This blog is a chance for us to tell our story and shine the light on the God who wrote it.

It is also a place for me to bring into the spotlight the millions of orphans around the world who are waiting for the Body of Christ to fulfill God's command to "care for orphans and widows in their distress" (James 1:27)

Soli deo Gloria... (All Glory to God Alone).

10.28.2011

My Delight Is In Her


To our sweet Mei,

Your room is ready. Our hearts are ready. Your brothers and sister are ready. In just around a month, we will meet you for the very first time. (And my heart stops beating for a second when I write that line.) What an underserved and awesome miracle God has done in bringing us together!

There are some things we want you to know before you come home. We want you to know that it is ok to cry. That we expect you won't really like us much at first. We are not looking for a fairy tale. Somehow, by a working of God in our hearts, you are already our daughter. We will love you whether you reject us for awhile or embrace us immediately. We will choose, by the grace and strength of God, to love you with the kind of love we have known from Jesus- relentless, pursuing, patient, unending. We will falter in this, most assuredly, but we will not give up. We know we are taking you away from everything you have ever known in your life, and that we cannot even use words yet to explain to you what is happening. It is ok to be scared.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading in my Bible in the book of Isaiah. God has used many of Isaiah's words to speak right to our hearts as we prepare for you to be a part of our family. This time we felt like God gave us some words just for you. These verses tell about what God has done for His people, through Christ. But they also tell about what is happening to you-

"You will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will bestow
You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD's hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God,
No longer will they call you Deserted...
But you will be called Hephzibah (my delight is in her)...
for the LORD will take delight in you...
(You) will be called the Redeemed of the LORD;
and you will be called Sought After,...
No Longer Deserted."
(Isaiah 62: 2b-4a, 12)


Sweet Mei, you have always been loved by God and precious to Him. We want you to know that now you will also be loved by a family. You will be given a new name- the one your birthmother intended for you. We have sought after you ... And we will delight in you. Soon you are coming home.

10.17.2011

Held

*I wrote this a little while ago, but was hesitant to post it. Then today I read these words at A Holy Experience:

“There is no greater mercy that I know of on earth than good health except it be sickness; and that has often been a greater mercy to me than health…

It is a good thing to be without a trouble; but it is a better thing to have a trouble, and know how to get grace enough to bear it.” ~Spurgeon

Know how to get grace enough.

It is a better thing to have a trouble, and know how to get grace enough to bear it. And we get grace enough to bear it — when we run into the arms of Grace who bore it all, into Him Who is more than enough.


So I thought I would post this as my "Amen"...





This, too, is grace.

I have a migraine. It has been with me for about three days now. I've struggled with them for years, but I've been getting them more often lately, and sometimes there is simply nothing I can do to treat them. The pain has been changing, too. They were getting better, now they are diffferent, and there are other symptoms. My body is weak.

Two years ago.. a year ago... when I was sick quite often, I felt abandoned in those sick seasons. I cried out to God: “Don't you see I have these children and home and husband? Why do you give these to me and I cannot care for them?” I hated this weakness... this not being able to be who I thought I should be.,, this being so unpredictable, so needy. I cried in physical pain … in shame … in discouragement. I would give anything to be healthy.

Last night I lay very still on my bed, trying not to move so that it would not hurt so much. And I cried. I cried tears of joy. I told Scott I would not trade it, and I am serious. I mean, I want to be healthy, but if it means I would have to trade the gift that has come through this trial … I would not trade. Because if I can know real joy in the midst of the things in this world that scare me most.. that I previously feared the most... right in the midst of chronic pain, right in the midst of me being 'useless', broken... then what can now defeat me?

Slowly, over much time … (I am a slow learner)... God has redeemed... transformed what I only saw as ugly into something beautiful. Because that is what He does. He takes our mess, our brokenness and he does not change it... he redeems it... he transforms it. He did not take my migraines away. He gave me joy in the midst of them. Would the healing have brought Him glory? Yes. But it could have been explained away, I suppose-- 'those doctors finally found the right remedy'. But the joy? Outside of drugs that may produce a very short-term sense of euphoria (none of which I take, by the way!)- this joy can only be explained by a loving God. Who wants to give me more than healing. He wants to give me Himself.

I know that my suffering is meager, truly meager, in light of what so many others are suffering with today. But I am not writing about my suffering. I am writing about His grace. And all I know is the story I have been given. And I tell it only to give Him glory.

I am not saying that it is always pretty. My children and my husband can confirm that I am messy and broken and I lose my patience easier when I am sick. But I am just saying that it is good. That it is redeemed.

A friend tells me “I don't know how you do it. How you keep smiling when you are in so much pain. I would complain all the time!” And I have said it, too, to others... in other situations. “I don't know how you do it”- (whatever 'it' may be... go through the loss of a loved one, watch your husband leave for yet another deployment while you parent four kids at home, work and serve in rough conditions, etc.).

But I promised myself that I would never say this again. Because I do know how. If we will trust... He will be who He says He is... all that stuff in the Bible about rising on wings like eagles... All those promises for strength and hope and joy when we should not have it- judging by our outer circumstances. All that singing in prison with Paul and his crew. Of course. It is all the same. When our turn to suffer comes... and we run to Him... He gives us what we need for that moment, that day. “His mercies are new every morning”. He knows what suffering our tomorrows will hold, for He holds tomorrow. And when we wake tomorrow He will give us the mercy, the grace for that day.. as we trust in Him.
“Even though I walk through (insert what we are 'walking through')
I will fear no evil, for you are with me...” Psalm 23


So this is what I would not trade. That deep, unshakable knowledge that he is with me. There is no greater gift.

