When You Don’t Know How to Pray: Six Simple Prayers

Whether it’s a friend in the hospital, a family in the roughest season of their adoption journey, a natural disaster that has ravaged a country, or an ambulance driving by while you’re putting groceries in your car…something inside of us knows we need to pray. It’s innate, because God wants to let us in on His heart and actions for people.

I have went through the questions, like, “If God is good and loves people, then why do we need to pray? Will He not move on their behalf anyway, because of His own goodness and mercy?” I don’t know the answer, but I do know this, and it’s the most important thing I know about prayer: Anytime, anywhere, and with or without anybody, we can ask for a fresh revelation of the love of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit to appear and HE WILL DO IT. He will always be happy to reveal His love, either to us or to others, near, far, high, or low. He will always be happy to permeate any place with His Spirit, in increasing measure, AS WE PRAY. Y’all, that makes me want to pray, because this world needs a touch from the Lord and we can pray that in!

So, when there were several major prayer requests on my heart last week, the Lord gave this to me in my journal and I wanted to share it with you. It’s six simple prayers for when you feel led to pray for those in the human trafficking industry, missionaries having safety or health issues, or the news tells of another merciless earthquake.

  1. Lord, send Your Spirit in increasing measure to comfort and convict; send a fresh revelation of Your love and care!
  2. Raise up the local church around them, Lord, to hear Your voice and literally be Your hands and feet!
  3. Jesus, I ask that You would dismiss Satan and any plans he has to steal, kill, and destroy in this situation.
  4. Please send missionaries and aid workers, people of peace and angels of mercy.
  5. Lord, take over my finances and show me any money You want to be shared.
  6. Send me. My eyes and heart are open, now please open doors of opportunity for my family and I to step in and be part of a physical solution, if it is Your will.

So Much Freedom

A word that God continues to bring me back to this year is Freedom. Oh, I long to grasp what He is trying to give me! He is saying, “Lyndsay, there is so much freedom.”

Freedom from guilt. I struggle so much with guilt, and it is not from the Lord! Conviction, specific conviction, is from the Lord, but not guilt. Some of the things I feel guilty about is not having time for people outside of my home, like extended family, old friends, all the way to people around the world. This weighs heavily on me and God is calling me to just look to Him and trust HIM to give me opportunity to serve them when HE leads, not just because I feel a tug. I can’t give more than I actually have. I also struggle with guilt about not finding balance. With my health conditions, I really must eat well, sleep a lot, handle stress with prayer, yoga, exercise, and just keep a pretty regular routine. It’s frustrating to get sick and think it’s my fault, when I simply ate some sweets at a party (ok, several parties…Christmas is hard! Vacation is hard! Weekends are hard!)  I know the Lord is telling me that I need to operate from a heart of desiring wisdom, not rules or perfection or feeling trapped. He can work through me even when I’m down and out, but He gives me the freedom to choose a better way. He even gives me the freedom to choose joy and peace if I am sick. He gives me freedom to forgive myself and start again.

Also, another big one is freedom from fear. I have always thought of myself as fearless because I do it whether I’m afraid or not. My faith, because of God’s real presence in my life, has always been greater than my fear. Going to live in other countries alone, getting on stages, I wasn’t raised to do that! It doesn’t come naturally. But my purpose is stronger than my feelings. But fear comes in other forms. Like fear of disappointing people I love, fear that I won’t live up to the potential God wanted for me, and fear that I will forget and be left without valuable truths I’ve learned and priorities I have been given, beautiful memories and seasons of life. These are real fears! I am not strong enough to combat them on my own. But still God is saying, “Lyndsay, there is so much freedom.” He doesn’t want me focusing so hard on myself nor does He want me focusing on what may happen later. He gives us freedom regarding what we choose to focus on, isn’t that awesome?! He wants to set me free from trying to control what does or doesn’t happen to me and those I love. The more I trust Him, the less concerned I will be because my eyes are on who He is and on obeying Him in this moment. When your good Father is also your King, there is peace should you choose to accept it! And all we really have to give Him is this moment, right?

I think freedom comes when we let go of what we thought we had to have–to be happy, to be good, to be loved, to live a purposeful life–and we embrace that there is only One thing we actually are promised, only One thing we can keep in life and in death, and it’s not our family, our potential, our wise choices, or our legacy…it is the love of God. I am wrecked by the love of God! When I let it hit me, when I let that wave of His great love and mercy hit me, I can’t even see anything else. Even if all the guilts and fears and other issues were true and actually happened, I’d still be here, lost in the wave of His undying affection for me. It doesn’t mean we never think about anything or anyone else, it just means once His love takes the place in our lives that it deserves, everything else falls into lesser categories.

