Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Words of Eternal Life

John 6:60-68

Have you ever agreed to an idea because it sounded wonderful, but you get into day 3 of traveling from Alabama to California to see Yosemite Park, packed into an RV like a clown car with 15 family members and realize you might have been taking too much cough syrup the day you agreed to this “adventure”?  But then after you fold yourself out of the fun mobile and see the absolute beauty of God’s creation and you stand hand in hand with the people you love the most in the world and realize you made it through this together.  The memories of laughter in the RV come flooding back, of cards games, dirty diapers, spilled sippy cups, long stories and camp fire songs hit your throat and make the tears stream down your face because the moment is so beautiful…….that is what this adoption is like.  Clown-car and all (because when you go through this, so does your family and friends….can I get an AMEN?)

After waiting 4 weeks for what should have been a quick (ha ha I laugh at this word now) Embassy Appointment, we finally have the Birth Parent Interview completed.  This was a challenge to get Moses’ birth father and the Embassy Consulate in the same room, but the Lord is good with the word challenge!  It’s His thing. 

In regards to my last post, I should clarify.  I was not saying that I don’t believe in God or that I don’t aspire to have faith like Abraham.  In fact I was actually saying the exact opposite.  This process of pruning and refining that the Lord has allowed me to walk in has showed me how deeply flawed I am and I how amazingly merciful the Lord is.  On Sunday we visited Jeremy’s parents church in Silver Hill, Alabama.  Their pastor preached from John 6.  This is where Jesus feeds the 5000.  Then after their bellies are full with bread and they are happy and content He starts to give them truth to feed their souls.  He tells them that they have just eaten bread but that He (Jesus) has come to feed them His flesh.  Yes, I would have loved to been in that crowd to watch the faces.  “And the bread that I will give for the life of this world is my flesh” John 6:51. 
“Truly I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” John 6:53. 
I am sure the disciples where standing beside Jesus proud of the who loaves and fishes feat and then Jesus starts in on the crazy and they are probably started looking for the nearest exits.  They are standing in support of Jesus, working for him, spreading the truth about him to their neighbors, and wearing his campaign buttons…..and then…..Jesus becomes a cannibal (ok, so I have a flare for the dramatic). 

So this is the part we all know very well if you really think about it.  This is the part in the story that we have heard from our mouths and the mouths of our friends and loved ones so many times.  The part where we realize that God is not just our “Spiritual Sugar Daddy”, giving us what we want all of the time, granting the wishes we make on stars and making sure our bellies are full, but that He actually is going to require something from us as well.   The part where the disciples turn to eachother and say, “This is too hard…who can bear this?  Who can listen to this??” (John 6:60), and they start to grumble. 

Jesus calls them out on the carpet, “Do you take offense to this?  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” 6:61.    Are you offended that I have not come simply to make your desires come true, to feed you until your tummy burst, to give you everything you wanted in your American Dream, to make and adoption timeline?  Are you offended that it is so much bigger than you, so much broader and so much more deeper than your own personal quest to happiness? 

Then they walk away.  Not the people that didn’t ever believe in him, read verse 66 well.  His disciples walk away.  “They turned back and no longer walked with him”.  The weight of these words are crushing.  These words are death.  To turn back because the call was too much, it cost too much, asked too much, sacrificed too much.  To walk with Him no longer because it didn’t go the way we…. (I) thought it should go.   There have been moments in the depths of this adoption where I wanted to ball up my fist at the Lord and tell Him of the injustice, the failed promises, and the hurt he was causing me.  But those words, “to turn back and no longer walk with him” are death.  And they are never an option.  So I had a choice to go deeper, to allow Him to prune me with the hard or to just stay stagnate and stunted in my relationship with Him. 

Jesus asks the twelve left standing in front of him, “Do you want to go away as well?”.  The hurt, the disappointment, the cutting truth of this question penetrates my heart again and again.  And I find myself on the floor in front of the King, wanted to wash his feet with my hair. 

My answer is right there in the printed words of my bible, “Lord to whom shall I go?  You have the words of eternal life”.  These are the words that beat in my blood, that make the foundation of this world, that call me into his presence and break me again.  Where would I go precious Father?  Where could I run, How could I breathe without you?  You are my life.  You have the words of eternal life.  I am your bondservant forever and ever Amen. 

