Thursday, January 31, 2013

A blessing

Yesterday we took our first step of faith in this process. We sent in the application for adopting Hamilton. It seems like such an easy first step, but it takes money and courage, something I find lacking in me daily. But we did it.

I prayed as I sealed the envelope and sent it off.

And I hesitated to write on here. We have mostly had support from people, encouraging us as we start this journey.  However, there are those, those I love dearly, that think and have told us we are unwise, or selfish or should be more cautious. And honestly, I understand that, I understand the thought. I might have the thought myself.

But right now, for whatever reason, God is speaking so loudly that this is His heart, this is where we belong. Yesterday a woman shared in our Bible Study about a family getting ready to move to Haiti to live and serve with her family and small children. This woman told someone worried for their safety, that the safest place for her and her family is right in the center of God's will. Outside of where God has called us is the most dangerous place. I think she is right. I think that it is also one of the hardest things to do in this culture. To live a life that is not safe. But God never called us to live a safe life. He has called us to live a life of courage, of faith. If we live a safe life, we are not living a life that let's God do God size things.

And this is just one small thing, this adoption, of one orphan in a world with millions of orphans. Nothing glamorous, probably it will be painful and messy at times. And this might not be wise in the way the world is wise. And I am jumping full in without caution because if I thought too hard I would come up with a million reasons why to not do this, but those are the things I need to think about. The ones I do not need to think about, the ones that come right to my head, those are the reasons we should do this. God has called us to walk in faith, not fear, being doers of the Word.

Sometimes we wait for the blessings, sometimes we will wait until Heaven. Sometimes it comes with just a little reassurance. Yesterday, after putting our application for adoption in the mail, we got an email... we had an offer on our house and another one expected that day. We listed our house last May.  There have been no offers. I had heard there were finally a few people interested, but on the day we took our step of faith God met us with this blessing. I am such a mess and I fail all the time, but every once in a while I take that step of faith, and I am never sorry I did. The opportunity to see God work, to see Him move mountains is something that will always draw me back toward the edge.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Life is full of interruptions. The moment when things seem to be going smoothly, maybe even falling into place, out of nowhere it changes. Something unexpected happens or comes along and I have to choose what I am going to do.

Twice today I heard the word, "interruption."

I heard it this morning in one of those moments where you feel your face grow hot. I watched a video that asked, "Have you ever been in one of those situations where you thought there was no one else in the room, like the person is talking to just you?" I listened as she talked about following God when things do not go exactly as planned, when life is interrupted.

Then I read what Ann Voskamp wrote on "A Holy Experience" today:
  "When you named Him Lord, you gave Him right to your life on His time: Every interruption is a new work order from God."

I just said a few weeks ago to myself that "life" seemed to be falling into place. Life was settling down, not perfectly, but school was back in routine; friends have been established; we are aware that we are blessed. We are thankful for our blessing.

But then, two weeks ago, the stirring began again. The need to move to keep going and walking in faith. To not get too comfortable in the day to day. And the little boy I read about eight months ago kept coming to mind. I thought maybe I would just see if he was still available to adopt. He was. No one wanted him. But I did. I do. We do. We want him.

I had a dream about him two nights ago. I approach him to pick him up. He had something covering his face. I lifted it it up. And he smiled the biggest smile. I woke up overwhelmed again with love.

Interruptions do not always make sense.
To the world sometimes it will look foolish.

This adoption thing is something God has grown in my heart for years. I always wanted to adopt. But I continue to doubt, to question if now is the right time, or if we are the right people. I always come up with a reason why today is not the day - a reason to wait.

And why? Maybe we are not the ones to do it. We have four children already. There are plenty of people that want just one child. I should adopt locally, I ALWAYS thought that was what I should do. And we should wait until life is less messy.

But, God's timing and ways are perfect, and now is the time that He is moving.

