Monday, July 29, 2013

Will You Continue to Pray with Me?

Ok, so I think we are SO close to sixteen referrals for the month of July. And when I say close, I mean that I am fairly certain we are sitting at FIFTEEN referrals right now.

Can you believe it?

We are just ONE away from the miracle we have been praying for this month!

Will you pray with me that between now and Thursday just one more referral goes out?

How amazing would it be to see God move like this? Especially after so many months of minuscule movement.

I am praying every single day, and I sincerely hope that you will join me.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thankful Thursday: My Husband

Recently, I have felt a prompting to focus on being more thankful. So much of my prayer life (as I mentioned yesterday) has been focused on the things that are NOT going the way I want, so I feel like it might be a good idea to turn my mind and my heart toward the things in my life for which I am thankful. From here forward, I am going to try, emphasis on TRY, to focus a post each Thursday on a different blessing God has placed in my life for which I am thankful.

And I am going to begin with the single greatest, earthly blessing God has ever given me.

My best friend, my teammate, my rock, my partner in this life and the one my soul loves.

My husband.

There is no area in my life in which God's love for me and deep knowledge of who I truly am is more evident than in the man He gave me as my husband.

I am profoundly grateful that The Lord saw fit to match me with such a man. Adam is loving, patient, supportive, encouraging, faithful, steady, hardworking and forgiving. He lives out what God demands of Christian husbands in His Word, loving his wife as Christ loves the church.

The trials we have been going through over the last years have served to solidify and deepen our bond and my love for him. Mostly because he has stayed with me! He has been right by my side every single step of the way, encouraging me, upholding me and reminding my who God is. Adam has been a steady presence and a constant source of love. We stand face to face as two people in love and side by side as one unit fighting toward the same end. He is strong where I am weak, and  he never ceases to amaze me with the depth of his devotion to both God and our family.

When Paul defines love and lists its attributes in 1 Corinthians 13, he sets the bar pretty high.

Love is...

Patient, kind, it does not envy, does not boast, is not proud.

Love is not self-seeking, it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

As I read this passage in Scripture, I easily see how Adam fills each slot, does all these things and is never satisfied with anything less. And I am thankful beyond measure to have been blessed with a man who seeks to be all these things.

I am so thankful for you, Adam. You are more than I could have ever known to ask for. I love you for who you are and who you help me to be.

"I found him who my soul loves."
Song of Solomon 3:4


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Circle Maker: Chapter 10 Part 2

In the second part of chapter ten, we are introduced to an idea that seems incredibly counterintuitive. Mark Batterson makes the assertion that the blessings of God will complicate, not simplify, our lives. He says that the more God works in our lives, the more complex our lives will become... In a good way. 

"God will keep putting you in situations that stretch your faith, and as your faith stretches, so do your dreams. If you pass the test, you graduate to bigger and bigger dreams. And it won't get easier; it'll get harder. It won't get less complicated; it'll get more complicated. But complications are evidence of God's blessing." 



That doesn't sound right, does it? The first time I read that, it gave me serious pause. Looking at my own payer life, I realized that the vast majority of my prayers had been petitioning God to simplify my life by ending whatever trial I was facing at the time. Now, I want to be perfectly clear that  I do NOT in any way think that it is wrong to pray for deliverance from suffering. All we have to do is look at the psalms and we will see that King David (described as being a man after God's own heart) prayed for deliverance all the time. What I do think is that when we zero in on getting out of our present circumstance, we run the risk of missing out on what God has for us in that place. I believe with my whole entire heart that God is always good, and so from that stems the belief that everything He allows to transpire in my life, even (perhaps especially) the hardships and heartbreaks, is part of a greater, beautiful plan. I do not believe for one second that God allows suffering for the sake of suffering. What loving Father would do that? 

But when God allows things to happen in our lives and we pray and He answers, our faith grows. And then the next time we are stretched further. 

Let me give an example. Obviously, my biggest prayer right now is to bring these little ones home from Ethiopia and be their mother. Will my life be simpler or more complex once that happens? More complex for sure! But this complication (a word with a typically negative connotation) is a beautiful thing. I know that being a parent will keep me on my knees before the Throne like nothing else I have experienced. And that is a GOOD thing. It is part of God's plan and purpose. It keeps me dependent on Him. So when He answers my prayer, and I become a mother, I will need Him MORE, not LESS. 

