… be strong & courageous

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“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

As we grow in wisdom, we learn that being strong and courageous can sometimes mean sitting still….. Praying…. And, waiting. Being quiet. Trusting God while He works.

We recognize that being strong and courageous in Christ is completely different than being strong and courageous in the ways our culture defines strength and courage.

It’s counter-cultural. It’s not ego driven. It is not self satisfying.

Sometimes showing strength & courage means standing up and defending ourselves and others, but never at the cost of another.

Tearing someone down doesn’t make you strong.

Neither does holding your tongue “to keep peace” when someone or their cause needs defending against a larger entity or when it means going against what’s popular. There are times when it’s much wiser to remain quiet, which takes a strength all it’s own, but we can trust that wisdom will tell us what battles are worth fighting with who and when.

Getting our little one has been a fight from the very start, but I have learned that some battles are best fought on my knees. Praying and pleading.

For my baby. My family. Their family. And, for whatever circumstances wherever they may be experiencing.

One of my friends called her family her adopted child’s Plan B family. I never thought of it that way but how true it is.

It is so true that God doesn’t desire families to be broken and children to be removed from their homes.

It’s true that God doesn’t want His children living with life long soul aches because they can’t raise their children comfortably themselves.

But, redemption stories are also true. How God can mend all of our broken hearts. How He can comfort our sorrows and turn our pains into opportunities that birth our greatest joys, opportunities for us to testify to His goodness & glorify His name.

How these three or four separate entities can find peace and comfort in our Savior. The One, besides the baby, that unites us forever.

It’s absolute truth that our Plan B story written by God is better than any top tier, Plan A story that could ever be written by anyone or any cohesive group of people.

I think about how our Savior wasn’t God’s first, second, or even third choice when deciding how to bring His people back to Him…….. But, because of our sinful nature, His last option was the greatest option.

I have wanted to give up. To say “this just may not be for us…” but I know that it’s God’s desire for us to care for a baby who is either unwanted or just cannot remain with their birth family for whatever reason.

And, I can’t walk away from that.

I’d prefer to wait in the balance knowing I’m doing God’s will than to walk away and experience temporary “peace” that will never truly be satisfying because of how the Holy Spirit will nag me and forever tap on my shoulder reminding me of what could have been and pushing me to obey anyway.

I’m excited about the next steps in our process…….

This week, I’ll be working on gathering our pictures so they’ll be ready to go in the next few weeks!

I’m excited and literally sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation about what God is going to do over the next few months! I truly believe that He is going to do something amazing through our lives and I am so ready for it!!

He commands to not fear or be discouraged. No matter what the circumstances or what you face, The Lord YOUR God is with you wherever you may go.

His presence is more valuable than anything we could ever purchase to protect us. Or, whatever comforts we feel could make us feel better.

…. Here’s to a strength, peace, & courage that could only come from The Lord!

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… promises kept

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I ran across this quote on Facebook this morning and have thought about it all day. The truths and promises referred to in this one little quote served as an amazing reminder and has definitely been a source of comfort.

Facebook is known for being a place to announce and update. I’ve noticed that there always seem to be announcement spikes…… Surges of “I’m pregnant!!!”, “I’m engaged!!”, or “Here is baby!!!” announcements seem to come all at once.

This time last year and the year before, these pregnancy/baby announcements would have sent me reeling; there would have been tears that flowed in darkness and an anger and bitterness towards God and myself and my situation that wouldn’t allow me to see that God was with me. That He loved me. That He heard and saw me.

I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see God.
And, today……. That breaks my heart.

We decided to adopt in December and started moving towards that goal in January. Everything we planned for the year was/is now up in the air because we just don’t know when or where or how things are going to pan out.

But, there was one thing I (thought) I knew.

Mother’s Day is coming up and for the first time in years, I thought that this time, it would feel so much better than before. I thought that this would be the year it wouldn’t hurt…. That this would be the year I wouldn’t cry……. This year, I was on my way to being a mama so everything would be alright.

How wrong I was.

A few weeks after we decided to adopt, we were offered a little girl…. A week or so before she was born, the family changed their mind.
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We delayed joining an agency for that little one, which set us back a month…. Then the agency set us back two….. And, here we are – apart of an agency and completing our tasks so that we’ll be presentation ready.

But, life still stings. Life is a constant reminder of what cannot and is not happening. What hasn’t happened. A picture of what won’t be experienced or felt or ever understood. I’ll constantly have questions that have answers but can’t ever truly be answered – the true depths of those answers, I’m guessing, can only be felt.

But, even with the hardships and pains of life, God has made us promises that supersede any disappointment or sadness we will ever experience here on this Earth.

