Through sunshine and showers, He is faithful!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I was a member of Mrs. Nonast's Fourth Grade class at Cordell Elementary.  By this ripened old age of 9, I remembered how the first few days of school were to go.  We would unpack our supplies as our sweet teacher told us we were a year older and we are expected to act more responsibly than the year before.  There were milestones in the years before through which I flew.  Addition and Subtraction of double-digit numbers, Multiplication, Division, Cursive handwriting; these skills came easily to me.  I enjoyed school and loved being a student.  I loved everything about school and nothing came as very difficult to me.  Even when Mrs. N announced to our class that we would be adding a new element to our Fourth grade experience, I wasn't really fearful...yet.

It was called Poetry Time and here's how it went.  We were to volunteer (or be voluntold) to go to the front of the classroom, say the title of the poem and then proceed to recite the poem without rushing.  We were required to stay poised and calm as we spoke, so the class could understand what we were saying and so our teacher could grade us properly.  I practiced more than I actually needed to for the first poem, because I wanted to be the first to volunteer.  The idea I had in my head was if I volunteered first my teacher would know how hard I practiced and know I remembered the poem without getting to hear it 23 times before reciting it for myself.  (Some called me the overacheiver for things like this.  It was just a ruse, for my natural inclining in all that was to please someone and to have approval/applause.)  Some of my classmates had a very opposite approach to the task.  Practice while everyone else recited.  (they were probably smarter than I)  Anyway.  I called on myself to be first.  And, I walked up to the front of the classroom as calmly as I could manage.  Really, I had to hold myself back from skipping to the front.  I was SO excited to share!  As I stood in front of the classroom with 48 sets of eyes looking back at me, (23 classmates + my teacher.  Quick math y'all) I froze.  I panicked.  My memory of the last week of repeating and rehearsing left my brain in an instant as NOTHING came out of my mouth...not even breath!  I never knew I was fearful of speaking to a crowd until that moment or I would have rehearsed that part a little better.  I left the room in a puddle of tears headed for the bathroom.  I locked myself in the first stall and cried hard.  The confidence from the past 4 days of practice had gone, and left me looking like a fool in front of my friends.  My teacher came for me, of course.  I couldn't totally escape or melt into the floor or flush myself to China like I wanted.  I had to go back and face my fear.  The second attempt was with much less fanfare in my head and more concentration on the task ahead...getting through the poem.  I know I got through it, however I have no memory of it.

Confidence is a funny thing.  I thought I had it when it came to Poem Time and Spelling Bee's, and Mad Minute (math contests) because I knew what was going to be asked of me and knew all the answers.  But, when the pressure was on, sometimes that confidence would fly away fast and hard.  Even now when it comes to parenting, I feel like I know the answers because of my background in Early Childhood Education and child development.  But, when I'm faced with my real, live children with real, live problems sometimes I'm stumped and have to use my "phone a friend" pass for help.  I feel a little like Maria in The Sound of Music as she's going to the Von Trapp family home to care for the children while singing "I have confidence in confidence alone.  Besides what you see, I have confidence in me." She doesn't really have confidence does she?  It takes her an entire trip from the abbey to the family estate to muster up that "confidence" to care for the seven challenging children.

One place in my life that I haven't struggled with confidence (at least since I was about 13 years old) is in my relationship to and with God.  He's absolutely the least concrete, least tangible part of my life, but at the same time the most real to me.  This week, I received an email from one of the encouraging places on the internet, to which I subscribe, called Thrive Moms.  They put out a weekly email with a scripture and an encouraging message for Moms.  I love having scripture in front of me daily and they provide an extra dose of it weekly for me.  Anyway.  The scripture focus for this week is Psalm 108:1.  The ESV version says it this way, "My heart is steadfast, O God!  I will sing and make melody with all my being!"
STEADFAST!  I love that word.  Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines steadfast as:  very devoted or loyal to a person, belief, or cause:  not changing.  If I claim my heart as steadfast to someone, I have confidence in that person.  I don't doubt God because He has never failed me and His word says He won't either.  No wonder I can worship with ALL my being, everything in me without shame or fear, because I have FULL confidence in God!  He's not going to make me look like a fool at anytime.  I may look foolish to the world because the things and places to which He calls me, but I can have full confidence in following Him, because Psalm 34:5 says "those who look to the Lord are radiant, their faces shall never be covered in shame."  I have times like everyone where I doubt myself.  I don't really have confidence in me.  But, I do have confidence in God.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

