Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Big Girl Bed

A couple of months ago we made the leap and moved Claire into a big girl bed. I was apprehensive. She is our limit tester so I believed we might have some issues on our hands with staying put in her bed.

And although she has pushed the boundaries a little more than Elizabeth did with her bed she overall has done well. One thing we have going for us is this girl loves to sleep. She enjoys her sleep and will certainly let us know when she needs to be in bed.

At first she started getting up super early only because she could. But I quickly took her back to her room and let her know that we don't get up until a decent hour. At first it was a bit of struggle but now she stays put if she wakes up and it is still dark outside.

We have found her with some pretty interesting things in her bed.

I cannot believe that we do not have a crib in our home right now. I cannot believe my baby is going to be three soon. It makes me sad to see her grow up. I keep warning the kids I am going to stop feeding them so they stop growing. But they continue to talk me into giving them nourishment. Sadly they are going to grow up. It makes me want our baby boy home even more. Will that ever go away? Wanting to have a baby in the house. Maybe but right now I we are planning for a bigger house so we can fill it with babies. :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Wedding Verse

1st Corinthians 13 has become known as the wedding verse. It has been read at countless weddings. And I think it is with good intentions. After all God is the creator of love. He, of all people, would know how to do it well. And although that verse is read at a lot of weddings, I do not see it being lived out in many marriages.

I was challenged yesterday as I listened to a radio broadcast to think of what I would want my husband to say, many years in the future, if he were to give the Eulogy at my funeral.

My mind went to 1st Corinthians 13. As I read these verses though I was more struck at how much I am not like this at all when it comes to my marriage.

1st Corinthians 13: 4-7
" Love is Patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

The very beginning strikes a cord in me. Am I patient? Sure I would say. But am I patient even when I feel like Todd is not listening to me? Am I patient when I feel like he has forgotten to do what I asked him to? Am I patient when I ask him to take out the trash and he does not do it the moment I want it done? I am not. I am patient as long as he does things in my timetable. I am patient as long as he is patient with me. But love it says is patient. No patient if. No patient if they deserve it, patient if they earn it, patient if you feel like it. Love is patient.

Am I kind? Sure. Most of the time. But do I speak with kindness and love if I feel hurt? Do I speak to him with tones that are kind when he is not acting how I want him to? Do I treat him with the kindness I do to total strangers. Sadly many times I am more kind to the grocery store clerk than my own husband. Love is kind. Love is kind. I want to love.

Love does not envy. How many days do I think about how good someone else has it? Or wish that Todd did this or that. (Insert wishful thinking for whatever here) Love does not envy.

Love does not boast. How many times have I told him that he should do something this way or that. I know the best way to bathe the kids or feed them. My way is better than his, right? Love does not boast.

Love is not proud. Love does not think it has the best way. My way is not the best way. My way is simply different and love would not act like it has everything figured out.

Love is not rude. Have I ever been rude to Todd? Sadly more times than I want to admit. I find myself being more rude to him than anyone else in the whole world many days. But I justify it as just being real with him. I am just being honest about how I feel, right? Love is not rude.

Love is not self-seeking. Do I seek his best interest in everything? Do I even seek his best interest in most things? I am not sure I do. I am, in fact, sure I do not.

Love is not easily angered. How many days is my fuse very short with him? I blame him most of the time. Doesn't he get what I am feeling. Doesn't he understand me at all? Does it matter? Love is not easily angered.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. Ouch. This one stings. How many times have I replayed something he has done that hurt me? How many times do I remember his faults and quickly point out how often he does a particular thing? Love keeps no record.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love cares about truth. Truth is Jesus Christ. Truth is the word of God. Do I side with God's word? Do I rejoice when God is given glory? Do I rejoice when Todd obeys the Lord even when it costs me something? Ouch. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects. Do I protect my husband? Do I protect his reputation by the way I speak about him? Or do I let it slip to my girl-friend how wounded I am over what he did last night? After all I need to vent, right? Love always protects. Always.

Love always trusts. Do I trust Todd? Yes. Do I always trust his judgement? Do I always side with him when battling over something with the kids? Do I trust that he is wise and has our families best interest at heart? I want to. But so many times I find myself thinking I have a better way and if he would just listen to me. But love always trusts.

Love always hopes. Do I hope that things will get better when things are dark? Do I hope that he will make wise choices? Do I hope our marriage will be thriving and wonderful? I do but many times I find my hope wavering. Love always hopes.

Love always perseveres. The reality is marriage is not always easy. Our relationship is not always fun and filled with life. But love perseveres. Love perseveres when things are rough. Love perseveres when my spouse makes a bad decision. Love always perseveres. Sadly, I do not.

