Waves

T-minus 2 days until our beach trip! Since beach is on my mind I am posting what I wrote last year at the beach. Looking forward to another beautiful message from the Lord this year.

Oh how I love trips to the beach. I always see God’s goodness and beauty. Last year it was in the moon’s reflection on the water going straight to my feet, reminding me of God being omnipresent but at the same time so near and personal. This year it was the waves. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Psalms‬ ‭19:1‬ ‭NASB‬‬
My sin is swallowed up in the ocean of God’s loving kindness. The waves of grace keep coming; wave upon wave, never-ending grace upon grace.

I write my sin in the sand, confession of pride, laying it at the foot of Christ, repentance that comes from knowing God’s righteousness and love. The waves wash it away, waves of grace cover my sin, God’s mercy on me washes it away.

Christ’s perfect life and substitutionary death started this tidal wave of mercy that results in wave upon never-ending wave, grace upon never-ending grace.

The deeper I get the more rooted I am in this ocean of goodness, God’s love, believing it, trusting it. Going deeper into it the calmer I am; a quiet confidence of faith, knowing that the waves are all around me, the more I wade into His love, the calmer the waves get, not having to crash as hard against my sin to get me to believe, that YES, they will cover even THAT sin. I trust not being able to touch the bottom because I have a solid rock my faith is built on. I don’t need the shifting sand.

Wave upon wave, grace upon grace. All my sin swallowed up and carried away, erased, clean. A righteous, perfect, Holy God loving me. Never ending love everywhere I turn all around me; nothing else I see but His love. Know it, believe it, trust it and respond. Lord I want to love you with all my heart. I have come through a time of doubt and confusion, of judgement and law being on my mind. Forgive me Lord. Forgive me for daring to forget wave upon wave of your grace in my life. Thank you for reminding me of your grace that saved me and your grace that continues to sustain me. Your creation revealing your glory, thank you!!!
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:7-8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

 

 

My Delight

I’ve had some parenting challenges this week. Also known as, sanctification. Anybody else with me on that??!! I love the struggles though, (in the moment, maybe not so much) because God uses it all for growth, for sanctification, for cleaning out the yucky mucky stuff in me. In general, I pray often for my parenting skills, for my patience to increase, for my anger and frustration to decrease. My lesson this week in all of it…the praying in general isn’t enough. I am consistent with praying for God to help me in parenting.. What isn’t consistent is the praying in the moment. Stopping myself when I feel that stomach churning, heat rising, “I’ve had enough” feeling, gurgling and bubbling as I am fighting not to erupt. As one of SG’s book says, My mouth is a volcano! So in those moments, before the erupting, before I even let that feeling have movement and power inside of me, what should I do???

I received many, many, confirming lessons of what to do. Again, I LOVE it, God pouring truth all around me so that I can’t miss it, at every angle, every book, every scripture, every sermon, there was a teaching point for me from God about this subject. It is so AWESOME when that happens. I want to honor and obey what He showed me. He loves me and so perfectly ministered to me in my sin, so that I could learn and turn from it. Learn and turn!

I am reading the Old Testament and have come to 1 Samuel. 1 Samuel 23 is a section where Saul is coming after David and David is also dealing with the Philistines who are fighting Keilah, a city in Judah. In these situations, what does David do? What was my big lesson God delivered through these verses? David ASKED, over and over, specifically, about EACH situation. A brief account of verses 1-15 and the questions and answers…

David – Should I go?
God – Go and attack

David – inquired again
God – Arise and go

David-Will Saul come down
God – He will come down

David – will they surrender me into his hands
God – yes

God answered David and guided him because HE ASKED. I need to seek God’s wisdom and believe and trust He will give it to me in each situation. Just as God did for David, He will tell me when to fight the giants and when to flee the evil pursuing me. He will tell me when to lay low in the shadows in humility and when to speak up. He will tell me when to stand up and when to back down. He will tell me when to give grace and when to stand firm. I need to ask for wisdom in each particular situation not just in general. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”James‬ ‭1:5. And even more importantly I need to just go to God in that moment so I can remember who He is. I always remember who He is when I am on my knees, when I am low to the ground, the ME is taken out of the situation and HE is injected into it. ‬‬‬‬

