Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Weekend Escape

The Knotts LOVE to camp. And this past weekend, we got to do just that. Adam and I packed up the car and the pup and headed out to Cheaha State park to spend the weekend in the wild with each other and our precious Daisy girl. It was so wonderful to get out and away and just enjoy being out in the woods with each other.

We started out by hiking out to Pulpit Lookout to catch the sunset. 
Snapped this one of my best fella just soaking up God's creation. 
The view is absolutely breathtaking. 
My two favorites in the whole, wide world. 
And some love from my best gal. 
 She loves being out in the woods as much as we do. 
And she brings so much joy to my heart. 
Family photo! 
The sunset was quite worth the hike. 
Wow. 
 Back at the campsite... 
With the Knott family camping staples: root beer and fire. 
 Early morning fire and some breakfast with these two. 
Staying toasty warm! 
 And a morning hike to finish out the trip! 
Exploring. 
Taking it all in. 
Good for the soul. 

I am so thankful for time away with my two greatest loves and the chance to enjoy God's beautiful creation, deep conversation and quiet peace. 

Love, 
Baylor 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Trusting God with Your Impossible

Sometimes God asks big things of us. He asks us to let go of what we want, what we have always envisioned, what we think we deserve. He asks us if we really trust Him, if we really believe that He is sovereign AND good.

And when God does this, when He asks something big, it can feel like He is asking us to do the impossible. Asking us to do something that feels so completely beyond our capabilities that there is NO WAY it can be done. But that is where God shows up. For Him, our impossible is easy.

This is where I find myself. Day after day. Minute after minute.

For me, the impossible in this life is bringing our children home from Ethiopia. As the days pass, it feels like they get farther and farther away, it feels like we will always be waiting and never be parents. Month after month goes by with no news, and we are asked to wait. We are asked to trust. We are asked to believe.

We, like Peter, are asked to get out of the boat and walk across the sea. We are asked to do this impossible thing. To walk on water.

And we can only do it if we keep our eyes on Jesus. Much like Peter, I find myself often focusing on the storm raging around me. Focusing on everything else. On the ever-lengthening process, on the lack of information, on the timeline, on people telling us to try something else. On my sadness, on my fear, on my doubt, on my anger.  I see all of these distractions, and they threaten to overtake me, to swallow me up.

And I know I have to look at Jesus.

But everything else is screaming for my attention. And Jesus is asking for it.

Everything else is raging around me, and He is quietly asking me to trust Him.

So I'm trying. I'm trying to look at Him. I'm trying ignore the crashing waves and the howling wind and the deafening thunder. And I am trying to look at the One who told me that I could walk on water, the One who told me that, through Him, I could do the impossible.

If I would just trust Him with it.

So I don't know what your impossible is. Waiting for a spouse? Struggling with a wayward child? Or, like me, are you waiting to become a parent and it just doesn't seem to be happening for you? Whatever it is, you can trust Him with it. There will be dark days, maybe lots of them Today was one for me. One that left me feeling alone and scared and angry and hurt. But even in that, He is there. He is our Jehovah Shammah, and He can be trusted with our impossible.

“Come,” he (Jesus) said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, 
walked on the water and came toward Jesus."
Matthew 14:29
Love, 
Baylor 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thirty Months

Can you imagine being thirty months pregnant? Thirty months waiting for the one you love to finally make his/her grand entrance into your life and change your world forever? Guess who can imagine?

This girl.

Today marks thirty MONTHS since we started the adoption process to bring our little darlings home. Thirty months of hoping and praying every day that the waiting will be over and that our world will be rocked by arrival of our children. Thirty months of love growing in my heart for little faces and hearts and souls I do not yet know.

Most of me cannot believe it has been this long. My friend, Laura Catherine, and I often talk about that fact. We really just can't believe it. And I'll be honest with you, there are days when I feel like this is all we will ever do. Days when I feel like we will always be adoptING. And I am so ready to have adoptED. I'm ready for the adoption to be over and for us to have our darlings home with us.

I'm thirty months ready.

So I hopped over to Psalm thirty, looking for some encouragement on this unfathomable day. I recommend reading the whole chapter, but the last three verses are for me today.


Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
 Lord, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing;
 
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
 
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.
Psalm 30:10-12

Love, 
Baylor 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Isaiah 61

I mentioned in my October update post that I am working on memorizing Isaiah 61. It is one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture. I love the hope it brings, the redemption it promises and the goodness of God that it calls to mind. And on top of all of that, it is oh so beautifully written. The English teacher in me loves the imagery and the figurative language.

