Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When It Rains, It Pours Through Those Floodgates!

Good news my friends!  Our mailbox contained a very important letter that came from heaven via Franklin Tennessee....Let me read you a few lines...

"On behalf of Show Hope and the donors who make our grants possible, we rejoice with your family as you step out in faith to experience the miracle of adoption.  Thank you for allowing us to be a small part of your adoption process.  We are pleased to inform you that you have been awarded an adoption assistance grant in the amount of
...Our prayer for your family is that God will be glorified throughout the adoption process - as He proves Himself to be faithful, provides the finances from various sources, and as He reveals His great love and care for the child you are adopting."

And that is exactly what He has been doing.  We applied for this grant back in October and knew that we should be hearing from them by the end of by yesterday is was getting pretty exciting to go to the mailbox, knowing this letter might be there! What a thrill to be part of the funnel God is using to care for His orphans!

This grant will be available to us after we've accepted a referral for a specific child or two, so it is the first savings toward our travel to Ethiopia.  The estimated total adoption cost is around $30,000, $10,000 of which is travel costs for Scott & I to both make two trips to Ethiopia for court and embassy hearings.  I'm getting anxious to start shopping for plane tickets!!

Praise God with us dear friends!  He's as faithful as He was yesterday and as faithful as He would be if He hadn't sent this grant our way.....but since He did, let's dance about it!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Looking to God....The Floodgates will Drip in Your Eyes!

I've been mulling over the next adoption process update that I needed to share with you all....and even though things have been happening, and God has been working, the words just weren't coming to my heart in any way that seemed worth sharing.  I looked into my mirror this morning and figured out why.....

The next big step for us is putting together all the dossier papers so they're ready to be added to our homestudy and the immigration clearance form we're waiting for....then we'll be on the official waiting list.  The manilla folder with the dossier packet has been a permanent fixture on my desk since our first meeting with our social worker.  She gave us all those papers the same day that she asked us the dreaded question, "How are you planning to pay for this...?"  We talked about the process....and the fact that at the start we had only a few lonely dollars in the bank marked "adoption"....and the fact that once we started the dossier papers the clock would start ticking and those papers would begin ripening like a peach and would only have six months until they would need to be thrown out and new ones made.  It seemed that the responsible thing to do would be to wait until the money was there before we started all this paperwork.  Back then I didn't know quite how this floodgates thing worked - how God overwhelms each baby step I take toward obedience with a flood of His blessing.

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749- 1832)

I've been trying to start the dossier for about a month now, in fits and starts....getting distracted by life with 6 kids and ministry, feeling overwhelmed by to volume of things that need to be done, daunted by the details and the massive possibility of not getting something right, angered by my inability to make it simple, and really bummed about the fact that I'm just now starting it.  

When we started this adoption process I decided that I was going to be "gung ho," I was going get everything done in record time and the Florida's would be the fastest Ethiopian adoption on record.  Well,  a year has passed and the dossier has let loose the ugly creeping feeling that I'm already an "adoption mess-up."  

My mirror showed my pride this morning - that's why it's been so hard these past few weeks to pull an adoption update out of my heart.  My mirror also showed me hope in looking to God.  Let me take you on a quick version of the "Thompson Chain Reference ride" I took this morning....

