… choosing adoption

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Nothing grips my heart more than adoption.

It is the ultimate choice to serve God in a way that is uncomfortable and frustrating at times but is so fulfilling and humbling more often than not in ways that couldn’t be imagined.

I have come to greatly respect and cherish the difficult decisions that have come with our infertility. I admire and have an incredible heart for the other mamas and families who sacrifice so much to make hard decisions to adopt & foster. As much as your heart may want it, it’s not easy. (I’m learning.)

CHOOSING to step in a role that you KNOW comes with heartache, an incredible wait, and living in the unknown in just about every aspect of live is large. Choosing to bring another person/other people into your home unaware of the depth of whatever it is they come with is even larger.

Easy lives rarely tell amazing stories.

I’ve been thinking about how adoption has changed us and broadened our perspectives. And, I’m humble at how God has used us for His glory. Makes the struggle not seem so bad.

We’ve learned to love and embrace the least of these. Understanding that every child in the foster care system, every orphan, every adopted child has a story all their own. Not nearly all of them are drug addicted as media/the public would like for us to believe. Not all of them are abused. But, in some way they are or will be heart broken because of their past. They may be emotionally/spiritually/mentally broken. They may be diagnosed. They may be disabled. They may be typical & “perfect”.
But, because we know, love, and serve a God of acceptance and grace – we CHOOSE to show the same acceptance and love towards others.
God accepted us when we were not His own. He CHOSE to love us. To accept us. And, call us his own.

Adoption has activated a faith that I’ve never had. That faith has produced a patience and peace that is literally beyond understanding. I’ve come to know His word to be true from my own experiences. It is TRUE that the good works of others point others to Christ & cause them to glorify Him. It’s beautiful to see God redeem brokenness & restore a trust, innocence, and joy in a child that it was taken from. It’s beautiful to see that so many people have the opportunity to share testimonies of their own families and those around them simply because someone decided to trust God & choose.

And, my God if such hardships & joys don’t build character.
Can you imagine the opportunities to increase your child’s exposure to different cultures, circumstances, & concepts of what love & family look like by bringing another into their home? They learn to sacrifice, to share, to accept, and to build relationships in ways that some children don’t have the privilege to. Can you imagine how your child is learning to see God’s people (as HE sees them)? God’s character? You see that your faith and difficult positions changing you to become a person of a wider perspective. A person who looks & thinks more like God.

And, you’re humbled at being called an “oak of righteousness”. Someone who’s redeemed ashes & despair show God’s splendor. How humbling is that? That your life shows a clear example of God’s love & faithfulness to His children? The ones He chose? We are His children through adoption. He redeems and restores us. He gives us a community of faith to join & become one with. A community of people who cross gender, racial, and ethnic lines to worship and share in the goodness of our God.

Trusting God with our lives, with expanding our family, & with the ones He has planned for us has changed us.

I welcome both the challenges and joys that come with just going with what God has planned.

It’s a peaceful place to reside.

… here’s to a complete inability to communicate how goodGod has been, is, and continues to be to us. I’m literally speechless.

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… sweet, glorious reminders

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Friday morning. Warmth of the sun shines through the blinds. Hillsong & Gungor play on repeat.

And, I am overwhelmed.

And, reminded by this garden how sweet our God is.

I honestly forget to water the garden, so when I do I give a double and triple the amount of water I think it needs.

Grated, I have no idea but if I’ve missed a few days and rain has been if-y….. Certainly it needs more right? Hope I’m not drowning them.

And, I’m overwhelmed again. As I type this. I’m overwhelmed.

20130621-101306.jpgFor me, this garden has become the ultimate metaphor for life.

It’s a constant reminder of how just the smallest amount of love and attention, how situations, relationships, & circumstances can change.

A little more attention.
A bit more grace.
A little more forgiveness.
More mercy.
More faith.
A little bit of hope.

Water. Sunshine. The negative removed.

Prayer. Faith. Hope. Love.
The greatest of these is love.

Without it our relationships are ruined. Without it we give less grace & mercy.
Without it we’re less patient. Less forgiving. Less understanding. Less likely to reconcile. Less likely to care. To try. To give. To sacrifice.

