Mended

Maybe you woke up to a really bad day today. Maybe your life is falling apart. Maybe you feel like the foundation on which you stand has crumbled. Maybe you feel like all your hopes and dreams and future has shattered and simply picking up the pieces is just too much. 

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I write a lot about grief. My own grief can be crippling and defining. But I hope that I never stop there. I share my grief because I know most people can relate. Most people have lost something or someone. Most people's lives have not been what they expected them to be. Most plans don't work out exactly the way we want them to. 

 

I write because I think you know this. I write because we are all the same in this. I write because we have all lost something. Or someone. I write because we all fall short. I write because I want you know, deep down in your soul, that whatever brokenness has happened to you or whatever you have done, it does not need to be your defining moment. That broken thing does not need to define the rest of your life. It does not make you, you. I write because instead of living in the shattered dreams, I want you to know there is hope in Jesus. Let Jesus mend your life. 

For the rest of my earthly journey, Jesus will be mending my life. Healing my heart until it is completely healed and perfected in heaven. 

Today is a rough day for me. Bittersweet. Bitter because this day five years ago I lost my beautiful son. My heart and soul were ripped from my body and I am left here to be mended by Jesus. My entire journey on earth is that of being mended by Him until eternal healing is mine in Heaven. Each day on this earth I live with shattered dreams, unchosen reality and a Thao sized hole. 

 

But it's also sweet. Because I am daily reminded that we do not live for now. We live for more. For eternity. For perfection and healing in Jesus Christ our Savior. For He is preparing that place for me. And sweet because my precious blue-eyed boy is running and smiling in heaven. Surrounded by Jesus and angels and beauty beyond our dreams.

 

It's sweet because Jesus promised peace. He promised to never leave us. He promised eternal life with Him when we accept His free gift of grace. Days like today, I cling to that. I hope you can take the chance to share this gift with someone today. I hope that through Thao's life, God's story in our family, you have the opportunity to give someone Jesus. To show love to people around you. 

If you want to know more, I'd love for you to pick up a copy of my book, Still. I wrote this memoir, memories of Thao's life and death and learning to live again, for all of us. I wrote it because there is more.  This book isn't just for those of you who have lost a child, it is for all of us living with shattered dreams. Give it to a friend or buy it for yourself. I want to share this story that God has given me. Because truly, it's not mine anyway. It's God's story written in my life. 

Whisper His Name

"I wonder at times if I spoke truth into my children's hearts that day or if my motives were pure. I wonder if I'm teaching them to be humble servants or just plan selfish, like I am so often. I pray for wisdom, and I pray that I remember to make a conscious choice, but mostly, I just pray that they see Jesus, seek Him and that He draws near with grace to cover us all.

Through this, Jeff and I decided to pursue our dream of adoption. If we gained any earthly knowledge through losing our son, it's that we shouldn't wait until later to pursue dreams. Sometimes, there are things that are worth the risk; whether the risk is emotional, physical or financial, some things are just worth it.

Children are worth the risk. Thao was worth the risk, worth the fight and worth all the pain. Every child deserves to know that someone is fighting for him or her. Every child deserves a family. Every child deserves to know love.

Just a few short months after losing our son, we started a new journey. A journey of risk, a journey that always, always, always starts with loss. The journey of adoption."

Excerpt from Still (when all else fades away)

Bridging the gap. Feeling inadequate and pursuing dreams because Jesus is enough to cover it all. Beautiful stories that begin with such pain and heartache. Grief and loss and redemption. Have you ever wondered what led us to adoption? What spurred us on when it seemed as though we should have stopped short? What made us live with open hands instead of building walls?

                      A beautiful picture of God's love for us, adoption.

                     A beautiful picture of God's love for us, adoption.

The answer is simple. Jesus.

Oh that name. Whisper His name. Jesus.

The power in His name. Jesus.

The peace in His name. Jesus.

The hope a gentle baby brought to a hopeless world. Jesus.

A sacrifice, a beloved son, a perfect man came to this sinful earth to die a painful, undeserving death because love. Love so deep and perfect and redemptive. Love that fights evil and wins hearts. Love that forgives and pursues. Love that covers all. All in one name. Jesus. 

"...and you shall call his name Jesus." Luke 1:31b

So often I feel not enough throughout the holiday season. I am never enough. I hope you know that is not what matters. I must remind myself to shift my focus from my not enough to His enough.

As you lay the babe in the manger this season, I pray you remember the Almighty God He represents. I pray you let Him in, to your home and heart and family. I pray that just the mention of Jesus' name draws you into a deep remembrance of the undeserving man on the cross, the babe in a lowly manger, the sacrifice that was made for you and I. 

This is why we risk it all. This is why we live with open hands and hearts. This is why we let them in with all the heartache and baggage and pain. Because even though we are so undeserving of such sacrifice, He freely gives His loves to us. In turn we are called to freely give this gift away, this gift of love, of sacrifice, of the babe in the manger, of the cross. It is not ours to hold onto so tightly. This great love must be given away. Thank you, Jesus

                My sweet girl came home four days before last Christmas.  

               My sweet girl came home four days before last Christmas.  

On Being Still

This year has been a crazy ride. I declared at the beginning of this year that this year we would coast. No big changes. Just being still, resting, enjoying our family. 

And God had other plans. (Which is typically what happens when I make plans!)

But the beautiful thing about this is I've learned that being still doesn't mean lack of chaos in our lives. Being still is a heart place. Being still is a choice. Being still is communing with Christ through it all. 

As parts of my family traveled the world to journey home, as we moved back into our little home, as we made decisions to take on new business adventures, as I released my first book and continue just doing life as a new family of six, we are in a place of rest. As the world spins around us in chaos, our refuge is not our house or our work or even our family, although those are places of rest and peace for us. No, our refuge is in Christ alone. His wings spread over us. He holds us in his hands. He, our steadfast King of Kings, Lord of Lords, gently leads us back to a place of being at His feet. So throughout the chaos of Christmas and life in general, we choose to glorify God with our one life. 

So this book thing, it's never been about the money. And I have struggled to present myself in a way that both gets it out there and represents our family in a humble way. I am continually checking myself. I want this to be about our God, who is so good through all the times of life. It is my ministry, what I know God wants of me right now. He wants my words, my skills, my abilities, my talents. He wants my story. And this Christmas, I want as many people as possible to know the hope of Jesus. I pray God uses this book or blog or my story to draw people to Himself. I believe He will. I believe He uses what we offer to Him to glorify Himself. How beautiful. How humbling. It fills my heart with joy. And hope, because He can and will use me. He will use you, too. Oh, how I hope you can see that! I pray you can believe that. I pray that you embrace this truth with me. 