The Year of the Lord’s Favor
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
 
because the Lord has anointed me
 to proclaim good news to the poor.
 
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
 
to proclaim freedom for the captives
 and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
 and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
 instead of ashes,

the oil of joy
 instead of mourning,
 
and a garment of praise
 instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
 
a planting of the Lord
 for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
 and restore the places long devastated; 

they will renew the ruined cities
 that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
 
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
 you will be named ministers of our God.

You will feed on the wealth of nations,
    and in their riches you will boast.
Instead of your shame
 you will receive a double portion,

and instead of disgrace
 you will rejoice in your inheritance.

And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    
and everlasting joy will be yours.
 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
 I hate robbery and wrongdoing. 

In my faithfulness I will reward my people
 
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
 
and their offspring among the peoples.
 
All who see them will acknowledge
 that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
I delight greatly in the Lord;
 my soul rejoices in my God.
 
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
 
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,

as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
 
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
 and a garden causes seeds to grow,

so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
 and praise spring up before all nations.
Isaiah 61 

There is so much to love about this chapter. It is so full of hope, and that is something I need in my life right now. At church this past Sunday, one of our pastors was talking about what hope means in the Bible versus what it means in the world. In the world, hope is something we want to happen, something we wish for. In the Bible, hope is a promise. Our hope is that God is who He says He is. That is a promise based in the sound goodness of His character, and His character is love. 

So, over the coming weeks and months, I am working on memorizing the entire chapter. While I have always loved Isaiah 61, I can't take credit for this idea. Over coffee with my cousin, Jennifer, she brought up that she had been praying this chapter over her family and mine, asking that this would be the year of the Lord's favor in our lives. I love that. And so I decided that it would be a good idea to commit the whole chapter to memory, to hide it in my heart so that on the days I am really struggling, I can remind myself right away of the HOPE God promises.

The promise that one day I will…

Receive a crown of beauty for my ashes,

The oil of joy for my mourning,

And a garment of praise for my spirit of despair.

Be called an oak of righteousness

And be a planting of the Lord for the display of HIS splendor.

I need these reminders as we walk the path the Lord has laid out for us. It is far too easy to walk in the company of doubt and fear, to keep the company of sorrow and shame.

And I want to let these things go, and instead be found in glory of the Lord and let my heart rest in the HOPE He brings.

My goal is to have it memorized by the end of the year. So if you see me, quiz me.

Love,
Baylor



Monday, October 6, 2014

Wait List Update: October 2014

The first of October has come and gone, along with our waiting list update for the month. The court system in Ethiopia is currently closed due to the rainy season, so we were not expecting to move at all. And that is what happened. While it is tough to stay in the same spot, there is some relief in knowing that we will not move when the court system is closed. It kind of takes the pressure off. Does that make sense?

So, here we are. Still waiting. Still trusting. Still hoping.

Still loving these children and praying them into our arms. Still believing in God's beautiful story, even though we don't yet see the whole picture.

And in the meantime, we are working on memorizing Isaiah 61. A passage about the year of the Lord's favor. As we memorize, I am hoping and praying that 2014 is the year of the Lord's favor in our lives.

More to come on this soon. I just wanted to post our update for the month.

Love,
Baylor

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What Is This Place?

If you have been with me for a while, you know that SO much of this adoption journey has been fraught with pain, tears and despair. There have been countless hard days and so many nights filled with tears. And I even told you in a post the other week that the month of September had gotten off to a particularly difficult start.

But for the last week, I have felt something different.

How do I explain this in a way that makes sense?

I have felt…

Good.

It's weird. Mainly because there are a LOT of reasons to feel sad. But I don't.

I find myself walking around, in the midst of a whole heap of tough stuff, feeling happy.

So I have to ask myself:

What is this place? Where am I? How did I get here? Do I have to leave? Like…ever?

And I think I know the answers.

This place is God's peace with where He has us. Quite honestly, it is a place I have been searching for for some time now. I have been longing for it, craving it. But it has eluded me. Not because God was keeping it from me. NOT AT ALL.