I am sorry Todd. I know we have had a very good marriage. But I look at this verse and it does not describe me. I am sorry for that. I am sorry that I do not always love you. You are good man. You are deserving of my trust in your judgement. You are deserving of my protection of your character. You love me so well. And many times you love me much more than I deserve and much more than I love you in return. You do not deserve the brunt of my bad days or crazy hormones. Forgive me for not loving you wholly and completely. And thank you because I already know that you are far more willing to forgive me than I am willing to forgive you. Thank you for being a man of integrity and honor and for seeking after the truth of Jesus Christ.

Many people might look at this verse and say it is impossible to always do all these things. You may be right. In our state of brokenness and in our fallen world we will never love perfectly as our heavenly father has loved us.

But at the end of my days I want for my husband to be able to say that I tried. And so I want to give God my brokenness and ask Him to redeem. I want to give Him my strength and willingness to love Todd and ask Him for His strength and willingness to love Todd.

2nd Corinthians 12:9 "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


It was the end of the week. My kids had just eaten home made (as in store bought from the freezer section) chicken nuggets for dinner. I had to run out to the grocery store and Todd was staying home with the girls. I left the house and sat in my car with tears in my eyes. The source of my emotional up-heavel was simply this: I felt like an awful momma because my kids are not eating the most healthy of meals at every moment. I admit it. I am not an organic, gourmet, vegetable puree hiding mom. I am a mom who feeds her kids chicken nuggets and hot dogs and potato chips. I try to make sure they eat lots of fruits and veggies. I try to make sure they eat yogurt and drink milk. But some days I just do not measure up to the standard I have set in my head.

I think part of the problem is I know many women who are very gifted in this area. They know nutrition like the back of their hand. And they feed their kids organic, healthy food 98% of the time. I love these women and I aspire to be more like them. But I am not them. And most of them honestly do not judge me for it. But I judge me. And when I do I fail by comparison. So here I was in the parking lot crying because my kids had chicken nuggets for dinner yet again. And I found myself crying out to the Lord. I poured out my heart and told him how awful and guilt ridden I felt. And then I wiped my eyes and went in the store.

Fast forward to the next morning. I got up before everyone else and opened my Bible for a devotional time. The very first verse I read was this:

Proverbs 17:1 (NIV)
" Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife."

What struck me in that moment was that instead of condemnation God was offering me freedom. Instead of hammering me with "You are right, you are an awful mother" He spoke words of encouragement. You see what matters more to the Lord is not what I put in my children's belly but what we put in their soul. If I make a home where there is love and God is worshipped it is far more worthy to Him than a home filled with the most organic and healthy food where strife and selfishness abide. I believe we can do both. I believe many women are currently doing both. I know many women who love God with all their hearts and feed their kids great food all the time. But in some moments I can only do one or the other. And if it takes macaroni and cheese to help me make a more peaceful home that day I will choose the dry crust with peace over the feast with strife.

And this lead me to think of how many other areas in my life I am holding myself to the standard of the world instead of the standards of the Lord. And in so many areas I am. I would love to be 20lbs thinner but in this moment I am not. I am striving to eat more healthy and working out. But in this moment I do not have the body I think the world thinks I should have. And to be honest if I lost the 20lbs I would probably still compare myself to someone and fall short.

Or my home. I see magazines and pictures of these perfectly tended homes and feel this twinge of guilt when I look at the piles of laundry and mess of dishes. I feel like I am failing to measure up to some standard I have for myself. But then I have to ask, who set up this standard anyway? I have never felt a genuine conviction from God for not having done my dishes. I have felt lots of condemnation from myself. But God has never spoken to me about the cleanliness of my floors. He always speaks to me more about the matters of my heart. He cares if I am loving my neighbor and speaking words of encouragement to others. He cares about the unforgiveness I hold onto far more than how long it has been since I cleaned my toilet.

I am not saying it is not good to eat healthy or to have a clean house. Certainly I do try to keep my house organized and clean. I try to make healthy food choices for my family. I spend hours each day cleaning and cooking and organizing something. But the point I am trying to make is I have this standard that I set in my head and if I fail to measure up to it I feel the weight of condemnation. I am sure I am not the only mother who has felt this. But I want to start living in the freedom of the Lord. The freedom to have people in our home even if there is oatmeal on the kitchen table still from breakfast (And it is 3:41 and there really is oatmeal stuck on the table still). The freedom to have an ice cream cone with our kids and enjoy it simply for the sake of having a treat. The freedom to care more about my heart than what size jeans I am wearing. I want to live in that freedom. And I think when I start walking more in that freedom I will find it easier to make the good choices I want to make anyway.

2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Anywhere else?

