Archive for 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Kind of Mom I Am

I once was the mom who couldn't believe someone could ever get frustrated or impatient with their child.  I once was the mom who couldn't imagine not wanting to sit and play on the floor with my baby all day.  I once was the mom who held tight to the wisdom passed on from the ages that "they will grow up in the blink of an eye" and tried to seize each moment of mommying. I am many things I wish I wasn't.  I am not the mom I thought others should be or the mom I hoped to be.

I am the mom who checks her email when she could be playing dress-up.  I am the mom who uses words carelessly and makes lots of peanut butter sandwiches and gets irritated by whining and crying.  I am the mom who sometimes counts the minutes until naptime.  I get angry.  I get tired.  Sometimes I wish I could call in a substitute.  Sometimes I let them keep arguing instead of stopping what I'm doing to go help them learn to share.  Sometimes I feel like the worst mom in the world.  I am the mom who goes to bed most nights wishing I could do the day over again, wishing I had loved them better.

And if you're not that kind of mom and I sound simply awful to you, well, that's what I used to think of moms like myself, too.  So I get where you're coming from.  Maybe you never will be the kind of mom that I wish I wasn't.  And it should sound awful to some extent because, aside from salvation and marriage, is there any gift as great as the gift of a child?  Is there any job more valuable than being entrusted with the very lives and hearts of little people who will one day grow up and live lives that could completely change the world?

Maybe someday I will be the mom who doesn't waste time, who always chooses to invest in my kids instead of myself, who never gets angry and always patiently loves.  I want to change and I need to change.  But even if I did all of that, I still would not be a perfect mom.  And no matter how hard you try, you will never be a perfect mom either.  There is no perfect mom; there never was and there never will be.  But there is a perfect Savior who loved perfectly in our places, that we might be forgiven for all of our lack of love and that our children may be loved perfectly by a parent who will never fail them.  He is my only hope amidst my continual failings as a mom.

Father, thank you for always being a perfect parent even though I am not.  Please, make me more like you as I love these little ones you've given me.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Adoption: Looking Out

I feel like Addie Beth in the picture, looking out with a huge smile, but remaining behind the closed doors, not sure of what's ahead.  We just started the first real piece to our adoption-our homestudy.  It will probably be around 3-4 months before we're finished with that step. If you're not familiar with the process, here's a brief description: it involves tons of paperwork, physicals, fingerprinting, background checks, 4-6 visits with a caseworker who will ask us tons of questions and will visit our home, and oh  Then, we will start having our profile (aka: small book that we make with pictures and words all about us!) shown to birthmothers.  From there, we just wait until we're matched.  After we finish our homestudy, it could be a matter of months or even just a few short weeks until we have our child(ren).

I'm sure everyone feels differently when they are going through this but here's how I feel:

I feel like I just found out that I'm pregnant.  You know that "super excited-can't believe it's happening-is this really for real?" feeling you get when you see a positive pregnancy test?  And then you quickly start imagining the feel of fresh newborn skin pressed against your cheek, the warmth of milky breath sighing deeply in sleep, white onesies and sweet footie pjs and soft blankies wrapped up tightly in your arms.  That's how I feel.

You can't see this pregnancy.  You won't look at me and see that there's a baby growing inside of me, but there is.  This baby is just growing in my heart and not my womb.

So I feel like Addie Beth looking out that door, excited and nervous all wrapped up in one.  After planning on adopting internationally for so long, this domestic route feels pretty new and unknown.  But we're confident that this is where God's led us and where He leads is always good.  Thank you, as always, for your prayers!