Friends, I want you to know truth. You can offer yourselves, your everything to Him and He will use it for His glory. If we humbly present ourselves to our Almighty God, He lifts us up and turns our meager offerings into beautiful things beyond our comprehension. 

I love what we were challenged with at church yesterday. Because this has been on my heart and is finally pouring out into words as I reflect upon our year. 

"Put it all on the table." 

Live with open hands. Let Him turn our offerings into beautiful things. 

My Soul Knows

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Sometimes I watch them play with tears in my eyes. I wonder how much play time they've missed out on just trying to survive. I wonder what it was like trying to care for themselves, provide for themselves. To wonder if they could trust anyone. To learn to be a family. To understand and know love, finally. I look at this child and I am in awe of his strength and faith, his courage and intelligence. And although I cannot take away his past, I can give him rest today. I can provide for him today. I want for him not to worry or stress. I never want him to doubt our love or fear that there will not be enough food for his hungry belly. I honestly cannot imagine the fear these children must have had, the distrust and doubts.

Why would they ever trust us? Why must they learn to love and be loved instead of just knowing it? Why must they go through so many mamas before the forever mama finds them to hold? Why must I continually tell myself to move forward, not dwell on the past? 

I am simply amazed by my children. They are so brave. They are so kind. They give love and accept love. I've heard people comment on how resilient children are. But this. This is just over the top wonderful (Isa's new favorite word). It is a redemption story being played out in my life, in their lives. And it doesn't stop with them. 

I am watching my biological children grow in love as well. Their love for their siblings has always been so simple and pure. It was easy and accepting. And somehow it is flourishing into so much. They fight like the siblings they are, they play hard and they love each other well. 

All four of my children have been through some kind of trauma. So parenting my obviously traumatized children really isn't much different than the ones with invisible trauma. Over and over again, I fail. But God's grace covers it. Over and over again we love and hug and cry together. We learn and grow and play together. That's just family. That's just who we are and who we will continue to be. 

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But I don't promise my children I am always going to be here for them. I don't promise them life will be easy. I don't promise them safety or health or "always" of anything, really. I promise them that God is good. That heaven is real. That whatever happens here on this earth will soon enough fade away. And that I will do my very best to protect them, but no matter what, my children, hold onto Jesus. 

Love Him. Cling to Him. Trust Him. Let Him in. He is our steadfast one. The only thing worth putting our faith in. And in the end, we will be together again, in eternity, perfection, heaven. 

We cannot hide death from our children. We cannot hide hunger or sadness or shelter them from all the pain. But we can give them truth and hope. My focus has shifted since losing Thao. I came to realize I cannot control or protect or guarantee safety or health. But I can give them Jesus. 

I gave Thao Jesus. I have done my best and trust God to cover the rest with His grace. But my eyes still wander from the cross and into the grave. My mind still settles on death and it's curse. My soul knows, my heart longs for Jesus. And I come back, I remember truth. I remember the resurrection that conquered and won. 

My mind rests again, I'm free. 

There will be pain and suffering. There will be loss and grief and anxiety and stress. But here I am again, in this place of rest. This place of trusting the unknown future to a known God. So no matter what happens, Believers, we know who wins the war. Let's rest in truth. Let's teach our children God's word. And let's not worry about tomorrow, but trust it to our Almighty God. 

 

Risking Our Hearts

The reality is, this life could easily not have been. This life with him as our son and her as our daughter. Some days it made so much more sense to say no, humanly speaking. Because it's difficult and costly. Scary and unknown. But we just kept hearing the whisper to take one more step of faith. At times we felt like we were risking it all: our future, our finances, our family. But we pressed on because the Lord burdened our hearts and it was undeniable that this was the obedience He asked of us.  One step at a time, our hearts were open, our arms were aching, our home was ready. And finally after more than three long years, they came home. And I cannot fathom, even for a short minute life without them. I am so so thankful we were brave enough, by God's grace, to believe in the complete redemption of Jesus Christ. To believe that He covers all. To believe that "safe" isn't always what we are called to. To believe that we are weak and He is strong. And His love pours out into us and overflows into the unloved, the fatherless, the orphan. That Jesus is and was so very real to these children. Someday I will tell you of the stories we have heard. Of Jesus and child like faith. Of filling a hungry belly and comforting the scared and broken heart. 

But today I'm telling you of how hard I was hit. A weeping, sobbing hard at the reality of so many others. Of the fact that so many children, no different than my own, have a very different future. So many children are sleeping on streets. So many children are hungry. So many children are hurting. 

And we could have said no. Because it's easier, more comfortable. Saying no doesn't rock us to our very core. Saying no doesn't hurt our hearts or our families or our finances. Saying no does nothing. It does nothing to feed the hungry bellies, either. 

I'm not saying everyone needs to adopt because that is extremely the opposite of what I believe. What I do believe is this, if God is pushing you, burdening your heart and soul with the fatherless, then please do not let our earthly mindset stop you. Sometimes the easy way isn't the right way. Sometimes we miss out on abundant blessings in our lives because of fear. Sometimes we need to risk our hearts a little. Sometimes we need to step out in faith and do something bigger than ourselves. Sometimes He asks us to do this because we are more dependent on Him that way. And that's where He wants us, in complete and utter dependence on Him.

Please, please don't let fear or finances or self-doubt stop you. Because we are all scared going in. Most of us don't have the kind of money it takes to pay outright for an adoption. And none of us are perfect. These kids don't need perfect parents or their own rooms or name brand clothes. These kids need families to love and surround them. These kids need parents to tuck them in to their beds at night, feed their hungry bellies and hold them when they cry. 

I won't take for granted that my kids could have easily been "stuck" for much longer, or even forever. I don't understand so many things here on earth. Hungry, lonely children is probably at the top of my list. But I also won't sit idly by because it's easier and more comfortable. The very least we can do is pray for these children. My children pray each night for two sweet children by name. They want these two kids to have families, mommies and daddies and sisters and brothers and pets and food and toys...

They want this and they believe it will happen. Because it happened for them. I don't believe we rescued them. I believe Jesus did. I believe Jesus rescues and redeems and restores all of us. We are just journeying this life as the rescued. We are just breathing and listening and obeying as Jesus is redeeming. We are believing because Jesus promises to restore. He will someday make all things new. But as we wait in hope for the Lord, we love and live generously. I want to live as though everything belongs to the Lord. As though I believe deep down this earth is temporary. And my hope, my true treasure is in eternity with Christ. It's much easier to risk our hearts that way. 

