Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Blessing [May You Know His Nearness and Sense His Pursuit of Your Heart]

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The presents surround the tree.  Our woodwork is wound with greenery and ribbon and twinkling with sparkly lights.  It's 11 pm on Christmas Eve and my husband and I sit in our living room with only the tree and the twinkling greenery for light.  Instrumental Christmas music plays in the background.

Our son sleeps - having just turned 2 in September, he's still young enough that we don't think he'll be jumping on our bed at 5 am wanting to open gifts.  Next year... maybe. :)

We reflect on the past year.  The highs and lows.  The wins.  The losses.  [Oh, how 2012 has brought both... incredible victories and heart-wrenching losses too.]  And we reflect on God's faithfulness through it all.  How he's sustained.  Provided.  Kept our hearts close to His.

I reflect on His continual pursuit of our hearts woven throughout it all.  His obvious hand of kindness, how it's been all. over. our. lives.

He is good.  He gives and takes away... and He's worthy of our trust.  

And He's after our hearts in it all.

My dear friends...this Christmas, may you sense in a deeper way than ever before your Father's tangible nearness and His intimate, tender, unrelenting pursuit of your heart.

May you see it woven throughout history, in the prophecies of Christ's coming, in the new-born Babe in the manger, in the spotless Lamb of God who was crucified and rose again to conquer pursue intimate relationship with us... to win our hearts.  Mine.  And yours.

May you deeply know how He has valued you, how He longs for intimate friendship with you.  Everything about Christmas is evidence of His extravagant pursuit.

May you... may we... have tender hearts this Christmas, responsive to His tender, pursuing love.

Merry Christmas, dear friends!
Whether you're a "real-life" friend, or one that I've met through this blog... I love having you in my life.  Be so blessed this Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rescheduling AGAIN!

Oh my goodness, this poor birth mom... she slipped today and broke her ankle!  She still wants to choose a family and said she would get back to our agency about doing that.

Good. grief.  What a ride.  And I feel so bad for this mama!

Thanking God and she and the baby are okay.  It looks like she will need surgery on her ankle, however.  Craziness.  Just. sheer. craziness.

Thank you all for your prayers - for her and for us.

Adoption Prayer Request...and Our First Snow!

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Just thought I'd share - this is the view from our front window this morning!  Oh, how I love it!!! :)
Dear Friends,

A couple of weeks ago I had asked for prayer regarding a birth mom who was going to view our profile.  She ended up sick in the hospital and was unable to view profiles...and her appointment to do so was eventually rescheduled to today at 1pm.  SO... with this crazy weather we're having here in the Midwest, who knows if she'll make it in to the office today to view profiles or not... BUT, I wanted to ask you all to be praying for her, just in case she does make it in.  If she were to choose our family, we would have a baby next month.  (WOAH?!)  We would be so crazy excited!! :)

Please pray for God's wisdom for her as she selects a family for her baby.  Ask for God's comfort for her heart also... I can only imagine how painful, this decision that's before her.

Please pray for us, also... that God will hold our hearts today, give us peace in the waiting, and that if she does not choose us, we will be steadfast in our trust in His plan for our family.  Stan and I are super peaceful this morning.  I believe we both are deeply trusting God with this situation and with the future expanding of our family.

Thank you so much, my friends.  Both those of you who are "real life" friends, and those friends who I've met via this blog... you are each more of a blessing to us than I can say.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Today, God, Tangibly Be Emmanuel...

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A nation, a town, a school, and so many, many families... The shock and horror of yesterday's events in Newtown, CT are just beyond belief.

I sat in Costco eating pizza with Stan and Isaac and Stan read me the news off of his phone and I just had no grid for it.  No way to process it.  My jaw hung open and passers by must have thought me strange, not having heard the news yet.  I couldn't cope with what had happened.  The terror.  The fear.  The trauma.  The horrific, profound LOSS.  The precious lives.  The children.  Their parents.  Their siblings and friends.  Oh, God....

I have no mental box or spiritual folder in which to file this away.  No way to make it make sense.  No way to answer all of the "WHY, GOD?!?!"s that swirl around in my mind... in my heart.


He is good.  He is unchanging.  He is absolutely committed to those precious children, those families.

So here I sit, with no way right now to reconcile what I know of His heart, His character, with this horrible.... I don't even know what to call it.  Loss is not a strong enough word.  Not even close.

And this is all I can pray...

