Love Does

Not My Child

My heart is breaking as I try not to imagine the unbearable pain so many parents and families are feeling today as they wake up to the nightmare of yesterday’s school shooting.  It’s every parent’s greatest fear, but today it is reality for 17 parents.  I almost can’t breathe.

But this isn’t about me.  Despite the feelings manifesting themselves in my inner being, the trembles that I seek to control and the simple knowing, that was not my child – I cannot help but feel.  So many feelings.  I want to curl up in a ball and hide from this broken world; gather my little chicks and create a safe place where I can protect and control who comes in.

Jesus save us.

As I try to wrap my head around the news – in the same breath I try to avoid the news. I don’t want to feel. I won’t ever understand what drives one to such a crime. But as I sat with Daniel last night and questioned, how does this even happen?  We wondered together, where were his parents?  Then it hit me like a wrecking ball…

Please don’t tell me he was a foster child.

Please, for the love of all things tell me a different story.  Please don’t let this hit so close to home.

But it does.  As I read this morning what barely surfaced last night, this young shooter was adopted, [I can’t confirm] from foster care.  His adoptive father died a few years ago and his adoptive mother passed away in November.  An orphan again.   And just like that, all my tender places are pierced, fears triggered and thoughts… that could have been my child – except for Jesus.

I’m not here to paint a picture or stigmatize children in foster care.  My heart is simply to shine a light on a crisis we face that goes beyond the cries for gun control.

Church, we have a problem and it starts with the family.

Our nation is in crisis and it’s bigger than just a national budget, gun control and gender issues.  Satan has attacked us at the core. He is relentless.  He is taking aim at marriages, families and the most vulnerable of people – our children.

What is the cost? We don’t always see it as clearly, but today we see – one child, through his own pain, intentionally took the lives of 17 more.  We will never be the same.  Something has to change.

I can sit on the outside looking in, hopefully through a lens of grace, and consider that this one child acted out of his own pain and broken story.  I can’t ask the parents of the seventeen others to share that same grace.

I can pray for an overwhelming peace to comfort the hearts of those who mourn, heal the pain of trauma, loss and violation.  I will search for a redemptive thread of grace that one day will surface but today, right now, I will let my tears fall.  I will give one extra squeeze when I say good-bye.  I will say yes to one more piece of candy.  I will commit ever-more-so to fight for the hearts of families, to stand in the gap for children and to be a voice for the ones that are choosing to enter into the hard places of foster care.

We are too much

You see, when I really stop to consider what tender places have been pierced, I have to be brutally honest.  Deep down I question, is our pain too much?  Are we too much? Will what happened in the past dictate our future?  Or can I believe that the incredible grace that built our family is enough to change our story?

Sometimes I look at our girls in their big brown eyes and think, if you only knew… I can’t wait to tell you all he has done for you.  Your story, sweet child, is one for the books.  He has big things in store for you.  You will change the world. 

But sometimes, in the midst of front-yard tantrums and mid-night meltdowns that point back to a season of pain, a loss, an experience or trauma – a lack of development or skills that still need to be refined… I wonder, will we ever be whole?  Will I ever stop trying to protect the world from us?  Will I believe we’re really worth it?  In all our glory 🙂

I must choose to believe our story will be different.  Not because I get it right, not because we’ve built a bubble, simply because I carry a hope that God’s heart is good.  No matter what we walk through, what pain we experience, I can trust his promises are good.  We are fighting for the hearts of our children, we are surrounded by people who love us deeply and walk with us through every battle.

Recently I experienced a mommy meltdown that brought to the surface those deep fears that we are too much or we will cause pain – a dear sweet friend looked me in the eyes and said “that is not your girls.  Your girls are kind and {a little bit crazy} but their hearts are good.  You have good girls.”

Her words brought healing to my mommy heart.  Her words give me courage to see the beauty that grows out of the pain.  I am reminded that I don’t walk this road alone.  Friends, we need each other.  There’s a battle for our families… and there’s a lot at stake.  Today, we mourn with those who mourn but don’t let this loss be in vain.  Rise up. Something has to change.   What’s your part?