“Simon Peter answered him, Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”.  John 6:68

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I am not Abraham...that's for sure.

 Oh course there are the obvious reasons, like I don’t have a camel, I am not in the desert, and Im a girl……you can come up with your own.  But I have realized I couldn’t even play him at a costume ball.  In Romans, Paul recaps the story of Abraham.  Not that he came from Ur or that he married Sara, or that he lied to a king in Egypt (all the soap opera parts), he leaves those out and focuses on the meat.  How very Paul of Paul.  (can I say that?)   The word says that Abraham believed with “hope against hope” that he would become the father of many nations.  He believed what the Lord promised despite every single circumstance in his life that screamed out, “Liar Liar pants on Fire”.  How?   Hope.  Hope is powerful.  Hope burns deep in your belly and redefines the here and now, it is the true liquid courage that pulses through your veins when the Spirit of the Lord makes a covenant with you.  Hope against Hope makes you a Believer. 

Abraham …..HOPED, and did not weaken in faith.  I read this verse (Romans 4:19) today and had a break through moment.  I. Am. Not. Abraham.  Wow.  That is an Oprah, “AHHH_HAA” moment for you on a bran-spaken new white couch with millions of your best friends watching as they eat cookie dough batter (you know you have done this too…don’t judge).    I had to sit back and let this sink all the way down.  Down to the part that I have padded with great bible studies, scripture, words of truth and belief systems.  The part that I don’t ever truly admit to because to be honest, I didn’t even know it was really there.  That is the part that the Lord is interested in now.  The hidden part of me that stores the stuff that makes you sink when you are walking on water, or lie when your wife is too pretty, or strike a rock out of anger, or hear the crow of the rooster for the third time.  Doubt.  Its Doubt. 
You have to understand that I am in the middle of the end of this adoption.  The thing that the Lord called me to walk in, the promise of a child, just like Abraham.  Abraham waited for years, I have waited for months.  Abraham hoped against hope, and I…..I????

You see the verse says that Abraham did not weaken in faith when he looked at his body( that’s a big one….Ive had two kids….you get the picture), which was, “as good as dead”, or that Sarah his wife could not have children, that he did not waver in God because of doubt, because of distrust, but that he GREW in his faith because of these things.  Grew!  He GREW not because of what did happen, but because it didnt happen immediately.   This is so opposite of my thinking that I can hardly wrap my brain around it. 
I grow when the Lord DOES something!  When he shows me his glory, when he does great things for my life, when he makes the doors fly wide open and when he answers my calls.  That is when I want to grow!  I grow through movement, through change (Im a military wife after all)……not through stillness!!??   And then comes verse 22, “That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness”.  And then it comes.  That moment where this realization flows over me, when the why’s and the how’s and the do’s fall away and I see it.  I see Him in this.  Abraham grew in the stillness that led to growth and took years to birth life.  He grew when everything in this world said NO but he believed anyway.  He believed and so will I.  I am not Abraham.  But I am growing in this stillness.  Our adoption seems to be stalled out, everything that can go wrong is going wrong.  I have no great story of how the Lord has overcome the circumstances, or busted in the door to shoot first and ask questions later.  That is not what has happened here.  Things have gone wrong, and are still not going right.  But Abraham had years of this, years of circumstances that tested him to question God.  But in spite of that, He Believed and HOPED!   I want to grow when things don’t happen, I want to grow in this hurt, I want to grow by crying in the shower at the throne of the Lord and by holding on to His promise that I will have a child named Moses.   “But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also.  It will be counted to us who believe in Him”.  Oh how true is this truth.  Amen and more Amen.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Waiting Well

Recently, when people ask about the adoption update I answer with a canned statement, “just waiting to pass court in the Congo”, but that is not really a full answer or even a good answer.  I am not “just waiting”.  I am learning lessons from the Lord while I learn to wait well in Him. 

I realized at the beginning of this adoption that the waiting, the still part that would seem like stagnant water, would be the most important part of this adoption process.  The Lord showed me early on that this “waiting” period would be the period of formation, stretching and growth.  Having been through two pregnancies I remember the feeling of wanting to jump to the end, to just “have the baby already”.  9 months seems long when you are waiting on that baby, especially month 9.  But, it is in those months that formation, stretching and growth occur, that life is formed and birthed within your womb.  It is the same process now, it just looks a little bit different.  I may not be carrying this baby in my womb, but I know this waiting is bringing forth life from the womb of my spirit. 
The Lord asked me to learn how to wait.  How to sit in silence and find Him there.  He told me to relish in this long waiting, this time that stretches without knowledge of it’s ending.  This waiting is just as important as the getting.  In this wait I find the gift.  The gift of growth that comes with living life with the Lord instead of against Him. 

