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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.

 

 

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Hello from the other side…

We’re still here… and better than ever.  I know it has been a while and I’ve been meaning to say something but life is full and my waking hours are limited but mostly filled with feeding little faces and trying to keep up with a certain sneaky 3-yr-old.

Some of you have been a part of our story from the beginning, some of you joined along the way, and some of you have no idea what you’ve just gotten into….  but I stand here on what feels like the other side amazed by God’s faithfulness and grateful for each one of you that have walked with us.  I am truly humbled by your love.

It has been three years since we were first licensed and started receiving calls for placement.  Three years since I first felt all these conflicting emotions, wondering if I had what it takes to be a mom to children in need, wondering what it’s like to walk with a bio family through the hardest things they have faced, nervous that we were getting into a system that we heard was broken but couldn’t imagine and giving up what felt like all control and privacy we thought we had.  Opening up our life, our home, and our whole family to an unknown world – but I think we will all stand here and say it was worth it –  hands down.

Every tear.  Every laughter. Every step. Every child.

My friend Shauna Niequist wrote me something the other day.  By friend I mean – she doesn’t really know me, and by – wrote me something – I mean, there’s a devotional she wrote that I happen to read…. but who’s worried about details like that?  I totally follow/stalk her on facebook so we’re legit.   Anyways, the other day her admonition went something like this:

If you want your community to be marked by radical honesty, by risky, terrifying, ultimately redemptive truth-telling, you must start telling your truth first.                from Savor

Something in this stirred my heart.  The thing that got me started on this storyofagirl was a desire to be real – even when we’re attacked by a stomach virus or blown away by God’s incredible provision… heart-broken by missed expectations or over-the-moon to give our girls new names.  Every bit of our story has been a desire to share openly and honestly what God is doing in our lives and I thank each of you for being a part of it.  It’s a pretty crazy ride.  And I have this sneaky suspicion that our story isn’t over yet.

However, over or not, I do feel like we have a break in the chapters.  Praise the Lord!  We are in what feels like a respite.  For three years we lived in the depths of the unknown, clinging to the hope and an almost unbearable wave of waiting… and waiting…and waiting some more. But we have jumped into 2017 fully knowing that God’s promises are true and celebrating being settled into our new home that just so happens to fit this family.

Recently at a family fun event, we made a new friend who recognized us even though we had not ever met… it was a sweet moment where she shared that she had heard our story and had always wanted to meet us.  This always blows my mind to hear of people that we don’t even know that prayed with us, followed our ups and downs and celebrated the good days.  This friend, though, she could see things from the other side, she had actually had her children in foster care and overcome incredible challenges to successfully reunify and is thriving!  She was so thrilled to meet us but I was blown away to hear how God had saved her from addiction and brought redemption to her story.  Well done friend, I celebrate you!

It’s hard to capture the past 3 years in a post …. but as I have been reflecting lately on this period of calm there are a few things that I want to share that I have learned along the way:

  1. God’s promises are true… every time.  It might not always look like you thought it would, it might not come as fast as you would have liked it, but he is forever faithful.
  2. Hope is not what I thought it was.  Hope is not believing in an outcome but rather believing that no matter the outcome, God is enough.  Even if things don’t turn out like I want I can cling to the hope that even in the pain, God will be there.
  3. Courage is not the absence of fear.  Courage is moving forward despite the fear.  Courage looks a lot like saying yes even when every bit of your rational self says, this can’t be good.  Courage is not giving up when things look hopeless.  And sometimes courage is simply getting out of bed one more day.
  4. You need people –  call it your village, your tribe, your small group, your circle, your fellowship – whatever you call it, build it.  We are not meant to live life in isolation.  I would not have survived the past 3 years had I not had people speaking truth, carrying hope, claiming promises and pouring me some wine.  People make life so much richer.  Build your fellowship and invest in them.  You need each other.
  5. I’ve heard about terrible two’s but let me tell you, two has nothing on three.  truth.  I’ll write a book after we make it through number three being three.  Lord help us all.
  6. Vulnerability is risky but worth it.  Being honest about where you are, your fears, your feelings and wondering if you even have what it takes might be scary, but I have found that it invites others in and allows authentic relationships. You might even find that you aren’t alone in your thoughts and feelings.   We’re all trying to figure this out together.
  7. God can do a lot with a little.  A mustard seed of faith, the last drop of oil, a few fish and loaves of bread or even a soft-spoken “yes”.  Obedience is better than sacrifice, you obey and God moves.

And lastly, (for now), I want to encourage you to capture your story.  One thing I’m so thankful for is the ability to go back through all these crazy posts and see the hand of God in our lives.  To know that I have captured these pieces and will one day be able to share it with our girls gives me hope that they will themselves see God’s hand of redemption.  And as I tell them about their first mommy and her love for them, knowing one day they will want to know the story behind our story, I can trust that God’s pursuit has not ended here. His love will meet them there, even in the painful things.