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Many are the plans in the mind of the man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand." Proverbs 19:21

I thought I had some pretty great plans for this year.  Some of them were:

1)  To be completely healed of Graves' disease and never experience any thyroid issues again
2)  To adopt 2 little ones from Africa
3)  To keep encouraging my husband in his role as one of the associate pastors of our church
4)  To have a tidier house

But my plans aren't actually what stands in the sovereignty of God's perfect plans.  His plan involves:

1)  Still struggling with ups and downs of hyperthyroidism and possibly doing so for the rest of my life
2)  Adopting from the U.S.
3)  Encouraging my husband as he transitions into the lead pastor role in our church
4)  Having a house that often looks like a tornado ran through it

It can be bewildering, scary, unnerving, and just plain hard to wrap my mind around it all as I see His plans standing instead of mine.  What's happening certainly isn't all bad, but it is very different than what I had planned.  I know that other people might be confused as well by what is actually happening vs. what I've thought and said would happen.  But really, that's how life always works. How often do I actually get exactly what I think I need?  Far more often, God surprises me with a greater and better plan than I ever would have imagined on my own.  His plans are way more informed and wiser than mine ever could be. If He would have let me persist in my own plans all my life, I'm sure I would never have known that I need a Savior.  So most of the time, I'm glad that it's His purposes that stand instead of mine.  And for the times I'm fighting to believe that, these verses bring me comfort:

"All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies." Ps. 25:10

"You are good and do good; teach me your statutes."  Ps. 119:68 

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Little Kids and a Big Day

Once upon a time, three little children dreamed all summer long about the Big Day.  The anticipation was palpable in their home each Monday as they asked their parents, "Is it today?  Are we going today?!"  Then one hot summer morning, they heard the words they'd been longing to hear.  "It's Train Day!"

With smiles and nerves they quickly walked to the station, their minds and mouths filled with questions about the ride that lay ahead.

They could hardly believe their eyes when they saw the big shiny train, waiting for them to board.  They quickly climbed up the stairs and searched for the perfect seats.

The little boy sat right by the window and stared in wonder.  It was even better than he had imagined!

The baby wasn't quite sure about all the noise, but she looked up at her mommy and said with determination, "I won't scared train, Mama.  Chugga-chugga choo-choo!"

The big girl was her usual cheerful self, alternating between looking out the window, chatting with her mommy, and playing with the multitude of toys she had brought along.

The children enjoyed each and every minute but before they knew it, the train stopped. They headed out into the hot sunny world.

Thankfully, they found a fountain to splash their hands into for a while, cooling them down just a teeny bit.

But they were still hot so they decided to search for a spot to rest a while.  They found a fun, refreshing place where they drank smoothies and played a fast-paced game of Bingo with their daddy.  (The big sister won.)

Sitting still wasn't quite the baby's cup of tea, so they left in search of bigger and better adventures.

It didn't take long to find one; a huge toy-store was right down the street!  But this wasn't just any toy store.  There were tables set up all around with opened toys for them to play with.  They could hardly believe their eyes!

After they played for a little while, they left the store with special surprises from their daddy and mommy.

The family headed back to the station.  Soon, they discovered that their train would be a little late so they made themselves comfortable.

The big kids happily sat near the tracks and peered into the distance, waiting and watching for the big train to appear.

Finally, it arrived! They eagerly climbed aboard another shiny Metra and headed back home, saddened that Train Day had already come and gone.  The children stared out the windows, thinking about all of the exciting adventures they had had, and wondering what magical things awaited them in the Mondays to come.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Have You Ever Heard of Such a Thing?

Addie Beth has some teeth in, you can only see one of her front teeth when she smiles.  At first, I thought that her other front tooth just needed time to grow in.  But when I took a closer look, I saw that both teeth have fully come in.  Her gums are just so crooked that you only see one of the front teeth.  And it just so happens that the crooked side of her gums is right where she sucks her pointer finger.  Coincidence?  I doubt it.

Not excited about the prospect of paying for braces, Josh asked our dentist for advice.  Her solution?  Either get the baby to stop sucking her finger (fat chance) or switch her to a pacifier.  I burst out laughing when Josh told me that.  I mean, have you ever heard of introducing a paci at age 20months? Well, apparently it's not impossible.  Isn't she just adorable?!

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Savoring Summer

Can you remember what it was like to be a child in the summer?  Every day felt like dessert.  I hear it in their voices from the moment they wake up, "Mom, what are we going to do today?!"  The anticipation is thick as they imagine the delectable moments that lie ahead.

