Tuesday, March 30, 2010

But God...

So one of the hardest parts of older child adoption, for us, has been trying to teach Abby about God and Jesus...

It's different when you're raised hearing about Him all of your life... Faith just seems to come easier. But Abby has had so many questions... Good questions... Questions that have caused me to examine my faith and to learn to speak the language of a child...

But there have been times when I've been so frustrated, wondering if she will ever have faith... She would giggle when we prayed... Act bored when we read the Bible... BUT tonight, she blew me away...

Mackenzie has a lizzard and as we were putting Abby to bed, she said, "Mommy, that lizzard thinks he's the king." I responded, "Well Abby, he is the king of his home."

And Abby said, "Really mommy? But God is King!"

Faith, like attachment, is a process... God is clearly bigger than her past... He is truly the God of the impossible!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pour Out Your Heart

Psalm 62:8 says, "Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."

I love that verse and while I really get that with my head and even try to practice it, God made it so real to my heart tonight...

It was a crazy evening of storms... Tornadoes were touching down within miles of us, hail, green skies...it was crazy! As the evening wore on, there was one last cell that came through that was really scary...

We had our plan, we knew who was going to which closet and bathroom, pillows and blankets were ready and waiting, we were just all sitting in the family room together waiting in case Scott told us to move quickly...

As we waited, Abby came and crawled up in the chair with me... It's a big chair so she wasn't sitting right up next to me, so I put my arm on the back of the chair, kind of opening myself up to her, but not forcing my comfort on her... I just wanted her to know I was available if she decided she needed me.

As the storm rolled in, the winds picked up, the hail came down and the news channels began to warn of the perfect tornado conditions, Abby finally looked up at me and said very hesitantly, "Mommy, I'm scared."

That was all the invitation I needed, I pulled her in close and whispered that everything would be ok... I couldn't stop the storm, but I would do everything in my power to protect her...

Thankfully, the storm passed without a tornado but those few minutes gave me so much to think about...

I have longed for Abby to trust me... I know she's tested me over the last 18 months and I think she has found me trustworthy... First I earned her trust by providing for her most basic needs...then she allowed me to care for her skinned knees and elbows...next she trusted me with her stories of China...but tonight, she trusted me with her fears...perhaps the things that make us the most vulnerable...

My heart could have just danced when she looked up at me and said, "Mommy, I'm scared." And yet, that's the very thing our heavenly Father wants from us... He longs for us to find refuge in the shelter of His wings...for us to be vulnerable with Him and trust Him with our greatest fears (and everything else)!!

He will never force His comfort on us, yet He is always waiting, if we will just trust Him... What a blessing and privilege to call Him Abba Father!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Even 18 Months Later, We're Still Experiencing Firsts!!

So on July 21, Abby will have been with us for 2 years. If you've been following long, you might remember that for the entire first year, she didn't want much to do with me. Oh, she let me meet her basic needs, but she just couldn't seem to let herself really receive my love. It was hard, but trying to follow the example of my Heavenly Father, I didn't force things and let her work it out in her own time.

I tried to let her know that I was always there, I would offer her hugs and affection, but if she pushed me away, I let her be.

But when I went to Africa last August, something changed... It's like she finally started to get that even though I go away, I'm always coming back. From that point on, she begin to let me in more and more.

One of the hardest things for me, that first year, was that she didn't like me hugging her... A kiss on the head was absolutely forbidden... Rubbing her back was met with squirming and pushing me away. For a time, I honestly wondered if anything would ever change.

But it did... After Africa, she began to invite me to sit with her, more and more. She started to hug back, instead of feeling like she was doing her duty. And more and more, I could sneak a kiss on the top of her head and she wouldn't fuss at me.

A couple of weeks ago, Scott and I went away for our 20th anniversary and when we returned, she ran out to the garage and threw her arms around me, even trying to push Mackenzie out of the way. I realize I can't let that always happen, but that one time, that first time, I just ended up making a game out of a group hug.

But Saturday night was the moment I had been waiting for... We were staying in a hotel for a soccer tournament. Scott and I were with the girls in one room and the boys were next door. We all got snuggled into our beds and read for a while. But then the girls were ready to go to sleep... And Abby started to ask for something, but I couldn't understand what she was saying... On the third try, she opened her arms and said, "What about a hug?"!! Talk about making a heart overflow...

And then last night, she said, "I love you" first! WOW!! She has grown into the happiest, most loving child. It's amazing what love, patience, grace and security can do for a child (for an adult too!)...

What an amazing journey!

Thoughts About Being A Bride!

This post is probably not what you would expect based on the title...  But this week in Community Bible Study, I taught on Revelation 19:1-10.  While the passages often move me, this one touched me somewhere deep in my soul...

In Revelation 19, particularly verses 6-10, John shares his vision of the wedding feast of the Lamb...  Jesus, our Bridegroom...  what a mind boggling thought!