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photo credit:: littlemisscreative
Love Does, My Story, Uncategorized

Overwhelming, Reckless Love

I felt it stirring… it started last week and had been building.  I was sharing pieces of our story in different places, with different people yet the same awestruck reactions… he has literally moved heaven and earth to build what we now know as our family.  It is overwhelming.

As I was sharing and in my own reflection I couldn’t help but realize the most significant thread in the entire story is His Pursuit.

Ours is a story of rescue, redemption, hope and dreams.  It is stunning in each of its pieces, painful in the making, breathtaking in its entirety, humbling to be a part of and inspiring to watch unfold.

Then came Sunday – quiet, cold, a bit dreary and unassuming.  I stepped into my favorite church, led in worship by my favorite leader, holding the hands of my sweet girls and one on my hip… the lights fell and he began to sing a song I had never heard before…

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it
I don’t deserve it
Still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

**************************************
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
No lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

Nothing moves my heart like a song that cries the words I have lived.  As the choir joined the song and he reached the bridge I could feel myself holding my breath.  Then in all of creativity he begins singing He loves us, oh how he loves us, oh how he loves us…. oh how he loves.

I.am.undone.     Tears streaming down my face, I can no longer sit.    Heaven reached down, gently kissed this girl and I have been overwhelmed ever since.

Those words are the ones I sang over my sweet girls in moments of darkness, in the battle of the night when I couldn’t understand what they were fighting.  I couldn’t fix the pain but I could proclaim, he loves us – oh how he loves us… and that has been a song we cling to – no matter what may come – we can rest in knowing his love.

I live with a constant awareness of God’s goodness in my life.  I long to see his glory. I crave it more than coffee.  My prayer for years has been, show me your glory… and he has.  But there’s something about this week that has touched the deepest place in my heart, put to death lies I have believed and gently spoken the question I’ve asked my entire life –  am I worth it? 

It is easy for me to believe that my girls are worth every single thing God has done.  On our adoption day, as we faced the judge and she asked why do you want to adopt these children, my undeniable response was because they are worth it – they are worth loving – they are worth fighting for – and they are worth protecting. 

I have found that often what drives us comes from our own deep desires.  I came from a wonderful home, raised by incredible parents, in a safe place with the best siblings a girl could ask for.  Yet somehow, in my own brokeness, the enemy had woven a lie that I will never be enough, I don’t have what it takes and I’m not really worth keeping.  I have lived striving to hear I’m worth it.   Am I worth protecting? Am I worth rescuing? Am I worth investing in? Am I worth the risk of love?

I was overwhelmed with grattitude this week as I reflected on the work God has done in my life.  Thanksgiving three years ago I was fresh into motherhood with 3 littles under 3 and faced with the question, would we consider adoption?  I couldn’t breathe.

Two years ago at Thanksgiving my heart’s cry was for our adoption to finalize, for the uncertainty to disappear, for this chapter to end.  Thankfulness was a choice, not a feeling.

Last year at Thanksgiving we were without a home, trying to create stability in a stressful season of building, trying to believe we would see his faithfulness in that step of our journey… longing to be settled.  Thankfulness was hanging by a thread.

This year, I look back and cannot find the words to capture the depths of my thanksgiving. Over the past month I have had dreams that brought to the surface feelings I didn’t even know I carried and as I awoke one day with tears falling out from my closed eyes, I heard the Lord say, you are worth it.  Every grace I have given to you has been worth it –  not because of who you are but because of who I am.  I have pursued you endlessly, poured out lavishly, loved unconditionally, sacrificed unreservedly and equipped you for the part I have given you.  

He’s all about the pursuit. It’s a larger love story.  That’s the gospel friends. He leaves no stone unturned, no mountain unmoved, no enemy unscathed.  He uses grand gestures, gentle whispers, unending mercies and relentless love.

Today I sit, resting in the goodness and recognizing that I am not the same as I once was.  I have much to be thankful for, much to be hopeful for and I choose to trust him for his faithful pursuit of the ones I love.  No story is the same.