When Flowers Die

This week has not been one of my easiest by far.  In fact, it has been quite difficult.  Elliana has been out of school this week on Spring Break, which, by the way, I am loving.  However, it does make my chores around the house more complicated and harder to complete.  The girls have thoroughly enjoyed the time together imagining and playing in every corner of our home.  I have thanked God in breath prayers throughout this week for little girls who are sisters and who so completely adore one another and love just being together.  It's a huge blessing to this momma.

Their interactions with each other cause me to remember and reflect on the times my sister and I played as young girls.  I remember some very vivid happenings in our childhood.  One specific time I can recall was my sister and I "enjoying" our new Full sized bed which donned a frilly, ruffled canopy just right for two precious little cherubs under which to drift off to dreamland.  Except, my sister and I weren't so precious and we didn't drift off to dreamland under our beautiful canopy.  We shredded the poor thing and our parent's idea of what little girls were made of in just a few short minutes of jumping on the mattress and punching through the material stretched across slats on the perfect topper to our bed.  The whole ordeal ended with corporal punishment for the both of us.  (I was very familiar with the concept, but I had introduced my sister to that painful way of life that day.)  Sometimes discipline seems worth it for something you really wanted to do, but in this case, we had a lot of fun, but never got to truly enjoy our new treat.  I digress.  Did I mention, we had only had this beautiful piece of furniture for a few hours before we destroyed it?  My poor parents! I'm so sorry, Mom & Dad.
Anyway.  My sister and I share a lot of memories and moments that no one else on this planet will ever know or understand.  And, I treasure those.  My sister knows me like no one ever will for she was my first friend and still is my very best friend.  My doubts, my fears, my shortcomings, my tendencies, my sins, my successes, my dreams:  She knows so well and still loves me.  My sister is just about the sweetest, most tenderhearted person I know.  Those of you reading this who know my sister, know this about her as well.  A better person in this life I have never known.  Please don't think for a moment that she might tell you she is great or that she's worthy of this pedestal in my heart.  She's also humble in spirit and offers every word of praise about her to the Lord for His glory.
In short, I love my sister and no one ever could take her place in my life.

My sister & some of my precious friends, the Mackey family, suffered loss this week that in this life we will probably not have the answer for the "whys".  Miscarriage and death are not uncommon and are even inevitable while living in this fallen world.  But, suffering is hard to understand and grasp for a lowly mind like mine.  The Lord holds those answers and we simply must trust that His way is best no matter how difficult.  We couldn't control it.  We couldn't fix it.  And there was no escape from it.  We must just remember to whom we are tethered for eternity and trust Him to carry us through it.

My sister has, so beautifully & so gracefully, walked through this time of trial praising God for the blessing of two little girls living under her roof who have intense love for each other just like she and I did & do.  She rejoices for life given to her and allows God to take what is His back unto His bosom without complaint.  I wish you all could hear her talk about what God has done.  I know that through this she has pressed in and allowed God to minister to her and because of that has already gained more knowledge of Him and is trusting Him in a way that I might never.  I am blessed again.  Wow!  What a great God to love my sister so intimately and so perfectly.  He, like a surgeon, is precise with the instruments and methods He uses to draw us to His heart.  I am more grateful for this than ever I have been before this week.

Do you know how terribly fond I am of Spring and gardening?  I absolutely adore getting dirt under my fingernails while planting seedlings and plants this time of year!  Seeds are more difficult for me to get excited about because of the time they take to mature and become something beautiful to look upon.  When a flower dies it leaves behind seeds for the next generation.  There is so much application you can almost reach out and grab right here.  Good things come up from the ground when something dies.  Death, literally, leaves behind seeds.  Seeds that fall on good soil, cultivated and ready, spring up and eventually in time show beauty.  How precious a thought!  The Lord has made us understand that most difficult thing to understand in an easier more palatable way.  Seeds from death are still very difficult for me to get excited about.  I even kind of dread it in a way.  I do not like death.  No one does.  The seeds help us to see, however, that no matter how bad death is, we have hope.  Death does not sting the way it used to for those who belong to God by the gift of salvation Jesus offered us.  It's not a closed book matter anymore because of Him.  He defeated death and brings life up from it through His power shown in resurrection from the grave!  Highest Praise!
I will plant seeds this year against my back fence in remembrance that hope springs up after tragedy.  I won't dread them.  I will embrace them.  Death brought those seeds to me.  I will watch them grow into something beautiful and thank God for the grace given to me through seeds.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Love Grows Love

