Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Circle Maker Part 5--Risking It All (Chapter 5)

If we are completely honest with ourselves, I think that most of us living in the United States can safely say that we do not really take a whole lot of risks in our daily lives. In this country, we are free to worship as we please. No one is going to burst into my home as I type this and arrest me for sharing the Gospel. What a blessing. However, sometimes that same lack of risk taking can lead to complacency. It can be easy to start thinking that nothing will ever change and that we might as well just get used to it. But that is not the life God desires for us. In chapter five of The Circle Maker (read about the first four chapters here), Mark Batterson begins by talking about the importance of being willing to take risks for the sake of God's kingdom, being willing to look foolish to the world in order to further the Kingdom of God. 

Drawing prayer circles often looks like an exercise in foolishness. But that's faith. Faith is the willingness to look foolish. Noah looked foolish building a boat in the middle of a desert. The Israelite army looked foolish marching around Jericho blowing trumpets. A shepherd boy named David looked foolish charging a giant with a slingshot. The Magi looked foolish tracking a star to Timbuktu. Peter looked foolish getting out of the boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. And Jesus looked foolish wearing a crown of thorns. But the results speak for themselves. Noah was saved from the flood; the walls came tumbling down; David defeated Goliath; the Magi discovered the Messiah; Peter walked on water; and Jesus was crowned King of kings. 

When I look at each of the stories mentioned above I see individuals who did things that would have looked crazy to anyone watching. I mean think about it. There is Noah, in the middle of a desert, building a ship because it is going to rain. Rain? It had never rained on earth before. He did not even know what rain was. Talk about a leap of faith! Or look at Peter, standing safely in a boat on the sea in the middle of a storm. What does he do? He steps out of the boat and onto (not into) the water. Then he starts walking. How? He has faith that Jesus will keep him from sinking. And then I look at Jesus (and here I pause, because there is so much to say about Him, and I know I will not get it all right). And there He is, the Lord of all creation, humbling Himself to life and death as a man, something that does not make sense to the human mind. But He did it. It looked crazy to mankind, but He knew it was the only way to bridge the gap between man and God. All of these men did things that seemed so foolish to the world around them, but look at what God did with their faith, their willingness to risk it all for Him. 

In order to experience a miracle, you have to take a risk. 

There is such truth in this notion. I think sometimes we fall into the trap of believing that God doesn't really care exactly what we do with our lives as long as we pray and go to church and tithe and so on. But I firmly believe that is not the case. I believe that the Lord has great and specific plans for each of our lives and that in order to follow the path He has designed for us, we must be willing to take risks. Several months ago, my parents came up from Florida to visit us. I had been going through a particularly difficult time with the whole adoption/waiting to be a mom thing, and my mom was able to share some things with me that really helped me out. I wrote about it here, but I want to go back to one particular thing she shared with me. The story of Lazarus. It is not an unfamiliar story for me, but she was able to shed some new light on it, courtesy of a Tony Evans sermon she had heard on the radio. 

A quick overview of the story: Lazarus, a good friend of Jesus, has died, and his two sisters, Mary and Martha, are mourning his death when Jesus arrives. They are upset because He did not get there in time to save their brother. In essence, they are saying that Jesus (who is God) is late. Hmmm. So Jesus tells the sisters and the other mourners to roll away the tombstone. Everyone starts going on and on about how it is too late and the stone is too heavy and so on and so forth. But Jesus remains firm, telling them to move the stone. They finally do, and Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. 

You see, Jesus asked the people to do something that most certainly looked foolish. Roll away a tombstone? Yikes. Was Jesus capable of resurrecting Lazarus with the tombstone in place? Oh yes. Could He have moved it? Absolutely. So why didn't He? It was an exercise in faith for the people. It is almost like Jesus was saying to the crowd, "You want a miracle? Show me that you believe." 

Batterson says it well: If you don't take the risk, you forfeit the miracle. 

So how does all of this apply? Well, let's answer the following questions. 