Wonderful Counselor... counsel every heart.  Give wisdom to those who must counsel the children even as they cope with their own profound loss.  Intimately be Counselor to all who need You in this the days ahead.

Comforter... You promise that those who mourn are blessed, for they'll receive comfort... Bless them now.  Creator God, who intimately, deeply knows every need of every heart, comfort those hearts today.  May they deeply, unmistakably encounter the God of Comfort.

Prince of Peace... You are capable of bringing peace into even the most horrific circumstances.  Do this now, Father.  Be who You are in all of this.  Make Yourself known as the only Source of perfect peace.  Peace that passes understanding.  

Emmanuel, God With Us... be Emmanuel to those families affected today.  Even now... Emmanuel to them.  Closer than all of the fear.  Closer than the pain.  Envelop their hearts in Your nearness.  Your "with-us-ness."

These are things we celebrate about who You are, God, in this Christmas season.  Would you make Yourself intimately, tenderly, powerfully REAL in these ways to every heart affected...even today.  Even now.

Father, You are more than enough.  Even in this.  Somehow.  Reveal Yourself, God.  Be glorified.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Dismantling of Our Lives (A Window Into Raw, Unfinished Beauty)

The sink was piled high with dinner dishes.  The table still had crumbs on it and the dining room floor needed to be swept.  It didn't matter. 

Their hearts were so much more important.

Stan and I sat in our living room chatting and laughing with our dear friends who've been living and working on the other side of the planet for the last year and a half... and who will have to return there right after Christmas.  Our one time together as couples and we don't actually know for sure when we'll see them again.  

The seconds were precious.

The conversation meandered from ministry to life in the country that is currently their home to community and life as a part of the Body of Christ.

And then it happened.  It was the greatest gift they could possibly have given us.

Our friends opened their hearts...and poured them out.  About how it's been hard this last year and a half and how they can't understand what God is doing and how life has just. been. so. painful.

As my friend spoke, I listened intently, everything inside of me keenly tuned into the fact that this was a sacred moment.  A holy encounter.

She stopped talking.  We sat in silence and the seconds ticked by.  

I wanted to speak, to let her know that her heart had been heard, understood, that her story and her heart were being held with grace.  But the words wouldn't come.  I was too much in awe of the gift she'd just given.

It's so sacred - God's dismantling of our lives, of all that's familiar, and the secret ways He works in the deep places of our hearts, miles below the surface... how He fashions and molds and shapes our hearts, and how He's so committed to having His way in our depths, to conforming us more to the image of Christ and to intimately revealing His heart to ours and walking right beside us through it all.  

And how all of this is happening in our secret places, deep inside us, even, and especially, when everything around us and everything inside us are so dark that we can't see His hand.  

He's carving raw beauty in the darkness.  In the pain.  So sacred, His processes inside of us.

So the seconds ticked by and finally my friend whispered, fighting tears and staring down at her lap, "Sorry..." and I squeaked out something about "please don't apologize - this is the real stuff..." and my feeble words in that moment just could not come close to doing justice to all that was burning in my heart.

She had given us the gift of beauty.  Exposed the raw, unfinished, painful, gut-wrenchingly glorious process.  All of the unanswered questions and all of the aching and the not understanding and the pulling out of props and the gentle, tender breaking down of the human soul until all that remains is just that heart, and its Creator... and where do we go from here?  

And she shared it all with us.  They both did.

They apologized for complaining and we tried to explain how this was the furthest thing in the world from that.  This is the reality of life and even though they can't see it in this season, we can see the hand of God and their raw honesty was the gift that made the way for us to see the beauty He's forming in them....

So sacred.  So holy.  So beautiful.  So profound and precious.

More time ticked by.  It was nearly midnight and I'd bet you that not a one of us was thinking about going to bed.  I know I wasn't.

We prayed with them and again my words seemed to fall flat.  I couldn't even begin to express how deeply my heart was affected by their vulnerability and the beauty of God's hand woven throughout their story, in all of its not-yet-completeness.

But I know that God will continue and complete the work He has started in these precious hearts.  And I am so crazy, ridiculously privileged to be able to stand here on these sidelines and cheer them on and behold and wonder at the perfect working of God in the lives of our sweet friends.

What an incredible gift.  I feel so challenged - challenged to more often allow those God's placed in my community a window into all of the rawness and beauty of His processes in my own heart and life...

