"Be that as it may, my Father knows best, and I'm confident that He has placed me here; my task is to labor quietly until the pillar cloud removes and leads farther, working out God's purposes in God's time." -Jim Elliot


Human to the Fullest

A close encounter with adoptee, George Dennehy, last year at Summit 9 completely changed our lives forever.  We were attending the annual adoption conference in hope and anticipation that God would reveal His call upon our family in what direction to take with caring for orphans.  We had known for years He was calling us, but what that specifically looked like was still being made known to us slowly but surely.

An incredible moment of brokenness, clarity, and ultimately receiving His call on our lives to adopt a special needs child internationally was undeniable once we heard the testimony of this remarkable individual.  He gave a voice to the voiceless.  He spoke on behalf of millions of fatherless children who wait right now for a family of their own.  You will be changed too from his words.  This video is a snapshot into his life:

(For mobile devices, go to this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rztYMMhMT2Y)

"In Romania, at least at the time when I was born, when you were born with a "deformity", it umm...it was considered a curse from God.  I was kind of distanced, and not treated right, and kind of not getting any care that a normal baby should.  Which is why when I was one and a half years old, I weighed nine pounds.  It was rough my first year of life, but I lived.  No matter where you were before, it's like, where you can be now, your past does not define that.  This family has proven that, and it's just like, you have a dying boy in Romania, or starving kids from Africa, and you bring them to a place where they can be, I guess, human to the fullest.  And that is generous, a generous thing.  Family is everything." -George Dennehy

This is why we are called to adopt.  Jesus died to give us life, and to give it abundantly.  We are instruments of His grace.  May He use us to help children discover how to be human to the fullest...to truly live!


Brokenness + 4:37 am + Bills Donuts + Grace

It is 4:37 am on a Friday morning, and I am at Bill's Donuts. For those of you who know me well, no need to worry. I am not sitting here with multiple donuts, let alone one donut. Instead, I have chosen this location to pour my heart out in writing over a cup of coffee solely for the smell. It is like coming home. It reminds me of a time in my life as a child when I felt the closest to people. When I loved without inhibition. When my heart felt safe and protected. When I knew very little about the fallenness of man and sin.

Today, I sit in this local favorite donut shop with a heavy heart. I am broken, I will admit it. I am that fallen soul, in desperate need for intervention. I am that heart crying out to a God who cares. I am deeply aware of my need for grace, and yet my flesh's tendency to still try to do this thing called life on my own. In the recesses of my heart, I know that there is something deeply broken within me. Parts of my ugliness that are unloveable, untouchable. Places that no one wants to enter into...no one except One.

I am reminded of a Puritan prayer in moments like these that take me back to the cross. It takes me back every time that His way for me is not the easiest way. It isn't the pain free route. But it is the only path that leads to true healing and lasting change. It is the valley of vision.

"Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
Where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
Hemmed in by mountains of sin
I behold Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
That the way down is the way up,
That to be low is to be high,
That the broken heart is the healed heart,
That the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
That the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
That to have nothing is to possess all,
That to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
That to give is to receive,
That the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
And the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley."
("The Valley of Vision" from A Collection of Puritan Prayers)

There is always more room at the foot of the cross. Who will enter into my brokenness? Will anyone dare go to the places that most avoid in this wretched heart? Jesus will. In my times of feeling deeply misunderstood, unknown, and at times falsely accused, I know that there is always room here. In many ways, the 24-hour availability of Bill's Donuts and it's free smells take me back to the uninhibiting grace of God. Christ died a brutal death for this grace to be mine, so it was anything but free. But this gift that cost so much frees me. It enters into the darkness and bears light. It brings forth a response of falling to my knees, on my face, before a holy yet loving God. It always initiates.  It is always available. It never avoids. Grace has taught me who I want to be through Christ, and who I already am in Christ.

Isaiah 45:5-9 promises us that God creates calamity, but He also heals us. "I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things. Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the LORD have created it. Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, 'What are you making?' or 'Your work has no handles'?" I often resist calamity. I don't want to endure the pain and suffering that often is God's cup for me. Sometimes I want to run and hide. And then my eyes return to the third verse in this chapter of Isaiah, "I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name." (Isaiah 45:3) In these precious words, we realize that there are treasures in darkness. That there is a gift in suffering that can only be received when we are undone. It is best to remain. It is most profitable to endure hardships with God's help.

