Saturday, July 31, 2010
As my family shopped last evening for a few camping items and other items for our house, I came across a trifle bowl. I've been wanting one for months and never picked one up. When I found it, I showed my husband, and he said, "Sure, go ahead and buy it, if you think you need it." Do I need it? Hmmm. I suppose not. But, can't I just want something? Just this once. (Slight exaggeration-I want things All the time ie. coffee, new floor, naps, and the list goes on and on). So as we drove home, I became quiet, and I suppose a bit angry. I knew in my head it was ridiculous to be angry over a trifle bowl. The funny thing was, I didn't know who I was angry with: my husband for asking the question, myself for wanting it, or God for not allowing me to have it. I knew there was a bigger issue at hand than the trifle bowl, but I didn't know what it was. I'm not sure that I know all the implications today, but I learned something through this seemingly ridiculous experience.
How many times in my life do I choose the trifle bowl over what really matters, for now, we'll call what really matters, "the pan of brownies"? What would the purpose be behind the trifle bowl? It would look pretty. I could prepare beautiful desserts. My friends and family would be impressed. And there you have it. Two sinful deceptions I deal with in my life: pleasure and position. What would the benefits be of a simple pan of brownies? They're quick, leaving me more time with my family. They're nonimpressive, leaving no room for anyone to think about me while they're eating them. They're still delicious, allowing us to give thanks for simple pleasures.
As I thought of the parallel of the "Great Dessert Display Dilemma", I thought of my life, and how God often asks me to choose the simple pan of brownies-the important things in life, the eternal things, and every ounce of my being screams for the trifle bowl-the unimportant, the temporary.
I want to go to a quiet beach somewhere in the Outer Banks. God tells me that a quiet retreat to the mountains close to home is best. I want a few new shirts. God tells me that several shirts I own is best. I want to live in a quiet place in the country with a little land, and God says that our home in the middle of town is best. I want to see my kids graduate from high school and spend the last part of my life here on earth, quietly with my husband, sitting on the porch swing hand-in-hand, but God says there may be other things in store that might disrupt our "quiet simple life" in later years.
No, God's best and my desires do not always match. But, I do trust that His ways are the best ways. It is a constant laying down of my life, including my wants and my desires on a daily basis.
Do I really need more evidence than this?
Thank you, Lord, for showing me what is best, even when I pout like a baby. Thank you Lord, for loving me enough to discipline me. Show me how to do the same with my children, Lord. Thank you for everything. Every single thing you give and every single thing you don't. I love you, Lord.
And because God always says it best,
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ~Matthew 6:19-33
Friday, July 30, 2010
Has God ever called you to something repeatedly and you pray and pray and then pray some more, just to be sure He's really calling you to it? And then, when He tells you, "Yes, child, I'm calling you to this" you go and pray some more. The pattern repeats itself until one day you realize you might be stepping into the land of disobedience.
In Numbers 13, the Israelites were in the desert and the Lord told Moses to send men to explore Canaan, which the Lord told Moses He was giving to the Israelites. So Moses sent out the leader of each of the tribes, 12 in all. He sent Reuben, Simeon, Caleb, Igal, Hoshea (Joshua), Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, and Geuel. Moses sent them out and told them to explore the land and the people-to get to know both and to bring back some fruit. So, for 40 days, the 12 went up, explored, gathered fruit, and returned. When they returned, they gave the report-it does have fruit, but there are giants present. One man, Caleb, spoke up and told them they should still go up and take possession because they could do it. Lest you think Caleb was relying on his own strength to do this, we find that his heart was set whole-heartedly on following God (Numbers 14:24) But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't..."
How many times in my life, have I listened to the majority, rather than following what God tells me? How many times has God shown me He is leading me to a new Canaan, only for me to see the giants and turn back?
I know God calls us to pray without ceasing. I know Jesus prayed alone to His Father. I know praying is communicating with God. But I believe it's always about our heart, where our heart is on an issue. For example, when we were praying about adoption, God had made it clear to us that it what we were to do. What if we were still praying today, just to be sure, it's really what he would have us do?
Sometimes my praying is not because I want to know what God would say, it's because I don't trust Him. I think I often trust my husband or my friends more quickly than I trust what God is saying to me. There is a particular thing I believe the Lord has called me to. I have reacted similarly to the people who heard the report from the 12 leaders who explored the land. They listened to the majority, rather than trusting God. I have practically declared that I can't do the thing. Like them, I've wept over it. Like them, I grumbled. Like them, I said I just knew I would "die" doing this thing-out of embarrassment-yes, my positiion still is important to me, apparently...ergghhh.
Today I ask myself, Do I really want the Lord to ask me, as He asked them, "How long will you treat me with contempt? How long will you refuse to believe in me, despite all the miraculous signs I have performed among you?
Do you know what happened to the people who didn't trust, who had contempt for God? God promised that they would never see the land he promised to their forefathers. Never.