My temptation is to let them play and laugh and run while I load the dishwasher or throw in another load of laundry.  They play, I work.  But this week, I joined them.  Because summer sun shifts to autumn breezes pretty quickly here in the Midwest.

Because babies grow into toddlers into preschoolers in the blink of an eye.
Because I'd be crazy not to stop for dessert while there's still some left.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Strawberry Picking

I have wanted to go strawberry picking for years but there never seemed to be an easy time to do it.  (One year I was pregnant with Tali, the next summer I was pregnant with Owen, the next summer I had a get the theme.)  But on the Fourth of July, my hubby gladly helped make my dream come true!  We found an amazing orchard that still had yummy strawberries and picked about 10lbs.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day!

Tali woke up and immediately grabbed her sunglasses and strawberry headband to prepare for the day.  She was a great helper and so much fun to share in the memory with.  This girl is just such a delight to hang out with.
Oh my...Owen was so funny!  He was really excited about each and every strawberry that he found.  By the end of the time his basket was completely empty and his belly was completely full.
Sooooo delicious!  We froze a ton of these to eat over the months to come.  Strawberries are definitely a gift from God.
This huge trampolineish thing was probably the kids' favorite thing about the whole orchard experience. Addie laughed non-stop while she was jumping with Josh.

I'm so grateful for God's kindness in making my strawberry picking dream a reality this year!  We can't wait to go back again!

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Vacation Thanks

Mark Twain once said, "Don't cry because it's over, rejoice because it happened."  That's what I want to hold in my heart as I think about vacation.  This picture was taken (thanks to my awesome friends and their thoughtful tripod gift) right before we left to come home. Don't be misled; no one wanted to take this picture except me.  No one was eager to sit and wait and pose and wait and try again.  And as you can see, not everyone is smiling.  But that's real life, right?  Vacation wasn't without complaining and conflict and tiredness and dishes and laundry all the stuff that real life is smattered with.  But it was still a gift because we were together.  And that's a gift that I don't want to take for granted. We're not alone.  We're a family and we're together.

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fleeting and Beautiful

They are so little.  She’s four-and-a-half, full of wonder and awe and ready to explore and pretend and create fun wherever she goes.  He’s three-and-a-half, all boy but with a twist of tender, ready to play cars and ball and learn how to surf...even in Wisconsin.  Little lady is nineteen months; she’s bursting with energy and laughter and brightness and mischief, loving the sand and the water (especially drinking it).

Three small sweet people.  Three little souls entrusted to our care for a short time.  I want to savor each moment with them on this trip.  Last year, I was so sick that life, in general was just a blur.  Last year, Addie Beth wasn’t even crawling yet & our schedule worked around her naps and feedings.  Owen was just getting potty trained.  Tali still took naps.  They’ve grown so much and something about being with them on vacation just makes me more aware than usual of all the growing that’s happened.

What is it about sensing the passing of time that just makes a mother’s heart ache?  I’m swallowing hard as I write, remembering years past in this place and knowing those moments can’t be repeated.  That’s it, I think; it’s that these days are so unforgiving, so relentless like a sunset that, no matter how hard you try to slow it, just keeps slipping away into the night.  That’s how the days fly by as a mama of three small children-beauty to be savored that just keeps on slipping by.

So it might only be Sunday, just barely the beginning of this vacation, but I’m gonna get all sentimental even now at the start in hopes that I can magically freeze time, or at least freeze it with my lens.  Today, I will live up these moments that He’s amazingly given AWAKE and AWARE that they are gifts to praise Him for.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

One of My Favorite Verses

But I trust in You, O LORD; I say, "You are my God."  
My times are in Your hand...

Praying this verse for our family today and so grateful to know that it really is true.  God holds each of our days in His hands, guiding them with His steadfast love.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sweet Stories from our Garage Sale

As I think back on the garage sale last Saturday, my mind doesn't first go to the money (though I'm so grateful for God's provision) or to the work (though I'm still really tired!).  My thoughts go first to faces and conversations that I had with strangers, conversations that I will never forget.

