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.

#HowToBuild: Why We Fast

A couple of months ago, I wrote a short blog series called #HowToBuild, about building ourselves up in our most holy faith. I wrote about being in the Word, prayer, worship, and about the enemy. I cannot even tell you how attacked I was after writing that blog about the enemy! The Lord really did allow Satan to sift me, like I wrote in the most recent blog, about Jesus and Peter. I felt dazed and confused for awhile, knocked down and not knowing what hit me. I came to the Lord and His Word but in every way I just felt unable to concentrate and get anywhere. And because I saw how valuable fasting can be in times like this, when things in the physical realm are unbearable and life in the spiritual realm doesn’t feel like it’s going to be enough, I want to tag on another blog to that series…

Why We Fast.

I went through a time where I didn’t fast often at all, because I couldn’t really remember why it mattered. Honestly! I had this idea in my head that fasting was pretty much like holding my breath until God gave me what I was asking for, like “I’m not going to eat until that person is healed!” Um…I didn’t think that was quite right.

But in the sifting, in the disappointment and fear, it began to be really clear to me by God’s grace that I had to find a way to get more of His truth and power in me. Not only could I not be the wife and mom and witness I wanted to be if I did not have more of His Word and truth and love in me, but I could not survive on the inside, in the place where joy and peace was so desperately needed.

It’s clear to me now that when I am inconsistent in patience and love with my family, really the problem behind this is my inconsistency of coming and being filled by the living Lord Jesus and all His goodness.

That requires time. That requires attention. That requires setting aside escapes. That requires setting aside distractions. So for me, that requires fasting, and personally I fast from things like social media and Netflix because I know that’s where I go when I can’t handle things going on in my life. But what do I really need when I can’t handle things going on in my life, when I’m really hurting? I need Jesus, the same Jesus Mary and Martha cried to when their brother died, the same Jesus who looked with compassion on the masses. I need fellowship with Him and understanding of His parables. I need to know what I can expect from God, what happens when I pray, how to pray! I need to know He loves me, that others have suffered and made it through, and what faith really is! Sure, I’ve heard a lot of it before, but yesterday’s manna is stale. I have to gather, today, my portion.

Fasting is not about getting what we want in our prayer life.

Fasting is not about holding our breath, thinking if we take this drastic measure, He will do what we ask. He’s going to do what we ask if He wants to, I don’t think we have to fast to make it happen. (Maybe I’m wrong?)

Fasting is about prioritizing our spiritual nourishment for the marathon we are in, with great expectation that our inner and outer man will reflect the strength, wisdom, and peace we gain from Him.

Fasting is about feeding the spirit, which sometimes requires starving the flesh. It’s about focusing on the invisible, when we would normally choose the easier route: focusing on what we can see and touch and be quickly comforted by.

I’m at a place in my walk with God where I don’t have exact time frames of fasting, exact goals or beginning or ends, because then it becomes about the outer man, and my own self control. I want fasting to be about gaining a heart of wisdom, a life that chooses Him because I see the bounty there as opposed to what I would end up with if I spent that free time in another way. He wants to set our feet on higher ground, to look at our problems from a platform set up outside of the situation, rather than drowning in waves we can’t get our heads above.

Whatever it takes to get to that place, and stay at that place, oh, Jesus, give us grace to do it!

Adoption and Finances Update :)

Wow, time flies when you’re having fun! And we certainly have been.  My parents so graciously took us on a trip to Disney and the beach, meeting up with my brother, sister in law, and nephews; our families had a blast together! It was a great kick off to the summer…and I couldn’t help but think that maybe it would be our last trip before we get to go to Haiti? Who knows?

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(A little Haitian child–Not anyone we know just to be clear!)

So, an update is overdue for all of our friends and family who have been praying and giving to our adoption!

First of all, a HUGE thanks to all who gave to the Lifesong for Orphans matching grant; we are so happy to report that over $7,000 was given! $3,500 will be added because of the matching grant, making that whole grant about $11,000. We also received a grant from Show Hope for $6,000. We feel so honored to receive these grants and gifts, and are so grateful for the people who wanted to be a part of this. And of course it is not too late!!! These grants, gifts, one yard sale, teaching lessons, selling CDs, plus the savings that by God’s grace we were able to give back in October when we started our adoption all leads us to…drumroll…about $28,000. (Um, can you believe that!!??) We still will need approximately $22,000 for our fundraising efforts to be complete. We are doing one more yard sale, a Both Hands project, and also a concert/silent auction/meal night this summer or fall.

Anyone who feels led to give can make a tax deductible donation to Lifesong for Orphans, with Taylor Family #4310 on the memo line OR online. Their address is PO Box 40 / Gridley, IL 61744. Their website is www.lifesongfororphans.org. Even though the matching grant is complete, it’s definitely not too late to give, and each dollar is a blessing and a reminder to us that we aren’t alone in this. 🙂 God has called certain ones to walk beside us…Such a gift that is in this step of faith!

