Good Good Father

 

In church on Sunday, we sang this song that has been playing in my head on repeat ever since.

It’s “Good Good Father” by Housefires (or Chris Tomlin, if you’d rather).

https://www.youtube.com/embed/djrY_eFDOwE“>Good Good Father

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I am singing this all day today, over  my own heart…over my sweet husband, over all six of my beautiful babies and the two boyfriends in law…over my seventh baby in Eastern Europe; the one who has never known a father at all.

And I am realizing something for the millionth time as the words sink in deep.  (God is faithful to teach me the same lessons over and over…as often as I need them.)

He is Good.  Nothing can change that.  It’s who He is.  Yes, even when things are Extra Hard and Really Scary.  In the Big Life Things…He is perfect, loving, kind, and He is For Me.  He is For Sylvia.  He’s not a magic genie that makes life easy and makes it all okay…but He is For Me.  Perfect in all of His ways to us.

I am loved by Him.  Nothing can change that.  It’s who I am.  Yes, even when I struggle to hold onto that Truth.  Even when I don’t feel very lovely…even when I don’t feel loved by Him, I am loved by Him.  It’s Truth.  Even if I reject it…it’s still true.  It’s who I am.

Sylvia is loved by Him.  Nothing can change that.  It’s who she is.

And so I have newfound peace moving forward.  I’m eating this elephant one bite at a time…I’m freezing my hand to the sword.  He stands with me and I know that this is not my own battle that I fight, that this battle belongs to Him, the Good Father.

And when a Daughter asks a good, good Father for bread, He will not give her stones.

deuteronomoy

Good Good Father by Housefires

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
but I’ve heard the tender whisper
of love in the dead of night
You tell me that you’re pleased
and that I’m never alone

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are,
It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am,
It’s who I am

I’ve seen many searching
for answers far and wide
But I know
we’re all searching for answers only you provide
Because you know
just what we need
before we say a word

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are,
It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am,
It’s who I am

You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

Oh it’s Love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so Unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As you call me deeper still
as you call me deeper still
as you call me deeper still into love love love

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are,
It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am,
It’s who I am

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are,
It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am,
It’s who I am

exodus

Eleazar and Me

On Monday, I basically had a nervous breakdown.

I just need to tell you, adoption is NOT for the faint of heart.

Things were very shaky on Monday and we were scared.  Really, really scared that we had failed miserably and the whole thing was going to fall apart.  More scared than people who belong to the Most High God really ought to be.

But we are just people.  And He knows that.  He knew who I was when the plan was made to spend eternity with me, He knew who I was when He died on the cross for me.

Monday scared me.  Because what if we failed her?  What if we did things wrong and we didn’t get to her?  What if we cost her a hope and a future?

We asked for prayer, we asked for good thoughts, we asked for advice.  We hustled with paperwork and phone calls and FedEx and emails to Eastern Europe, to Maryland, to Richmond.

Please Jesus…don’t let us get in the ways of your plans.

So many prayed and so many hustled along side of us and we figured out what will most likely be a solution- a letter that will give us one more month to get it all done.  Please Jesus, have mercy.

Other adoptive moms spoke into my ears and into my heart:

Keep wrestling til you see the blessing.

The Lord is fighting for you.  He is above, beside and behind.

You can do it.  Just keep swimming!

This IS scary, but if you look at all the warriors in scripture, they had NO time. They were NOT prepared. They had NOTHING to offer. Most of them even looked stupid. How many times did they march around Jericho…really?

Take a second to look back at your situation. Do you see God working? Do you see the enemy getting mad? Do you see the enemy’s plans of destruction? Gods plans CANNOT be thwarted!!

Do you believe God called you specifically to Sylvie?  Yes?  Then that’s the answer.  You keep going, you focus on THAT reality and not on the what ifs…They aren’t coming from you, they aren’t coming from God.

Here is what I know.  God is not surprised by this.  And He is not restricted by timelines or deadlines.  And when it all seems impossible, all the more probable that God has a miracle up His sleeve.

We are praying her home.

And then someone gave me an old Testament story from 2 Samuel 23.