  • My journal entry: "I'm frustrated by the dossier timing - wondering why I hedged and waited to get started till now. The months and weeks keep going by. It's been a year....I thought we were going to be the fastest adoption out there and now I"m worried we'll be the slowest, and it's all my fault."
  • Then...John 11. I'm thick in the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Vs. 40 - "Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?'"
  • My journal: "Jesus, I want to see, and I want to believe. I've been caught up in what I can do, or might have done wrong....I need NEW VISION!"
  • John 11:41 "...Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me...'" and next to that verse, the topic "Looking to God"
  • Walk down this beauty-laden path with me....
    • Psalm 34:5 "Those who look to God are radiant - their faces are never covered with shame."
    • Psalm 123:1 "I lift my eyes up to you, who's throne is in heaven"
    • Isaiah 40 - the whole chapter, but especially verse 26 "Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."
    • Daniel 4:34 "Then I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Lord God!"
    • Acts 7:55 "Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up into heaven and saw the glory of God."
  • And so, the mirror showed me...
    • that my heart had been fearful and prideful....and ugly combination.
    • that looking to God makes me radiant and takes away my shame.
    • that lifting my eyes to heaven reminds me who's on the throne.
    • that the God who hasn't missed one of the starry host is able to superintend the compilation of every detail and paper of my dossier. he'll break open the skies..
    • that lifting my eyes toward heaven restores my sanity....oh Jesus thank you!
    • that it all goes back to the glory of God.
Now, after that deep breath of Scripture, I'm excited to tell you what God's been doing, in spite of me! the floodgates stay open, my friends, even when I temporarily loose my sanity!!
floodgates update
  • another adoptive mom who is a friend from school encouraged us with $50 and priceless word of wisdom...
  • a sweet old lady quietly slipped us a $10 bill in a handshake at church...
  • the gift of a gold bracelet given a few months ago by a friend was worth $1,057.62...
  • the peanut butter jar family, remember them? came with another jar full of collected money, $113.28...
  • a mom who always inspires me to be a better mom and love Jesus better when I chat with her on field trips at school sent us this note and $113...."We are so happy for you guys. I shared your story with our family. We might never be called to do what you are doing, however we really feel you are His hands and feet. We are the cane that supports those hand and feet, which means prayers, money, help in ways you need it. Our family had just started a jar for a puppy or a quad. They have decided two kids coming out of an orphanage is way more important. I love that we go to school with families like you guys...."
  • $40 came from 4 sweet girls who used to be in our youth group. They're in college now and decided that instead of getting each other Christmas presents this year, they would put the money in a Christmas card for us....
  • and there was $400 under the Christmas tree from expectant Grandmas & Grandpas, the immediate family ones and the church family ones....
  • I'm mailing out the first document requests for our dossier today!
Look up, my friends...see the God who keeps it all together and keeps YOU all together.....and let that flood drip right into your eyes...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It is for God's Glory....

John 11

1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,

If you're like me,you're asking the obvious question right now....what kind of logical sense does verse 6 make after verse 5?  Is this a misprint?  Jesus loved Martha, Mary & Lazarus, so when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was???  

The same Jesus who turned water into wine,healed the official's son, healed the man at the pool, fed the 5,000, healed the blind man....stayed where He was when He heard that a friend He loved was sick?  Where's the drop everything rush to the rescue?  Where's the concern, the message sent back saying, "Hold on, I'm on my way..."  Of all people who cared, He's the one who could do something, and everybody knew know rescue was in the sisters' minds when they sent word to Jesus after all they had seen.  

Verse six leaves me shaking my head.  

If I was Mary or Martha, it would leave me wailing in a puddle on the ground...wondering if I misunderstood who He was.  They didn't....but they did, and I don't....but I do.  

Jesus is God.  He heals, creates, rescues and raises from the dead.  I don't often misunderstand that.  I do often misunderstand His purpose though.

Go back to verse 4, read that one again.  I don't know about you, but on first read I assumed that meant no death, no pain, Disney happy ending.  But that's assuming God's purpose is happiness and comfort.  I know that's not true, but my assumptions act like it is.  

God's purpose, in every circumstance, is His glory.  God's purpose that day for Mary, Martha, Lazarus and even Jesus required pain and weeping to be accomplished.  God's plan included walking through pain, not running from it, avoiding it or denying it, but attaching a high and lofty purpose to it.  

Where's that on my "to-do list" today?  Better add it to the number one slot.....

1.  Let God's glory be seen through projects 2 through 10, especially if it hurts.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Rear-view Mirror

I've spent most of my introspective thoughts lately focused on the horizon.  Dreamin, schemin, hanging out with the sparkly what if's and I hope's.  Until this morning.  Pastor Compton stopped me cold in my tracks as he drew my mind's eye back 365 days and pushed the fast-forward play button.  An instant lump moved into my throat and brought along chill bumps.  2011 has been an amazing chain of events.  Some links in the chain seemed small, some seemed mountainous.  All links took me one step closer to today, and I really like today.

A year ago today I was basking in the glow of a newly thawed heart.  I had my eyes closed and my face into the wind of living free because Jesus loves me so much.  I've spent the entire year studying and thinking through the book of John, and I'll be taking it with me into 2012 because I'm not done yet.  I see Jesus in a way I never have before and I feel like I love Him in a way I never have before.  It's more of a grown-up real love.  Solid, steady, deep.  The time I've spent at John's feet learning to love Jesus have been the hands-down highlight of 2011.

