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So much of life is waiting. . .

As a Christian, I am waiting for a lot--for God to do His refining work in me, for Jesus to return, for me to GET how much God loves me and for me to see what He is doing . . .

What to do in the meantime? I have learned much about what the Lord is trying to teach me, tell me and show me through the discipline of daily time spent reading the Bible. So often we make this time harder than it has to be.

This blog was born out of wanting to share what God is showing me and wanting to be an example that daily time with God is not a deep or mysterious thing (well, every once in a while it can be), but simply a time to read scripture and note what jumps out at you that day. We don't have to be scholars or super-holy or ministry leaders to do this. Some days I hit the jackpot and others I come up empty--but only by persevering do I give God the space in which to speak and myself the stillness in which to hear and obey.

As of June of 2017, I've now decided to include parts of our adoption journey, which is, so far, yet another chapter of waiting.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Some Days Are Like That. . .

Today was a hard day. It’s been a year since our domestic adoption home study was approved by our agency and Paul and I officially became a “waiting family.” During that year we had an expectant mom choose us to parent her child. However, due to several circumstances, she ultimately changed her mind and decided to parent. We’d had a name, a crib, an outfit, and a vision of ourselves as a family of three. Since then, it’s been eight months of nothing. The reality is that there aren’t a lot of infants out there in the private adoption world. The reality is that we are too old for almost all international adoption, and the countries we’re not too old for we don’t qualify in other areas. We’re planning on taking the classes to become foster parents to see if that route might work better. We’re trying to trust the Lord and pay attention to where He might be leading.

Those are the facts. But today I’m also dealing with the feelings. The pain of wanting to be a mom for as long as I can remember, and imagining myself with a husband and four kids, staying home as Mom while Dad went out to work. But the husband didn’t come until the biological window was already essentially closed. So, instead of what it seems most people do—some canoodling with the hubby and voila, a baby—we instead got to do fingerprinting and fire inspections and social work interviews and friend referrals. CPR classes and book studies and drug tests.  Application fees and class fees and agency fees. And we did it, praying and hoping for the child who would make it all worth it.

After this year of waiting, we went for a meeting today to talk with our social worker about how we are doing and what else we could do. I like our agency. They’ve been great. But no one seems to know what to do when I respond with my honest feelings rather than the correct Christian answer.

“You do a blog? Write a blog about your adoption wait,” they say.  Yeah, right. Because people want to hear how powerless I am and how impatient I feel and how frustrating it is to be able to do nothing to make this happen. People prefer happy endings. Those chosen to share their stories always have the husband, or the baby, or the cure, or the victory. “Read this book about this woman and her wait.” “Does she have the baby now?” “Yes.” “That’s what I just said:  NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT THE MESS IN THE MIDDLE UNLESS THERE’S A HAPPY ENDING COMING.”

We are in the middle of the mess in the middle of the story. We may not get the happy ending that we desire. It’s harder than I imagined to put my heart and hope out there for everyone to see. It can be difficult to stay positive or even realistic.  Today was a mix of so many emotions. I’m tired of waiting. I'm angry this isn't easier. There’s not much I can do, but I want to do what I can. Yet when I get suggestions: Write a blog, join Instagram, try Pinterest, call other agencies, make a copy of your book and put it at OB-GYN offices, ask friends to share your profile. . . then I shut down because what if I can’t do all of that? If I can’t or we don’t do it right, do we miss our chance at a child? And, deeper, why does this have to be so hard for us when it is so easy for so many other people?

As many of you who follow this blog know, I have had my struggles with feeling distant from the Lord over the last few years. It’s improved, but I would still like my relationship with Him to be closer. In the middle of this journey it can be hard to see God at work. As I spent the afternoon avoiding the acts of praying and processing the morning, I had an errand to run. I couldn’t find the audiobook I wanted, so I was listening to a message from my old church in St. Louis. When that message finished, another one automatically loaded from Tim Keller, well-known pastor and Christian author, called "An Immigrant's Courage", about Ruth and Naomi and Boaz. It’s a great message and I could talk about several ideas in it, but what struck my heart was when Keller spoke about how the Lord did not abandon Naomi. He provided Ruth for her, and, through Ruth, a future and a hope and an heir.

Naomi thought that she had lost everything. Her husband and sons were dead and she was too old to work or to marry. She went back home telling everyone to call her “Mara” because it meant “bitter”. However, God had a plan for her. The book of Ruth is only four chapters long and will tell you the whole wonderful story.  God ultimately provided a husband for Ruth, and, through Jewish custom, an heir to Naomi’s son. The Lord did not abandon Naomi, and He has not and will not abandon me. That doesn’t mean that I will get a child. It does mean that the Lord is with me and communicating during the wait. Today God used the message I heard and the truth of the book of Ruth to remind me that, though things may not work out according to my plan, He will not leave me alone.

So, I will call more agencies, take the foster care classes, continue to figure out Instagram, keep praying that God will bring us a child, and wait for the end of the story.