And challenged to continue to intentionally seek to grow in my ability to steward well the hearts of those I love... 

To learn to hold the stories and hearts with which I'm entrusted with compassion and grace... to be one who sighs with and cries with and rejoices with others and doesn't try to fix... 

But one who, with just a few words of grace and compassion and truth, can toss into place a handful of stones that God will use to begin to form a bridge from the hurting human heart back to the tender heart of its Creator.

This is who I want to be.  I don't know what else to say today.  I just couldn't NOT write out all of these things that have been rolling around in my heart.  

Thanks so much for reading today, friends.  Praying that God will encourage you here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

He Withholds No Good Thing... [Inviting You To Drop In Over At A Holy Experience Today]

The pain is more acute this Christmas season.

I'm not sure if it's because we're waiting to adopt... or because she's been in our lives more frequently as of late.  Maybe both.  But for whatever reason, the fact that she's not [anymore] our daughter, it's this physical ache in my heart these days.  Like an elephant sitting on my chest.

She should be here with us, helping decorate our Christmas tree.  We should be tucking her in bed at night in her warm Christmas pj's.  She should be Isaac's big sister.  She should have continued to advance verbally and mentally and emotionally and academically instead of having her entire life ripped out from under her at almost 2 years old.  She should be secure and confident and beginning to read and counting to 50 or 100 even and not struggling to form complete sentences or to count to 10 at age 4.

But she's not.  And all of these "shoulds" are obviously more my own idea than God's.  Because He allowed her to be taken from us.  His plans for her life are good, and yet this, the way it's all playing out, it's SO not the life story I would have chosen for her.

Today Ann Voskamp's blog contains the words I sense the Lord speaking into the deep places of my pain... into all of us who feel the ache of our losses so much more sharply at Christmas time.

He withholds no good thing from us.  

No good thing.

And Ann asks the question that's pounded in my own heart in the years following our great losses: Can all the hurting hearts believe that He withholds no good thing from us?

Can mine?  

Can yours?

Could I invite you to stop in over at Ann's blog today?  Her words are more than worth your time...and your open heart.

[PS - For a little more info on "our" baby girl's story, read here.]

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Brief Adoption Update

(My computer is working terribly this morning… So I'm posting this from my phone. Pardon my brevity.)

Thank you so much to all of you who prayed last night when our profile was supposed to be viewed by a birth mom. Really means a lot to have so many standing with us.

I found out this morning that the birth mom who was supposed to view our profile last night is actually in the hospital with pneumonia. Apparently they have admitted her and are planning to keep her for 24 hours. So, obviously, she was not able to view profiles last night.

We appreciate your continued prayers for her, for quick healing, and for protection for the baby. We will let you know when we find out that she is again scheduled to view profiles.

Thank you so much, friends!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Asking For Prayer Today [My Times Are in Your Hands]

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Reading this "Birth Parent Situation Form" from our adoption agency for the 6th time won't make this birth mom choose our family.  


I sigh.  Make myself tear my eyes away from the computer screen.

It seems to be the perfect situation for us.  PERFECT.  Semi-open adoption.  African American baby.  Birth father is on board and willing to relinquish rights.  Baby due in January.

JANUARY.  As in, a month and a half from today.

Tomorrow evening, this precious birth mom will, if all goes as planned on her end, be handed a stack of profile books by the birth parent advocate at our agency.

Our profile will be in that stack.

Our agency representative says that our family's profile has consistently been in birth parents' top 3 choices.  We just haven't been number one yet.  But we WILL be picked, she says.  She's confident about it.  Probably soon.

And even now, I want to click over to that email and read the Birth Parent Situation Form yet again.  For probably the 7th time.  Grasping for some form of control, or at least to be able to guess what will happen.

And, once again, I have to surrender to the truth that I can't make this happen.  NOTHING I can do, in addition to what we've already done, can make this birth mom choose our family.  Nothing I can do will bring our baby into our family any sooner.

And there's no way to know right now whether this precious baby will be ours... or not.

It's a helpless feeling.  I am SO aching for our baby to come SOON.  Every time our profile is shown and not chosen, the ache is a little harder to bear.

Time is ticking.

And God knows.

Even now, in this very moment, this scripture, this sacred place of profound encounter and peace whispered to my heart, it comes cascading anew down from Heaven and crashes over my heart:

My times are in Your hands. (Psalm 31:15)

And they are.  Every season of my life, every desire of my heart... all of it - the aching, the waiting, the longing, the wondering... it's all in His hands.  THIS season.  THIS ache.  THIS longing.

