I was holdin out on you, I confess. Here's a sequence of photos I just adore. Every time I see them I am filled with joy!
Isaiah 18:8 - Here I am and the children the Lord has given me.
Psalms 127:3 - Sons are an inheritance from the LORD, children a reward from Him.
Monday, July 30, 2007
I was holdin out on you, I confess. Here's a sequence of photos I just adore. Every time I see them I am filled with joy!
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Hello friends. I've had such a great weekend. No real agenda. Just being home together as a family. We worked when we wanted to work and completely relaxed whenever we felt we wanted to. Dustin had a nap on Sat and I had one today. MMmmmm. Refreshing!
I just KNOW God is trying to tell me something when I keep hearing the same message over and over through every possible avenue of communication. His Word, His body, His Spirit. His blessed repetition. In fact I haven't had nearly enough time lately ( and I haven't made nearly enough time) to sit down and drink it in. I haven't had time to soak in the messages He's been sending. This weekend began process of digestion.
Four big things He's pointing me towards at this stage of my life:
1) Toward Himself. Toward His great love and His Spirit. I have had a hard time living out what we learned at the PVC "Loving Well" conference. I am only just learning how to begin to allow the Lord to love me well, so I may be filled and overflowing with His love. If I am going to serve others I need to be filled. Have I been coming to the Well enough lately? Have I been drawing from His provision the water I need to satisfy my own thirst before I attempt to offer it to others?
2)Home. He's been pointing me home. To my family. Serving them more sincerely than ever before. serving out of his love and beyond myself.
3) I have also been grappling with the absolute reality that all my works heaped together and piled up amount to nothing without the Lord's hand over them. If I can't do it in the Spirit and without His blessings it's just not worth doing. How much of my days have been spent in wasteful striving. Striving to be more, better, striving to get up, get out. Striving to do good on my own merit? Striving apart from Him? Pastor Greg quoted a scripture today that pointed straight to the heart of the issue for me as I am seeking to dig deeper in my relationship with the Lord. I tired to remember the verse and I looked for it but I couldn't find it so I am sorry I just have to paraphrase it for you. It was about being controlled by the Holy Spirit. When I thought about it I realized that learning to be led by His Spirit takes practice. One of my biggest prayers lately is to learn better just how to be led. That, and I am checking every motivation in my heart. I want anything that doesn't have the Lord's glory at heart to be removed. I just don't have room to be carrying anything more than that. I am tired, and I need a rest.
4) What does He want me personally to do about hurting people? Those people who are really, really suffering and in need. Those near and far? It begins simply with opening my eyes to the needs of others. For that I need better eye sight. After eye sight, I need action. I need to be led by the Spirit.
These things will test my grit. Test my BOLDness, my saltiness. I can't wait to meet the challenge in Christ's power and authority.
What's been bouncing around in your head lately? What are the things God's been speaking to you? Please share!!!
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Warning: I am typing this after rolling out the top coat and sealer for the floor paint in the girls room, and I am as high as a kite, so I am not sure how well this post will be written. (Yes, I did open the windows. NO, it's not helping.) I forgot that I hadn't told you we yanked out that nasty, dirty, dusty carpet in the girls room and have painted the concrete. We have successfully created a much cleanlier, easier to maintain and child friendly surface which should ease my asthma and my nerves! Amen to that!! I'll post pics of the room once we've got it put back together.
We were able to have our fingerprints made today, finally. I am so relieved. I hope to never see the inside of that ASC building again.... or at least not until we adopt again. (YES, I said again, we are planning on doing this twice. I guess we're gluttons for punishment!. That and our agency has special guidelines about sibling groups.)
So we waited over 4 hours to have our prints taken. It was L-O-N-G!!!! We had the opportunity to meet a really fun couple who were Canadian citizens originally born in Romania. They were both applying for their green cards to acquire permanent residency. They've been working here on work visas for around 8 years now. Fun people. Christian's too. They were asking lots of questions about our adoption process. I had to chuckle. Little do they know that is how things begin. A little seed here and a little water there and who knows where the Lord will lead them.