That is so much freedom.

Run After Me

Hi Friends!

I have finally added an official recording of Run After Me to YouTube. Many listeners have told me it was one of the first songs they heard from me, on Pandora, and I hope you enjoy it, too!

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.

 

 

Small Update and Prayer Requests!

There have been hours of discussions and pages of details, but I’ll just share the most important things…

One, we need connections and prayer regarding getting Orlanka to a TB specialist this week in Haiti. Our agency representative, who has been very proactive in this situation, will be there this week and wants to take her somewhere to have our own x-rays and tests run. Of course, doing a sputum culture (the 8 week test) is not on the agenda, but there are other shorter tests that could give us some clue as to whether or not she is sick. Also, just to see a doctor who can combine all we know and give an informed opinion would be amazing, as we medical un-professionals (bless all the visitors to her creche who give me eye witness reports) are just speculating all over the place! We do have a few people with contacts in Haiti who are generously trying to help us, and we have the name and address of a clinic/lab.  We are so thankful for this, but through the weeks as we dig into possibilities, we learn things that are so discouraging, such as certain hospitals in the capital being on strike?! You can’t make this stuff up!

If you know anyone doing medical work in Haiti, please contact me…yesterday! 🙂

Please pray our rep will be successful in her long list of tasks this week! 

Two, our advocate at the Embassy was able to get an answer from the panel physician who ordered the test. In short, he is not allowing her to come home now because her chest x-ray was so bad. However, the good news is (as crazy as this sounds), now that we have translated versions of her past three years of radiologist reports, we know that her chest x-ray has always been bad. She has extensive damage to one of her lungs, scarring from the past case of TB and I don’t even know what else. If the panel physician (a doctor the Embassy hires to do medical visa appointments) had seen those x-rays from the past, he may have had a very different opinion, as he could have compared them and likely would have seen no change. We have learned that from an x-ray you can’t tell the difference between disease and damage. This is hopeful news! Our rep is going to try to see this physician and share the information we now have.

Please pray the panel physician will be available and willing to re-consider, with this new information, or that our rep would be able to get an opinion from a second panel physician.

Either way, our hope is that by this time next week, because of our rep being in Haiti, we will have many questions answered about Orlanka’s past and current treatment, how she is feeling now, and Lord willing the results of a current sputum smear which could give us a good idea of what is going on. We also hope to learn what steps would come next, should we end up on the 3rd and 4th case scenarios. Tomorrow, I’ll be calling an Infectious Disease Dr. in Louisville, thanks to a connection someone made for us, and our pediatrician here is also busy answering questions and helping us start on the Form 601 Waiver of Inaccessibility if she tests positive and is denied a visa. We won’t know until the end of August, I am told. 🙁

 

Please pray with us for a good report and knowledge that would help us get through the next 6-8 weeks of waiting. 

I do want to say: God is so faithful. I was scared of this kind of ordeal happening, and spent many hours in the past year praying it wouldn’t. But God does give exactly what we need once we find ourselves in this place. The fervor to investigate, make bold phone calls, become experts (not really but you know what I mean)…He has allowed a few other issues in our lives to calm down a bit so we can focus on this. The Body of Christ is praying for us and growing in ways He wants. All of our hearts for Orlanka and Woodjina are doing The Grinch Who Stole Christmas heart bursting out of the box thing. Our agency representative has proved to be a strong and persevering advocate who is taking this situation personally. And even as I am writing this blog, I received an email back from a doctor/director of a medical ministry in Haiti, who is trying to get an appointment for Orlanka.

We can get stuck on why this stuff happens in the first place (yes, I was there for a few days for sure) or we can see Jesus’ words come to life: In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world! 

The Whole Story…Sort Of

Oh, friends. I haven’t written much since March because I can hardly stand to share information that will make others feel as sad and stressed as I have felt! But it is time to share with you all who have been so kind and generous to walk with us these almost three years. Thank you! You have blessed us, and we will all share in the victory someday!

