Growth...of our our walk with all things to worship HIM!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Time to Give Thanks

It is so very humbling to look back on all the ways 
Christ has stretched us as individuals and grown us as a family this year!!

We have so very much to be thankful for!!!

Often we share this special holiday with extended family or friends.  
This year we spent the day as a family of five.

Our newest treasure had many questions about 
what Thanksgiving is, what we will do, and of course...
what will we eat:)

He is not terribly fond of trying new foods 
so we decided to fill him up with some comfort foods for breakfast. 
(fried rice and toyu (salty fish cooked in oil)) 

I accomplished the baking yesterday.
(Homemade bread, Pumpkin Pie, and Lemon Sponge Pie 
(takes me back to my Pennsylvania roots and reminds me of home)

Today my hubby made the turkey AND the rest of the sides!
He is so very fabulous and blesses me tremendously!!!

The day was spent 
thanking the Lord for our many blessings,
making thankful crafts,
eating, eating, eating,
watching the parade on tv, 
playing board games,
watching football,
did I mention eating??!!??

And when it was time to go back for leftovers this evening,
our sweet boy asked if he could go back to his fish and rice:)
We all giggled until his fish fell into the cooling apple crisp...
life is never dull around here,
and we would never have it any other way!!!!

I pray that all of you in bloggy land had a 
blessed, Christ-centered holiday!

From our family to yours...HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ugly Can Spill Out...

I made a commitment to live out loud 
as we grow in Christ and grow as a family.  

There are times that I am tempted to hide my raw emotions
and only share the victories on this faith journey. 

But I am reminded that I need to be real...
even when those feeling/emotions are raw and potentially ugly.

Yesterday, I felt broken
my heart hurt deeply
and somehow, the enemy of my soul whispered his ugly nothings
and tried to convinced me that I am not a good Christian
because of my fleshy feelings that I was experiencing.  

Let me explain...
I have shared openly that my heart's desire is to be a mom of many.  God has richly blessed our family with 4 priceless treasures (three in our home and one in heaven).  HE has grown us and broken our hearts for what breaks HIS.

We have prayed many times each and every day that God would lead us to the next treasures HE has hand picked for our home.  We pray as a family, the kids and I pray during our morning devotion time, and I cry out to God in my alone time with HIM.  We have knocked on many doors over the past ten months.  (we have tried to return to the Philippines earlier than the two year rule, and have pursued adoption through the foster system)  And so far it has not been God's will for our family.  The doors closed each time.  

With over 150 million orphans world wide...
with the fact that we are open to children from every nation, tribe, and tongue...
and the fact that we are open to children age 0-12 (because our baby girl would rather not remain the youngest...we adopted once out of birth order.  It is going very well but we want to respect this request for the next adoption)
Because we are not specific to a country or is at times unclear where to walk.  

I have specifically been praying that God would bring the next children to us.  That HE would remove all questions of who/where and bring our littles to us.  So when we are contacted, we walk through the door fully believing it could be answer to that prayer.  

Over the past months...
We were contacted about fostering (with a possibility of future adoption) a sibling group that we know personally.  We said yes, took steps forward as doors opened, and prepared our hearts for these treasures.  In the end it was not God's plan for the sweet littles or our family and the doors eventually closed.  

Five weeks ago we learned of an urgent plea to keep three siblings together from Colombia.  We stepped out and asked for information.  We learned that another family asked for their file before us.  We were happy that a family came forward for the children and had peace with the closed door.  

Last Monday we were contacted by a fabulous social worker that we worked with while pursuing domestic infant adoption.  We had not been in communication with her for a very long time.  She asked if we were still interested in adopting and if our home study was up to date.  A baby was born three days before and was in need of a family.  Once again my nose was to the carpet of our closet (my special prayer place) and I cried out to God to open doors...IF IT WAS HIS WILL.  In the end, it was not HIS perfect plan for the sweet treasure, or our family.  

Two days ago I got an email about the sibling group of three from Colombia.  The family that pulled their file was not interested in following through with the adoption.  The social worker wondered if we would still consider adopting them and if I would be available for a phone conversation the next morning.  Look at that, a door that was closed 5 weeks prior was back open.  We said yes please!!  We were back on our knees before the Lord seeking HIS will.  And, I was preparing a place in my heart and home for a 12, 9, and 6 year old.  I was also wrapping my mind around having THREE 13 year olds in my home at the same time.  (The oldest is 3 months younger than Kylee:):)

Yesterday I spoke to the social worker.  We had a very long conversation, and the social worker answered my many questions.  About 45 minutes into the conversation, after hearing much about the children and losing my heart to them, the social worker paused.  While talking to me, one of her co workers passed a note that said that they just got word that a family from another agency just sent a letter of intent to the powers that be in Colombia to adopt the sibling group.  Door closed....a second time:)

Bloggy friends, 
I know my Heavenly Father is completely in control!!  

I know he has a fabulous plan for our family.  

And I am confident that HE will continue to bring sweet treasures to our family in years to come.  

We have specifically prayed for HIS will and for HIM to open/close doors.  