One woman shared with me a bit of her adoption journey; several failed IVFs, multiple miscarriages, and one foster care license later, she and her husband pursued adoption.  They came into contact with an older boy that was from another country, had been adopted by a U.S. family, and then was put into the foster care system because his adoptive family decided they couldn't handle him.  This woman and her husband brought the son into their home to foster, then chose to adopt him despite numerous challenges.  After that, 2 more sweet kids from the foster care system came to live with them and they are in the processes of adopting them as well.  I watched this woman, little children lovingly pulling and jumping and crawling all over her, look over her shoulder at me and say, "You can't love your stuff and your kids, too!"  Compelling.

Another woman that had adopted transracially through a domestic adoption stopped by with her beautiful son who obviously adored his mommy.  She left me her info and invited me to a monthly hang-out time at her house for adoptive families.

An adorable little girl and her mama came by.  The little girl had been adopted domestically (from Aurora) and had been united with her family since the very day that she was born.  When I asked her mom what advice she could pass along to me at these beginning stages she smiled and said, "Patience.  It takes a lot of patience to go through this process."  Then she looked at her daughter, beaming, and said, "But it's worth it."

Later in the day, a 15 year-old girl waited to talk with me while others made their purchases.  She shyly and quietly shared a piece of her heart.  "I saw your signs and had to come.  My mom adopted me from Hungary when I was just a baby.  My life has never been the same.  I've always thought it takes some really special people to adopt.  I've never had to wonder if my mom loves me; I know she does because she went through so much to get me!  I just wanted to tell you that..."  Tears still come to my eyes as I remember her smile.  How different might her life have been if she had not been adopted?

Talking about adoption, saving money, having a garage sale-all of it seems so surreal sometimes.  Will we really ever bring these children home?  The obstacles can seem so huge at times. But then I think about the people I met on Saturday. I'm reminded that there are REAL children with REAL names that don't have a mom or a dad.  Real lives that do not know Jesus and don't have anyone to tell them.  Real children without any hope.  Someday, by God's power and grace, 2 of those will be ours forever and they will never be orphans again.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Amazingly Blessed: God's Generosity

God faithfully blessed our garage sale today!  
He kept the rain away, brought people to our sale despite the gloomy weather, and gave us awesome success!!  We're so grateful for all of the help, prayers, and support of so many of you.  Are you curious about what kind of $ we ended up with?
Ya ready for this?  We made around $1100 from the sale and then were stunned by the incredible generosity of friends that brought our grand total for the day to...$3027.  Is that amazing, or what?!  We are marveling at God's provision for us.  He is so faithful.  He is so worthy of praise! I cannot get over the fact that God loves our little ones so much that He will use whatever means He wants to bring them home to us.  (Even a garage sale.)  What a relentless love!
This day would not have been possible without you!  Thank you so much for donating your stuff, making posters, lending tables, helping price & sort, baking, helping me during the sale, coming out to shop, tearing stuff down, and most of all, for loving us and praying for this day.  We have tangibly felt your love and support for us.  How can we thank you enough?  Words can't express our gratitude.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Garage Sale Details!

Our adoption fundraiser garage sale is next Saturday from 8am-4pm!  We're so excited to see how the Lord's going to use this to help us in our adoption.  Here are the details for when to drop off your stuff, opportunities to help, some insider info on what's being sold, etc:

Drop Off Times:
(Come over and drop off your donated items at any of the following times; no need to call first.)
Monday 2pm-7pm
Tuesday 2pm-5pm
Wednesday 8am-12 or 2-8pm
Thursday 8am-5pm

