Hush

I’ve written about a lot of things that have been extremely hard on my family and me. I’ve written about our decision to adopt, the waiting time through the adoption, the bond you form with the kids you have never even met, and the depth of that loss. I’ve told you about my dad’s death and how that turned our worlds upside down and inside out. My heart has bled in front of you as you have read about the different ups and downs that we have had in our lives over the past nearly five years of marriage. Some of these things that have happened I would have never wished on anybody.

Through all of this I have written about how God is sovereign. How He loves us – how He knows our heartache. And I know that I’ve told you of His great power and might in my weakest of moments. I have felt His love in ways that I cannot even explain to you – ways that make my heart race, palms sweat and the air to be sucked from my lungs.

He knew all of the difficult things that would happen these past five years and let them happen anyway. He knew the joys that would come in the midst of these difficulties. He provided people who would love on us when things were the hardest. He gave us wisdom on what to do or say in specific situations. He showed us that He knows the desires of our hearts. But more than all of that, He has shown us when to be still – untroubled, quiet, silent, unruffled, or my favorite definition of this: hushed…

In the past three years (the year when my dad died, we moved back to Bozeman, had Charlie,  and started our adoption process) I have felt God whispering to me “hush”. Think of that word… how does it roll off of your tongue when you say it? I imagine it to tumble from my mouth like one of those waterfalls that you see tripping down the side of a mountain. There’s an expediency to it but at the end it slows into the s-h… causing your volume to fall into a low whisper.

Hushhhhhhh…

Hush.

The more I heard God telling me to “hush” the louder my questions became: why do you want me to hush? What are you doing min my life? What are you trying to teach me??

Hush.

And then, just like that waterfall tripping down the side of a mountain, He spoke life into that command.

“The Lord will fight for you, and you only have to be silent.” Exodus 14:14 (ESV)

It needed no explanation. There was nothing more to that verse, nothing less. It held strength and power. It took away the image that God was merely a comforter and gave him the image of a warrior, much like the rider on a white horse in Revelation.

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Revelation 19:11-16 (ESV)

That description is not one that  makes God to be passive or small. It isn’t an image of someone who doesn’t care or is afraid of what’s to come. No, it is the picture of a fierce warrior coming down to fight the battle of all battles. In fact, at the end of that passage the Bible says that after defeating the beast and false prophet, “the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.” (Rev. 19:21)

Guys. Does that sound like a God who doesn’t fight for you?! I am so sad to say that my heart is one that pictured God as someone who would just let things happen. That He cared but wanted us to figure it out for ourselves. (Not saying I don’t believe in free will, but that is another topic for another day.) But I was so wrong – “He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.” Did you read that??

Three years ago this image of God changed my perspective on His passion for His people and this week He showed me more about His fierce heart in this verse as I was working on my Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). We have been studying the life of Moses and this is right at that point where everything could have changed for the Israelites. They were sitting in the valley near the red sea – where God led them to – as they turned around to see that Pharaoh and all of his officers marching after them. They were afraid – can you blame them? And they turn to Moses and pretty much asked if God led them there to be slaughtered and claimed that it would have been better for them to stay slaves in Egypt than to be killed in cold blood in the wilderness. And then Moses said, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you only have to be silent.” (Ex. 14:13-14)

Do you know what happened next? God led the Israelites to freedom. He used Moses to part the Red Sea, took the Israelites to safety, and wiped out all of Pharaoh’s army and Pharaoh himself. And what did the Israelites have to do? Nothing. No planning, scheming, fighting, or begging could have gotten them out of that nearly fatal situation. And I’m sure they didn’t think God could get them out of there either. But He did. They waited. He parted the sea. They were saved.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I’m sure that after God saved them, and they celebrated their victory, they looked back and thought how silly it was that they questioned their God. Just like I sit here today and look back and realize how big I must think I am to think that God doesn’t have all of these trials covered. I can see a perfect image now of how God was fighting for me when all I could do was stare at the army bearing down behind me and the sea raging before me. I can see that He saved me.

While they were in the desert the Israelites forgot what God had done on numerous occasions. I’m sure Moses kept feeling like he was talking to a brick wall when he reminded them not to be afraid – that God had them covered. And I’m sure that there are going to be times when I look back and roll my eyes over my forgetfulness… but I pray not.

I pray that God will engrave Exodus 14:14 on my heart forever. That I would constantly see the image of Him defeating Pharaoh for the Israelites and fighting for me in all of my struggles. I pray that it wouldn’t be something that I take lightly and that I would remember that He hems me in, behind and before (Psalm 139:5). But more than that, I am begging that God continues to tell me “hush”.

“The Lord will fight for you, and you only have to be silent.” Exodus 14:14 (ESV)

How to Fail the “7” Experiment

Yep. You read that right… How to fail the “7” Experiment. As you read last week (here), I decided to give the “7” experiment a go. So last week I spent many hours looking at healthy foods and which 7 foods I would only eat for a month that could give me all of my necessary nutrients. I was scared but I thought why not?! Jen Hatmaker did it, so why can’t I? After all, it’s only for 1 month… Then today came and as I prayed my way through the day God reminded me: I just had a baby, who is dealing with GERD (gastroesophogeal reflux disease), who doesn’t sleep, who has a big sister who hasn’t been sleeping and is experiencing the terrible 2’s in the most horrific way I could have imagined. So. Yeah. That’s why I can’t and shouldn’t do it.

That being said I really want to do the “7” experiment at some point. Now is just not the time. God has me learning to fully rely on Him in the little things right now, and let’s face it, that experiment is not a little thing. That’s why I feel like it is only fitting to write about how to fail the “7” experiment.

1.) Decide to do this after having a baby. Yes, I know we already covered this… however, it is only fair to say that my whole brain is filled up with dirty diapers, bottles, crying, sleepless nights, GERD, sleepwalking, projectile vomit, laundry and did I mention crying?? Either way those things are hard enough to get through when that’s the only thing on your plate but when you are a mom of more than 1 that’s not the only thing on your plate. So that being said: if you have just had a baby DO NOT TRY THE EXPERIMENT. It will only lead you to a day filled with more tears than you can imagine and the desire to try your baby’s formula just to see if it tastes any better than the food you regrettably decided to choose for your first month of fasting. (Don’t worry, I didn’t try the formula, I just considered it… seriously considered it.)