Yes. The pain, frustrations, and difficulties are real. They are present. But, so are God’s promises. So is His love for you and for me. And, so is His presence.

He told us this life would be difficult. He didn’t hide that from us, He didn’t call us to be His and then hoodwink us with “Oh, by the way…. Life is going to be pretty dang on hard sometimes for ya, but you’ll get trough it!” with a pat on the back and a hearty “But, I’ll be with you!” and a smile.

He knew. He understood. He forewarned but He also promised us what He was promised by His Father.
He told us that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Hewbrews 13:5). He tells us to be content with what we have, for He is with us. Content with what we have, where He has placed us, and burdens He has given us to bear. He knew it would be hard so He gave us a Comforter and promised us comfort, encouraging all who were weary and tired to draw near to Him, because He would give us rest (Matt. 11:28). It’s hard to find rest – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – when you’re caught up in what is going on around you. It’s difficult enough to escape those things and focus on anything else. Oh, but when we seek God. Seek His face. Trust in His word and lay at His feet our burdens and broken hearts, the work that He does in us and the relief that trust and believing in Him provides is beautiful. This rest is calming and peaceful. His yoke is truly easy and light. He will give you (your weary heart and broken soul) rest (Matt. 11:28-30). We can trust that He cares for us. Our Lord and Savior died for us- He loves us and cares about everything we endure for His sake. He knows His plan for us. He has a plan for us. And, that is comforting for a planner like me. There’s nothing like feeling as if there is no agenda and we’re just here because, going through these difficulties only to switch focuses a few weeks later.

This quote reminds me that I have a purpose and so does in infertility. And, so does enduring the “man-ness” of my husband, my little Martian who tries, with honor and respect. The heartbreaks and aches have purpose and behind them the promises that they will all work together for my good and His glory. (Romans 8:28…. Don’t ya just love Romans from the beginning to the end?! How great is our God!!!!! I love it! Lol)

Yes, there are pains. We will endure struggles. We will experience both good and bad. We will be tempted and tried. We will have hard times.

But, our focus isn’t this life. As believers, we know/believe/trust that this life and all of its crap is just temporary. Everything in and of it. The earth itself will pass away. It will be done away with. But, what is true. What is lasting. What is forever is our God, His presence, His love for us, eternity, our relationship with Him, our lives.

And, it will not be until we get to that point where we can enjoy the fullness of God and all that He is. We may not see all of His promises until then. We may not be healed or given what we asked for until then, but we have the faith that it will happen.

Yes, I may have to wait. Yes, I may cry and experience pains that run deep to my soul. But,there is comfort in the shadow of His wings, we are safe in His arms, and a purpose to be filled.

And, if have to do and be and experience all that I am in order to experience that, then I can go on.

I used to think that God’s hand was truly on the ones who prospered and had an easy life…… That some of us were just meant to struggle and maybe weren’t as near to God. But, oh how that’s changed.

I still believe that some of us were meant to endure more than others for the sake of the sake of the Kingdom but the level of struggle or ease will never equate to the presence of God. There is no inverse or direct relationship there. God is with us all, He sees us all. And, loves us all just the same.

What freedom and comfort I found in that truth – that God doesn’t love me any more or any less than the one whose life just seems to go just so. His purpose for them is different. At this time in their lives. Only He knows what his around the corner or what has already been endured.

The grace of God is sufficient. His love unending. His comforts second to none. There is none like Him.

… Here’s to praising God in the good & bad, trusting & believing in His promises, and taking refuge in His shadows – burdens lifted and laid at the foot of the cross.

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… crazy little rebel

7 by jen hatmaker

(the photo above is not mine…. Google is my source!)

This post will probably be one of my more candid, transparent posts that will leave me so vunerable but I am so excited and gripped (oh, how I love that word!) by where I feel the Holy Spirit is leading me and how He is challenging me.

(Sidebar: My church, Good Hope, has taken on a year long series “I Am…” and we have learned about distinct characteristics of the Father & Son… we’re learning about the Holy Spirit now, so I’m excited to be able to identify which part of the Trinity is doing exactly what. Nerd, Jesus freak, Freak out- call it what you may… I’m all of the above! lol!)

So, being the soon-to-be adoptive mama that I am, I am incredibly obssessed wtih other AMs, (IDk if that’s a real acronym, I may have made it up), their adoption stories, and how their lives change during and after the process. I tell you adoption is not easy and it changes you, there is a beauty and redeeming power that comes from adopting and joining with adoptive families that leave you changed forever for the better.

