Tuesday, November 24, 2015

For those kinds of days {the hards ones especially}

It was that kind of morning -- hard.

Probably, you know the kind — the one where everyone wakes up grumpy and out of sorts. 

The smallest child grabs things from her brothers’ hands, sending them both into fits of irritation and her into fits of giggles. The oldest boy-child wakes confused and a little irate while the oldest girl is largely annoyed. My youngest boy is on day three of illness, and yesterday my balance went way out of whack. As my husband tries to go through with his preconceived plans for the morning, I boil over in the midst of frustration and physical struggle and throw two toys onto the living room floor while refereeing a dispute between the youngest three and then cry. And then the three youngest children, all baffled, surround me and hug me while trying to make sense of it all. 

So that kind of morning. 

During the day, it’s no wonder that I find myself struggling against the way of panic and anxiety about everything within our four walls and, well, heck, about terrorism and orphans and all the tragedy that goes on around the outside of our four walls. The whole gamut. Because in my head, at least, when it rains it pours.

As I tuck the two littles in for a nap, I pray with them, and I pray aloud a very heartfelt, honest prayer, one that’s a plea for help and one that’s a certain cry of surrender. 

Because every now and then, more frequently this past year, I find myself keenly aware that what I’m trying to carry is too heavy to shoulder. 

I am reminded of this in increasing frequency. 

Most lately, I’m reminded of it when I’m outside walking with my oldest boy-child as he memorizes a verse he wants to learn. 

“Do not worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for what He has already done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.” Philippians 4:6-7

Today I’m at the end of my rope. Today I take seriously this invitation to tell God what I need and thank Him for what He’s already done. 

I muster all my tiny faith, and I pray bold prayers and ask for miracles, small and big and in between because with God nothing is impossible or too little or too big. It all matters to Him because everything is within his matters. 

And then I come downstairs to make some medicine out of lemons and garlic and ginger -- when I hear something. 

A voice. 

A man's voice.

And his voice is saying, "we learn how to pray in our family. We know that God hears and cares. We ask Him for wisdom and help from above and thank Him for answered prayers."

For a moment, I think maybe I'm going crazy. 

Maybe I’m losing my mind. Maybe God is literally talking to me -- and then I remember the book a friend bought us in honor of our forever family celebration, and I'm certain one of the kids has sneaked this beautiful narrated, talk-aloud book into this room during nap time.

I head toward the stairs to get the book from my youngest son, because I’m certain he has it and that’s why it’s talking, but there it is, sitting closed on the front bench in the foyer. 

Normally it only talks when it's open. 

But there it is -- closed.

I open it to the first page thinking it was the words from there that maybe could have been triggered and stuck.

But nope. Not page one or two or three but page four.

Specifically page four.

And at the bottom of the page, this verse-- "Your father knows what you need before you ask Him." Matthew 6:8

God's literal voice. 

I'm taken aback, but I'm not shocked. 

God shows up in our mess, and our mess is often so often He shows. 

It’s like a companion verse to the honest prayers I just prayed.  And following is the loud and startling reminder that God already knows. 

He already knows. 

I have prayed for what He already knows, and He has acknowledge my prayer. 

And so what follows the sharing of what’s on our hearts, according to Paul in his letter to the Philippians?


My heart, in the midst of chaos that is my own and chaos that I cannot claim, lands there figuratively just a few days before we land on there on the calendar. 

And I’m reminded anew that we can always be in a state of thanksgiving because God ever exists in a state of giving us something for which we can give thanks. 

He is a God who already knows. 

A God who cares. 

A God who keeps giving so we too can keep giving thanks. 

Because His love for us never changes. 

Even on the hard days. 

Especially on the hard days. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

"Instead, they gave." A letter to my children on Orphan Sunday

To my beautiful children,

Today probably seems like any other Sunday in November to you. You woke up, you got dressed, you came into the kitchen for breakfast, and shortly we'll be off to church.

But I want you to remember something today, especially on this first Sunday in November, Orphan Sunday, but really also I want you to remember this every day, when you go about your new normal and get ready for the new day: it's nothing short of a miracle of God that we're all here in one home, under one roof, communing together as one family.

And it's nothing short of a miracle that today, Orphan Sunday, in our home there are no orphans; there are just sons and daughters; you, my beautiful children, are forever part of our hearts, forever part of our family. Born from our bodies or our hearts, you are our children, and nothing will ever change your status as Worths.