2.) Decide to do this if you have a toddler. Okay, so it’s safe to say that most of the time my 2 year old eats pretty darn healthy, I have even heard her ask for salad for dinner! Don’t worry, that’s not the norm… typically she wants cheese for every meal. However, when you have a toddler, there is no way that you can choose to have them eat just 7 types of food for a month. That said toddler would starve! So, sadly, you are stuck serving them their ham and cheese sandwich on yummy seed bread and strawberries on the side while you hungrily sit by and watch them eat. Because those said 7 foods are all whole foods which need to be washed, cut, and cooked/put together in order to eat them… and let’s face it, shortly after this toddlers lunch is nap time so you will not be able to eat until they have gone through all 200 little things that they do before any time that they sleep. (Some people call this a routine, but when I am hungry I call this insanity.) So don’t do it. Not to mention, if that said toddler is potty training there are a lot of fruit snacks and m&m’s being handed out for positive reinforcement. Yeah. That’s fun.

3.) You are trying to lose all the baby weight you gained by starting a new workout routine. Enough said. Starting 2 big new habits at the same time is bad under the easiest of lifestyles but again, this is not my life at the moment.

4.) You always seem to bite off more than you can chew. Seriously, I am always taking on bigger tasks than I can handle and I tend to do them all at once. This means that 9 time out of 10 I will fail. Not because I can’t do it but because I am trying to do too many tasks/challenges/experiments all at once.

5.) You didn’t consult God with the timing of when to do this experiment. Any time you try to do something without God’s go ahead, you will end up failing. Okay maybe not completely failing and sometimes you may actually succeed, however, if it isn’t in God’s timing and without His leading it will never be as good as He desires it to be.

 

So there you have it folks, that’s how you fail the “7” experiment. I still will do it at some point, now is just not the time. And I will say, if you haven’t read the book you should. And if you want to try the experiment – do so! It really is incredible what God can do when we simplify our lives and we look to him more than our “stuff”.

Instead of doing the experiment, I have 5 things that I will be doing that are ways for me to improve my life right now. These are things that I need to do for my sanity, health, and relationship with God and I fully believe that regardless of what you have going on in your life, you should always try to have attainable goals that challenge you and push you to be more than you already are.

1.) Workout 6 days a week by doing my Piyo workouts with my beachbody accountability group. This is a little thing. These workouts last anywhere from 20-45 minutes. When I do this I feel better, I function better, I have more energy and I treat others with more respect because I’m treating myself with more respect. As a mom, my days could be horrible and as long as I workout, I feel better about everything that has gone on that day.  

2.) Turn off social media sites more often and focus on spending time in the here and now. Am I against social media sites?? No way! In fact, I love that I can connect to people I haven’t seen or talked to for a long time. I also love that I can share pictures with family and friends who live farther away than I can drive on a regular basis. But for me Facebook and Instagram have become quite the addiction. Anytime I am alone or bored or have nothing to say, I fill those spaces with a social media site of my choice. This isn’t a bad option for once or twice a day to find out what is going on in the lives of those around me, however, when it becomes a mindless action for me, I do myself and the world around me an injustice by not being involved.

3.) Nap. You heard me. I am going to work on napping more often. Mommy is happier with sleep in her body. And when Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! 

4.) Spend time on my own, away from my kids and my husband. This is a big one. Most mom’s don’t take time for themselves and when they don’t, more often than not, they aren’t getting the rest and rejuvenation that they need to best take care of their family. This is something that I hope more of you do more often, take time for yourself! You would be amazed at what kind of human being you are when you have been filled up.

And the most important:

5.) Spend time regularly worshipping God. My goal with the experiment was to free up more of me so that God could work more in my life without things holding me back. But if I’m not spending consistent, quality time alone with God, I am not giving Him much space to work in my life anyway. Now I would be lying if I said that getting up first thing in the morning is what was best for me to spend time with God. In fact, if I said that I would just be setting myself up for failure. But I do know that when I first wake up, if I spend 2 minutes saying “God, this is Your day – not mine – and I give you everything so that I can submit to you. Help me to listen to You first and to give you my best. I cannot do this without you.” I then set myself up for a better start to the day. I can tell you though that spending time in God’s Word at some point through out the day is vital for my relationship with Him. If I am not spending time with someone and thinking about them consistently, how can I have any sort of intimate relationship with them?? 

 

I know that sometimes I think I can handle more than I can actually handle. And sometimes I catch myself right before I drown in the midst of these massive commitments… but I also know that God has been calling me to simplify my life, not just materially, but mentally as well. So by seeing that I would fail the “7” Experiment, I am making more time and energy available to what God has for me in the here and now. And simplifying in that way may be more fulfilling and honoring of what God has called me to anyway. When I simplify my life I free up more space for me to be able to ask God what He has for me each day and in turn, for Him to give me specific ways that I can serve him that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do.

 

7

Back in December of last year Caleb and I moved from a home that was in a neighborhood that we didn’t seem to “fit” in. The homes were really close together, the yards were smaller than we would have hoped, and the homes, although beautiful, were way too big for what we were being called into. I’m not talking about family size either because I still firmly believe that, one way or another, God is going to fill our home until it is bursting at the seems. The home we were in is the home that the world expected of us: 4 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, a large game room, a massive pantry, an office that really could legally could be counted as a bedroom, and all of the upgrades a person could want.

When we were in the process of finding a home after living in our tiny condo, we were looking for big. We were feeling overly cramped in the condo we were living in and were in the process of adopting two boys from the DRC. So naturally, we pushed for bigger and better. However, what we didn’t realize was that we were believing the lie that Satan so easily convinces us is the truth: in order to provide for our family we needed more. More room for more toys, for more beds, for more kids, for more food, for more laundry, for more furniture, for more things.

Things. Things that, after we moved into that home, we realized were taking over our world. Things that filled every nook and cranny of that large home. Things that somehow had invaded our hearts to the point of having a real, deep, emotional connection with those said things. So many things and connections to things that our hearts started feeling pressed, busy, and even empty at times – regardless of how full our home really was.

As we started to feel the deepness of this emptiness and stress filled life, we started to realize that God was calling us to more. I think God started in my heart first because, He knew that I would be the hardest one to convince of this. I grew up in a family that left me no reason to need anything. (And as a parent, I cannot blame my family for that! As parents don’t we desire for our kids to have everything they could ever need and more. And even more than that, we desire for our kids to be happy… even though happiness isn’t what God desires for us – not that He doesn’t like that we are joyful, but joyfulness and happiness are two very different things… anyway.) The consequences of never wanting or needing in my youth is that I grew up with the distorted thought that things will make me happy and that is something to strive for. But as God slowly chiseled away at that lie that had become a wall between He and me, I started to feel suffocated by the paraphernalia that surrounded us.