To me, the thing the Lord is calling me to, has seemed optional in the past. There are so many other people who do it, and I assume can do it with more skill than me. But when I look back on adoption, or quitting my job, or selling our house...anything the Lord has called us to worth eternal treasure, each one initially seemed optional.
Is God's Will, His best for me, really optional?
Oh God, make me a Joshua or a Caleb or a Mary. Make me someone who obeys you without question. Lord, grant me discipline. Grant me wisdom and listening ears, especially from my husband and ultimately from you. Help each of us Lord, to trust you in the new "land" you are calling each of us to today. May we not listen to the majority or grumble and practically declare ourselves as good as dead, as the Isrealites did. Lord, I pray that all honor and glory are yours alone.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. ~John 15:5
It is in this quiet place, that the Lord calls to me and reminds me of who He has created me to be. As the early morning surrounds me, quietness remains, and the Lord beckons me to come. During this time, I sit. I listen. I wonder. I gaze. Tears flow out of grace. It's been some time that I've had quiet, uninterrupted time with Him, but once again by His grace, I long to touch the face of Jesus. To walk side by side, questioning, laughing, just being. He dwells in my inmost being. He surrounds me with who He is. Keep me abiding, Lord.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
What if God had thought I was too risky, I had been through too much, I might not attach to Him, that I might cost too much?
The cost of adoption, financially, is typically thousands of dollars. Is it worth it?
The cost of adoption, the surrender of your will, well, it's difficult. Is it worth it?
The cost of your adoption as a child of God was the death of God's son. Was it worth it?
Adoption. Yes, for eternity, it's worth it.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
A brief description of him states that he is smart, friendly, polite, respectful, and protective of younger children. He enjoys watching movies, playing board games, and performing magic tricks. Feeling safe is important to him.
Proverbs 31:8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
"....If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?"
Could my "everything" mean: the ideas I have of how many children I will "choose" to have, the way my house appears, my reputation, friendships, flying in an airplane again, having "me" time, having just the right amount of time with my husband, playing guitar
These are things I'm currently learning that are a part of the everything Jesus is talking about in my life. Just until a few days ago, I was certain that we were done having children. It is not easy having two babies the age of one. Duh?! Not that I thought it would be-it's just living out the reality of it. A week ago, our oldest son announced that he thinks we should adopt again. A two-year old. From Guatemala or the United States. When he said it, I knew. I knew God was asking me to open my heart to the possibility. I literally put my fingers in my ears and sang, "La-la-la-la-la." I considered for a nanosecond what it would be like to have another child and put it out of my mind. But. Here's the BUT. God is opening my heart to the possibility. I vacillate between two thoughts, "How could we not?" and "How could we?" The babies have only been home for 5 months, so I don't expect it to happen over night, but still. It scares me half to death. I pray often that I will be like Mary or Joshua. They did just what the Lord said with trusting hearts. Will I trust?
Sunday, July 11, 2010
In November 2007, God first spoke to me through prayer about a little boy named Gabriel who lived somewhere that had to do with angels, somewhere around El Salvador, Honduras, or Guatemala. He also said the name Ana. That was it. We started praying fervently, trying to find out who this little boy was. The name Ana was there, but didn't seem as prevalent. We searched, and we found a little boy who the Holy Spirit lead us to pursue. Some people have assumed that I was going on a hunch and that because we didn't adopt Gabriel from Guatemala, I was wrong in what I "thought" I heard from the Lord. I certainly don't claim to be right even most of the time, and I don't claim to know all the Lord is doing in my life, but if you've ever been convicted of doing something and there's a burden in your heart, you know what I mean. I had a burning desire to find him, this little boy. We prayed for him. We pursued adopting him. Ultimately God's plan was so much better. He reunited him with his family.
After Gabriel returned to his family, we still had a burning for Guatemala and adoption. We knew God had laid adoption on our hearts, but we didn't know from where we would adopt. We considered waiting for Guatemala to reopen it's doors to adoption (they closed in Dec. 07 to the US and adoption remains closed at this time), and we started praying about where God would lead us. He lead us to Ethiopia. He also gave us the opportunity to begin planning a trip to Casa Bernabe, in Guatemala, the orphanage where Gabriel once lived.
On July 11, 2009, a team of 20 people from First Lutheran Church, boarded a plane to Casa Bernabe. A full continent away, a baby boy was being born at about the same time-our son, Gabriel. I was SO nervous to fly. It was my first flight. My friend, Kristin, sat beside me, calming my fears, telling me what to expect. She made me laugh, and I needed it. There was a point when she fell asleep, and I was sitting, just letting my fears get the best of me. Jim was sitting a few rows in front of me because our seats got mixed up at the airport. He called back to me and asked me to come up to him. I was seriously thinking, "You must be nuts if you think I'm getting out of this seat." But he beckoned me to come. I reluctantly unbuckled and went to him. He handed me his journal and told me I was to read it. As I sat back in my seat and started reading his journal entry from months beforehand, the tears rolled. He spoke of Gabriel in Guatemala, and he spoke of adoption. How could I be fearful? The God who orchestrated all of these events knows the number of hairs on my head. From that moment on, I calmed down and enjoyed the flight. I'll never forget our reactions when we flew into Guatemala. It was joy mixed with amazement. Kristin was about to meet the little girl her family sponsored, and I was about to meet the people who cared for Gabriel, the little boy who God used to lead us on the path to adoption.