I am linking up to A Holy Experience

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Steps of Faith

Sometimes saying it out loud is the scariest part. The, I am stepping out in faith, first couple of steps are the scariest. If I fail my little part of the world will know. But if I do not say it out loud, it will never happen. So, this post is a scary one and an exciting one to write. I am going to just come out and say it. We are starting the adoption process.

There is a little boy in Eastern Europe named "Hamilton" that we have fallen in love with. He is five, soon to be six, years old with some special needs. I have written a couple of times on this blog. Here is one about what breaks a mom's heart. What breaks my heart? Children that live in homes with no one to hold them. Hamilton is the person I thought of while I wrote that post. I do not know all the situations that go on in orphanages, and I know there are lots of good people who work with orphans, but I also know there are lots of kids in need.

Several months ago, I read this blog. I do not want to speak poorly or improperly about situations I do not know everything about. And I do not know Hamilton's whole story, but these stories broke my heart, and I could not close my eyes to the need. This little boy broke my heart. I could not hold my children without thinking about all these kids that need a mom to hold them.

And I am a believer in LIFE. I believe that all life is precious. I think Hamilton deserves a chance. I think we (my family) can give him a family that loves him. We told our children. We showed them this video:

And then we told them about Hamilton. They said, "We want him! We want him to be in our family!"

We told them it takes time and costs money. They said, "We will sell lemonade, have garage sales, run races, raise money however we can." Karis is giving all her birthday money to the cause. They started praying for him. They love him already. They know life will change, and they probably don't know how, but they are excited. We are too.

We are just starting the process; we are filling out the paperwork to put "Hamilton" on hold. Then there are home studies and paperwork and dossiers and more paperwork. It is a lot of work. We will need to do quite a bit of fundraising as this process costs thousands and thousands of dollars. We are putting a donate button on this blog to donate to "Hamilton's adoption fund." If you want to help with the cost, we would so appreciate it. But we also more than anything need prayers as this seems like something God alone can accomplish. Please let me know if you have any questions. We are excited to start this process and will keep you updated along the way on this blog.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Breaking the Habit of Fear...

Feet pounding, breath matching the racing of heart, eyes wide open in the dark of night, she rounds the corner. Sometimes with screams, sometimes in quiet, "I scared! Monster in my cwoset!"

Feet pounding, breath matching the racing of heart, eyes wide open in the dark of night, he comes flying through the door. He is always quiet. "I am scared! Please pray for me! Can I sleep on your floor?"

Feet pounding, breath matching the racing of heart, eyes wide open in the dark of night, she comes through the door and stands over me staring until I am startled by a person standing over me. "Mom, I am scared. I think I am going to be sick. Can I sleep on your floor?"

This has become the habit in my house. I am sure they all started for good reasons - sickness that made it hard to sleep on her own or a scary movie he watched. Maybe it is a wild imagination. Whatever it is,  it happens every single night. And I cannot stand it. It is exhausting to be woken up at least three times (that is, if I cave and agree to their demands - my bed, my floor). If I am firm and send them back to their beds, it might be up to ten wake ups. 

I am desperate for sleep. And all I can think is that these kids have a habit of fear. There is nothing that they have to be afraid of. Nothing bad has happened. We have been careful about shows they watch since this started. But somewhere along the line they embraced fear. I do not know if it is intentional, but it is happening. And I need to figure out how this is going to change. We talk before bed about plans, but all are resolved, "If I really need you, then I NEED you!" and "If I am sick what would you do?" 

So the plan of action is verses. I am working on some verses for them to memorize, so instead of immediately running to me when fear strikes, they can cling to God's promises. Because, the only one who can make the 100% guarantee of protection is God. I can give it the best I can: "I am sure it is more likely you will get struck by lightning in the house then someone breaking in to steal you." Or "If you do throw up, I will pay you five dollars, tell you I love you and send you back to bed." Those are the best guarantees I can give. But God, God can make promises, not that everything will be perfect, but that He will never leave them. 