1. What is the miracle you are praying for? 

2. What is God asking you to do to demonstrate your faith that He is able? 

3. Are you willing to take that risk? 

4. What are you waiting for? 

I can tell you right now that my miracle is becoming a mom to a herd of kiddos. That is what I want for my life. I want to raise children who love Jesus. But this has not happened the way I thought it would. Not at all. God is asking me to show Him that I believe He is able to do this. So we are stepping out in faith to adopt from Ethiopia. Please do not for one moment think I am saying that this is easy, or that I am so very super spiritual that this just comes naturally to me. That is a far cry from the truth. I am having to die to myself every single day in this department. But as a result, I am hanging onto God like I never have before in my life. 

He has asked us to take a risk, to do something that does not make sense. I mean really. Raise a ton of money to fly half way around the world to bring home a child and raise him/her? Does that sound normal? No. But what God asks us to do rarely does. And let me tell you this, as hard as all of this is, there is no where else in the world I would rather be, because right now, even though I feel like I am standing in the middle of a hurricane, I know that I am in God's will, and that is the safest place in the world for me to be. The Lord asks His children to do crazy things. But it is always for our good and for His glory. 

So, in light of all of this, I would encourage you to pray (and I am right there with you). Pray about the miracle you are seeking and ask God what He wants you to do about it. 

"Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face." John 11:38-44

**All italicized passages have been taken from Mark Batterson's, The Circle Maker. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Joy of Christmas

I love Christmas. And I love it for a whole lot of reasons. I love being around family. I love surprising my husband with a gift he was not expecting. I love the atmosphere this holiday creates. But more than anything, I love what Christmas means. The fact that Christmas exists means that we have a God who loves us more than we can possibly imagine. 

This God, our God, sent His Son to earth for the sole purpose of providing us with salvation, a way to spend eternity with God our Father. I know I am still waiting on our little one to come home, but I cannot fathom intentionally sending my child into harm's way for other people, many of whom would reject the whole thing anyway. But that is what God did. He sent His Son, not as a King, but as a vulnerable baby who had to grow up and learn and mature. Why? So that we would know that we not only serve a great God, but that this same God has also experienced what we have experienced. He knows our hurt, our joy, our loss, our everything. Jesus Christ endured all of these things and far more on our behalf. For our sake and for His glory. You see, in doing this, God not only provided salvation for us, His adopted children, He also magnified His great Name. What kind of all-powerful God chooses to suffer on behalf of humanity? This One. His character is revealed to us through this sacrifice. We sacrifice for the people we love, and that is how those people know we love them. I think about my own parents and how much they sacrificed for my sister and me when we were growing up (and even now). I am so grateful for them and for their love. It allowed me to experience so many things, and it showed me their love for us and the character of their hearts. It is the same with God. He has made the ultimate sacrifice--there is none higher. And we are the beneficiaries. And through this great sacrifice, we see that He is good. He did not have to do this. He wanted to. Let that sink in. 

By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53

God chose to do this so that you and I could have the opportunity to spend all of eternity right by His side. It is my hope and prayer that if you have not already done so, you will open your heart to Him on this Christmas Day. Rejoice in the sacrifice that our loving Heavenly Father has made for you. He would do it again, because it is His desire that none should perish. He loves you. He loves you more than you could ever imagine. 

"And there were shepherds living out in the field nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said, to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.'" Luke 2:8-11

On a different note, I woke up this morning thinking about our sweet little bird, hoping and praying that this will be the last Christmas morning we know without our precious child. So while we are enjoying today with family, there is a touch of sadness, because our family is not yet whole. Part of my heart is on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, and I am praying that the Lord fills that space oh so soon. I love you, little one. 

Have a wonderful Christmas. 


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Counting It All As Loss

I have been working through some things in my mind for last couple of weeks. I mentioned in an earlier post that this month has been very slow in the way of referrals, and, as a result, I have found myself feeling very anxious. I catch myself thinking, "Well, if this keeps up, then there is no way we will get a referral in May. It just won't happen." And then my mind really starts to spiral out of control. I get started on the, "Well, if this doesn't happen, then it will affect this, which will mess up that and ultimately lead to this other thing. And then what will we do????" Am I the only one who does that? Well, I have become a champion at it here lately. And as I do it, I realize that I am trying to (yet again) take things out of God's hands and put them in mine. Never a good idea. Yes, I have an "ideal timeline situation" in my mind, and it is what I am praying for. But where I struggle is with finding the balance of praying expectantly and trusting that the Lord will do what is ultimately right and best. I am finding that it is a fine line to walk.