And tonight I feel as though I am basking in the blessings of it. 

 

Simplify

Can we talk about simplifying for a second? 

What does that even mean to you? Maybe it's your schedule or your stuff or your commitments. Maybe it's more like money and bills and expenses. Or maybe it's even just priorities and planning. 

 

I honestly don't think there are many people out there that love feeling stretched too thin. Or that thrive on busyness or stress. Is there any one out there that can honestly say you are not worried about a single thing? Maybe it doesn't feel like worry. Maybe it consumes your thoughts or time though. Or you keep pushing it away because it does and you just don't know how to deal with it. 

Or maybe you have filled up your life so much there is barely room to breath. And you have a list of things that someday you will do. Dreams you want to accomplish. A closet you will clean out. Or activities you want to do when you have time. People you want to spend time with when it's convenient. Maybe it's that box of photos you haven't organized yet because there just isn't time or space. 

Things can take up a lot of space in our lives. And not just in our closets or basements. I mean our actual physical material items can take up space in our brains. They can cause anxiety and cause us to shut down or stress out. Cluttered lives often lead us to believe we don't have enough of something; time, energy, and even more stuff. Cluttered lives can lead us to stress eat, stress shop and just downright stress out. Of course not everyone deals with stuff this way. But I do believe that we are all too often slaves to our own stuff. Quite honestly, that is not how I want to live my life. My things should make my life more enjoyable. My things should serve me. My things should remind me of how richly blessed I am because of the Lord. My things though, they can become and do the opposite. They can become idols in my life instead of helping me to see God more. They easly distract me from glorifying God with my one life. And let's face it, the idea of our things becoming idols in our lives doesn't often cross our minds. But it creeps in. Slowly, our things become so very important to us that we desire them more than God himself. We crave more things instead of more of God. We strive for a better way to organize the things we have instead of striving to make time with God a priority. We research and Pinterest and read the news often times before spending quality time with our Creator, the One with whom we can find true rest. 

So, I'm going to journey down this road of simplifying. It's a lifestyle. A process. And it is never truly complete. We must choose over and over again, God over things. We must choose to create space in our lives so we can spend the time with our true loves.

We must hold loosely the things of this world. Then we can live free. Then we can live abundantly in Christ, storing up treasures in heaven and stepping out in faithful obedience over and over again. 

My desire is to put God above all things with my one and only life. To lead others to Him. To know Him well. 

Simplify my life. Declutter. So I can make space to:

Love God. Love others. Serve well. Live generously. 

If you'd like to hear more about this, how to practically carry this out in your life and home,  please comment, find me on Facebook, or email me. We can do this together!

 

The Fingerprint of our Adoption

Here we are nine months in with her, seven with him. We adopted a toddler and a preschooler, they came home as preschool and school age. The wait was agonizing and confusing. But it's over. 

And here we are. The beauty of adoption, its like a snowflake or a fingerprint, no two are ever the same. We fully expected challenges. We've read all the hard things, we've prepared our hearts and minds for rejection to the fullest. 

They call us mom and dad. We have a little "family" cheer we do. We talk about how we are all on the same team. My heart beats for theirs. Just like all my other children. I feel no different than I do with my others. It's beautiful and heart-breaking. It's beautiful because, my goodness do I love them. It feels right. It feels normal. We are family. It's heart-breaking because of how it came to be. Because somewhere out there they have or had a biological family. And whatever brought them to me, caused much pain in their lives and others. 

We have challenges. They have fears. We have patience poured out from the Lord. They have a new start. We have years to catch up on. They have a forever family. 

We have little games we play. Like "guess what? I love you." And they've learned to play them, too. We have small expectations for them. They have blown us away. We have great love for them. They have tested it. I think we've passed. (But they will test us again, without warning.) 

We've had to re-do alot. Both us and them. Both adopted and biological. We've had to forgive and ask forgiveness a lot, both parent and child. We hug a lot. We talk a lot. We re-focus a lot. 

We are thankful for new days, a lot. We treasure the moments, a lot. They have chores, we have rules. They get mad at us for being unfair. We have gentle reminders of life now and not so gentle reminders of life before forever family. We talk a lot about the past, but it's over now. We tell them they are safe. We will not hurt them or let them be hungry. They will live with us, in our home, forever. (Or until they turn eighteen or twenty-three or thirty...) We whisper Jesus' name into their ears. Sometimes they are tough and strong. Sometimes they are scared and mad. Sometimes they throw their arms around us and yell (because there is no other level of noise) "I love-uh my mama!!!" 

Most mornings begin with a sweet girl snuggling with me, lying on top of me, listening to my beating heart like a newborn baby. She is after all, only nine months home. She wants to hear her mama's heart beat for her. 

My son is up to my shoulders now which means I must sit to hold him. I carried my then six-year old around the house when he came home. He's only seven months home after all. He still needs a mama's love and reassurance. There is a hole in him from mothers past, I have to prove my love to him. But that's okay. Jesus' love runs deep and it's free for us. He desires to pour it into our lives, it overflows into theirs. 

And in so many ways, they are just kids. Kids like yours, with a little rougher start in life. But they like to play the same. They desire to be accepted. They want to be loved and listened to. They are making friends. Their relationships with their siblings, though, is one of the most beautiful things I've seen. They laugh deeply, play hard, and fight to tears. They think of each other first. They are each other's best friend, right now. They defend and look out for each other. They have special made up games they play. They are learning from each other. It's loud and crazy and simply amazing. 

Adoption is risky. Adoption is hard. Adoption is painful. But God is redeeming their stories. He is working in all of my children's lives, to draw them close. My prayer for all of them is to know God more. To be solely dependent on him. To desire to be more like him. To be filled with love from God. To overflow his love into other's lives. So if you are wondering, if my heart feels different now, it does. I have more children to know well. I have more children to physically care for. I have more children to pour love into. I have more...joy and blessings. I have more of Jesus because of them. 

God sets the lonely in families...

Psalm 68:6a

 

Settling in to Normal

After Thao died I remember wanting people to treat me like normal. I wanted to be normal again. The normalcy I expected and had once known never came. Instead we have a new normal. Of anticipating heaven. Of creatively celebrating and remembering his life. Of gathering around a small boy's grave. 

 

For Thao's tenth birthday we gathered. We cried. We ate his favorite cookies. We planted a tree for our adventurer.  We released balloons and shared memories. It was nice but not wonderful. It was a good gesture, a simple attempt, but never enough. It will never be enough. 

