Join Me In The Garden

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I have welcomed all of you to share in the joys and struggles of our family since our hearts were broken for the fatherless several years ago. We have now been home with our girls for about four years, and I cannot even begin to share with you how God has blessed us with our precious Chinese daughters. I have chosen to share our family’s journey with you for one reason, that is to give God glory, and that you may see that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things if we let Him.

God called us to adopt two older girls from China, and we have been blessed beyond measure by our obedience to Him. The road has not been easy, yet it is a path I would choose to travel again.

If you take with you one thing from my willingness to be open to you, I pray that it would be that God moves mountains when we step out in faith to meet the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves. We can count on Him every time.

May God do the miraculous in your lives, and may our story inspire many to step out in faith to love a child who desperately needs what only you can give.

Blessings!

Pregnant Teen the Victim of Hypocrites?

I don’t usually get involved in news articles gone viral or comment on newspapers that are more than happy to run an article that brings to light the fault of Christians while shutting their eyes to a multitude of sins of those who claim to be any other faith, or even of no faith at all. 

Yet, this time, I can’t let this one pass without offering my opinion. 

I’m sure many of you have seen the article in The New York Times, Pregnant at 18. Hailed by Abortion Foes. Punished by Christian School. 


Perhaps you’ve also seen the CBS News clip as well,  

Pregnant Teen’s Pro-Life Christian School Won’t Let Her Walk At Graduation.

Watch video here.

I lead an orphan ministry with my friend. 

We choose to love the children who are alone in the world. We save our money so we can help them come home to families. We have yard sales and tee shirt sales and we pray for the children, born and unborn. We adopt the children who are waiting for families. 

And we pray for their mothers. 

We pray for the young women who are so alone that they see no way to bear the child they’ve conceived. 

We pray that they would come to us with their fears and questions, in all of their aloneness, that they would not find judgment or shame, but rather love and support for the very hard and scary place they’ve found themselves in. We pray that they would not feel shame in bearing the baby God has chosen to bless them with in the midst of their humanity and weakness. We pray for the chance to love them, to share Christ with them. 

Of course I believe in abstinence before marriage. Of course I teach my children all the reasons why saving sex for marriage is God’s best for our lives. Of course I spend time in long converstations with my kids in hopes of helping them to understand that when we step out of God’s perfect plan for us, there are natural consequences that affect our lives often for the rest of our time on earth. Of course I share with them that God’s guidelines for our lives are there to protect us from unnecessary pain. Of course I remind them that God’s rules are because He loves us so very much, not because He wants to keep us from enjoying life, but because He wants to give us life more abundant and free. 

Of course. 

But when that child walks a different path than I would hope for them, I pray that they will know that they can come boldly to me, their mother, to their church or school, and find grace and love and support, just as all of us are invited to come boldly to Jesus, just as we are. 

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  – Hebrews 4:16

I can’t help but feel that the body of Christ has forgotten to love.

Have we so quickly forgotten how Jesus treated the woman accused of adultery?

He knelt down on the ground in the midst of those who would accuse her and wrote in the sand.  He spoke to the self righteous group of people about to stone the woman with gentle words. 

“He that is without sin among you, throw the first stone.”

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” ~Jesus, John 8:9-11

The treatment of Maddi Runkles by Dave Hobbs wreaks of the purtitanistic legalism that Hester Prynne endured in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Have we learned no more about love all these years later? This is the type of behavior that gives Jesus and those who follow Him a bad name. Nothing about this is like Jesus. Of course the world believes we are hypocrites when decisions like this are made. 

Maddi Runkles must be hidden away in her home on home instruction and can’t walk across the graduation platform because she chose to keep her baby? 

Seriously? 

I can’t help but wonder what we’re really punishing when we choose such harsh and barbaric treatment of a Christian young lady who got pregnant and chose to give life to her baby. Maddi Runkles is long past the confession stage. What do we hope to accomplish by such harsh punishment and shaming? Do we really think the next young lady who gets pregnant will feel safe to come forth after she’s seen how Maddi’s been treated? 

