"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


Happy Birthday, Selah Grace AnLi!

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the Lord.  For his whole life he shall be given over to the Lord." 1 Samuel 1:27-28

As we celebrate Selah's first birthday home in the United States today, we are reminded of this scripture that describes what the Lord has done in our lives through becoming a family together.  This little girl grew in our hearts for several years before she was in our arms.  We prayed for her safety, health, mind, and heart as she waited for a family to call her own.  The Lord has truly answered our prayers of bringing her out of orphan care, and setting her into our home...declaring her our daughter...no longer an orphan.  Only those who have adopted and fallen in love with their adopted children understand when I say that she is just as much our daughter as Bryson and Lincoln are our sons.  He knit her together in her birth mother's womb, but He grew her in our hearts from the beginning until now.  The call to "give her to the Lord for her whole life" is pretty humbling and amazing.  To know that He is trustworthy, good, and more than capable to take care of her is so freeing.  We don't have to have all of the answers on how life will look moving forward, we have His answer of trusting Him because of His track record.  He has taken care of us all, He brought our family together, and He promises to continue to be faithful.

We love you, Selah Grace AnLi!  We celebrate three years of beautiful life in His creation of you.  We are so happy that you were born, that you are home, and that we get to delight in you everyday.  Your enthusiasm and sense of adventure is so contagious!  You love deeply, and you feel deeply.  We adore your sass and charm.  Watching you grow into the little girl you are today has been such a gift to us.  We are so blessed that God has answered our prayers in bringing you safely to us, and He will see us through the valleys and the mountain tops to come.  You are chosen, cherished, adored, and beloved.  You are our own.  You can never outrun the love God has given our hearts for you.  Happy Birthday to you, our sweet Selah!


Legacy of Love

God has taught me in this season of loss so much about what my Mom spent her whole life wanting me to know.  Sometimes God takes us into the valley to show us what we cannot see when we are on the mountain top.  There is a vision one has in the valley that cannot be experienced anywhere else.  I think of these moments often as the valley of vision.  I want to share one of my favorite prayers with you all that describes the gift of reflecting  that God offers us in the valley:

“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.”

I have to say that the last three weeks have been the greatest earthly valley we have ever had to face.  Therefore, it has offered us the deepest moments of reflection on who this incredible woman was and what God wanted to teach us through her.  I do believe that in this valley, we realized more and more our deep need for God.  In the valley of standing next to Mom’s bed at the hospital and eventually saying goodbye to her here on earth, we began to see such a clear picture of the love that Mom had for each one of us.  Selfless unconditional love.  Life giving, pouring out, putting others before herself kind of love.  Gospel love.  Whether she was family or friend or teacher, her generous spirit touched each person she met.  And none of us will ever be the same because of it.  This is all because of how she displayed the heart of Christ in how she loved each person.  She was able to look at the smallest child, and each of us, and see someone that Jesus loved, someone of immense value and worth.  And then she gave selflessly of herself to make sure each of us knew that we were loved. In so many ways she embodied the love that Jesus has for each of us, and that was what touched each of our hearts in such a precious and special way.  

It was totally in her nature to cook up a feast for our family of 23, putting her heart into every dish she prepared to make sure each person in our family felt loved.  She would never serve herself first, but waited for each of us to be sitting and enjoying the meal before she would make herself a plate.  And then she usually was the first to hop up and begin cleaning up the food and dishes, knowing that time was precious and she wanted to get some quality time with her grandchildren.  Before the dishes had dried and while the food was still warm in containers tucked in the fridge, she would be pulling out crafts and games to engage the hearts of our children.  So much laughter and music…always playfulness and joy.  Her words towards them were life giving.  Never a criticism.  She encouraged each of us constantly.  She never put her feet up before anyone else.  And if she did, it was after everyone else had their feet up, and she usually still had two feet on the ground to rock one of her grandbabies.  And by the time our families were packing up to head home, she was in the kitchen swiftly packing up leftovers for all of us to enjoy a second meal from the generous meal she had provided to warm our hearts.  She set such a clear example of a mother who took care of her family.  She exemplified the Mom I want to be.

Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 that, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

I know she would have laid her life down in a heartbeat for us to know how deeply loved we are by God, and to see us share this love with one another.  Her deepest prayers were that we would know God’s love for us and that we would love each other in that way.  Scripture shares with us in John 15:13 that, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  Mom has demonstrated the love of Christ to us through the incredible ways she has laid down her life for us again, and again, and again.

 So while facing this valley of saying goodbye to such a wonderful person here on earth, I also know that goodbye for now means see you soon.  Her memory carries on in all of us, and we can honor her by sharing with each other how we were touched by this wonderful woman.  We also have hope that her joy is complete in heaven where she is experiencing the love of Christ that she extended to each of us from Him in such a direct and personal way. This is my comfort in the valley.  I miss my Mom more than ever this morning, but I truly rest knowing she is in the presence of Jesus rocking her six babies and many grandchildren who had faith by sight before any of us.  She is home and she is in glory.  Death no longer stings for her, she is more alive than she ever has been before.  And on the day we are reunited with her in heaven, I have no doubt she will have prepared an amazing meal large enough to feed all of us and the hosts of heaven with enough leftovers for us all.