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 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.  I just wasn't ready physically or emotionally.  I didn't realize it at first.  Fortunately, she went to another loving home instead.

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 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


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? 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Another Lesson I Learned From My Child

Motherhood can be so humbling...especially when it's your children who keep teaching YOU things. 

I'm a homeschool mom.  I spend my days with my two boys.  I teach them reading, writing, arithmetic, etc.  But we also talk a lot about character and Biblical truth. 

Recently our family fell in love with a foster child.  He spent weekends bonding with us.  We all enjoyed him so much and it felt so perfect, a great match in every way.  We thought he would soon come to live with us, that he would become our son/brother. 

Then, as the termination of parental rights hearing neared, after the child had already spent several months in foster care, some distant relatives who had never met him and live in another state came forward.  They decided they wanted to be considered as the primary adoptive family.  In our state (Iowa), relatives to the fourth degree of kinship (!!!) receive preference over foster/adoptive families.

I've found myself irritated at "the system" and the laws in our great state of Iowa.

I've found myself frustrated that caring DHS workers can't make decisions that seem to be in the child's best interest, like turning away distant relatives who don't even know a child and live all the way across the country, because of laws that don't make sense and seem to even frustrate them.  Have we lost all common sense?

I've found myself so angry that this precious little one will remain in foster care much longer than necessary, remaining in limbo and unable to get settled into his forever family, because of relatives who don't seem to be thinking of what is best for him.  If they pass their home study process months from now, he will be drug off across the country with complete strangers, having everyone and everything he knows disappear from his life, and without any transition into his new home.  Perhaps they think he's too young to remember.  They're probably right, but he won't forget the feelings associated with such loss and change.  It's unfortunate that they don't mind putting him through this when it could be avoided.  He's a real person with real feelings.  We have developed a relationship with his foster family and would continue his contact with them, the only family he's ever really known.  It's a great loss for them too.  It just doesn't seem right! 

My heart has been breaking over the loss of this little one!  I've prayed.  I've cried.  I've consoled my two little boys many times as they mourn this "little brother".  I've asked God "Why?" many times...with no real answer.  I've asked for strength, wisdom and peace for everyone involved.  I've tried to remain faithful and faith-filled, trusting the One in control of all things.

Last night our 7 year old, Andrew, brought up this little one in conversation again.  We both agreed, we miss him.  I asked him, "Have you been praying about it?"  He quickly said, "Not really."  My heart cried out, "Have I taught you nothing?!"  Then, I calmly asked, "Why not?"  And here it is...the moment when it felt like a 2x4 across my head...

He said, "Well, I believe God is doing His best.  We already prayed about it and I don't think I have to just keep on asking.  He's doing His best, Mom."

"Oh, yes, Andrew, you're right!  We need to thank God that He's working."

When we prayed together before bedtime I thanked God for the lesson I received from Him through my son.  For the reminder that He is doing His best...just as we asked Him to.  Oh, to have the faith of a child!

I remembered a quote from author and speaker, Susie Larson, "God's will for you is your best-case scenario."

I don't understand why.  I'm still frustrated with "the system".  But, ultimately, God is in control.  I can choose to trust that He's looking out for our best interest, and the best interest of this darling child.  I will keep praying that God's will, will be done and that we and others involved will cooperate with Him.  I will thank Him for hearing and answering our prayers.  I will praise Him for giving us His BEST.    

Thanks for the reminder, Andrew!  You are part of God's best-case scenario for me.    :)

Andrew with the pumpkin he carved for me this fall :)

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.  Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."  Matthew 6:7-13

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11
For the word of the Lord holds true,
    and we can trust everything he does.
He loves whatever is just and good;
    the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.
Psalm 33:4-5

Monday, November 24, 2014

Joy In the Ordinary ~ Fun Day Monday Returns

A few weeks ago my sons and I made a cake with lots of sprinkles.  It wasn't anyone's Birthday or a holiday or anything.  It was the middle of the week.

Who needs an excuse to celebrate?  Life is a gift from God, one to be celebrated.

Susie Larson says in her book "Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places" (I am paraphrasing) when we take time to play it communicates to our children that all is well and more rests on the shoulder of God than on ours.  Susie's words are full of wisdom. 

Our family has been through some real ups and downs in the past week and a half.  It's felt much like a roller coaster ride.  Then today, more news came that brought (more) tears and saddened our hearts.  Yes, we wonder why.  We can't see what He's doing exactly.  This life can be tough.  But we trust that God is in complete control!  We want to communicate that loud and clear to our children.

So today, we keep counting down the days to Thanksgiving by modeling gratitude for our kids.  We've been going around the table at dinner time and writing down what we're grateful for.  Not as elaborate as our Thanksgiving Tree last year, but it works.  :)  We keep walking forward in faith, trusting that God sees all of this, hears our prayers, answers faithfully and rightly, that He loves us and has good plans for our family.  We keep celebrating the gifts He's given us.

There is so much hope, joy and peace in knowing Jesus.  If you know Him you have much to celebrate.  I encourage you to join us in taking the time to celebrate His goodness in the ordinary; to pause to give thanks to the Giver today!

Cake with sprinkles, anyone?

Jesus said, "The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life."  John 10:10

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hard Can Equal Easy

Last time I wrote about my friend Janet and the struggles she faced in this life; how she endured and grew in her faith in the process.  I wrote "I can honestly say I don't want easy.  I want to endure the hard stuff with joy and faith. To set my eyes on things above.   To finish strong!"

I've thought about this quite a bit recently.  I meant what I said.  But I want to make something a bit clearer.  The thing that really marked Janet's life wasn't that she faced hard times, it was the fact that she faced them with peace and even joy.  She could do so only because she had a thriving, dependent relationship with the One true Savior, Jesus.

Not wanting easy doesn't mean making it hard on ourselves.  It doesn't mean striving and straining to do more or be more.  It doesn't mean taking on fifteen things when God's only called us to two.  There's a name for that: perfectionism.  Perfectionism is the opposite of peace.  And peace is found in God Himself through Jesus Christ (Phil 4:6-7).     

In this life we will face trials.  Life can be tough!  It's inevitable.  That's part of living in this world.  But we don't need to go out looking for crosses to bear.  We don't have anything to prove to God, or anyone else.  I heard a quote recently from Luis Palau, "God is not disillusioned with us. He never had any illusions to begin with." We need to be discerning to follow His lead...only where He leads us.

When we know and follow Jesus closely we can face the ups and downs of life with peace in our hearts.  We can choose to rest in His love for us.  We can know where our hope is found, in Him.  We can know we are not alone and that we can Trust everything He does (Psalm 33:4).  We can even find joy in the process (James 1:2-3).  Life will be better, easier in that way.  We can be grateful for that.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. 
Matthew 11:29-30
In this way hard can equal easy!
How about we hang up those heavy yokes of striving, proving and perfectionism...
To  choose to trade them in for His yoke
which is easy and light...
Learn from Him,
Find rest for our souls,
Put on His peace.
Even, and especially in, the "hard".