Are we more concerned with making a spectacle of someone else’s mistake than we are about the unborn babies within? 

How can we, as Christians, hope to save the lives of the unborn when we treat our own dear daughters who choose to have their babies with punishment because they chose life?

And of course it’s her choice to have the baby that’s being punished. She could have had an abortion and walked across that platform. 

Maddi Runkles made the right choice, and that’s the choice that should have been celebrated and focused on, not the one she’s already confessed. 

The church isn’t condoning sex before marriage when they choose to love unwed mothers anymore than I am condoning lying when I choose to celebrate the fact that my children have chosen to come to me and expose their dishonesty instead of focusing on the sin.  Do you think for a moment that I punish them when they tell me of their failures?

Of course I don’t. 

I celebrate their choice to be honest and to confess their sins. 

I envelope them in my arms and praise them for their choice to come forth and tell the truth. 

This isn’t about forcing Maddi to take responsibility for the choice she made. She’s totally taken responsibility for the choice she made. She carries it every day. She wears it like a scarlet letter in front of legalists who choose to accuse her. She’ll live with the decision she made for the rest of her life. I wonder if people like Dave Hobbs really know the bravery and level of responsibility it takes for a young lady to make the choice Maddi has made. She should be supported and loved by Christians for her choice, and the new life within her should be celebrated. In God’s perfect love and grace, He chose to bless this young lady with a baby. The church needs to see it as such and celebrate this child’s life.

Mr. Hobbs is quoted as commenting in reference to his harsh consequences, “This is for Maddi.”

Can he be serious?

In response to this one, I’m compelled to say, “Come on Dave. For the sake of the unwed mothers and the unborn babies, it’s time to choose love and grace.”

A New Journey

Today is my birthday, and on it, amidst the business of caring for a family of 13, I begin a new journey. 


It’s not a journey I ever thought I’d have to take. 


Yet it is one God has allowed into my life for a reason. 


And I begin this path willingly and in confidence that God will see me through even this, as He has seen me through so many trials before. 


The doctors say that I have begun my battle with breast cancer. Yet, I know that we wrestle not with flesh and blood. This battle is not mine. It’s God’s. He is fighting for me and already making a way where I can’t see one. 

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. – Ephesians 6:12

I don’t have breast cancer by some chance or by some random toss of the die. I have breast cancer because this is a path that God, in His infinite love and grace and provision for me, has allowed me to walk. 


I walk it for Jesus. May He shine brighter through me in my weakness. 

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,a whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. – James 1:2-8


This birthday, I’ve been given an incredible gift that will grow my faith, give me wisdom, and prepare me to support someone else who must also walk this path, and draw me closer to my Heavenly Father. 

What better gift could there possibly be than that? 

I praise God for this new journey, and I can’t wait to see all the miracles that lie ahead on its path. 

Blessings All! 

EFOs

“Who is Jesus?” She types in the translator only two weeks home from China. 

Her brand new daddy looks at me with eyes open wide, big and filled with the endless blue of the sea. For this moment we’ve prayed. He types into the computer screen, “He is the Son of God.”

My heart pauses, gallops in my chest, I hold my breath long, hard, tight, as if I’m trying to rid myself of hiccups. Oh, how I long to tell my sweet daughter about this Jesus Who is gilding all my broken parts together with pure gold, this Jesus Who is strong in my weakness, Who effortlessly transcends the natural and the spiritual, Who brought her home to me from China when I was so undeserving of the blessing that she is. I want to tell her of this miracle worker Who loves her more than she can even hope to ever be loved.

Scripture fills me. Yet, I wonder, how much can she take in all at once through an electronic translator? 

6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8

My words are barren, deficient, found wanting to explain the miraculous. 

The skeptics say there are no miracles. 

Yet, I know Him, He Whose life was nothing if it wasn’t miraculous, from His birth to His resurrection, He lived, fully man yet fully God. If that’s not miraculous, then what is? 

A world without miracles is a world without hope. 

God’s Word fills me just as Jesus said it would.


The Apostle Paul answered the skeptics. 