And the invitation is to trust, to rest, to abide.

I'd be lying if I said this is easy.  But His grace is there... and it's always enough.  ALL-sufficient.  For this moment, this circumstance.

This waiting.

Father, You are worthy of my trust.  Your plans for my life and my family are good, and You are worthy of my trust.  

So I trust You.  Now.  In this season, with this ache, this longing that I believe has been divinely placed in our hearts.  Hold us now, even as we wait.  Draw us into the embrace of the Prince of Peace.

Friends, could I ask you to pray with us over the next 24 hours?  By the time many of you read this, it will be Tuesday morning and it's Tuesday late afternoon/evening that this birth mom plans to view profiles.  If all goes as planned, we should know something one way or the other that evening, or by Wednesday morning at the latest.  Please pray....

  • For wisdom and the leadership of the Holy Spirit for this mama as she makes her decision.  Pray for His comfort over her heart as well.  I can only imagine the agony of her decision.  Oh Father, hold her heart...
  • For our hearts as we wait, that we'll rest and trust and abide in Jesus.
  • For us if we are not chosen, that God will hold and sustain and bring peace to our hearts.  That we'll be confident in Him and His heart and His plan for our family.
  • For this precious baby, that the Spirit of God will be tangibly present with him/her, even in the womb. That he/she will supernaturally know his/her Father's nearness and love even now. That God will protect this baby and set him/her in the family that He has already chosen.
Thank you all for standing with us.  So much.

You are loved and more appreciated than you know. 

Be blessed today to know His grace, to deeply abide in Him in the midst of your own season of waiting, of not knowing... whatever it looks like.  He is there.  He is enough.  There is intimacy with Him to be found in the midst of the waiting.  May this reality blanket your heart today.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Obliterating "Mommy-Martyr Syndrome" [From Running On Fumes to Living In Him]

As much as I try not to, I tend to "zone out" a little spiritually when I travel.  Getting out of our normal routine as a family almost always equates to little to no focused, intentional time with the Lord for me.

This is a bummer for lots of reasons.

I really felt the absence of my times with Him on this past trip to North Carolina.  I had a TON of fun, great times with family, and even had some really sweet moments of prayer in the midst of doing other things, or as I'd lie down to go to sleep at night.  

But I also found myself much more distracted than normal, less intentional about praying "leaning" prayers, and less aware and in tune with His nearness than I have been for the most part as of late.

The interesting thing was that I didn't noticeably feel the results of my lack of focus and intentionality with Him until toward the end of my trip.  I'll share with you my primary symptom.  Can anyone else out there identify with this?

It was "Mommy-Martyer Syndrome."  Oh, I HATE how this is what I "default" to when I'm short on intentional time with the Lord.  For me, "Mommy-Martyr Syndrome" begins with a few yucky internal conversations... like this:

"Yeah, sure, I'll just handle this whining kiddo all by myself while you walk off blissfully unaware that I could really use some HELP here..."  Or....

"No, I really don't mind doing ALL the work while you sit down and put your feet up."

Sound at all familiar?  The thing about these internal "mommy-martyr" conversations, is that when I take a step back mentally and look at the situation a little more objectively, my frustration is, most of the time, at least 80% unwarranted.  Stan probably did nothing, or very little, to "earn" my frustration toward him.  (And yes, it is almost ALWAYS directed toward him.)

While these internal conversations are happening, I am often somewhat aware of them and disappointed by the condition of my own heart.  I hate feeling like that inside... hate the absence of the fruit of the Spirit and a Kingdom atmosphere (righteousness, peace, and joy) in my heart in these moments. 

But in the moment I usually feel powerless to change.

The next step, after the yucky internal convos, is a more obvious irritability toward Stan.  I'm quieter, my responses to him might be short, and I tend to be noticeably bummed out.

So... by the time we were on the plane on Saturday evening, heading back to Kansas City, this was a pretty accurate picture of my condition.  I was irritable.  Short.  Easily stressed out.  Not lighthearted.  Stan felt the brunt of it... undeservingly, I might add.

It wasn't till I had a few minutes to think and pray during our first flight (somehow, miraculously, in the midst of all of Isaac's exhausted-2-year-old-stuck-in-car-seat-on-plane ridiculousness) that I realized: my shorter-than-normal fuse was a direct consequence of my lack of focused time with the Lord.  