For as long as I can remember having a favorite Bible verse, mine has been Philippians 3:8. It reads, "What is more, I consider everything a loss when compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ."

And now that I find myself in a situation where I am having to wait on something I value so highly and love so deeply, I also find myself struggling with this verse. I do love Jesus. And I want to know Him more. I want to consider everything else in the world a loss when compared to knowing Jesus. But it is hard. I want these words to be a true reflection of my heart. But it is hard, because I also want to have our little one home with us yesterday. To be completely honest, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that it would be December of 2012 and Adam and I would not yet be parents. If anything, I thought we would be talking about Baby Knott #2 at this point. But that is so clearly not the Lord's plan for us. I know that. And I also know that His plan is better than mine. But, goodness, it is hard to be sitting right there in the middle of it all.

I am having to live day-by-day in the grace and mercy and love of God in a completely new way as we walk this path. This is the hardest thing I have ever done. Truly. But God has been and is being so gracious to me, to us, as we try to follow what He is asking us to do. Adoption is a beautiful journey, but there are times when it is very isolating. This is such a unique experience. And as I struggle with waiting to be a mom, I find myself having to turn to the Lord more and more. and then I realize, "You know. That is probably the point." I think sometimes the Lord lets us struggle through difficult times and lets us feel like we are alone in our struggle so that we will turn to Him. He literally takes away all of the other options, and we are left with Him, the One we should have gone to in the first place. He pulls us (sometimes kicking and screaming) right to where He wants us. And I think that is where the change, the shift takes place. He reveals Himself, His power, His glory, His boundless love to us. And we know Him more. We learn that He is enough and that He has a purpose in the struggle.

I am learning these things. More and more each day. I have found myself in a place where God is the One I talk to, the One I turn to. Don't get me wrong. I still struggle with this. There are times, lots of them, when I find myself turning to someone else to fill the role God should be filling. The funny thing? God's comfort, advice and encouragement satisfy in a way far beyond what we think possible. And don't get me wrong again. God has blessed me with beautiful family and friends who have been nothing but supportive and loving. But no person, not even my incredible and God-fearing husband, can fill the God-shaped hole in my heart, especially where my sweet baby is concerned. He is the only One who already knows everything about this sweet child, and so I will turn to Him for comfort and assurance as we wait. I will count this pain I feel as loss, because the Lord is using it to draw me closer to Him. So it is worth it. It is so, so hard, but it is worth it.

Lord, let Philippians 3:8 be the trumpet call of my life. Let those words be true for me every single day.

"What is more I consider everything a loss when compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ." Philippians 3:8


Saturday, December 22, 2012

It Finally Happened: A "Say What?" Post

As I have followed other adoption bloggers over the last several months, I have often laughed to myself at the things people say to adoptive parents. These sweet moms have had people say all sorts of outrageous things to them about adopting and their perceptions of it. The adoption community as a whole seems to be very good about shaking things off and chalking a lot of comments up to lack of understanding, though I am sure that every now and then someone really crosses the line and gets their head bitten off by the mother of an adopted child. So, naturally, I had been wondering if this would happen to me, how I would handle it, what I would say. Our friends and family are unusually adoption-savvy and extremely supportive, so I haven’t really encountered anything too impressive. Until today. It finally happened.

Adam and I spent today running around taking care of some last minute Christmas shopping and errands. Our last stop was Wal-Mart, a place that sends chills down my spine when I think about it. We ran in to get some things, a quick trip. Now, Adam is really, really good about talking to cashiers when we are checking out of stores. He just strikes up a conversation, and it usually ends with the cashier laughing and shaking her head at him. Today was no different. As our cashier started ringing us up, he started chatting with her, and somehow they landed on the topic of our marriage. She asked us how long we have been married, and I told her that it would be six years this June. She then asked us what we were waiting on to have kids. We laughed, and I told her that we were actually in the process of adopting, to which she replied:

“I was gonna adopt, but then I saw that movie about the orphan. You know, the one where she kills everybody. And I don’t want to end up with a murderer, so I decided not to adopt.”