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,

    for tomorrow we die.”   1 Corinthians 15:12-32

Lord Jesus, give us the words. 

Eleven of the twelve disciples died a martyr’s death, and Judas fell on his own sword after betraying Jesus, for how does one live in the face of utter separation from Jesus? Would Jesus’s apostles die for a lie? Would not even one of them have bailed? 


Confidence fills me again. God’s Word breathes life into my impoverished words. 


She looks back at us, serious, her deep brown eyes wanting to know, longing for real answers, this child of my heart whom God placed in my arms from a whole world away. She is a miracle. Her life, her entire life is a miracle. The fact that she survived in a country where lives are snuffed out if they can’t check off all the boxes on the paper, if they can’t dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, in a society where no one is safe if they are special.



Yet she sits before me, this child whose life transcends the natural merely by her existence, this child who survived for nearly fourteen years until she was finally placed in her mother’s arms, this child whose resilience staggers me, sits before us now and asks us to explain the miraculous. 

This miracle child who yearns for love inside that special place where hope lives and thrives amidst the most impossible of circumstances, inside that place that longed for a mommy and daddy, that lofty place that longs for meaning and purpose, for  eternity and God, this child asks us to explain the miraculous. 


Eagerly, she types on the keyboard in her lovely mandarin characters that translate to English instantly before our eyes. Her words snatch our breath from our lungs and our hearts race hard, Lord Jesus, gives us the words. 

“Does every nation know it?”

Does every nation know it? 

Her words rebound in our mind. 

Truth. It’s God’s truth we long to tell her. 

Her two week old daddy’s hands type the words that speak the truth. 

“No, sweet heart, every nation doesn’t know it.”

She shakes her head knowingly. I see the questions forming in her mind, her gifted mind that is beautiful and loved and yet is the  very reason she was so carelessly discarded at birth. I know the question I need to answer for her. I sit in awe, staring at this child who yearns for answers to the questions the whole world asks. And even though I already have nine biological children, I am suddenly aware of how brand new I am at mothering my newly adopted daughters. 

Her daddy, who suddenly seems so much less new to parenting an adopted teenager than I am, types in the words she yearns to hear. 

“But every nation will come to know Jesus. God loves every person in every nation in every culture all over the world. He came to bring life, more abundant and free, to everyone. One day, everyone will come to see Jesus as our Savior. The Bible tells us that.” 

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. – Revelations 7:9

6Who, being in very nature of God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.  –  Philippians 2:6-11

She shook her head, her eyes wide with wonder. Then she typed in the translator, “I know this man. He is God. His people bring us clothes and candy and pray with us.”

Tears welled up in my eyes. My precious daughter already knew that miracles were real. There was no need for me to try to explain the supernatural to my little miracle girl. She already believed. Her life, too, was a series of miracles from the very beginning. 

This Jesus, Whose miracles athiests and skeptics have tried to explain away for years, perhaps because all of their wisdom holds them back from accepting the reality of the Risen Christ through faith alone, or perhaps because they do not want to surrender to an authority higher than themselves, had already been working His miracles to change the course of my daughter’s life, to bring her to Himself, to place her in our family, long before we even knew we would ever adopt. 

Jesus is as alive today as He was on the day of His resurrection, and He is still working His miracles today.  


There is no greater miracle story to tell than the story of God, coming to earth in the form of a baby, for the sole purpose of going to the cross, to pay for every lie we’ve ever told, for every angry word we’ve ever spoken, for every time we’ve chosen to put ourselves before Him, for every time we’ve refused to believe. He came to call us brothers and sisters, to share with us all that the Father has given Him. He came to unite every nation on the globe in love and peace and joy. He came to offer us a relationship with Him, and eternal life. 

That’s the miracle of Easter. 


Easter 

Forever

Offers

Salvation

Blessings All!

My Life In God's Garden

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Little Girl Lost – Monday Musings

As I’ve reflected this week on what miracle I would share with you today, I decided to travel back to my childhood and share another moment when God miraculously changed the course of my life.

My mind drifts back to the child that I was.