That final portion of this chapter was tough for me. It focuses on living for the miracle. 

"Praying hard is hard because you can't just pray like it depends on God; you have to work like it depends on you. You can't just be willing to pray about it; you also have to be willing to do something about it." 

This section was tough for me in particular because I am not quite sure what this looks like in my life right now, mostly because everything having to do with our adoption is currently out of our hands. So maybe it is more in my attitude. If you have any wise thoughts on that, please let me know. One thing I am trying to work on is being more bold in my prayers and not shying away from telling people what I am asking of God. For a long time, I would just ask for general prayers with our adoption. And I did this because I was afraid that if I put it all out there and God didn't respond in the way I was asking, then that would somehow make Him look bad. 

As if God needs me to make Him look good, right? 

So I asked for more specific prayer in a few different ways in my post a few days ago, specifically asking for sixteen referrals this month, which would put us at #31 on August 1. It took me some time to get up the courage to put that very specific, very big number out there for all the world to see. My mind would race with thoughts like, "Well, what if it doesn't happen? That won't look good." 

But it is not about what looks good. I can't make God look good. God makes God look good. 

And so that was a step for me. Praying and asking for payer like I believe it can happen. And it can.

What does "praying like it depends on God and working like it depends on you" look like in your life? Maybe it is taking the first step toward a goal God has set in your heart, moving forward in some way that demonstrates to God that you believe He can a will work a miracle in your life. 


The Circle Maker: Chapter 10 Part 1

In chapter ten of The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson looks at God's provision. As usual, this comes at an opportune time for me. I have sort of fallen off the wagon when it comes to reading and sharing my thoughts here. Part of that can most certainly be attributed to the fact that I have been struggling over the last several months. Nevertheless, it seems that God, in His infinite and perfect wisdom, has saved this chapter for me to read in the midst of my struggle, when I am at a point where I am not sure how much longer I can hang on. 

Toward the beginning of this chapter, Batterson explores the manna miracle from the Old Tetsament, looking not only at the miracle itself, but also the instructions that came along with it. God provides food for the Israelites, but He then instructs them to only take enough for one day. He forbids anyone to take more than what he or she needs for one day. And those who disobey and take more than what they need end up with a rotten and stinking mess left over the next day. 


Doesn't it show initiative and extra preparation to store up? 

Batterson asserts, and I totally agree, that, "The manna miracle was a daily reminder of their daily dependence on God. Gd wanted to cultivate their daily dependence by providing for their needs on a daily basis."

It is an interesting way to look at the situation. Being able to gather a week's or a months's worth of manna might cause the Israelites to lose their dependence on God; they might begin to rely again on their own preparations. Batterson says it well. 

"We want a one week or one month or one year supply of God's provision, but God wants us to drop to our knees everyday in raw dependence on Him. AND GOD KNOWS THAT IF HE PROVIDED TOO MUCH TOO SOON, WE'D LOSE OUR SPIRITUAL HUNGER." (Emphasis added)

You want to talk about giving a girl a swift kick in the chest.  It is no secret that I am walking through the most challenging thing I have ever endured. If you are a regular reader here, then you know that one of the greatest desires of my heart is to be a mother. And I have cried out, literally cried out, to God I do not know how many times asking Him to deliver me from this. And when that has not worked, I have begged with gut wrenching sobs for Him to at least reveal to me what He is doing. 

And I have not received an answer. Years of praying to be a mother and no discernible end in sight. I will be honest with you here. There have been times when this has made me so angry, so resentful. I couldn't believe that God would withhold this from me. 

I have asked Him why. And now after all this time, I think I am starting to piece together the answer. 

"One of our fundamental misunderstandings of spiritual maturity is thinking that it should result in self-sufficiency. It's the exact opposite. The goal isn't independence; it's codependence on God."

Can I get an Amen?

You see, this has been, without any doubt, the most difficult and heartbreaking thing I have ever walked through. But I have never been so keenly aware of God. So sure that His hand is in absolutely everything. So convinced that there is nothing beyond the scope of His control, nothing His hand does not reach. So now when I wonder why this is taking so long, why I have to hurt so much, why my children will have to spend the first months of their lives without me, I know that it is because these things force me to my knees in prayer, force me to recognize that God alone is sovereign and worthy of al glory and honor and praise, that He alone knows what the future holds and that that same future is completely controlled by Him. And above all that, I know that He is good. 