Thankfully, I have connected & fell in love with many mamas; I feel as if we’re our own little brigade! We so eagerly support each other through fundraisers and efforts to bring awareness and attention to our cause. I’ve also noticed that we are quite the creative bunch who thinks up these crazy ideas to grow our families spiritually and in number. We are avid seekers of our God. I know some other amazing mama’s who haven’t adopted, but who are also crazy over God with their own mad ideas that benefit the Body, their communities, & families. But, as you’ll see, I’m a bit biased.

One of these mamas who is a nut about Christ and adopting is Jen Hatmaker. I don’t know her, she doesn’t know me (YET!!!), but when I tell you she has a heart for Christ and an ability to draw you in with her openness and humor – I speak nothing but the truth.

I stumbled across her blog one night a couple of months ago and read about her rebellion against what I will call consumerism and American-ism. She revolted against excess in 7 areas monthly.

*Food           *Clothes               *Possessions                *Media
*Waste            *Spending                         *Stress

When I read about this experiment, the Holy Spirit whispered “Oh, yes.. do it!” and I was thinking, “Ugh…. I love my stuff. Can’t give it away.” then hurridly clicked over to the next post. I don’t like being convicted. But, this cleanse of sorts stayed on my mind… tucked away in a dark corner.

*******

Yesterday, I cured my boredom by creating this….
i am

(it’s only as big as it is, so that you the words can be seen. I PROMISE!)
Isn’t it the perfect description of a sweet, little Christian girl? Right?

ha.

Last night,  I found that a few of my AM friends took the 7 challenge and again, the Holy Spirit said, “Let’s go!” and I conceeded, then immediately became pumped. Another idea of mine that the Holy Spirit gave me a few days ago has grown a little face through my submitting. I’m looking forward to more distingushing features becoming more noticeable as this new little project of mine becomes more and more tangible.

I come into class today and turn on my Hillsong United or similar Pandora station as I do every morning, and watched my kids play Hangman on the board. I corrected their grammar and enjoyed them coming to my desk to check their homework, give hugs, and tell stories of whatever it is they want to talk about.
I thought about how I impact little people everyday and how I directly change their little thoughts about themselves and help them. I regularly pray that I would be impactful.

*** Still thinking of the rebellion ***

I start to write about how I desire to become even more of everything I mentioned above in the picture. How I am all of those things plus some but I wanted to do and be MORE like Jesus to be more impactful.

Well.

Holy Spirit REVEALED to me, as He does, that if I got rid  of my JUNK, that there would be more room for the good to be perfected with the right motives. There would be a lot less JUNK to compete with and battle for importance. Fewer distractions to pull me away from my God work. Fewer character issues would contradict my God.  So, I created this.
i am this too

*** Don’t I even look different? ****
Oh, God. I just realized that. Look at how our JUNK colors us.

Now, allow me defend myself (is this pride?)…. I am not all good at all times, nor am I all bad all day. I am a mixture of both. I know I can be a lot less of the yellow when my mind is focused on Christ…. And, a lot less pink when I’m living in a whirlwind. Oh, I know.. it’s everyone. But, it doesn’t have to be. Was it even meant to be?

Conviction.

Is this rebellion extreme? Maybe. Unncessary? Possibly. Depends on your perspective. But, oh how I need it. Plus, this type of extreme behavior is right up my alley. I am so black or white. All the way in, or all the way out.

I am expecting to be broken, shattered, embarassed, and moved to change. I don’t believe this reduction, as Jen calls it, was necessarily meant to become a lifestyle. I believe it’s meant to shock your system into understanding how dependant we are on stuff, how truly consumed we are with things of the world. It’s going to show us where are heart is truly teethered to.

I contrast my current Christian lifestyle to efforts to living a healthy lifestyle.

I eat decently, I enjoy working out and do so reguarly (reguarly is dependent upon the craziness of the week! Which is my case in point). But, how much healhier and fit could I be if I was a bit more structured with my meals or pushed my workouts a bit harder? Instead of being satisfied with good enough. Likewise, how much more could I become more like Christ if I, for even just a little bit, shocked my system? What if I removed all of my distractions so that I could become more focused on Him? How different could my post-revolt life be?
the admirer4I am excited. I’m ready to be challenged. To become even more of a follower and less of a sideline admirer.

I’m also terrified. I love my stuff. All of it.

My life goal is at the bottom of the “good Alaina” picture.
Do good. Love mercy. Walk humbly. Serve gladly.
I should probably add Love all. somewhere in there, too.

…. here’s to radical change. to depleting your person of all the junk that prohibits the shift from admirer to full fledged, unashamed follower of our Savior, our Redeemer, our Christ.

 

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