It was one of those days. The kids and I were in the car. I would have loved to have headphones or a tranquilizer gun. (Just kidding I would never wear headphones while driving.) But the kids were doing their normal "she is touching me, she is pulling me, she bit me" and I was at the edge of my patience. It had been a very long day and this 30 minute drive home was going to do me in. And then it hit me. Even though these kids were driving me mad. Even though I was so tired. There is no where else I would want to be right now. Being married to the man I love and being momma to my two precious girls. So I stopped and thanked God for my little ones and the life He has called me to and then I pulled out my favorite "quit bugging each other in the car" trick. And it made me laugh and made them laugh to.

Want to know my trick?

If the kids are fighting and won't stop their craziness I make them look at each other and say loudly, "I love you." They have to say this over and over and over and over and over and over. (Get the idea?) By the end they are usually both giggling like crazy and I get a few minutes peace.

So where would you rather be?

Monday, March 14, 2011

A new sense of direction

I shared last week that Ethiopia's Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA) announced last week that they would be cutting adoption approvals by 90%. This news shocked us and left me very disheartened. I immediately found myself heartbroken. After spending sometime in prayer on the day of finding out I felt like the Lord was speaking to my heart that this would be used for good. The voice was not audible and honestly I felt no sense of what we were supposed to do.

So I searched and prayed and emailed and asked a gazillion questions. I literally emailed our agency like 3 times a day sometimes with new questions. I am sure that they probably are sick of me by now. Right away both Todd I and I thought of possibly changing countries. We did a ton of reading and asked our agency which countries would be possible. There were only two choices for us with our agency because I am not over 30. Ethiopia and another country which is not African. We both prayed about the other country and felt like that was not where God was leading. We then thought about leaving our agency and adopting independently. We would lose some money but if this was where God was leading we wanted to obey. Again, we emailed, researched and asked a gazillion questions. Nothing seemed to be working. There were dead ends everywhere.

I felt utterly dis-heartened. We knew very clearly God was calling us to adopt now. He wanted us to begin this process now not in 2 1/2 years when I am 30. So if he wanted us to do this now why was He not leading? I honestly felt like that. I spent one night last week sobbing and crying and praying asking God why He was not leading us. I felt like we were willing to do whatever He called. I felt like we had been obedient up to this point. But I also felt so uncertain about what He wanted. I shared this with Todd and my very wise husband told me maybe God was leading. Maybe all along He had been speaking and asking us to still choose Ethiopia. Even though it looks dead and even though it looks like there is no way. Maybe just maybe that was what He wanted us to do after all.

I went to bed and gave my heart to the Lord. I asked Him to show me if that was what He was asking. Did He want us to walk through this storm? I told Him I would if I knew He was in it. That was Wednesday evening. Thursday came and sometime throughout the day I logged on to read a blog by an adoptive momma from Ethiopia. She said she had been praying for the families who were adopting from Ethiopia and the Lord gave her the story of Lazarus. It is in the Bible in the book of John 11: 1-45. One verse stuck out to me while reading it. It was verse 4 "When he heard this, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.'" It stuck out because the very first thing I heard from God before anything else was that this would result in good. In the story a man named Lazarus was sick. Lazarus and his two sisters had been very close with Jesus. So naturally when Lazarus was sick his sisters sent for him. And said to Him, "Lord the one you love is sick." Jesus heard that and responded with verse 4. This will end in good. But what happened after that was hard. Jesus did not come to Lazarus right away. In fact Lazarus died and was dead four days before Jesus showed up. And when He did come Mary and Martha had already given up hope that their brother could be given life. But Jesus did give Him life. He called Lazarus out of his tomb and gave Him real actual life. He was living and breathing and walking around again. And many people followed Jesus as a result.

So fast forward to Friday morning. I woke up very early and sat with my Bible reading this passage. I read and prayed for God to speak to me. Again I did not hear an audible voice but I knew never-the-less that God was calling us to Ethiopia. To continue on the path we had been on. I cannot say what will happen tomorrow. I only know what we have been called to today. And today I am walking in obedience.

After I finished my devotional time on Friday morning I went to the computer and checked my email. I recieved an email from a friend that she had gotten from an agency. Here is a little snippet of that email.

"From the sources above and others, we are feeling confident that this MoWA limit most likely will not stand. The Adoption Network in Ethiopia (composed of agency representatives) is meeting this coming week and we hope to have more information after that."

It was a sweet encouragement to my soul. But it was sweeter because it was only confirmation of what God was already speaking to me. This will end in good! Our God is a God who calls dead things to life!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

He Has Overcome

I cannot fully explain with words the depth of hurt that has occurred in my heart this week. Almost at once all my best laid plans were stopped and we were forced to reconsider everything.