I started to want to leave a neighborhood that made my heart desire things that weren’t of God. It was starting to become apparent to me that the neighborhood and the world around me was living in the joy of excess. My heart started to feel the weight of that and I wasn’t sure how to even approach that subject with Caleb.

Then one day I saw Caleb’s stress and frustrations with the excess of toys, clothes and junk in our lives. Not to mention, I could see that he was starting to get frustrated with the attitude of some of our closest neighbors – that bigger was better, more was more, expensive was to be strived for… And I could see him pushing against that until one day he said that he needed more space from people, he needed to come home and love to be at home, he needed to feel comfortable inside our home and outside of our home. It wasn’t more than a couple weeks later that he said that he wanted to move.

At first I pushed against that – I didn’t want others to look at us like we were young and crazy (even though we may be). I was more concerned with the lie that what other people thought about our obedience to God mattered. And then I started to feel something bubble up from my heart. We needed to simplify. We needed to slow down. We needed to have less and to live more. We needed to strive to teach our children that we don’t need all of our wants and that most of our “needs” are actually wants that have been hidden in Satan’s lies.

A long summer of getting rid of things and having our home on the market commenced and in a couple of months our home sold. The only catch was that we had 30 days to find our new home, sell our old home and move. So that weekend we looked at two homes and fell in love with one. The following day, we put an offer in (that was accepted) on a smaller home and accepted the offer that was put in on our old house. Two days later we were walking through our new home to see what else we needed to get rid of and found out that we were pregnant (SURPRISE)!

Now the funny thing about all of this is that we were moving from a home that was nearly 1000 square feet larger, had 4 or 5 bedrooms versus 3 bedrooms and a tiny office, and had 2.5 bathrooms versus the 3 full bathrooms… not to mention we were now expecting to have our family grow not only by two little boys but by a new baby as well. It terrified me. God had called us to simplify and in our obedience He grew our family.

I tell you all of this because I am still figuring out what it means to simplify. God has not only simplified the size of our home and the amount of things that we have, but He has simplified the excess of my busy schedule and caused our family to grow in the desire to get rid of even more. (He even simplified what we thought our family was going to be by now you can read about that here.) But as we have gotten rid of these things that really have no meaning and simplified our lives, I feel the tug all the more.

I am currently reading “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker to learn how I can continue to get rid of more and live with less so that more of me – more of my family – can be focused on living for God by giving where He calls us to be. And this is why I feel like this wonderful woman gets me and where I am at:

“Excess has impaired perspective in America; we are the richest people on earth, praying to get richer. We’re tangled in unmanageable debt while feeding the machine, because we feel entitled to more. What does it communicate when half the global population lives on less than $2 a day, and we can’t manage a fulfilling life on twenty-five thousand times that amount? Fifty thousand times that amount?

It says we have too much, and it is ruining us.

It was certainly ruining me. The day I am unaware of my privileges and unmoved by my greed is the day something has to change.” – Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess 

So here I am. This is where I land. We have started this journey of getting rid of the extras in our lives and I cannot stop where I am at. God is calling me to more. He is calling me to live purely on His grace, mercy and provision. I can’t continue to fight this battle in my heart of wanting to have more, it is all too exhausting!

With that being said, I am going to start this experiment – this fast. And I am going to bring you on this journey in my life to living in less. I want to share the highs and lows of what I am experiencing. My heart wants to be changed and I want you to hold me to it! Each week in the midst of all of my blogs my goal is to respond to that previous week – to share what God is doing in my life and what is changing inside of me. And hopefully, it makes a permanent change in my life and the life of my family.

Tomorrow I will start this adventure and I have one thing I would like to ask of you: will you pray for me? This is going to be the hardest thing that I have done in a long time in my personal life because I know that in this book it’s not the little things that I will be fasting from it will be the big things. In fact there are 7 things (get it??) that I will be fasting from in 7 months: food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress. I’m not sure completely in what ways or how this will morph into my own journey that God starts to direct but I do know one thing: this has been a long time coming.

Here’s to living with less so that I can live more freely in the ways God is calling my family and me to go!

Are you listening?

My wonderful husband, Caleb, shot me out of the house tonight like a bullet out of a gun. I mean, seriously. He came home and took about 30 minutes to himself and then grabbed the girls and let me go start my T25 workout for the first time since having Hazel. Then as soon as I was showered and dressed in my most comfortable sweats he literally shot me out of the house. Do you know how wonderful that is?? I haven’t had alone time for at least 3 weeks and even though Hazel was crying because her tummy hurt and Charlie was crying because I didn’t help tuck her in for bed, he sent me out to do whatever my heart desired.

So here I am… at our coffeehouse. Okay, I know what you are thinking, I go out to be alone and I head to our coffeehouse (Cold Smoke) to blog and drink coffee with all of the college students. But there is something about being here. Something life giving and peaceful. Something that makes me feel like I can wrap my head around everything that has been going on in our busy lives. I think it is that God has been in every inch of this place. I get that God is everywhere but in every thought about and every reason we opened this shop God has been leading us, holding our hands, calling us further and further into this life. And that is why, when I come here, I feel God speak in a more full and tangible way than I do in most places. Not to mention there are no little people (whom I dearly love and love to get a break from) fighting for my attention at a moments notice.

So I am sitting here drinking my favorite coffee (Intelligentsia) and savoring this divine ganache brownie while I get to come and talk with you. My dear friends and my faithful prayer warriors. It’s rather cathartic and just what I needed.

Lately I have been exhausted. I mean, who isn’t nowadays?? And in that exhaustion I have been begging to have time to just sit and listen and worship our God. I have literally been feeling my heart, soul and bones aching to hear His voice. I really can feel the life being sucked out of me every day that I don’t hear from Him. My mom used to tell me that she could feel when she wasn’t wrapped up in Him and I never understood that. I always had time before kids to sit and rest and kneel before Him – so much time that I took every second of it for granted. Now I ache – I long for any moment I can take. This has brought me to question, how do I hear from God? 

More than that: How does God speak to me?? 

I kept asking that and then it rose like a whisper inside of my heart… I speak to you constantly.