 

9Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammimd for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. 

Yes.

Yes.  Freeze my hand to the sword, Lord as I fight.  The anxiety, the fear, it ebbed away and in its place was this surety that it wasn’t really up to me.  It might not turn out all right.  It might be more amazing than we can even imagine.  It’s going to go how it’s going to go and that has nothing to do with me.  I am not in control, but I will fight the fight that is before me and I will trust His will to be done.  I will trust God in this fight.

proverbs

So, I breathe again.  I dry my tears and seek the One who holds everything together.  I renounce fear, I ask for new mercies and they are freely given.

We ask for prayer and it is lavished on us, on Sylvie.

We ask for a solution and possibilities rise up.

We sleep and it seems less desperate the next morning.

“Redemption is costly,” says John and he is right.

Redemption is costly.  It is worthy.  But it is costly.

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exodus

 

The Eleventh Hour

We are so close to the end of the home study process.

We’ve gone through car problems, financial difficulty, illness after illness, dog problems, you name it.

When I start to feel discouraged…someone pops up and says something like this:

God never wants you to NOT rescue an orphan.

It’s always hardest right before a big breakthrough.

We were never sicker than we were the year we were going through the adoption process.  

We’ve seen things happen, miracles even…again and again.

We rallied around a little boy that needed a home, we prayed and we pleaded…and he found a family.  We never should’ve been able to get out of our lease and move to our forever home (that is literally PERFECT for us) but it happened…Things have happened as we’ve dug in our heels and refused to give up.

And we won’t give up now.

Please keep us in your prayers as we reach the paperwork finish line!  And if you feel led to give, no amount is too small. Every single dollar is valued and important to the process!  Thank you all so much!

 

But, Not Tonight

Okay, so it’s an emotional time of year anyway.  It’s the holidays…and we’re in the process of adopting which is hard and it’s a roller coaster and it’s so, so long.  And, my oldest kid is getting married.  FEELINGS LIKE WHOA.

And then I see on Facebook that Scott Weiland died.  And like a crazy person, I literally burst into tears.  Like, had to hold back the ugly cry tears.  As though he were someone in my real life.

And it’s not like I was an enormous fan of Velvet Revolver and certainly not of Stone Temple Pilots…but.

Scott Weiland once did a Depeche Mode cover that was on some weird movie soundtrack…honestly I don’t even remember…I don’t even like covers.

But when I began to come back to life after my divorce, I loved that song and I listened to it all the time.  The harmonies, the guitar, the textures of Weiland’s voice…It became my theme song.

It was a Monument to the turning of the tide.  

Thanks Scott Weiland.

Sometimes people have no idea the impact they have on others.  And there is no shame in crying real tears over a life lost….

But Not Tonight

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Oh God, it’s raining
But I’m not complaining
It’s filling me up
With new life

The stars in the sky
Bring tears to my eyes
They’re lighting my way
Tonight

And I haven’t felt so alive
In years

Just for a day
On a day like today
I’ll get away from
This constant debauchery

The wind in my hair
Makes me so aware
How good it is to live
Tonight

And I haven’t felt so alive
In years

The moon is shining in the sky
Reminding me
Of so many other nights
But they’re not like tonight

Oh God, it’s raining
And I’m not containing
My pleasure at being
So wet

Here on my own
All on my own
How good it feels to be alone
Tonight

And I haven’t felt so alive
In years

The moon is shining in the sky
Reminding me
Of so many other nights
When my eyes have been so red
I’ve been mistaken for dead

Not tonight
Not tonight
Not tonight

 

 

I Woke Up

This week, there were two anniversary days.

November 18th, the day our Nora was born.  A scrappy little 2 lb. 14 oz. fighter, bursting to life and changing the world.

November 19th, I woke up, after the doctors were sure I never would again.

And I’ve realized some things about those days.  You can read the whole story here and throughout many, many blog posts in 2012.

November 19th, I woke up.

When you come that close to death, your world view shifts.  Things change in your heart, paradigms you’ve always believed and trusted are shaken to the core.