Faith keeps us trusting the promises of God.

Hope keeps us motivated enough to go to God. Keeps us humble. Keeps us working towards our desires. It won’t let us quit.

It seems as if every week, I see a difference. A slight change in my flowers.

Flowers that were there but didn’t have what they needed to grow. To become beautiful. To give life & hope to those watching them for encouragement. A small sign that all the watering, pulling of weeds, & effort is doing some good.

They needed consistency. Love. Faith. Hope.

I wonder how drastically our lives would change if we were willing to DO even the smallest amount more than what we say we’re going to do.

If our speech was laced with grace, forgiveness, & understanding.

If we depended on the Holy Spirit to guide our every action.

If God’s character & personality was what we goaled to emulate instead of allowing our egos to drive us.

What if Christ actions were what we so intently watched & His words were ours instead of allowing the culture’s way of life to be our example.

Yes. We would behave differently. Yes, some wouldn’t like us. But, we’d draw more men to Him through our patience, kindness, humility, service, and smiles.

We would be loving people. We would be making a difference.

Those watching us would find hope in our transparency & honesty. They would desire to know what it is that causes us to rejoice in trying times. We would attract people by the light being radiated through us – the light that is our Father.

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Our redeemer. Our salvation. Our companion. The giver of Life. The Bread of Life. The comforter. Our friend. Our protector and provider.

I can’t help but thank God for the desire to tend to that garden out there. What a blessing it has been. I have a real life example of how my Creator makes new & beautiful things. How HE loves His creations.

How there is always something working underneath the surface, things going on that we can’t see & don’t understand. But, as we water, allow light to shine, & remove the negative – how things grow and change. How these baby flowers or leaves or whatever they are are growing. And the little buds we are beginning to see aren’t the end.

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Once we see progress, we still have to weed and water. Its not time to rest & bask in the fact that there is progress. That little plant, the change, has a great life before it and if we continue to do our part, it can become something truly beautiful. The plant, the improvement can wither just as easily if we choose not to work just as hard to keep what we’ve worked for.

“You make me new. You are making me new. You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of dust. You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us.” – Beautiful Things by Gungor. It’s the song on our Chrome Buffalo video. You can watch that here.

God is working. Always. We just have to act in faith. Trust Him actively. Continue to seek Him – especially in those moments when we feel like we’re drowning.

Deuteronomy 31:6 “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid because of them. It is God who goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you”

… Here’s to little gardens that glorify our God and tell of His goodness & faithfulness!

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… the beauty within

I found this lovely reminder of where true beauty lies on Pinterest… my favorite place to spend a few distracted moments perusing, scrolling, reading, and discovering. lol.

These verses are found in 1 Peter 3:3-4 right after Peter teaches how we as children of God should live our lives modeling Christ at the end of chapter two.

Right after, he teaches wives how to change their husband’s behavior. He talks about the beauty of a woman after telling her how to get her husband to do what’s right (in the sight of God, not based on her own feelings, thoughts, or perspectives).
I find that very interesting. Why are these two verses back to back? What is Paul really getting at?

I believe that we as women are taught to manipulate at a very early age and often unintentionally. It starts early with our dad, grandfathers, and other men in our lives who drop everything at the sight of a tear. What do we learn? If we cry, we get our way. And, it grows from there… we learn to manipulate with our feelings, our bodies, our words, and a slew of other little subleties that we learn affect men. And, soon we are both intentionally and unintentionally manipulating in order to get what we want. And, it works. And, if it works – why try something different?

Paul teaches that we can get what we want (a God honoring and obeying husband) by honoring God in our actions rather than manipulating with our beauty/physical attribute/feelings/etc. (I believe). Sounds like it won’t work, right? I know. but, follow us.

As women, what we want most is a husband who loves us like Christ loves the church. A man who loves us in action, one who supports us, listens and gives great advice, makes great decisions, forgives us of our mishaps and never mentions it again, one who takes up for us, one who serves us, and consistently gives us things that we both need and want. One who is kind, patient, forgiving, gracious, has a witty sense of humor, and is respectable, and respected. One that love the Lord, serves Him, prays to Him (with us), and obeys Him THAT is a great guy, right? We all want on of these ones… One that is like Jesus.