I have stopped and prayed before in the middle of a “moment” as I call them with SG but I haven’t been consistent in this and I think I was waiting too long into the escalation of the situation to pray. So I quickly began practicing this. Twice I was able to stop myself as I felt a battle brewing with the 4 year old. The first time I went to a separate room to pray. After praying I knew I needed to show grace in that instance. I had taken her blanky away (it was her least favorite one as she had already lost her favorite and her “back up” favorite). While praying I was reminded that God gives me the very best, even thought my actions and works are like filthy rags, He cloaks me and showers me with white pristine garments of righteousness. “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation‬ ‭19:8‬. I went into SG’s room, with her favorite blanket, and covered her up with it. She asked why I was giving it to her since she had lost it as a consequence. So I explained that I was giving her grace, just as God does. Instead of taking away her third blanket, I was going to give her the very best blanket as God did for us when He gave us His Son Jesus. She did soften and smile. The “moment” was over and we were able to hug and pray. God kept that theme running in my head even after this particular time because this past Sunday we studied this verse; He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.””Zechariah‬ ‭3:4‬. Wow, such affirmation that I was able to hear and understand what God wanted me to do with that blanket last week. “”The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.”Proverbs‬ ‭4:7‬.‬‬‬

The second time I stopped and prayed right there in her room. I did not know what to do with her disobedience. She was refusing to do something that I couldn’t physically make her do. Her tantrum increased and got louder when she was sent to her room and had her consequence of losing something. So I just knelt down and prayed, asking God for wisdom and patience. I left the room knowing I needed to stand firm on this one. “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”Proverbs‬ ‭22:6‬. She did calm down, came to me on her own, and apologized with a humble heart. She still had her consequence but again we were able to get to a place of understanding and calm so that she could be taught.‬

Some of the words used to describe David’s actions in the 1 Saumel 23 passages are “inquire, asked, inquired once more, prayed…”. Those are words God breathed into the Bible for us to learn from. I MUST inquire, I MUST ask, I MUST pray. Not only in the moment but I must prepare BEFOREHAND by soaking up His Word. I wouldn’t have received this wisdom from God if I hadn’t read those words. Even in the sermon and books that conveyed the messages to me as well it was the scripture in the sermon and the books that God used to help me. It’s God’s Word that has never failed me. It’s God Word that shows me Christ’s example and preaches the gospel to me daily. It’s God’s Word that gives me wisdom when I don’t understand. “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.”Psalms‬ ‭19:7-8‬

I pray that Psalm 119:24 is a deep rooted truth in all of our lives and if not, that by God’s grace He will open up His Word to you with mighty understanding and conviction so that you will thirst for it daily!

Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors. Psalm 119:24.

Fallow Ground

Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” Hosea‬ ‭10:12‬ .

After a season of struggling with new routines, new parenting obstacles, and just longing for more intimacy with God, I came to this verse and started to study it and received such a beautiful step forward in the desires of my heart.

Land was allowed to remain “fallow”, unsown for a period of time in order to restore its fertility. During that time it was fallow it was prone to become overgrown with weeds and thorns. So a farmer must break up his fallow ground to prevent the weeds from taking over before he could sow seed that would then bear fruit. Wow. I get it! What is in my heart? What could be creeping in that could prevent God’s seeds of righteousness to bear fruit in my life? How am I contributing to any hardness of my soil?

After examination of my life there are two main areas, that can more quickly than any other, contribute to an unproductive life for God’s kingdom.

1. Not being in His Word.

2. Not communicating with Him in prayer.

There are many other things we can neglect that could harden us; not fellowshipping with other believers, not being a part of a church body, not sharing our testimony or witnessing to others, not using our spiritual gifts, being convicted but disobeying or ignoring,  not prioritizing our life God’s way (God, husband, children). For me, being in His Word and communicating with Him in a true repentant-driven, praise-giving, humble in stature prayer posture, can quickly break up any fallow ground.

“For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem, “Break up your fallow ground, And do not sow among thorns.” Jeremiah‬ ‭4:3‬ .

This looks like TOTAL commitment to God and an openness to His ways. I often tell my daughter I need to see that “yes ma’am” attitude. I want to have that same attitude to my Father in heaven.  A “yes Lord!” attitude of obedience and submission. Just as my daughter struggles with her obedience, and needs to be reminded, isn’t our God so loving that He sent Christ, as our perfect example to look to, as our reminder of the righteousness we have in Him.

  “So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.”Hosea‬ ‭6:3‬.

I love this. The certainty of knowing this. The solid foundation of our faith in Christ. How did I live life without having this before I was saved?! I wasn’t living, I was dying. I am so thankful God shows us how to break up our hard soil, prepares us for the seeds of righteousness He is sowing in our lives, and then… brings the rain. God pours down and lavishes us with the rain!