Once people began to treat me normal again, once the new normal settled in, I started to want the opposite. I felt like everyone had moved on and forgotten. I was left behind. I appeared normal on the outside, but inside so often I wanted to scream. "Don't you see the hole in my life? Don't you know what I'm missing? Nothing is complete."

Getting to know new people is always difficult. "How many children do you have?"

Normal things are no longer normal. Simple questions have complicated answers. (And often scare people away.) Nothing will ever be the same. 

Yet, we can still choose joy. We still risk our hearts to love. And honestly, I think we do that more openly and generously than ever before. But it's never far from my mind when I meet new people. I often wonder ... what is your story? Have you had to learn a new normal? 

We aren't that much different, you and I. Mine is the death of a child. Yours may be an unmet expectation or the feeling of just not measuring up. It may be divorce or rejection. Or illness. Or maybe you are just alone. We all have something behind the simple questions.

We all have a story. 

 

Breathe in the Moments

It's time to breathe. 


Go ahead, take a breath. Inhale deeply, exhale slowly. Sometimes I have to practice this. I have to purposefully breathe.

When my son gets hurt, he often holds his breath. He turns shades of gray and then white and then collaspes into my arms. We practice breathing with him. We gently coach him through the pain. "Breathe, buddy. Remember to breathe. Take a breath. Good job, buddy. Focus on breathing." Now, four years later, he is learning to focus on breathing when he gets hurt. He is remembering to breathe. But there are times when he still needs to be reminded. 

I am not unlike him. I need to breathe. I need to step back and refocus. This book thing has been a huge project for me. It's been beauty from ashes. It's been joy in the midst of suffering. It's been a light, an outlet, and a way to grow closer to Jesus. But it can just as easly become overwhelming and consuming. I have to let go. I have to breathe. I need to let God have this thing, because he placed it in my heart in the first place and it belongs to him. 

We all have these things. For me in this moment, it's my book. Sometimes it's the house or the kids or finances. But it all comes back to the same thing; what is my focus? What consumes me? I need to breathe. Let go. Let God have these things. 

I pray that admist the chaos of life you can remember to breathe in the small moments of beauty. I hope that you allow Jesus to lift the burden that weighs you down.

Because beautiful moments like these are irreplaceable. And I sure don't want to miss them.

You can order my new book, Still {when all else fades away} here

 


 

Sweet Innocence

The thing is, I'm raising children that may not look the same on the outside. But, I hope I'm raising children that see beyond color, social status, or occupation. I'm praying that they love people the way Jesus loves them. I pray that they see people the way our Creator sees them. I stay mostly silent on these issues because quite honestly, I'm not there and I do not know. What I do know is this, I can speak truth into the people around me. I can love the ones in my life. I can smile, hug and pour into my children. I can model behaviors, speak love and pray for the days I have been given. I can touch lives. I can make a difference, one life at a time. I'm starting at home. Because we have the most influence over our own family.

I know that someday my children will probably be faced with a harsh reality. Someone, someday will probably crush their sweet innocence. It's absolutely beautiful the way my children see each other. They are siblings through and through. They fearlessly love each other. They desperately miss each other. They defend each other. They fight with each other. They are siblings. They are brothers and sisters. They have a beautiful, amazing, relationship with each other. But someday I know someone will tell them it shouldn't be that way. Someone may point out their differences. But let me tell you, they are more alike than different. They are all my children. And as much as I fiercely love them, I cannot protect them from everything. There is much evil in this world, but it's not really about color, social status or occupation. To me, it's about a fallen world. A world that needs hope and grace and forgiveness and love. A world that needs Jesus. 

So no matter who you are or where you are. No matter what is going on around you. One thing remains the same: we all fall short. We all desperately need Jesus. 

There are families who lost loved ones. It doesn't really matter how or why they died, it hurts all the same. It hurts because there is loss. It hurts because I know that kind of pain. Losing someone so dearly loved. Life will never be the same. As a nation, as outsiders looking in, we will move on. It may take days or years, but eventually our lives look somewhat normal again, no matter how shaken we are. But for those families though, normal will never be the same again. For this reason, my heart aches. 

Today I pray for families, for children, for spouses, for parents. I pray for our nation. I pray for our future. But I will not worry. I will trust in the one who holds the future. I will trust in the one who created the world. I will play with my children. I will smile and laugh. I will speak truth into their lives. I will show them that forgiveness and grace is better than bitterness and hate. One day at a time. One life at a time. I will do my part. 

 

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Just Like That

And just like that, we are a military family. 

And just like that all the stories, all the wars, and all the decisions our country makes, suddenly mean so much more to me. I realize he is only a small soldier in a great war. He does his part for justice. He raises his hand in salute. With one small wave of a hand, a signature is made. With one small gesture, a grand commitment, a vow is spoken; to protect, to serve, to honor, to trust. 

And suddenly, because he is military, he is army. We are army.

We are all sacrificing, sending a piece of our heart to battle. We may fear. We may cry. We may worry. But we have courage.

We know in the end, it is all bigger than ourselves anyway. It's all bigger than the battle. It's all more than a country or people or lover of justice.

We know we do what God equips and calls us to do. We are what God wants us to be. And we have courage because we are His. And He is ours. 

And if God is for us ... no matter what treachery or pain, instability or loss, choice or not ... no matter what this world brings upon us ... we are His. 

And if God. If God. If God. Creator of all things, lover of our souls, maker of the universe, comforter of the hurting, almighty defender, if God is for us ... who can be against us? 

"What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)

 

**For my family and yours, who gives parts of their hearts everyday for the safety and defense of others. **

Somewhere

Somewhere not far from me or you there are grieving parents. There are parents wondering where their child has gone. There is a mama crying herself to sleep. There is a father drowning his sorrow in work or addiction. There are parents building up walls, pushing others away, pushing each other away. There is a marriage crumbling over the loss of a child. There are exhausted parents searching for answers. There is mother on her knees desperately begging God for life, for freedom from guilt, for hope. There is a father crying out for the Lord to have mercy, to let him bear the child's burden. There are hurting parents out there. And let me tell you, you need not look far. 

You just have to look up. You just have to move your eyes away, for a brief moment from your life, your list, your day. You just have to open your eyes to the people in your circle. Or maybe you need to find a circle. Or maybe you need to break open your circle and let the hurting in. 

Or perhaps you are the hurting. You are the lost. You are the angry. You are the grieving parent.

Maybe your grief is raw, real and apparent. Maybe your grief is guilt ridden and hidden from the light. Maybe you have buried it so deep, you have even deceived yourself. You have pushed it so far away, you have ceased to feel. You have let yourself believe you are numb. Maybe you are, but even the numbness hurts. 