What did that mean? He speaks to me constantly?! Whatever God, I haven’t heard you speak in weeks maybe even months! But then the whisper grew in my heart to the point of my feeling like God was sitting in the seat next to me as my 2 year old was yelling at me from the back seat: I speak to you constantly, you just don’t listen. I was indignant. Seriously, I was so insulted by that statement that snapped back (out loud) “Yes I do!” Imagine my 2 year old’s surprise when I turned to her and told her I wasn’t talking to her (mommy obviously needs a trip to the loony bin or the nearest spa). 

I thought about that for the next day or two until I realized that there might actually be something to what God was telling me. Maybe I didn’t listen. Maybe He does speak to me constantly and I just don’t take the time to hear Him. But how could I? I mean as a mom – as an adult – there are so many things that pull at me. I live willingly by my kids’ and husband’s schedules. The house beckons on a regular basis – the laundry needs to be done, the bathrooms cleaned and the dishes scrubbed. The dogs beg for extra love and attention whenever they get a chance. Financial, family and work burdens tug at my pant legs nearly everyday. So there was the realization of not listening and I decided to do something about it.

That next day I turned off the Frozen soundtrack (thank goodness) and I put on worship music in the car and in the house. I told Charlie we needed to listen to and worship God more. And every chance I had that Charlie and Hazel were either content or preoccupied I sat with my ears open and my mouth closed.

And I heard Him. He was right, He speaks to me constantly and I just need to listen.

He spoke to me through the songs that were playing on my pandora worship stations. He spoke through the mountains, rainy days, summer breeze and sunsets. He whispered His love notes across the hay fields and in the smell of freshly cut grass. And I listened. He loved me. He loves me! And as I listened more fervently, I heard Him more clearly. 

You see, it isn’t just in the sweet, beautiful moments that I hear Him. I have started to hear him when Charlie won’t stop disobeying me. I can listen when all I want to do is cry because Hazel is still awake at 3am and crying louder from her GERD (acid reflux on crack, I tell you). And when I have snapped and yelled at Charlie for being so gosh darn stubborn and ignoring me yet again, I hear Him – I feel Him grab hold of my heart begging me to step back and apologize to my little girl. Ouch. 

So tonight when I was pushed out the door by Caleb, I jumped in the car eager to see… longing to hear… begging to feel His presence stronger than I have in my whole life. And I did. In fact just now, as I’m talking with you, I stopped to listen to a beautiful song that God spoke to me through… Here are some of the lyrics that are still ringing in my soul:

“From dawn to dusk, we’re waking up. Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender. We come before You, lay our burdens down… We look to You as our hearts remember – You are the only God, You are our only God. Lord as we give You more, Your Spirit swells within because You are Holy – HOLY Lord! From dawn to dusk, we’re waking up. From dawn to dusk, we’re waking up!”  

- ‘Dawn to Dusk’, All Sons and Daughters

He wasn’t kidding huh?! He really is speaking to me all the time. After a long day of tantrums, crying kids, laundry, organizing and everything else I could still hear His voice. After all of my failures and mistakes He still calls my name gently and sweeps me off of my feet. And I am thankful so very thankful for His persistence in doing so even when I don’t listen because we all know that will be a habit that I fall back into repeatedly.

Here are some of the things God wrote in that love note for me this past week:

This was after a day full of an angry toddler and a sick baby. Charlie couldn't stop showing me how much I was failing as a mom. But then God brought this sweet moment in at the very end of the day. We snuggled for a good 20 minutes and I heard God whisper His mercy over me.

This was after a day full of an angry toddler and a sick baby. Charlie couldn’t stop showing me how much I was failing as a mom. But then God brought this sweet moment in at the very end of the day. We snuggled for a good 20 minutes and I heard God whisper His mercy over me.

Hazel's first smile captured by my phone... are you kidding me? How could I not hear God through this?!

Hazel’s first smile captured by my phone… are you kidding me? How could I not see His love shine through that face?!

This was the other day when it was cold and rainy but I couldn't help but see His beauty and love for me. Even when things aren't perfect by the world's standards.

This was the other day when it was cold and rainy but I couldn’t help but see His beauty and love for me. Even when things aren’t perfect by the world’s standards.

Do you see that rainbow?! That was from my drive to Cold Smoke tonight... He promised to never destroy the earth by flood again. It reminds me that He is faithful.

Do you see that rainbow?! That was from my drive to Cold Smoke tonight… He promised to never destroy the earth by flood again. It reminds me that He is faithful.

Okay. No words necessary. Again this is from tonight and God's glory was radiating from the mountains and the sunset all at once.

Okay. No words necessary. Again this is from tonight and God’s glory was radiating from the mountains and the sunset all at once.

A couple of days ago when God started placing this blog on my heart He asked me two questions:

1.) How does God speak to me?

2.) How does God speak to you?

One of these questions I am starting to answer but the other question you have to answer. In all of the ups and downs of life, how does God speak to you? I’m interested in hearing that from you. Would you tell me in the comments how He speaks to you, or even more importantly, are you even listening?

Thanks for meeting with me here tonight – my heart is full.

 

I have a lot to tell you…

Really I do. It has been way too long since my last blog and SO much has happened. Even more than that a lot has changed. Some good, some bad, some easy, some hard. I want to tell you all of it but in order to do that I have to start with what we’ve been talking about for the past two – almost three – years. Our international adoption.

Some of you know by now that we had to pull out of our international adoption of our two boys, Beni and Yves… let me let that soak in for a minute.

Okay. So now that all of you who have given financially, prayerfully and emotionally have had a moment to absorb that please know that this was our last hope or dream. We had hoped for so much more. As you know, we were planning on them being home from the Democratic Republic of Congo by now. Our hearts were (and still are) genuinely shattered. We withdrew from our adoption about 5 months ago now… I’m sorry I couldn’t bare to write about this sooner. It hurt too much. In fact, this blog is one that I have been dreading for a long time.

We found out about 5 months ago that the information our adoption agency (One world Adoption Services) provided the US government earlier on in our adoption did not match what they provided them later in our adoption. This caused some major red flags for Caleb and me. (For the past 3 months before that I had already been feeling like this adoption wasn’t going to go through but couldn’t explain why.) So, I started to investigate and through a friend from our amazing adoption group and awesome blog Africa to America (thanks Carly!!), I was connected to a lady who had gone through practically the same thing 2 years before.