Second half of the update–Our dossier was officially accepted by Haiti’s government on February 27, 2014. We are hopeful that our adoption will be completed within two years of that date. Our agency (All Blessings International) and Haiti Coordinator are amazing. We genuinely can relax knowing they are doing a great job advocating for children in Haiti, and doing a great job advocating for us as adoptive parents. It is awesome that Haiti allows input from the agency coordinators and the orphanage directors when it comes to making a match; this allows the best matching possible, because these people know the children the best (and through our home study and phone interviews know us also.) We have asked for one or two kids, 0-6 years old at time of referral, either one girl, two girls, or one boy/one girl. If we get two, one will definitely be younger than Yemi (6 in July) but the other could be her age or even a few months older. We wanted to be as flexible as possible and if we do get two children, they will be siblings.

It’s a long journey ahead but it’s kind of like planting a tree. If you want a shady yard and beautiful thick oak trees, you can’t just transplant them! You have to plant little saplings and take care of them and be patient…The point here is that if you never start the process just because you hate how long it takes, well, don’t expect to ever have those shade trees! 🙂 So the seeds have been planted…and a lot is happening behind the scenes while we wait.

I’m just grateful to BE HERE. I’m grateful, SO grateful, to even be IN the process at all. I’m grateful for our agency and my peace of mind. I’m grateful for God’s heart for the sparrow–and that I get to share in the beating of that heart. I’m grateful for people who say, “Thank you for letting me be a part of this!” That blows us away. We are grateful for you. I know we will get to return the love and support as YOU follow HIS great plans for you.

 

The Cross

stock-footage-christian-crosses-on-a-hill-at-sunset

I will never, ever, ever, ever stop singing about the Cross.

And let me tell you why.

The Cross was the one act in history that made a sinner like me holy. When Jesus willingly died to pay for my sins and all my failures, rebellion, and just plain lack, the veil between me and my Creator was torn in two. When He laid down His natural born rights of Son for that short time, I was given a robe of righteousness, a seat at the table, a friendship with God. It’s like we swapped places. And why? Because He loved us and wanted to invite us in the family. He called out to the beggars on the street, the ones who had nothing to offer back to Him, which quite frankly is you and me. Jesus obeyed His Father even unto death on a Cross so that His Sonship could exponentially grow, being granted by grace to anyone who would take it.

Sometimes we wake up from a wonderful dream, like a dream where all kinds of problems were solved…but we wake up to reality and realize the turmoil hasn’t been resolved at all.

With the Cross though, the story is true. Our debts really are paid. Our prayers really are heard. Our Father really does see us as sons and daughters. Our Brother really did give His life for us. Eternity in Heaven really does await. The Spirit really does comfort, teach, and remain in us for every minute of every day that we will recognize His presence. The goodness is real. Our minds and bodies and emotions have trouble reveling in it, it seems, but that doesn’t remove the reality that the goodness of the Cross is real.

I need the Cross, friends. I am a mess! There have been times in my walk with God where I didn’t think of myself as a mess much; I thought of myself as quite a good little worker bee for Jesus. I knew I was saved by grace and not works, but being the independent, ambitious person I am, my focus was more on myself and what I was doing for the Kingdom than on the Cross and my extreme gratefulness for it. (So sorry to whoever was around me those days!)

But by His grace, He relieved me of my pride and confusion.

I’ll never forget the day–Selah was about six weeks old–I was an exhausted, burnt-crispy minister mess. I remember saying to God, “You know what? I have been serving You so much, and it feels like I am never going to get where You want me to be and do all I think I’m supposed to do. I give up!!” I had planned to be a full time missionary and that had fallen through. I was serving in various ways at church, but having a newborn baby and a chronic illness that very few people seemed to understand (or have compassion about) was making me literally unable to do anything for anyone outside my home. I felt like a complete failure for the Lord. I hadn’t even considered giving up being who I thought He wanted me to be for Him…but when the thought crossed my mind, it sounded so good. To finally not expect the impossible out of myself! I’ll never forget that moment.

This is going to sound funny and weird, but I actually said to Him, “I give up trying to be on Your special team of people You call to do Your work. I don’t know what that means for my future and all I thought You said we were going to do, but I give up trying. I trust that You have forgiven my sins and love me, and that’s all I’m going to worry about right now. I’m letting go of all that other stuff.”

I feel like God breathed a sigh of relief, because I finally got it. I didn’t know as I prayed that prayer that I was “getting it”, not at all actually. I was heartbroken. I was saying goodbye to an entire way of life, really the only way I knew to be. But I was saying hello, automatically, to being Mary weeping at her Lord’s feet, just saying thank you for taking someone so unhelpful and so unworthy. When we become ruins, it really is a gift. I am convinced that being a Christian is mainly about receiving. Any giving is because we first received anyway.

As my kids are older and I feel better most of the time, the Lord has allowed me to “minister” again, but it doesn’t mean to me what it used to and it is powered by thankfulness for the Cross.  I live in ruins, I live in knowing I can’t do it, I live in giving up trying to be something awesome– and I pray that transparency and weakness simply gives Christ room to shine through.

The Cross. It’s always there, when everything else falls apart and when we don’t know anything else for sure. We can always come back to the Cross.