see, marvel, observe

Acts 7:30-31 caught my attention in church last week. Just a small blurb about Moses that Stephen was using as an example while admonishing the council that had him on trial.

It says, “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him…”

DSC_6766We’ve heard this many times, yes? What I love about God’s word is that it’s living and active and this week God spoke through these verses to me. Forty years had passed. Forty! Moses was doing his thing, living his life, getting married, having children and must have been so busy making a life for himself in the land that he had run to while running from his past. It’s tiresome to run from your past. It takes work. There are many voices in your head and often times, when we are running from something we cannot hear God so easily. The cacophony of fear is too much. But for some reason, after 40 years of not hearing God’s voice, and running from God, Moses first SAW the fire. Most of us see things all the time. But do we really see them? Or are we just noticing them while a million other things are ping ponging in our heads about every aspect of our lives?

DSC_6772Not only did he SEE the flame, it says that he MARVELED at it. Marvel means to be filled with wonder or astonishment. Be honest with yourself. When was the last time you actually marveled at something? Do you do it daily? Or is it more of a “when I go to the beach I marvel at his majesty” because it’s so huge I can’t miss that fact. Marveling takes time, takes being still.

DSC_7009After he marveled at it, he didn’t just Instagram it and move on with his walk that he was on. Nope. It says that he “drew near to OBSERVE it”. Drawing near to something and observing it once again requires getting out of your own thoughts and into God’s thoughts. What does God want to show me here? What is it about this very thing that I’m observing that has the fingerprints of God if I look closely enough? The meaning of observe actually means to notice or perceive something and register it as being significant. When Moses saw the burning bush, marveled at it and then observed it, he was understanding that it was significant and he better take off his sandals because suddenly he was on holy ground. DSC_6788You could argue that of course he noticed and marveled….a bush was on fire! But really…how many times have we had burning bushes in our lives that we didn’t give a second thought to? How often has God tried to show us something that required observation and how often have we taken the time to really sit on it for a while; camp out, if you will, at the place He’s speaking to us?

DSC_6758I want to be better at hearing God’s voice. Not his audible voice, but that still, small voice that He speaks in to His children. He doesn’t yell at us. He won’t text us with extra excited emoticons to get our attention. But He might use the beauty of a clover field, or the majesty of the ocean waves coming and going, the grandeur of being on a mountain top to speak. Just the same, He may use a small, but intricately beautiful flower blooming in your yard, a single bird perched on your fence or just sitting back and watching your children play without a care in the world. God can use anything to speak to us. Anything. And don’t get me wrong here – clearly the easiest, most important way for Him to speak to us is through His Word. He has given it to us as a gift and we need to daily unwrap it to learn and grow in Him.

DSC_6774I’m learning to do this little by little and God has given me special friends who are better at this than I as an encouragement to me in this area…and I’m thankful for that gift.

DSC_6755Here’s to seeing, marveling and observing. May we do it often. May we clear the clutter in our heads so we have room to invite God into our thoughts and may he guide our every day.

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Hope

Have you ever seen Cheaper by the Dozen with Steve Martin? This morning was a bit like that in our house. You know, when the baby won’t stop crying (unless you are holding him), your daughter needs you to do her hair, your other daughter has no shorts to wear on an 86 degree day (because she grew – who knew?) and she’s doing a little freak out, and because of said freak out she spills the entire cup of green smoothie on your (supposed to be) white carpet and runs out the door saying, “sorry mom! but remember the smoothie on the floor…”, when your boys “clean” their room and in the process bring 7 loads of laundry down (a few of which are still clean and folded, but never made it to the drawers.

{insert big sigh}

And the cherry on top? We were served court documents today, via the Sheriff coming to our house, because the case against him and his company (that they won last year) is not over. Now the disgruntled employee is going after Tad, outside of the company. Awesome.

{I’m thinking the enemy is not too happy with the fact that we started fostering again – oh well.}

I’m sure you all have times like this, right? It’s called life. We have choices – sit down on the floor and throw a huge tantrum (tempting at times, for sure), try to forge my way through it on my own or…take rest and refuge in the Lord. He is our Rock and our Hope. That’s why I tattooed it on the back of my neck (in Kanji) – when we have nothing (and we are far from having nothing) left, we have Hope.

