Monday, July 23, 2012

Advocating for one of the least of these...

I want to share the story of a little boy who has been lingering in an orphanage in China for many years...watching as children around him get adopted and still not finding a forever family of his own. 

Please take a moment to visit this website and read about Jackie.  You never know... he may be your son or the son of someone you know!

http://givemeafamily.blogspot.com/2012/07/5-years-is-long-enough-jackie.html

Pass along this information, blog about him, tell your friends and family. You never know who the Holy Spirit could be prompting someone right now to adopt an older child from China.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sometimes I... (the anniversary edition)

July 21st... our 22nd wedding anniversary... for Larry


Sometimes I…
...think we’ve been together forever

…think that time flies by too fast

…love the smell of the bathroom after you get ready for work

…wonder what you see in me

…wonder if I’ll ever be what you see in me

…am amazed by the children we share

…am amazed by the father you are

…am thankful for your ability to see the big picture and then show it to me

…enjoy your sense of humor

…appreciate your patience with me

…see things from your point of view

…don’t but love you anyway

…want to fall asleep in your arms

…am grateful that you can make a mean breakfast in bed

…am beyond myself when I realize how you love me

…am overwhelmed by how much I love you

Small doors? Not this time!

So my last post was about walking through those small doors that God opens for you and being faithful in them instead of just waiting for big doors to open.  No sooner had I posted those words, then a HUGE door opened in our lives.  We are choosing to walk through this big door, one little door at a time and allowing God to direct this journey.  This door is exciting and scary at the same time and I promise I will reveal more as we walk through the small doors.  Right now I'm holding on to God's promises that he will make a way when there is no other way.

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19
Are you facing some big doors?  Or maybe some small ones that God is asking you to not discount but to walk through anyway?  I would love to pray with and for you as you take the steps of faith to obediently walk through whatever door he has opened for you.  Leave me a comment and tell me how I can pray for you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Small Doors

Today I read this in my Lysa TerKeurst devotional:
* Look for the small open doors right in front of you. I always scratch my head when I meet people that tell me they want to write and speak but aren’t willing to teach a small Bible study first. If God is calling you to do something-He’ll have a door open in front of you. But it might be a small door. Look for the small door and walk through it.
I was very convicted.  I have a tendency to look for the big open doors and get disappointed when I don't see any.  Sometimes my disappointment morphs itself into resentment.  Today I pray to learn to recognize these "small doors" and not just ignore them...that once I recognize one, I pray I walk through it...that I take the opportunity to fulfil God's will for me in that particular situation no matter how "small" it may seem.

Friday, July 06, 2012

What Kind of Tunnel Is This?

I'm in a dark place today.  Doors seem to be shutting for me in every area of my life and my question for God right now is "why?".  I long for a "calling".  I long for fulfilment of that calling. I long to be used by God.  Right now I'm struggling with why He doesn't want to use me or if He does why doesn't he show me where.  How do I reach beyond this darkness and keep up with the day to day life that is just frankly boring for me right now?  I can persevere through this but I sure would like to with some kind of light at the end of the tunnel.  This tunnel has been too long.

Today this is what I cling to...with bleeding finger nails...grasping with all my might:
Remember your word to your servant,
because you have given me hope.
This is my comfort in my trouble,
that your promise gives me life.
Psalm 119:49-50

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Benediction

I think one of my favorite parts of any church service is the benediction.  I just feel like holding my hands up (and sometimes I do), lifting my face toward heaven and drinking in the blessing.  Today one of my facebook friends posted this benediction from Romans 15:13.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I cling to this blessing today as I am bound to this period of waiting. 

I'm following a voice in faithful pursuit
I'm searching my soul to do what I'm called to do
I need Your benediction, where's Your benediction?
I'm battling the odds through faces of doubt
And it would mean so much if you could send me out
With Your benediction, I need Your benediction
                          -Susan Ashton, "Benediction"

Monday, July 02, 2012

Moving Forward or Moving On

Right now I am at a stage where I'm waiting for answers.  Mostly I want answers so I can move forward or move on.  The problem comes when I start contemplating the option of moving on instead of forward.  What would that look like?  And I come up with no response.  I don't have an option B in many cases.  So do I start planning my life as if I need to move on and create a Plan B?  The fact is that I'm scared to think about moving on.  It's too ambiguous.  I'm clinging to Jeremiah 29:11 and preaching it's truth to myself over and over.  I have to.  Because the minute I lose sight of the fact that God has a plan for me (one with a hope and a future) I lose it...energy, peace, joy... I must preach this to myself and in the next second, preach it again.

What do you do when you're waiting for answers?  What are some of your coping mechanisms or truths from scripture that help sustain you?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Repost: Sometimes I...(originally Nov. 14, 2008)

Sometimes I...