So, as you know, last summer we received a referral for Orlanka and Woodjina Auguste, biological sisters, ages 4 and 3 at the time. We met them right away and knowing it would likely be 10-14 months before they could come home with us, thanks to another dozen or so legal steps, we decided to go visit them in Haiti every three months until homecoming, which we have done. We’ve developed a good relationship with them, and I have dedicated myself this year to learning at least a beginner’s level of Haitian Creole so that I could communicate better with them. We’ve also been blessed to spend our year learning a lot more about parenting children with a history of neglect and loss. And we’ve been praying. Lots of praying.

Things went well, in regard to the typical timeframe, until around March 2016. There were small delays, but then one important step in April set us off course for a good 6 weeks. We believed we were finally on track again at the end of May. Our visa appointment was set for June 6, and we heard that the medical appointment (a necessity for a U.S. visa) had happened, too. I packed the girls’ suitcase with their cute outfits, new pajamas, and toys, because anytime that week we expected to get the green flag to travel! But when the week of June 6 had come and gone, only Woodjina’s visa had been issued.

We knew when we received our referral last year that Orlanka had had TB in 2015, and we were told she had received the full treatment. Plus, we have seen her four times in the past year, and saw that she was doing well! We expected that at the medical appointment for her visa they would ask for a chest x-ray to prove she didn’t have TB now, since her skin test would definitely come back positive (as all former TB patient’s would). But we were shocked to find they had asked for a sputum culture test, which would take 8 weeks in which to receive the results. This test is the reason why her visa and homecoming is delayed. We have been told NOTHING. We have no idea why the doctor chose to do this test. Our creche director has not taken her to another doctor to get her checked out, despite two weeks of asking for this action. Jack will probably be traveling in the next two weeks to see what he can accomplish himself. We are praying for connections to a good doctor there. We have a few leads but no appointment yet.

I see this ending in four different possible ways-

Best Case Scenario: CDC protocol is that children under 10 can travel into the U.S. while awaiting these results as long as they are not showing signs of active infection. We have an advocate at USCIS Haiti as well as the Senator’s office trying to get her home using this information.

2nd Best Case Scenario: That her 8 week sputum culture test will come back negative and she’ll get her visa in late August!

3rd Scenario: If her culture is positive for TB, we have to apply to get Orlanka out of Haiti on a medical visa, proving she needs treatment here in the U.S., and establishing a case against the care she has received in Haiti. (Because the fact is, if she does have TB again, no one has been proactive in her medical care and her 2015 treatment failed.) If this fails…

4th Scenario: If her culture is positive, then she has to go through a couple more steps (taking most likely a couple of months), and we can apply for a Waiver of Inaccessibility, which if approved is a way she could come home, eventually, to finish her treatment.

*I do want to say to those of you that might be feeling nervous about this: First of all, the Center for Disease Control says that kids under 10 are extremely unlikely to spread this illness. (I have seen our daughters share the same spoon multiple times, for goodness sake, and our youngest just passed her TB skin test at her visa appointment with flying colors.) Secondly, we will be going quite directly to the doctor upon arrival to the U.S. whenever that happens, so a full work-up of tests can be done on both girls and then we’ll follow whatever treatment necessary if there is any. Just know this: if you see Orlanka out and about, you can trust that she is not contagious. Our government is very serious about infectious disease control!*

 

As I said in the beginning, difficulties and detours are hard to share with others. But the fact is as the Body of Christ–the hands and feet, the very extension of Jesus’ heart on earth–we are all called to see and feel, and even intimately experience, the dark and seemingly hopeless circumstances people around the world are facing. This journey I’m finally talking about isn’t just about Orlanka and Woodjina…we are just one family, they are just one set of vulnerable little sisters. We’re just one picture representing thousands of people out there fighting for the weak and sick, and speaking for the voiceless. My girls are going to get here someday, no doubt about that…leaving millions of orphans, refugees, enslaved, hungry behind who will still need someone’s eyes, ears, hands, and heart turned in their direction.

That’s why I’m sharing–to be a witness to what I see and know both of the need and the heart of God…and He will take it from there, as He is doing with us, and will continue to do in His church worldwide. (Translation: You want to help? Get to know the Lord and get to know the need. He will absolutely guide you as you surrender to Him!)

Thank you for going there with us, for being uncomfortable, grieved, and restless with us…may God use this part of the journey too to reveal His heart and glory more and more. It is His story!

Teach us to number our days rightly, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Relent, o Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on Your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. May Your deeds be shown to Your servants, Your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us–yes, establish the work of our hands. (Ps. 90:12-17)

 

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?”

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.