Sweet friend, take a moment this week, ask him to show you his love for you.  Sometimes it comes in crazy unexpected ways… like 3 kids that bring you to the feet of Jesus, every.day.  Maybe that’s what it took –  something I could never do on my own, no way I could prove my worth – surrender to the path that led me to see his great love in ways I couldn’t see before.

If you have a minute, or ten, sit down and hear the song of my heart.  It just might move you too.

With a thankful heart and much love to you…  Happy Thanksgiving!

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The story of our girls

It’s been three years since that morning… it felt like the world was spinning around me and I was standing still.  I wasn’t holding my breath but I wasn’t breathing either.  The thought of what God might be asking of me was heavier than I could hold.  I think you have the wrong girl, God. 

I sent my sister a text, first thing that morning.  By first thing I mean…. probably around 8:30 because I didn’t have kids and first thing looked different than it does now 😉

I need you to pray.  If you sense anything from the Lord, send it my way. 

She didn’t ask questions, she didn’t even hesitate.  I tried to start my day, going through the motions, sitting down at my desk and staring blankly at my screen.  She messaged me back…

I immediately heard, “I, the Lord have called you in righteousness and will go with you and will hold your hand.”   (referencing verses in Isaiah 41:10 and 13) ….  I had a sense of moving forward with something and God saying He will be with you – every step of the way.

I have found it’s important to surround yourself with people that hear God.  It’s also important to be someone who seeks God for yourself and others.

Just the day before I had a friend on the other side of the world send me a message.  She had a dream. This is rather out of the blue… not a whole lot of detail really except that it was very clear you would soon be getting twins. Baby twins. And these were for you to keep.  Forever.

I was undone. Scared to death. Hoping God wasn’t serious.

I don’t remember breathing for the next 10 days.  Every day as I prayed he seemed to be more clearly confirming that this was coming.  Church services, songs, scriptures, everything seemed to be pointing to the dream.

Stand in the place God has given you, make the shift, prepare yourself for what He’s going to do. 

I had to make a shift from questioning if this was God, to saying, Ok God what do I do from here?

I began to prepare as best as I could for something I couldn’t comprehend. I will never forget my dad lying back on the couch…speechless at first… then trying to help me navigate preparing for this kind of unknown.  Ok, let’s buy two cribs.  We have to start somewhere.  It was kind-of like me putting out a fleece…  baby steps.

Why do I share all this now?  What’s so special about today?

I woke up this morning reminded of the beginning of this story… the dream…the words, the confirmation… the shift that changed my life forever.  I sent Daniel a text, It’s been three years… can you believe it?   Some days we still can’t believe it.  We are literally living a dream come true.

My life is not a story about me.  And your life’s not a story about you.  My life is a story about who God is and what he does in a human heart.”    –  Shauna Niequist

I can’t help but tell my story.  Some of you are facing the hardest thing you’ve ever faced –  God may be calling you to take a leap of faith that doesn’t seem fitting.  Let me tell you, if it seemed fitting it wouldn’t require faith.  One thing I’ve learned over the highs and lows of the past three years is that our story is God’s opportunity to shine.  In the broken places, the crushing days, the breathtaking moments and everything in between –  his goodness shines through.

This is my story, this is my song… praising my savior all the day long…

It took two hard years for that dream to be fully fulfilled, to see forever.  It took me at least six months after the girls moved in to accept that God really meant adoption.  Dear Jesus, I still think you have the wrong girl… but ok… we’re still alive… so thanks for that! 

But on the days that I wondered if God was really in this, I chose to cling to the words he gave those first 10 days… the dream, the scripture, the teachings and the pictures… in his gentle kindness he made me brave.

Friend, whatever you are facing – the mountains or the waves – it is worth embracing.  I promise you I was so afraid this day three years ago, but I could never have imagined, dreamed or considered how beautiful obedience would be.  I couldn’t see three years down the road that I’d have twins losing their first teeth, a baby girl starting her preschool, kindergarten with the bestest buddies and God’s incredible faithfulness every step of the way.