OK. I am going to stop here with chapter ten. Believe it or not, we are just a few pages into the chapter, and if I do this all in one post, this will be the longest blog post in the history of mankind. So I am going to break it up. I plan to finish up this chapter tomorrow, maybe even later today. Right now, it is only 6:26 in the morning, so we still have plenty of time left in the day. 

For now, I want to leave you with some questions.

1. What is an area in your life where you have been praying for God's provision? 

2. Do you feel like He is answering in the way you want or expect? If not, why do you think that is? What could His purpose be?


P.S. Please excuse any typos in this one! It was written on a bumpy flight during the 6 A.M. hour.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sorting Some Things Out

The month of July has brought both good news and deep reflection for me.

It has been wonderful to see all of these referrals going out this month. Few things make me happier than seeing children matched with their families. And, of course, all of this means we are getting closer to seeing our little ones, as well. So we have much to celebrate this month, and I will circle back to that in a minute. But all of this movement is the first of its kind this year.

Let me explain.

If you have been following along with us here for a while, then you know that 2013 has been sloooow in the way of referrals. It seemed like each month we were moving one or two spots. Just dragging. It was pretty much exactly the opposite of what I had been praying for and expecting. You see, 2012 was an extremely difficult year for us. We had a lots of bad news and heartache last year, and so I had been looking forward to 2013 as a new beginning of sorts. I just knew that we would have our little one home before we closed the books on this calendar year and that the arrival of this sweet one would mark the beginning of a new phase for us.

Well, that has not happened. In fact, the first half of 2013 brought the slowest movement we had seen thus far on the adoption waiting list. And there was nothing we could do about it. Everything was (and still is at this point) completely out of our hands. I felt like all I could do was watch in sorrow as month after month slipped by and we barely inched our way forward. Sadness and despair consumed me. The month of May, the month when I had prayed and prayed that we would receive our referral, came and went and we were sitting at number 55. Nowhere near seeing our babies' faces. I began to feel myself sinking. It was a terrifying feeling. I wanted so badly to be strong, to rest constantly in the assurance that God was and is sovereign over all of this. Yet I found myself struggling.

Has that ever happened to you? You know who God is and that He has promised to never leave you or forsake you, and yet you find yourself feeling very much alone, lost and confused? That is where I was. I know who God is. I know what He is capable of doing. But it seemed like He wasn't doing it. Instead, it seemed like He was allowing things to drag on at a barely noticeable speed.The result was me feeling very lost. I reasoned that we had done what God asked, so He should make a clear, straight (and short!) path to the end result. That has not happened.

Instead, we find ourselves on this long, winding path with no clear and definite end. And for so long I have missed the significance of that, the fact that all of this has the ability to strengthen and deepen my faith. I was spending all of my time being sad, even angry. Sometimes I still am. This is hard for me. All of this is so very hard for me. I seem to lack the ability to compartmentalize my life. Adam will tell you that for sure. When I have a bad day at work, I bring it home with me. When I am feeling sad about not having children in our home yet, it reads on my face and in my voice; I cry in public places and am anything but a joy to be around. My mind appears to have been made without barriers. And so I am not one of the people who can detach herself from the adoption process. Sometimes I wish I could. But I cannot. It is with me every minute of every day. I live it every single hour, sometimes every single second. And over the last 6 months it has started to consume me, and not in the good way. I have let the sadness, the anger, the frustration, the fear, the resentment, the exhaustion take over.

And I have missed out.

I have missed out on communion with God. I have missed hearing His voice. I have missed seeing His hand.

And so this weekend, yesterday in fact, I was praying, and I asked God to please bring me back, to pull me out of the depths I am in and bring me to the surface. Back to Him, to a place where I can hear Him and see Him and feel Him.

I am still sad. I still cry. A LOT. And I am sure I will continue to. I am ready to be a mother, and it seems I cannot be one yet. That hurts my heart more deeply than I can explain to you. I am still working up the courage to try to explain it all to you. And so, yes, I am still sad. But I am working on looking for God in my sadness instead of just shrouding myself in it.