A year ago our family was keeping a secret.  There's a sweet thrill to keeping a secret with people you love...It was the wild should we? could we? might we? world shifting type of secret and I was sharing it with all my loveys.  It was a sacred secret because the idea had been dropped into our hearts from God's.  And the secret came with a thrill of exotic adventure attached that only a warm heart could have felt.  I'm so glad this Momma had a warm heart to start the year...

Then the secret turned into a plan, and a place.  I found that my warm heart had pieces of it beating in Ethiopia.  Warm hearts feel sharp pain.  I started to try to pray for children who I know are mine but I haven't met yet.  I've done this before, but never this way.  It took me a long time to get beyond, "Jesus, please...." followed by ugly sobs that leave a headache behind.  When my stranger child is in my belly I monitor my folic acid and protein intake for brain development.  I pray for health, protection, and I'll admit it, good looks.  Now, looking back, I realize my prayers for the babies in my bellies have been pretty shallow.  As I'm learning to pray for my babies across the ocean I know that they're not going to have good nutrition, health, and protection.  The precise reason that they are MY babies is because they don't have these things and they need me.  So, how do you pray when you know the circumstances aren't going to get better for a while?  You pray, "Jesus, please.....please do what only You can do for them and do it big.  Please be more than food and health to them and teach me how to heal their little hearts that haven't been protected.  Jesus, please..." 

This year I've lost my ability to say "I need...."  Hearing those words come out of my mouth makes disgusted.  What in the world do I need?  I find myself staring into space wondering about that a lot more these days....I have shoes....I ate too much house is warm....thoseare shiny things.

This year I'm learning that I like the look of my house better with glitter glue evidence where little fingers have crafted.  I'm learning that talking stuffed animals and blankies can earn much quicker, much funner obedience than stern-ness and discipline. (thanks Scott, for the lesson of the talking dolphin, you made me a better Momma!)  I'm learning that time stands still and I don't grow older every moment I'm looking arrow-direct into my child's eyes.

This year I got to remember how good it feels to be part of a team that travels far away with a mission.  I loved being able to say "Obrigada" when I was handed a yummy glass of sugar cane juice.  I love taking people places they've never been before and introducing them to people I love.  2011 let me take 4 of my own kids on one of these trips.

This year I've watched the man I love refine and chisel.  He's so very good at what he does.  Ministry isn't his job.  Pastoring isn't his vocation.  He is a pastor who lives ministry with every part of his life.  He loves people far and wide.  I want to be more like him.  This year I've found out, again, that I love following him.  Hitching myself up to his wagon train 20 years ago was one of the best moves I've ever made!

This year, I bought the sweatshirt and proudly proclaimed myself "Soccer Mom!"  I realized that I am the next generation of Mom Floridas on the bleachers when soccer season comes and I have two boys that suit up.  Game days I woke up thinking about the games, counting down the hours till it was time to claim my spot on the bleachers.  I relished the rubbery hot dog dinners we bought from the other mom's in the Booster's shack.  I cooked team dinners, wore my stylish rain suit over my snow suit and still shivered through the last game of the season.  I even offered my own good luck to the team by not washing my "rally sweatshirt" till the season was over.....good thing girls don't sweat, they just glisten!!  Soccer season is a whirlwind couple of months, and I. just. plain. LOVE. IT!!!  A mom sitting next to me on the bleachers videoed the last big exciting shoot-out.  When she posted it on facebook, it took me a couple watches before I realized that my voice is the crazy woman you hear in the background spastically laugh-cheer-hollaring.  Kinda like the snort-laugh....embarrassing but strangely exhilarating to realize that you are that girl.

This year  I found out that I'm that same crazy Momma on the basketball bleachers when two tigresses shooting and dribbling.  Watching those girls feel confident and play hard makes me want to cry.  Bleachers are one of my new favorite places...I'm learning just how many snacks and fun toys it takes for the little people to make it till the buzzer....and I'm starting to get the allure of those stylish back supporters the Grandmas and Grandpas bring when they come to watch....