Are you one of those that loves the brilliance of what “after the rain” means? That smell. The smell after a rain shower. Manufacturers try to bottle that smell in our body washes and soaps and candles. That sweet smell is like the sweet aroma of our lives as we walk and follow Christ. It is pleasing to the Lord. Also the world looks different after a rain storm. The brightness, the clarity, the brilliance of color as our life is washed clean of any dull, lukewarm, stale practices and is replaced with a  fulfilling and satisfying relationship with Christ!

“Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it.”Isaiah‬ ‭45:8‬.

Lord break up the fallow ground of my heart that harbors any bitterness or unrepentant sin. Break up the fallow ground so weeds of impurity, immorality, and idolatry won’t take root. As I go to you Lord, in your Word and on my knees, I praise you knowing you will pour down and lavish me with the rain of your righteousness, you will shower me with your mercy and your grace,  as I follow Christ and bear fruit for your Kingdom! Rain down Lord, rain down!

Now I See

I remember vividly what it was like to be blind. When life threw a curveball, when there was a decision to be made, when a devastating event happened, and in just the day to day life happenings, I turned to my feelings to guide me. Like a blind man using his cane to feel the world around him, I put my feelings out there, like a stick poking around, trying to determine my next step. If I FEEL this way or that, then surely that is enough to guide me into the right direction and decision. If I FEEL this anger, hurt, rage, temptation, lust, that must validate the actions I can take towards the person or event that caused it. These blind assumptions led me to no good. Being led by my feelings, for 15 of my adult years, resulted in abuse of alcohol and drugs, allowing horrible relationships to manifest and continue, misery at work, a marriage almost ruined, an arrest record, and a torn apart heart and soul because I just didn’t know which way to turn. When I finally stopped kicking and screaming against it, and yielded to what I was made for, the reason I even exist, and confessed that Jesus is Lord and put my belief and faith in HIM, my eyes were opened! Around six years ago, God removed the diseased vision I was looking through and replaced it with a whole, clean, clear view of His creation, including myself. “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.”Isaiah‬ ‭35:5‬.‬‬

I knew about God before this, I at one point even called myself a Christian but I DID NOT COMPREHEND. “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”John‬ ‭1:4-5‬‬. I grew further and further away from the idea of God because I didn’t understand it. If I couldn’t understand it, rationalize it or make it fit into the world I wanted to live, then it must not be true or real. I remember trying to read the Old Testament at one point and just truly didn’t see the point. This boring stuff has no merit or value in my life. It just shows a mean God who punished people. Oh what a glorious gift God gave me when He opened my eyes to the revelation of His truths. The Old Testament now MAKES SENSE and is a beautiful picture of our Savior coming. I have grown more in my faith while studying the Old Testament than any other part of the Bible. When you see THE WHOLE STORY and not just snippets of it, when you see this glorious book that uses foreshadowing, and prophecy, stories of God’s endless patience and faithfulness, and beautiful language and images that point to Christ, when you “get it” it is just magnificent. I love reading a passage and now knowing it is showing God’s love to us not His vengeance and wrath against us. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.”Luke‬ ‭2:30-32‬.

The Bible gives me wisdom in making decisions. Timeless wisdom from a true and perfect God who has never made a mistake. THAT is who I want to learn from, not my own feelings and advice from magazines or emotionally driven sources.  The Bible gives me peace in all circumstances. Difficult times, confusing times, sad times, in all of it I am comforted by the peace and hope I find in God’s Word. It is in me, in my mind, in my heart and soul, so that there is not a circumstance I face now that will result in me feeling “hopeless”.

Although my eyes are opened, I am no longer blinded, and I see the great light that now over powers the darkness, I can still be tempted to put on sunglasses. My flesh, the part of me that isn’t wholly glorified yet in Christ-likeness, can still want to cover up the light. To dim it, by going back to my worldly view. This manifests itself by my temptation to go back to being led by feelings. Why would I want to to cover up the clear vision, the bright light of love and wisdom that shines from knowing Christ and His redemptive work in my life?! It is because I can so easily forget what being blind was like. I forget and want to drag myself back to the dark empty room, feeling my way around, poking my feelings around, trying to justify my actions. Let me never forget!!! Let me never put on sunglasses again that dim what has dawned! I am so grateful for God’s Word and the power it has. I recently was tempted to draw on feelings and you know what happened? God’s Word flooded my mind. Scriptures came to mind that I said out loud, and that cleansed my mind, restored my sight, and God was glorified for the power of His Word!

