Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thankful for Big Daddy

You know that on Thursdays I try to write about something or someone for which I am thankful. Well, I had no trouble coming up with someone to write about today.

I am writing today with both a joyful and heavy heart. We spent today celebrating the life of a wonderful man. Adam's grandfather, a man I know only as Big Daddy, went to be with Jesus this week, and today our whole family shared in a celebration of his beautiful life. Big Daddy was 94 years old when our gracious Heavenly Father called him home, and I can say with certainty that this incredible man used all of his years to bring honor and glory to the Lord. I know that this week he heard the words every follower of Christ longs to hear.

"Well done, my good and faithful servant!"

With those beautiful words, our gracious Father welcomed Big Daddy home.

As I was sitting in the church this morning, surrounded by a family I love so much, I was thinking about what I would say to Big Daddy if I could have the privilege of one more conversation with him. And I know exactly what it would be.

"Thank you. Thank you, Big Daddy, for being a man who honors Christ above all else, who not only believes that God is real, but has a real relationship with Him. Thank you for raising your children to love the Lord and to seek to honor Him with their lives. In doing so, you raised the woman who raised my own husband. And because of you, the man I love knows the Lord. Because of you, I have the deep honor of being part of a family who knows and follows Jesus. When this whole family is together, I look around and am truly amazed that everyone I see knows and trusts Jesus. That is because of you. Thank you for seeking Christ always, even when it was difficult. Thank you for teaching you grandson, my husband, to do the same. I know that he will teach our children to seek Christ, just as you taught him. Thank you for that. Thank you for laying the foundation that will lead to my husband leading our family the way you have led yours. I have been blessed by knowing you, and I look forward to sharing with my children our family's legacy. Starting with you."

My heart is full, yet aching today as we celebrate the "home going" of an incredible man. I love you, Big Daddy. I always will.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Harnessing My Inner Paul

I had my first ever failed run this past weekend. 

See my head hanging down in defeat? 

According to my training schedule, I was supposed to run ten miles on Saturday morning. I had run ten miles before. On several occasions. So I was not feeling the pressure and nervousness that sometimes accompany running a new distance. 

I got up decently early in the morning and set out to pound the pavement for ten miles. 

Or so I thought. 

I got just over three miles in and my legs simply quit. They did so completely independent of my mind. My mind was actually completely occupied with praying for our little darlings. Then all of a sudden I was standing still. 


I couldn't even pony up the strength to run the three miles back to my car. I had to make the phone call of shame and ask Adam to please come pick me up. 

Oh, the humiliation! 

So I spent the rest of the day feeling very frustrated with myself. I was confused, because this was a distance I have successfully run on multiple occasions, and it is not the farthest I have gone. Very annoying. And so I resolved to complete the run the following morning. 

I got up earlier and set out to finish ten miles. And I finished. 

But here's the thing. 

Every single step was hard. I had to talk myself into continuing on almost every time I took a stride. I think I have mentioned before that I do not run with music. It distracts me more than it helps me, and so I am left alone with my thoughts and prayers for a looooong time during my weekend runs. And I spent most of yesterday's run coaching myself to keep on going. When I wasn't doing that, I was praying. Praying out loud. That got me a few strange looks. 

Last week, our pastor preached out of 1 Corinthians 9. Paul closes the chapter by comparing the life of a Christ follower to running a race. Listen to his words. 

"Do you not know that in a race all runners run,
but only one gets the prize? 
Run in such a way as to win the prize. 
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. 
They do it to get a crown that will not last, 
but we do it to get a  crown that will last forever. 
Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly;
I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 
No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave, 
so that after I have preached to others, I will not be disqualified for the prize." 
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Verse 27 was at the forefront of my mind while I was running yesterday. Striking a blow to my body to make it my slave. Some translations say "beat" instead of "strike a blow to." That is how I felt. I was making myself finish that run yesterday. It was so hard for me, and I wanted to quit. Even five miles in (half way!), I started considering having Adam come get me again. But I knew that giving up would not help me finish the race. And so I had to keep running. I had to harness my inner Paul and finish what was before me. And I did. 

So many times on this journey to become parents I have felt like throwing in the towel. Just straight up quitting. It has been too hard, too painful, too long. I have cried to much, grieved too much, felt too lost, too confused, too alone. I have wanted to give up. 

But I cannot. 

This is what God has put in front of us. This is our race right now. And, while all of this hurting and waiting for our babies to come home is not what I would have picked for myself, I know that it is what God has allowed for our lives. And so I have to trust that it is for His glory and also for our good. I have to run in such a way as to win the prize, to keep going no matter how much I want to crumple up on the ground and cry sometimes. 

And I do this because I know that crossing the finish line will be worth every tear, every sleepless night, every heart ache. Because I know another one of God's truths. Here it is. 

"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28

A good promise, no??


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thankful Thursday: A Restful Summer

Yesterday, out of nowhere, I realized how truly rested I feel. This summer has been an unbelievable season of rest for me. And I am so very thankful for that. I feel like I have truly has time to rest and recuperate, time to refocus and gear up for the year ahead. I have been able to see my family more this summer than I typically do in entire year; that in and of itself is an enormous blessing.

