Monday, January 9, 2017

On Not Buying the Biggest Lie

Early last month, we shared the news that our family is #nowpendingseven, as we are pursing the international adoption of our girls' older sister.

Shortly thereafter we began the arduous process of compiling all of our paperwork and getting all of our clearances ... again. 

Starting the process all over again after just having finished our first adoption last year at this time, feels overwhelming in so many ways; the process is long and complex and heart-wrenching because 

the waiting. 

the uncertainty.

the emotions. 

It's just a lot. A lot that is all worthwhile, don't get me wrong, but a lot, nonetheless.

A few afternoons ago, as I was pondering in particular finances, I was feeling like 😳 and {crying face} and {freaking out face}.

But I knew I was needing to stop thinking like that and embrace 😇 and 😎 and 😊.

So I began having an honest conversation with God about how that feels more than a little challenging because lots of lies have started popping up ... like, specifically in that area of finances,

how could we really ask for help again?

And where’s this all going to come from?

And we are so unprepared.

Lies, God said.

But lies I was being tempted to linger in, believe and allow to dictate my actions and thoughts and behaviors.

Lies ...

Because we can always ask for help.

Because can always humble our hearts and admit when we need the body to be the body and come together to make something happen.

Because God designed us to do life together.

Because God could drop a million dollars in our laps however he wanted but He invites us in to be part of the beautiful things He's doing.

And then a message from a friend popped up as I pondered buying the lies or digging my heels into the truth:

“I have something I want to talk to you about. Can you call me?”

I called my friend quickly, and she proposed a fundraiser where she could offer a class because God has been bringing this back to her heart repeatedly.

And that’s when tears sprang to my eyes.

But it wasn’t about the class. Or even the funds. Or even just her genuine and sweet offer.

It was about this:

"Worry is belief gone wrong." {Ann Voskamp}

Worry was washing over me because I felt alone, like I had to do this all by myself. 

But God. God always, always, always sees us, and He is always, always, always with us.

Do we see Him?

When I take a step back from my worry, He so often finds a way to show me that He's there. Many times it’s through His word or a song or other people saying “God laid it on my heart to …" reach out/call/come over/pray/give/help.

And so the biggest lie I was buying wasn’t that people are sick of helping or that we couldn’t ask for help or that we are so annoying or that we weren’t going to have the funds …

the biggest lie I was buying was that God didn’t see me, that He wasn’t and isn’t near, that He won’t or can’t be or isn't in the midst of this part of challenges that come along with all the different parts of our lives.

We don't have to see over the mountain we're still climbing or around the curve in the bend on the road we're heading  because we have a very good Guide by our side. 

"I will never fail you; I will never abandon you." {God, Hebrews 13:5}

Yes, the mountains are steep. And the curves are dark and deep, but we don't walk them alone.

And that's what makes the difference: when we know God, who is good, is with us no matter the steepness of the mountain or the curves of the road ahead, we can replace worry with worship and we can face the journey ahead with hope and with joy and with courage instead of despair, fear and anxiety.

And, more than the height of the mountain or the starkness of the curves in the road, that's really what makes all the difference in the journey. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

On Coming Undone and Doing it Again

When God gives us gifts, He often wraps them up as people.

I had a keen sense of this after arriving home from Eastern Europe with our daughters newly added to our family through adoption in June 2015. 

Though there were challenges in the very beginning, quite honestly I was just so relieved to have all four kids under one roof that I felt God had blessed us beyond measure. 

As I looked at our beautiful children, each a gift from God, I thought our family was finished growing and we could move to the next stage. 

As the months pressed on and the trials became more challenging and our entire family of six grieved the losses and pains that brought us to this point within the safety of our four walls, as we fought hard to come together in love and with grace and in truth, I thought certainly our family was complete: simply put, I was spent and could not shoulder any more responsibility. And parenting at that point was plain and simple laced with difficulty so great I thought I might completely come undone.

And I did. I came undone.

We all did.

It hurt, a lot. 

We all grieved and wept and processed in our various ways the ways our lives had changed, the ways our world had changed and the losses we felt keenly in our hearts as we we made our way down a new path of life together as a family of six. 

The beautiful thing about coming undone in the presence of God is that He doesn't leave us undone; He gently and lovingly and faithfully begins to grow new from the old ... and when the little seed of our hearts cracks wide open and we're pretty sure we might be at the point where we are dying, something new and beautiful begins to grow. And instead of death there is life. 

Dr. Karyn Purvis said that in order for a person to heal, he or she first has to walk through the pain; the hurt that happens in the context of relationship also has to heal within the context of relationship.

Our first year and some home was all about going deep, the seed being buried underground, cracking wide up and struggling its way up toward the light again, sprouting as something new, healthier, more beautiful but yet still also itself.

When we first invited our girls' sister to spend time with our family this past summer, a year after we came home as a family of six, we were still brushing off some of the dirt from that first painful year we spent growing individual and as a family. We had no plans to enter into a season of growth like that again with our family. Our girls' sister also had no desire for her life to change or to be part of our family. She simply came to spend time with her sisters. 

Oh, we of little faith.

Something happened this summer, and God began to change all of our hearts and call us closer to his heart. And as we each drew closer to his heart and truth, we grew closer to each other.

Along the way, we realized that we didn't even know that we were missing something and that something was each other.

John and I both had reservations and so did our girl about coming together in a permanent way simply because each of us was trying to understand the how -- how do we make this work when there's so much ... unknown. Uncertainty. So much still left ... undone inside of our hearts and our minds?

Sometimes fear does that. Sometimes fear tries to keep us from the very things we didn't know we actually need most to grow in love and truth. Sometimes fear whispers sneaky lies into our ears and our hearts believe it. Sometimes fear tells us it's not worth it, the risk of being hurt, so bury our hearts away and stay hidden.

As we each have prayed and considered permanency, we continue to realize that adoption is the way love wants to go in this specific circumstance in our specific life in this specific time and place. 

We have learned that love walks the hard road and is better because of it.

Love walks together, even when it's hard.

Love lays down ones life, even if it "just" means laying our will to be right always.

Love persists even when we don't feel loving at all.

Love recognizes people as gifts, and love says people are worth it.

We're all at various stages of understanding love, and we're all walking toward the Father's heart as best as we can, trying our best to understand the magnitude of the gifts wrapped in skin that have come before each of us.

It's fitting, too, in this mental space during advent as we ponder the gift of Jesus.

When God sent us Jesus he gave us a gift unlike any other -- a gift we didn't have to accept, but one that would make our lives complete, one that would bridge the gap between us and our Father's heart, a gift of love. 

And here we are again, with a gift of love before each of us. And I think this is us, each of us in this family, saying yes we accept this gift. Yes, we want to unwrap this gift. Yes, people are gifts, and may we live as though we believe it by the way we love one another.