So that's the update! One step down.... a million-bah-jillion to go!!! ( As my kids might say.)
One more thing. I can't forget this one. I've found a blog I really enjoy. I found this family to be inspiring. Their way of life seems so romantic to me (citified girl that I am.)
Eyes of Wonder is the blog. Go check it out.
Monday, July 23, 2007
I LOVE WORLD Magazine. It's fun to read. It's Christian in perspective. Whenever my weekly copy comes I devour it completely in one sitting.
There is one columnist I really enjoy. Her name is Andree' Seu. She is author of a few books I've been meaning to purchase for just about forever now (I just have too many purchased already that are still waiting to be cracked open.) anyway, I was reading this article about Pulitzer Prize winning author Pearl Buck and her life. Buck was the daughter of missionaries who served in China.
The interesting things is that Pearl Buck ended up rejecting the Gospel later in life yet still retained a personal value for service to humanity. She believed in mission endeavors"carried on with a Christian 'spirit'.......She herself was tired of doctrinal preaching."
Seu draws a comparison from Buck with others in a movement away from Christ Himself while still seeming to continue to go about kingdom business. Let me quote a bit from Seu's article
In 'Easter 1933,' Buck stirred the boiling pot by dismissing Christian dogma, likening Christ to Buddah, as did her father in some ways, and proclaiming her 'creedless faith' in Christianity as 'the essence of men's highest dreams." Buck became a tireless worker for civil and human rights.
The article then goes on to point out that Buck made an interesting personal movement away from Christ but not away from works associated with His character, i.e. civil rights, etc. Not only did Buck herself make this transition but many of our nations leading colleges.
It's not hard to look around these days and find many activists who are passionate about relieving the causes of human suffering. Many are concerned with the 'greater good' of society, even the world as a whole. But, why?
One more excerpt which has absolutely consumed my thoughts lately:
Oswald chambers wrote, "Today we have substituted creedal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many are devoted to causes and so few devoted to Jesus Christ. People do not want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is a source of deep offence to the educated mentality of today that does not want Him in any other way than as comrade. The Lord's first obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of men. The saving of men was natural to the outcome of His obedience to His Father. If I am devoted to the cause of humanity only, I will soon be exhausted,....... but if I love Jesus personally and passionately, I can serve humanity though men treat me as a door-mat. The secret of a disciple's life is devotion to Jesus Christ."
Oh Lord, that you would truly be my singular devotion! That you would have pride of first place in my heart and my ambitions. Lord, let any passions I have, or actions I make, be rooted in a desire to see Your will accomplished and Your purposes fulfilled. I repent of self seeking motives and my flesh's desire to be virtuous on it's own accord. Lord, instead, make my life's work glorify You alone. Be lifted up and praised! Come steal my heart away and capture it for Your own.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Dustin and I were invited to Tina's Ethiopian Cafe by our new friends Ben and Aimee Woods. I "met" Aimee via an Internet group for trans racial adoptive families and immediately felt connected to her. It turns out they used to attend PV and are now at CCV. The Woods family is travelling this week to pick up their beautiful daughter Abby in Ethiopia. Last night was the first opportunity Dustin and I had to meet their family in person. What a treat it was. Ben and Aimee (and their kids Zoe and Luke) were a joy. They made us feel absolutely welcome and we just enjoyed rejoicing with another family during the excitement of the fulfillment of their hopes and dreams. It's Abby time in the Woods home and it was so much fun to be a part of it!
Tina's cooking was fabulous. Ethiopian food is hearty. Dustin and I both filled up much faster than we expected. We figure it's because you eat injera with every bite which is carb based. Injera is a sour dough-ish (not a technical term!) pancake like bread you use to pick up your food with. That's right no utensils in Ethiopian dining. It's so much fun! Hard to keep the kids clean though!
Thank you Aimee and Ben for letting us share in your celebration!