Can you image what it was like for the blind man who was healed? When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?’” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened.Matthew‬ ‭9:28-29a‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬. We don’t have to imagine, if we are a Christian, we know! May we never forget that miraculous truth and may we always remember the stark difference from darkness to having our eyes opened and walking in the brilliant light of Jesus Christ. ‬

 

A Great Need

A Great Need

Facts – 230 children are in foster care in our county, only 38 licensed foster families, 30 plus children waiting to be adopted in our county.

“He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; Then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?” Jeremiah 22:16.

There are children in need. Children who have suffered. Children who have been abused, neglected, exposed to drugs and alcohol. Right here, right now, in your town. I want to plead their case and expose you to their need in the hopes you will show magnanimous kindness and consider blessing them with your prayers, time, love, or care. I have experienced a little bit of this world as I have been a licensed foster/adoptive parent through DSS for a year. I have many friends who have been foster and adoptive parents for much longer. I know stories of great redemption and recovery and stories of great sadness and loss. No matter what the outcome of these stories and these lives, the need is still great.

God is in the business of plucking us out of the sinful and selfish world of our flesh, redeeming our lives, and bringing us into His family. By His grace, and locally through the services of DSS, He is plucking these children out of their hurtful and scary world and giving them a chance of redemption. Once they are in the system, we are asked to step up. “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:27‬ . We are the hands and feet of Christ that God uses to carry out His sovereign plans. Once these children are brought in, God prepares our hands and feet to carry these children and He pierces our hearts to love and care for them. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬.‬‬‬‬‬‬
The role of a foster parent or adoptive parent can be frustrating. But oh so rewarding. It can be heartbreaking, but stretch your heart in ways you didn’t know it could. It can sometimes seem more than you can bear, to know some of their stories. But God will provide the reminder that suffering is temporary and the children are now on a road to His glory. There are times the plan is reunification with the parents, and we pray there is true change. There are times adoption seems to be the plan, and the long process of waiting and not knowing begins. There are times when the plans change. There are times of great joy as families grow. Children are a GIFT from the Lord. It can be hard, but nothing is as hard for us as it is for those kids. As difficult as it may be, there will also be great reward and blessing. A joy getting to know these precious kids. They may live in your home temporarily but the love and the lessons are not temporary. We are asked to follow Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬. Would you consider giving yourself up for a child in need? For siblings to stay together? To open your home to a child temporarily or to grow your family by bringing a child in permanently?‬‬‬

To be a part of this world of foster care and adoption, of redemption, is the closest thing to what God has done for me that I can get. I desire to continue to pour my heart out for this even if it gets broken sometimes. I pray as you read this your heart will burst wide open and be sensitive to the call to care for these children in need.

What can you do? There is an informational meeting held the 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Family Services Center. In your town, contact your local Department of Social Services and they should have similar meetings and services. If you are at all interested this is a great place to start.

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Mary Vs. Martha

We know the story. The words of Jesus, “but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:42. Too often I am finding though that this story is being used by women to label themselves and each other in a way that isn’t helpful. I do not think God intended us to use this passage to pat ourselves on the back for being a “Mary” while trying not to make the “Martha’s” feel bad so we thank them for their “servants heart” and “hospitality”.

Both women loved the Lord, both women had great faith in Christ. Jesus loved their family and was comfortable in their home. Just as all of us, Martha wasn’t fully glorified yet, her sanctification was in process. Martha was rebuked for her complaining. She called Mary out in front of Jesus for not helping. In that moment she was serving herself, not others. She was putting her pride above Mary. Her service wasn’t what was being rebuked, her hospitality and the way she opened her home wasn’t the issue, it was her attitude in it. The lesson is that service to Christ must always be subordinate to worship of Christ. What if Mary though complained to Christ about Martha for making too much noise in the kitchen and doing too much while she sat with Jesus. We can label ourselves as Mary’s while self-righteously defeating the purpose of why Mary was chosen as a worshipful follower and example to us.