Sometimes, in that tiny space between consciousness and sleep, I can even see her, feel her. I can feel her sadness. I can feel her pain, see her longing for health and normalcy. I can feel that all encompassing desire and desperate prayer that my life would not always be as it was.

I am aware of a loneliness so big and so deep, so pervasive and inescapable that it set me apart from life and friends and the whole world like no normal preteen crisis ever could have.

Dermatomyositis,” I hear the doctor repeat the word that would change my life forever. He repeated it for my parents. He wrote it down for them to see. I can see the word written even now in his sloppy letters, erratic sloping curves like the waves of the tsunami that had just hit my life.

Dermatomyositis, the word echoed in my mind. Fear shot through my eleven year old body like lightning blasts through water.

Dermatomyositis. Steroids. Chemotherapy. 

The words fell on unknowing ears. I had no idea what any of the words meant. I could only feel their weight as they seemed to hover in the air, in the space between my hospital bed, my parents and the doctor, somehow harbingers of all that lay ahead for me then. I didn’t know how the disease would take over my life, or how many hours I would spend lying in bed, or being carried from bed to couch, and back again.

The disease began to take on a rhythm of its own that would remain in that same pattern for the next eight years of my life. The spring would somehow bring relief from the burning aching pain of my muscles. I’d begin to be able to sit up for periods of time and take rides in my wheelchair, but with the arrival of fall, the disease would flare again in all of its voracious devestation. I’d spend the winters in bed, barely able to hold my head up, reading every book that found itself in my room, writing in my journal and talking to Jesus.

I remember telling Him over and over again that I knew He could heal me; I knew it as clearly as I knew that I needed a miracle.

At one point the disease had been terribly active for months. I’d been on chemotherapy for over three years in an attempt to reduce the lymphocytes that were attacking my muscles including my heart, with no improvement or reduction in their numbers. The doctors felt they could not leave me on the Cytoxan any longer.


I’d begun to despair. Every blood test showed no improvement. Even the doctors had told my parents they were at a loss. They could not explain why the chemotherapy wasn’t working.


I prayed and prayed and begged God to heal me. One night in particular, I remember lying awake in my bed, completely immobilized by the weakness and pain. Sleep didn’t come. I felt a despair that I couldn’t bear. I pleaded with my Heavenly Father to make the medicine work.

The next morning the phone rang. It was Children’s Hospital. The nurse on the other end of the phone said, “We can’t explain it, her lymphocytes have dropped enormously. We’ve never before seen such a dramatic drop in numbers so quickly. I can only say it’s a miracle. I think your daughter should begin to feel better soon.”

I knew, in the deepest part of my heart, that God had heard my prayer and miraculously changed the course of the disease.

It wasn’t the end of the disease for me, but it was a brief respite from the pain, and God had most certainly made Himself real to me. It would take many more years and many more miracles before I could begin to live a normal life, but what God did in one of the darkest moments of my early years with the disease, changed my life forever and was a big part in the process of growing my faith to the place that it is today.

Years later, when I was seventeen, I wrote an essay that speaks to the loneliness and struggle of those years. I share it with you here.

God heard the prayers of the little girl that I was. He intervened to save my life.

And He hears our prayers today.

 


My Life In God's Garden
 

 

 

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Blessings All!

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Monday Musings, Part II

This is the second part of a story I began to tell last Monday. If you are new to my blog, you’ll likely benefit from reading this story from the beginning. You can do that here.

I’ve begun a series on the many miracles God has performed in our lives.


When we’d been home from China for about two and half years, a deep weariness began to fill our family. The needs of our children consumed us, and new needs seemed to develop at every turn. We began to wonder how to meet all the needs and to doubt that we had even done the right thing in abandoning the wisdom of this world and stepping out in faith, actually stepping off the cliff, to adopt the girls. We were overwhelmed with our inadequacies.

I just kept praying.


Our oldest son, Andrew,  had developed a chronic wound as a result of surgery and a drain that had to be left in about three and a half years ago, and we were seeing no progress in the healing of his wound.