So here’s the story:

We found out that our agency had lied to us about our boys. They weren’t abandoned without any know parents. They in fact did have known mothers (with addresses and everything) and possibly have known fathers as well. Now, this isn’t always an issue in international adoption if you can prove that these mothers cannot and will not care for their children and you can prove it through interviews and paperwork. However, we quickly found out through this friend that Carly connected us with that this had happened to her and OVER 25 other families in the past 2 years. And with investigation they quickly found that almost all of the “orphans” were taken (for different reasons) from their families even though their families would have kept them had they been helped in finding ways to provide for these kiddos. So. “Our” boys that we have been praying for for over 2 years, by name, had families who love and cared for them.

What were we supposed to do with that?? How were we supposed to approach our agency with that information? AND how in the world could we continue these adoptions while knowing full well that these boys were not true orphans??

Well, first thing was first, I called our agency with all of this information. I was expecting them to have an excuse for these other cases that had happened in the past but they didn’t. Instead, they just denied it all. I can’t even tell you how upset that made me… the least they could have done was fight the accusations and prove to me that our investigation was false in some way. At the end of that phone call our agency rep asked me to continue to pray about what we wanted to do (continue our adoption or step away from it) and I said that we would. That week was filled with confirmations left and right that we needed to pull out of our adoptions so when the week ended I gave them our answer and filled out the paperwork that I needed to in order to be finished.

Two months later I found out from another woman whose family had been trying to adopt from the DRC for 6 years that nearly the same thing had happened to them… not once but TWICE. She had also talked to a couple other women who said their families found out the same thing within the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, complaints had been filed and no investigation into OWAS had been started (that we knew of). Another two months had passed and we received an email explaining that the US government had shut down OWAS for illegal adoption practices. We immediately praised God for shutting them down.

We have been mourning the loss of these boys for about 5 months now. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how we pulled ourselves out of the adoptions – Satan really tries to make me feel like we abandoned these boys who have so little. I have never gone through a miscarriage but I imagine that the heaviness of this loss feels quite similar to the heaviness of that loss. We had hoped, prayed, dreamt, fought, fundraised and longed for these boys for over 2 years. And we loved the idea of boys for even longer! Unfortunately in the process of all of this we lost over $55,000.00 in this whole process and there is no (legal) way for us to get any of that money back.

In all of this we have learned a few things:

(1) God loves”our”  boys more than I could ever hope or imagine. He loves my husband more than I could hope or imagine. He loves my girls, friends, family, and random people I pass on the street this way too. He always has, and He always will. Whether I understand that or not, God’s love for us will always surpass my love for us.

(2) God is good… even in the unexpectedly hard things. It’s true. Caleb and I have gone through a lot in our first (almost) 5 years of marriage that even others have said is harder than they could imagine. Now whether that is true or not is not up to me. It has just been hard. From Caleb blowing out his whole left knee just 3 months into our new marriage (we barely knew that we were married let alone HOW to be married), or when my dad died unexpectedly from being hit by a bus, or starting the adoption process and walking through the highs and lows of that every day for 2 years, or even this – losing our 2 boys to an unethical and down right awful adoption agency. But even in all of that, God is good. He knew these things would happen and He didn’t stop them from happening but He is good. I may not always see it or understand it, but He is good.

(3) We are beyond loved – by you, by our friends, by our family, by God. From giving financially to our adoption, praying, encouraging, crying with us, laughing with us, rejoicing with us, reading this blog, holding our hands, or even just asking questions… we are beyond loved. And the coolest thing is that whether you love God or not, He used you to show us His love in every act of love and support you showed.

(4) God has a plan. In Jeremiah 29:11 it says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV) I know that is one of the most poorly, overused, Bible verses but hear me out: God has a plan. Whether we see it this side of heaven or not, He has a plan for each of our lives. It may not always feel like a plan that gives us hope and a future or that it is even good. But His plan all reflects one thing: the gospel. God made the world. We disobeyed God and decided to live apart from Him. God sent His only son. His only perfect son sacrificed His life for our sin filled, broken lives by dying on the cross. He then rose again 3 days later and later went back up to heaven. He did this all so that we can see that He chose us and loved us and so that maybe, we can choose to live our lives for Him – in the gospel to glorify Him. So God does have a plan, whether we see it or not. His plan is for our best and for His glory – not our own.

In all of this we know that God loves us, our family, our friends, and everyone around us more than we could ever hope or imagine. He is good. He is faithful. He is loving. And more than anything, He has a plan for your hope, for your future, for your good. And even when things are unexpectedly hard, His plan ultimately reflects His gospel.

Thank you for grieving with us, for celebrating with us, for fighting with and for us. That has not been lost on us. This is hard stuff, people, and the depth of this grief will always hang with us. But with grief comes joy.

November 11th

My dearest Bentley,

Do you know what today is? Today is your 3rd birthday. On this day, 3 years ago, your beautiful biological mother labored in pain to bring you into our world. I don’t know how long she was in labor. I don’t even know if you were born in a hospital… But I do know this: your first Mommy introduced you into this incredibly big, beautiful, and sometimes scary world. For this I am thankful.

We have never met. We don’t know how it feels to hug each other. We don’t know how we will interact with each other. We don’t know how our hands feel wrapped around each other.

I don’t know if you even like to be hugged. I don’t know if you have any nicknames. I don’t know your favorite color, food, song, story, or even your favorite time of year. I don’t know what makes you laugh and I don’t know what makes you cry – even worse, I don’t know what comforts you or if you get comforted…

I do, however, know the depth of emotions you carry in your dark brown eyes. I know that your hands are adorably squeezable and as cute as they come. And I know that in this past year you have grown so much…

We were hoping to have you home by your birthday. I dreamt of being able to bake you a cake and having balloons floating through the house. I often lingered on the thought that, more than anything, I would hug you and hold you close on your birthday. I joked that if I could just hold you on your birthday, you might pop because I would squeeze you so tight to my chest. I thought about the fun superhero cape you might be running through the house in, and the laughter that would burst from your very full belly…

Instead, my heart aches more than I think it ever has before. I miss you even though I have never met you. And I wish I could give you all of the love in the world. I want you to know how passionately our God loves you. I want you to understand that His heart is fighting fiercely for you in ways that we may never see or understand. I want you to know you have a little sister who already adores you – she kisses your picture multiple times a day! And your daddy?? He cannot wait to teach you how to shoot a bow and arrow, to wrestle with you, to have Nerf gun wars and to tuck you in tight at night. I want you to know the depth of our love for you – even though you may not accept or grasp it for a very long time.

I wonder what you are doing today? Do you even know it’s your birthday? I wonder if you were able to play a little extra today, or if your new older brother, Easton, stuck extra close to you?? I wonder how God held you today? Because I know He did.