I think that might be part of God's plan with the incredible gush of referrals this month. He seems to be reminding me what He is capable of doing. I just have to trust Him.

And this brings me to my request for you. If you are a praying person, I would like to ask for your prayers in the following ways:

1. Please pray that the Lord would open my eyes and heart to Him during this seemingly impossible season of my life. I want to hear from Him in tangible ways, and I know I need to be focused on Him, not on myself, in order to do that. This is an area in which I have been really struggling this year.

2. Specifically for this month, I am praying that 16 families and children would be matched. Another adoptive mother from our agency said she and her husband felt like they were being led to pray for this, and I am joining them in that. I ask that you would do the same. It would be incredible for us to be at number 31 on August 1.

3. When we started this process, I was praying for a May 2013 referral. Well, it is July. My new prayer is that our Christmas gift this year would be to see the faces of our beautiful children. I am praying for a referral by Christmas of 2013. Would you join me in this?

Thank you to all of you who continue to follow our story. God is doing incredible things. Thank you for being a part of it.

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
Psalm 31:1-5


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Adoption Shirts Around the U.S. : Post #9

We are back with another Shirts Around the U.S. post! Today's post features some lovely ladies in a beautiful place. Meet the Moseley ladies!

 Mary, Sarah and Emily
Not pictured, but still a part of this wild bunch: Dale, Andrew and Kate. 
Sorry about the big white line. I can't make it go away. 
This was the first picture Emily sent me.
Ummm... I need you to be in the picture. 

I have known the Moseley family a looooooong time. Mary was one of Bible study leaders in high school and is responsible, along with Leslie, for growing my foundation of faith and a LOT of my Scriptural knowledge. She is one of those marvelous people who truly never misses an opportunity to look for God's hand in every detail. In fact, she used to respond to a lot of my middle and high school complaining with, "Well, Baylor, what is God teaching you through this?" That advice has served me well as we have navigated the twists, turns, climbs and drops of the adoption world. 

She is with two of her three lovely daughters here. Sarah and Emily. I did not know these ladies well in high school, mostly because they are young and fabulous and I am a crusty old woman, but I have gotten to know them through our many trips to Honduras over the years, and I can tell you that they are fabulous people.

Thank you, Moseley tribe for all of your love and support not only through this adoption but over so many years! 


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

And Then He Does Something Like This...

Today did not start off well. It was one of those days when I was terribly sad but could not locate the trigger of my sadness. I guess I just started thinking about how verrrrry far away we are from being parents, and then things kind of spiraled out of control from there. The pity party ended with me crying on the phone with my dad while hiding in the gardening section of Walmart, hoping to avoid human contact of any kind.

Not my most glamorous moment to date.

But I just couldn't help it.

The path that the Lord has us on right now is one full of obstacles, seemingly insurmountable obstacles. And I am often left feeling helpless, lost and alone. Each day is a battle. I don't say that to sound cliche or invite pity from you. I just want you to know that what makes it onto this forum is a literal fraction of what transpires in our lives. I want to let you in on the hardships, in on the ugly. But I don't want to send you running for the hills.

Our future children are on my mind almost every single second that I am conscious. In fact, if I am  not actively engaged in a conversation with another human being, then I am thinking about and praying for our kids. I cannot get away from it. Not for a minute. I don't mean to be melodramatic. This is the truth. Waiting for our kids has been the most in-my-face, never-let-me-go experience of my life. I can't turn it off.

Sometimes it is a wonderful thing.

And other times I end up crying in the gardening section of Walmart.

So, all of that to say that today started out as a difficult day.

And I was starting to get upset with God. After all, we are trying to follow the path He laid out for us. That means it should be easier, right? That means I shouldn't feel so tired, alone, confused, right? And I was telling Him this, being honest about my frustrations and my hurt and how sometimes it feels like He doesn't answer.

And then He does something like this...



You read that right.

Eight MORE families were matched with their kids over ONE WEEKEND.

Raise your hand if you started crying right then and there. Oh, am I the only one with my hand up? Yeah. I burst into tears.

He is faithful. He is here with me. He is there with you. Even when all seems lost. He will uphold you. He will provide for you. He will do a might work in your life in such a way that He alone gets the glory.