Let me take you back to the beginning for a minute…the beginning of time that is!  God created the heavens and the earth and then He created man and woman and gave us stewardship over His MAGNIFICENT creation!  Many times I’ve heard people allude to an idea that somehow God needed us to be complete…

But that’s crazy!  God was perfectly complete within the relationship of the Trinity…  My thinking is that the love they shared was so incredible that it just couldn’t be contained, so it overflowed and what was birthed was creation.

Sadly though, man was not content with what God was providing and he believed the lies of the enemy, that God was withholding something good and he disobeyed him, becoming his enemy, because he loved and worshiped something more than his Creator.

But God wasn’t surprised and He had a plan…  Thousands of years later, God sent His Son Jesus, from heaven, the most glorious place we could imagine, to a stable…  a home for animals…  I don’t know about you, but that would break my heart to have to do that to one of my children.  Thank goodness God isn’t like me!

But it got worse, this thankless world hung His beloved Son on a cross… talk about rejection!  But death didn’t win and Jesus is now in heaven, ruling and reigning AND…  He’s preparing a place for His Bride!  Anyone who has put their faith in Him as their Savior!

But consider this…  throughout Scripture, God uses the metaphor of a prostitute, an adulterer, a swift she camel, a harlot, to describe those who are unfaithful to Him and worship idols…  Well, that would be all of us, if we have not been cleansed by the blood of Jesus!

So let me ask you…  Would you CHOOSE the equivalent of a prostitute for your son?  God DID!!  Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  In other words, while we were still spiritual prostitutes, adulterers, harlots…  Christ died for us!  And not only did He die for us, He longs to wed us (In a spiritual sense, of course!)  That is mind boggling to me!!

So it got me thinking…  When Scott and I were first engaged, he was in a training program for his new job.  He had to travel all over the country and we would go weeks without seeing each other.  I could hardly stand it… I thought of him constantly…  I talked about him to anyone who would listen…  I talked to him on the phone and sent him letters, all the time…  I planned the wedding and I prepared myself, shopping for the most beautiful dress…  Making sure I had the perfect hair style…  Dieting and exercising so that my figure and my outward appearance would be the best that it could be…

But then I had to ask myself…  Am I waiting as eagerly and preparing as diligently for the return of my Heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus?

Am I consumed by thoughts of Him?  Do I talk about Him at every opportunity?  Do I talk to Him as often as I can?  Am I working to prepare my heart, my inward appearance, with the same commitment as I prepared my outward appearance for my earthly bridegroom?

It’s absolutely stunning to me that God…  Perfectly holy and righteous, sovereign Creator of the Universe… would choose us, believers, saved by His grace, to wed His beloved Son!!

Amazing love…  Amazing grace!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Just Because We Love...

First, let me apologize for just disappearing from the blog world again.  Teaching Revelation in Community Bible Study has been consuming, add that to life and keeping up with my blog has been impossible.  But I couldn't let today slide by and not tell you what happened...

I mentioned a while back that I had met a principle from a middle school in a very low income area, not too far from my home.  Since I don't believe in coincidences, I started watching for how God might lead me to work with her, or at her school in the future.  At first, I wasn't very open to the idea...  This is hard for me to confess, but I had this really messed up notion that just because the school was in a low income area, it might not be safe.

But God did a number on my heart about that when I went to the garbage dump in Africa.  I felt so judgmental about the pastors who wouldn't go to the dump because they felt it wasn't safe, but then I was quickly convicted of my own shallow attitude and I resolved to contact the principle when I returned home.

So now I've been there a few times and in the last couple of weeks, I've started reading with a couple of the students.  It's funny, what I do seems so small and yet they treat me like I've donated a million dollars...  They are so humble and so appreciative of EVERYTHING!!

I LOVE the people I've met at this school.  I have no idea what their beliefs are, but they LOVE these children...  It is so obvious...  And to see how they talk about the ones that have some behavioral challenges (in such a grace-filled way), they clearly love them unconditionally.  It is just such a blessing to be around these men and women!!

Well, I guess because some of the staff are starting to recognize me and realize that I'm around to stay for a while, today they started asking questions, not in a rude way, just curious...  Where are you from?  Why are you here?  Which group are you with?  When I tried to explain that I wasn't with a group, they looked at me like I didn't understand what they were asking and they started suggesting groups I might be with.

After the second or third time this happened, I realized that they aren't used to seeing people who don't have a 'reason' to be there.  They're not a project I'm working on,  I'm not getting any community service hours, I'm not with a local university and my boss hasn't sent me...  I'm just there because I followed my heart...  God's leading.

Now, I'm not being critical at all of people who go for the other reasons, I've always been in that group before. But it just made me very sad that people expect service to come with an ulterior motive...  It made me sad that we don't do just because we love.

I feel like ulterior motives have defined far too much of my life...  It's so refreshing for a change to just do something because I love Jesus and He asked me to.  God really does bless us when we do the things He asks...  Not with stuff, but with things like the smile of a child...  It just doesn't get much better than that!