ANYWAYS….

Have you ever had a concept or a word that keeps popping up over a period of time? Some may call this a coincident, but as a believer I tend focus in when I sense a consistent theme in my life because the Holy Spirit could be trying to teach me something.

For awhile now, the word anyway has been significant for me. The idea of doing things anyway….regardless of my fear, shame, what’s fair and even my feelings (which I am so guilty of giving too much weight).

 Awhile back my pastor shared a quote by Mother Teresa that again flashed the idea of anyway in my face.

Mother-Teresa-Quotes-On-Life-Do-It-Anyway-3

After seeing this quote I decided to give this word “anyway” some more thought so I looked up the definition online:

anyway- (adverb) 1) despite something that has been stated [done] before

Then while sitting and thinking about Mother Teresa’s quote, pondering scripture, rehearsing the definition of the word anyway, and life itself here is the conclusion I was led to…

The idea of “ANYWAY” is the GOSPEL! It’s GRACE.

Christ’s death on the cross was an act of saving us ANYWAY….despite what we’ve said or done before and what we would say and do in the future. He did it anyway. God gave His son anyway! (John 3:16) 

I don’t know about you, but there are days (ok, maybe weeks) where my attitude and actions are often far from anything anyone would want to even be around, much less give their life for. Yet, the Creator God chooses to love me anyways and gave His Son for me anyways. How incredibly awesome is this Gospel truth?! 

With that said….it’s also incredibly sad how often I neglect the awesomeness and importance of the Gospel itself. 

I’ve been a believer for as long as I can remember. I really can’t even recall the part of my life where I didn’t know Jesus as my Savior. While this is an absolute blessing, it can also cause me to take the power of the Gospel for granted. Last summer, while chaperoning youth camp, the camp pastor said “We don’t go past the Gospel we go deeper into it”. I’m  ashamed to admit I’ve falsely believed, in several different seasons of life, that I was “past” the Gospel. Where the concept of the Gospel seemed too “Vacation Bible School” for my mature faith (ha!). That is so painful to type out. 

Thankfully, God still loves me anyway and through loving and gentle whispers He has reminded me that…

 The Christian life is about learning to trust that Christ loves us anyways (the Gospel) and in response to that truth we begin to rely on Christ to help us love anyways, serve anyways, be kind anyways, forgive anyways…all because of what Christ did on the cross ANYWAYS. 

Father, you know me and love me anyway. I am certain, if others knew every corner of my heart and mind the way you do, love wouldn’t be offered. Thank you! Thank you for the cross and the timeless truths of the Gospel. Please help me to grow deeper in my understanding of what Christ did for me and help me to never loose sight of its relevance in all things and in all seasons. Amen.

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Not Prepared…

Of the many many things I know I’m not prepared for when it comes to parenting there is one that really caught me off guard recently: hurt feelings

I knew kids can make you angry, frustrated, and worn out, but having them hurt your feelings….to the core…never really crossed my mind. I just thought I’d always be able to put things my young child(ren) say to me in a box labeled “they don’t really mean it” and move on. However, this time I didn’t move on so easily.


Before you go getting all upset about that statement let me add a few side notes to it. Yes, children don’t always know the weight of what they say. Yes, children can speak out of anger and say things they really don’t mean (WE ALL do). Yes, I am the adult and need to take these things into account…ABSOLU]TELY….100%… I believe all of those things!!! However, in the moment (which I’ll share below) it hurt. Just go with my vulnerability (without judgment please)…it has a purpose.


Recently we were at someone else’s house with RED for awhile. These folks have children a little older than Red and they have lots of toys and well their house is just FUN!! Any kid would be in heaven there. Heck….I want to play like a kid when I’m there. Once it was time to go back to our house Red didn’t want to leave (understandably…the party was still going on). Finally we were able to corral him towards the car.

Later that night when I was laying down with Red for a few minutes, as I often do (that’s our time together and often when he shares things with me that are really on his mind) he said to me “Momma, I want to go live with __________ and I’ll come visit you and daddy, I promise”.

I froze. I didn’t know how to respond. I quickly kissed him goodnight and left the bedroom.


It’s important to note here that we finalize our adoption of Red this week. For those who don’t know our story this is a great time for you to read my posts titled Chosen-Part 1 and Loved-Part 2…these will help put you in my shoes for a minute.


In my head I knew all the things I listed above…he’s 5, he doesn’t know the weight of what he just said, his little mind is thinking about the FUN he had while there and nothing else. However, knowing all of this, it still struck me deep and the enemy took delight in it . As I sat on the edge of my bed sobbing the lies the enemy whispered in my ear were very real. Things like… I wasn’t what Red wanted or even needed and I had no business trying to be his momma. Areas of insecurity where I’ve let the world shape my identity started creeping in.