The gift is endless in lessons of Trust, Patience, Stillness, Resting, Praying, Counting it all Joy, Confessing and Silence.  To enter into this waiting period with the Lord is to understand that every part of this life is good.  I do not need to expect the fruit from the tree the moment I plant the seed in the ground.  I will take joy in the growth process, to see life sprout from the seed and the beauty that is in the seasons before it yields true fruit.  To appreciate the time I have been given and to see it’s beauty.  To not rush and push at the doors of heaven, but to rest in this plan.  The gift or fruit of waiting is to live this life with the Lord, not against Him, and for that I am truly thankful to wait. 

"Whoever keeps a fig-tree will have its fruit; and the servant waiting on his master will be honored." Proverbs 27:18

Sunday, February 19, 2012

And the people did not answer him a word.

1 Kings 18:7

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him, but if Baal then follow him”.  And the people did not answer him a word.

At the end of the day, it is this simple choice that defines your life.  Either the Lord is God, or something else in your life is going to be.  We are made for this choice.  We are made for this decision.  We spend so much time philosophing, mystifying, ignoring, or weighing this decision.   For most of us, we rarely ever think we answer it.  We stand just like the people of Baal, at the alter waiting to see the next piece of evidence that will be brought into the courtroom in order to make an “educated, calculated” decision.  The shocking thing to most of us is the realization that we are not the Lord’s jury.  We have not been created to sit as his jury, waiting to decide His sentence of “True God” or “Not the True God”.  Our decision changes nothing in God, but changes everything in us.  God is not dependent upon our decision, our beliefs, our judgment, but we on the contrary are completely dependent upon His.   
            I recently read, Crazy Love, by Francis Chan.  Chan pointed out that I am not the main character of this life that I live.  In the beginning of time when the world was being created, my name was never mentioned.  When the floodwater spread over the earth and then receded, my name was not in ink.  When WWI and WWII were brutally played out across the world, my name did not exist.  At the end of time when the battle is over, I will not be sitting on any thrones.  I am not the main character in this story.  I am an extra.  As Chan points out, I could choose to rent out an entire theater and invite all of my friends to come watch my 10 seconds of fame on the big screen (and they would think I was crazy), but not even my mom would really care for long.  Our lives are split seconds in the big movie.  But in our American culture, which teaches us that ME is the most important, this concept is not only hard but seems almost ridiculous.  Isn’t this life about my happiness, my feelings, my wants, dreams, and goals?  I have one life to live, and it’s all about ME.  Right? Wrong.
            This life is simply about your choice.  If the Lord is God, follow him, but if Baal then follow him. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why? Why we decided to adopt.

Why?  Why have you choosen to adopt?

This is a common question we run into these days.  It was even a question on the multiple pages of paperwork we filled out at the beginning of the adoption.  It’s a question I found hard to answer at first.  How do I write this out with words.  How do I take this calling that pulls me forward, guides my steps and weighs me down all at the same time?  So, I wrote something that sounded good and was really close to the big picture for our paperwork, but it wasn’t the complete reason.  Now that I am writing this, I realize that I may never be able to put into words the complete reason.  But I am going to try, because a lot of people have been asking.

When I read James 1:27 in High School I read it literally and I still do.  We are called to take care of the orphans, the widows and live a life unstained by this world.  This is pure religion.  This is what it is really about.  This is what we ALL have been called to do, it just looks different in each persons journey.  I knew that meant adoption for me. 

So when the time finally came for us to sign on the dotted line, to commit to this calling, to go all in, to send a lot of money, to walk in obedience, I had one thing that played in my mind like watching a movie.  A memory of sitting in the car with my little sister, Stephanie.  We were talking about fulfilling our calling, knowing the ways of the Lord and all of that good stuff.  We had come to the end of the conversation and Stephanie slowly told me, “I just cant stand before the Lord and think that I could have saved one more…..and I didn’t because I wanted “stuff”.  She was referring to a scene in Schindler’s List, the movie produced by Steven Speilburg about the Holocaust and one man willing to help the jews.  The scene is at the end of the movie.  Schindler is standing in the warehouse, about to run from the American soldiers, and starring at the faces of the men and women that he saved during the war, talking to Stern, his jewish assistant.

