Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I am a Hypocrite!
I took a picture of our living room the other day, and I just have to share it with you!

It's clean, I have my crosses on the wall (like a good Christian should) and everything is in it's place. 

Wow, don't you just want to slap me right now?  I want to slap myself!  That sounds ridiculous!  I took the picture (above) one afternoon when the sun was beaming in from our back window.  Sure, it looks ok right there, but let me show you what the sun really exposed:
  If you're reading this from a cell phone, then your small screen won't do this picture justice.  Our floor was COVERED in dog hair and grass.  Our horse-of-a-dog is shedding terribly right now, and her hair is everywhere.  But the house looks fine as long as the sun isn't beaming down, exposing just how filthy the floor really gets:)
SUNlight exposes many things we don't like:
  • Wrinkles
  • Sunspots
  • Dust
  • Dirt
  • Everything we couldn't see in the dim-lighting/ in the darkness.
But, when the S-O-N, Jesus Christ is shining through our lives, as Believers - the world sees:
  • Goodness
  • Righteousness
  • Truth
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord."  Ephesians 5:8-10

Isn't that how the world views Christians?  Good, righteous, truthful, kind, loving, moral.....right? 

Too often, the answer is, No.  One Common Worldview:  Christians = Hypocrites.
Why have "Christians" received the label "Hypocrites"? 

Well, I know for me, it's because I often look like picture #1.  It seems like I've got it together.  I've got the cross around my neck, just like the crosses on the wall.  I try to keep it all together, I pray and I go to church every time the doors are open.  I can do all of that on my own!

But the inside of my heart looks like picture #2.  Filthy.  
I AM a hypocrite! 
I am a hypocrite when I worship, and ignore that someone has something against me. *Mathew 18
I am a hypocrite when I gossip *Ephesians 4:29
I am a hypocrite when I don't control my tongue *James 1:26
I am a hypocrite when I listen to gossip *Proverbs 17:4

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness".  Matt. 23:27-28

We can go to church, we can "have it all together", we can pray, we can join every Bible Study...

BUT ONLY GOD has the power to PURIFY our hearts.  To cleanse us from the inside out.
Only the SON can expose the filth and purify us. We CANNOT do it on our own strength.

Let's get real with our own hypocrisy and
stop pointing our fingers at everyone else!

May God purify the filth within our hearts & the filth within our churches:
  • Gossip
  • Greed
  • Immorality
  • Obscenity
  • Foolish talk
  • Coarse joking
May we get real about our hypocrisy, pray for forgiveness and share with the world - what a Gracious & Merciful
God of Light we serve!

"God is light, in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.   But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our Life Is But A Breath....
I find myself in a strange place in life.  I knew how to prepare for the birth of a baby (well, at least I thought I did).  There were midnight cravings, the first kick, the painting of the nursery, the revealing of the baby's sex, baby showers and ultrasounds.
But I have NO idea how to prepare for adoption. 
So far, it's consisted of:
  • Solitude - I spend EVERY free minute (I can find) reading, researching and reading more.
  • Lots of prayer - My prayer list seems endless.
  • Saving - I never dreamed we would look at every penny the way we do now - it's REALLY transformed our "I NEED it" moments.
  • Writing - I want to record our journey, so that we NEVER forget God's hand in all of it.
One of the hardest aspects for me is just trying to find a "balance" in life. 

The balance of preparing for the future
and not missing the beauty of the present.

In the midst of trying to prepare for adoption, I don't want to miss a moment with our three who are growing up way too fast!  But, in my human nature, I do get tangled in the business of life.

I'm so thankful for my husband, who quickly recognizes when we need to slow things down a bit and refocus our family.  So, this weekend, we packed up the car, got out of Fort Smith...

and headed to the White River. 
Outdoors, in God's beautiful creation.

                                                                     We fished!

We played with friends!

And I just soaked in every moment.  
Every beautiful moment. 

It wasn't a trip to Disney World or an extravagant vacation.  It was just two days outdoors and the opportunity to be with friends and relatives.  God knew that was EXACTLY what we needed! 

It were as if, everywhere I turned, God was showing me His greatness...The peaceful mornings - the smell of the crisp, cool air and the melodious songs of nature, waterfalls, powerful rushing rivers, fish of every color, the laughter of children and even swarms of butterflies who, in my mind, were there just to say 'hello' to me. :)  It's amazing what He showed me, when I just took the time to look around.

But now we are home.  Back to the noises of this busy life. 