We all want that but the truth of the matter is, although we are to treat our husbands as if they are Jesus, we know these guys aren’t. They try,they work hard, and they goal to be all of the above on most days but they fail. And, they fail because they are human beings just like us. Sinful and selfish in nature.

This sinful and selfish natures causes them to… sin. Intentionally and unintentionally. They’ll commit the “big” sins and the “little” ones, too… leaving us wondering who in the world this person is that pushes us closer and closer to the edge on their worst day.

So, what do we do? How do we manage?
As women, our tendency is to talk about it. Face to face. Talk it out. And, discuss and disect. To feel. And, talk about it all, all the way to the smallest detail. That’s what’s natural to us. To our men, these great big men of ours…their nature is say a couple of words side by side and move on. CONFLICT!!!! before anything is even said! Paul’s remedy for this is to not say anything and let your actions to the talking for you. Calm, respectful, peaceful actions. He can be won without a word. Now, don’t take this and run too fast – we can respectfully state our opinions but leave it at that. Then, act respectfully. Not holding grudges, not stomping, not withholding, not neglecting but respecting him and his decisions even though you don’t agree with him. This makes him feel safe. He doesn’t feel attacked and you are leaving the gate open for him to say “Hey, I was thinking about what you said and……”. You aren’t attacking his ego, you aren’t belittling him, or cutting into his pride. You are creating a safe place for your husband to come to you, to partner with you, to confide in you, and most of all – trust you. Trust that he can make a mistake or a different decision without feeling fear of losing your support, rejection, being emasculated, or beaten down. You’re allowing him room to lead with confidence and trust you to do what you’re there for – to help him! He needs it! And,he knows that he can depend on his respectful wife to do just that.

She sounds pretty cool, right???? Her husband will definitely think so!

Now.. that we got through all of that. (You know I’m long winded…. sorry!!)

The beauty of such a woman. A woman like Sarah and Abigail.. the Proverbs 31 woman… the Shunammite woman and plenty of others who were all beautiful not only because of their outward appearances but because of their character, intelligence, discipline, wisdom, sensitivity, obedience to God, and honorable behavior.

Just like a husband can look respectable and desirable based on his outward appearances but could be more trouble than any one is worth because of his character…. Ladies, we can be the same. My husband calls me “The heart of our home” and I believe that every woman is the heart of their home…. We, as women, influence so much of the “feeling” of our home, we impact our husbands and children in ways we do not always realize and it’s our responsiblity to make sure that our homes are taken care of. That the beauty of our character is valued more that the beauty of our apperance. We all love outer beauty but there is nothing like a woman who is strong, respectful, slow to anger, one who always seems to have the right words at just the right time. One who can problem solve, and multitask, who’s discerning, one whose family adores her.

These qualities represent true beauty… they put us in a different category. These qualities honor God…. they will allow us to be used by Him to reach, help, and intervene for others in a way contrary behavior won’t. This beauty in action is of a servant mindset foundationally – always considering the other person before ourselves…

This Godly behavior allows Him to be seen in us which draws people to us and gives us the opportunity to spread the gospel. It allows us to raise daughters who have a standard of character that will require her to seek and trust God, one that positions her to be sought after by a God honoring man, and become the heart of her own home raising God fearing children with character standards set by God.

This beauty affects generations.

This is the behavior described in Proverbs 31 that results in her husband and children praising her.. it causes her husband’s heart to trust her.

She. Is. Beautiful.
Are you??

….. here’s to endeavoring to immolate the beauty of Christ, to getting to know Him more intimately so that we these characteristics become more and more second nature, and to rejecting the culture’s way of dealing with God’s men in a unGodly way. And, the patience and faith required to do it.

…. here’s to looking past the feelings and hurts of now and focusing on the God given, generation impacting duty of beautiful as an action…. beautiful an act of worship … beautiful as a way of life.

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