Once I realized what was going on (that I was allowing the enemy to have his way) I quickly rebuked the lies and ask the Lord to transform my mind (Romans 12:2). The Lord then gave me some perspective…He didn’t say it to me in a voice I could hear, but it was as though he whispered it straight to my heart: “This hurt you are feeling is just a taste of how I feel when my children choose the things of this world over their Heavenly Father”.

Ouch.

This is so often the same thing as God and His children. I could just picture Him watching me time and time again choosing the things of this world (money, success, popularity, beauty) over Him. I could picture Him sitting there watching me make choices that seemed “fun” at the time, but all the while He knew there was a better way…His way. Then in spite of my daily rejection of Him, God loves me anyways. No matter what! With open arms He welcomes me back to Him.

Now, knowing how much I love Red and how I’ll always love him (no matter what) I’m all the more aware of Christ’s own love for me. It’s an even greater, more unconditional love than I could ever offer a child. With this knowledge I find confidence in my unpreparedness, weaknesses, and imperfections in life. Just like I want Red to come to me with his real self..the Lord wants me to come to Him as my real self….just as I am.


hebrews4.16


God’s got this…

As a new mother with a child starting kindergarten I quickly found myself being “that mom”. You know, the ones who obsess over who their child’s teacher is going to be. As a former teacher myself I really thought I would have handled this with a much more level head than I did. Apparently motherhood has that affect at times (can I get an Amen?!).

I’m from a small town so I know many of the teachers at my son’s school. Whenever I found out who his teacher was and realized it was a teacher I knew NOTHING about I started to freak (I’m not proud of it, but I did). All the scenarios of things I said I’d NEVER do as a mom started running through my head…..things like: I’ll call so and so or we’ll just go to private school and take care of this. Well, I didn’t do either of those things, but after a day or two of worrying I got the bright idea to stalk the teacher on Facebook (guilty!).

Get this…the very first post on the teacher’s Facebook page was an article about adoption and her status said “We love our adopted babies”. My eyes filled with tears out of relief and conviction.

My greatest worry about who Red’s teacher was going to be was whether or not she would be able to understand Red’s past (or at least show grace) and be supportive during our adoption finalization. Who knew what the year was going to hold, how he was going to cop with the adoption, and if he was going to have trouble adjusting to so many changes.

When I saw the teacher’s Facebook post about adoption I knew it was God’s way of affirming 3 things within my spirit:

  1. God cares about what worries me. (1 Peter 5:7)
  2. God is in control of every detail. (1 Chronicle 29:11)
  3. God will provide. (Philippians 4:19)

  
So far Red has had a wonderful year and LOVES his teacher. She’s been great! I wish I could tell you I haven’t worried since or at least only worried half as much since God provided with Red’s teacher, but that would be a bold face lie. Daily I have to give my worries over and trust that God is the provider He says He is and that He’s already proven to be. Thankful God loves me in-spite of my natural tendency to worry.

What causes you to worry most? What are some ways God has provided in your own life? 

Do I really mean it?

September 1st was a horrible day!

At 10:45am I got a call that the third party involved in our adoption was planning to appeal their denial. They had not been chosen as the adoptive placement for Red and they wanted to argue the States choice. This meant finalizing Red’s adoption could be drug out for several more weeks and maybe months. It also meant there was still a window of opportunity for Red to be adopted by someone other than us. This terrified me!

Around 11:45am I got another call that my mother had been taken to the ER and they thought she was having a heart attack. This news terrified us all because my mother’s dad died when she was very young of a heart attack…you can imagine how our imaginations ran with that. Between the two pieces of bad news I had gotten in the last few hours my own heart was ready to explode!

On the way to the hospital I prayed out loud in my car. Asking God to protect my mom, be with the doctors, take care of Red’s situation, and I begged Him not to take my momma from me. In closing my prayer I told God that I loved Him no matter how things would turn out (that’s what we’re suppose to say right?)….then, just as soon as it came out of my mouth it hit me….do I really mean that?? Was I really going to be able to love God if he took my momma away from me and took Red?

It was in that moment God convicted my heart about this blog. Let me explain….I wrote the first two posts (Chosen Part 1 and Loved Part 2) back in August when Red was first placed with us full time. I wrote it as a testimony of God’s goodness and the power of prayer. I wrote it to point others to Him. I wrote it because I felt lead to share what God was doing in our lives. However, I hadn’t shared the blog with anyone yet.