In the light of all that has happened God has really been so faithful to walk beside me. He has sent encouragements in the forms of notes and phone calls from friends and family saying, "I love you and we are praying."

He has given me scripture to specifically answer every fear and longing of my heart. I won't share it all but here is what I read today as I did my devotional time.

Psalm 52: 8-9
"But I am like and olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love forever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name, I will hope, FOR YOUR NAME IS GOOD. I will praise you in the presence of your saints."

On more than one occasion God has brought to my mind the number of people who are praying for us and for our little boy. This has held me up. If you are praying, Thank-you, from the bottom of our soul.

And I have been reminded that every tear I cry is precious to my God. He holds every single one.

We have no plans yet for what the future holds and no new direction to share. But I wanted to share that we know that our God is good!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

She Speaks

I just found out about this conference called "She Speaks". It is a conference put on by Proverbs 31 ministry. I just recently found this ministry and daily follow the blog. It has been inspiring and thought provoking. The conference is for Christian women who are interested in speaking and or writing. At this point I know very little about it except that when it asked if you have thought of doing any of these things (writing a book, speaking in public) my heart skipped a beat because I thought that it described me perfectly. It described someone who had a desire to share God's word and truth with other women but lacked the proper skills and information to make it happen. I have long felt a desire to share the truth from God's word with other women. I have even started writing a book. But I must admit that I lack the confidence and real knowledge of how to get it done. And I am not sure if I even did finish and found someone to publish it would I have the guts to do so. My mind has long said, "who would care that much about what I have to say?" But still within my soul is a longing to encourage my sisters in Christ and to call them to a deeper more intimate relationship with our savior. Not because I am better than them. But because I am struggling right along side of them and want to share the truths God has imbedded in my soul.

The reason I am blogging about it is because I am entering to win a scholarship to the conference. The sholarship would pay for my entrance to the conference and my hotel stay while I am there. So here goes nothing.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sweetly Broken Wholly Surrendered

Yesterday we received news that the government of Ethiopia has planned to cut the inter-country adoptions by 90%. They currently have been processing 50 adoptions per day. With the new plan in place they will now only process 5. 5 families per day. 5 children. And if our wait would have been 1 year we can now give a good estimate that it will be 3-4 years. I am not going to explain the ins and outs. I think the government has good reasons to reconsider their adoption process. Although I do not necessarily think this is the best solution. But being someone who is immediately affected by it makes it just seem crushing.

So what does this mean for us? We are not sure at this point. We have not heard directly from our agency and have no idea if they are even accepting applications for Ethiopia still. I emailed our agency the moment we heard the news. That was Saturday morning. We will most likely not hear anything until Monday or Tuesday.

In the moment I have gone through a variety of emotions. Sadness, fear, anxiety. Those are just a few. When I heard the news Todd was working and I called him to share. Honestly he could not even understand what I was saying because I was sobbing. When he finally understood what I was trying to convey he immediately said, "Let's pray." He prayed and then told me that God had this under control. He is right. And Todd has had an amazing faith that has helped to hold me up.

Here is what I am resting in this moment.

When we began this journey it was never about Ethiopia. We felt called to adopt. We felt called to a child, specifically a boy. We had a heart and a love for Africa. We researched and prayed and researched and talked to people. And after much deliberation we decided to go with Ethiopia. All along we were wholly surrendered to God and asking for His input. With that being said, we never heard an audible or even a direct "Go to Ethiopia." We simply prayed for wisdom and made a decision. Not saying it was made lightly. It most certainly was not. It was an agonizing and big decision. And after sometime and even some trying to go in other directions Ethiopia was the only avenue that was working. And we made the decision to pursue it. I do not think we "misheard" God or that we even took control of the reigns. We made the best decision we knew and followed God the best we knew how in the moment.

Now here we are. Through no control of our own our home study paperwork took much longer than anticipated and we just received it a couple of weeks ago. And then we had a huge bout of flu and now here we are. So we have not done any real work on the adoption in a couple weeks. The next step is to file paperwork with immigration. This is the first official moment when you need to know the country for sure. We have not filed that paperwork yet. If that paperwork was filed it would be much harder to switch countries. We could still do it. But it would cost more money.

All of this being said we are not certain what will happen. Ultimately we are surrendered to God. We want His leading. And in this moment we are praying about the decisions we are facing. We may be called to stay with Ethiopia and wait the 4 years but there are children who need homes now. And maybe we are being called to another country.

I have learned that when you cling tightly to something it turns to ash in your fist. So our hands are open. Our hearts are broken. And we are wholly surrendered. My broken heart is in the palms of my loving God and our life is in His hands.