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who HOPE in His mercy. (Psalm 147:11)

In a very imperfect life, with “Cheaper by the (half) Dozen” days, God is still God and he says to “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Ps. 27:14)

I hope this encourages someone tonight. If you’re walking through the fire, feeling as though life is just a wee bit overwhelming, lean on Him. He can handle it. It’s not that our perfect plan is the same as God’s perfect plan, or that our timing is the same as His; rather our that faith and trust in Him is real and tangible. He will be your Rock if you let Him.

 

Here we go again…

Hosea 14:3b says, “For in you the fatherless finds mercy.”

Psalm 82:3 says, “Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Right here. This is why we find ourselves back in the throws of foster care. It is certainly not for everyone. It is hard. It is tiring. It is unpredictable. It requires much patience and flexibility. And it certainly doesn’t make sense to most people – or even ourselves at times.

We’ve told people that the only word to describe why we are here…taking in a baby in foster care, after such a hard loss in the past; so much grief that our family had to work walk through and trusting that God’s ways were NOT our ways…and that word is assnine. We know. And we’ve had the questions that go something like this:

“Why would you do that to yourselves again?”

“How are your kids doing?”

“Aren’t you afraid of the same thing happening?”

In a nutshell, BECAUSE WE STILL FEEL GOD CALLING US HERE. We took 2 years to heal, to work through our anger, our grief, our loss. We adopted Jo – which was the best healing balm EVER for everyone. We named her Josephine Joy for a reason. “May the Lord increase in Joy”, is what her name means, and God has done that abundantly in our hearts and lives through her smile, goofiness, big chocolate eyes that twinkle and a personality that just makes your heart feel lighter.

So, here we are. With a newborn from the hospital that needs a mommy and daddy desperately. Being kept up at all hours of the night with feedings, having CASAs, lawyers, caseworkers and SSA’s at my home, running to and from medical appointments and court…and loving every minute of it. When I walked into that hospital, in the NICU to get “my” baby, I picked him up, gave him a kiss and said to myself, “This is what I was made to do.” Yes, we will get attached. Yes, it will be hard when he {may} have to leave someday, but it was what WE were made to do. I am thankful that Tad feels just as called to this as I do and loves these babies, as he goes off to work with bloodshot eyes from being kept up all night.

The honest truth is that we don’t do this because it makes us feel good; simply because we love babies. We do this because God calls us to love the orphan, defend the fatherless and live out justice. And that my friends, is not easy or pain free, but it’s not about us. It’s about the child, the orphan. We are willing to invite pain into our lives because living in a pain free world isn’t what God has called us to. Rather it is in pain and sacrifice where we truly feel the presence of God, where we NEED Him daily – I don’t want to not need God. Ever. I don’t want to be so comfortable that I don’t need Him because I can do life on my own. I hope that makes sense. It’s not that we LOVE pain and suffering. We don’t. But wisdom tells us that pain and suffering is where we grow the most; closer to God and deeper in our walk with Jesus. And THAT is what we want.

And as far as our kids go? They all LOVE having a baby in the house again. They are constantly picking him up, kissing him, loving on him. It’s just in their DNA and YES, they know that they may get attached and that he may leave again…but they’ve walked this path before and they get it. They understand that just because it might hurt doesn’t mean that we don’t do what God has called our family to do.

And on that note…please don’t read this and feel judgement from me, or guilt…this is just what WE are called to do. We don’t expect everyone to live out this life that we do; we know everyone is called to something different and unique. What are you called to in this life?

When God Says No

I have meaning to get this post out for the last week and for many legitimate reasons (I could spend and hour typing them all out) it just didn’t happen.

My apologies (for taking this long to send the answer) and my thanks to those of you that have prayed for our family for the last few weeks! God has indeed answered our prayers and His answer was a “no” this time.

Are we sad? Nope. Are we disappointed? Nope. We are glad for clear direction. We are glad that this little 13 year old girl had so many people want her that her parents could choose just the perfect home for her!

We trust in the Lord and are relieved to let Him lead our path. There is so much freedom in this…freedom to walk through doors that may seem scary or unknown because we know our God is directing our path (Proverbs 3:5-6). And we look forward to what God may bring this year in our family because we know that our future and hope are in Him, (Jer. 29:11) and that is always an exciting adventure.

 

 

“So, is your family complete now?”