In that moment as I was driving into the ER I felt God challenging me with this: You say you’ll love Me no matter what, you’ve written a blog about My Goodness and boldly shared your heart…..but you’re holding out on sharing the blog because you haven’t gotten the ending you want….how does that work?

It was true. I was waiting to share the blog when we got official news that Red was ours. I was waiting to share our story of adoption when the story ended the way I waned it to.

I don’t want my faith to be based on getting what I want. I want my faith to be based on just that….faith…believing in the unseen. Believing that God is good “no matter what” and choosing to follow Him however my story ends.

  
With all that said, my mom is doing well. She did have a heart attack, but there was no blockage. She’s been back to work for over a week now with no problems. Red’s adoption isn’t final yet, but the third party never completed their appeal packet. We are currently waiting to set a court date to finalize the adoption. THANK YOU, JESUS!

It looks like this time things are going to end the way I want them to. However, I know there will be a day when they wont. I’m sure I’ll struggle with all this again when life comes at me hard, but until then I choose to believe that God is good “no matter what”….even if the story doesn’t always end my way.

Isaiah 55:8-9New Living Translation (NLT)

8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Romans 8:28New Living Translation (NLT)

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

LOVED- Part 2

Now that you know how we came to the place of adopting, it’s important to know how God led us to the sweet little red head.

Since making the decision to adopt and letting our trainers at the agency know about our decision the topic filled much of our conversation at home. One night on the way home from MAPP class we made the comment that it would be neat to adopt a local child that we knew or had some type of connection to. Maybe a local family that couldn’t care for another child, a mom from the local pregnancy center, or a distant family member. We made these comments and moved on. Didn’t think twice about it.

A few Sundays later V had a children’s ministry leadership meeting with some ladies from our church. One of these women is a close family friend. We’ll call her A. I have known A for many years and her husband and his family all my life. They have three children of their own and also foster several children. They are actually one of the resources we reached out to early on in our own process to get more information/direction. Before the meeting, the group was having casual conversation and  someone asked A about her foster kids. She shared that they had been praying about adopting one of the children whose parental rights were in the process of being terminated, but really felt like their purpose was to foster at this point in life. She shared how torn she was in this decision, but also knew adoption wasn’t the direction the Lord was pointing to right now. 

 V came home after his meeting and shared with me what he had learned. Our friend, A had no idea at the time that we had changed our application from fostering to adopting. V and I had helped A and her family by providing respite care for her foster kids several times over the last year so we knew her 3 foster kids fairly well. We also worked with them at church. Through knowing the kids and some of their stories we were able to narrow down which child A was referring to that was soon to be in need of a forever home. It was a four year old little boy we’ll call Red. We knew right away we wanted to get some more information and go from there. 

We were encouraged to begin getting to know Red by getting him on Saturdays and taking him to the park. After doing this once or twice we kept him for a weekend  or two and then before we knew it we were wanting to keep Red as much as possible.

We loved his little personality! He’s very curious and always sitting on go. The term all boy describes him perfectly. He plays hard and gets dirty faster than anybody I know. He has such a great memory! Depending on where you’re headed in the car he can tell you where to turn to get there (typical back seat driver). He’s quick to pair people together. He likes to know who goes with who…who is their daddy, brother, grandmother? At his daycare when they gave out individual awards Red was given the “Most Informed” award. They said that he always knew the latest gossip at the daycare concerning both teachers and children. His red hair, freckles, and translucent white skin are just adorable. Needless to say it didn’t take us long to fall in love with Red. It didn’t take our families long either. Now the question was…can we love this child forever….no matter what…as parents do/should do for their children?

V and I hashed a lot of things out. We tried to intentionally talk with one another about feelings as they came up and we tried to intentionally spend time on our knees together praying. We were both confronted with a lot of selfishness. I had to work through the idea of not having a season of life where it was just us and a new born baby. V had to work through the idea that his wife was now going to be a mother too. Adopting a toddler would forever take this current season of life away from us and take some future seasons of life away. Were we really ok with that? We were also confronted with the the very real fear of not being able to love Red when he is 15 years old, pimple faced, and has raging hormones. Can we really do this? Can we really give ourselves, our known and unknown expectations of our future family, and our unconditional love away to a child who someone else gave birth to?

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We’ve learned that alone we can not. None of these things (and more) can I or V do or be “ok” with on our own. Sure, maybe we can hold it together for a few months or maybe even a few years, but our strength, love, and grace would soon wear out. It just would!