When they open their mouth and an Alabama accent falls out I can certainly laugh knowing that came from me – along with their love of shopping.   But when they laugh so deeply they can’t breathe, fight so hard I can hardly stand, sing so passionately that you can’t help but be moved – I give credit to the one that loved them even before me – and I’m ok with that… because this is what makes our story beautiful, every piece of it.   A crazy, beautiful, broken and redeemed story.

I want to leave you with this from the Psalms,

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.    Psalm 27:13-14

I have seen it – that goodness. I have experienced his faithfulness. I am resting and trusting that he didn’t bring us this far for nothing. And for now, I savor these things as I look forward to the rest of the story.

Much love!
abs

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photo credit to @littlemisscreative

 

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It was a Holy Night

So this is Christmas…

How can this be?  The days are long but years are short.  I’ve heard of this… but surely I’m too young for this to be true.

I just spent my second night rubbing the legs and arms of a 5 yr old who aches with growing pains and I can’t help but feel that this year, 2016, has been wrought with growing pains of my own.

My favorite Christmas song runs through my head, A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices- for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…

I am painfully aware of the weariness of this world.  Some are weary from battle, some are weary from loss, broken-hearted, grief-stricken and some are weary of simply waiting.  This season continues to bring me back to the thrill of hope – that something new and glorious is coming.  Maybe it is a promise fulfilled, a need met, a season of rest or the adventure of a lifetime. Or maybe it is unassuming, like a baby that carries the hope of the world.

I remember last year, dreaming of adoption and a certainty, learning to cling to hope and trust in his promises.  This year we celebrated the dream-come-true, the turning of the page and the overflow of his goodness. These have been unquestionably the highlights of my life. But in almost the same breath, we have experienced the pain of brokenness, the seeming hopelessness of trauma, the heartbreak of loss and again a place of waiting.  I’m beginning to think God might be after something…

I recently read an incredible book, Present over Perfect, that really helped me see some things I believed, subconsciously, that were wreaking havoc in my life.  By simply identifying these things, bringing light to the darkness, I began to experience a lot of freedom and grace.

At a young age I was pretty committed to not having children. While on the surface I could see this was driven by control issues, when I take a deeper look, through a lens of honesty, I somehow believed that having children would change my worth. Or should I say, it would change how I could prove my worth.   Having a little tiny human that I can’t control just might impact the things that I was carefully trying to control… and in the end, you would see I’m just a mess.

Well…I am a hot mess.  I had a recent doctor’s appointment and it went something like this:

nurse: how is your stress level?           me:  HIGH
nurse:  how is your alcohol intake?    me: higher
nurse:  how often do you exercise?     me: ummmmm…  low
me:    can you fix me?

Obviously, this isn’t a good path.  I had to honestly consider what I should do differently.  So, of course, I call my sister – “how in the world did you raise 3 kids, homeschool, work and live to tell about it?”   Well, let’s be honest, it was touch and go there for a moment.

As I began to really take a deeper look I began to see two key things: 1.  Something in me is driven to prove I can handle everything.  Clearly, if God brought this into my life it is because I should be able to handle it.  2.  I don’t want to disappoint anyone that is depending on me – especially God.  Because, if I can’t come through then it will be painfully obvious how broken I am –  like a vase that can’t hold water –  kinda worthless, except for sentimental value.

That seems harsh, huh?  You’re tellin’ me!  I was a bit surprised myself when I got to that place.  But surprised or not, it is what was truly driving me, in addition to the good things that God actually put in me.  But man, it was exhausting… and it is costly.

There’s something mysterious about lies like these – once you see them for what they are they lose a bit of their sting.  Once I reached the place of realizing I run myself in circles to prove I’m worth something, I was able to pull back a bit and rest.  You see, the other part of my favorite Christmas song (that is pointed out in the above-mentioned book) says Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

soul-felt-its-worth

Thousands of years ago, on that holy night, he appeared and he proved my worth.  Friends, it has nothing to do with what I can accomplish but everything to do with what he sacrificed. It doesn’t matter how big I fail or how high I climb, it only matters that he chose suffering, crucifixion and death – that I might live knowing I am chosen, favored and worth everything to him.

Y’all… when I stop and really let that soak in… when I remember that he appeared that I may know my worth…  this weary soul rejoices.  And then I take a deep breath.  It isn’t all up to me. The world doesn’t crumble when I fall. There is grace and I can live in it, I can offer it, I can sprinkle it around like glitter!

When I was tucking the girls into bed one night I sang Silent Night to them after prayers.  In the darkness of the night, I could see the surprise on their faces, “did you just make that up mommy?!?!”  No dear, that’s a Christmas song about Jesus’ birth.  “It was so pretty!”