Hmmmm. Well. Ok then.

Over the last six years of teaching teenagers, I have developed a pretty good poker face; I call it my teacher mask. I tried very hard to employ it at that moment and just keep my face blank while I thought of something exceptionally wise and profound to say. Unfortunately, I ended up making an awkward laugh/burst of air noise accompanied by an, “Oh.” Very eloquent. I’m sure she was moved.

My point being, I simply was not prepared. I’m not mad or upset or anything, but I was completely caught off-guard.  A murderer?? Seems like a bit of a reach to me. I know that there will be a whole lot I have to learn about my sweet baby when we finally bring him/her home. And I hate the fact that there will be actual, literal months of my baby’s life that I will know virtually nothing about. 

But I know Someone who does know. Someone who already knows. And I know Him. So I’m not worried. Do I wish I could change it and know my little bird from day one. Oh, yes. Absolutely. But that is me not wanting to miss a second of this sweet one’s life, me wanting to be there to meet every need, me wanting to be there to protect. And that is not part of God’s plan for our family. He is going to do that while we are apart. And when the time is right, we are going to come together in a way that does not look natural, and God is going to use that to create something beautiful. A picture of the Gospel, of what He did when He sent His only Son to earth to conquer death so that we would not have to suffer. There is nothing natural about the Gospel. But it is beautiful. It is the most beautiful thing in the world. And I cannot, cannot, cannot believe that God has called us to this. We are not worthy. But fortunately for us, that is the way He wants it.

So thank you, Wal-Mart cashier. Thank you for reminding me of Who I am entrusting my little one to before he/she is ever entrusted to me. He is the Author of my life and of my sweet baby's life. And unlike me, He does not make mistakes. So I know I can trust in Him to do what is best for this precious child, even if it something that seems completely counterintuitive to me, even if it hurts. I know that He is good. Always. 

And on a much lesser note, thank you for opening the door to a new blog category, aptly named "Say what?". Click on the category link on the left of this page to follow along with (and hopefully laugh at) some of the crazy, silly and sometimes serious things people say to us wacky adoption folks. 

"Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—He remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations." Psalm 146:1-10


Monday, December 17, 2012


I mentioned earlier that last week was a crazy one. A whole lot was going on, and then this sweet little ball of fur tumbled into our lives to further compound the chaos. Meet Rosie.
 Our neighbor called me early on Wednesday morning to tell me that a puppy had been tied to the street sign in her yard and left there. It was 30 degrees outside, and I am an animal lover, so clearly we were not just going to leave her out there. So we got Daisy's old crate out of the garage, got the pup settled for the day and went to work. When I came home, I brought Daisy out to meet Rosie, and they really got along.

She has such a good personality. 

Our neighbor has two little girls who have been wanting a dog forever, so she took the night to think and pray about keeping the dog for the girls. Rosie spent the night with us. 
After a bath, it was time to eat and go to sleep. Or so we thought. Apparently, little Rose has a fear of being abandoned, and she cried her little puppy eyes out from the kennel in the kitchen all night. We did not get too much sleep. Anyway, Melissa (the neighbor) texted me at work that day (Thursday) and told me that they would not be keeping the puppy. The timing was just not right. So we knew we would have to find little Rose a home. Meanwhile, of course, I am falling in love with her. So we put some feelers out and waited to see what would happen. 

Thursday night went a whole lot better. We put her kennel at the door of our room so that she could see us. That completely resolved the problem. She was sleeping so soundly that we had to wake her up when we got up in the morning. As you know, we did have to go out of town this weekend for Adam's family Christmas, and my friend Courtney volunteered her babysitting services for Rosie while we were gone. While we were at Adam's mom's house, I got a text from Melissa that she had a family who was very interested in adopting little Rosie and were planning to come meet her on Sunday afternoon.  So we picked the little girl up yesterday and brought her home to play with Daisy one last time. 