In working through all of this the Lord gently kept pulling us back in with His words…

I will direct your steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

It will be worth it. (Romans 8:28)

I have not given you fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I will never leave you. (Hebrews 13:5)

My grace is sufficient for today. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I can do all things through Christ. (Philippians 4:13)

His word was full of answers to every question, doubt, and fear we could think of. There was no doubt in our minds about God’s call up to this point and after working through our emotions and applying God’s word the best we could we were in. We were committed to taking steps towards adopting Red and loving him forever…no matter what.

Once we knew we were still in, we were about 3 weeks from being done with our MAPP class at this point and still had a home study to pass. Those typically take 3-4 months to complete. It didn’t take us long to begin to picture our future with Red as our own. However the road ahead was still very long. Over the next 10 months (November 2014-August 2015) we would continue spending time with Red, completing adoption paperwork, praying, and picturing our future as a family. Emotionally those 10 months were like a roller coaster of emotions! The more we were around Red the more attached we became and the more we learned about his heartbreaking past.

For so many months it seemed like the adoption was never going to be final. For awhile we weren’t even sure if it was going to work out. V and I had to get to a point where we could let Red go and know that he belonged to the Lord and trust He was going to do what’s best for Red. We had to accept that we weren’t in control (so hard!), but trust in the One who is. The verse about God working for our good became our motto (Romans 8:28). Red’s case changed hands within the system several times and another family showed up at one point interested in adopting him. Finally on August 5th 2015 we met with Red’s Adoption Unit Supervisor and began final paperwork on his adoption. He was going to be ours…to be LOVED forever…no matter what!!

Love-no-matter-what

CHOSEN- Part 1

“Where did the red hair come from?”

We’re asked that question a lot these day with a red headed five year old in tow. Truth is we don’t know. You see, we’re trying to adop the red head (we’ll call him Red) and while we don’t know much about his past (or his red hair) we do know he is chosen and he is FOREVER going to be ours. 

So…now that you know the story behind the red hair, I’m sure you’re now wanting to know how we got to the point of deciding to start our family through adoption? We’re happy to share…

While sitting one evening in our routine spots in the living room, V in his chair and me sprawled on the couch, watching whatever Netflix season we were hooked to at the time, he says to me: “I’ve been thinking…and I don’t want you to freak out.”

PAUSE. Let me back up several weeks. August-October(ish) 2014

For a few weeks now V and I had been talking and praying through the possibility of becoming foster parents. At one point, early in the process, we had even been given Power of Attorney for two children in our church who needed a home for the coming school year while their dad worked offshore and mom was living in another state. When this opportunity came to us we thought this was why God had been confronting us with the need for foster parents, for us to be open to providing a temporary home for these two children. We were amazed at how fast we came to love them and enjoy taking care of them. Long story short that opportunity fell through and we were left puzzled. We were so willing at this point to give ourselves away (not that it wasn’t scary) and excited for the chance to do something totally outside of ourselves. Something that we would be forced to fully rely on Christ to get us through. At this point in life, we hadn’t tried to have children “the old fashioned way”, but we do hope to (one day). Again the idea of fostering and the great need for foster homes had gotten to the point that everywhere we looked we were running into a child in the  system, foster parents, an article related to fostering, a commercial, a radio announcement, a movie, a devotional and I could go on. Fostering was in our faces EVERYWAY we turned and we just couldn’t ignore what was in front of us anymore (Proverbs 24:12). We had the extra room, the finances, a short experience with having two children not our own in our home and the flexibility to meet the need…what was our excuse anymore.

Therefore, we decided to sign up for the MAPP class to get some more information. We started class October 2014. The MAPP class is an 8 week class all foster/adoptive parents in our state must take as the first step to becoming licensed. We still weren’t committing to becoming foster parents, but willing to take the first step towards fostering and just see. After our first night of class we were given tons of resources and me being who I am spent the next several days looking up all the information online.

One of the brochures we were given had information about the “Heart Gallery”. This is a website showing pictures and general profiles for children in need of forever homes. With each profile my heart literally sank further into my stomach. To see these faces and know they had no family identity, no security, and very little to call their own was gut wrenching. Also knowing these are faces of children only miles from my home. Before long I found myself sobbing over my laptop. V was not home so I could ugly cry and not be disturbed. As I kept scrolling and scrolling I prayed. Not one of those out loud prayers, but one of those deep in your heart prayers that you just know the Holy Spirit is hearing every word of (Romans 8:26). In my heart I said to the Lord, “I think we can do this. I think V and I could love one of these children as our own. Lord if this is you putting this on my heart, please put it on V’s too.” Somehow I managed to dry my eyes and close my laptop. I didn’t say a word to V about what I had been looking at, about my crying, or about my prayer. After several days I myself had even forgot about it.

