These 400

This morning, I sit in the Chair of Healing and tears stream down my face like a river.  I am watching a short video on Bethany Christian Services website about a program they are having called These 400.

These 400

Basically, BCS is seeking families for 400 waiting children.  400.  Waiting. Children.

Let that sink in.  BCS wants to find families for 400 children who have no one to call their own.  No one to root for them, no one to tuck them in at night, no one to tell them they are made in God’s image and that they are a good gift.

400 Waiting Children.

Out of more than 132 million.

Friends, lovers of Jesus….we can’t let this continue.  We can’t leave 132 million fearfully and wonderfully made boys and girls alone.  We can’t.  This is not who we are.

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This is what we are called to do.  Love God.  Love others.  We love others out of the overflow of God’s love in us.  These are HIS children.  The sheep He has asked us to feed.  The lonely He longs to set in a family.  The Ones He loves and died for.  I recently read “Kisses From Katie” by Katie Davis and she said something like this, “It’s not hard.  God told me to love others as myself.  I don’t want myself to be starving.”

I don’t want myself to be alone.  I don’t want myself to be without a family.

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I scroll through the photos of the 400.  My heart is in shreds.  These babies are beautiful.  Ages 3 all the way up to 17.  They have the same Jeremiah 29:11 call on their lives that my own six beautiful babies have on their lives.  God has plans for a hope and future for them.

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Are we part of the plans God has for these 400?  Not just, we the Cartestersons, but we, the body of Christ?  

I remember how the body of Christ came alongside us as I walked through so much to bring Nora into the world.  God’s people rallied and brought us through, stood with us and loved us even more than they loved themselves.

We can do that for These 400 too.

And I’m not saying that each and every person that reads my blog should be filling out an application to bring 2 or 3 orphans home.  But I am saying…

What can we do to help These 400 get home, to help reduce that number of more than 132 million..what can we do?  What can I do?  What can you do?  There are so many ways to help solve this orphan crisis and I will get more into that on Monday.

About two months ago, I prayed for God to set my heart ablaze for the things of His heart.  About a month ago, we fasted and prayed for breakthrough in our spiritual lives.

Today, I sobbed with a blazing heart in pieces over these ones that God loves.

Ask Him.  Pray this prayer everyday:

How can I help your people, God?  Here I am.  Send me.

Hereiam

 

Just start there.  And when you hear His voice, don’t be afraid.  Act.

Sources:  Unicef

The Slow Journey

 

When Julia was born, I was just a young girl of nineteen and I had no idea what motherhood even meant.  I knew it would be diapers and crying and sleepless nights…but I didn’t anticipate the wonder.

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I can remember watching Saturday Night Live in our tiny apartment and I would get her out of bed just to let her sleep on my chest.  I loved every second of motherhood in those early days.  She was an easy, laid back baby and I felt love and contentment I’d never, ever known before.  Yes, there were diapers and crying and sleepless nights and I’m sure the passage of time has made me remember it all through rose colored glasses but I knew I’d been given a good gift.

And what’s funny about it is that finding out I was pregnant…it had been a shock and a point of stress.  I’d been living the wild life for a while and my mom and some members of our church had gathered together to pray.  The prayer was:  “Whatever it takes, whatever it takes to get her to stop living this wild life and get back to what she knows.”

Within a week, I was telling my mom some pretty crazy news.  She was forty, just like I am today.

I worried.  I worried that I wouldn’t be good at being a mom, that I wouldn’t make my parents proud, that I wouldn’t ever get to do anything that I wanted to do.

And then, this thing I’d been worried about and frightened of happened and I counted it joy.  Because it was.  Julia was.  Mothering her gave me purpose and confidence and made me want to be better and I started the slow journey to being better.

Slow journey.

But that’s how it works.  We don’t just wake up one day fully healed and fully actualized and fully walking upright with Jesus, sinning no more.

I screwed up lots.  I made mistakes lots.  I did the wrong thing, lots.  But my heart was open to Him in a new way and that part has not changed in 20 years.

I had two more babies and while the day to day got more harried and busy and messy, I still loved it all.  I loved my babies, loved motherhood, loved Jesus.  And I kept trying to be better.  Sometimes I did well and sometimes I failed so loud and so hard that my whole world shook.

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And the truth is…that hasn’t changed.  I still fall down, I still fail and I still love my babies.  And God is still faithful.

Because God knows how to love well.  He knows that sometimes He has to let me feel consequences and sometimes He has to offer grace unmerited.  He knows that I will turn my back on Him and act like a selfish brat and sometimes I get too cozy with Poor Me and Discouragement and that whole crowd.  He knows that sometimes I don’t believe I have what it takes and sometimes I believe I can do anything.  He knows that sometimes I’m going to try too hard on my own and sometimes I’m going to try and fix things and that He’s going to need to be there to pick up the pieces.