I wasn’t able to buy any balloons for your birthday today, it was almost to difficult to bare. I couldn’t bring myself to buy you any gifts – what if, by the time you come home, they aren’t the right size or age for you? And that cake I was planning to get – I just couldn’t do it. But I did think about you all day. I prayed for you as often as I could…

And tonight, as you are sleeping, I pray that you have gentle and sweet dreams. Sweet kisses from Jesus that make you feel at home in His arms… And I pray that you know how high, how deep, and how strong our God’s love is for you!

My dearest Bentley, we love you more than words can say. I hope you had a day filled with more blessings than you have ever known!

Love,

Mommy, Daddy & Charlie

This Crazy Life We Live

Sorry I haven’t written in a little bit. My last post was on letting go and resting in God’s peace and strength while going through this adoption – so I have been. And it hasn’t always been easy… BUT can I just say that when I actually do rest and let go, this process becomes even more beautiful and I am seeing more and more of God in each step! It is wonderful!

Enough of that though. I actually have something that I have been sitting on and processing through. This is something that you can pray about for us, and when I say pray I mean pray A LOT and HARD.

Two weekends ago Caleb and I went to the ranch for opening season. Caleb and his dad were going hunting and were as excited as could be! During this time, Charlie and I had plans to go into Yellowstone National Park with a friend on Saturday and then we were going to rest and play all day on Sunday.

Friday night after the guys had gone out to scope out (I don’t know hunting terms so please forgive me) the deer and elk, I had chili and cornbread ready for dinner. We sat and ate. I had one cider beer (it was SO yummy). And then it hit me. I was SO unbelievably exhausted. And nauseous. And feeling drunk. (Mind you, I don’t drink to get drunk and I don’t know the last time I felt this way. AND it was only one CIDER beer, which is hardly a beer anyway.) So I went to bed.

The next morning Caleb woke up at 6am to get ready to head out to hunt with his dad. I tried to go back to sleep after his alarm went off but I couldn’t… I just wanted to vomit. All I could think was that I would be stuck at a home that we don’t live at, with a toddler (who had recently become extra clingy), without medicine and without help. My sweet and loving husband offered to hang back but I knew that would NOT be an option if we wanted all sorts of wild game this coming year… so I sent him on his way and went to lay back down and rest until Charlie would wake up (typically at 7).

At 8am Charlie woke up – praise God! I still felt this overwhelming dread that I had the stomach flu as my stomach was cramping, and I kept running to the bathroom feeling like I was going to vomit. However, I started to feel better (still nauseous but not sick) so we decided to meet up with a friend and her incredible service dog and go into Yellowstone.

The whole day I was nauseous. When we got home that night Charlie went to bed immediately and I laid in a recliner feeling hungover, exhausted, nauseous and like I wasn’t going to make it through the night.

Fast forward to the next day. Caleb and his dad decided to only go hunting in the morning because I was clearly sick. When Caleb came back we packed up and drove home. When we arrived at home Caleb and our dear sweet friend/manager of the coffee shop/sister/dog watcher kept asking if I was pregnant.

“I am NOT pregnant!!” I said.

This didn’t stop them from making it clear I needed to check – so I did. And I wasn’t. The end.

Okay maybe not the end. I continued to feel sick.

Tuesday, Caleb had food poisoning, Charlie was sick, and I was still sick. So that was it! I had the flu!! YES!

Wednesday was date night and we were all healthy again. So, Caleb and I decided to go to Trivia night with some friends at a local bar SO I got this sinking feeling that I should double check one last time to make sure I wasn’t pregnant. After all, I was going to have a beer.

So I checked. And there it was. A faint line.

I started to panic.

I cried.

I hyperventilated.

I raced over to a friend’s home to see if faint was still positive. It was.

So there you have it folks, we are having a baby! And we are due July 12th, 2014! And we are still adopting 2 boys from the DRC!

Yes, you added right, next year we will go from having 1 kid to having 4!! Newborn – 7 years old!!! So prayers are coveted.

How are we doing?? Well, after 3 days of panicking (just ask my sweet adoptive group, my gentle and patient and CALM husband, and a few of my friends), we are actually very excited! I cannot wait to be a mom of 4 kids! Can you believe it?? I have a God who knows my heart so much better than I do, that He provides our family with some of our deepest longings!!

Our God is way bigger than we are. He knows what is best for us. He loves us more than we could ever love ourselves. He honors the dreams of those who love and follow after Him (not that I am great at that).

I keep singing that new Matt Maher song “Lord I Need You” because it is SO true. I need Him to get through this. Not because this is bad in any way shape or form, but because I know I can barely make it through being a wife and mom when I am not leaning fully on Him. So how do I even begin to think that I will be able to be a wife and a mom to 4 without Him. I won’t be able to. And I am proud of the fact that I need Him so badly!

Here is that incredible song that I now I sing constantly through out my days:

As you pray for our family and this incredible journey God is blessing us to be on please pray for our boys’ health! Pray for our baby’s health! Pray that we would continue to cling to God with everything we are and everything we have!!

And I will be praying for you. I will pray that God will fulfill your deepest longings and desires. I will pray that you will come to the realization that you need Him to get through your day. And I will pray that you will passionately run towards Him when any blessing or trial come into your life!

Until Next Time,

Laura

Let it go.

Almost two weeks ago the DRC suspended all exit letters to leave the DRC and bring adoptees home to their families. That day was hard – very hard, in fact! I was moody, I was exhausted, I was feeling like the odds were against us yet again. And honestly, I think that’s the point.

Sometimes I think God brings us to the end of ourselves – the end of difficult decisions – to make us realize we can’t do it on our own. As much as we may want to control the situations around us or what is happening in our lives we just can’t.

I can’t make my daughter be perfect.

I can’t make my husband’s day go well.

I can’t make our government function the way that I think it should.

I can’t make my boys come home.

I just can’t.

Not because I don’t want to, not because I won’t try to, just because I can’t.

I cannot control everything. And when I come to a point in my life where I can admit that, I think God has me right where He wants me… Do you want to know why?? (If you don’t, I am going to tell you either way so hold on tight!!)

I think when we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of Him. When we are willing to drop to our knees and say, “God, I just can’t”, He responds with, “When you are weak, I am strong.” And when we feel like we just can’t keep doing what we are doing – we just can’t keep running the race, He comes in and carries us. When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of Him.