This year I found out that I like to write.  This isn't the first year I would have labeled myself as someone who can write, but this is the first year it's been fun.  In high school and college I wrote papers because there was a due date and a grade attached and because turning things in on time is what good little first-borns do.  Somewhere along the way, I started to realize that I liked the feeling of handing in a finished product that I felt proud of.  I started collecting phrases, well-turned words, strings of words put together just Grandmas collect teacups.  So, when I was in my 20's and a friend asked my what big dreams I had, a vision of myself as a writer materialized.  My friend pushed and prodded and I got starry-eyed.  I enrolled in a correspondence writing course that used up 6 years worth of our budgeted entertainment money.  That was about 15 years ago....and I'm a Correspondance Writing Course drop-out.  I finished a lot of lessons, I learned a lot.....but oh, it was hard.  I really wanted to do it, but I always felt a niggling fear that I was faking it.  I could put words together to express ideas, but I wasn't sure that I had had any ideas that were really worth expressing.  Life happened, babies came, staying up late to finish my latest assignment became less and less important.  I hung up the pencil and shelved the writer dream.  When it did enter into my mind in my 30's, I just started asking God to give me things to say help me live a life worth talking about.  These sweet new babies of mine have given me a gift...a story to tell and a reason to be a writer.  This blog started to keep adoption stories chronicled for me and them, and became something more.  The stories of the adoption welled over into stories of how great God is and how good this life is that He's given me.  Writing is still hard sometimes, but it's a different hard, the "I just gave birth to something really great!" hard that leaves me hungry to do it again.

This year I had some really, really great girlfriend moments.  I know 2011 is the new banner year for the "Most Tears Cried with Girlfriends" title.  Talking about orphans with the girls....hmmmm....tears, but really, really good tears.  The girlfriend equation of this year is as follows:  the amount of time spent honestly face to face with the girls = hunger for God and courage to live.  I'm a girl who by nature hovers around her lists and projects and doesn't notice that she's been without people until it's been a really long time.  I'm becoming a girl who leaves her list in the dust and heads to coffee and texts "all-calls" when I'm heading to Target (ok, I only did that once in 2011, but lots more are coming in 2012!). 

This year I've felt a magnetic pull to home.  Not just the home I'm making here and now, but the home that was made for me.  I've been relishing the time I spend at home in  Mom and Dad's world and hungering for more of it.  It's a place where I can just be, where stories get told, games get played and home movies eventually come out.  It's such a great place to be from and 2011 has showed me that I want to soak it up.

This year I've been finding that I thrive in routine and tradition, and I'm not ashamed of it!  The weirder the better.  I love it when my boys refer to my former life as an undercover assasin.  Ginger yelling "hot-diggity-dog!" when we see a house lit up in Christmas lights makes me smile.  Grilled cheese and grilled peanut butter every Sunday night without fail make me happy.  Even our magnetic dinner jobs chart on the side of the fridge makes me smile....because it's part of who we are.  I love being part of a we that does things a certain way that's different than anyone else in the world.  And that brings me to another very important thing I've begun to learn in 2011....

This year, I've found out that, contrary to my long-held assumption, I don't want to be normal.  There's no way to write it that will make it sound as monumental of an announcement as it feels.  It's Washington Monument, Sphinx, Great Wall of China big.  Being normal, fitting in, feeling like I'm one of them is something I've thought I always of the shallow parts of me that's risen to the surface this year like a bloated dead body.  I bought a coffin for that dead body in's in the shape of a big, silver, 12 passenger Ford van.  Having to upgrade to a church van was a serious obstacle for me as we considered this adoption thing.  It was a gulper of a sacrifice for me to make - the alter upon which all my normal American middle class soccer Momma-hood would be sacrificed.  I've started to turn the corner, though.  I'm realizing that having coffee brown faces in my family pictures and driving a church van as a family car are both things that are going to let me tell my story.  Reasons for people to ask questions.  Reasons for me to point out how great God's been.  I think I'm really starting to be good with stepping out of the ranks of normal.....although, I did tell Scott that I'm gonna hunt down a pair or two of fabulous boots to be wearing when I step out of my very non-normal van to prove to myself and the world that I'm being non-normal in a fabulous sort of way.

So as I think and dream about 2012 and what might be around the next bend, I'm really getting a kick out of what I'm seeing in my rear-view mirror.  The last 365 have been a really good ride.....the sun's been shining, the wind's been blowing, we haven't run out of gas, and when it rains the wipers have worked most of the time.  I love road trips.....and the horizon looks particularly good in view of the rear-view mirror.