I don’t think because you can make Brie and jam tarts and organize gatherings that you should be labeled a Martha. Someone who is a student of the Word and loves to write and speak about God’s Word shouldn’t be labeled a Mary. I am a follower of Christ. That is the only label that highlights what He did for me on the cross, the redemption of my wretchedness into His gift righteousness. Out of that pours a desire to worship Him and know him intimately through the living Word of God and there is also the desire to love like He did and serve and give and use my gifts to encourage the body of Christ. Our gifts are different.. How I serve out of my home, how I serve at church, may look different than yours, as it should be. As followers of Christ that service and hospitality can’t come in a humble and God honoring way that ONLY points to Him unless we are first seated at His feet and filled with the joy that comes through the Holy Spirit’s illumination of scripture and truths that show us who God is. Believe me, I have experienced what it is like to serve for the wrong reasons. I have also experienced dry seasons where my worship of God wasn’t being put before all else. But God tells us there can be both. There should be both. “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”‬ James‬ ‭2:14-17‬. We shouldn’t compare, esteem, or condemn how a woman’s hospitality looks (chalkboard menus vs. paper napkins) or what her time with the Lord looks like (2 hour prayer sessions vs. 1 minute devotional). We SHOULD be encouraging each other to put God first in ALL we do. God knows our hearts. “Martha allowed her anxiety about what she must do for Christ overwhelm her gratitude over what He would do for her.” (John MacArthur) There are self labeled “Mary’s” that can have this same anxiety as well. ‬

We all have moments of the good Martha serving out of love and humility and bad Martha serving with pride. We can be Mary truly soaking in and spending time with God in His Word or could be a prideful Mary who is esteeming herself. Labeling someone a Mary or a Martha gives connotations that just are not true and miss the point of this passage in the Bible. It’s not about being a great event planner vs. being great at studying the Bible. The point is to show us ALL, no matter what our bend or tendency is in our personality, that we should put knowing Him first, put being intimate with him and growing our faith and relationship with Him and His Word first. I would love to see those labels go away as we see ourselves as the Lord sees us. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians‬ 3:18

The Answer is No

We got the call this morning, we are not the family chosen for the boys. Rejection is hard. Rejection concerning being a parent is the hardest so far I’ve endured. Rejection has caused me to look at myself long and hard but ultimately to look to God. That really is the only place I can look. When He says He is for me so who can be against me I have to believe that and believe that this rejection is an act of love to us. When He says He works all things together for good I have to believe that our rejection is in the best interest of the boys. When I start looking at all I can praise God for, it is endless. I simply cannot be bitter, there is hope! This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us Hebrews 6:19-20a. An hour later and I have a smile on my face and am praising God for His mighty Sovereign hand who sees it all and knows it all and is in control. Such good has come from this week.

I have been so sensitive to and have had my heart burst wide open receiving the message of adoption. That God would love these boys to the point of plucking them out of their birth home, of despair and a cursed cycle of debauchery, and put them into a home, a loving home where they now will receive the blessing of knowing God’s love. It is not my home they are coming into but God is bringing them into His by rescuing them and putting them in to a home of those who are promised blessings for generations to come. How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on the earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed. Psalm 112:1-2. Wow! How can I be anything other than thankful for that. It also so sweetly reminds me that I am one of his “plucked” children. He took me from the path I was on which could only lead to death and brought me into His Kingdom, His family, the Body of Christ and the generations under me receive blessing from that.

This has brought my husband and I closer, we have become a stronger unit, and we have experienced that in a way that wouldn’t have happened if this had all went perfectly our way. Praise God! We are stronger and I am closer to the Lord and that can only be a good thing in preparing us for the child that we will be chosen for. Maybe there needed to be some more work done in us that only God knows and He was protecting us from the mistakes we would have made. I just don’t know and I just can’t guess because when I try to lean on my own understanding it produces nothing good. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do no lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5. God is the only one who can be Sovereign, my little brain would just burst if I had to figure it all out. Praise God that He is working, praise God that He loves me enough to not give me what I want because He can see beyond it and what is ahead, (yes, a great parenting lesson)!

I was also aware of the many of you who prayed for us during this. It brings me to tears thinking of those that prayed for us Monday and prayed for us the night before our interview and prayed for us during our interview. THAT was the body of Christ coming together loving us, spurring us on, taking us to the throne of grace. Oh what a gift that was! Friends your prayers were answered. Don’t take this as a “no” from God. Take it as a “yes” to His will. He answered and His will be done. The effective prayer of a righteous man CAN accomplish much James 5:16. My prayers, as hard as it was to pray, was that the boys would be placed in the right home, that the people making the decision would place it before God, that my hearts desire was for the boys, but that God would be glorified. All those things have come to pass, your prayers have been heard and God will continue to work this situation out for good. What comfort to know He sees what is ahead for us.