P.S.
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Sunday, February 26, 2017

What Martha Got Right

Mary versus Martha. If you have spent any time at all in church, you have probably heard a message about Mary and Martha. If you are a woman who goes to church, you have probably listened to at least one teaching contrasting Mary with Martha, with Mary being the role model. The account of these sisters and one of their encounters with Jesus is found in Luke 10:38-42:
 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."
Usually the lesson revolves around how to be more like Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus--which is a useful, excellent, and necessary teaching. Usually, Martha is portrayed as the bad guy of the piece. Usually, I feel sad because in my soul, I am a Martha. I am often "anxious and troubled about many things." If I have visitors, I want to serve enough food, I want to display a clean home, I want to care for friends' needs. I can justify all my bustling under the umbrella of service.

A few months ago, however, God showed me something new about this passage. Yes, Martha is worrying and fretting and ignoring the better choice, which is to sit at the feet of Jesus. She is annoyed with her sister for not helping her to serve Jesus (and probably at least some of the other disciples). She feels put-upon and justified in her grievance. I have felt much the same way before--why are people standing around talking when there is work to be done? And I have fretted. And stewed. And gotten mad at the people who aren't doing their part.

Martha, however, goes directly to Jesus. She doesn't hint around to Mary or walk around sighing loudly as she cleans. She doesn't talk to all of the other guests about how Mary isn't helping, "Bless her heart." She doesn't holler at Mary later. She goes to Jesus, tells Him what she is feeling, and asks Him to do something. Her actions are exactly what we should do when we are upset. Go to the Lord, tell Him how we are feeling, and then request what we want (whether we're right or not).

Notice that Martha received an answer from Jesus. He directly addresses her desire--probably not as she wishes Him to, but He answers her nonetheless, and immediately. Jesus gives Martha the wisdom and the directive that she truly needs to "choose the good portion."

I wish that I would instantly choose the right action like Mary did in this instance (because, if you keep reading, there's another encounter  described in John 11 in which Mary is not necessarily "the good one".) Unfortunately, I am much more likely to be distracted by my agenda and miss God's. When I do and when I start to get frustrated with someone else who is not doing what I think they should be, I hope that I will be wise as Martha and take my grievance directly to Jesus and hear what He tells me to do. Martha may not have sat at the feet of Jesus that night, but she did walk in relationship with Him, and I can imagine where she would have been found the next time Jesus came for dinner.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Change at Last

So, so long since I have felt like I had any thoughts or insights worth sharing.  Months upon months I have spent feeling distant from the Lord and trudging through the disciplines of reading, praying, and worshiping. I had almost become resigned to the idea that I would never feel connected to God again. Emotions aside, the truth is that I am in reality always connected to the Lord and loved by Him. However, I missed the feeling of communion and the amazement of hearing from Him.

A consistent frustration of my Christian life has been navigating the tension between what I do and what God does. In this dry spell, I have battled anger at the Lord at why He didn’t just do His miraculous work and fix whatever was between me and Him. I have been annoyed at people telling me all the things I should do to bridge this gap. I have been frustrated at my own inability to figure out what the problem was and make it go away.

A few weeks ago, through no act of my own and no fireworks, the Lord changed something in my heart. My husband and I had had an emotional talk about some hard things, and I was also battling a fog of perimenopausal PMS hormones. As a result, I didn’t sleep well. But, when I awakened, I prayed, and God opened my eyes to see how selfish I had been lately and how I had forgotten the whole focus of following Jesus. He used my husband’s words to remind me of what I’m supposed to be doing:  Believing that God is at work where we are. Having faith that He will lead and guide us. Loving others without expecting love in return. Believing the best about people. Forgiving. Walking in love and faith.

The Lord also brought to mind something He had showed me when I was a part of Beth Moore’s “Believing God” Bible study. I have always struggled with understanding what it means to have faith. During that study, I had the epiphany that faith is “simply” believing that the Lord is at work right now, in everything that is happening in my life, and that He is working it out for good, and I can trust that He is here and active.

God did this change. In the middle of the night.  As I was awakened. When I wasn’t even trying. I did nothing other than wake up and listen.

I am reading through the Bible this year, and recently began the book of Exodus. The Israelites are enslaved to the Egyptians, they cry out to the Lord, and God hears them:
  “. . . and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” (Exodus 2: 23-25)

Yay-God hears them, God sends Moses, the people will escape and be free. Not so fast. God heard them. Then He has to convince Moses to go. Moses comes and tells the people that God had heard them and will deliver them.  Then the pharaoh makes their jobs even harder and their lives more miserable. The people have been told that God is going to deliver them, but it is not immediate. They endure ten plagues. They flee through the desert and are almost overtaken by Egyptians. Finally, they are free from Egypt, but it is still years before Israel as a nation inhabits the Promised Land.

I am already free from sin because of salvation. However, on this earth, the day-to-day deliverance is often not instantaneous. Sanctification is a process. I can grit my teeth and pursue God even when I don’t feel Him and don’t hear Him, and I think there is some value to that. Ultimately, however, it is God who changes hearts and who, at just the right time (usually way later than I think it should be) breaks through to us and shows us what we need to know and more of who He is.

I am thankful to feel connected again. I am thrilled to read the Bible and have verses leap off of the page as relevant to me and my life. The grace of God is the only catalyst and cause of this revival.  Do I yet know why there was such a season of drought? Not yet. I am purposing to believe that there was a reason—maybe simply my own sin and inability to see it. I am grateful that, as 1 John 3:19-20 says: 
“By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”

I am thankful that the God whom it all depends on is much, much bigger than my human heart.