don’t wait

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere

just read that sentence and you can hear the song in your head.  Or if you can’t, click on the video.  Enjoy.  I’ll wait.

 

A concept that resonates with just about everyone.  We all get it.

Somewhere in the world, it just turned 5 o’clock, so its okay to let loose, party and perhaps consume an adult beverage or three.

Fun idea,  and not too difficult to understand.

Now I want you to consider applying this concept to a Bible verse.

yes, a Bible verse.

Lamentations 3: 22 & 23 (ESV)  to be exact

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
Great is your faithfulness

 

How many times have we heard people say “His mercies are new every morning” and mentally applied it like this:

“wow, I really messed up today, but tomorrow I can start fresh”

“ugh it’s only 9:47 a.m. !  Today has started off horrible!  So glad tomorrow will be better”

Why wait?

The earth is round.

You are on the earth.

the sun is coming up SOMEWHERE

so

DON’T WAIT

Claim it right now.  His Mercies are new right now.

You don’t have to wait till tomorrow for the Faithfulness and Mercy of our Living God.

This is one thing it is okay to be impatient for.

 

 

 

plan interrupted

plan interrupted

When I was 15 I had a plan.

  1. Graduate college
  2. Find a man
  3. Get married
  4. Adopt a dog
  5. Be adopted by a cat
  6. Have kids
  7. Live happily ever after

My life soooooo didn’t go according to plan.

I didn’t graduate college till I was almost 30.   I had two failed marriages.  The dogs and cat didn’t come till after I turned 30. And children of my own body will never happen.  Some of the reasons my life didn’t go according to plan are my fault, some were things that were never in my control to begin with.

Like many couples, we struggled for years to have children.  Eventually we made the life altering decision to open our hearts to adoption.  (Let me just say here that this was not a decision we made lightly, nor was it an attempt to replace childbearing.  Adoption is an entirely different emotional adjustment and needs to be approached with prayer and care)

That said, we went through the process and were eventually selected by a young couple to raise their baby that was due in approximately 5 more moths.  We really bonded with them.  They said it was very important to them for their child to be raised in a Christian home.   They let us pray with them.

Just a month later we got a call from another agent.  An Emergency Situation – a baby had been born in a local hospital and the mother had just walked out.  Classic abandonment.  Did we want the baby?  Martin and I looked at each other…we were tempted.  Oh so tempted.  We could honor our agreement with the first couple and wait for their baby, or go right now and come home with a baby today.  Oh we were tempted.  That’s when grief unresolved rears its ugly head.  My arms ached to hold a baby, any baby. But we prayed, and felt a sense of peace about honoring our agreement with the first couple.  We felt good about that decision.

Then it happened again, the very next week. Similar situation.  This time it was twins.  Oh my word!  But again we decided to wait and go with the couple we had already committed to.

We were now just a month or two away from her due date.  It looked like our happily ever after was just around the corner.

But …(why is there always a but?)

A week later this couple, that had been so open and sweet turned out to be dishonest.  They chose to disappear with a large chunk of money and a huge piece of our hearts.

We were devastated.

We were in shock.

Why had God allowed us to connect so well with this couple? Why did He allow them to defraud us? Why had He given us such peace about continuing with a couple that HE knew was going to wrong us?  A couple that he knew was lying to us and their own extended family?

Some good things came out of the situation.

We watched our agent display integrity and compassion.

We were able to be a witness to the couple through our opportunity to show them mercy and not press charges. As well as the various kindnesses along the way.

Maybe God’s purpose was the timing?  For those of you who have met Ginny,  you know the story turns out well.  But did you know that she is a miracle of timing?

The very same weekend that we had been invited out to meet our first couple.  The very same weekend that we were supposed to go to an ultrasound appointment with them

Is the same weekend, even the same HOUR that Ginny’s birth parents  were having an ultrasound that showed them Ginny.  That was when they were making their decision that would lead to us adopting Ginny.

We didn’t know it at the time of course.  All we knew was that we had been hurt by one couple and we didn’t know what to do next.  Weeks later when I eventually saw the ultrasound for Ginny, the time and date stamp just leaped right off the page at me.  I got chills.

Was that the purpose of the whole mess with the first couple?  Was God just trying to keep us on hold with them so that we wouldn’t jump at those two abandonment situations?  Was he trying to make sure we would be ready and waiting when Ginny’s birth parents were ready to make their decision?

Maybe.  It is certainly one pattern that I can see. But was that God’s purpose?