I had heard people say this before and I have (in my “good christian girl” thought process) agreed full heartedly. In other words, I knew in my head but not in my heart… I hadn’t, in the depths of my soul, fully experienced how Sovereign God’s plan and timing was.  But the past few months I heard this faint whisper “let it go”.

So I would continue on with my life full speed.

“let it go…”

So I would race toward whatever wanted to accomplish.

“let it go…”

So I would scream “WHY, GOD?!?! WHY?!!”

“let it go…….”

 

 

The one day, I was in my quiet time and I read:

“When I cannot understand my Father’s leading,

And it seems to be but hard and cruel fate,

Still I hear that gentle whisper ever pleading, God is working, God is faithful, ONLY WAIT.” (Streams in the Desert, anonymous)

 

Then I heard “that gentle whisper ever pleading”, “let it go……..”

And every day there after until I actually obeyed, my time with the Lord whispered, “My daughter, let it go.”

 

So finally, I did.

And guess what? When I came to the end of myself, I was led to the beginning of my God. I was led to His feet. I was led to his peace. I was led to his comfort and grace.

 

As I sit here right now talking to each of you (for I truly feel as if we are sitting across from each other chatting with coffees in hand), I know that God is fighting for us. I know HE is working it all out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). And I can honestly say that I trust that my God is greater than even the biggest details in my life.

Besides that, I know that God loves me more than I could love myself. I know that God loves my husband more than I could ever love him. I know that God loves Charlie, Easton and Bentley more than I could ever love them. And I love all of them a lot. And even better? He wants AND knows what is best for my whole family. So, why shouldn’t I let it go?

 

So can I ask?? Is there anything that God has been whispering to you lately? Has He been in your ear gently saying “let it go”? Or is whispering “I’ve got this, my child”? Or maybe on the other end he is saying loudly, “JUMP! I won’t let you fall, trust me!!”

Because after all, He does have it taken care of, and He will catch you… and if anything, He will be carrying you.

 

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9 & 10

 

Let’s get together again soon and chat, okay? I really enjoyed it!

Laura

 

Prayer requests:

Please pray that I would rest completely in the Lord and continue to Let it go. Also pray for our boys health and safety in the DRC. Finally, pray that Caleb and I would embrace and celebrate the time that we have left as just a  little family of 3. Pray that the DRC government would work hard to bring home our Pastor, his wife, and their 4 beautiful daughters… Also pray for their 8 kids that are at home, that God would comfort them and bring them closer together while their family is separated.

 

The truth.

You know the movie “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”? There is a woman (played by Jennifer Lopez) in there who isn’t able to have biological kids so she and her husband decide to adopt from Ethiopia. The movie makes adoption seem like the easiest process and as though it should happen within a couple of days, maybe even a month. And in the end she goes to Ethiopia to pick up her (very healthy and chubby) looking baby. When she goes to pick up her baby they have this BEAUTIFUL “handing over ceremony” that every single child is a baby, and every single baby has its own personal caretaker. Beautiful, huh?

I mean, so beautiful that it makes you want to drop everything and adopt, right?

Because it is so EASY!

And you wonder why nobody has told you about the ease and beauty of traveling to another country to adopt your child/children…

……… cue the crickets……..

We never went into adopting because I thought it would be easy.  In fact, we knew it would be one of the most difficult things that we would ever do. However, I don’t think I realized how difficult it really would be.

We knew that it is a beautiful picture of how we are adopted in Christ. We knew that God has called Caleb and I to care for the orphans and widows in this way. We knew that it would be a long process. We knew that we wanted to “give back”. We knew we wanted more kids. We knew we didn’t want to get pregnant again.

So we did research: what is the easiest country to adopt from? The Democratic Republic of Congo. What country has the shortest wait time? The DRC. What country would accept that Caleb and I haven’t been married for 5 years yet (a common requirement for international adoption)? The DRC. What country will we know other families, from Bozeman, who are adopting from there? The DRC.

The answer seemed easy, we would adopt from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their adoption process from start to finish was supposedly 9-10 months. Their rules were a little more lax. They often made exceptions to the rules if you were deemed a “suitable family”. And we knew quite a few people who were in process to adopt from here…

Easy enough, right?

Well, we are about to start month 15 of waiting to bring our boys home. We don’t get communicated to about what is going on. The rules are constantly changing about what they do or do not require. What was supposed to be an easily done process has become a very difficult and confusing process that doesn’t seem to know up from down or left from right.

I’m telling you all of this because the picture that the world paints of adoption is not accurate. It is not easy. It is not “perfectly beautiful”. And honestly, at times it makes you want to yell at the top of your lungs that you are finished…

I’m not writing this out of desperation…

Okay, let me try that again (honestly this time)…

I AM WRITING THIS OUT OF DESPERATION.

There.

Adoption is something that comes with many tears. So many tears that we often joke that there must be some sort of “adoption hormone” that causes us to be higher strung emotionally and crazier that normal.

In fact, I stopped blogging because I didn’t want my crazy to show…

So much for that, right??? Because let’s be completely real for a moment, we need real in our lives. We need real so that we can function. We need real so that we all know we are not alone. And we need real so that we know that we are all a little crazy at the heart of it (can I get an “Amen”?!).

So, before I write my next bit of “real”, let me say, this is in no way something that I am upset with any of you about. These truths are written so that you can understand a little bit of what adoption has been like.

Okay, here we go:

1.) Adoption has made me absent minded. 

Trust me when I say that I don’t like feeling like I don’t know where I left my brain. Sometimes I forget appointments (yes, even if I write them down and have a dozen reminders on my phone). Sometimes I lose my keys… I found them under the bathroom sink the other day (It wasn’t even baby girl’s fault, it was a child safety locked cabinet). Sometimes I forget to eat. Sometimes I forget about feeding Charlie (until she gets in my face and screams for about 10 minutes). Sometimes I don’t call, email, text or Facebook people back. And the list goes on. And no, it isn’t because I’m busy – which I am – it is because I have misplaced my brain so I can fill it with forms and documents from the adoption.

2.) Adoption makes me want to  hide.

It isn’t that I am depressed. It isn’t that I don’t like my friends. It isn’t that I don’t want to be social. I do… sometimes. It is just that When you are adopting you get so exhausted that you don’t want to have to be around other people. You don’t want to have to answer more questions. You don’t want to have to act excited about the adoption process because, honestly, right now you aren’t. You don’t even want to have to pretend to be engaged in the small talk. It takes too much energy, and quite frankly, when your heart is split in half between two parts of the world it takes all of your energy to think or talk about anything else.