Garage Sale Help Schedule:
(This is the tentative schedule for the day, but I would love to have more help!  Ideally, it would be great to have 2-3 people during each spot to help by sitting at the bake-sale table, straightening up the clothing tables, and whatever else comes up.  If you're interested in helping with one of the time-slots below, just leave me a comment in this post telling me what slot you want!)
Set-up at 6am:  Hubby, Aaron, Heather, Hanna, Andrea, Jodi
9:00-11:30:  Aleece, Hanna
11:30-2:00: Poel girls   
2:00-4:00: Kim 
4:00-4:30 Takedown Crew: Dad, Pronovost boys

Wanna' come shop?  Here's some of what we will be selling:
Furniture (including a toddler bed, table, dresser, changing table and Eddie Bauer bassinet), tons of clotheing sizes newborn-5T, adult clothing, kids/adult shoes, toys, children's books, infant swing, tricycles, electronics, kitchen items, decor, etc. Everything is in excellent condition.  Come do some shopping and help us bring our little one(s) home!!! 

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Responsibility and Surrender in Parenting

Of all the things I want for my children, nothing compares to this desire: that they trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.  I want my kids to experience the greatest joy and happiness imaginable for all eternity and that's only found in Jesus. It is such a delicate balance to intentionally strive with all that I am to make Him know to them, yet recognize that all of my efforts WILL NOT save them.  Ultimately only God can stir their hearts to believe.  It's something I wrestle through on a daily basis-this balance between responsibility and surrender.  Tonight, I was encouraged through an illuminating reminder from Gospel-Powered Parenting by William Farley. (Side note: I just started reading this book and wow-I love this one.  I mean, I.LOVE.IT.  Really.  I LOVE this book and the message it's sharing. It is so worth buying.)

"God is sovereign, but parents are responsible.  God's sovereignty is our hope.  Parents are utterly dependent on God.  He can save any child, no matter how dark the circumstances.  On the other hand, God normally reaches children through their parents.  It is fatal to presume upon God's sovereignty by neglecting parental faithfulness.  Yet it is also a mistake to assume that it all depends on us.  It doesn't.  In fact, none of your efforts will prevail unless God bestows the gift of faith on your children.  We are utterly dependent and responsible at the same time."  pg.22

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cinco de Mayo

Ok, so Cinco de Mayo wasn't exactly yesterday.  But the days fly by and since I have trouble remembering my children's names, chances are that there's no way I'll remember our little moments together unless I put them up.  Rockin' out to the fiesta music, munching on yummy tacos, making our very own pinata (and yes, I know that word needs a little squiggly thingy on top of the "n" but I have no idea how to do it and I don't really care either), and my personal favorite memory of the evening-Addie Beth finding out how awesome a good old fashioned sucker can be.  She kept saying, "Mmm!  Mmm!  Num-mee!  Mmm!"  Priceless! 

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Friday, May 20, 2011

What's More Real Than Laundry

It is embarrassingly easy to forget all that God has done for us-to forget all of His benefits.  The simple things like a sink full of dishes and a bedroom full of dirty laundry can seem so much more real than all the good that God has done for me.   I love to go back to these words from Psalm 103 again and again and again to help me remember:

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

 "He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him."

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hope for Moms (like me) Who Fail

I love this little section from a post I saw that was written for The Gospel Coalition Blog:

"And mom who fails her children regularly (because that’s everyone else), preach the gospel to yourself this day. If you have any grasp on your reality, you are likely painfully aware of every failure you’ve made with your children. And maybe you are fatigued by the fears of future failure as well. It’s okay that your children expose your own sin. In fact, it’s the mom who doesn’t seem daily aware of her failures that most concerns me. Christ has made the way for you to be at peace. If you sinned against your kids, ask their forgiveness. If you are kicking yourself for your failures, preach God’s grace to yourself. Don’t learn to live with your sin—don’t embrace it with the attitude “that’s just how I am.” But don’t deny it either. Be honest about it. You sinned. You confess. God forgives. You get up and walk forward in confidence. It’s called gospel grace, and THAT is the legacy to leave your children."