...miss nursing two of my babies and wish I could have nursed the other two
...know I am more sinful that I would ever admit
...know I am more loved than I could ever imagine
...hate my undisciplined self
...can't believe how I talk to my kids
...love how I make my kids laugh
...need to get away
...am scared of eternity
...feel caught outside of time
...don't think anyone understands
...am overwhelmed by grace
...wish I shared grace more freely with others
...think there may be one more child out there that needs our family
...wake up
...worry that there isn't anything more than what is right now
...don't want "right now" to ever end
...spend too much time comparing myself to everyone else
...miss the sound of a train off in the distance and my chest hurts
...am a total bitch
...remember to apologize
...remember to forgive myself
...take him for granted
...lose myself in the smell of his neck
...am spinning my wheels
...am spinning too many plates
...am spinning tales
...like to shut it all out
...live for the applause of others
...wish I didn't care
...have standards that are too high
...root for the underdog
...wish my children would just grow up
...wish they never would
...am lazy
...realize how much I miss when I'm lazy
...spend too much time in regret
...forget how to dream
...forget how to hope
...forget how to love
...want to be sung to sleep
...feel like a burden
...want a house
...remember to be grateful
...forget
...let my emotional life be dictated by his mood
...feel safer with him than ever
...know I love him more now than ever before
...wonder if he really does love me
...marvel at the father he is to our children
...watch my babies sleep and am held captive by the moment
...remember the moment my soul met each of my child's souls and they recognized us as family

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Searching for a Sign

Sometimes I'm so silly.  I tend to be an impatient person and waiting is not my forte.  I'd rather stick nails in my eyeballs then wait in line at the grocery store.  I've contemplated ramming my cart into the butt of the lady in front of me at times. You know the one... the one who took 35 items into the 15 items or less line and then has to search through her coupons AT the register instead of having them ready before hand...if I'm really lucky she has a screaming child begging for the candy that's surrounding us on all sides (thanks grocery stores everywhere for this brilliant marketing plan...we parents just can't wait for that portion of the shopping trip.)

If I'm impatient in the midst of a little shopping trip, you can imagine what a bitch I can be when I have to wait for things that are really important...like medical results, checks in the mail, houses selling and figuring out what I'm supposed to be doing with the rest of my life.  I'm there right now...hanging in the balance of a lot of "not knowing".  I read this verse the other day:
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14
I'm pretty sure that God had David write this specifically for me. (nevermind the several thousand year delay in getting to the right person)  Notice how he repeats the phrase "wait for the LORD"?  Apparently some of us I need the extra emphasis.  So I'm trying this "being strong and taking heart" thing...I've been throwing up "help!" prayers several times an hour and I think it might be working a little.  The bitch level is definitely lower than usual but I'm still searching everywhere for a sign...something that will give me the answers I'm looking for.  In the meantime, I'll keep hurling my "help" prayers up to God and meditating on this verse until it is born in my spirit and burned on my soul.

What are you waiting for? Have you found help from any promises of God?  What is encouraging you during your wait?

Promise for the Day

Promise for day: Because of the Lord's great love we are NOT consumed, for his compassions NEVER fail. They are new EVERY morning; GREAT is your faithfulness!
Lamentations 3:22-23


Have you ever felt "consumed"?  It could be either by your overwhelming responsibilities or by a toxic relationship that seems to linger or just worries about things you can't control.  So many times for me it can be all three at once.  I have the added strike against my feelings because I fight against depression on a minute to minute basis.  But the truth is that our feelings are not reality.  God promises that we will NOT be consumed.  We can trust this because His compassions NEVER fail.  God is bigger than our feelings of overwhelm, worry and breaking points.  AND he renews his compassions for us each and every morning.  What a great way to start the day...put your feelings into a truth perspective.

What consumes you today?  I'd like you to share so I can pray for you today (and that is NOT a platitude).  Bathe yourself in this promise before you carry on any further!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cravings

I've embarked on a new journey. A journey that I'm hoping will lead me deeper into discipline and more intimacy in my relationship with God. I've started a diet program and also a Bible Study called "Made To Crave" by Lysa Terkeurst. This week one of the discussion questions was about our cravings...

My cravings look like a puzzle piece that will fill the weird emptiness in me that comes shaped with nooks and crannies. My struggle with the medical diagnosis of depression hasn't stopped me from trying to fill those empty spaces with food...if anything it's fueled them.

I'm mean, I'm supposed to be feeling better with my medication, right? Often I don't and so I self-medicate, self-stimulate, self-mutilate with food. I know, intellectually, that I need to run to my Father at these times. I also know that my sinful tendency is to hide instead (like
Adam and Eve in the garden). It's much easier to eat in secret and pretend to the world that everything is fine.