He knows that sometimes, He’s going to offer me something amazing and I’m going to balk.

And I know that He is never anywhere but right beside me, within me, before me and behind me.

We all know Jeremiah 29:11 and we quote it so much that the words lose their meaning.  But it’s truth.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Not disaster, but good.

And then there’s Romans 8:28, another one we can all quote and know and still not know.

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.

All things…my failures, my mistakes, my sins…He redeems.

And so I’m thinking on all of that this morning as I’m looking down at my sweet Nora, as I get Lila and Claire ready for the day.  I think of how God has taught me more and more about love with each one of these precious six.  How He has shown His hand on my life and on theirs.  How He is teaching me how safe it is to trust Him and love Him.  How He has shown me what Love looks like.

He has plans for me, plans for good things, for a hope and a future.  And He will work all things together for my good, and He will guide me to His purpose and plans for my life.  Because I am His.

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Truth is Truth

I know a lot of truth, but sometimes my heart doesn’t believe me.

I know that God is good.
I know that God loves me.
I know that He has a plan for my life.
I know that He is outside of time and can see the end of the story.
I know that He will turn Every Single Thing around for good.

And sometimes, I know all of that in my head but it just doesn’t make it to my heart.  Disappointment, discouragement, depression…those things clog up my heart and make it hard for truth to seep in.  Those truths just marinate in my head while my heart is sick with worry and sadness.

It’s hard to figure out how to open a channel for those truths to trickle down…to stream into the heart.

Part of that is because feelings lie.  Circumstances lie.  Fear lies.

I’m struggling right now with getting my head truths into my heart.  I’m standing on those truths just the same, albeit with fear and trembling…because what else have I got?

My prayer today is that God will show me those truths in action.  That He will take the blinders off the eyes of my heart and help my heart to see that what He says is true.

Truth doesn’t change because of circumstance, after all.


I know the end of the story, I come up from the wilderness, leaning on my Beloved…

The Sacrifice of Praise

I think we know in our heads and even in some places of our hearts that God knows best.

But that doesn’t stop us from trying to tell Him what to do.  I often get His plan “figured out” and then I try to make it happen.  Yes, you read right.   I try to make it happen.

This is, of course, fruitless.

I think of Abraham and Sarah and how they tried to make God’s promises come to pass.

It began with this- a Holy visitation and a word from the Lord.  “I will make you a father of many nations.  I will give you and Sarah a son.”

And the two of them wanted that son a lot…Sarah grew impatient and decided they would need a surrogate.  She supplied her servant Hagar to her husband in order to get this son.  But it wasn’t a good thing…and it wasn’t really what Sarah wanted because this is not what God had in mind.

Genesis 21:12 says, “For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.”
The New Living translation says, “…This happened just at the time God said it would.”

God’s timing.  He sets the times and none of our striving can change that.  It’ll happen at the time God said it would.

Last night, I made oven baked chicken with a ritz cracker crust.  It was really good but man, it was spicy.  I couldn’t figure out what was making it so spicy.  Paprika, salt, pepper, thyme, onion powder.  Why were we all on fire?

John suggested, “Maybe you mixed up the paprika and the cayenne?”  And sure enough I had.  We all agreed that it was better this way and it made me think about God.

Sometimes we think we’ve figured out His plan. Sometimes we think we know best but the truth is…

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans for a hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

And only He knows when and how and all of that.  And it’s like the chicken.  Sometimes the unexpected is the most flavorful.  Sometimes we can’t imagine what His best really is, we can only see our best.  And how can we even know what the best is?  God can see the end of the story and we can’t.

I’m in a season of surrender.  I’m in a season of placing all that I try to control and manage and worry about on the altar.  To make my life a sacrifice of praise.  It’s a choice I must go back to day in and day out.  Laying down my plans for my family, my plans for my future, my dreams (this one hurts) for all of us on the altar and giving all to Him.

I want my heart to beat with His.  I want my steps to be in sync with His.  I want to walk the paths He has for me.  It’s scary to lay it all down and surrender my own will.  It’s hard.  But I don’t want to miss His best for me.  Thirty nine years in this life has taught me one thing- I am nothing without Him.  And His best is what I want.  There is joy in the laying it down.  There’s something about emptying ourselves out and letting Him fill us back up.  There’s something powerful in surrender.

He never holds His best back from us.  He gives it with no strings attached and with open hands.  But we have to be willing to release control and take it.