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Truth for Today

I'm waking up today aware that apart from His grace, I am just so quick to discouragement.  I'm seeking to cling to these things today:

From Spurgeon's Morning & Evening:

"Long ere time began or space was created God had written upon His heart the names of His elect people, had predestinated them to be conformed unto the image of His Son, and ordained them heirs of all the fulness of His love, His grace, and His glory. What comfort is here! Has the Lord loved us so long, and will He yet cast us away? He knew how stiffnecked we should be, He understood that our hearts were evil, and yet He made the choice."

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4,5

Could there be any better reason to rejoice today?

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

3 Gifts Unmeasured

Oh, how we love these little people! What a blessing it is to be their mama...even on days like today when I know that I have been more irritated than grateful, more exasperated than kind. Lord, help me see them as the gift that they are when I wake up tomorrow (or in the middle of the night).  

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Adoption Update: Waiting to Apply

Here's my Addie Beth rockin' her new Africa shirt.  As usual, her mouth's wide open because Baby Girl's got lots to say!  For example, "I wanna' hode-ju-me, Momma!"
I've been feelin' the love from many of you asking recently where we're at in the adoption process.  Thanks for asking!  Here's a little update:

Have we applied yet? Nope.

Do we have the initial funds (in other words, we have $5000 of the total $35,000) we need to start? Shockingly...YES!!!  God has been so kind to bless us through the incredible generosity of friends, family, strangers, Etsy, and photography (plus saving/renters). How can we thank you enough?! Every single time the Lord brings in more money for our adoption fund, I cry. I really see each gift as the Lord Himself looking at me and saying, "This is about Me and I'm in this." After all, people don't normally just dish out money without someone even asking! We've got the first chunk of the funds needed to apply and do a homestudy.

Then why on earth aren't we banging down the doors to start this process officially? Multiple reasons but the primary one is that we don't think that it's God's timing quite yet.

Huh? When we initially began thinking about adoption, our hearts were drawn to Rwanda.  But soon after that, Rwanda closed its doors to international adoption to revamp their policies.  It seemed like Rwanda was out and we began looking into Ethiopia as our hearts feel particularly drawn to East Africa.  But changes started happening with Ethiopia's adoptions, too.  We stopped, re-evaluated, and prayed more specifically, "Lord, where?"  We asked Him about the U.S., about Cambodia, about Uganda, Ethiopia, pretty much the whole world and didn't feel any definitive answer.  But over time we've been more and more stirred towards Rwanda so we're waiting.  It's likely that it will re-open over the summer or in the fall, but it's pretty unpredictable. We're waiting for a while to see if they open back up to international adoptions.

(Side Note: I've heard multiple questions about why we're not adopting from the U.S. given the vast amount of orphans here. To answer that really simply: even though our hearts break for the children here without a mommy and daddy, the U.S. is not where we feel that God is leading us to adopt.  We want to go where He leads us.  We rejoice with those of you God's stirred towards domestic adoption and pray for more people to adopt right here where we live.)

So what are we doing in the meantime?  We're loving the kids we've got and praying for the Lord's provision for this adoption!  We're planning a massive garage sale and excited to see how God uses that to bring in some more funds.

And if you've read all the way down to this point, here's a little extra fun tidbit:  We're praying about bringing home 2 little ones into our family instead of 1. It's our hope that God will give us 2 but we'll see...

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Adoption Fundraiser Garage Sale!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, June 11.
We're having an adoption fundraiser garage sale!

I'm so excited to announce that we're planning a big garage sale on Saturday, June 11 from 8am-4pm to help build our adoption fund.  We're thinking HUGE and we'd love your help!  I've read of many similar adoption sales bringing in anywhere from $1000-$4000 (isn't that nuts?) so I'm praying that Lord uses this in mighty ways to help us.  He is able!  Please pray along with me!

What You Can Do
1)  Set aside stuff to donate to our sale (clothes, toys, electronics, games, decorations, furniture, etc.).  If you're planning to donate clothing, it might be helpful to bag it according to size or at least baby/child/adult.  Unfortunately, due to space constraints, we won't be able to take your items until the week of the sale.