It is absolutely worth it. 

As the story goes, 13 days after the dream I received a call I will never forget.  Abby, this is Jennifer…. I don’t know if you’re willing to consider this… but we have twin 2 yr old girls that need to be placed immediately…

[Take a deep breath.  Pray.  Walk into the waves.]   “I need two hours.  Give me two hours to go buy car-seats and a few things.”

“Ok, great!  Once you all get settled, we’ll talk about their 8 month old baby sister.”

Well. I didn’t see that one coming.

Grace upon Grace.  

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When dreams don’t come true

Thirteen years ago this week I walked down a candlelit aisle to marry this guy I know 😉  but before the church doors opened, as my dad held my arm in his, he quietly said, “my truck is out front… we can leave if you want to.”

Let me tell you, if that little girl had any idea what thirteen years would hold I probably would have taken him up on that offer!  But I am so glad I didn’t.

You see, our story has unfolded in a way I never could have imagined – not in my wildest dreams.  I had an idea what our life would look like and this is most definitely, 100% not it.  It’s better.

wedding

When we celebrated our tenth anniversary we were just stepping into our fostering journey, realizing this is much harder than we could have imagined.  Our lives had been carefully sheltered and unaware of the pain all around us.  It was as if a blindfold had been removed and my heart was broken.

The pain was more than I could bear, but for some reason – God just called us deeper still.

Over the next few months we fell into a God-sized story that I wouldn’t believe if I hadn’t lived it myself.  Even now I sometimes shy away from telling it because it just doesn’t seem real.  But here we are – three years later – and it’s as real as it gets.

I remember in our first year with the girls, waking up to their screams in the night, begging them to calm down and go back to sleep, feeling the desparation of sleep deprivation and hopelessness of trying to fix something that could only be healed.  There was no quick fix… but instead a long path of consistent love that could indeed heal the pain of the dark.

I have a distinct memory of standing in my sunroom in the middle of the night with a screaming child and thinking, this was not my choice!  I am paying the price for someone else’s choices… and this is not fair. 

I had very carefully walked through life with intentionality.  I learned from the mistakes of others so I woudn’t have to feel the pain of my own.  I don’t take risks.  I rarely make bad choices.  I might not get everything right, but I sure as heck don’t get things wrong.

Here I was, in the throes of motherhood, three children under three who were also bearing the weight of choices they did not make, carrying the scars of pain I could not understand and uncovering a fight in me I didn’t know I had.

Walking out the front door one morning an angry 3 yr old screamed at me, “you’re a bastard!”  {Shut the front door!} did I just hear what I think I heard?  What did you say?!? She then repeated her shot at me.  As I picked my chin up off the floor and knelt down to her eye level I hesitantly asked, where did you hear that word?  My heart literally crumbled into a million pieces when she shyly looked at me and said that’s what my daddy said to me. 

I cried that day. a lot of tears.  I looked that tiny, spirited face in the eyes and spoke words that I can only pray reached her heart –  you are precious, you are loved and you are worth loving.  I distinctly remember this morning lighting a fire in my soul that I would not stop fighting for these three girls.  So help me God.

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Lean in closely friends... some of you are walking through the hardest thing you have ever faced, you are weary, you may even feel hopeless.  For some of you this path is not a choice you made but one you must walk due to the choices of others.  Please know, I can relate and in some ways I even feel it with you.  Your pain touches my pain… or my deepest fears… that someone else’s choices will cost me.

But take heart, there is one who walked this way before us – who chose the most unimaginable pain to cover the cost of our choices.  This gives me perspective.  On the hard days I cling to it – the way of suffering is not easy but it is worth it.  Not for my sake but theirs.  I can only pray as we walk this glorious path that his goodness will shine greater through our lives.