Oskar Schindler: I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don't know. If I'd just... I could have got more.
Itzhak Stern: Oskar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you. Look at them.
Oskar Schindler: If I'd made more money... I threw away so much money. You have no idea. If I'd just...
Itzhak Stern: There will be generations because of what you did.
Oskar Schindler: I didn't do enough!
Itzhak Stern: You did so much.
[Schindler looks at his car]
Oskar Schindler: This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people.
[removing Nazi pin from lapel]
Oskar Schindler: This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this.
Oskar Schindler: I could have gotten one more person... and I didn't! And I... I didn't!

My little sister quoted this scene to me in the car that day and it has been forever in my heart.  I cannot stand before Him at the end of this life and tell Him I wish I had more money, more cars, more stuff.   I don’t want to stare into His greatness and realize how much more……how much more I could have done with what I was given.  I know that this will happen, but I can do all that I can to be obedient to Him now. 

That is the answer.  This scene is my answer.  I have been given so much, so much love, so much family, so much truth and I cannot stand in front of Him and tell Him that it was not enough to share, not enough to go through the hard of adopting a child, not enough to love a child that is not from my womb, not enough money to pay for this adoption, not enough trust to walk in this.  I will not do that to my Lord.  He has called us to walk in this, and that is enough.  All of the other questions and concerns that well-meaning, loving people have for us do not even come close to quenching this desire.  Because its not mine, its His and that is simply…enough. 

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Walking in Obedience

On October 1st 2010, after months of discussion and prayers spoken over the word, we said Yes to the Lord.  Yes, to His calling for us to add to our family through adoption.  Yes, to opening our hearts, our minds, our homes, our arms and our finances to His will for our lives.  We said, “Yes, Lord….but how can we afford this?” The Lord answered, “I will provide, if you walk in obedience”.  Walk in obedience.  Big shoes to fill.
         For Christmas we flew home with help from my amazingly giving parents who fronted the cost of our plane tickets!!  (yeah, they rock)  While at home, the Lord opened his hand to our family.  My mom handed me an envelope she had found, containing savings bonds that my sweet grandmother bought me when I was born. 
My grandmother has Alzheimer;s disease.  She does not know me, my children, my mother, or herself anymore.  She does not eat well, or walk without assistance, she does not brush her own hair or talk in sentences, but she still gives.  A gift she gave me when I was born will help us bring home a life to our family.   When I took that envelope to the bank, I cried.  I cried when the lady with the computer told me that those yellow pieces of paper were worth 6000.00.  I cried and screeched, “That is for my baby”.  She looked at me and said, “Um…your buying a baby” (she was reaching for the phone to call 911….Im pretty sure).  After I explained that we were adopting while walking in obedience, and this money was how the Lord was providing for His calling, she almost cried too.  My grandmother was an obedient part of His plan for this adoption 29 years ago.   29 years ago the Lord planned for this adoption.  29 years ago he started something in motion.
Before I left the states, I went back to see her once more. She was having a good day.  She was singing pieces of songs from long ago, pieces of memories that don’t fit together anymore.  She smiles when I tell her Im her grand-daughter and touches my face.  She likes me to put my cheek against hers and I always stare at her hands…..the hands that still look the same, that make me know her.  So before I leave her, I whisper this into her ear….. 
Even though you don’t know me right now, I will always know you.  You are still touching my life, my children’s lives, and the life of a little baby all the way across the world in the DRC.  Your gift is giving life.  Thank you for loving me the way you did, thank you for being obedient to the Lord, even though you didn’t know how big His plan would be!   I will hold this child on the porch swing that looks out over the pond and sing your songs, just like you did for me.  I will tell this child about your love, and about your part in bringing him home.  Thank you Grandmom.  Thank you for giving to me and to mine.

And when I pulled back and looked in her eyes, she seemed to smile at me.  Maybe, somewhere, she knows.  Maybe this is why God gives her more time, so that I can thank her for her gifts face to face.  Thank you Lord for her life.  Thank you for your timing.