I will never regret meeting and knowing and loving these boys. They showed us we can love in ways we weren’t aware of. They showed us that even though we fought for them and didn’t ultimately get them, that the fight was worth it. I pray they will know how much they were wanted, I pray they remember the love they received in our home. There will always be pictures of them in our photo album and we will look back at them fondly remembering those little “cutie-patooties” as SG calls them. To be a part of this world of adoption, of redemption, is hard but it is the closest thing to what God has done for me that I can get. Why would I not continue to pour my heart out for this even if it gets broken sometimes. God already has a plan for another child that needs to be “plucked” out of their world and into His and I pray that He will use my family to accomplish that and that ALL will see the glory of God.

I’m sure waves of sadness will come. I have faith that God will sustain me and my family. He has already delivered in such a mighty way to allow me to be able to sit and write this and stop the questions and “what ifs”. I just can’t see anything but God’s hand in this so there is nothing to complain about. Praise God with me. Pray for my husband’s heart to continue to be softened after being so deeply wounded. But as for me I will hope continually and praise You and will praise you yet more and more. Psalm 71:14.

Joy Comes in the Morning

But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You. Psalm 5:11

I can sing with joy this morning. This week as been an emotional roller coaster but God has kept me close and as I reflect and process it this morning I am filled with praise.

We were initially told Monday that we were not chosen to be one of the families interviewed for the boys who we had previously given foster care to for two weeks because of our spiritual differences. The committee couldn’t understand how that big of a difference could work and not be a hindrance in our home for the boys. The adoption committee is made up of people from DSS Family Services and it rotates. It’s not always the same people that decide each case. Our case worker was not happy with their decision and was surprised as well. We have always been upfront about this, it is in our profile that was signed by the director and the state board that gave us our license to foster and adopt so our initial reaction was confusion. We were asked to foster the boys only if we would consider adopting them and we agreed to that and now we weren’t being considered as a family for them. Again confusion, which produced many other emotions ranging from sadness to anger.

So many questions now. Do we continue working with DSS? If this particular committee saw that as a weakness why were we given a license? It is not something we can work on or change, it is just who we are so if that is seen as a problem then why are we here? Why were we allowed to foster them? My husband sent an email to our case worker and asked for a meeting with her and her boss stating our case and how the process seemed inequitable since our bond and time with the boys in our home wasn’t even considered in allowing us an opportunity to tell our story and show them how “it works” in our home. This caused a conversation in the department and with the committee and they agreed it was the wrong decision and we now have an interview Friday at 10:00. I’m proud of my husband for fighting for the boys, amidst a whirlwind of emotions. I am reminded that God is not a God of confusion but of peace. I want our interview Friday to be surrounded by God’s peace, not confusion. I want the committee to see that we are the exception. Yes in general spiritual unequal marriages aren’t the best, they can be filled with bitterness and resentment and nagging and hurt. I have many women introduced to me in a SUM and I know my husband and I are the exception. We talk about the hard stuff, the “elephant” in the room. We don’t keep things from each other, I don’t try to change him but plead in prayer for his salvation. He doesn’t try to keep me from church activities but instead encourages and supports me in them. We are the exception. I praise God that I get to show this committee and tell them our story so they can see what the mighty hand of God can do. So they can see when he pours his grace and mercy on us and tells us to stay, and to not leave the marriage that it can work, that it does work. I want to show them that my husband is a kind, loving, man who loves these boys fiercely already and seeing that makes me love him so much more. I praise God that this has caused me to reflect on the many ways my husband sacrificed and compromised and loved and supported me because he knows my faith is my number one priority. When I was tempted to stay home from Lifegroup when the boys were here because I didn’t want to leave him alone with the three kids for another night he told me to go. He knows it is what I need, God is what I need, and he supports that. It doesn’t make sense. It seems strange, that if he is an atheist why would he be okay with encouraging my relationship with God and the body of Christ. It is because he fiercely loves me as well. And I have a powerful sovereign God who loves me even more. I also praise God for how he has changed the view of the word “atheist” by many who know him. A friend recently admitted she too thought very poorly of anyone who identified as an atheist before she met him. Most people think it means a satan worshiper or a really mad angry evil person. My husband is a kind man. A patient loving giving selfless man. He is a hardworking man with an immense work ethic and great integrity. He does not believe in God. His intellect is telling him God doesn’t exists. This does not make him evil. It does not make him a worse person or less. It makes him blind to God’s truth. His heart is not open to God’s truth. Just as mine wasn’t until I was saved. So I praise God for opening the eyes of others on how they should view an atheist; as a child of God, needing a Savior. Not a monster needing to be shunned.