Today we celebrate one year of our “family”.  It felt like a long hard road to get there but I learned more in those 22 months about hope, perseverance and long-suffering than I had in my previous 32 years of life.  (don’t start adding that up 😉

We celebrate the good days, the laughter and the joy that has engulfed our life.  We celebrate you, our loved ones that have carried us through hard days, prayed for us and held our arms when we couldn’t keep going. We celebrate the healing we see in the lives of our girls and how far we have come together… it truly is a taste of his goodness.

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photo credit to @littlemisscreative

We hold tightly to his promises and look forward with anticipation of what is to come.  I try not to think too much about the teenage years… because quite honestly, I stop breathing.  We have hope that this story is going to be epic…

But for today we just pause and say thank-you for being a part and riding along with this storyofagirl… or four… and a boy.  We love you big.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:13-14

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To you, First Mommy, on this Mother’s Day

It’s here again, first mommy – that day that creeps up and tears my heart in two.  One part is so thankful for the blessing of being called mommy and the other half knows the pain you carry.  One can’t exist without the other. Both have to be acknowledged and felt.

You have been on my mind all day today, first mommy, as I struggle to find the words to adequately express my heart towards you.  We’re forever connected, you and I.  I carefully carry pieces of your heart with me every day and I don’t take that lightly.

You keep me humble.  When I’m tempted to resent even the most inconvenient aspects of motherhood, I remember, you would give anything to have this day back.  It’s not just you, it’s all women who have experienced loss, heartache, or longed for motherhood….  it reminds me not to take for granted the little things.  One day it could be me wishing for one more moment, one more tear, one more sick day to hold them near.  I am the lucky one.

I will never forget holding your hands and promising I will do everything I can to protect them.  I’ve spent three years trying to live up to my promise.  You’ve told me not to lie to them – you want them to know you are so sorry for what has happened – you never wanted it to be this way….

And when our little girl asks me whose tummy she came from, I remind her of you – her first mommy.  It’s easy to tell her that you loved her so much because I know it’s true.  They can’t understand right now the sacrifice you made or how the story played out… but one day they will know that you chose life, you chose love in the hardest way… letting go of your dream.

They are breathtakingly beautiful and growing so fast.  That baby girl wears her sisters’ clothes now and runs our house.  She is fearless and already rides her bike without training wheels.  The twins think they are teenagers…  that’s how we convince them to eat their dinner  (we tell them it’s teenager food).  They want to grow up so fast, be cheerleaders and gymnasts.  They all three think they are mermaids and could live in the water.  It’s a beautiful life.

You’re never far from my mind; I see glimpses of you each and every day.  I remember moments of seeing you with them, the love in your eyes and wondering if I could ever live up to the love of you, first mommy.  Then one day I realized it’s not a matter of living up but a matter of loving with.  They can never have too much love.

I can’t imagine what this day is like for you, first mommy… or the days that mark their births.  My eyes fill with tears knowing parts of your story and the cost you’ve carried.  And as that baby girl asks me, “are those happy tears mommy?” I want you to know, I own that my joy comes behind your pain.  I wish our story wasn’t complicated this way.

But for what it’s worth, you give me courage to face each day – even when it’s hard to get out the door.  I work hard to teach them right from wrong, choices and consequences, love and respect.  I want them to grow up to be someone you’d be proud of.  We want to give them every chance for success.  And even though sometimes we all end up in a mess of tears, I can hold them in my arms and remind us, we’re doing the best we can.

As strangers sitting next to us at lunch admired their beauty, celebrated their personalities and asked the questions I so often hear… are they identical?  how do you tell them apart?  can you imagine when they are all teenagers?…  I just take a deep breath, answer what I can and thank God you were there first.

It doesn’t sting the way some think it would… these question… it actually makes me laugh – because let’s be honest – Daniel still can’t tell them apart.  I think it makes the world feel better to know we get it wrong sometimes too.  And when one of the twins tells a stranger that she has “two mommies” I quickly try to explain what she means.

I guess I want to say, thank you, first mommy… for the good things.  I know it wasn’t easy and days like today are hard.  I have no words that can bring closure to the chasm in your heart.