You are not alone: 

If your child is spiritually running or consumed with addiction

Or maybe your child was victim to tragedy

or maybe it's something else. But you grieve. You grieve because your hopes and dreams were shattered. Your child is your heart and it's broken.

You are not alone. We are not alone. 

And there is hope. I promise you this is not the end. I promise you there is more. I promise you, in your weakness, the Lord comes through with strength. I promise you in your guilt, God delivers freedom through love and grace and forgiveness. I promise you that although you may not be enough, Jesus is. And he has conquered death. He is making all things new. He is going to right all the wrong of this world.

Hold on, dear mamas. Hold on to his strength and goodness. Hold on to the one who holds us all.  Hold on to Jesus for dear life, for yours and your precious child. 

Sometimes it feels like you must take on the world to protect your child. Sometimes it feels as though you will be defeated in battle. Get on your knees. And stand with the one who wins the war. 

 

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16

Fix Your Eyes

I am far from perfect. I have doubts and fears and anxiety. I worry about things that haven't happened. That may not happen. That probably won't even happen.

I think about things that are beyond my control.

I fear things that don't deserve my attention at all.

And I doubt myself. A lot.

Yesterday was one of those days. Actually, these past few weeks have been full of ups and downs for me. Anxiety has crept in and lies have made their way into my thoughts. And I let them. I let down my guard. I began to doubt what I know is true. I began to wonder why God would or how he could use me.

And I started wanting more. I began to imagine that my current role in life is not enough.

I need to

do more.

I need to

be more. 

I need to

have more.

Because obviously, I am not busy enough. I am wasting my time. I am not loving well enough. Etc, Etc. (

sarcasm, friends.)

And who am I to write words of encouragement? Who am I that God would use me? There are so many people pointing others to Christ through their stories. There are so many good books and blogs already written. Wonderful eloquent speakers and writers saying all the things, and doing it well.

And I believed the lies. I began to think that I shouldn't do these things.

I lost focus. I took my eyes off Jesus. I began to think less of myself. And that was the entire problem I was thinking of myself when I need to focus on Jesus. I began to make it all about me, even though I wasn't praising myself. I made it all about me, in the negative. I left God out of it. I doubted him and his calling in my life.

The thing is, all the words have been said and all the books have been written. There is nothing new under the sun. But God is writing a story in my life. And it all points back to him. It's really not about me at all. It's about God doing things through me.

And even though I'm not an eloquent speaker or writer. Even though I worry and doubt and fear. And I take my eyes off Jesus sometimes.

I know God can and will use me, not because of me, but in spite of me. 

I am not enough. But God is. And he will fill me to overflowing, if I let him.

So I pray that in spite of my anxiety and my short comings, you will see the Lord. I pray that

because

 of my imperfections, you see our Perfect God even more.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Some versions say

author

instead of

pioneer.

He writes my story. He is the author of my story. He is the creator of my life. I just need to fix my eyes on him and let him do the rest. 

Anything I put above Jesus in my life is sin. Anything that takes glory away from Christ is not okay. That's it. It's so simple, yet I make it so difficult. My doubts in myself actually go back to me doubting that God is enough. I somehow doubt that God won't fill me up, he won't equip me, or he will let me down. 

He will equip me for whatever he calls me to do. I believe that. I am not enough (none of us are). But when God asks you to do something, when you feel that pull, when you hear the whispers or when you feel that gentle, relentless tug; you are not alone. 

Hebrews 13:20-21 says: 

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whome be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

He tells us in Hebrews 13:5 that he will never leave us. Then he says he will equip us. 

Yesterday, I wasn't fixed on Jesus. I let myself and all my anxiety and doubts and fears creep in. Yesterday I had a meltdown. I was a mess. I felt like I was not enough.

I am not enough. I am not perfect. I don't have control over so many things. But today, I will not give those fears and worries my time. They don't deserve it. Today and everyday, I must make the choice to trust.

I will trust God with my future.

I will trust God with my family.

I will trust God to equip me for the things he calls me to do.

and I know full well, he will fill me to overflowing. I know that now matter how many times my eyes are not fixed on Jesus, no matter how many times I begin to believe the lies, he will never leave me. 

So at the end of day, I am bringing God glory. Plain and simple. Not over-complicated, huge, crazy things. I just want to give God glory in my life each day I live, with whatever my day may hold. 

Love Them Well

Oh, Mother's Day.

I could go anywhere with this. I have mourned the loss of children. I have rejoiced in pregnancies and babies and adoption referrals. I have grieved for birth moms and orphans and friends with infertility. I love these children with my whole being, and I think about the ones we weren't able to bring home. I'm a mom.


I want what is best for my children, as do you.

But I struggle with this holiday. I don't really need it. I enjoy the time set aside with my family. One thing I've learned though is this:

I'm not going to take for granted the everyday. The little things. The messy house. The piles of laundry. The hugs. The conversations. The jokes. The questions. The adventures. The smiles. The laughter. The little. The big. The growing up. The moments of mothering. 

All the things that I am tempted to over look and complain about. All the things I almost wish away.

I'm all for honoring your mama this weekend. Go for it. Enjoy. Savor.

But let's not get caught up in the gifts (or lack there-of), or the day itself.

Let's get caught up in the beauty of mothering. The blessings of the everyday.


I am 100% convinced that each one of my children will have completely different memories of childhood. Each child has such a unique personality, termperament and perspective on life.

But I have also changed. I have changed with each year, as they grow. As I let go a little more, as I try my best to prepare them for independnce from my husband and me. As our circumstances change, we change. Our stress changes. Our outside influences change. And things happen in life that we cannot control.

As life changes, I want my children to look back and remember one thing. I want there to be a constant. I want there to be a consistent memory that each child, despite their unique childhoods, will remember.

I want them to know full well

the love of God. 

I want them to see in my life in all the everyday, in all the big and small, that God is good. All the time.

When I began thinking about this Mother's Day, I almost wanted to skip it. I'm a sucker for the everyday. I love adventures and family time, but sometimes holidays are stressful. There's so much expectation and often guilt.

Let's just stop there. Let go of the expectations and revel in the beauty of simply being with your children. I was going to tell you all to write your story. Challenge you to put down in words for your children, what mothering is to you. Your memories. Your favorite moments. Stories of births, adoptions, losses, laundry.

But then I realized.

You are writing your story. 

Not neccessarily through words. But through your children.

Your stories live on through them.

What do you want them to remember? 

What thread do you want sewn through all their childhood memories? 