3.) Adoption is messy.

That’s all I can really say on that. Just because there are forms and applications and agencies to get some of the work done does NOT mean that it is a simple, “tie a ribbon around it” process. And the messiness doesn’t end when you are on the plane heading home, it continues because now you have two kids who don’t speak your language, and need to attach to you after being used to taking care of themselves. It is hard. It is messy.

4.) Adoption hurts.

Again, your heart is split in two. And the part of your heart that is in the other country is often times, malnourished, ignored, abused, brokenhearted, alone and literally having to be “the least of these”. How do you reconcile this? It is nearly impossible.

BUT there is one more thing that adoption is:

5.) Adoption is beautiful.

Not the beautiful in the way that the world describes it – no, it is beautiful in the way that the Bible describes it: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)  When I think about all of the tears that have come from this process, or all of the questions about who God is in this, I often forget to think about how hard the process was for Our God in adopting us. Let’s face it, it wasn’t easy. He had to die for us. It wasn’t a neat little package wrapped with a bow. He was tempted, He was tried, He was crucified all so that He could adopt us – you and me both – into HIS Kingdom. I have learned so much more about adoption in Christ from the trials and the heartache of this process than from anything else… “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” 

Adoption sucks.

Adoption hurts.

Adoption makes you question everything you believe.

BUT

Adoption also heals.

So why are we still adopting if it hurts? Because God has called Caleb and I to this.

Would I suggest adoption to anyone else??? Wholeheartedly, yes!! But in doing so I would say, make sure that you understand that it isn’t easy. It will never be easy. In fact, I could bet that it is the most difficult thing you will decide to do.

I would also say that there is healing for your heart and your kids’ hearts in seeing your adoption into God’s family through His eyes. And those trails and difficulties that bring that healing?? I hear that it’s worth it ;)

Until next time,

Laura

[All that being said, we have some prayer requests: Please pray that our adoption process starts moving forward. We have been at a stand still for 3 months now. Please pray for all of the people you know who are adopting, they are fighting a hard, trying, exhausting battle that sometimes seems to have no end. Pray for unity among the families and parents adopting - that their hearts will become strong in Christ and unified so that they can fight these battles together... Thank you.]

All She Had

There’s this story in the Bible about a time that Jesus was in the temple and sat opposite of the place that offerings (tithes, donations, etc.) were given. Now, picture this with me for a second… Jesus, the man who had come and been warning people (in the passage before) about the teachers of the Law – everything that they based their lives off of, comes and plops himself opposite of the place where people were giving their money.

I can’t imagine that it was done with any malicious intent but with the intent of finding someone or something to show to the people of what true, God honoring, giving looks like. He is sitting there, hanging out, possibly praying that God would bring the right person along as an example. All the while, I’m sure that Jesus keeps seeing the wealthiest of all the people in the temple giving the bare minimum of what they were told they needed to give back to the Lord. I’m sure every once in a while you could hear a sigh coming from the corner that Jesus was sitting in too, not because He was bored, but because He was broken over the fact that these people weren’t living in the sacrificial way that He was calling them to. Then Jesus probably saw some of the wealthy people tossing large sums of money into, what I imagine to be a wooden box, showing others with grand gestures how much they could afford to give. With that being said, I could picture a cringe coming across Jesus’ face, thankful they gave but saddened by where their hearts were when they were giving.

Then it happened.

A poor, almost on her last legs, woman who recently (or not so recently) lost her husband to death… This is one of the most devastating circumstances any one person can go through in their entire life. But she still came with all that she had: two copper coins. When I imagine this happening, this woman probably came with a deep, heavy shame that this was all that she had to give. I can imagine her coming with a cloak over her face so that people couldn’t recognize her. I picture her in clothes that are dirty, old, ragged and possibly smelling like they needed to be washed down by the cleansing pool outside of the city gates… But she came any way, sadness of heart and all. She gave everything that she had to give. This widow knew that this is what she was called to do and she sacrificially gave everything not knowing when her next meal would be. Or how long it would take for her to beg her way back to being able to give again.

widows-mite

Can you imagine the Lord’s delight?! Can you feel his heart soar at the image of that woman giving so little and it meaning so much?! He calls to his disciples to come over and tells them, “‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”’ (Matt. 12:43 & 44 NIV) I can hear Jesus saying this in a voice of a proud Papa, “That’s MY girl! She is the one who gets it! I am so proud of her sacrifices!” I can see the smile on His face and I can hear his heart racing, palms sweating, as He experienced what God had brought Him here to see in that very moment. I can see even our Lord and Savior’s heart being ministered to in that very moment.

This story of the Widow’s Mite has been ringing in my heart and mind through the past week or so. THIS woman’s face, burned to my memory. But not just her face – your faces… Those of you who have given when there really was nothing to give. Those of you whose hearts are beating fast with the thought that this will cut into your grocery budget this week. YOU are the faces burned onto my brain and my heart. YOU are the ones who make me see what God has brought me here to see in this very moment.

I keep getting people who are donating to our adoption with the statement of “I know it’s not much, but we want to help” or “I wish I could give more, I know this won’t do much, but it’s all we can do to bring your kids home”.

But can you imagine with me one more time? Picture Jesus sitting across from you as you hmmm and haw over what to do in this situation. Imagine His smile and His joy-filled heart as you give even those $5.00. Think about him saying ‘‘’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matt. 25:40 NIV). Look into my face, see the tears of joy that flow quickly and freely as I write this and think of our kids who have, what we would consider to be, nothing. And search the depths of God’s heart for you and hear Him saying, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matt. 25:21 NIV).

So thank you. Thank you for giving freely. Thank you for making all of the difference in the world. Thank you for trusting that God will provide for you. And thank you for loving like our God has – sacrificially and bravely. My heart is full because of your grace and faithfulness. And more than that, that $5.00 or $100.00 that you have given is working hard to bring our kids home.  If you have shared our fundraisers with your friends I have been shaken (in a good way) by your kindness in spreading the word about trying to adopt two kids. And those prayers that you have offered up to help us bring our kids home, they literally rock my heart in ways that you could not even begin to imagine. Thank you for that.

The one thought that I have to offer to all of this is, please don’t ever second guess what you have given. Even if you have sacrificed all that you have in two copper coins, I can imagine Jesus pointing you out and saying “They get it! I am SO proud of my children for giving as sacrificially as they have!”