I am struggling with letting go of this crutch and just clinging to Him. I am so used to being controlled by my emotions that when I don't "feel" him, it's hard to believe he's there. That's why doing this study and practicing this discipline is so very important to MY spiritual life. I need the discipline because my emotions are fragile and unreliable. HE is faithful. HE is eternal. HE is what I NEED.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Rerun of Return to Me

reposted from April 15,2007 (this story is a truth that I preach to myself over and over again so I thought I would share again)

Our church just began a series of sermons today on the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. The focus was on the church in Ephesus and "returning to our first love"... in particular, how we spend so much time trying to look like "good Christians" that we neglect our relationship with the One it is all about. One of the "responses" that our Pastor encouraged us to pursue was to take some time in the next 24 hours to reflect on when our faith first came alive and write about it.

As I was thinking through this exercise, I had some trouble identifying a specific time period or age when this occurred for me. Being brought up in a Christian home and identifying myself as a Christian for my entire life has put me in the position (sometimes awkward in church circles) of not having a "conversion date" (or "spiritual birthday" as those who trumpet their own like to call it). My relationship with Christ has all been a journey and not always linear.

I did find, however, that even though I couldn't point to a conversion experience, I could clearly recall moments where grace sneaked into my life and invaded my space...changing forever the way I viewed God, myself and the world around me and marking that instant of time as life altering kairos.

I experienced one of these moments in November of 1997.

The months, even years, leading up to this particular winter were some of the most difficult of my life and definitely the most difficult in our marriage. We had been dealing with everything from secondary infertility to finishing a master's degree, raising the most precocious toddler on earth and watching our marriage fall apart. Both wounded, angry and tired, we had committed to being obedient...despite how we "felt"...and staying in and working on our marriage. During the worst months of our marriage and the first couple months of our decision to love each other "no matter what", we had put our plans for expanding our family on hold... no fertility treatments, no talks about adoption... not right now.

On November 10th, I received a call from an adoption facilitator, Sarah, who we had met through a crisis pregnancy center. She informed me that she was in contact with several birth moms who were looking specifically for Christian families for their babies. Sarah liked to give the birth moms information on several families so that they could make the best decision about placing their children. At this particular time, she felt she didn't have enough families that fit these requests to give the girls real options. In addition, one had already given birth and a couple others were due any day. Time was of the essence. She asked me if Larry and I would consider submitting a "birth mother" letter for her to offer along with the few other families she currently had on file.

Larry and I were overwhelmed with every emotion imaginable...excitement, fear, apprehension. We knew we were not even out of the pit our marriage had fallen into...would this even be wise? We prayed about it together that night and talked to our parents and some trusted people at church. Then, believing that God had His hand on this and had confirmed it, we wrote the letter and on the 12th I drove it up to Sarah's office.

On Friday, the 14th, I received a page from Sarah (the days of the ever present cell phone had not yet arrived). I returned her call and she reminded me to make copies of the letter so that she could present them to the birth mothers. I assured her that I would get them done and deliver them later that day. Not half an hour later, my phone rang. I answered and Sarah said, "You know, Melissa, don't bother making copies of that letter." My immediate panicked thought was, "What could she have found out about us?" She followed up immediately with, "I read your letter to a birth mom over the phone and she picked your family! The baby is five months old already and you can meet him on Sunday." WHAT??????!!!!!!!!

I'm sure I don't need to go into the details of our crazy weekend. I can share that another time. Suffice it to say that we met Desiree and our sweet Isaac on Sunday, November 16th and Monday, November 17th he was in our home. A true miracle.

With no time to prepare, we ended up setting up a Pack 'n Play in our bedroom next to our bed for him to sleep in. He slept through the first night but the second night he woke up whimpering. I leaned over, still in compete amazement over this gift with which God had astonished us. I gently lifted him into bed and placed him between me and Larry. He continued to whimper and reached about with his little hand until he found my face in the dark. He placed his little palm on my cheek and immediately stopped crying... falling asleep with his hand still on my face. Tears streamed down my face and soaked my pillow and his little hand. Larry whispered, "Are you okay?" All I could say was, "I don't deserve this."

THAT is grace. God had given us a gift in Isaac. He had shown us that He believed in our family...that He would sustain our marriage. Grace had invaded my space.

These are the moments I need to remember... what God has done for me, the chief of sinners. I need to keep that wonder... return to that wonder...the wonder of His grace.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weakness

I've been overwhelmed the last few weeks at how weak I really am. My tendencies to choose the easy way and reject challenge makes me angry but obviously not angry enough to do anything about it.

This week I am embarking on a challenge that I've been avoiding for some time now. I am planning to undergird this venture with spiritual nourishment. I need the extra support and to believe in something bigger than myself. I know, all too well, how weak I am. I know, all too well, how easily I quit. I know, all too well, how I struggle with discouragement. But, thankfully, I also know that I am loved by Someone who is all powerful... whose power is made evident THROUGH my weakness. My prayer is that my mind be daily renewed by this knowledge and that I remember to lean on the rock that is higher.