We were also seeing evidence of Asperger like symptoms in our younger son, and had learned that Eliza had large infarctions in her brain that prevented her from learning and comprehending and using language. It had been suggested to us that she might benefit from hyperbaric oxygen treatments.  

I just had no idea how God would provide one as they are very expensive. I was feeling rather desparate, and I knew that God promises to meet ALL of our needs.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly. – Psalm 84:11

I started shopping for a hyperbaric chamber even though I knew we really didn’t know how we’d pay for it. I reminded myself that we walk by faith and not by sight. One thing I learned as we trusted God for the adoption of our girls was that God is always ready and waiting to make a way in our lives, but we have to take that first tiny quivering step of faith. 

For we walk by faith, not by sight. – Corinthians 5:7


I saw that someone was selling one in a facebook group that I belong to.

It was way too much money.

I decided to write to the seller anyway and ask him if he would consider accepting payments that I really couldn’t envision us making. But God, I kept repeating to myself.

Over the next couple of days I just kept praying for wisdom and for a way to restructure our finances. No matter how we looked at it, we always came up with the same answer; we really couldn’t afford a hyperbaric chamber. The needs were just too big.


Finally, remembering we walk by faith and not by sight, I did the most irresponsible thing ever. I told the man I could pay a certain amount each month.

My heart was racing. What was I doing? I didn’t have the money. I knew that we don’t purchase things we can’t afford. Fear filled me.


But God. 

The next morning, I received an email from the man. He explained how his wife and he were led to google my name. My blog came up and they read about our family and how we had adopted our daughters. He said they were so taken with all that we had done for the girls and the faith that consumed us, that they had decided that they wanted to give us the HBOT for FREE if we were able to come and pick it up!


I couldn’t believe my eyes.

I read and reread the email over and over again and was struck with the gravity of the gift this man was offering us.

God had answered my prayers. He had done the miraculous in our lives again.


God has clearly intervened in my life numerous times before, yet every time He does, I am brought to my knees in awe of His amazing faithfulness.

Yes, we now had the hyperbaric chamber for our children, but in answering my prayer just as He did, He also reminded me that I could trust Him for our children, that He would finish the good work He had begun in our lives, and that whatever we felt called to do for Him, He was and is faithful to see us through ALL the details of our lives.


Oh friend, are you weary with the work God has called you to?

Do you need a miracle today?

Or do you just need the faith to begin the process of adotption?

Allow me to reassure you that we serve a faithful God. He will not abandon you or your precious children. You do not walk alone.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:9

 

He is faithful even when we are faithless. 


My Life In God's Garden

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I had said last week that I would put up the Linky tool for you to link up your miracle stories too, but I haven’t been able to figure it out. Please add your links in the comments section, and I’ll keep working on that Linky tool!

Blessings All!

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Monday Musings

There are moments in my life when I have pressed on in faith and walked through the deepest valleys one can know. 


Then there are moments when the very hand of God has reached down to me and intervened in this natural world, when He has miraculously changed the course of my life at times in which I have wondered if all hope was gone, and when I have known, in the furthest corners of my mind, that I have been touched by the very hand of God.


It’s been my desire since the inception of this blog to share these miracles God has performed in my life, one by one, on Mondays with all of you, certainly to give Him the glory and praise of which He is so deserving, but also to share that God indeed cares about the very details of our lives, that He is not some far off God who leaves us to flounder our way through this world. 

He is not a fairy tale. He is not some made up story that sociologists would have us believe has been passed down through the generations as a coping mechanism that helps us deal with the difficulties of this world and the ever present awareness that our death is one day closer with each passing day. 

He is real. 

He hears and attends to the deepest prayers and yearnings of our hearts. 

I can’t remember a time in my life when I was not talking to God, perhaps as a little child would chat with an imaginary friend. I can’t remember when I didn’t know Him, when I didn’t love Him. I was a very sick child; while most kids were learning how to interact with peers, I was learning how to survive. I’ve often wondered if that’s why God made Himself so real to me at such an early age. For the blessing of knowing Him in my childhood, I will be forever thankful.