I had stopped setting my heart before Him daily in such a way that He was resourcing me for every moment.  I had gradually crossed the line from living life in His strength, to dealing with life in my own strength.  

And I can only run on fumes for so long before I start taking it out on the one human being who lays his life down for me more than any other: my husband.  In those moments, I am subtly looking to him to fill a need in my heart that only the Father can fill.

Ugh.  I hate that I do that.  I hate how I am capable of hurting Stan's heart.  I hate the ugliness that comes out of my heart when I move into that "Mommy-Martyr" mode.  When I'm running on fumes instead of being supernaturally resourced and empowered by my ultimate Source.

So... I prayed.  I repented.  I shared my revelation with Stan, told him how I realized I had been running on empty and not being resourced by my Father and how my irritability had been a symptom of that.  

And I reached out and held Stan's hand, despite my [unreasonable] emotions to the contrary.  

And immediately, the ugly heaviness lifted off of me. My irritability toward Stan was replaced by a gracious, affectionate heart toward him.  I'm not kidding - the heart-change was instant.  

This was SO not something I could pull off in my own strength.  I had been powerless to "fix" myself on my own.  It was the grace of God, His kindness that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4), and the moment I repented for trying to walk on my own and intentionally, in my heart, leaned into Him again, trusting Him as my Source, the grace was there.  Everything I needed was there.  It's all found in dependence on Him.

Just a thought for you today, friends: What are your personal "symptoms" of trying to do life in your own strength?  Of not intentionally positioning your heart to be empowered and resourced by the Father?  Maybe you could ask God to lovingly highlight these things to you?  To lead your heart back to a place of leaning into Him, of tapping, by faith, into the grace for each moment that He's already put within you through His Spirit?

He is so, so committed to doing this for us, my friends... and to walking intimately with us as we trust Him to be our Everything.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
2 Peter 1:3 (NLT)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sweet Moments

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Still in North Carolina....  Loving this time with family.  What a gift.  Just keeping track of memories today.  

Praying you and yours, friends, are experiencing the extravagant heart of Jesus toward you this week, manifested in all His good gifts.  You are loved.

Fun Cousin Play Time!  Many more pics to come,
I'm quite sure. :)

Been so fun breaking out my old toys from my childhood...
[and instagramming].

My grandpa made this train for my little brother in the 80's.

What happens when Stan and Dana get a chance to relax? Pure silliness.

Isaac loves "Mr. George," my parents' 80+-year-old neighbor.  Man... he was "old" when I was a kid!
 Super cool guy; really loves us.

Goofing off with Daddy

Checking out Grandpa's big truck! Pretty much the coolest
thing EVER, if you're Isaac.

Up in the truck!  Lots of horn honking. :)

Fun Grandpa time!

We love Gigi!
Visiting Isaac's Great Grandma and Grandpa Kiser
(AKA "Grandma Della" and "Papa Raymond,"
my grandparents.)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

One Of My Absolute Favorite Things About North Carolina

Hi, My Dear Friends!

This Thanksgiving week finds the KC Butlers in NC visiting my side of our family. We are so thankful to be able to be here with them! As time allows, I want to try to blog often this week... Just don't want to lose track of these sweet memories.

If you know me in real life, you know that Carolina barbecue is where it's at for me. Oh man... Not many foods in the WORLD are better than this. Stan and Isaac and I definitely hit up the BBQ place in the Charlotte airport within 5 minutes of deplaning. The perfect way to pass the time while waiting for my mom (a.k.a. "Gigi") to arrive to pick us up.

Carolina BBQ: One of the many ways God speaks His love to my heart. I'm not even joking.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My First 5-Minute Friday: "STAY"

So, Lisa-Jo Baker, the community manager for (in)Courage, hosts these "5-Minute Fridays" over at her blog.  This happens every single Friday and I've contemplated starting to participate in these for quite a while.  I've been a little busy and distracted lately and my writing has kind of fallen by the side and I really don't want it to, because it is so life-giving to me...and hopefully to a few others.

I find that when I write I am more in tune with what God's doing in my heart and how He's speaking to me in the midst of my circumstances and just my daily life.... and I find that I'm more able to articulate those things in spoken conversation as well...which I have really struggled with off and on.

