Thursday, August 20, 2015

Remain Faithful

Last August I attended ReNEWed Life Women's Event for the first time as an attendee rather than an organizer.  I had just made it through eight weeks of recovery after spinal surgery, so it was good just to be out and feeling decent.  The music was good.  The speakers were good.  The atmosphere was good.

But I was distracted.

I heard the speaker talking that morning about God's goodness and faithfulness.  These were things I know to be true.  In fact, I had experienced God's goodness and faithfulness personally in the past, through all my health issues and three miscarriages.  Yet, my mind was spinning this particular morning.  I wasn't experiencing peace.  My husband and I had just received our first call for an adoptive placement...of three children. 

I questioned the LORD.  "Is this really what you want us to do?"  I questioned my own ability.  "How can I do this?  We already have two young children...now three more , virtually the same age as our two.  Really, Lord?"  I questioned God's direction.  "Is this really what you're wanting us to do?"  My mind was whirling through all the details.  I couldn't concentrate on anything else it seemed.  I was trying to figure it out.  Reason.  To see what God was doing.  I was anxious.

It wasn't until the afternoon session that my mind settled down a bit.  At least enough to hear the speaker say something like because God is good and faithful, He asks us to remain faithful.  Then, while another speaker shared her testimony, she said something like through her experience she had realized she was a control freak, and my eyes filled with tears.  It hit me.  I didn't need to have it all figured out.  No, I needed to relinquish control and remain faithful.  To do the next right thing.  To trust Him.  That's what God was calling me to do.

Well, it turned out, as usual, I had no idea what lied ahead in the days to come.  But God knew.  And I was thankful for the reminders I heard that day.

It didn't work out with the three children.  God made it clear that it wasn't the right placement for them or us.  So I had wasted a lot of time fretting about something that didn't even happen.

In September, we received another call, this time about an 11 month old boy.  Our family spent two months getting to know this little boy in hopes of adopting him, only to have some distant relatives in another state come forward and say they wanted him.  In Iowa, relatives get top preference.

That really hurt, not only my husband and me, but our two little boys who had fallen in love with him.  They were excited to welcome him as their little brother.  This made no sense to me.  I truly felt we had followed God's lead to pursue this adoption.  Sure, we had prayed for God's best.  But how could we not be the best for him, right?!  So, again, I wondered what God was doing.  I wondered why He allowed this to happen.  But we kept moving forward in faith. 

In November, there was a precious baby girl.  That didn't work out.

Then, in December, we found out I was pregnant!  After me having 2 years of early pre-menopausal symptoms and having had three miscarriages, we were just thrilled to be expecting a baby!  We reasoned, this must be why things didn't work out with the other kiddos (always trying to figure it out). 

It seemed like the pregnancy was progressing well.  I was showing early and experiencing all the pregnancy symptoms that I experienced with my two healthy pregnancies.  We announced it to the world in January.  We were excited!  Everyone else was excited along with us!

A few weeks later we lost our baby; a fourth miscarriage.  Honestly, it just seemed too much.  I mourned deeply.  But the same words came out of my mouth, "God is good.  God is faithful."  I was reminded again, that I also needed to remain faithful...even though I didn't understand (and still don't).  

This scripture ministered to me in my grief:

Romans 11:33-36 (NLT)
33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
34 For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
    Who knows enough to give him advice?[a]
35 And who has given him so much
    that he needs to pay it back?[b]
36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

We were still grieving and we were on hold from taking foster and adoptive placement calls, when one day I opened up my Facebook to read a message from a dear friend I had made through the connection with the 11 month old boy I mentioned earlier; the foster mom of the little boy we didn't get to adopt.  She said she knew it might not be the right time, but the situation was time sensitive so she was just going to throw it out there.  She had heard about two children legally free for adoption that she thought might be a good fit for our family.

At first my husband, Alan, said, "No way!"  We were still mourning.  I was still recovering physically.  So I thought about just saying we weren't interested.  In fact, I went to my Facebook and began a message.   But I didn't feel right saying no.  So, instead, we agreed to pray about it for a few days.

After a lot of prayer, a few phone calls, meeting the kids and having visits with them for a month, those two precious kiddos moved in with us in March.  Legal adoption day is quickly approaching.