I don’t know.

I may never know.

But here is the key to the whole thing

I don’t need to know.

It is enough for me to know that God is good.  I can trust that God did have a purpose in everything that lead us to Ginny.  NOT because I finally have my fairy tale, but because all things are in God’s control and he works all things together for HIS GLORY

HE interrupted my plans (multiple times, but who’s counting?) so that He could give me something far greater than anything that was on my pristine plan.

Yes Ginny is nearly eight now, but I still marvel at how beautifully God orchestrated events so that Ginny would be part of our family and we would be forever part of hers.

 

 

blessed beyond my wildest dreams

(this is a re-post with follow-up.  i’ve got stewardship on the brain, so this post was a natural to include in this series.)

A couple of years ago, just before Thanksgiving, Beth Moore ( of Living Proof Ministries) asked a very interesting question on her blog.  I answered it in a way that surprised me.  So when Brian asked me to write something for the stewardship campaign I felt a nudge to let you in on my answer.

Beth asked-

What are you grateful for that you NEVER thought you would

be grateful for?

Well.   That one got me thinking.  The usual stuff is easy – health, home, family, Jesus.  All the pat answers.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being grateful for those things.  But what, in my life, that would normally be viewed as a negative could I turn on it’s head and view as something to be grateful for?

If Beth had asked this question in years past, my answer would have been my infertility that led us to adopt Ginny.  Never in a thousand lifetimes would I trade.  Ginny has been a huge blessing.  I can never thank God enough.

But when Beth asked this question it was 2009…..Alright.  The thing I never thought I’d be thankful for in 2009  was that my husband lost his job in August.  August 4th as a matter of fact.  On my mother’s birthday.

I was so sour about it at first.  He was my Bible study partner on the way to and from work for 5 years.  We loved our commute together. So I was seriously bummed when that ended.  I said all the right things.  “God will take care of us.”  “It will be okay”  and I meant them.  But deep inside, even while I knew God would take care of us, I was resentful.  And to be honest, I kinda of imagined that God taking care of us would mean us scraping by on ramen noodles and finding ways to cut corners on everything.

I envisioned a life of constant restriction.  Nothing extra to enable us to help others. No joy.  Just getting by.

Apparently that is not what God had in mind.

Even just the first 4 months after the layoff was filled with blessings.  First, to hear my man say that he wanted to continue his tithe through the end of 2009 AS IF HE STILL HAD HIS JOB.  Wow. I don’t know how to be grateful enough to God for sending me Martin.  When I think of the background we both come from.  The sin, the darkness of our respective pasts……..and now to see Martin, how much he really does love God,  and know that he is the real spiritual head of our home.  That in itself is a blessing.

We grew in our relationship.  Our relationship had gotten lazy.  We depended on that commute to keep us connected.  We had to learn all over again to find (or MAKE) time for each other.

Martin got to spend lots of time with our baby girl, which was very good for them both. 

Four members of our family extended family were sick and needed lots of time and care in the Fall of 2009.  If Martin had still had a job they likely would have had to let him go because of all the family emergencies we went through.  We never had to face that though.

God sent a job opportunity to Martin that he never would have been able to take on if he had been tied to the old routines.  It changed our whole dynamic.

So spiritual growth, learning, new patterns, time with family……But what about money?  How did we get by?  did God provide?

*sigh*

Finances. 

The big bug-bear.  The nightmare of all who are “downsized” in this economy.   God had sent us a clear message that we were not to worry.    There were two (not one, but TWO) out of the blue, un-asked for, financial gifts to our family that, are you ready for this? enabled us to continue our tithe all the way to the end of 2010 as if Martin still had his old job !  When the checks came, the first thing on Martin’s heart and mind was the tithe.  Wow.  After all I have been through in my life and put others through, to finally be married to a real Christian MAN OF GOD is just blessing me right down to the tips of my boots. So there you go.  In 2009 I was thankful that my husband lost his job.

Well since we were so ultra faithful in 2009 and trusted God for his good provision, did we receive a huge blessing in 2010?  Absolutely!  I got laid off in October of 2010. 

No, I’m not being sarcastic.  We got a chance to trust God to provide again.  I’ll be honest, we did look at that money already set aside for the tithe for 2010….shook our heads and said “Nope.  That money already belongs to God.”

But it was sitting there, tempting us.  So we decided to go ahead and instead of writing a check out once a month, we just moved it all to the charity account.  That helped a lot.  With a combination of blind faith, deliberate actions and lots of heart to heart discussion my little family got through a couple of years that look rough on the ledger books.  But in my heart, these have been three very good years. 