2)  Consider helping me run this crazy thing.  I definitely cannot do this on my own!  If you'd like to help by lending a table to place items on, volunteer to assist in pricing things, help me set out the stuff in the wee hours of the morning that Saturday, sign up to help handle the money during part of the sale, or volunteer to help tear down after it's over, please let me know.  You can leave me a comment below if you're interested.

3) Pray for beautiful weather and generous buyers!  

I'm so excited to be able to join with you to do this.  I love that adoption is such a community thing where we can join together to reflect God's heart.  I can't wait to see how the Lord uses this to help us gather the resources we need to adopt!  Thank you so much for considering.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fear Not: Part 9

(If you missed the earlier posts in this series, start with this post and go from there.)

God really does weaken the fears in our hearts as we fight for faith in Him.  But you don’t just have to take my word for it, or Isaiah’s or Paul’s or Martin Loyd Jones’ for that matter.  Listen to the testimonies of a few other ladies in our church about how fighting for faith in God really does weaken our fears.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Fear Not: Part 8

(If you missed the earlier posts in this series, you can find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.)

Shortly after we had our first child, Tali, I found myself really overwhelmed by fears about her safety.  When she would cry the lies of fear would shout, “Maybe she’s crying because there’s something deathly wrong with her.  Maybe she has some sort of incurable disease and won’t make it through the night.  If I was a better mom I’d know what’s wrong with her.  I should be able to help her and keep her happy!”

The lies were strong but with the help of my husband and friends, I went to God’s Word and searched for truths that would help me fight for faith.  I made a simple little sheet with the lies I was thinking and truths about God that combatted them.  Tali would start crying, I was sometimes crying too, but I’d grab up my sheet of truths and start praying to God and preaching to myself.

I’d pray from Isaiah 41:10; “Lord, I don’t know why she’s crying and I’m scared.  But You promise that You’re with me.  I’m scared that something’s really wrong.  Father, help me  believe that you’re going to help me.  Lord, give me wisdom to help her. Please help me, Lord.  Help me not to fear right now!” 

And then I’d speak to myself.  "Ok, I’m not all-knowing but God is.  He is sovereign over Tali’s life, and only He can keep her alive; I can’t.  I’m not a perfect mom and I never will be.  I'll never know how to perfectly help my daughter no matter how hard I try.  I’m a sinner saved by grace.  But God is perfect and He is able to sustain Tali’s life and to help me."

I’d pray and then I’d talk to myself.  And then about 30 seconds later, I’d have to do it all over again.  It was a long, hard, exhausting fight.  But over time, I began to see peace increasing in my heart and fears when Tali cried stared to weaken.  This practice of talking to God and talking to myself when a variety of fears struck, became a common practice for me.  The Holy Spirit really used those means to bring about true change in my heart.  I became much less characterized by fear and much more characterized by peace in God.

I saw the fruit of this change most clearly over the past year when I faced a pretty scary situation with my health.  After Addie Beth was born I just didn’t feel quite right. At first I just chalked it up to post-baby exhaustion.  I started having pretty bad digestive issues, awful headaches, and trouble regulating my body temperature.  I  was so tired that it was hard to even change a diaper and I’d have to sit down and rest after I walked up the stairs.  I couldn’t think clearly, everything seemed like too much to handle.  I was eating a full sized meal every two hours but dropping weight.  I felt overwhelmed, angry, and depressed all at the same time.  And then I started having serious heart palpitations, even in the middle of the night.

The fears started screaming, “What if I die? What if I can’t take care of my kids?  What if I have an incurable disease?”  And then, I ended up in the emergency room with a resting heart-rate of 140.  That was a scary situation.  I found out that I have a thyroid condition that may plague me for life, yet when I heard that, I was much less afraid than I anticipated. Instead of being consumed with fears like I have been most of my life, there was help for me in that moment and in the weeks to come to trust God. I wasn’t able to pray anything lengthy in those moments, but I kept asking, "Lord help me.  I know You’re good.  Help me believe it.” I tried to speak the truth to myself, “He’s promised He’ll be with me and help me.  Even if I don't see how, He is going to help me.”  

