, countries, people with cancer, marriages, and missionaries (I’m totally fired up about this one…except when I’m not.)

*Study Haitian Creole (I LOVE THIS! I am on Lesson Nine, and I’m just so excited to get to speak with my girls in December!!!)

*Exercise (15 minutes, tops. Don’t be impressed)

*Teach music lessons here at home (Loving my students like crazy by the way)

*Study TBRI/The Connected Child & resources to prepare us for adopting older children

*Tidy the house (And if tidying was all that was necessary I’d be golden, but quite frankly that theory has led me to a very dirty house. This place needs some major elbow grease, but there’s no time for that with all my other daily necessities!)

*Make sure I take my supplements, eat the right foods, stay away from the wrong foods, rest when I’m tired, journal when I’m overwhelmed (Recovering from adrenal fatigue is a life-long process, and I’d rather stay in the aftermath than the math if you know what I mean)

*Somedays, like maybe just a few a month: Blog & song write (& decide if I want to share it on social media or not)

*Oh and I can’t forget a weekly trip to the grocery & hopefully seeing a friend or two for a cup of coffee or better yet some fro-yo

This is all before 2:30.

 

I love all of these things…

but somedays I want to stay in bed and watch Netflix instead.

There, I said it!

But for the most part, this is where you can find me these days. This is a major time of preparation for me. Some of what I’m doing in this season I will not be doing one year from now at all when my girls are here. I am convinced that my daily stuff (even if I do spend a day here and there in bed watching Netflix) is adding up to making me who I am called to be for such a time as this. I feel so blessed to be a homemaker and a stay at home mom (even though I know a lot of working moms who do all this PLUS a 40 hour work week or homeschool and when they come around, I hear angels sing, let us give them a moment of silence…because they need it…okay, carry on now) because it just feels like somebody needs to keep everybody on an even keel and how can I do that if I myself am not on one most of the time?

Opening the doors to myself–emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, creatively, and socially– with this to-do list shows me and my kids that we have a lot of power to bring into our every day. We aren’t slaves to the way we feel when we wake up. We can inch by inch work toward big things that will bless others and help us reach our potential.

Amen to that!

(And amen to at least one day a week of forgetting about most of this and staying in pajamas all day with your people!)

 

 

 

Doing Good in the Enemy’s Territory

I was asking the Lord today–why is it so hard to do something good? Why are the things that would save lives so incredibly hard to accomplish? I was specifically praying about things like adoption, foster care, and you know, world peace. 😉

And He gave me a very simple answer.

We are trying to do good in the enemy’s territory.

We are trying to do good in the enemy’s territory and the enemy hates it. He’ll do everything he can to keep families from healing orphaned hearts. He’ll put roadblock after roadblock in the way of help organizations actually helping. He’ll make sure there’s just enough corruption and hopelessness and risk to stop God’s people from giving and going.

God has given the enemy the territory of the world for this time, and so we see the effects of that in every place on the planet. And although we are the underdog, we are the foreigners here, we are the sheep among wolves, we have a power in us and a backing from God that undermines the power of the enemy. He cannot touch our souls! And God has the final say of what the enemy can allow in the life of a Christian (read Job!) so we are not afraid.

So we are not afraid.

We have to remember this until His Kingdom comes (a word on that in a minute):

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13

We’re praying for His Kingdom to come here, but it won’t come as a regime change…not yet anyway. It’ll come in hearts pioneering and pressing on in one calling, one act of obedience, one selfless act of love at a time. The Kingdom will come in one heart at a time like it did when Jesus walked on the earth, talking and healing and loving…not rolling heads in the government like He was expected to do. Thousands of ah-ha moments, one heart at a time, because of Someone’s love and perseverance and sacrifice, and now we follow in those footsteps. It happened then and it’s happening now, not in a sweeping widespread coup but in prayer and living our lives not for ourselves.

Jesus wasn’t afraid of doing good in the enemy’s territory because He knew God’s plans for His life could not be changed or thwarted by the enemy. We have that same assurance. We know Who is ultimately in charge, Who can shrink the territory of the enemy, and Who can heal the inner man of whomever we are interceding, advocating, and loving.

 

Prayer…What’s the Point?

Today is a day of prayer and fasting for Haitian adoption. It brings me such joy to know I am in community today praying with so many other families. We are praying for miracles in the process, paperwork, governments, and as always, praying for the children we know there and have become personally attached to!