I actually pray very regularly that HE would save me from myself and not allow me to go down a path that is not of HIM because my compassionate heart can get me in much trouble:)


At the same time...
I am human, I am a sinner saved by grace, I am selfish, and I have a mama's heart.
Because of this, as I sprint forward in what God has placed on my can be painful...and my ugly can spill out!!!  

I have shed many many tears over the past week.  I have asked God why he would allow me to know about situations that are not for me (I told you my fleshy selfish heart comes out!)  I have asked why HE would open doors again just to close them a second time.  

My mind knows the truth friends.  I pray MUCH for children on waiting lists around the world, I pray for every situation that God brings to my knowledge.  Each situation that appeared to be an open door leads to much prayer for the children, their caregivers, the birth family, and the adoptive family (whoever they may be).  

The obvious answer is that God brings about situations for me to pray.  

And he uses every single situation for my grow me in my walk with HIM.

Where my fleshy, human, selfish heart comes in is that I want to also walk forward to fill our home.  When I see the gorgeous eyes of littles needing a home, or hear their story...I want to be their mama.  

I know I cannot parent them all.  Aaron actually teases me regularly about having a couple million:):)  (He is also the first to ask when the next children will come to our home and makes sure I haven't forgotten his vote is for boys:):)

I have been told that I need to choose to not be emotionally attached.  I have been told that some people can control their emotions better than others.  I have been told callously that the situations are not God's plan so I should be thankful and move on.  

My head truly knows to be thankful in all circumstances.  I know that I "should not" be wrecked over each closed door.  I know to be content in the waiting.  And God truly knows my heart in this journey.  

But friends, I am not a super Christian.  
I do not have it all together.  
I am  so.  not.  perfect.  
The truth is... my heart hurts.

I am letting my ugly hang out in this novel because I believe there are others out there that struggle in the waiting...struggle knowing the great need, having the heart to move, but not having a green light yet.  

There are others like me that are not perfect and have to be reminded to not only ask Christ to open doors and show His plan....but to cry out to father God to heal our aching heart and teach us to love the giver even more than the gift.  

There are others that need to wrap themselves in God's promises, physically cry out to HIM,  and get lost in his infinite goodness!!

So often we want to appear to have it all together.  We do not want to let the world see our ugly.  Because in our finite viewfinders, we do not see that others struggle with similar challenges.  

I am completely conscious of the fact that these endless words are for my benefit and may never resonate with someone else.  

But in the even you are struggling.  In the event your heart hurts for one reason or another...know that it is ok to hurt.  God made us in HIS image and desires for us to be like HIM.  

The process of stripping selfishness, and growing in love and compassion... for me...may be a painful process.  BUT, I know that Christ is full of love and compassion.  When I run to HIS arms, wrap myself in HIS truth, rest in HIS presence...HE will comfort and give me peace.  

I do not believe that we can prevent our ugly from rising up at times.  
The important thing is what we do when the ugly spills out!!  

Life Keeps Moving Forward

I have no real excuses for not keeping up with the blog writing side of things.  

I think there are seasons where I need to share it all out loud,

and seasons that I cherish the moment and ponder it in my heart.  

And, truth be told, there are seasons where you just hope that you can accomplish a great school day, your shirt isn't inside out, and there is a clean pair of socks somewhere in the house.

We have shared some fabulous moments as we grow together...

A very special young lady turned 13!!!!
and is growing into such a beautiful young woman!!
(I know...we need more locks for the house)

We spent the afternoon taking pictures at her favorite place...

 with her favorite 4 legged friends.

She went on a very special dinner date with her daddy!!
They talked about trusting daddy with her heart until it is time to give it to another.

 After their special date they came home to have cake and presents with the rest of the family.

We love you sweet girl and look forward to seeing what this next year brings!!

Aaron has made great strides over the past weeks as well.
He is not a tremendous risk taker.  
He likes to know what is planned and what is involved in a given activity.  
It took much courage for our sweet boy to try out for a competitive team!

For weeks he tried everything he could to get out of going to practice and games.
But that was his fear talking.  

Aaron is growing in confidence each time he walks on the court!!

Yesterday was a rough day for this mama.  (my next post for sure)
Aaron, looked at me and said, "Mommy, do you know that I love you?"

Oh the growth we have made!!!!!

Our oldest baby girl is growing as well.
She has been seeking God's will for her life
as we near the end of the first semester of her senior year.

Mélika has known since she was 13 that she wants to be a full time missionary.
The challenge has been to discern God's plan for getting her there.

Her youth pastor gave a challenge to the graduating seniors...
he asked them to consider putting their plans of college/jobs aside for one year
and GO to serve others and seek God's will for their life.
The catch is that they would not choose WHERE they would go.

Our daughter is absolutely beside herself excited
about where she is going and what she will be doing.
(I choose not to share the location online for her safety and those she may be interacting with)

Here father and I are also very very excited for this priceless opportunity
to be the hands and feet of Christ!!

And this will be just one more opportunity
to keep this mama on her knees before our Father God!!