I didn’t know what His plan was or what the outcome would be.  I didn’t know then and I still don’t know now how this autoimmune disorder with my thyroid will affect every element of my future in this life.  But I do know that the outcome is in the hands of the One who promises to uphold me with His righteous right hand.  And believing that He is with me is making a difference even as my health continues to go up and down.

I’m not saying it’s been easy-it’s been a fight.  The lies of fear continue to whisper or even shout in my ears on a regular basis.  But when I hear those lies in my heart, with the Spirit’s powerful help, I’ve been crying out to God.  I’ve been speaking the truth about God to myself.   And when I’m finding it hard to do those things, I’m going to great books, great family, and great friends and asking them to help me believe what is true.  And I’m finding that overall, I’m experiencing a lot of peace in what really is a frightening situation.

You heard a bit of my story so you and I both know that for me to not fear something genuinely frighting is a huge change!  God really does weaken the fears in our hearts as we fight for faith in Him.

(2 more posts to come!)

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fear Not: Part 7

(If you missed the earlier posts in this series, here they are: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.)

I want to just be really honest here and say that this idea of actually needing to fight for faith has been the crucial point of challenge for me.  I don't want to have to work at this.  I want everything in life to be easy-lasting peace included.  I want to just slap a scripture on it and repeat, “Fear not, fear not” a couple times and feel all better. But that’s not how trust in God usually grows.

If you want to strengthen your muscles, you don’t expect that just sitting at home on your couch is going to do anything to help you get toned.  And we rarely grow in trusting God by merely doing nothing either.  There is a war going on in our hearts - the war for faith in God.  Wars aren’t won in a day and we won’t win the war against fear in a day either.  There’s battle after battle after exhausting and challenging battle before victory comes.  The question is whether we’re going to choose to pick up our weapons and fight for faith or merely be trampled by our fears.

So how about you?  Are you using the weapons of prayer and the weapon of reminding yourself of what God’s Word says is true about Him?  Are you doing that even when your feelings and circumstances are screaming otherwise?  Or are you just passively listening to what your fears and circumstances seem to be saying?

I’d like to share a little bit about how fighting fears with faith in God has made a difference in my life.  I share this not to make you think highly of me (I could never have brought about this change on my own).  I share this to give you hope.  I’ve never met a person more consumed with fears than I was and I have seen that God really can transform fearful hearts like mine.  It really is possible for you and for me to grow with the help of the Holy Spirit.

First, let me share some things that I’ve tried to do over the years to weaken fears and anxieties.  I’ve tried to ignore it (you know-try just not to think about it and hope it goes away).  That didn’t work.  I tried to convince it away (you know-tell myself that the statistics were incredibly unlikely that I would get kidnapped while going to the mailbox).  That didn’t help.  I tried to educate my fears away (you know-scour the Internet for every possible way to eliminate anxiety attacks).  That didn’t work either.  In fact, going to the Internet to help me weaken fear has only brought on more fears.  I’ve tried to barter with God; “Lord, don’t you think I deserve some peace?  I’m trying to follow You!”  That didn’t bring me lasting peace either.  So what did help me not to fear what is frightening? Honestly it’s been the two things that Philippians 4 mentions: prayer and talking to myself.

I started really engaging in this war against fear when I came to our church. The Lord kindly introduced me to a book by Ed Welch that my friend, Jodi gave me.  It was on the “fear of man.”  Through this book and some other excellent resources, God started to show me that my fears were not happening just because I’m naturally introverted or because of my family background or because this is just how I’ve always been.  I started seeing that fear had to do with my heart and what I was really believing about God.  I started to see that through the help of the Holy Spirit teaching me to fight for faith, lasting peace was really possible.

I began to re-read passages in scripture about anxiety and started asking God to help me see how trustworthy He really is.  Instead of just reading the same scriptures over and over hoping that just reading them would change me, I started praying through scripture and thinking about it.  I began talking to myself and reminding myself of who God is.  Over time, this started to become a way of life for me.

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