I was refusing contentment. I have been running SO hard after something I want SO much, only comparing myself to the people around me, thinking that I must have been somehow missing the point because everyone else has what I want. And in all of that racing and comparing, I missed God. I missed being grateful for where He has me, for all of this time with my husband, time to take care of student loans before little Ethiopians arrive, time to love on my precious puppy, time to invest in my friends and my students, time to have time.

And time to learn how to humbly surrender my life to Christ in whatever way He asks.

So much of this journey has been learning how to die to myself in a VERY real way. The idea of dying to oneself is something we hear in church all the time. But what does it even really mean? And what in the world does it look like?

For me, it has looked like learning how to set my wants, my desires aside in favor of what God has for me. And please believe me when I say that it has not been easy. Rather, it has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done. By NO means am I perfect at it. I am actually sure that there are a lot of times when my Heavenly Father must shake His head and smile at my refusal to let go.

But now He has brought me to this place where I feel like I have been able to let go, to die to myself and not have it hurt so much. At least a little. You see, dying to yourself can be an INCREDIBLY painful thing. It involves turning away from what your very nature wants and trusting God instead. I have struggled with this. Struggled on a deep, deep level. Way down in the depths of my soul. I have fought against it, and to God's everlasting credit and glory, He did not just give up on me and walk away. He stuck it out with me, and together, we have arrived at this new place. I am finding myself feeling God's peace and walking around with this sense of "I know He will do what is right and what is best."

I hope I stay here in this place. Surrounded and filled by God's peace. I know I will struggle again. It's my nature. But now I know that this place is real. I know, I know, I know, I know that God's peace can break through the toughest and most formidable of exteriors. I know that His persistent and unwavering love can crash though the walls we build around ourselves. I have always said that these things are true, but now I have seen them become reality in my own life and my own heart. I have felt the effects of God's pursuit. I trust Him with whatever comes my way. And I hope in what His plans are for my future.

I hope and pray that you find your way here, too. That you can find it in your heart to trust God with the very life He gave you. If you can, if we can, then God will use us to do great and awesome things. I know how hard it is. I do. I'm right there with you, my friend. And so is He. Lean on Him. There is no shame in that. We were built to need Him. And we can always trust Him.

Love,
Baylor

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Two Years: The Post I REALLY Never Thought I'd Write

Well, it's here. I knew it was coming. I knew it would happen. But it still feels like it can't be real.

Today marks our two year anniversary of being on the waiting list to bring our children home from Ethiopia.

Two years ago today I stalked the FedEX tracking site to watch our dossier make its way to Addis Ababa. I was in my classroom teaching when I finally hit refresh for the last time and saw this:


I remember being SO happy. So relieved to FINALLY be finished with the paper chasing and officially be a waiting family. I was excited to be waiting. Hmmmm…

Two years and thirteen minutes later, the excitement of waiting has waned. It has been replaced by a fierce determination to bring our children home. Don't get me wrong. I am excited BEYOND WORDS to see my children's faces, meet them, hold them, hug them, kiss them and then BRING THEM HOME. But in in this process, right now, I am determined.

God has asked us to stand here. In this dark place. This place where He is really the only light we can see. Man cannot offer us hope here. Our God can. He can and He does by reminding us that He has called us to this. For that reason alone, we can persevere, knowing that we are not on our own. Good gracious, it is so hard. And I fail at it on what I think is a daily basis, but I am trying. So when you see me, and I am knee deep in my own pity party, please remind me that God is there.

Today is hard. I can't lie to you. When we started the adoption process on April 10, 2012, we were given a fifteen month total timeline. Now, two years, five months and one week later, we are still waiting. And there is no end in sight. That is a hard place, a dark and lonely place. I remember sitting at this computer one year ago in a state of disbelief that a whole year had gone by and we were still so far away from being matched. And now another year has passed, with MUCH less movement, and here we sit.

I hope and pray that we do not waste it. That, somehow, I manage to see God in this more and more and trust Him more deeply as a result. Will you pray that, too? And will you please pray that this is the year? That we see our children's faces before Christmas? I want that so badly it hurts. Please pray for adoption officials in Ethiopia, that they would move swiftly and with urgency, that they would see how crucial their work is. Please pray for our children, that they would be safe and fed and cared for while we are apart. Sometimes, I look around at my friends' children and I think, "We are missing all of this with our own children." And that is so hard. So I pray that they are loved and cared for in our absence. And I pray that we won't be apart for too much longer.

Love,
Baylor
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