How will you make that happen?

I want them to see the love of God through out my life.

Here's how I'm consciously making that effort:

-eye contact
-active listening
-serving others
-going out of my way to show kindness to them, as I would other people
-making time for others
-generosity (time, money, possessions)
-forgiveness and grace
-learning their love language

I want to write my story through my children and I want it to point people to Christ. I want to encourage and build up my children. I want to raise children who are dependent on Christ alone, for their strength and courage.

Happy Mother's Day, Mamas.

I pray that your day is beautiful. I hope that whatever the circumstances, you can find contentment in Christ. The struggles of mothering are so real and we fail often. But we have forgiveness and grace and love poured out to us. As do our children. Love them well this weekend, and always!







A Letter to My Child's {foster} Mama

Dear Sister,


First of all, I'm so sorry I've put this off for so long. Many times I began to write but my words fell short. I am just unsure of how to express to you how grateful I am for you and your family.

In selfless love you took my children into your home. From the streets came a scared, sick, needy soul, for whom you cared for as your own. We are similar but not the same. Because I know my role as adoptive mama claims them as my own forever. Your role as foster mama is loving deeply and letting go. But, my friend, please know you are forever in their hearts and ours.

Thank you for being there when I could not be. Thank you for holding them, rocking them and sitting up with them. Thank you for the sleepless nights and early mornings. Thank you for putting their hunger before your own. Thank you for praising them and disciplining them so they know right from wrong. Thank you for encouraging them and comforting them. Thank you for investing in their future by teaching them. From manners to cleanliness to music to numbers and letters, they were more prepared for school because of you. On that note, thank for getting them ready for school each day. Thank you for making sure they arrived safely home to you each afternoon.

You wiped their noses and potty trained them. I'm sure that some of their amazing personalities comes from you. My son's gentleness with younger children, must be learned from the care he received from your family. He often puts others before himself. My daughter loves to help me in the kitchen. I am sure she learned to prepare food with you. Your patience is seen through her.

And now, through tears, I want to say thank you for relishing in all the firsts that I missed. For making their years with you beautiful. Thank you, dear sister, for giving them good memories to hold onto.

Their starts in life were rough, as I'm sure you know more than I. You saw them at the hardest. You loved them through their newness. You never gave up on them. And because of Jesus' love in you, their young hearts have begun to heal in ways that even I did not expect. {hallelujah!}

Please know that even though their time with you is finished, you will forever be a part of our family. You are not forgotten. I do not for a minute take lightly the sacrifice you made by loving them. I know your mama's heart aches. Please be assured they are well. Thriving. Playing and laughing and singing and hugging and loving because they know how. Because of you and your family, they were well prepared.

I mean every single word of this. But above all else, thank you, thank you, thank you for teaching them about Jesus. His love shines through you and all the lives you have touched. You have no idea how far that reaches.

My prayers are with you and your precious family and all the souls that come into your home. What an amazing thing it is to be created, loved and cared for by the same God. The God who spoke the universe into existence, the God who knows the very hairs on my children's heads, offers us this beautiful thing. The thing that brought us to you and our children, the thing that binds us together. His love for all his children: His perfect sacrifice of Jesus, His adoption of us as His own sons and daughters. 

And so even though we may never see each other again on this earth. Even though the few hours I spent with you, the few years my children were loved by you, do not seem like long enough now. Once again, the hope of heaven and promise of eternity with Christ and all his believers gets us through all the tomorrows.

I will see you again.

Love,

Tiffany
{adoptive mama}

No More Waiting

Our adoption journey has been extremely long, emotionally taxing and financially difficult.

There were definitely days that I wondered how it would all work out. I would cling to verses in the Bible about how God works it all out for good...I just wasn't sure if I would see it here on earth, or have to wait for heaven.

I know that Jesus loves my children more than I. I know that He pours down his peace and love. I know, not only because of His promises in the Bible, but because of my own experience with loss.

Losing Thao brought me to a place of trust that I never entered before. I had two choices, to lose all faith and wallow in despair, or to choose hope in Christ. Getting to the point of only needing Jesus, only having Jesus as my hope, was exactly where I needed to be. And after being in that place, I wanted to be there, a place of open hands, holding everything out to Jesus, laying everything at His feet, a place where no earthly thing mattered. That place of brokenness. Yes, that was a place I longed for. I didn't long for the pain or grief or suffering, but none of those things compare to the intimacy with Jesus we had experienced. I truly prayed for understanding of how to dwell in this place of openness in my every day life. When things began to be "normal" again. When we all began to slip back into a routine, where we are often misled by our own sense of control.

And then came our adoption.

What was supposed to be easy, straightforward and quite honestly, cut and dry 8-12 months of waiting, turned into over three years of ups and downs.

I learned to not put my faith in this world, again. I learned that the ups and downs, the hope and despair, the unknowns, were really just part of our flawed human existence. I had only one hope again, Christ. We entered into this adoption knowing full well the risks. But of course, this particular circumstance had never happened before. Still, the Lord brought us to this place and we were to follow through. He prepared our hearts as he prepared theirs. We said "yes" to each gentle whisper, thinking it would be simple, knowing it could be scary and difficult but hoping it would be beautiful and redemptive.

All were true in many ways. The process was simple: paperwork, fundraising, referrals, waiting, paperwork, etc.

The scary parts were the unknowns: health, length of time, how were they doing.

The most difficult was the wait, the continual financial burden, the wait (again) with no real answers.

The beautiful part has been watching God work. He has met our needs: financial, emotional, physical or He has brought us to a place of trust. There have been steps of faith, things that don't make sense or aren't practical in this world.

But here we are. God is redeeming this story. He has brought these two children into our lives, our family, and (finally!) our home.

We cannot wait to see what the future holds for our family. We are so thankful for these lives God has blessed us with. Our family has grown, the chaos has doubled, the joy is overflowing. Seriously. There are so many, many joy-filled moments.

And now, for the very last time, we are going to ask for your help. The expense of adoption has been more than we expected. God has provided through many different ways, and we have prayerfully considered what to do about this last amount.

We are doing one last push, one last fundraiser to try to pay off the rest of our adoption expense. So, we are labeling envelopes with numbers 1-150. We are asking for people to choose an envelope to "sponsor". Each number represents the amount to be given and every little bit helps! So for as little as $1 or as much as $150, we ask that you pray about giving whatever amount is on your heart. We also have little gifts that I will be having the kids draw for! Please do not feel obligated (I kinda feel like that should go without saying, but just in case!), there are many needs out there and we understand you don't have to look far to find a good cause, but if you feel led, please let us know the amount and we'll mark the number off our chart!