Through this adoption process God has asked me over and over to surrender.  To relinquish control.  To stop trying to figure it out.  To trust Him.  To walk forward in faith, faithfully.  It hasn't always been easy.  But... 

God is good.  God is faithful.  We need to remain faithful to Him.  Surrendered.



Through all the ups and downs of life this past year, God was a work.  Even though I don't need to know all the "whys", God is good to give us little glimpses into His glory.  It helps us press forward in faith.  For instance, when things didn't work out with the then 11 month old boy, it just didn't make sense to me.  But it was through our connection with him that we met his foster mom who connected us with the two children we have now.  He's also in a very good place for him.  The LORD is good and faithful.  He is sovereign.  He provides.

Faith is something we talk a lot about.  But it's another thing to live it.  Faith is an action.  It's taking God at his Word.  It's remaining faithful, even when (especially when!) it doesn't make sense to us.  When we can't see.  Because even when it doesn't feel true, God is good and faithful.  And He's always up to something...so much more than we can even fathom, in fact.

I mess up a lot.  I want to control.  I want to know.  I'm not always faithful.  But God is!  I'm so thankful for His grace.  But I long to live a life more wholly surrendered to Him.  To trust Him more.  It's a process and a daily choice.  None of us know what tomorrow holds.  God does.  I must remember His faithfulness in the past...and keep moving forward.

Will you join me, friend?  

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Necessary Silence (Adoption)

I wrote this a month ago, but didn't post it....

I've been silent on my blog for a while.  Necessarily silent.

The process of Adoption.  It's complicated.  Both good and hard at times.  It's a beautiful blessing.  A huge adjustment.  A high calling.  Exhausting.  An indescribable joy.  It can be isolating. 

Nothing has made me more aware of the brokenness of this world.  The world's depravity.  My own need for a Savior.  And, in turn, it freshly reveals His grace upon grace upon grace.

To have another woman's children tightly squeeze my neck and say, "I love you, Mom."  Bittersweet.  My heart aches for her loss.  Yet, my heart sings over my gain, over God's redemptive love and sovereignty.  He gives a future and a hope!  I don't understand all the "whys".  I don't need to. 

There are so many words flowing through my mind.  But, right now, I'm (mostly) silent on this blog.  Not because I don't have anything to say.  Instead, I'm choosing, in the small snippets of times I'm allowed, to be still and listen to the One who created me.  Not because I'm so holy.  Because it's a necessity

I'm more acutely aware of my desperate need of His wisdom, peace, perspective and Holy Spirit guidance through this whole process.  Aware I am not in control of things.

I don't want pity.  I am so blessed!  I love these kids!  But the fact is, adjusting, no matter how amazing the kids are or how closely I'm walking with Jesus, takes time, patience, prayer and motivated effort, not just for the kids, for Mom and Dad too. 

He is doing His work.  Refining.  Reshaping.  Lovingly revealing those deep places that need to be more wholly surrendered.  As my husband and I try to live out the Gospel, the truths of Scripture are coming alive.  He's growing and maturing us as we're pouring into all four of our children.  The LORD is so cool like that!  :)

His ways are so beyond my ways.  Yet, as we journey ahead, He gives me these beautiful glimpses into His vast glory and goodness and answers to prayer.   He's showing me His faithfulness (again!).  I praise Him for that.  It keeps me moving forward in faith. 

Sometime I hope to share here at least a few of the testimonies of His goodness through this process.  There's so much to tell.  But for now, I will choose silence in His presence over blogging.  I want to prayerfully listen, lean in and hopefully learn as we continue to find our new "normal."

I pray we will lead a life worthy of our calling, for we have been called by God."
(Ephesians 4:1)   

I pray the same for you, dear reader.  Have you taken time today to be silent?  Are you listening for His voice?  He's there.  Waiting.  Eager to engage.  Ready to help.  You need Him. 


Another month has passed now.  Our new "normal" is feeling more normal.  I'm counting my blessings as well as counting down the days to legal adoption day.  And I'm praising the LORD for all He has done, continues to do and what I believe He will do in the future.  God is good all the time!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grief and Hope ~ Fourth Miscarriage

Grief is a peculiar thing.
 
Miscarriage, a fourth one.  It seems almost too much.
 