Since we’ve adopted little Jo (yes, that’s what has stuck…Jo) we’ve had numerous people ask if we feel our family is complete. If we are “done now”. And for about 3 months I answered, “I think so”. But now Jo is almost 5 months old and the sleep deprivation is gone; I’m thinking sanely again and I must admit…”I doubt it”.

I don’t know what God has planned for our family’s future, but I do know that we won’t be closing our minds or hearts towards more blessings. It’s by no mistake that I’ve recently found We Have Room. Or that I’m still making my way through Love Does, a book all about DOING God’s love, not just speaking God’s love. And it’s by no mistake that somehow I found my way to “liking” a FaceBook page called Second Chance Adoptions {an agency that helps adoptive parents find a new placement for their adopted child for a variety of reasons most of us cannot even begin to imagine}.

I’m not sure what God is up to in our family. There is a girl “out there” and she’s 13 and she needs a home very soon. And when I saw her and read about her I felt strongly that she was supposed to be in our family.

****This is where most people shake their heads, get their senses back and tell the Holy Spirit all kind of rational things.

“We have too many kids already. We don’t make enough to adopt. We have too much debt. Our house isn’t really big enough. When my kids get older, I’ll do something like that. I’d have to get a bigger car.”

I REALLY feel that God doesn’t call us to rational all the time. Maybe not most of the time. Bob Goff says it so well in his book, Love Does. “…if we start RSVPing yes to His invitation and go after those things He’s made us to love. It’s not all planned out for us either, and that’s where most people get too nervous to take the next step. But know this: when Jesus invites us on an adventure, He shapes who we become with what happens along the way.”

To answer your question…yes, we are putting a little manilla envelope in the mail today with notarized signatures and sending it to an adoption agency. And so are 2 other families who also feel called to this girl. We will wait and pray that God places this girl in the perfect home for HER. It may or may not be our home. But we don’t want to close our doors, our hearts to the fact that we have room, we have “goods” to share. We are merely opening up the door to let the Holy Spirit work. And maybe it’s just an act of obedience we are supposed to be experiencing. Not sure. But when you do something “crazy” like this AND have peace…it doesn’t really matter what the outcome. We know God is in control and that’s the way we like it.

1 John 3:17-18But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth”.

James 2:15-16If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?”

Day 6 my bible

When I get enough sleep I try to wake every morning about an hour before the kids and this is what I love my table to look like…


I am actually a little stingy in the morning with my time…I send people back to bed (or I used to – now I have to go get them out of bed) if they get up during “my” quiet hour.

I’m thankful that on the mornings I sleep in, forget or rush out of the house without my time with the Lord that He is gracious to forgive, willing to wait for me to come to Him and full of new mercies each morning.

I am so thankful that we still live in a country where we are free to own and read this book as much as we want.

I am thankful for the new Truths that are in it for me everyday that I seek them.

I am thankful God has given me sight to see His words written, and the mind to digest them.

Colossians 3:17

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him”.

Day 4 solid rock

Today is Sunday, a fitting day to be thankful for our church and all the leaders within. Solid Rock is a place where we love going as a family. In fact, our kids really don’t ever want us to “skip” for any reason. If you’re a parent and value your kids’ having a growing faith in Jesus, then you know how priceless that is to hear your kids begging to go to church.
All churches have their own “personality”, often reflecting the pastor and leadership, and all have a purpose and fill needs in unique ways. That’s the beauty actually. Jesus didn’t call us all to be robots living out our faith in exactly the same way, but he created us uniquely and with different gifts, all a part of the body of Christ.
So today, we are so thankful for our church and how God has used it this last year to speak so clearly to our hearts, bringing so much healing along the way as we have grieved our little man leaving our family last year.
Here is a sermon from just a few weeks ago that was one of those that you hear and then noodle on for the rest of the week…so good. It’s called The Secret. Praying you’ll be blessed by it!
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
(Psalm 107:1)

$1500 MATCHING DONOR (and a slight moral dilemma)

Seriously. You read it right! Someone (who wishes to remain anonymous and who I’d like to give a big fat kiss) just let us know they would like to match up to $1500 of donated funds towards our adoption!!

This means that whatever you can give is doubled until we reach this goal of $1500!!!!!!!!!