And thank you for your oh so generous support. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for letting us into your lives!

You have all been such a huge blessing in this journey.








Wanting More // Defending the Cause of the Fatherless

I wrongly assumed that after bringing these beautiful children home I would feel settled. Complete. Content. Finished. 

I cannot tell you how wrong I was. I think contentment is good and can be found in all circumstances. Contentment, just knowing I am where God wants me, seeking Him. It's not a place or job or something to check off my list. It's just continually leaning into Him, His grace and mercy, His love, His strength. 

But what about this nagging feeling? I thought it would go away. Without a shadow of doubt, adoption was what God asked of us. I love those "things" that God wants from us that are so clear. 

Obedience. It's so much easier to obey when it's all spelled out for us. I desire obedience. I want to obey God. I want my children to obey me and my husband. Obedience is good. It just makes my heart happy and makes things run so much more smoothly. 

So, I obey God throughout my day. Spend time with Him. Pray as I fold the laundry. Trust that He will provide for all the tomorrows. Teach my children scripture. Listen to the cries of peoples hearts.  Forgive when necessary. 

Mess up. 

Ask for forgiveness.

Do it all over again. 

So why won't this nagging of more go away? What else is God asking of me? Who else does God want me to see? Where does God want me to go? When will God show me? 

There are so many unfinished projects, Lord. I really need to finish my list first.

God, I need to get dressed and help the children start their day.

But I have been praying for direction. For wisdom. For a burning bush moment. For clarity.

This morning I felt God telling me to read Isaiah. 

But I really don't have time to read the whole book of Isaiah. 

So I started to read Isaiah 1.

Isaiah 1:12-20



 When you come to appear before me, 
who has asked this of you, 
this trampling of my courts?
Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths, and convocations
I cannot bear your evil assemblies.
Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts
my soul hates. 
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread our your hand in prayer,
I will hide my eyes from you; 
even if you offer many prayers, 
I will not listen. 
Your hands are full of blood;
was and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds
out of my sight!
Stop doing wrong,
learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless, 
plead the case of the widow.
"Come now, let us reason together,"
says the Lord.
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the best from the land;
but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword."
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.



I was so wrong about the feelings I imagined I would have once my children came home.

Relief has overwhelmed me.
I am so grateful to have them in my arms. To be able to check on them, night or day. To (constantly) feed them. To answer their questions. 

To watch them grow and learn. To hear their voices. To settle arguments. To kiss their boo-boos. To hug them. To teach them. To watch them learn to trust. And figure out our family.


I am not surprised by all those emotions and thoughts. 

I am, however, surprised by the feeling of right-ness.

It feels normal, right. I need to consistently remind myself this is all still new, because it definitely feels as though they have been home a much longer time. The settled feeling, the togetherness. It's not difficult to call them my children. It's not hard to call them mine. I love them. 

God has answered my prayers of prepared hearts, understanding minds and most of all, unfailing love. 

 
Here's where I am surprised by my emotions and thoughts. 

I don't feel finished.

I am not talking about in the sense of growing our family (although only God knows the answer to that). 

I mean, I get caught off guard. I look at them, their smiling facing, their tears. Their now nourished little bodies, and I remember not long ago how lost they were. How hungry. How desperate and lonely. 

I am so relieved that my children are mine. Loved and home.

I can't shake this though. I am not finished. I want to raise my family and keep looking inward. 

I just can't. Because...

What about the others? The hungry, the hurting, the lost.

If I could do anything, anything at all...

I want to feed the hungry. I want to hold the babies. I want to write. I want to speak. I want to share about the unfailing love that Jesus offers. I want to...

seek justice, 
encourage the oppressed. 
Defend the cause of the fatherless, 
plead the case of the widow.    



I have no idea how or where or when. I have learned that I need to take every opportunity that God sends my way. And for now, that may look like feeding my own hungry children, delivering a meal, praying, hosting a Bible study. But I will continue to seek the Lord, His direction and wisdom for each new day.

Mostly because I know God wants more of me. I just don't know what that looks like yet. 
One step of obedience at a time, I believe He will reveal to my family what, where and when He wants us. 

Where are you in this?

Why am I writing about this? 

What a strange home coming post?

Because you have been in this with us. You have upheld us in prayer. You have encouraged and supported and you are so much a part of this story that God is writing in the lives of our family, our children. I ask you to continue in prayer for our family, through transitions and decisions and direction. 

Maybe God is tugging at your heart, too? Maybe you feel lost or wandering? We'll never have it all figured out, never know all the why's this side of heaven, but we are not alone. So if you feel that too, I just want to encourage you, seek the Lord, one day at a time.

 (Side note: I cannot wait for you all to meet them. Although we are still "cocooning" a bit, we'll emerge as we feel they are ready.)






 

Today's Blessing

I've been rather quiet busy lately.

My life has been a bit chaotic. Beautifully chaotic. And loud. And a little messy. And quite exhausting. But so, so, joy-filled. And more on that later.

Right now I am thinking of today.

My morning started out like this:

There I was, all ready to get up and these two little snuggle bugs came into my room and fell back asleep.

So there's that.

And then when Mr. Liam woke up, our conversation went like this:

Liam: "He's going to pick me to fight the giants"

Me: "Who?"

Liam: "God wants me to fight the giants, Mommy."

And so began my day.

I can't help but wonder what giants my sweet warrior is going to fight in his life. I wonder how his natural will for justice will play out in the years to come.

I know I owe a lot of background story. I know I have a lot of catching up to do. I have been putting it off because I am not sure where to begin or pick - up. I"m not even certain I can write about everything right now. (But here is a link if you'd like to listen. I got to share a little about our adoption story at church recently.)

Just know that everyone is doing well. Amazingly well. God has answered many prayers. I have so much to say, and most of it would just be better in person.

And to wrap up my day, I went on a date with this little man.

And this conversation went something like this:

Me: "How do you feel about having another brother and sister?"

Liam: "Good. I love them like I love you and Daddy and Ava."

And then I took this picture. Because I thought about how tragic it would be to forget this moment. Because I want to remember these blessings. There are giants to face in our future. I know this because in this world we will have trouble. And there will be difficult days, maybe even doubts and fears. I will hold these precious memories close. 

And then, I thanked him for my date. And just before he drifted off to sleep he said, " You are welcome, Mommy. I went to protect you from bad guys, right?"

Me: "Buddy, I wanted to go with you so spend time together. I love being with you."

Liam: "Yeah but really to protect you from the bad guys."