So much of me would like to take you back to the pain and the miracles of those long ago days of my childhood, but today I feel compelled to tell you about a more recent miracle that I am aware of and still experiencing the blessing of every single day. 

Since this really began as an adoption blog, and as my heart will always remain with the parentless who are alone in this world, it seems fitting that I share this story of laying down my children in the arms of my faithful Heavenly Father, as I travelled across the world to adopt our two daughters who were about to reach an age when they would never be allowed to be adopted. 

I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this part of our adoption story with you before, but trusting that God would meet the needs of our biological children as we gave all we had saved to adopt the girls, was probably one of the biggest hurdles for me. I felt irresponsible, and I feared for the children we already had. I certainly had not been able to meet all of their needs in my own strength. I knew, as so many parents of large families do, that no parent can meet all the needs of their children, but I surely wanted to try.

When we travelled to China, we’d been praying for a very long time for the needs of our oldest son who has Aspergers and is legally blind. For years we’d been doing a program with him to develop the lower structures of his brain, to develop his eyesight and to develop the ability for him to see with depth perception, and ultimately to develop the executive functioning of the frontal lobe of his brain. We knew he would have benefited from a hyperbaric chamber. The benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to the tissues and especially the growth of new neurons in the brain are becoming more and more well known. 


I’ve shared before about how we knew Eliza and Evangeline were our daughters and that we had to go and get them, but I also want to share that our children had needs too. We didn’t travel to China knowing we’d met all their needs or even that we could. We grew to understand that God’s children are waiting in orphanages and on the streets of every city across the globe for parents to be willing to be His hands and feet and go and get His children. 

God isn’t the reason the children are waiting.

We are. 

Far too often we hold back, content to stay in our safe worlds and care only for our own. Yet God calls us to spread out our tents, to make room for more, to prepare to care for those whose needs are so much bigger than our own. And all the while, He never forgets our needs or the needs of our children. 

to be continued…

I welcome you to Monday Musings, and I look forward to sharing God’s miracles with you. Next time I will put up the Linky tool so you can link up your blogs and miracle stories too.


My Life In God's Garden

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Blessings All!

Beauty in The Broken

I open this blog every day.

I look at it’s pages. I remember the many miracles God did in bringing our daughters home to us from China mere days before they turned fourteen years old. I wonder that people still read it’s pages after such a long absence on my part. 

I scroll through the drafts I’ve written, some partially finished and some polished and ready to be published. Sadness fills me for all the posts I failed to publish. 

I long to write. 

Sometimes I do. Sometimes I write with fingers trembling and quivering across the keys like my teeth chatter when I am cold. Sometimes my thoughts are jumbled and my sentences too short. Sometimes the words flow easily, my thoughts tumbling from my mind, through my fingers and on to the white screen of my computer just as the dandelion seeds float across our back yard in the long days of summer, dusting our chickens and greenery with all the new life they hold inside their tiny feather like pods. Post after post lines up in the drafts section of my blog, waiting, filled with whatever words of light and truth they hold, trapped inside their private prison.

Just like the children wait for mommies and daddies…


Why do the pages line up, their little bits of light locked away for no one to see, their flickering flames hidden and silenced? 

They wait because I have believed a lie. 

They wait because one day long ago, after the girls had begun to settle in and life was beginning to feel more “normal,” I lost my way. Anxiety filled me and I couldn’t eat. Knots filled my stomach, and my own inadequacies overwhelmed me. They wait because since that day, I have been more aware of my deficiencies than I have of God’s ability to shine brightest in the midst of my weakness. 

And the orphans wait because we are more aware of our weaknesses than of God’s strength.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, 

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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

I’ve wrestled with anxiety and pain. I often feel as though the pressure and fears will drown me in their evil sea of darkness. I have believed the lie that I have to feel good, to feel okay, to be okay to write on this blog and share my heart with all of you. 

I’ve been so wrong. 