If you're like me and find yourself constantly tangled in the business of life....Remember this:

"You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you.  Each man's life is but a breath."
Psalm 39:5

Slow down and take time for what matters most.  If we're too busy for the Lord, then we are TOO busy!  Learn to say, "no" to some things.  Don't over-commit your time/yourself.  Turn off the TV, the computer, the cell phone and all the other extra noises in your life (at least once in a while).  Stop trying to keep up with the Jones's.  Don't jump from one activity or sport to the next.  It's ok to have an off-season.  Whatever it takes, just slow down.  Our life is but a breath.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Update on Adoption Process...
Increasing Our Faith

Well, I am still adjusting to the fact that this is NOT something that will happen over night!  We are in for a VERY long journey and we have a VERY HUGE mountain to climb. 

BUT faithful! 

I work in a preschool with a very dear friend named Randa.  We share in the joy of teaching two and three-year-olds every Tuesday and Thursday together.  Somehow, along the way, we came up with the tradition of bringing sweet teas to one another every morning (either she would buy or I would buy).

Randa knows that we are working on saving every penny we can to work towards raising money for our adoption, and she lovingly gave up the tea addiction with me.  Little did she know how I had been praying for God to continue to confirm to me that Spence and I were moving in the right direction.

My prayers on Monday:  "Oh Lord, please show me how this will ever work out.  It doesn't make any sense to me when I think about what an expensive process this will be!  Please God, show me if this is TRULY your will.  Please increase my faith!"

Tuesday morning, Randa and I meet in the parking lot at work and she says, "Leah, this may not make any sense to you, but the Lord told me to give you this $2 that I would have spent on our teas this morning". 

I choked back the tears and said, "Oh it DOES make sense to me!  You have NO idea how much sense this makes my friend!  God is answering my prayer."  Immidiately, in my heart, I felt the Lord confirming....One dollar at a time, one step at a time.....God is faithful.....we just have to keep standing on that Solid Rock! 
I was THRILLED when our first adoption packet came in the mail!!!

And then I opened it up.....

WOW, there are so many decisions to be made, so much to pray through! 
  • Where would we want to adopt from?
  • Do we want a girl or a boy?
  • Would we be able to care for a "special needs" child?
  • What age would we want the child to be?
  • What agency should we choose?
The list goes on and on:)

Will you say a prayer for us today?  Pray for God's guidance, His strength and His provision. 

Is there a mountain you are trying to climb today? 

Jesus replied, "Because you have so little faith, I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you."

Tell that mountain to M-O-V-E!  May God increase our faith!!!

"On Christ the Solid Rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Is Your Fragrance?

The fragrance of lavender brings back so many sweet memories of my Grandmother.  Although I am not a big fan of that particular scent, I love the memories it brings.  Grandma loved everything lavender - candles, soaps and perfumes.  When she passed away, she left us such sweet memories:
  • The memory of baking snicker doodles together - she knew they were my favorite! 
  • Her love for music.  She was always humming (I can still hear the tune, "la ti da, la da da....") 
  • Her love for birds - she knew every one of them by name, and guess what?...I LOVE birds too!  My friend actually makes fun of my bird knowledge!  I admit, it is a bit strange:)
  • Her sweet, sweet letters.  She wrote to me all throughout my years in college, and today it makes me cry just to run my hands across each hand-written word.
  • The memories of picking wildflowers together - they were her favorite.
These wildflowers set in the middle of our dining table. 
Oh, she would be so proud.

Thinking of my grandmother today brought me to a place of reflection:
As a Followers of Christ, what will I leave behind when I pass from this Earth?
2 Corinthians:14-15
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.  For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing".

An "aroma" FILLS a room.  This particular passage tells us that we are to fill every place we go with "the aroma of Christ"... leaving behind a Spiritual Scent. 

How have we twisted this over time? 
There are so many other things we feel we need to leave behind:
  •  Money
  • Fame/A Name for ourselves
  • Success - in sports, in business & in everything
  • "Best Parent Award" - I gave my children everything I never had!
  • Lots of Earthly goods (to fight over when I'm gone)
But how many of us can genuinely say:
"I just want to leave the aroma of Christ EVERYWHERE I go - even if that's all I leave on this Earth."

Saturday, March 10, 2012


We have had some very interesting conversations in our home lately.  Our kids have a LOT of questions and even have their own ideas about adoption. 

Hannah talks all about HOW she wants to decorate her sister's bedroom with butterflies.
Jordan wants to know WHY it's going to take so long for this to happen.
And Solon is persistently asking WHAT her name is going to be.

Yesterday I just finally asked Solon, "Buddy, what do YOU want her name to be"?  He thought for a long time.  "Ummmmm... How about, Maggie" (That's our dog's name).  "How about, Callie". (That's our Cat).  Then, it finally came to him....."Happy.  Let's name her Happy"!  My reply (with a big smile), "Well, what about Joy"?  "Yes!" he said with a huge smile.  "Joy, Joy, let's name her Joy"!

For the rest of the day I thought about the word JOY.  I thought about the song I use to sing as a little girl, and that I sing to my kids now:
"I've got joy, down in my heart. 
Deep Deep down in my heart.
Spell it!
Down in my heart.
Deep Deep down in my heart!
Jesus put it there...."