The miracle of this gift is that we need exactly $3000 for our next payment due. God is good and He works in ways we don’t understand. He is providing and we knew that if He called us to adopt, then He would provide as well. We aren’t just sitting back and hoping it all comes together….we believe that we are to work as hard as we can, pray constantly and leave the rest up to Him.

Again, if you are for adoption and want to help…pass the word! You never know who is looking to help out an adoptive family 🙂 Send this blog link out with a prayer and watch as God moves and once again surprises us with blessing!!

PS – we are having so much fun thinking of baby names once again…but I’m having a moral dilemma (OK, maybe not moral, but close!) about boy names. Both my boys are M names. Do I stay with a M name or move on to DIFFERENT names that don’t start with a M??? See! It really is almost moral 🙂 And if you think stick with M names….send me ideas!!

One more step…

Several friends have been asking whether or not we have an account specifically set up for them to donate money towards our adoption. As of today, why yes we do!

We specifically went to a bank that is not where we currently bank so that there would be no mistaking adoption money and our regular household money. We want to have integrity with the donation money and we value your support so much!

Now you can go to the DONATE button and donate through Paypal and it will be deposited into our Adoption Fund! How cool is that? (Thank you so much Tom Engle!!, who BTW has a small business and would love it if you called him for computer help!!)

To be honest, asking for help from family, friends, strangers….it’s hard. Who really wants to be on the “asking” side?? On the other hand, I realize that by opening up this dialog, this opportunity for YOU to give, it gives you the chance to be truly vested in this little baby that will soon join our family. Wow. So crazy.

So here’s the skinny….

$5750 due at the beginning of this process (along with boatloads of paperwork)…Paid!

$5000 due when we are matched with a birth parent…need $3000 still (I have taken a part time babysitting job and will have $2000 by the end of August).

$9000 due when the baby is placed with us!

There could be a little more when it’s all said and done, but that is the bottom line, best-case scenario numbers.

I would love to blog as we go and report numbers as they go up. To watch and see how God pulls this all together and how our faith is increased as we watch Him work!!

And I’d love to hear any of your adoption stories out there…how did you fund your adoption? I know there are a million and one ways and I look forward to hearing your ideas.

JUST LOVE COFFEE!!

We’ve been thinking, praying about how we’re going to finance our upcoming adoption. Do we fund raise? Do we not? Do we pray God drops $15,000 in our laps sometime soon? Do we take out a loan?

We were able to pay our first payment of $5000 last month and we need our next $5000 payment by the time we are matched with a birth parent. That could be before the end of the summer, or it could be next spring. There is much uncertainty when it comes to adoption. But this morning I read a quote by A.W. Tozer that said, “God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible. What a pity when we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.”

We can’t do adoption by ourselves. We need God’s help and we the help of others who believe in adoption. Who believe that even though we can’t save all 147 million orphans, we can save one.

Some have asked us where we are adopting from. We are adopting domestically from Oregon or Washington. Why? Because of international adoption laws, we can’t adopt from another country due to Tad having Hepatitis C. He had Leukemia at the age of 12 and the hospital gave him a blood transfusion with Hepatitis C in it.

We are already a family of 6 and since that’s considered “large” we most likely wouldn’t get chosen for a “healthy” baby. But….we would get chosen for a “drug” baby or special needs baby. We’ve had experience with both through foster care. Drugs don’t scare us and in fact, our last baby was a meth baby and we loved him fiercely. We know that God will place the perfect child in our family that needs a forever home. We trust Him and can’t wait to meet this new precious little soul. (we will get a newborn)

All this to say….We NEED YOUR HELP! I hope you are as excited about this as we are 🙂 This fundraiser is called “Just Love Coffee” and you can go online, buy ORGANIC, FAIR TRADE COFFEE (from all over the world) and help us at the same time!

A percentage of what you buy will go directly to fund our adoption. Super easy and you can help by:

1. Buying coffee for yourself or as a gift

2. Spreading the word! Share this blog, share the link on FB, Twitter or your own blog/venue.

I admit, I only put $1000 as a goal….such a weenie. Our end goal is really $15,000! Why I put $1000 – I have no idea and now I can’t figure out how to change it – serves me right for being of “such little faith!”.

Go HERE to shop for your coffee and please help us spread the word!!

Bless you for having hearts for adoption!!!

(and if you feel led, we will always accept money gifts that will go straight towards our baby)