Thank you, merciful Father, for the migraines and the fatigue. I can say it now and I really mean it. Thank you.

And then that 'thanks', that bending to the will of my loving Father... that is a step toward joy. Not my will, but yours be done. And I will give thanks, surrender, and receive. And what is the gift but joy... joy that only comes through suffering. A joy that cannot be taken away.

This, too, is a grace. It is a gift of Jesus. Hard eucharisteo.

I no longer feel abandoned in my seasons of illness. You know what I feel? I feel … held.


“I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us- yes, the many good things he has done... according to his compassion and many kindnesses.” Isaiah 63:7

10.07.2011

"Chara" Joy



Introducing... new pictures of our daughter!!

Mei Chara

I love naming our children. It is something that we pray about together, and we ask God to show us a name that has meaning for each child so that as they grow to learn and understand where their name came from they can see a little glimpse of how God sees them and how we see them.

Mei is our daughter's birth name, but not what she is called in her orphanage. So, in effect, we are changing her name. Scott sent me an email recently that I think describes perfectly why we wanted to name her Mei.

"Mei - plum, beautiful, charming, attractive, rose

Qi - fine jade, outstanding, distinguished, special, pretty

When I read the meanings of the names she was given by her birthmother, I'm overwhelmed with the amount of love she must have had for Mei. Even with Mei's medical condition, she was seen as beautiful and special. We have been entrusted with a precious gift. May we honor the sacrifice made by this loving mother."



Her middle name came as a result of the incredible joy that God has brought into our home as we began to move forward with Him in this adoption journey. What He did in my heart to bring me to a place of surrender, left me with a new freedom from things that had weighed me down before. I felt like I jumped and He caught me and I wished I'd jumped sooner because I had no idea how quickly He would catch me or how amazing it would feel to be carried by God. All of this He has done already, before Mei has even come into our home. But all as a result of the faith jump that we took when we said 'yes' to her and to God. We have tasted a joy that is not dependent on circumstances and therefore cannot be taken away. God used Mei to bring that joy and so we are giving her the middle name that is the Greek word used in scripture for joy- "Chara".

The idea actually came while reading what is now my favorite book of all time, "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. Here's a little quote ...


"Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped. God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy".


When I jumped out on this faith journey, I stopped grasping ... trying to control my days, my future ... and God gave joy. And Mei Chara is the tangible gift given when God poured out the joy. And all I know to do is give thanks. From the depths of my soul I give thanks. And pray that one day our Mei will know the joy she brought into our home before she even arrived here.

An Undeserved Gift From God




When I shared the story of how God moved in our hearts to begin another adoption, I wanted to be vulnerable about my weaknesses in the hopes that those who read this testimony would see more of God's graciousness and mercy than they would of me. As an adoptive mother of a child from Ethiopia, I have gotten far too many "Ooohs and Aahhs" (ok, well and some "ughs", too!). It is those moments where I feel like there is this light shining on me, and I just want to disappear ... or say the 'right thing' so that somehow they could see through me to Him. And how do I explain that I am nothing? Nothing but loved and redeemed and empowered.

For us, as for many families, the inspiration to adopt a child is borne out of an overwhelming realization of the love God displayed for us in 'adopting' us. Yes, it is true, Scott and I are moved by the needs of orphan children, more than I could ever express. There has been for years an ever increasing burning-burden-intense love-thing going on in our hearts and souls as we grow deeper and deeper in love with these children. And God just keeps calling us deeper in, further still.

But the call has always been to HIM. It's just that the two intertwine so beautifully. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus goes so far as to say that when we do anything to care for "the least of these children of" His, we are caring for Him. And while Jesus used this term, 'the least of these', to explain who He was talking about, in no way did He consider them 'least'. This is how the world sees them - the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the orphan, the sick, the widow. But they are by no means least to Jesus. The reality is that He spent the vast majority of His ministry on Earth with the 'least'- teaching, healing, touching, visiting their homes, using them as examples of those who are the greatest in the Kingdom of God. And ultimately, He identifies with them. This is why Mother Theresa calls the poor "Jesus in disguise".

Perhaps some of my story earlier could be misunderstood. The truth is that while I have loved Jesus and loved orphans for some time now, I also like control and planning. (Although, I will say those two latter qualities have taken a hard hit in the last year!) So this was about laying those things down. It was about surrendering to God's plan.

But now? Now we are fully and completely head-over-heals excited about bringing this child into our home. She is our daughter. And while in the world's eyes, she is certainly among 'the least of these' ( or she would not be where she is now), we see her as the greatest. She is a gift to us. Her value is limitless ... eternal. And when she comes into our family, we pray we will love on her and serve her as if Jesus Himself were in our home... And if, by the grace of God we do (on a good day), you can look back at the fearful, self-focused woman still living/dying inside of me and together we can acknowledge God's greatness... His amazing grace in using something so broken to bring Him glory...

Soli deo gloria

(posts I am referring to can be found in April archives, beginning with "Not On Our Radar")