We have become much more focused on relationships.  with God, each other, family and friends.  Life is not about presents, or activities anymore.  We’ve had a spiritual attitude adjustment. 

Now, if you ask me about my life, I will generally say “I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams.”

wanting the microphone

I’ve been wishing for a chance to speak publicly about some recent events in my life, and at the same time I’ve been ashamed of that desire.  Part of my southern upbringing is to suppress all hankering for publicity.  So every time I caught myself wanting to speak up about some recent blessings I would firmly squash the desire by telling myself that it was rude to brag.  But what I was failing to comprehend was that the publicity I wanted was not for myself.  I don’t want to brag on my own accomplishments. 

I earnestly yearn to brag on my God. 

The God who brought my family through the struggles of infertility. The God who abundantly blessed us during both my husband’s layoff and my recent job loss.  The God who has showered me in loving mercies during a time that most would see as a severe trial.  Sure, I do have a public forum.  I write a blog, but most of the folks in my church don’t read blogs and I find myself wanting  my congregation, my home church to hear about my God and the wonderful things He has done for me.

Even the psalmist had this same longing.  Look at Psalm 116:17 – 19

To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call upon the name of the LORD
I shall pay my vows to the LORD
Oh may it be in the presence of all His people
In the courts of the LORD’s house
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem
Praise the LORD!

So, in an effort to break out of my overly-southern, rigidly-polite heritage and offer public praise to my Lord, I now submit a sacrifice of praise in the form of a psalm.   I’m not a poet, so forgive me if this is a little rough.  It is from the heart and that is all I was trying to accomplish.

When I cast myself down and wept
Lain down on a bed of sorrow
You comforted my heart
Your peace, O LORD flooded my mind

When I wandered in darkness,
angry and filled with bitterness
You sent words of comfort
you gave a song to my throat
and fierce joy to my limbs

My God will fight my battles
You allowed earthly powers to triumph over me for a day
but granted me the grace to look
mine enemy in the face and
bless Your name

My oppressor has acknowledged
You O my God.
The power of Your hand has been visible
even unto him who has struck me down
You caused him to weep
in bitterness and to bless your name
You have allowed my oppressor to see
Your favor for me.
He has witnessed the outpouring of
Your blessings on my house and my lands

O LORD my God
May Your name be praised
May my speech and the labor of my hands
Be nothing more than a window to You
Protect me LORD from everything
except Your Glory.

May I never cease to sing Your Praise.

Try writing your own psalm to God during this Lent season and see what happens.

pump up the volume

Thoughts.  Thoughts scurry in my mind.

Like fifteen toddlers who all are trying to get out the door all at once.  What you really need is for them all to be quiet, and pay attention so you can instruct them to get in line and hold hands.

No one will get left out.  Just calm down.

When you are dealing with just one toddler at a time, you can afford to use a quiet voice.  It won’t work all the time, but some toddlers will quiet themselves down just to be able to catch the sound of a quiet, calm, authority.

But when you are dealing with a room full of noise, distractions and chaos……

Sometimes you just have to raise your voice. Just a smidge.

“Everyone needs to sit down. Now.  And Be Quiet.”

I think,  sometimes, God needs to shout at me.  To “Pump up the Volume” as it were.  Just a smidge.

Don’t know about you, but I get swarmed under by myriad fears, anxieties, worries, things I’m planning, posts to write, schedules to arrange….and when I was waiting for our adoption to come through it was even worse.  The thoughts that crowded my head all the time…oi!  Each thought was a mere whisper, but the cumulative effect was an overwhelming din.

Are we in God’s will? Will the paperwork ever go through?Will we ever be matched? Are we matched with the right birth family? Is this couple going to run off with our money? Am I sinful for worrying about the money? Is the baby healthy? Am I sinful for worrying about whether the baby is healthy? Am I ready to parent? Is anyone ever ready to parent? Will I be a good parent? Have I worked through my grief yet? Is adoption a moral option? Or am ripping a child away from her family forever? Is this baby going to be permanently emotionally damaged by just the mere fact of being adopted? Will I be able to explain the concepts of adoption to a child without giving him, or her, a complex?

At some point God had to shout to be heard above the babble of fears swarming around in my mind and heart.

“Everyone needs to sit down. Now. And Be Quiet.”