And I thought about this passage of scripture:
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus".  1 Thes. 5:16

Be joyful ALWAYS?
Give thanks in ALL circumstances?

Wow, that's tough!
It's hard to be joyful when we're hurting, when we feel alone and when we feel like giving up.
It's hard to pray when we are growing impatient and we find ourselves asking, "WHY hasn't God answered my prayer?!"
And it's hard to give thanks when we don't particularly like the circumstance we find ourselves in.
BUT (Don't you just love the "But God" moments found all throughout scripture?)

No matter how we may feel at this very moment...
We are to be Joyful
We are to keep on praying
We are to give thanks

Not my will, but His.

No more excuses for why I just can't be joyful. 
It is God's WILL. 
PRAY, PRAY and PRAY some more
GIVE THANKS - even when you don't feel like it

Do you remember the rest of the song? 
"Jesus put it there, and nothing can destroy it, stroy it, stroy it, HUH!
I've got joy down in my heart,
Deep Deep down in my heart"

May you find JOY today, resting in your Heavenly Father's will for your life.
And may you let NOTHING destroy it!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Doubt - Don't Ya Just Hate It?!

WOW, did doubt ever creep in last night!  And it was NASTY!  It was UGLY!  And it made me really ugly too!  So ugly that I had to appologize to my sweet husband.

When I feel the Lord calling me to something I do one of two things:
A.  I rationalize and make excuse after excuse/just put it off (sometimes for forever)
B.  I DIVE in FULL force, pushing everything out of my way to follow His calling...

And 'B' leads me to this:  As SOON as anyone questions what I'm doing, I just shut down, and often give up. 

Have you ever felt this way?  You felt so strongly about something, you KNEW it was from the Lord, but when the world around you said, "That's CRAZY", you started to think....Well, maybe I am crazy.  Maybe God didn't call me to this. 

Doubt very quickly became my 'sinking sand' yesterday.  But you know what's the best part of times of doubt?  Watching God work!  I'm very grateful to our Heavenly Father that we don't have to try and figure everything out right here, right now. 

When you can't figure out how this could possibly be God's will, just STOP. We don't have to try and put all the puzzle pieces together today!  He holds EVERY piece in His hand, so just hold onto Him.  As the pieces of God's Big Picture start to fit together...HE gets ALL the glory!

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all whithout reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all his ways."  James 1:5-8

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

No More Sonic Happy Hour

This weekend, our youth did a "30 Hour Famine" to raise awareness of hunger issues around the world.  Something they said has just been on my heart all day today:

"$1.00 a day can feed starving children". 

$1.00 a day!!!  Why has that been on my mind all day?  And then it hit me.....SONIC.  Oh, how I love my Sonic Happy Hour drink!  And as I was carrying it in the house, just now, I was SO convicted about how flippantly I spend $1.21 almost EVERY day at Sonic...on a carbonated beverage!  I don't even need it to survive (well sometimes I FEEL like I do - ha, ha). 

My husband has a lot of questions about the financial aspect of international adoption (and rightfully so).  But for me, not spending a $1.21 EVERY day at Sonic is just ONE tangible way I can begin to provide for our "little angel" out there somewhere.  That's over $400 in just one year! 

Don't you just LOVE how God speaks to each of us in that still, small voice?  I have been stubborn for WAY too long and have not obeyed in so many "little" areas of my life!  Oh God forgive me! 

What is He whispering to you today? Listen.

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."  John 10:27

Monday, March 5, 2012

Praying About International Adoption

Well, this Blog may come together like a puzzle - one of those puzzles that sits out on a table and comes together a little here & a little there.  It's almost time to go pick the kids up from school, so not much time to write today. :) 

This morning, i just couldn't get this song out of my head:  "On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand....all other ground is sinking sand."  I began to think about all the times I felt I was falling into that pit of sinking sand.  So many times I tried to get out on my own, and all the while God was calling out - "Stand upon Me".  Journeying through this life, on our own strength, gets exhausting, and on our own strength, we so easily slip into those sinking sands. 

I hope that just sharing my journey will help women, young and old, find encouragement and even some laughs at times. 

Spence and I are in full time youth ministry and  praying through the possibility of International Adoption.  This is something that has been on my heart for many years (even before the birth of our three).  It's one of those things I just cant seem to shake.  It's on my mind all of the time.  I sit at our dinner table and picture a fourth child in our empty chair.  I look in my rear view mirror and can see her smiling face.  I randomly run into people at the grocery store, and before I know it, our conversation has led to the topic of adoption. 

So, in this time, I'm standing on the Rock.  I understand fully that this may be a VERY long journey, before we ever get to meet that precious smiling face.  Until then, I hope to meet many sweet women and hear of your journeys as well!