Because of this decision and reversal of the decision my husband and I have had many great conversations. About our differences, about our family, about our strengths and weaknesses, about my faith, about his feelings towards Christianity, about atheism, about parenting, just so many great conversations, again not making the “elephant” in the room of our SUM an uncomfortable thing but something we are comfortable taking about. We have held each other, cried together, had a great family night after Monday’s news. We are most definitely stronger because of this. He told me last night he has “prayer warriors” at his job who will be praying for us during our interview. These are friends of his who know his beliefs, and tell him they are praying for him. Even in his friendships, God is providing a way for others to love on the atheist and for him to allow it and not resist it. Thank you to all of you who are praying for our family. I love our story. I love every day that God has written. I love that I get to be a part of this. Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’ Isaiah 46:10.

I am so thankful God turned this around and is letting us go in to that room to sit with a committee and tell our story. We are like no other family. You can’t get to know us on a piece of paper. I’m glad my husband fought for that chance we now have. I am so at peace as well. If the decision is still made that the boys won’t be ours I I will praise God for the endless ways we have been blessed by this situation. The end goal is that God be glorified, not Holly gets what she wants. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13.

Decision

I had a decision to make tonight. I have been putting it off all week, assuming as the day drew nearer I could make a decision. This wasn’t a big deal, no major crisis, no one would really care either way what I decided. I had been invited to two different gatherings on the same night. So I had to decide which one I would go to. At first I was just trying to decided on which to attend. One was a girls night, some at-home shopping at a friends’s house. The other was a dinner with those from a ministry I’m involved in. Both inviting, both I wanted to attend. I mentioned it to my husband, that I had two things going on Thursday night and I had to choose one. Mid week I still just couldn’t make a decision, I wanted to spend time with all of the people involved and didn’t know how to pick which group. The night before I realized there was a third option; stay home with my family. I know that was God showing me I needed to put my family first tonight. As the day progressed, the decision was being made, yes, I will stay home with my family. Now this is not to say there is anything wrong with a girl’s night or a night of spurring each other on with a dinner and encouragement. There have been nights that I of course have done those things and there will be more in the future. What is so cool is that God steered me in the way I should go. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Psalm 32:8. Up to this point I was thinking about what I would miss out on if I didn’t attend one of the gatherings but now I was looking forward to that chosen time with my family, and let me tell you the fruit of my decision was bountiful!

We have been going through an intense time of teaching boundaries and discipline with our daughter as she pushes back and struggles with obedience. Progress is being made and my husband and I are working together (the snow days gave us some extra time of full days of parenting together which was good!) and I just saw that staying home tonight would help since I have to go back to work for three nights in a row starting tomorrow. I texted my husband at 3:00 today that I would be staying home tonight and told him what was on the menu for dinner. He replied back with a smiley face 🙂 Just that simple little gesture reassured me I had made the right decision. It meant something to him that I made a choice to stay home. When my husband got home SG set the table and dinner was served. Right before I sat down SG said “mommy can we pray first and can I say the prayer?” Now she has prayed before. She prays at night or after we’ve had a moment that needed forgiveness, and sometimes when I ask she will pray at dinner but she never has asked to say the prayer at dinner on her own. She reached for my hand and her daddy’s hand and started her prayer “Dear God, thank you for this wonderful day, thank you for this family dinner, and thank you for my mommy and daddy, in Jesus name, Amen.” Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3 That moment right there was worth every contraction or labor pain times a million. My husband looked at me and asked if she always prays like that. I told him she does pray but has never asked to do it at dinner without my prompting. He told her that was a really sweet prayer. Usually when he is home for dinner I say it really quickly with her before he is in the room or we don’t say it at all. I think SG may have just changed that.

She then asked if we could turn the lights off and light the candles so we could not only have a family dinner but a “candlelit family dinner”. So we did. We proceeded to the living room after dinner for ice cream and games. I asked my husband how much work he had to do tonight and what did he need to get done and he replied “I’m not doing any work tonight”. I believe he was honoring my decision, my choice, to stay home when I could have had a night away, by making his own choice to put work away and savor this sweet time we were having. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14. My home was in perfect harmony tonight. Each one of us loved the other well. God showed me to put my family first tonight and His mercies and gifts showered us the rest of the evening. SG bowed her head to God in thanksgiving and sweet blessings flowed from that. My husband, by God’s grace, saw the importance of a puzzle and games over TV in the background or work.