In other words,

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

When that verse is read out loud it is commonly read in a quiet, respectful, calm voice.  But I have this vision of God occasionally having to shout it at me in order to be heard over all the scurry and noise of my mind.  All those fears running in circles, and the things I spend my mental energies worrying at.  Each one, individually doesn’t make that much noise, but collectively? They can be deafening.

How did God “shout” at me?  I am convinced of this – He let our adoption proceedings get to a point where there was, quite literally

Nothing I Could Do.

Not one thing I did was going to make the process happen faster, or better, or proceed in a more understandable direction.  Once we got to the point where nothing I did would have any effect…..

It finally dawned on me that God was in charge.  He had been in charge all along of course, no matter how much I thought I was contributing.

Why am I writing this?  Well Missy asked me to share “what to say to a friend who is waiting for an adoption”

Hmmmm.

Okay.

First off, my reaction when she asked me to write this was something on the order of “are you kidding me?  I am hardly the poster child of someone enduring a long wait for an adoption!” (ours went from the very first phone call with the agency all the way to the delivery room in an INSANELY short 6 months) but then I stopped and thought about it and remembered all the sleepless nights, the heart-rending questions I had, the grief of being convinced that each moment that we waited was some kind of judgment for my past sins and I realized afresh a very simple truth….

When you are in the throes of waiting for something, every single moment feels like the middle of forever.

When you are waiting, you can’t see the end.

When you are waiting for a phone call, you have no way of knowing when it will come.

When you are waiting on the good offices of some clerk in some office somewhere in a county, city, or country far-far-away, or even one next door, there is nothing you can do to make them work faster or look on you with favor.  You just have to wait.

And when you are waiting, you become like a child eager for Christmas.  Or a dog waiting for his master to return home from work.  The only thing your brain registers is

Each

Tick

Of

The

Clock

Seems

Like

An

Eternity.

So what to say to a friend who is waiting for an adoption?  Well unless you can be right there next to your friend every moment, every second of her torment, to whisper to her that God is good and that He knows what he is doing, there is really no way that you personally can adequately comfort your friend.

Lots of people said lots of things to me.  Some of them were helpful.  Some, not so much.  But I have to be honest with you, nothing really sank in until I was forced by God to sit still and listen.  So my best advice is this –

If you have a friend who is waiting, (whether they are waiting for IVF results, or waiting for a clerk to forward their paperwork, or waiting for a match, or waiting for a baby to be born) Give them God.  Give them Scripture.  Encourage them to fill their every waking minute with the love and comfort of our Lord. Scripture songs on CD are especially good.  Any human advice you give them is just going to get lost in the noise of their fretting, scurrying, endlessly circling brains.  BUT scripture will echo in their hearts because it is by nature divine, and when they slow down enough to listen (or God brings them up short, like he did with me) they will finally hear, process and be blessed.

Which scriptures?

Well, that is between you and the Holy Spirit, but here are some ones that helped me

Jeremiah 33:3
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (this one was a great one to shout at God when my heart was crying one great big long WHY LORD, WHY?????!!!!!!!!)

Proverbs 16:9
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Genesis 18:14
Is anything too hard for the LORD?  (nothing is too difficult for God.  nothing. Simple and true)

Psalm 62: 1 & 2
My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 10:12
Arise LORD! Lift up your hand oh God. Do not forget the helpless.  (we prayed this for our as yet unknown child and her parents. Over and over and over)

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD. Plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Galatians 3:3
are you so foolish? After beginning with the spirit are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?  (this one stung me.  I am a do-er by nature. Nuff said)

I John 1:5
God is light, in him there is no darkness AT ALL  ( this one helped me immeasurably.  Yes, I know.  As a Christian this sounds like such a simple concept, but it really helped drive me to the point of acknowledging that God IS good.)

Any time you have a friend who is hurting ( and trust me, waiting for an adoption can be a long series of one hurt after another) you should pray, fervently for God to give you wisdom.  For the Holy Spirit to speak through you and provide comfort.  This is something that God has already promised to do for all of us, so you don’t have to worry about if this is in his will or not.  You already know that it is.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Isaiah 61:1&2
The spirit of the sovereign LORD is on me because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.  To proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God. To comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion.

My family has not yet come to the end of our adoption journey.  We adopted an infant girl from a wonderful family that we love and pray for daily.

But the journey doesn’t end there.  Every day we get up and continue the process of adoption.  As Ginny grows and understands more and more we will have new challenges.  Every day there are new obstacles to confront, and new events to wait for and the scriptures that calmed me during our adoption process still apply.