I can’t help but think there’s something in our heart that is drawn to the hope of that silent night, like it holds our missing piece…. or peace.

This year, man, it has had its up and downs, really high highs and even some hard lows.  Growing pains of sorts… figuring out what it looks like to live out our story.  Trying to work out our housing and finding ourselves in a season of homelessness that at times feels hopeless.  Each and every hard place has brought me back to the question if I will believe he is faithful and his heart towards me is good. As I consider the story of a baby in a manger, a savior and king, I am reminded to rest –  he is a master story maker.

As we enter the last few days before Christmas, I invite you to take a moment and consider the depths of his love, the proof of your worth, the love of a king that stepped into a weary world that we may experience hope.  You, my friend, are worth it.

From this broken girl to you, I say, have a very Merry Christmas!  And since I didn’t find time to squeeze out another family photo session, this is as close as I will come to a Christmas card.  Much love to you all!

 

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photo credit to LittleMissCreative

 

 

 

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The waves and wind

still know His name…

My heart sings this song and reminds the rest of me that it is well. 

So let go my soul and trust in Him – the waves and wind still know His name.

There is much stirring in my heart.  Unsettledness.  Uncertainty.  Hopelessness yet in the very next breath, hope.  That’s the glory of our story, there’s always hope in His goodness, His faithfulness and His promise.

The past month has looked a lot like a pressure cooker… the heat has been turned up and I am just about done.  As a recovering control freak  I have a lot to learn about surrender but God is graciously giving me room to grow.

We survived moving and we are now getting settled into our temporary living place, which is much smaller than our home was.  This has been our own adventure in what I call “tiny house living”.  Now, I realize it is all a matter of perspective… and since I am the one writing we’re gonna go with my perspective.  Don’t get me wrong, this is the perfect spot for a one-week vacation, with a beautiful beach and a bed for every head.  But living, breathing, working and sleeping all in this little nest has been a bit more challenging than I imagined.

It has been hard for me to write because quite honestly, I haven’t had anything nice to say.  I have longed to write something inspiring in support of National Adoption Month (November) but in the middle of my chaos I have questioned if I can even muster up an ounce of inspiration.  I have felt more like a boiling frog trying to convince others that the water’s nice.  The truth is, the water is so stinkin’ hot!  I’ve wanted to jump out of this pot many-a-day in the past few weeks.  Parenting is hard. period. This is not my shining moment.

As I sat on my balcony last week, desperate for the voice of God, crying out in somewhat of a hopeless place and asking, Dear Lord – where are you!?!  – my heart found its voice again.

I have a love/ hate relationship with water. I love to see it in all its splendor, but I hate to get in it.  That day on the balcony reminded me of God’s invitation 2 years ago to step into the waves and trust His purposes.  The song in my heart reminded me that He is in control, especially when I am not.

I am in a small group (that I never get to go to anymore) but never-the-less the lesson that week was on worship and surrender.  It led me to a story from the prophet Ezekiel and a vision he had in chapter 47.  In the vision the temple has water flowing out from under the threshold… the man took him out and measured the water… first it was ankle deep, then further it was knee deep, then waist deep, then it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in…  (emphasis mine)

The study points out that the river symbolizes the presence of God.  As we give up control to God, we will begin to experience His presence.  Some of us are content to be ankle deep, some like knee deep and some will even venture out to waist deep, but God – he’s inviting us into the river.  In the river is where we surrender control and go where He goes.

As I re-read this scripture in the Message I was struck by the wording, wherever the river flows, life will flourish;  where the river flows, life abounds.  I struggle, every day, with surrender. This surrender to a season of what feels like homelessness has wrecked me. I have no control. But God’s promise is that in surrender, in the river, life will flourish. Where the river flows, life abounds.  Where I have been wrestling the current at waist-deep, I can find rest in deeper water.  If I would just stop fighting.

As I was praying I sensed the Lord say, today the tides are turning.   As a die-hard Auburn fan, you can be sure I didn’t make that one up.  I wrote that one down as I prayed for our country.  I marked the date, so I can come back and remember this moment where I recognize the growing need for my own surrender, to ride the river and remember the day that the tides turned.

I have believed this year for God’s abundance.  He has blown my mind with His goodness.  That day I saw his promise of provision come through in ways greater than I had expected.  I shared with Daniel and he just laughed… let out a deep breath and said, I can’t help but trust him for all that’s before us.  When he moves like this in areas we didn’t even know we needed, how can we not expect him to come through in everything else?

There is still a lot going on.  We still are trusting for his provision of our new house that finally has walls.  🙂   Our nation is at a turning point and it’s time for believers to offer hope, speak love and invite peace, not stir the pot of hate and division.  When I am tempted to be overwhelmed by these things and the simple day-to-day life of a mom / wife / employee / friend… I step outside, take a look at the water and remember… the waves and wind still know his name.    It is well with my soul.