God works like this every day. This was a beautiful picture tonight but He also reminded me that there are moments that aren’t this beautiful that are still filled with His mercies and that we are to Rejoice always! May I remember to rejoice always even in the disobedience, because it brings me closer to seeing my own disobedience and a closer relationship with the Lord. Rejoice always even when the boundaries are pushed because I see her as my little arrow then and the gifts and strengths God will use in her future to bring Him glory. Rejoice always even when I wonder if I am teaching her enough to prepare her for the battles and decisions she will face in the future because tonight she showed me it is sinking in, she is hearing me and she CHOSE to thank God tonight, in front of her daddy and it hit a sweet spot with him.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed and overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7 I am overflowing with gratitude for the union I have with Christ, that rock, that firm root that allows me to abide in Him which results in being able to make a decision that seemed to be small and not important but that was part of God’s plan to pour love on us tonight and draw me closer to Him and bring him much glory. Praise God!

No Doubts

I’m reading in a comfy chair while I am at my in-laws house for Christmas. Everyone is napping. I glance to my left out the sliding glass door and I see a gorgeous sky – a grand display – a gift – a blessing – a reminder of the great I AM. The heavens are telling of the glory of God and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1. Isn’t it awesome that we get to live in a beautiful setting that shows God’s workmanship. Drippings and snapshots of His glory all around us. Yet there is MORE to come! For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the GLORY THAT IS TO BE REVEALED TO US. Romans 8:18. What a promise! I have received reminder after reminder today of God’s promise and His sustaining and ongoing work He is doing in my heart and the heart of those around me.

The book I am reading is called Adopted for Life. I am reading it as we get closer to this pool of redemption we are wading in. The foster/adoption community we are a part of. We are in the middle of a complicated case surrounding the lives of two sweet boys. This book is helping. But in ways I wasn’t prepared for. I have had thoughts, doubts, about whether we should be adopting children into a spiritually unequal marriage. I asked some friends early on and they couldn’t find a biblical reason not to. Our case worker at DSS thinks it makes us a stronger candidate for a good home because we know how to work through a major difference in our lives and still have a thriving marriage. So I was settled about it after that. Until now. Is it fair, is it right, to bring a child in to an unequally yoked marriage? (As I read that now, it seems like a silly question, but it is something that has been on my mind and heart).

Then this book. I got such an amazing strong answer from God about this while reading this book. It reminded me that my doubts are not from God, they are from a deceptive liar. I am overcome by the message He is giving me – Walk this path I have you on, continue. Several verses brought clarity and comfort.

1 Timothy 5:8 – But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Men are called to provide and protect their families. From the fall of man and the curse given in Genesis 3 men are commanded to provide “by the sweat of your face”, “to cultivate the ground from which he was taken”. My husband has such a strong work ethic. He works so hard and takes on so much away from home to take care of his family, and he does it without complaint. Yet he also does so much at home. God has given him this desire to provide for his own. He is a great dad.

James 1:27 – Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this; to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Isaiah 1:17 – Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.
Jeremiah 22:16 – He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; Then it was well. Is not that what it means to know me? Declares the Lord.

As a Christian these verses convict me. They spur me on in this decision to adopt which in my case is obedience to a calling God has put in front of me. What does that mean for my husband though? He isn’t biblically convicted. It means God has poured out His common grace on my husband so that he is also obedient in this! I was reminded last week of God’s common grace to unbelievers and this is such a clear example of that to me. It also is a gift to me from God, allowing my obedience by my husband’s agreement, leadership and excitement about adopting.

Even as families with two believers need to pray for unity, I was reminded to even more so pray for God to bring unified vision into my home and that HE LOVES TO DO THIS! He has done this in getting us on this path together, agreeing on this, and MANY other times and that is why our marriage is a testament to God’s love and mercy. I know the Lord will continue to cover my household with blessings and take care of each individual child we have with a precise love, knowing them better than I do. For you formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

God has put it on my husband’s heart to be a “father of the fatherless”. I continue to pray that he too will know what that truly means and the Lord will draw him in to the body of Christ. My husband loves these boys already. He is preparing himself for the loss if they aren’t meant to be ours. I don’t know how God is going to use this. I just know my house is surrounded and filled with the redeeming power of God. We say YES to adoption, no doubts!