And it is only the 9th of the month, people. Praying for more and more movement. This lady wants to see her babies' beautiful faces pronto.

"Look at the nations and watch--and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."
Habakkuk 1:5


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Weight of His Mercy

On Sunday afternoon I dropped my mom and sister off at the Atlanta Airport and headed back home. It was the last stretch of a nine day road trip through the southeastern U.S. to visit the grandparents. I take this trip each summer, and my mom and Brookie were sweet enough to join me this year. It was a wonderful trip. I loved getting to see all of my sweet grandparents, and mom, Brooke and I had a really good time together. Pulling out of the airport on Sunday afternoon was the first time I had really been alone in nine days. So I cranked up a homemade praise CD and hopped on I-20 West.

One of the songs I have been clinging to throughout this adoption process is "How He Loves Us." A lot of artists sing it, and I am not really sure who actually wrote it. Oh well.  It is one of my favorites. Mostly because when I listen to it, I think about the day I will see our sweet babies for the first time. So it is a song that almost always fills me with awe-inspiring and humbling joy. So it came up on the CD, and I was singing along, and it did not take too long for me to stop short. One of the opening lines of the song is...

He is jealous for me 
Love's like a hurricane
I am a tree
Bending beneath 
The weight of His wind and mercy. 

I had to halt in my tracks right there. You see, I have not been believing that for the last several months. I have not been believing that God was being merciful in my life. Instead I have been feeling like God had abandoned me, left me, forgot about me. I have felt alone and scared and angry and exhausted. I have not felt the weight of His mercy. No. I have been feeling the weight of my hurt and my pain, focusing on how terribly unfair our current situation is. I have pushed the truth of God's mercy in my life aside in favor of self-pity and indignation. And I have suffered all the more for it. 

Instead of focusing on God and His righteousness and sovereignty I have focused on how unfair life is. How unfair it is that we do not have children when we want them so badly we could scream, how unfair it is to see people who do not want children have them and cast them aside, how unfair it is that we have to continue to wait for what I had always assumed was a basic human right and something God gladly gave to those He loved. 

I have struggled with this more than I can say. 

Asking God, "If you love me, why can I not be a mother? Throughout your Word you bless women by allowing them to be mothers, but that has not happened for me. What have I done? Why have you left me? Tell me what to change, and I will fix it. Please." 

And through all of this, in the back of my mind somewhere, I started to believe the lie that God had left me. That He has withdrawn His mercy from me.

But, friends, nothing could be further from the truth. He used the solitude in my car on I-20 on Sunday to gently remind me of this. He is still here. His mercy is still upholding me. Sustaining me, even though it does not always feel that way. Adam always uses that word. Sustain. He tells me that God is sustaining us, that God will sustain us. I remember one time when he said that I asked him, "What does that mean? Does it just mean that we won't die?"  You see what a joy I am from time to time. And as I think about it now, I think it is more than just not dying; it is trusting in God to get you through something you never thought you would have to endure. 

And that is what He is doing in my life. He is getting me through something I never imagined facing, something I know would have killed me but for His grace. There are so many hardships on this path, and I hesitate to name them all for fear of sounding dramatic or inciting a pity party, but I do want to be clear. I am here by the grace of our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I am not strong enough to survive this on my own, and He knows that. And that is why He has not left me. 

It is right there that I feel the weight of His mercy. 

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." 
Joshua 1:9


Monday, July 1, 2013

Waiting List Number: July 2013

SUCH good news today! Are you ready? We were so beyond ready! Here it is!!

 We are now number 47!
Daisy does not look quite as excited as we feel. Oh well. 

I was happy dancing for SURE when our email came in today. We have been waiting and praying for a month like this all year long. And we are so happy grateful for all of the movement this month. TEN children were matched with families during the month of June, and it has been a joy to watch families brought together over the last several weeks. 

I have to say that there is something wonderful about breaking into a new decade on the waiting list. And this month was all the more beautiful because we only knew about four referrals, but we moved eight spots. Praising God for His infinite grace today. Maybe next month we will be in the thirties! AHHHHH!!!!

Let's see what Psalm 47 has to say...

"Clap your hands, all you nations: shout to God with cries of joy. For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth!." Psalm 47:1-2

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