Can we just stay in this stage forever, please???

The Year of Being Still

I have sought contentment in so many ways. I am the one who is always looking for the next thing. I cross things off a mental list and I'm ready for more. Yet, for as long as I can remember I've dreamed of a simple, quiet life. I've also always wanted a large family and to live in the country. I've come to realize, as probably many of you have, life doesn't always go as planned.

But still, I seek contentment. I understand that joy can be overflowing and peace can be present in any situation, the contentment in everyday life has truly been a struggle for me. I tend to always want a cleaner house, more time with my kids and husband. I want to get more done and I want to play more. I want to make healthier meals, but I want to save money. I want to have it all figured out, all the time. I want to be involved. I over-commit. And then I have to back out and feel as though I've failed or disappointed everyone. I used to feel guilty saying no. I used to try to literally do everything. 

Last year my year was filled with being still.

Somehow though, I often believe the lie that being still, that being a wife, mother, homeschooler, friend...is not enough.

Sometimes being still is what God asks of us. This time of being still for me has been a time of renewal. A time of being still before my Lord has brought me to a place of being on my knees. On my knees, in prayer, digging into His word, has prepared me for a time of busy-ness, a time of brokenness, that only He can get me through with true joy and pure peace.

And still I seek to know where my place is.

Lord, what is my ministry? Where am I to spend my time? 

Each time the answer seems so simple, so obvious, yet I forget. I lose track. I think somehow it must be more difficult, more of a sacrifice.

But my ministry, my place, my time is to be here, serving my family and the people in my life. I want to live a life of open hands to accept what the Lord wants of me, of a burdened heart for those around me. I want to be broken, so I can be healed by Him. Because if I keep striving to do ministry in my own strength, if I continue to plan and set unrealistic expectations of myself, I will always be disappointed. But if I know I am broken, I know I cannot do this parenting, wife, friend thing on my own, I will expect much of God and little of myself and this world.

My conclusion is that this is my ministry. My life. I am supposed to continually pour out, serve and love these people in my life. It will look so different all the time. There will be phases of seeking, serving and being still. There will be seasons of pain and seasons of healing. There will be joy, chosen joy. There will be grace. There will be mercy. And it will take courage. Because none of these things comes easy to me. Loving my family, yes. Loving strangers, no. Serving my family, yes, Serving from sun up to sun down, no. I will continue to pour out, because the Lord will renew my strength.

My first instinct is to keep my life simple, quiet, safe and private. But that is not always what God asks of me.

My life is not simple. There's a lot going on. There's a lot of decisons to make.

My life is anything but quiet. Kids are noisy. Life is loud.

My life isn't always safe. Stuff happens. Sickness, death, fires, floods...adoption isn't even "safe".

My life isn't private. Some things are of course, but my desire to live with the blinds pulled and discreetly go about my business went out the window a long time ago. We chose to make Thao's life and death, and our struggles public because we believe God will be most glorified this way. But it is not easy.

So my ministry, my life has been a surprise to me. The unplanned adventures. The ministry I have found myself in. My writing. Although I am finding joy in my writing, it's diffiult to bear my soul sometimes. To let people in to the struggles, the realities, the permanency of death and the life that we now live.

But it is beautiful. Because I have seen the Lord lead and guide and hold me up. I have felt the whispers, the gentle leading. My unexpected journey of loss has lead me to the Lord in ways I cannot explain, yet I am trying to.

My year of being still has prepared me for many unexpected events. It has produced a wonderful longing to be nearer still to Jesus.

As my year of being still comes to and end, I have asked the Lord to show me what the next season holds.

He has laid on my heart new verses to hold close, different words to cling to, more treasures to hide in my heart.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power thorugh his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may habve power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how eide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--
that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God. 
Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 
Ephesians 3:14-21

I know my year of being still has prepared me for things, things that we experienced this past year and things yet to come. It has prepared me to pray and believe that God can and will do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine. He will exceed my expectations, where I will fail them. So I ask you to pray with me, for more. More than we can imagine. Maybe not the way we expect or ask, but God always answers and he answers with more than we can comprehend. 

There has been healing in my being still year. There has been healing because I have searched my heart, I have cried out to God. I have tried so hard to understand prayer in ways that are human and make sense.  But our ways are not God's ways and our plan or vision is so small in comparison to His. He not only sees the whole picture for my life (and yours), He holds it in His grasp. Because of free will and sin and our fallen earth, bad things happen. Life hurts. 

But in the end, the whole picture, it all works for good, because our God is good. This journey of life will lead us to the One who created us, if we choose Him. 

I hope you join me this coming year, in prayer, asking God for big things and expecting answers, one way or another. Because sometimes our answer to prayer is in our obedience to Him. And sometimes our answer to prayer hurts. And sometimes our answer to prayer takes more time than we'd like, but ends up as we ask. Most times I resolve to the fact that I will not understand all the answers until I see Him face to face. 

And to that I pray...Come, Lord Jesus, come. 


The Word of Christmas: Redemption

My word this year for Christmas is redemption.  No, I don't always have a theme or a word for a season of my life. As I reflect on 2015, this season, these days that have past, this is what I see: 

Redemption

It's not over. We've had a lot of "stuff" this year. A lot of new things and said goodbye to some old. Sorrow, joy, blessings, hope. 

and truly we've seen beauty from ashes. We've seen blessings come from seemingly hard times. We haven't always handled things as best we could. But we've accepted the fact that we cannot do life well, all the time. Or really, any of the time, without Christ. 

So we are still and constantly being redeemed. Saved from these things that keep us from Christ. From sin. But not by our own accord. By Jesus Christ alone. 

And as I reflect on this time, this baby Jesus that came so long ago, to redeem our world, my heart is just simply full of hope. Our story is not over and thankfully we are not doing this life alone. We choose to do this life full of hope and grace and mercy because of the One True Hope that came to give us life full of more than this earth and it's possessions. 

And I can honestly say now, I am looking forward to the year ahead. I'm looking forward to a year full of family: the smiles, the laughter, the tears. 

2015 was a year of change for us, (although since we've been married, I'm not sure there hasn't been a year of change for us). I am thankful for the compassion and kindness of friends and strangers. I am thankful for the ability and freedom my husband has had to start a new adventure of owning a business. I am thankful for continually being in a place of needing the Lord. I am thankful for peace and contentment with our home and family. 

I am certain 2016 holds many new adventures for our family (and yours, too!), some planned, some unexpected. But I'm ready. I'm ready because I am not doing this alone. I'm ready because the past has proven to me that the Lord holds us close. 




Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:4-13