So we are going to work on one verse at a time. The one we will say now and work on in the light of day and in the dark of night is this one:
"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Psalm 4:8)
I will learn it too, so when the feet are pounding and breath is matching racing hearts and little ones come in my room in the middle of night, I can whisper it to them and walk them back to their beds. We can work together on the breaking of a a habit of fear.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Five Minute Friday... Opportunity

Five Minute Friday is when you spend five minutes writing on a word (Lisa Jo Baker gives a word each Friday) and lots of people write their thoughts on that one word. The Rules are... you write for five minutes without editing, and then publish it. And then you absolutely comment on the person before you who wrote.  So here is today's...


The moments that we might let pass by, missing in a moment an opportunity. An opportunity to hold a child who is getting to old to always let me hold her because she is hurting over something. She pushes her eyes in hoping she will hold in the tears, and I hold her close hoping she will let them fall. I hope I will have an opportunity to hold her again while she is still small enough for me to do it. I put down my coffee and just hold her for a minute, hoping this will not pass.

I am always looking for an opportunity, a break, but then I miss the little ones here. The ones when questions are asked from no where, "Mom, have you ever had a friend that is not your friend anymore?" Brush it off or stop and talk? Make room for words that might impact a child, fears or hopes at that moment. I missed that opportunity, I kept talking trying to keep it light. But I have thought of the question since then and hope I get a chance to go back there.

Opportunity in my life is usually a moment not some big event. It is usually a little thing that could make a big difference in the little worlds I live in .

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What Breaks a Mom's Heart

She climbs onto me, her hot little fever-racked body on my warm feverish self. "Hold me, mommy!" She situates herself right on top of me, sleeping on me as if I am her bed. "I am going to fall off, mommy!" she says, as if there is anything I can do to fix this. But I situate a little this and that, my eyes aching and lungs burning. I am sick, sicker than I have been in years. But I am a mom, which means that even in sickness, my body is not my own, and my little one, sick as well, needs her mommy. So we lay there, mommy holding baby, and we fitfully sleep, whispering for mercy. I whisper that I love her too, that she is my sweet girl, and that she is beautiful. Because, you can never hear that enough.

I learned years ago that as a mom, my body is not my own. After four children and five pregnancies, my body has been stretched and is marked from the months I held these children on the inside, and now on the outside, I hold them.

As a baby, my first daughter needed me so much. It was something I had to learn as a new mom, and was not very good at doing. I had gone from working full time, to being home full time. We had moved over a thirty hours drive from all those I loved, and this little person needed me to live. She needed me to feed her. Nursing became the bane to my existence. I hated every minute of it. For three months I suffered through, feeling anger growing each time my daughter cried - needing me, needing me to hold her, to feed her. I could not do it. I was resenting her. I was failing at my job and her cries only reminded me. For her sake and mine, we quit nursing, went to formula, and got on a schedule. It worked for us.

Motherhood takes learning.

My second came along, and she wreaked havoc on me. She would only nurse, never would stop, and at 9 months, weighing a mere 24 pounds, and not sleeping more than two hours at a time, my doctor and hers said it was time she learned to wait. She had, in the process of growing inside of me, somehow moved an artery over my kidney, and my kidney was no longer functioning properly. The doctors say otherwise, that is was genetic, but I know she had something to do with it. I had major surgery, and my body was marked again and weakened for months.

Motherhood takes sacrifice.

My third pregnancy came, and my body was used to it. Within weeks I could feel it changing in the way a mother's body does when it is ready to grow and carry a child. Within a couple of weeks, we learned that child was in heaven. My body ached for this child.

Motherhood takes heartbreak.

My fourth pregnancy and fifth brought healthy strong babies, full of life and joy. And with each, somehow I found the way to love them. With all their needs for hugs and kisses on boo boos, I found a way to make myself grow. My body is not my own. My lap is needed for holding; my hands are needed for praying; my face is needed for squeezing the way two-year-olds do to make you look "oh so pretty."