What does God’s Word tell us about prayer?

*Prayer is for us. God gives us peace when we pray because we are entrusting all things to Him, remembering how He loves us, remembering He always hears us, remembering He has good intentions toward us, therefore resulting in thanks and peace. (Philippians 4:6-7)

*Prayer is developing a relationship between us and God. There is no relationship without fellowship, talking, listening, and even an exchange of emotions. Our relationship with God is absolutely as close as we will let it be. He lives inside of us! He is near to all who call on Him (Ps. 145:18) and says to call to Him and He will answer (Jeremiah 33:3).

*Prayer is for God. He delights in His children coming to Him with every thing. He’s a Father who can see way ahead, who disciplines us for our good, and who loves to meet our needs. But I think when we get past all we are asking for, and settle in His arms as a daughter or son who lives in quiet trust of who He is, that is utter sweetness to Him.

*Prayer is for the world. It’s for others. We absolutely are called to enter into other’s sufferings in prayer and many other ways as well. We can take God’s Word right back to Him and say:

God, Your Word says- “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked.” Ps. 146:7-9 Therefore I know that whatever You are doing, in whatever way You do it, in whatever timing You choose, You are all about this.

I am too small to understand the intricacies of governments, war, terror, poverty, and adoption law, but I can pray to my God who is not intimidated by anything or anyone, and I can spur on His actions (“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective!” James 5:16) in courtrooms, countries, orphanages, villages, and schools. And I truly believe that prayer isn’t about getting the results we desire as much as it is about submitting to God, trusting He has got this, and becoming long-term seekers of feeling what He feels and feeling it with Him.

Praying and fasting isn’t about getting what we want, it’s about crying out to God from right where we are spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, and having Him bring us closer and higher…all the while, believing we can move the mountains He chooses to move right alongside Him.

 

 

For Adoptive Parents & Those Who Want To Be, Part 1: Passion

Our first adoption journey began in 2007, when our bio daughter was just 2 years old. I had been a missionary in Africa when I was younger, but I can’t say my desire to adopt began them. It truly began when my bio daughter was born. The moment I had a mother’s heart, I was broken, moved, and wrecked for all time toward children! It became my heart’s desire to adopt the rest of my children, however many God would call us to have.

So that’s the first definition of the word passion: a strong, almost uncontrollable emotion. Exciting, powerful, inspirational! We share it: WE ARE ADOPTING! We get a bazillion likes on Facebook. Yay!

But the second definition of passion…this one refers to Jesus on the Cross. It refers to Jesus laying His own life down even unto the worst of deaths, choosing obedience and love, stopping for the one, in a world He didn’t “have” to lower Himself to enter. That kind of passion is also a big part of the adoption process. This is the part that adoptive families tend to keep to themselves or only share with close friends. It’s the day-in day-out what this really looks like part. It’s painful. It’s scary. It can be disappointing. It reveals our fear & control issues, and our faithlessness. It creates a dependence on God and sets us close to the brokenhearted, where He dwells.

Adoption is an unmeasured mountain.

To make it through the years following the  “yes” we uttered to Him, we have to expect both forms of this passion and all the while know Who is ultimately in control of how long we will have to endure. Just like Jesus, who knew it was not the Romans’ nails keeping Him on that cross, we look to our Father, not the governments of the countries involved in our adoption, to say when certain seasons can end. I will boldly say to the end: There is no wisdom, no plan, and no insight that can succeed against the Lord. (Proverbs 21:30)

Fellow adoptive parents, or those who want to be, whether you knew it in the beginning or not, you chose a life that would be painted with strokes of joy and grief, and all things out of your well-intended control. You chose to take what was not meant to be, what God never intended for the world–such great loss, such neglect and lack, such pain–and bring it, along with a precious child, right into your living room, your kitchen table, your lap, your mind, and your heart. You chose a suffering you didn’t actually have to choose. You entered in and will never come back out. It was someone else’s heartbreak. And you made it your own. 

Let’s not take this lightly. This is a miracle and this is beautiful; but this is hard. Walking in His footsteps will leave behind a trail of blood and tears. But let’s not forget His promise! We are sisters and brothers to Jesus, who went before us, and we have an Abba Father who hears every cry, who gave us this heart in the first place. He promises that those who will share in His suffering will share in His glory. 

Right now is the time for crosses.

The time for crowns is coming.