PLAY. Back to us watching Netflix. 2-3 weeks into the MAPP class and V telling me not to freak out because he’d been thinking. Late October-November(ish) 2014.

Of course after he says “don’t freak out”…I do. I immediately begin to think…what did you do, spend, break, or say. He laughs and in his most genuine expression says to me (these are his exact words) “I’ve been thinking about adoption. I just think it’s something you and I could do. We could love any child as our own.”

I was floored. Immediately the prayer I had prayed over my laptop while scrolling through the Heart Gallery came to mind and it was as though the Lord said to me “I directed you, I heard your heart and your husband has heard Me.” Once I told V about my visit to the Heart Gallery website a few weeks prior, my ugly cry, and prayer he was speechless. We both were. At that moment we knew we were no longer in this thing just to see, but to build our family.

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We also knew that taking this step would require a lot of faith. Even though we both said “I think we can do this” we both knew that statement included more than just the love, patience, endurance, and security V and I alone could offer any child. We knew this was something we were going to have to rely on the Lord to carry us through for the rest of our lives. We were no longer talking about a temporary situation, but a forever one. The thought of that both excited us and terrified us. We were both confident in what the Lord had stirred in our hearts and how He went about bringing us each individually to the point of “let’s adopt”, that we knew we would not walk this adoption journey alone. (Deuteronomy 31:6) (Philippians 1:6)

The more we began to research adoption and study the theology of adoption the more we feel in love with the idea of starting our family this way. In so many ways adoption points to the gospel of Jesus. Author Russell D. Moore says it best in his book Adopted for Life. Moore says:

Adoption is, on the one hand, gospel. In this, adoption tells us who we are as children of the Father. Adoption as gospel tells us about our identity, our inheritance, and our mission as sons of God. Adoption is also defined as mission. In this, adoption tells us our purpose in this age as the people of Christ. Missional adoption spurs us to join Christ in advocating for the helpless and the abandoned. (James 1:27)

As soon as you peer into the truth of the one aspect, you fall headlong into the truth of the other, and vice versa. That’s because it’s the way the gospel is. Jesus reconciles us to God and to each other. As we love our God, we love our neighbor; as we love our neighbor, we love our God. We believe Jesus in heavenly things—our adoption in Christ; so we follow him in earthly things—the adoption of children. Without the theological aspect, the emphasis on adoption too easily is seen as mere charity. Without the missional aspect, the doctrine of adoption too easily is seen as mere metaphor….

The gospel of Jesus Christ means our families and churches ought to be at the forefront of the adoption of orphans close to home and around the world. As we become more attuned to the gospel, we’ll have more of a burden for orphans. As we become more adoption-friendly, we’ll be better able to understand the gospel.

This past summer (June 2015) while at youth camp the camp pastor asked this question: What are you doing with/in your life that the only possible answer you can give others for your actions/choices is to point to Jesus? 

V and I answer that questions with starting our family through adoption from foster care. We know our efforts will be far from perfect, but we’re learning more and more that in our weakness He is strong! (2 Corinthians 12:9)

We write all of this to communicate several things:

  • No, we have not had trouble getting pregnant. We have not tried and assume one day (Lord willing) we’ll be able to have biological children as well.
  • Adoption is something the Lord has called us to specifically. You can’t tell us otherwise. We are excited about this call to adopt, but equally terrified. Please pray for us!
  • Please know we believe that not everyone is called to this same journey and we don’t believe any one journey is better, more spiritual, or more challenging than the other. We all have a call the Lord has place on our lives and it’s our purpose in life to run after that call in an earnest effort to honor the Father.
  • We want others to hear our story and identify with two imperfect people, with many flaws, trying to accept the love and forgiveness Christ has to offer us everyday. Truth is we are so unworthy, but still he loves and offers us opportunity to work beside Him to build His kingdom. “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Acts 20:24.
  • We hope our story of adoption and how God’s hand has led us to this point translates, in some small way, for people the picture of how God the Father feels towards all of His children and how we are adopted as His. Through this process we have learned more than ever what it means to choose and to be chosen. What a concept?! As believers that’s what we are, CHOSENYou are CHOSEN! (Ephesians 1:4-5)

If you’ve read all of this and desire to know more about being chosen, forgiven, accepted, and about the love Jesus Christ has for you please reach out! Call a local church, comment below and I’ll contact you, or call a friend who you know that’s a believer of Jesus Christ. You can also click here for information about becoming a follower of Jesus.