I would be lying if I said I was not strongly considering begging Adam to let us keep her. She is such a good natured pup. But I knew we had to let her go. So we snapped two more pictures. 

And said our good-byes. Then we let her go and I went into our bedroom and cried like a baby. I know that giving her to a good family was the best and right thing to do, but it broke my puppy-loving heart. 

Sorry that this was not exactly adoption related; I just wanted to make sure I documented the short blessing this sweet girl brought into our house. Adam and I were sad to see her go, but there is one of us who is nothing but glad to have things back the way they were. 
This girl. 

The adoption front has been verrrrry quiet here lately. So far, I only know of one referral that has gone out this month. Please continue praying that the Lord will move swiftly to match these little ones with their families. And please pray that our Lord will sustain and uphold the families who are waiting. 


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Family Christmas 2012

Today was SUCH a wonderful day! Let me show you.

 How do you serve soup for 40+ people? In mugs, of course! 
 Jennifer and Brandon
 David and Farren 
 Everyone getting their food. 
 So excited to be with family! 
 The Patriarch: Big Daddy with his wife, Elsie 
 Eating on the back patio
 The cows coming over to check us out.
 I think we had enough wood to burn. 
 The menfolk firing a potato gun. I did not even know such a thing existed. 
 Daisy girl had a big day! 
 Baby Bowen! One of our newest additions! 

 Adam getting ready to fire. 
 Lots of cousins! 
 Me with a potato gun. Are you impressed? Don't be.
 I just held it. Lee pulled the trigger. 
 Cousin Jennifer, me and Daisy girl 
 Cousin Royce with Adam
 Yancey and Holden heading out on the four-wheeler.
 The cows did not like having us all up in their space. 
 Somehow Yancey talked his mom, our Aunt Jean, into taking a spin on the dirt bike. 

 About to head out on the hay ride with my bird. 
 Here we go! 

 Farren, David and Aunt Jean rockin' some good looking shirts!
 Adam was brave enough to feed the long horn. 
I stayed on the trailer. 
 She is pretty, but...
 Look at this sweet family supporting us as we work to bring our babe home for good. I know a lot of people out there struggle with their in-laws. Please allow me to say that I am not one of those people. I married into an incredible family. These beautiful people have loved and supported us while we were dating, through our engagement, into our marriage and on this adoption journey. The Lord has blessed us with such an incredible family, and we cannot wait to welcome Baby Knott into this crazy bunch. 

 And here are all the ladies who have made me feel like part of the family from day one. Thank you all so much for being such a positive force in my life. You have shown me what it means to be a Godly woman and wife. I will be calling on you for advice once we get the little munchkin home! 
 Adam talking with Uncle Ken. 

 My fantastic in-laws! 
 Dessert over at Big Daddy's old house in Deatsville. This is where all the Cox kids grew up. 
 Lots of tasty treats to choose from. 
 Aunt Dawn hung up pictures of Cox Family Christmas get-togethers through the years. So much fun looking back through time. 
 Everyone loved it! 
 The three sisters: My mother-in-law, JoAnne, Aunt Jean and Aunt Joyce. 
 Such a sweet and special lady! 
 I inherited 5 nephews when JoAnne and Mike got married. They are each so precious. 
 Big Daddy and Elsie 
 OK. This is too sweet. These are Adam's old baby clothes. One of his cousins, Jennifer, used them for her son, McCoy. But he has since grown out of them, so she returned them for us to use if we get matched with a son. All of the boys in this family have worn these clothes, and now ours will, too. Well, if we have a boy...
 And then another one of our cousins, Piper, gave us these adorable pants for our Little Bird! Throughout this whole process, I have been so overwhelmed by people's loving thoughtfulness. 
And finally, here is my birthday present from Mike and JoAnne. An ornament with our very first waiting list number on it. Hopefully we will be done with numbers by next Christmas and will be posting pictures of the Bird instead!! 

Well, I am worn out and off to bed. Merry Christmas! 

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