And so do my instructions from the God that whispers in my heart (and sometimes has to shout at me to get me to listen)…..

Be still, and know that I am God.

September 28, 2010

today I lost my job.

a job I had been in for just shy of 10 years.  I started there October 16th of 2000 and my final day of work will be October 1st of 2010.

I never wanted to leave.  My disposition is funny that way.  Advancement is not really my thing.  The desire to change jobs every 3 to  5 years just baffles me.  I want to stay put.

And in this job, I thought I had found it.  I loved the people.  I enjoyed the environment.  and the benefits were great.

but……

Then the economy happened.  and there was a reduction in force.  Again.  my husband Martin lost his job to a Reduction in Force last year in August.  And now mine got cut.  Nothing personal.  Just math.  Frankly the look in my boss’ eyes told me that he hates this as much as I do.

So…….

now what?

I’ll tell you what – for the first time in 10 years we are now open to God sending us anywhere.  We are no longer hampered by the luxury of my benefits.  We can see what other possibilities are out there.

skeptics will say “none!”

I say “let’s wait and see what God has in store.”

oh and I get to spend more time with my favorite Bible study partner and my wonderful baby girl.

get thee to a closet

tomorrow is National Day of Prayer.

I agree in concept with a day to concentrate on praying for our nation, and our leaders (Mr. Obama certainly needs God’s guiding hand on his heart)……

But….

In the midst of spreading the word and reminding people to pray we must be careful of something – the majority of our own prayers should be kept private.    I am by no means saying that there is no place for a prayer gathering.  Just that we need to be deep-down certain that we are utterly focused on God, not on the humans praying along with us.   Stick with me here.

Christ actually said to pray in secret.  I believe that this is not because he wants us to hide from men, but rather to keep us from falling to one of the easiest snares for a Christian – spiritual pride.  Pride in our own spiritual-ness.

Here are the relevant verses:

5“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9“This, then, is how you should pray:
” ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11
Give us today our daily bread.
12
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.[a]14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Fa
ther will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6:5-15

Has someone ever surprised you by asking you to pray in public? what immediately went through your head?  did you start worrying about how you were going to sound? will I get too emotional? Will I sound too detached?  Will my sentences  even make sense? (maybe it’s just me that feels like this?)

Worse yet, have you ever known ahead of time that you were going to have to lead a group in prayer? Did you find yourself composing a suitable prayer? (tell me I’m not the only one…)

God wants my whole attention on HIM when I pray.  He is the only audience that counts. But Christ knows that I am all too human. He knows that I can’t help but worry when I pray out loud with someone else in the room (or many someones), so he suggested a way out.  Ironically -to go into a closet.

Do you have a private place that you pray?  I don’t, but I need to.  I usually pray in the car.  Private, sort of, but certainly not conducive to concentrating on HIM !

When I was a kid I recall that my dad always prayed in the bathroom.  Possibly because it was the only room in the house with a lock on the door….

But I love the idea of a prayer closet.  Amy March had one in Little Women. Do you remember?

“Esther fitted up the closet with a little table, placed a footstool before it, and over it a picture taken from one of the shut-up rooms. She thought it was of no great value, but, being appropriate, she borrowed it, well knowing that Madame would never know it, nor care if she did. It was, however, a very valuable copy of one of the famous pictures of the world, and Amy’s beauty-loving eyes were never tired of looking up at the sweet face of the Divine Mother, while her tender thoughts of her own were busy at her heart. On the table she laid her little testament and hymnbook, kept a vase always full of the best flowers Laurie brought her, and came every day to `sit alone’ thinking good thoughts, and praying the dear God to preserve her sister. Esther had given her a rosary of black beads with a silver cross, but Amy hung it up and did not use it, feeling doubtful as to its fitness for Protestant prayers. The little girl was very sincere in all this, for being left alone outside the safe home nest, she felt the need of some kind hand to hold by so sorely that she instinctively turned to the strong and tender Friend, whose fatherly love most closely surrounds His little children. She missed her mother’s help to understand and rule herself, but having been taught where to look, she did her best to find the way and walk in it confidently.”

Having a closet, or a space designated as a prayer space in the home would be such a comfort and a great place to have a daily devotional.  It might even be a great way to involve a child in private devotions from an early age.

Has anyone else done this? what did you use? a closet? a comfy chair in the corner of a room? was it for anyone in your home? or just one person?  I’d love to hear your ideas/feedback.