Dustin and I loved the idea of having a going away party at Tina's before we travel to pick up our own son. So dear friends I think we may plan on a similar event when the time comes for us to travel. Prepare to dig in and get your fingers dirty! We'll have a blast!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
I just haven't gotten the disappointment out of my system of being told to come back another day for our biometrics appointment. I feel the need to expound on my heartbreak.
"You'll have to come back next Wednesday." The man at the desk told me.
I glanced at Dustin with a look which said "you're the man, DOOOO something about this dude!!" Dustin simply responded with a smile. I turned to the man once more with tears brewing deep in my heart."Next Wed?" I asked jaw dangling from my despondent skull.
"Yea, come back next Wednesdaaay." He said in a voice which almost got him slapped. ( You'll be happy to know I didn't do it. I am a follower of Christ so I behaved myself. I sure wanted to do it though! I mean this is only paperwork left which I need to gather in order to get my child home and in my arms DARN IT!!!!)
"Sure, like it's that easy!" I thought, " There are baby sitters to be procured, schedules to be cleared and hoops to jump through, man! ... Why doesn't he get it?"
Walking out of the office Dustin helped me to calm down. Then, he provided the day's comic relief.
Thankfully, when we arrived there was only one tinsey winsey little parking spot to be had in the ASC lot. Dustin squeezed our vehicle in between a short 2 foot wall on the driver side and a HUGE truck on my side. Being the loving hubby he is he made sure I had plenty of room to get out my door. I had been so focused on reaching the building and procuring our fingerprints that I hadn't realized how Dustin had made it out on his side. That is until he went to get back in.
He could only open the door about 9 inches wide. Dustin had to step onto the wall and squeeze his behind through the narrow opening, wiggling and writhing his way into the cab of our truck. This was good for a cathartic laugh!
So here goes Stacey:
Thank you Lord, for super small parking lots and huge trucks hoggin' up all the room, and my considerate hubby who loves me enough to shove himself through an uncomfortably small gap instead of letting me do it myself! I needed the laugh!
HA! I feel so much better.
I read here, my friend Stacey's post about being content. I thought it was very genius of her. I realize that I can be quite a complainer. Stacey's post was refreshing and I fully intend to implement her personal brand of "turn that frown upside down." I really think looking for the positives in any given situation is much more productive than stewing on the negativity that has me angered anyway. Thanks for the inspiration Stacey!
All this leads me to my post for today. I could list the many difficulties I've been facing in my daily life, but that would be focusing on the negativity of my circumstances. Sister I know you have enough of your own struggles to deal with without dealing with mine too, so instead I am going to write about what I believe God is trying to speak to me in the midst of my crazy, annoying, negative battles these days.
Ever heard the quote "Pray for stronger backs, not lighter burdens." Well, I think the Lord has been driving that concept (or at least trying to) into me for weeks.
The truth is I like things easy. I really prefer not to have to break a sweat. Sure, I could roll up my sleeves and get dirty, but it's so much easier and more enjoyable not to have to!
That's my problem right there! God knows I've been doing a whole lot of asking for lighter burdens. He hasn't answered those particular prayers for me. It's not that he doesn't hear me, or that He doesn't care about my struggles. This I trust. I hear Him whispering to me instead that the whole point of these struggles is to learn to get down and dirty in The Spirit. His Spirit. Relying on Him when it's tough. Doing the things I have no desire to do, in obedience.
Lately this even means engaging in struggles I'd just prefer not to have to deal with. All sorts of arrows from the enemy are being allowed to penetrate my defences these days. Now, I am NOT saying that I think the enemy is winning or that I am really defenceless. (because I KNOW that's not true. See this , and this , and this.) I am also NOT saying I think God is mean or twisted to let the arrows hit their marks. I believe instead that God has a purpose even for the evil one's arrows and is bringing about the fulfillment of His desires to make me more like Christ and bring all things under one head. Part of God's redemptive work is in turning what the evil one intends to use to harm and turning it around for His glory.