God had grown my blog beyond my wildest dreams. People from all over the world had begun to read it.  Daily, my inbox was filled with emails from people thanking me for my willingness to be honest and raw and for sharing how encouraged they had been to realize they weren’t alone. They shared that my vulnerability had blessed them and spurred them on to be faithful to the wonderful work to which God had called them. They wrote of the faith they saw expressed on my blog and how somehow they had begun to feel a burning ember in their hearts as they read about a God Who loves them, who cares about their longings and fears, about the orphans, about their deep desire to parent them, about a God who loves them so very much that He came to earth in the form of a man, Jesus, to pay for our sins, once and for all, to forever unite us to Himself. 

God was using my blog to reach the hearts of men and women and families. 

God was

It wasn’t me. I had only been willing for God to use me. 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. – 2 Corinthians 4;6,7


I was just one of many broken earthen vessels whom God uses to be His hands and feet. The only difference was that perhaps I was the most broken of all. Yet, somehow, in God’s incredible grace He uses the weakest among us to do the most amazing things. In our weakness, His all surpassing power is demonstrated with flawless perfection. 


Nothing in this world is as real as the spiritual world. There is a constant battle going on just beyond the natural between good and evil. 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6;12


I realized recently that nothing made Satan happier than for me to cease from writing of God’s glory and from telling of the Savior’s love and faithfulness to us and His beloved orphans on my blog, which He had miraculously grown. I began to see that If Satan could shift my focus from the God who, “is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine,” (Ephesians 3;20) to my own insufficiency, then He could shut me down. 

And he did. 

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5;8. 

Suddenly, my cracks looked like gaping holes that could never be filled in, and I felt that I’d be wrong to write anything about my life or God when I felt so bereft and lost and broken.


But today, I write, by God’s grace. With Jesus by my side, I stand before Satan and his minions, and I share with you that I am weak and insufficient and hurting. I’m still trying to find my way through all the pain and praying for wisdom and stregnth to parent our large family. 

Yet, God reigns supreme in my heart. 

I will write of Him and His hand in our lives even while I struggle to feel His peace

His work doesn’t depend on my feelings.  

As I write about the gaping holes in me and how I”ve allowed fear of my inadequacies and failures to keep me from writing, I think of how many families are holding back from moving forward in adoption out of fear of their own weaknesses. I remember how I had to come to terms with the fact that the children need families, not flawless ones. 

God doesn’t want us to fear. 


Perhaps it’s the most wounded amoung us who really know how to love. 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41;10 

There is so much beauty among the broken. 

If you like what you’ve read, would you be so kind as to like my facebook page at the top right hand of my blog?

Thank you!

Blessings!

Matching Grant Ends Tomorrow!

UPDATE. 11:50pm  12/16/16

THE FINANCIAL NEED FOR THE FELTES’S ADOPTION OF JEREMIAH HAS BEEN MET!!!
PRAISE GOD! 
Thank you for all who prayed with us and donated to help bring him

Home!

We can’t wait to meet Jeremiah, this child for whom we have prayed! ❤️

****************

The Feltes are only $546.50 short of their goal for the matching grant of $5,000 which ends tomorrow! Can you please help by sharing this post, commenting below and letting us know that you’re praying with us for sweet Jeremiah and the Feltes family, or by giving even a small gift? every penny is doubled!!!! No amount is too small!
Please click on HERE which will take you to the Feltes blog to donate and or follow their story. There is a donate button on the top right hand side af Janette’s blog. 

Thank you so much! There are ten days left until Jeremiah meets his family!

“God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.” Psalm 68:6
Blessings!

Diane

The Messy and the Miraculous

Giggles tumble in from the kitchen where our children are gathered. Deep belly laughter interupts the momentary quiet of the evening. Sophia has just gotten home from ballet, her long hair hangs in a curtain down her back, Evangeline is sitting on a stool in pajamas preparing a late night snack, and Steven is still in his school clothes. They all huddle together over one of their phones and roar with laughter at some silly meme, united, one, siblings. 