I learned that life is so, so short.  I learned that every single life is precious.  As I held my tiny baby, smaller than half a bag of flour…I knew her life was precious.  And in my heart, something opened up.  Lives are so precious.

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I became more sensitive to news stories of human suffering.  Pictures of children struggling for life in orphanages began to seem urgent. I saw need everywhere.

I also figured out that I want an extraordinary life.  I don’t want the white picket fence and new cars and great clothes.  I like those things…but my life goals are simpler now…

Love God.

Love People.

I woke up to reality.  And every year, I am reminded of the lessons I learned.  You can read about it Here, 2013 and Here, 2014 or some more here 2014.

There is so much suffering in our world.  And I am still piecing together and puzzling out our place in the resolutions.

But I came away from my experiences in November of 2012 changed.  I woke up.  And I know I want to make an impact.  I am reminded anew every year on these days.

I want to make a difference.  Because I’m grateful, because this life is short, because every single person has value that can’t be measured.

Right now.

We are starting with one.  Just one.

Sylvia Grace.

Will you join us?

SylviaGrace

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She Did What She Could

This morning, I was feeling so discouraged…about so many things.

I felt the urging of the Lord…”Come to me, I have something to say to you.”

And so I opened up my She Reads Truth app and read the story of Mary of Bethany.

She was Lazarus’ sister…she was so upset about her brother’s death that she couldn’t even run out to meet Jesus. She was paralyzed with sorrow.  She could not even.  Have you been there?  When you can’t even rise up and face the thing that you know will bring comfort?

She was the same one who dumped out her bottle of oil and cleaned his feet with her hair and her tears.

I think maybe Mary of Bethany was a passionate woman of extremes.  I know someone like that.

It’s me.

In case you didn’t realize.

Some days, I just can’t even…and some days, I want to pour out all I am and all I have for Jesus and for the ones I love.  Some days…all I can really do is just take one step.  Maybe a half a step.  Maybe just a breath- Abba Father, I belong to you.

That was Mary.

There was a time when she was so discouraged and weary that all she could do was make that one step.  And then there was a time when she poured out all she had and subjected herself to ridicule and even rebuke for her all out, authentic, scandalous love for her Jesus.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.

She did what she could.

she did what she could

What Mary could do was pour out her heart.  And when Mary’s brother died, all she could do was seek the comfort of Jesus.  And she could barely do that.

But she did what she could.

This struck me so hard.  Because I have these hard days where it seems that our problems, complications and issues are a wound tight ball of twine and there is no way to unravel it…where pain seeps into my bones and weariness covers me like a shroud.  There are days when I long for my little gal in Bulgaria to just get home already and when I feel like there is literally no way we are going to pull this thing off.

I can’t.  Some days, I just can’t.  I am too weak, too weary, too tired, too achy, too poor, too disorganized…too fill in the blank.  Too not enough…

I reach a feeble hand to Jesus and I do what I can.

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I write the words in my Bible.  I think about the poor widow her gave her one last coin.  mark-12-44

She did what she could.

Lord, help me live that way.  Help me live, doing what I can…which some days will be so much and some days be so little.  He sees me heart and He knows when I have done what I can and when I haven’t.

And the best part…in my weakness, He is so strong.

After Lazarus had died, after four days in the tomb…he met Mary and her friends and saw their grief.  He was that they were weeping and filled with sorrow.

Matthew 11:33 says this:  “he was deeply moved in His spirit and troubled.”

Was he troubled that Lazarus died?  Presumably not…He knew then as he knows now that he is the author of life.  He could easily and would easily raise Lazarus from death. I think He was moved that his loved ones were hurting and grieving.  He was feeling their pain with them and He was standing with them in it.  Sharing strength.

This is how Jesus is.  He does not promise to make everything okay…but He does  promise to not leave us alone to handle it ourselves.  Sometimes, what we can is feeble and so small…but what he can…it is always enough.

The Powers that Be

It’s gray and gloomy outside and we are just under blankets and watching Peppa Pig.  The day has not unfolded as expected.

I have a bad headache and fibro is aching deep in my bones.  This weather does it to me every time.