Motherhood takes everything.

It takes a lot, but it gives so much more. It gives joy and growth and patience and laughter. I have learned and loved more than I ever thought my heart would hold.

And this little girl, lying on top of me, making me her bed so she knows I will not leave her, makes me think of children who do not have someone to hold them. It makes me ask, How are they okay? I do not think they are. I am pretty certain that my children's well-being depends on this, that they actually do NEED me to hold them. And there are so many children who do  not have that simple thing. Forget food; forget money or shelter. There are children that just need someone to hold them; someone to kiss their cheeks and tickle their toes; someone to whisper in their ear that they are treasured and loved. OH, it is what breaks my heart! And it is what makes me lie completely still, even in sickness, as my little sick girl adjusts herself on top of me. I hold her and whisper those words. And my heart breaks over and over again.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Years Resolutions

I usually make resolutions. I do it probably weekly rather than annually. I resolve to eat healthier, pray more, read my Bible more, be nicer to my husband, be more gracious with my children. These are not good goals. These are not measurable or even attainable because there will always be "more" and "nicer" and "more gracious." I set the goals and I frequently fall back to old habits. Occasionally my lifestyle does change for weeks, months, even years at a time before life catches up and I fall into the lazy way of life that does not meet these goals and leaves me wanting to be better.

This year we decided to talk to our kids about New Year's resolutions. We made some as a family. My five-year-old resolved that he wants to learn to read and swim. My seven-year-old wants to become a better reader and swimmer. (Can we see a theme here?) My two-year-old did not set any goals, but I have some for her. First and foremost, she should start sleeping in her bed through the entire night. (I do not know if this has happened more than three times in her ENTIRE life.) It may be too high of a goal, but it is one I am going to really encourage her to work on. My ten-year-old had some goals that I can't remember, except one - praying more. This little girl is so self-disciplined, if she sets her mind to it, she most likely will follow through. And so far she has. The past two days, she got her Bible and notebook and sat down with her dad to do her prayers. She told me today she is reading a chapter in Matthew each day and then praying three prayers with her Dad. I sometimes really wish I could be more like her!

They say kids are more prone to do what you do, not what you say or even what you do with them. I do not know who "they" is, but the idea is if you want kids to read, read; if you want kids to run, run; if you want kids to watch TV, watch TV, and so on. I had been talking with my husband a few weeks ago about my fear that when my children grow up and are asked to remember their mom, they will say, "When I think of mom, I think of Facebook and Pinterest." And they would probably be right. My husband always thinks of his mom doing laundry, endless loads of laundry. I am sure my children will not say that when they think of me. Laundry will not be the thing. What do I want them to think of when they think of me? "She was the best mom; she always had time to listen and never lost her temper; she spent time with us, ran a lot, read a lot, and spent time with God." That is the mom I am going for.

So, I asked the question, What do you think of when you think of mom, kids?
"Running, reading, and cooking."
"Running, reading, and eating"
"Running, reading, and sleeping."
Well, I have two consistent themes, running and reading. So, I bravely shared my resolution to spend time each day reading my Bible and praying. This used to be normal for me. I took pride in my ability, even in college, to get up at 5 a.m. and read my Bible, pray, and go for a three mile run. A day rarely went by that I did not do it. But then life started to happen, and four kids later, my time of quiet is rare, and I unfortunately do not make it a priority. When I have quiet, I check Facebook and Pinterest.
So, it is day two of January. Day one went by without a moment of Bible reading or prayer for me. I will give myself a little grace; I was sick as I have been in years. But today I woke up feeling a bit more human, so at rest time, I sat down with my Bible and read and prayed.

Later in the afternoon, my ten-year-old said, "Did you do your Bible reading today Mom? I noticed your Bible was out."

She is watching what I do. They all are.