I've cried...and wept bitterly.
I've talked it out with my husband.
We've shared moments of sorrow as a family. 
We've shared great conversation, growth opportunities. 
 
I've analyzed it from every angle...
With no resolution.
I've asked why...
With no answer.
 
I've blamed myself...
Then reminded myself of Truth.
I've physically suffered...
Then found some much welcome relief.
 
I've been angry...not at anyone in particular.
I've been hurt by the insensitive things people say and do...
Then chosen to extend the grace that's been given to me.
I've also been thankful for many compassionate, praying friends.
 
I 've been fearful of the future.
I've been sad for the present.
I've grieved over the past, we all have....
Especially over the child we hoped to adopt.
 
I've prayed in groans that can't be expressed in words...
And other times in earnest.
I've searched His Word for answers.
And found much consolation.
 
Then the sunshine came back out...
It's been there all along.
 
There is hope. There is Jesus.
He is my Light and my Salvation.
He sanctifies and strengthens us in the hard.
He is faithful to those of us who believe.
 
I've counted my blessings.
I've hugged my treasures on earth.
I've praised the Giver...Who gives and takes away.
I've experienced the peace that passes all comprehension.
 
I've seen how He uses our circumstances for good,
Although I know I haven't seen it all entirely yet...
And most likely won't this side of heaven.
I trust that God has a plan, although I can't see it all now.
 
We live in a broken, fallen world...
Where there is pain, tears and death.
But there comes a day when this will end...
And I will meet my four treasures in heaven.
 
When grief comes, because it will keep coming,
I will keep looking up to the Faithful One.
He is my hope.  He is my joy.
He is my Shield and Defender.
 
Now I move forward in faith,
Knowing something better is coming.
Enjoying the blessing of Life all around.
I will glory in the One Who is good all the time.
 
Tomorrow is a new day, full of fresh mercies.
I'm so grateful to know Truth,
To know the One acquainted with our grief.
What would I do without Him?
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Are you going through something?
Run, leap, bound toward Him, my friend.
Abide and trust. You won't regret it. 
His love never fails. It heals and restores.
He gives strength for today.
Peace for the past.
Hope for tomorrow.

You might also want to read "Faith In the Waiting" about my Third Miscarriage...
and there you will find links to posts about previous losses.

Click the following link if you want some tips on "How to Help the Hurting".

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rest

I have to admit my mind spins too much most of the time.  And like most people I get on the "crazy cycle" at times.  Life in this modern world can get busy, too busy sometimes. 

When 2014 dawned I found God leading me to simplify, to cut back on commitments and re-focus on the most important.  I reduced my number of commitments.  Yet, life kept spinning.  I slowed down for spinal surgery.  But, I recovered and jumped right back in.  I wasn't running as much.  Still, my heart felt unsettled, restless.  

I hear people complain about winter.  I've complained about it plenty of times myself.  However, the last few years I've seen the beauty in it.  No, not the snow necessarily (but if you have eyes to see, it is beautiful too) or the cold or the wind or the ice.  The beauty I see in it is: the call to rest


  “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”
Psalm 116:7

We had an unseasonably warm December.  But now it's January.  It's well below zero today with much more wretched wind chills.  A fresh layer of snow fell last night.  Schools are closed (not that it matters much to us homeschoolers), roads conditions are hazardous and we don't have to go anywhere.  On days like this we hunker down.  Once our chores and school work are done (farmers and homeschoolers don't take snow days), we play games.  We eat soup and other comfort food.  We snuggle up on the couch together with a good book or movie.  I enjoy time with my family!



When I find a few moments to myself, I am still.  I find time to read, write, reflect and breath.  I might even taken a nap.  I give my mind a rest and just "be".  I find rest for my harried soul. 

I've had time to talk to God about what He wants for me (and my family) in 2015.  I hear Him whispering, "Don't forget how good it is to rest."  And I realize winter isn't all that bad.  In fact, it's the season of rest God knew I needed. 

I certainly am not an expert at this resting thing.  It has taken me time to rein in my spinning mind and restless heart.  Still, I'm glad the rest came when I saw winter as a chance to quiet my soul.

How about you?  Will you spend this winter feeling restless and complaining, or will you be intentional and find rest for your soul?