And so... in an effort to give myself at least SOME "heart-regularity" (which is [not so] different than the type of regularity that's the opposite of constipation), I want to try joining up with the gals over at Lisa-Jo's site for a while.  

The rules are simple: Take the one-word prompt for the day, and write on it, whatever comes to mind, for 5 minutes.  No major editing, little to no analyzing... just write.

So... here's what happened when I did this today:


The prompt is "stay" and the first thing that comes to mind is the many moments I've spent rocking my son before bed.  I remember in his baby-hood, how I'd sit and try to come up with a song for him about staying here on my shoulder just a little longer before growing up.  No song ever came together really, but that longing of my heart has never subsided.  When I'm really living IN the moment, being present to him and present IN this season of my life, this word is so profound to me.  "Stay here on my lap just another minute, buddy." Reminding me to stay here and build this ridiculous tower with him one more time, so he can knock it down one more time, so I can hear his laugh one more stay here a little longer, cuddling on the couch with my family, watching the Sound of Music.  So... I pray that I do.  I pray that I grab hold of each of these moments and stay present... stay in tune... stay engaged... just STAY.  I pray that I stay.  God, let me "stay" well.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Revisiting the Foundational Reasons For My Existence (And The Existence of Humanity in General?)

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Mike Bickle once said that every couple of weeks, he has to intentionally revisit the foundational reason for his existence and all that he does: to love God.

Lately I've been realizing my own need for periodic "alignment checks" within my heart around this topic also.  Realizing how quickly and subtly my heart and focus can get just a little off track.  I'm picturing 2 (nearly) parallel lines and how as they start to diverge, the difference in direction is virtually undetectable...but the longer you follow one of the lines, the greater your distance from the other.  My heart sometimes goes down this seemingly ALMOST-correct path for a good while before I realize that I'm several yards (or miles?!) away from the path that I had originally intended to take: simply, purely being loved by God and loving Him in return.

Oh, how I want to have no other agenda but abandoning my life to sinking deeper into the ocean that is His love, and intimately knowing His heart, and loving Him with wild abandon in return... my most extravagant love, just a pale reflection of the way He's loved me.

I absolutely ache for really deeply love Him like He's loved me.

So I've just been doing this lately... revisiting my own foundational reasons for existence.  And as God's realigned my heart yet again under this ultimate calling, I've been reminded that everything else, all that's needed, will flow out of this place... a natural product of intimacy and love.

And anything that doesn't come out of this love isn't worth hanging onto anyway....

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Investing In Adoption

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Hola, friends!

I wanted to take a few minutes today to introduce you to 2 friends of mine who are also adopting kiddos. (In case you haven't heard yet, Stan and I are in the process of adopting domestically.)

Lisa Harmon and I grew up going to school together, worked our first jobs together, and have remained friends through the years and across the miles.  She and her family have just begun the process of adopting a son from China.  They are a precious, Jesus-loving family and I SO love that they are now on the road to adoption along with me!  Please check out their first fundraiser and their super cool Chinese picture/puzzle.  It's beautiful... and sponsoring a piece of their puzzle = investing in a precious little guy being brought into a family where he'll grow up being loved deeply and encountering Jesus.

Kelsey Kautzi and I have gotten to know each other this year through a mutual friend.  We initially connected because Stan and I were at the very beginning of our adoption process and I was desperate to talk with folks who were a bit ahead of me on the fundraising journey.... Hence, enter Kelsey and her husband Eric.  These guys have not only been a great support to us through our journey up to this point; they've really become dear friends.  God has taken them on a bit of a wild ride thus far through their adoption process and they've recently come to the decision to adopt a special needs kiddo from China.  Kelsey and Eric love Jesus and love people and are doing an incredible job parenting already and I SO cannot wait to see them love on their sweet new kiddo in addition to their almost-3-year-old daughter Lila, who, incidentally, has become a super fun buddy for Isaac.  (Whew, sorry, long sentence!) They're currently running an American Girl Doll fundraiser that they (and I) would love for you to be a part of.

Thanks so much for reading about these sweet friends of mine. They are dear to my heart and I love that I get to invest in their adoption journeys even while my own is still in progress.  If you're willing, would you prayerfully consider doing a little bit to help financially with these adoptions?  And if you're not able to contribute financially, would you pray for these 2 families and their future kiddos?

I believe adoption is so close to God's heart, and every financial gift, and every prayer, is a way to partner with Him in His heart for the fatherless.