The week at Casa Bernabe was just so amazing. If you have a heart for orphans, and you don't know where to serve, check them out HERE. They receive many many visitors from the US. Most of the staff speaks English, and it's just a wonderful place to be.
On January 29, 2010, my husband and I, along with two of our friends, boarded a plane to pick up Ana and Gabriel. I was nervous on the plane but nothing like Guatemala. I had the babies on my mind, much more than I did the plane. I had also had some lessons the few months prior in God being God and me not being God, so my heart was a bit different this time. I can't explain seeing the babies for the first time. I will just say that you know the moments that God gives you here on earth when you can't believe you are part of something so beautiful? It was one of those moments.
Today we are celebrating the birth of Gabriel. Today we celebrate God's goodness. His love. His mercy. And yes, His amazing Grace. For there is nothing, absolutely nothing, we could have done to orchestrate such a life as the one He's given us. There is nothing good in us, yet, He chose us, through His son's death on the cross, to be holy and blameless in His Sight. And this is all to the praise of HIS GLORIOUS GRACE.
Ephesians 1:4-6 For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.
This is Gabriel, in his daddy's arms, for the very first time. Oh my how he has grown since this day. He is now pulling up on things, saying da da, mom mom, clap, e-i-e-i-o, and hi. We are so very blessed to have him as our son. Happy Birthday, Gabriel. We love you.
(I hope to update with recent photos soon.)
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I'll never forget the look I turned and gave to the congregation on the day of our wedding when the pastor spoke of submitting to my husband. I looked back over my shoulder and rolled my eyes. At the time, it was funny. Now, it makes me sad and half sick in my stomach. I unknowingly made a mockery of God's plan for a wife in front of everyone who knew us. For years, I continued to believe the lie of the enemy that says "wives can be in control of their husbands"..."there's no harm in the wife making most of or even all of the decisions" "husbands should help their wives"...I could go on and on. For years I've not submitted to my husband. For years, I've been confused as to why I was frustrated most of the time.
When God started speaking to me about submission, I listened, but with my eyes half-closed and with fingers shoved in my ears. It's like when you go into a haunted house. You want to experience it, yet you're afraid of what you'll see and hear. Thankfully, God's ways are good (Psalm 119:68 You are good, and what you do is good...") and not scary.
God has been showing me His best for me as a wife through the last few months. He's been speaking to me through His Word, by conviction of the Holy Spirit, in listening to other wives and husbands, and through experiences in my marriage. I feel as though I'm on the submission roller coaster. I submit. I take charge. I submit. I take charge. And the pattern continues. There are times of great hills and times of deep valleys. Last night was a real winger of a night. I was wallowing in self-pity. I was going on and on in my thoughts and in my actions of how miserable I was. "I'm so hot, Lord. Why can't we have central air like we use to or like so and so." "I'm tired of cleaning up after everyone, especially my husband." "I'm tired of doing the same thing over and over with no signs of appreciation from my family." I stood in my laundry room, remembering the words of a friend, "Find something to be grateful for." I started listing them one by one, and the list could go on forever. Yet, my mind kept going back to MY misery, My sacrifice, My suffering. There's good reason that God tells us to "Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."(Hebrews 12:2). I don't claim to know or understand all the reasons God tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, but I do know that when my eyes are on Jesus, they're not on me.
"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." ~1 Peter 3:1-2
When talking with women about submission, some have said "Submit..ha...you don't know my husband." Women of unbelieving husbands often say they don't know how to submit to a man who doesn't follow God's ways. I personally don't think it would be easy either, but the verse above from 1 Peter, makes it clear that if your husband does not believe the word, that he may be won over by your behavior. (By the way, my husband and I came to know the Lord as adults.)
How do we submit to our husbands during the times we don't feel so loved, even if it's most of the time? We pray. We trust. We lay down what we believe are our "rights" and things we think we deserve. We trust that God is ultimately in control, and He wants what is best for each of us.
I'm learning that marriage isn't meant to make me happy. It's meant to make me holy. There are times of wonderful joy in marriage, and there are times of suffering, too. My husband will not complete me. My husband will not make me happy. Neither will yours. Only Christ will complete us. Only in Christ will each of us find our deepest longings fulfilled.
(I would love to insert scripture here, but babies and older children await. I encourage to search out God's Truth in His Word.)
I don't claim to be the expert on submission. I'm just a wife, trying to learn how to love my husband the way God intends, and ultimately to love Him more and more through my marriage. Hold what I'm saying up to scripture, please. Feel free to leave comments or email (firstname.lastname@example.org), even if you don't agree, as I grow greatly from hearing from other women.