With all that wonderful faith affirming stuff said why do I still resist at times? Some things I've struggled with recently are the feelings I have surrounding my current struggles. I've been known lately to say prayers like, "Lord, what do you want me to do with all these feelings? Even when I know that the way I feel about things is not, in reality, the way things are, I still have these pesky emotions hanging around me. They're bringing me down Lord!!"
I'd pay big money to any woman who had sound advice or counsel to offer on what to do with my emotions!!
For now, emotions still in tow, I am concentrating on moving forward. Evading my current struggles is no longer an option, so I'm jumping in head first. With the question of receiving a lighter burden resolved I am ready to dig and and do a whole lot of praying. I'm seeking an outpouring of God's supernatural strength and endurance amidst all these distractions and difficulties. If they are not intended to go away at the moment I am reassured that there is purpose in them. If there is purpose and knowledge to be gained by enduring these difficulties then I sure do want to receive them. Then maybe I won't have to repeat these lessons.
And, If I can spare myself from repeating a lesson I failed to learn from I just might succeed in securing a lighter burden for myself, because a lighter burden, after all, is what I'd really like right now!
Hahahahaha. Does anyone else see the irony in that!?
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
We got a babysitter to watch the kids, managed to clear Dustin's schedule for the day, drove down to the ASC building to have our fingerprints taken, and they just up and decided that they wanted to block off this whole week to do I-400 applications and not I-600 apps (we need the I-600) "They" had the nerve to tell us to come back next week. Just like that.
As if it were that easy!!! I could have cried but Dustin held me and reminded that this IS the government we are dealing with here. What did I expect? He had a point.
We are at the mercy of USCIS. Why can't they understand how emotional this is for my mommy heart?
So, I lieu of happy fingerprinting news I am posting this. Somehow, it is not as gratifying as having our biometrics taken.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
So much to fill you in about but I am not sure where to begin........
We began out Home Study process (HS) Sat by meeting our Social Worker (SW) at the Chandler Sunset Libray. We can expect at least one more meeting to take place at the library and then an inhome visit to take place after. Our SW lives in Tucson so she has to drive in to do the HS. We are meeting the SW along with another couple who lives in Goodyear. The SW hopes to be able to drive in for one weekend and complete our in home visits the same weekend, but they are significantly further behind us in the process and I will be disappointed if I have been busting my behind to get everyhting finished only to wait on someone else to finish up their paperwork. the mere thought makes me tense.
As we near the last half of our paper chase compiling documents for our dossier the stress is beginning to mount. The to do list is GROWING exponentially. I can't wait for the day we actually mail the dossier off. I am fighting the urge to purchase anything until after we receive our referral but it's becoming increasingly more difficult. It's hard having to wait so long. I am not hte most patient woman and this process is definitely stretching my limits! Whenever I feel really antsy I step back and remind myself that the Lord is still doing a lot of work in me in preparation for my son's arrival and I don't want to cut that time short and in so doing shortchange my son. That helps me calm down a bit.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Hi all! Back from beautiful Oceanside, CA and had a great 4th of July!! I have (of course) a few pics for you. Here are the girls at the beach for the first time. Ally enjoyed the beach for a bit but then declared that she was sea sick. I think it's because the waves made her dizzy. She never took her eyes off the water rolling in and out. She did enjoy it once again the following day.
Dustin spent a ton of time in the water and told me that if we lived there he could imagine himself taking up surfing. I believe him. He's a fish! He did a lot of boogie boarding. I tried it....once, and ate it HARD!! It was actually quite humorous! Can I just add that sea water will make you quite nauseous if swallowed in large quantities. It took me all day to recover form my little incident.
I thought I was just going to wade a bit in the water but a HUGE wave snuck on me and well, it was cold!
At Sea World we paid an exorbitant amount of money for face painting (after Auntie Megan convinced the girls they just had to have it done) and though our wallets were much lighter it ended up being quite a nice investment! The girls cried their eyes out when it washed off in the shower later that night.
Well, that's a ton of pics for now. Maybe I'll add some more tomorrow.