“AnJew!” Eliza calls her oldest brother in her broken, urgent, deliberate speech, “You help me? The chickens! I not go out der by myself. It’s dark. I scared. You go with me!” Then a sweet knowing smile spreads accross her face, and she speaks directly to me now, “Mudder, I make him french fries after. I come in. I make them for him. Mudder, I know he can’t. He needs me mudder. I help him.” She speaks with the empathy and maturity that embodies all of her eighteen years. 


“Well, that’s very nice of you, honey, but it would be good for him to do that for himself.” I say regarding our oldest son who has autism. 


“Mudder! He can’t. I help him. He speshal, mudder.”

“He is special, Eliza. And so are you.” I say, with feelings of joy and pride only a mother can know. I think to myself how special each one of our chidlren is, and I pause to reflect about how they care for each other, how normal it all feels now, how we belong to each other: these children, blended by time and life and God far more than biology ever could.  

“Mommy,” she transitions to the little girl now, “can you kiss me here?” She points to the middle of her forehead, and I kiss her there as I do so many times each day. 

“I love you, Mommy, forever.” 

I wonder at how blessed I am. I wonder at her amazing capacity to love so flawlessly. I wonder at her ability to forgive. 

My mind drifts back to those awful days when we’d been home from China for two years,  to the moment when I broke under the weight of all the needs. I think about how I hurt her, how I left her in respite care while I tried to find the way back to who I was, about how it was my husband who was strong and reminded me that we were family and that we’d get through the hard together. I feel ashamed, and I pull her to me, tighter now, closer. 

I love being her mother. 

I almost lost this, I think. 


Joy fills her, her body squirms in girlish delight, and I love her, in that deep motherly spot that feels warm and full and glows with a pride that isn’t my own, but rather a thankfulness, an awe at the privilege I possess. “I help you, mudder? I help you a long time.” 

“Yes. You help me.” I say the words I’ve spoken so many times before, “and when you don’t, I still love you the same.”

“I know dat, mudder!” She quickly runs off. 

“Anjew! You help me?” He grumbles something and follows her outside to close the chickens in their coop for the night. 

Laughter still overflows into the back room from the kitchen. Evangeline is steaming dumplings for her brothers and sisters exactly like the chinese make them in China. 


“I want three.” David says, and olivia tells her she wants only one with no dumpling sauce. 

I’m aware that we are a family, one family. The awkward stage of blending has passed. This is our normal now. It’s different than before. We are richer, more blessed, more loved, for having chosen to grow our family by adoption. The days of struggle and pain and wondering if our lives would ever feel normal again are gone. 

I wonder. 

I wonder when those days left us. I wonder when this feeling of normalcy and peace and joy returned to us. I wonder how we arrived at this place.  

And then it comes to me. It was coming all the time. It was happening on the days we cried together. It was coming on the days I failed and needed to be forgiven. It was on it’s way all those days we hurt each other and had to say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” It was growing in our hearts with the dawn of each new day and the rising of each new moon. 

It was on it’s way as we shared our brokenness with each other. 

And it arrived somehow with the passage of time. In some way I don’t understand, the messy and the miraculous forged a new path, a new creation, a beginning of something far more beautiful than we could have ever known if we hadn’t taken that tiny step of faith and opened our lives to more. 


Jeremiah’s life is about to change in ways he has yet to even imagine. And the Feltes lives will change too. Each journey is a different one. Yet no life is without pain and loss and grief. We can’t know joy until we’ve walked through the valley bereft of it, unable to find it. 

By God’s grace, Jeremiah’s new life is about to begin. He will leave the only life and country he’s ever known. The Feltes life, too, will change. They might cry and grieve and long for something more familiar than this new life they’ve begun. But I am here to say there is beauty and love and joy beyond our biggest hopes and wildest dreams just a little farther down the road. 

To help bring Jeremiah home, visit John and Janette’s blog, Journey Full of Blessings or click on the links in the top right hand corner of my blog. There is a matching grant in place until December 16th for up to $5,000. Give now and your gift will be doubled. No gift is too small. 

Join us in this work that is so close to God’s heart. The blessings are far more than the cost. 

If you like what you’ve read and would like to follow our journey, please like my Facebook page at the top right corner of my blog.

Thank you,

Blessings All! 

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