When I tuck their exhausted little bodies into bed, say prayers over them and kiss their sweet sun-kissed faces… I don’t take for granted that I’m holding pieces of your heart.  As another Mother’s Day comes to an end, my heart longs for you to know, I think of you, I honor you and I am thankful to get to share the name mommy with you.

love, mommy2

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The beauty in the pain

“I’m just sad.”  said the little voice in the backseat.
“What makes you sad sweet girl?” 
“I’m sad about the thorns.  Why did they put thorns on him?”

It was almost a week past that Good Friday yet she was still questioning the thorns. She just can’t wrap her 3-year-old mind around a crown of thorns.

In all my theological awareness I fumbled to answer her question.  “It was all part of the plan…. I don’t understand why there were thorns, but I know it was part of God’s plan.”

“Well, that was a bad choice.” 

I hear you.  I don’t disagree with you.  We might not ever understand the sovereignty of God, but we can trust that his plan – that Larger Story – is good.  After that crown of thorns, the cross, and the grave, we see the beauty of the resurrection, life, and glory.

But this innocent three-year-old is sitting in the pain of the thorns.

I’m not like that.  I’ve never been like that.  As a matter of fact, I have spent my whole life the majority of my life trying to avoid pain – at all costs.  I never sat and questioned the pain of the cross or the thorns… I pretty much skip over Friday and jump to celebrating Sunday.  Can you truly celebrate the restoration without embracing the pain?

The past three years have been the most pain-filled years I can remember.  And as I near my 35th I am beginning to see the beauty of pain.  As a young child, I realized I didn’t want to have children because it seemed painful and hard.  As a young adult, I thought my younger self was wise beyond her years.  🙂  Then God began to call us into this place that forced us to face pain, and some days it feels as though we are swimming in the uncertainty of it all.

Y’all, we have some of the best times.  Our lives are full of laughter, cuteness, pink and purple.  Our garage looks like the Frozen movie exploded.  We play hard, we laugh hard, we love hard. We can’t go anywhere without drawing attention to our circus. But some days it’s just hard to even walk outside.  Some days I feel the need to protect the world from the pain we carry and every day I wish I could protect my girls from the pain that follows them.  And just like a 3 yr old I sit and ask,

“Why must life have thorns?  Where were you when [that] happened?  Why must they bear the scars of pain that I can’t even imagine?” 

I live with a keen awareness that in the lives of my girls, I am Option B.  I shared with another adoptive mom last week, through my own tears, I know that I am not the first choice….you might call me God’s back-up plan.  And truthfully, I’m not even sure if I was option B, C, D or even E….  (not that it really matters).  As much as many of us wish we could undo the pain of option A, I get to choose how I live out option B.  I do not take lightly the inspiration found in Sheryl Sandberg’s story of grief:

“Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the $#!% out of Option B.”

Recently I wrote about The tears of the broken and a hard season that we seem to be wandering through.  I wish I could say everything eased after that post, but it was almost as if the game went into overtime.  One evening after navigating an epic meltdown that left me trying to find my balance again, I sensed the Lord speaking, do not lose heart.  In the weeks of elevated emotions, tantrums that were sucking life from me and leaving our family reeling, I was tempted to shut-down – avoid the pain.

But that’s not what I am called to.  When I gain perspective of what is at stake in my life and the life of our girls…. the healing I long for them to know… the peace I long for us to experience as a family… I remember that invitation to play my part in Option B.  I will not lose heart.

I don’t pretend to understand the pain, or why God in his goodness still allows us to experience it.  Pain comes in all shapes and sizes.  Your pain is likely very different than ours –  or it may be somewhat the same – either way, I hope you find courage in the midst of it.

A wise woman recently spoke at our church and her words struck me deeply, “sometimes you have to feel the pain in order to heal the pain.”  This reminds me that it will be worth it…  these hard days will one day bear fruits of life, love and hopefully some functioning adults.  In the meantime… if you see us crying, screaming, or pulled over on the side of the road…. say a little prayer… our thorns are showing 😉

(In case you’re interested in hearing Lysa Terkeurst’s sharing on pain and disappointment, click here.
I’ve also ordered Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B and look forward to reading stories of others that have faced adversity and pain, and lived to tell about it.)