Not marriage. Not choices. Not courts. Not geography. Not anything.

You are securely, unconditionally loved children of two crazy-about-you, slightly-off-their-rocker parents. We adore you even when you {insert whatever it is that you do}. Don't forget that; it's important. Because that's what it means to part of a family; that's what God intended for children because that's He does for all of us.

God loves us like crazy even when it seems like our behavior or our attitudes or our words could be driving Him crazy. God is the kind of Father who wants to bless us and care for us and love us beyond what we can imagine. He has done just this in our family. But it didn't come easy, and it didn't come without walking out in faith, each of us.

I want you to remember this, while God's love for us has never changed ever, our willingness to surrender and walk in faith has. I want you to remember that life wasn't always like this, even though it seems like after five months together as a family of six that there was never a time we weren't together. Recall, hard as it may, that there was a time before everyone was here under this roof.

There was a time we didn't think we had the ability to complete an international adoption because of expenses, resources and other logistics like vacation time.

There was a time when fears were bigger than our faith. When we were scared to walk into this great unknown because we didn't know if we could do it; we didn't know if you boys could handle having the birth order changed from both ends. We were once keenly aware of our imperfection, and those fears of not being perfect were live embers threatening to consume us.

There was a time when you girls weren't cleared for adoption, when you were still bound in the system of state care and you had little hope of being freed for adoption.

And there was a time when none of us knew what becoming a family would look like but we each took giant steps, in faith, toward doing it.

Even though it was hard. Even though it was painful at times. Even though it was unknown. Even though our fears were fanning.

Undeniably, today we are here together because God has graciously and lovingly moved in each of our hearts and we listened, responded and acted.

And undeniably we are here because God has graciously moved in the hearts of people AND those people listened, responded and were spurred to action.

Undeniably we are here because God and His people have given.

I firmly believe that we wouldn't be here together, the six of us, had God not done something inside of our hearts that we chose to embrace, had He not given us a glimpse of what could be.

And I firmly believe that we wouldn't be here together, the six of us, had God not done something inside the hearts our community, wide and varied and differently gifted, and had our community not heeded the stirring in their hearts to come around our family and make possible what seemed impossible.

God does much with a little.

He took our little bit of faith and our little bit of willingness, and he grew something beautiful out of it.

He also took the faith and willingness of our community, and he grew something beautiful out of it. Instead of keeping everything to themselves and for themselves, they gave.

They gave time. They gave love. They gave prayers. They gave money. They gave encouragement. They gave resources.

They gave their much and they gave their little, and God multiplied it.

God, I'm convinced, wants to do beautiful things with us and through us. But I often wonder if we're just unwilling to give.

I often wonder if we're unwilling to give up our fears so we never have a chance to walk in faith.

I often wonder if we won't give up our definitions of impossible so that we can clearly see the work of a God who makes it all possible.

I often wonder if we won't give up the comforts of the known so that we can step into the miracles that are often born out of the unknown.

So I just want you to ponder this -- God is willing to give us very good things.

He gives us more love than we can imagine. Your parents are but a dim reflection of His love. We would lay down our lives for you, and Jesus already did. If He's willing to give His self in exchange for your very self, what very good gift would He withhold? None. Because He is willing to give.

But are you?

Are you willing to show up, give your very little and watch God do much with hardly anything?

Are you willing to give up the fears and choose to walk out in faith?

Are you willing to give thanks in all circumstances so that God can grow in you a perspective bigger than yourself?

Are you willing to give your life to Him so He can use it to do great things?

This is my prayer for you -- that when you remember today, Orphan Sunday, you remember that God is a God who gives.

And when we give, we are a reflection of Him.

Photo by Michelle Pendergrass Photography
I pray that as you remember all He's done, all He's given, that these days of watching God show up big and watching the people around us respond in faith, that these memories would grow your faith bigger than your fear.

So that you don't miss what God's got for you.

So that you can see firsthand what God can do with a little.

So that you can know the blessings, and give thanks for all He's done.

And so that you can play a part in what God's doing in other people's lives, too; there is great need in the world for us to show up and for us to give. Orphan Sunday reminds us of this need.

God is willing to give; I pray that we may always be, too.