Today, I saw my doctor for my routine bloodwork and check-ins.  We talked adoption and I told him what his part in the whole thing would be.  He has to say that he thinks I can handle adopting this child, this little girl who is already ours in our heart.

“They’ll want to know if you think health wise if we can handle another child.”

“Well.”  He said.  “Do you think you can handle it?”

“Yes.”  I said.  “I can do anything.”

He laughed and agreed.  He’s been my doctor for 15 years.  He knows.

As I drove home, I thought about the weight of his words with the Powers that Be in Eastern Europe..  How all of this rests in the hands of “Official” types of people.  Our social worker for the adoption, our home study social worker, our social worker in Sylvie’s country…the judges that will read over our files.

There is so much at play here and so many little windows for the Enemy to try and climb through.

So…today, as I snuggle in my chair with Nora and a heating pad…will you pray for us?  Will you pray for favor with the Powers That Be?

We’ve got to pray this Daughter home.

e.  CartestersonInk-23

Happy Birthday to Me

I remember when I was in my late twenties and my thirties were approaching.  I was so worried about that, about getting older…

Poor little 29 year old me.  I just want to go and give her a hug and tell her this:

Just start being you.  You’re going to LOVE being you.  And getting older is such a good, good gift.

I’m 43 today.  Yes, 43.  A number that would’ve made 29 year old me’s eyes bug out.  I’ve seen Hurricane Isabel wreck my house, my sister nearly die from an infection after her first baby, the loss of an extremely close friend (all of those in three months), a divorce, the loss of two babies, the preemie baby/percreta drama of November 2012, the beginnings of international adoption and So Much Life and Love.

I’ve learned how to Be Still and Know. I’ve learned that the only thing that never changes is God.  I’ve learned that life is so short.  So short.  And that every single day is a gift.  I’ve learned that God made me to be this quirky weirdo that I am and that to try and be anything else is cheating myself and calling His creation not good enough.

I’ve learned to be thankful.

Yes, I am a thankful 43 year old this morning.  Thankful for my beautiful family, for my favorite friends, for my church, for my heroes in the faith…I’m thankful that I am alive…because there was a day in November 2012 where I almost wasn’t.  Thankful that I can lean on My Beloved, that Jesus is always near…

I feel this year coming.  A year bursting with new things and changes and jubilee.  I just feel it.

I will welcome my daughter Sylvie home while I’m 43.  I will welcome my daughter’s wedding to God’s best for her while I’m 43.  I will watch my kids and my nieces and nephew and all my other little loves grow and change while I’m 43.  I will get better at marriage and home and living authentically in 43.  I will draw and paint and Be Still and Know….I will sing.  I will love my friends and family and do all I can to see needs and meet them.

I will weather the hard things because God walks with me.

I will rejoice in the great things because God walks with me.

What have you learned as you’ve grown older?

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joaquin

On Hurricanes And Provision

I think I had an epiphany this morning.

I have friends in the adoption community now.  Mamas I’ve never seen in real life and maybe never will until heaven.  It’s kind of neat, because they’ve walked or are walking where we are, built-in relational equity.

Several have checked in, fearing for our safety with these impending storms.

And I just say to them over and over:

I’m not worried.  The thing about hurricanes…there is literally NOTHING you can do about them.  You can not be in control.  All you can do is be smart, pray and wait it out.  Just wait it out.

And suddenly I realized, that’s how I need to approach adoption.

Adoption is frightening.  So many uncertainties.  The paperwork, the costs- financial and emotional, the process, the unknowns.  All we really know is that Sissy is our daughter and we need to bring her home.

But just like God knows how the path of this hurricane is going to blow, He knows the path this adoption is going to take.  He already knows.

We’ve seen Him in this process.  He taps us on the shoulder and whispers- “I am here.” I had a dream where He came up behind me, touched my shoulder and said these words:  “It’s not going to be as hard as you think.”  He is doing things.

He’s with us in EVERY storm…not just this hurricane.

And maybe this doesn’t seem like the most amazing epiphany ever…but I feel a shift in my spirit this morning and I feel less fear.

Fear lies.

God can do this.  He can bring Sissy home.

joaquin

fearisaliar