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The tears of the broken

There are times that I feel things so strongly, the only way around it is to write.  It’s like the release button for me… it allows me to identify, sort through and in many ways gives me space to heal.

We’ve been walking a broken road lately…. at times it feels as though bodies are lying around like collateral damage – but that isn’t true.  We’re still standing, maybe limping, but surviving none-the-less.

I find myself searching for words of hope, songs that give voice to the feelings deep within me – anything that can bring relief to all that swirls around me.  Hope to replace feelings of hopelessness.  Joy to replace the pain of brokenness.  Comfort to soothe the sting of loss.  Laughter to slow the tears.

I feel deeply.

But I didn’t always.  I didn’t allow myself to feel the pain of brokenness – mine or others’.  I avoided, stuffed, covered and smothered because that is much easier than feeling.  If I look back on the last 7 years of my life I would have to say the biggest change of all is that I now feel… and I’m learning not to apologize for it.

I am finding it’s in that place of feeling that God draws near.

We have walked through a challenging month.  I’m not sure I’ll ever understand what triggers these seasons.  Lord knows if I can put my finger on it I’ll do everything in my power to avoid it…. but I may never know.  As adoptive parents, we hear a lot about “triggers” which are what we refer to as the moment just before the emotional bomb goes off.  Trace back your steps, your words, your actions… what just happened before everything blew up?

Some things are easy to pick-up on.   Fireworks sound like gunshots.  Medicine looks like drugs.  Old names remind of an old life. Old faces stir painful memories.  Structure, routine, consistency and fun times are our focus – building new tracks for the brain – this is my motivation every day.  Healing – our ultimate goal.  Redemption of this story – the longing of my heart.

One step forward, two steps back.  Two steps forward, one step back.  Then he sends gentle reminders of how far we have really come…. and the cloud of despair begins to lift.  Sweet words of a song:

It’s the dawn of a new day – You’ve painted for me
Colors exploding – telling our story

I’m waking up…

I can feel the rising of the sun
Mercy sings me the promise of your love
And I’m reminded how far we’ve come
You’re the One my heart is beating for

– Morning Song by Steffany Gretzinger

Perspective.  We have come so far.  Take a deep breath and remember – we’re moving forward.  His promise is not that it will be easy; but that we will never walk alone.

And on those days I don’t understand, I will choose to believe.  He is good.  He is faithful.  We have hope.  Love will win.

I spend a lot of my life working hard to hold everything together.  I’m aware of my weaknesses, and I try desperately to keep them shored up. I’m gaining freedom from the pressure to keep it all together…. recognizing the lie I most often hear is that I will never be enough.  There’s too much pain, we’re too much, it will always fall on me…    But then there are tender reminders that I do not walk this path alone.

I didn’t see it coming, that perfect storm of events and the mother of all bombs.  Perfect timing, work deadline, special missions, no perceived margin – but God saw us.  And as I sat in a puddle of tears that were not just my own I could choose to believe in his goodness.

He knew I needed that sweet friend with more years of motherhood under her belt to invest some time in me with ideas of quiet times, stillness, and hope for my girls.  Or the very same week another friend reaching out, can I stop by – bring you dinner?  Something in me resists help, but at the same time, everything in me longs for help.  I have to surrender and let others in.

Even in my messiness  … or should I say especially in my messiness.

The next day I stopped and bought myself flowers.  I choose to believe that beauty will come out of brokenness.  Suffering, crucifixion, and death will bring resurrection, life, and glory.

I’m not far enough in to know how this story will play out but I’ve seen enough to believe redemption is coming.

This weight that feels overwhelming, the pain of brokenness, the words that pierced my heart and made me question everything – this isn’t where I will stay.  He is no stranger to this pain.  I almost hear his still small voice saying, I know how you feel and trust me, it will be worth it.

So friend, find hope… you are not alone in your pain, in your loss or in the brokenness of this place.  When all hope seems lost, when darkness falls… let us not forget, Sunday is coming.