The promise of the Holy Spirit comes to us in the 14th chapter of John.  Jesus tells his disciples that He won't leave them as orphans, but He will come to them.  The Holy Spirit is that seal that secures our adoption into the family of God.  Halellujah!  We have a new name and are welcomed into relationship to and with God our heavenly Father through adoption! 
We hope to do this on a physical level for a child by giving them our name and sealing them as our forever family through adoption. 
I believe that I was born with the "adoption gene."  There's probably not actually a gene for adoption in all my 20,000 some-odd genes, but I'd like to think there is.  I have wanted to adopt since I was a little bitty girl and was always drawn to brown skin tones.  My mom and dad can tell you that even when choosing baby dolls to play with in my early years, I tended toward babies with skin tones unlike my own (my skin is very white for those of you reading who don't know me).  What's very funny to me and a little ironic is Ana Beth's love for babies...babies who don't look like her.  She LOVES babies...anything to do with babies!  The first baby she chose for herself on a shopping trip to Ikea last year was an African looking baby with dark brown skin and black curly hair.  Her choice opened my heart to the thought that maybe someone was missing from our family.  It may very well be someone with darker skin than mine in a country I didn't grow up in.  I started praying.  My heart was broken and longing for someone to join us in our home as our third child.
Ana Beth loving on her babies
After that, and an eye-opening trip to Ghana, Africa; I finally realized how large our home was and was even more broken about all the space in our home for just the four of us.  I enlisted some friends to pray with me.  I prayed through many different things.  Giving.  Fostering.  Adoption.
And, adoption is where I landed.

So, we are pursuing international adoption.

The first critical question I've heard through this "testing the water" phase is, "There are plenty of children who need to be adopted in the United States.  Why do you want to spend even more money to adopt a child from another country?"
Let me quickly answer this question before I move on into the excitement I am feeling today.
1. Orphans in third-world countries do not receive the same medical care as children in the U.S.
2. Orphans in third-world countries do not get the same access to education as children in the U.S.
3. Orphans in third-world countries don't get the nutrition they need to grow into healthy adults with long life-expectancies like orphans do in the U.S.
4. Because of these factors and many more, girl orphans in third-world countries will most probably become prostitutes at young ages after aging-out of orphanages. And, boy orphans will be working difficult hard labor jobs that are risky and will eventually be the factor in having a short life expectancy.
These are just a few reasons we are considering international adoption for our family.

I am not saying any of these things to guilt anyone into adopting a child from anywhere.  I am just telling you that there is a need for more adoptive parents in the U.S.  And, Aaron and I plan on being just one of these couples who will step up and meet this growing need.
It's okay not to have this gene.  But, ignoring adoption isn't an option for a Christian.  Prayer is the first step to doing what James says in his book of the Bible, "looking after orphans & widows in their distress..."  Even, if praying is all you do and that's all God calls you to do, that's doing the will of God. If you are called to give, or foster, or adopt, DO it!

Will you, our people, support us as we walk through this journey of adoption?  It may take a long time.  It will, most assuredly, cost a lot; physically, monetarily, spiritually, and emotionally. But, will you be with us-praying for us and encouraging us along the way?

Yes, I have fears and doubts.  I think that's natural and normal.  I felt the same way before I gave birth to our natural children.  But, for today, I will be excited!  There is a journey ahead for us!  Many friends have blazed a clear trail that we can follow and will!
I'm most excited because, I'm not alone in this.  I have Aaron.  I have my girls (who want a brother, BADLY!).  And, I have the Lord who knows this chapter and the next and the next, because He is the author of this story.  I'll wait for the page to turn by His hand.