2 Cor. 4:6-12, 16-18 also holds the promise that there is a faithful intention of God in and through our brokenness. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you... So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Our daughter will be broken. She will at times wonder if anyone wants to enter into her pain. She will long for a Love that will go the distance for her when it seems like all earthly love has failed her. We will point her to the One Who will. He moved heaven and earth to be with her, to carry her burdens, and to heal her heart. I have to admit in moments like this morning at 4:37 am sitting in the best donut shop on earth, my heart feels nearer to this child in China than ever before. I get it. I understand how she feels, and I want to enter into these areas of her heart even now in prayer. The treasure of Christ in my jar of clay heart is hope. True hope. My prayer is that this hope will be her's as well one day.  That this precious grace would come through Christ into her brokenness, to redeem and heal what is broken as He has been so faithful to do in mine.  Sweet Selah, there is always grace.  Always.


Match Made in Heaven

We have waited over 9 months to say these words...we are MATCHED!!!  We laid eyes on our daughter, Selah Grace AnLi, for the first time on February 24, 2014 when our agency sent us her profile to review.  They say that you just "know".  I get it now.  Her big, beautiful, brown eyes looked right into our hearts.  God gave me instant affections for her, and my mama heart just knew that she was ours'.  Looking at her picture was like coming home.  

We got the news today that we have been officially "locked" in the database by CCCWA with AnLi's file.  What an incredibly overwhelming feeling!  It was in this moment that we realized we are truly pursuing this child with reckless abandon.  It just feels amazing to pursue her in the way God has called us to...to be her family for life!!!  The next step in the process is to wait on our Letter Seeking Confirmation (LSC) which will be our next huge step towards having our daughter in our arms.  It has been incredible to contemplate how God used many different things to bring this little girl to us.  There were different delays and "pauses" that happened over the last nine months to bring us to the "ready" place when she was "ready".  This is how God orchestrates bringing families together through adoption.  Before one day came to be, He knew it all.  It is all grace.  Once again, I am taken back to Psalm 139 in all of its splendor.  "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand--when I awake, I am still with you."  (Psalm 139:13-18)  This match was truly made in heaven, before one of our days came to be.    

There is so much to share about this incredible little girl, and yet we have to wait to disclose details until we receive our Letter of Approval from China (LOA).  At that point, we will be able to share her location, pictures, etc to our hearts' content!!!  In the meantime, it has been so sweet to watch our boys really begin to bond with their sister.  From putting their "Sissy" doll in a car seat, to taking her for a ride in their toy airplane, to Bryson begging to watch the slideshow of her pictures everyday, it has been such a beautiful process to watch them long for her as we do!  Here is a sneak peek into a conversation I had with Bryson last week over lunch:

Bryson: "I want to watch sissy."
I think, of course! Even if he wants to watch a slide show of her pics during lunch, I don't want to discourage any step in bonding that is attempted.
Me: "Ok! You can watch Selah's video."
Bryson sits mesmerized by each picture, intermittently exclaiming, "That's MY sissy!!!" with a big smile on his face.
Me: "Yep buddy, Selah is your sissy."
Bryson: "Mom, you go get sissy. I stay with Nanny and Pop."
I think things are starting to connect.
Me: "Daddy and I will go in a plane to China to get sissy Selah, and you will be with Nanny and Pop. But it will be awhile until we get to do that."
Bryson picks up the iPhone playing the video.
Bryson: "Sissy, come home."
And then he kissed her picture on the screen.
These are the beautiful moments that will get us through this time of waiting to be with our sweetpea across the sea.  

In the meantime, we have a range of emotions moment-by-moment.  Everything from excitement of being one step closer, to grief of not being able to hold her and comfort her, to everything in-between.  This song called "Amos Story" helps to put into words where we are right now emotionally in the wait.  Please continue to pray for our family as we are on this journey to Selah!

(For mobile devices, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4eZybIXpm8)