Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When Our Intentions Don't Match up with our Reality. (Part 1)

Sometimes, our plans don't work out as we intended. 

Like today, I'm sitting here icing my ankle instead playing tennis. We DID play, but then my ankle rolled and down I went. 
(And um, no, I'm not Serena Williams, but this offered up a great image for when life doesn't go according to OUR intentions!)

What do we do when faced with a situation when what happens doesn't line up with our intentions???

We have a choice.

We could complain. We could whine. We could think of how much better it would have been.

But that doesn't change the current reality. And, it only makes our hearts more downtrodden.

OR, we could choose to praise Him…for the fact that we DID get a good 20 minutes of playing time before I fell. 

That I got the grocery run in before we played. (It'd be much harder to do that limping around the store!)

That I can now sit and finally blog…

So a change in plans, can be a GOOD thing, if we open our minds to accept it.

And that's a little bit like what I've been wanting to blog about.

Back when I was 15 years old, I was an emotional puddle at the foot of the cross. I realized for the first time what it meant that "Jesus died on the cross for MY sins," and I was aching to respond.

But I had a choice.

Why didn't I go running into the arms of Jesus as I longed to?


What was I afraid of?

Are you ready?

Being BORED.

I knew a bunch of church-going kind of people that lived boring, flat lives. I saw them my whole life. And I didn't want to join them!

I knew the word COMPLACENT well. And I finally stepped forward in faith with the prayer that I never ever become complacent in my faith. Ever.

I think God must have thought, "Oh silly girl, I will not allow you to slow down long enough to grow complacent. Come on this journey with me!"

Thankfully, and only by His Spirit, did I say yes to Jesus and began my walk of faith.

That's been a LOT of years ago now.

And He has been faithful. I have not grown complacent. I am too busy walking with Him in these amazing adventures to be complacent.

In my husband's terminology, we gave God a blank check for our lives. We have offered ourselves up to Him time and time again. Always wanting to say YES to Jesus when He asks something of us.

And that's scary. Why? Because often Jesus asks us to do things that are waaaay out beyond ourselves. And then, He allows things that we thought we had all sewn up nice and tidy to fall apart.

I think the "WHY??" here (in case you are asking) is so that we will depend on HIM and not on ourselves.)

There are many things God has chosen to do in our lives were NOT our intentions…at least not many of them! 

We did NOT intend to lose babies to miscarriage.

We certainly did NOT intend to have Oskar die at 39 weeks…so close to birth. Ugh. This still sends me reeling.

We did not choose our current location, nor did we even choose to adopt a large portion of our family. 

God did these things. Or depending on how we look at evil in the world, God ALLOWED these things to happen.

But our attitude in response to them makes all the difference. After our first child died, at 5 months gestation, I spoke on the phone with a fellow mom of twins who had the same exact situation. 

She was the MOST bitter person I'd ever encountered.

And she scared me silly. 

As angry as I was that I lost one of my twin babies, a dream I'd had for my whole life, I did not want to become bitter like her.

And so, my response to this "change of plans" was to allow Him to grow me.

It was ugly. It was hard work. And it didn't come to full completion until I lost another baby. 

(really? yes. gah!)

Sometimes, the ways of God look so messed up to us! But He has a gentle, loving plan and if we allow Him, He works it out in our hearts beautifully.

I never foresaw becoming a mother to many nations. I never foresaw living in a small American town. I never foresaw having special needs children. 

But now, I cannot imagine who I would be if these things were not true of me.

Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end if leads to death."

I am so glad that God gets to decide what happens in my life, and not me. (She says with a throbbing ankle and drippy, melting ice soaking her sock.)

It comes down to a choice of acting in faith. 

Will I look at this from MY HUMAN perspective or will I permit myself the joy to allow God's HOLY perspective to win?