Beyond that, I have not had to fill out a single form for our adoption! If you look at our adoption timeline, you will see that almost ALL of last summer was spend paper chasing to get our homestudy and dossier completed before I had to go back to work in August. It was a wonderful, but incredibly busy and stressful time for me. So I am most thankful to have had this summer to rest and enjoy my husband, family, friends, dog and the Lord. Heading into the new school year, I feel rested and prepared (though I am getting anxious as our start date draws near).

Mostly, I feel as though this summer has allowed me to rediscover God. With very little demanding my time, I have been able to realize and then focus on God's true goodness and sovereignty. I have been reminded of His character, and, after a difficult start to 2013 and feeling quite lost, I have been drawn back to Him. There is no way for me to adequately express my thankfulness about this. I can so easily see now how journeys like the one we are on tear people away from God. But He has not allowed that to happen to me. Instead, He has gently reminded me, through loved ones in my life and His Word, that He is always here with me, that His heart grieves with mine and that He has a plan in all of this.

And so I am thankful. I am thankful that the Lord saw fit to allow me a season of true rest, one in which my heart and mind could both let go a little, one in which I was not constantly filled with worry, one in which I was able to do things I love and see the people I love even more. One in which I was reminded of His great love toward me.

Yes. I am feeling very thankful today.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

That Was a Training Run?

I kind of can't believe what happened this morning.

Marathon training is most definitely in fully swing these days, and that reality became apparent when I did a 13 mile training run this morning. For every other race I have run, 13 miles has been the GOAL, the thing I was working toward. But today, 13 miles became just a step on the way to a new and bigger goal. It was pretty surreal, especially after I passed the 10 mile mark. It just kept hitting me over and over that I was running the farthest I have ever run and I still have two months left of building up before the actual race.

And I couldn't get over how much all of that reflected exactly what God likes to do in our lives. He allows us to go through circumstances that cause us to work and grow, and He does that so that we will be prepared for what is coming next. My marathon training would be a lot more difficult if I had not done prior training for those other two races. And so when I look at what God has us going through right now, I honestly believe that all of this is preparing us for something incredible. I have no idea what it is, but I know it will be huge. Just like all of this training; it takes time and effort and it can really hurt, but if I didn't do it, there is NO way I would be able to cross the finish line in Chicago in October. It is the same in our life right now; if we were not going through all of the ups and downs that accompany this adoption, then we would not be ready for whatever is coming after that.

And so in that way, it is a good thing. In that way, I can do it.

The sad part of today's run was that no one was lining the streets cheering, no one set up water stops, and there was no big finish line with music and orange slices when I got back to my car. Kind of a letdown. HA! Kidding!

Training is about to get real, though. From now on, every single long run (up until the weekend before the race) will be farther than I have ever run. So as each week builds, I will be presented with a new challenge. Eeeeeek! I hope I can make it!

And lastly, a HUGE thank you to Mrs. Lofton and my dear sweet husband for donating to my fundraising efforts! We are officially at the halfway mark! That means we have provided clean water FOR LIFE for 13 people! Yay!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wait List Number August 2013

We prayed BIG this month, people. And our great BIG God answered and surpassed. Get ready to have your socks knocked right off your feet!

We are #32!! 
Daisy is pretty jazzed about it, too! 

I was checking my email all morning waiting for the news. And as I was driving home, I got a text from my friend, Amy, who is also adopting through our agency.

"Got our email!! Oh man!"

I knew it was good, and quickly responded with, "Don't tell me! Let me look!"

I was not disappointed. My eyes welled up right there in the car, and we texted back and forth in celebration.

By the time I got back to our house, I was so completely overcome by God's grace and provision, all I could manage to say was, "Thank you."

Remember how we were praying for 16 referrals this month? Well...

A grand total of 18 referrals went out during the month of July, matching 19 children (one set of siblings) with their families. And not only did we get out of the forties in just one month, we are now sitting at the bottom of the thirties!

Can your heart physically pop from happiness? I hope not, because mine just might!

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

"Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing all you who are upright in heart!"
Psalm 32:11


Thankful Thursday: My Parents

Having just returned from a week in South Florida with my parents, I am feeling especially thankful for my mom and dad. We were able to spend a lot of time together, and that is something that is so good for my soul. I won't lie, it is tough to be the one who lives far away, but it makes visits like this past week extra wonderful.

My mom and dad are two of the strongest people I know, and I mean that in every way. Both of them are hard workers and pretty much the antithesis of laziness. Adam and I often wonder if my dad just runs of batteries that only need to be recharged once a year on our family vacation. For as long as I can remember, my parents have modeled a God-honoring life for me, always seeking out God's will and trusting in Him when things do not go according to plan. So much of what they have taught me is being used in my life right now, and I am beyond grateful for that.

I also really love just being able to be around my parents. It doesn't matter if we are eating dinner together, watching an episode of Criminal Minds or working at my mom's store. Whatever we are doing, I am just happy that we are together. It is so cool to be in the phase of life where, while they will always be my parents, they have started to be my friends, too. They are the people I can turn to for advice and comfort without fear of judgment. I know they will be kind and honest.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for giving a standard to strive toward, for pointing me to Christ, for setting the bar high and encouraging me to reach for it. I am who I am because of the way you parented me. Thank you for your tireless prayers and constant willingness to listen. Thank you for being parents who continue to lead by example, always modeling the importance of integrity. Thank you for teaching me to love Jesus. I love you.

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