Thank you so much for sharing in my heart, too, today.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Empty Wells, Broken Cisterns, and Finding Fulfillment in Jesus

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You could've heard a pin drop.

On the women's retreat this past weekend, the lovely Jordan Sundberg spoke to our hearts, and Jesus' words through her pierced deep.

The idea was of "empty wells," or broken cisterns (Jer. 2:13).  Her challenge (or one of her challenges) to us was to identify these places we go to try to find identity, life, satisfaction outside of Jesus.  The things that, on a surface level, appear to bring satisfaction and fulfillment to our hearts, but in reality, satisfy only shallowly and temporarily.  

Empty wells leave us empty... aching for more.

Relationships.  Chocolate.  Spouses.  Pleasing people.  Facebook.  Food.  Popularity.  Influence.  Hoping in a desire yet unfulfilled.  Control.  Coffee.  (Oops, did I really just write that?!  (Coffee may or may not occasionally be one of my personal empty wells.))

None of these things are "bad" in and of themselves... but when they become the things we run to before seeking deep fulfillment and peace and strength and satisfaction in the Lord, they become "empty wells."  They don't ultimately satisfy.

I sat with those awesome ladies in the mountains and we listened and the presence of God was tangible and I would bet you money that there was not a single woman in the place that wasn't experiencing the tender, bittersweet finger of the Holy Spirit, revealing, leading, uncovering these empty wells in our hearts.

Aaaahhh.... it hurts so good.  Good, because He is so tenderly, fiercely committed to His process inside of us.  Committed to drawing us into Him until we find our everything in that Place alone.

Why do I find myself so often grasping at lesser sources of satisfaction?  Isn't the satisfaction I find in Him sweeter?  More fulfilling?  Eternal instead of temporary?  Yes.  Absolutely.  But... at the gut level... do I really believe it?  

Do I really trust His heart and His ability to satisfy me in my deep places more than anyone or anything else ever could?  When I turn to empty wells for satisfaction, the clear (and unfortunate) answer to the question... is no.  I don't trust Him. I don't trust Him to be enough, to really satisfy and breathe life into the deepest corners of my heart.


Again and again, God comes and reveals to my heart that the sources of "life" that we can easily see and feel and quickly access in the natural realm are the ones that can ultimately leave us the most empty... the least fulfilled.

And He has set it up this way. 

All our efforts outside of Him leave us longing for what can only be found in Him.  He hems us in on every side.  Everywhere we turn we run smack into the reality that nothing else satisfies.  

It's incredibly frustrating.  And it's His gift to us.  

Our inability to find the satisfaction that we so desperately seek in all of these other places, is actually evidence of His commitment to our ultimate fulfillment...which can only be found in Him.

Oh God... Reveal to me the places in my heart where I have "empty wells."  Forgive me for searching for fulfillment outside of You... for not trusting Your extravagant heart toward me, Your commitment to satisfy me completely, deeply, through and through.  Show me all of my broken cisterns, my empty wells, these hollow sources of false life... Reveal them to me, Father, so that You can come in and bring true satisfaction where all my running around has left my heart empty and broken.

John 4:13-14
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Colorado Beauty: Nature and JESUS and Precious Friends

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My dear friends!

I just returned home a couple of days ago from the place that captured my heart years ago and will forever hold a piece of me... Colorado.  This past weekend the precious ladies of the Littleton Vineyard Church had a women's retreat up in Allenspark, CO (near Estes)... and they invited me out to lead worship for them for the weekend.  Can I just say that I was SO, SO blessed to be a part of it?  Because I was.  Profoundly.

The drive up was snowy (though the roads were clear) and absolutely gorgeous.  The retreat center was fabulous....and the views were stunning.  But even more stunning were the sweetness of community among the ladies, and the sweetness of the tangible presence of Jesus... His commitment to tenderly encounter and bring healing to the hearts of each woman there.

I loved every raw, beautiful, healing minute.

(Thanks to Nicole and Jordan for several of these pics!)

The retreat weekend was sandwiched with sweet moments with dear friends.  Gotta love these Brits.  We miss them so.

Coach Ian teaches Isaac some soccer skillz.

Sue and Dana are LOOOOOPY after the retreat.
And tired.  But happy.
Blessings to you today, friends.  Juicy Jesus/heart stuff to come in the next couple of days... :)

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