If I choose my perspective I will:
*shrink back in fear
*grumble and complain
*give excuses
*live a sad version of my life

If I choose God's perspective I will:
*KNOW that He has a plan that it incomprehensible to my limited mind
*TRUST that He is good, in spite of what circumstances might "prove"
*ACT based on His promises
       ~that He is GOOD
       ~that He is LOVING
       ~that He is with me
       ~that He has gone before me and is already working
*live a life fully dependent upon God's strength, because there's no other way to survive once we obey the radical things He calls us to do (THIS IS THE OPPOSITE OF LIVING A COMPLACENT LIFE!!)

This is a "Part 1" blog post. There is something NEW on the horizon for me, for us, and God has blown us away with it all. 

It was not our intention. 

It was not our design.

But it IS His, and soon, I'll tell you!

Stay tuned!

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

A New Chapter--Serving in Adoptions

It is with GREAT JOY and EXCITEMENT that I have accepted the position as Adoption Coordinator for the non-profit, Children's Lantern in Defiance, Ohio. I am thrilled to be able to serve adoptive families in their adoption process, as well as once they come home.

I did a little trip down memory lane, just wondering HOW did I get here? I love when God does surprise turns in our lives. He had these things planned out long before we ever had an inkling!

I have been "doing" adoption things since the fall of 2010, when God put it on our hearts to expand our  little family of 6 by adding in another child.

We didn't know where to start. We had never had any interest in adoption. We were the blonde, all-American looking family. We had NO IDEA how God was about to rock our worlds!!

We began the process of adoption and were drawn to the masses of children orphaned by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. This led us to Uganda. Which eventually, after a lot of false starts, led us to Zeb.

So then we had five children. We adopted, independently, from Uganda. And it was a whirlwind. We were home with him in a flashing ten months after we decided yes, we felt God was calling us into adoption.

So shockingly fast. So bizarre. We know. 

Then, the ache began. You can read about it HERE. And then, I found him! I didn't know I was looking, but God did. And He directed my path straight to the blog where I laid eyes on my 6th child: Toby.

And honestly, it was only another 10 months until we had to take this picture:
This shot was by the Chinese government the day after "Gotcha" had happened. He still looked pretty scared. The smiles distinctly began the next morning. And he's never stopped smiling since!! :)

And it was BEFORE we traveled to adopt Toby that we knew knew knew that Esty was our daughter too.

But that's crazy, right?


Ten months after we were home with Toby, we were back in China to bring Esty home.

And now our "all-American" family has been largely improved upon by the delightful presence of some of the world's neediest orphans. We are ALL better for their arrival and part in our family!

So this crazy path that has exploded into our lives only began not even 4 years ago. It's astounding to me HOW MUCH my life has changed.

Changed for the better. I am less selfish, less concerned about what other people think and my "serving" muscle is way more toned. My heart is broken for the remaining orphans around the world.

A friend of mine once prayed for me that I would find a way to help orphans find their families. I thought her prayer was mighty big, but I echoed it into my own heart. I've been so amazed to watch God use this blog to unite orphans with their families (stories that need to be shared!!) and now with an official capacity serving with Children's Lantern. I am honored to become part of such a phenomenal group of people with similar passions!

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Flashback to 2011

I can't believe it's been THREE YEARS since we brought home our Zareb from Uganda!!

I savor these precious images from when we travelled home.

 He seems so little at just under 3 years old!

We had this ridiculous 6 hour layover in Amsterdam…but it gave me time to grab these sweet photos. Looking back, those 6 hours were indeed hard (especially when he took off with another family and I had to chase him down!) but I delight in these images where he looks SO LITTLE!!

And I have to also share this precious one…where my now Kindergartners (!) were taking one another in. Love their fingers touching!

It's been an amazing three years where we've added to our family TWO more times…and Zareb has just rolled with all of it! 

Here's my favorite shot from this summer of our Zebby:

He was so delighting in playing in the ocean! :)

Oh how I am sooooo grateful for this precious boy whom we were given!!

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