Monday, September 10, 2012

BIG News...

Have you ever felt God leading you to do something?  When you feel that calling, you can't think of anything else.  It drives your every move.  It keeps you awake at night and leads you to constant prayer throughout the day. 

This was how I felt in the call towards adoption.  In December of 2011, Spencer and I began praying and seeking God to bring a fourth child into our home through adoption.  Soon we began Joy-Full Creations to help raise the $30,000 it would take for an International adoption.  I dreamed of this precious little girl who would one day come into our home.  Friends and family rallyed around us and even helped paint/cut crosses and organize booths for craft fairs.  Our children began to think of names for their little sister and sorted through the toys they would give her.

In July, God led us to move to Oklahoma, so all of our adoption paperwork had to be put on hold.

What happens when God's calling doesn't go quite the way you had invisioned?

A few weeks ago, our adoption plans came to a screetching hault.  We had just moved to Oklahoma and I felt like a crazy person, but something else was going on...

Something was off.
I wasn't feeling like myself.
I was crying all the time and I just wanted to sleep.
I thought it was only the stress of the move,
But there was more going on...

I locked myself in my bathroom and, 3 tests later, swallowed the reality of the results...


The shock and confusion I felt in that moment is beyond words.  HOW could I be SO sure of God's prompting towards adoption but He have a different plan?  HOW was this possible?  HOW can I carry a baby at the age of 34?  HOW can I have a 5th grader and a newborn?  The questions raced through my mind non-stop for hours. 

I talked to my mom for quite sometime and, although very surprised, she was thrilled!  God began to bring peace a little at a time.  When Spencer came home that evening I shared the news with him. I will never forget the look on my sweet husbands face as I shared!  After (what seemed like) an eternity of silence, he turned to me and said, "Well honey, we knew we wanted a 4th child,  God just has a different plan of giving it to us."

The next morning, I woke up as the sun was rising.  God woke me up to this:

It's amazing the peace God can bring to our hearts
with the freshness of each new day.
His peace swept over me like a flood that morning.  I couldn't stop praising Him for this miracle within me.  I couldn't stop whispering, "Your ways are not my ways Lord" over and over again.

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways', declares the Lord.  'As the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts,'."  Isaiah 55:8&9

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."  Proverbs 16:9

We are so VERY grateful to God for entrusting us with this little miracle. 
I am 10 weeks along and the baby is due April 10th.  At our ultrasound, we were able to see the tiny little kicking movements and hear baby's precious heartbeat...Another display of God's magnitude and greatness!

We DO NOT know what the future holds for adoption, but we KNOW who holds the future!  All of our adoption funds will remain in "Joy's Special Account".  We trust that God still has a plan and He will reveal it to us in His perfect timing.

Maybe our story is just to remind others that nothing is too big for God.  With Him, ALL things are possible.

Maybe He is doing so much more than I can imagine in the here and now.

There is no greater peace than knowing that He holds EVERYTHING in His hands...EVERYTHING!  We can fret and worry and question His ways but really, all we have to do is TRUST. 

We trust that we may only see a piece of the puzzle but He sees the entire picture.  He knows how each and every piece fits together for HIS glory.

We trust that His plan will always prevail for He knows best.  We can plan everything out in our minds, but we may never know what He is protecting us from as He reroutes our paths.

We trust in His ways and not our own. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Christianity & My True Colors

So much has changed since my last post.  Each time I would sit down to try and write again my mind was blank...there was only silence. 

Several months ago, Spencer and I started praying for a church in Broken Arrow, OK.  They had called Spencer and really wanted him to come serve as their Global Student Pastor.

My heart was broken.  I didn't want leave Fort Smith, AR.  I loved our church.  I loved the people.   We had grown to love the teenagers in our ministry as our own.  They were family.  My beloved mentor and best friends were in Fort Smith.  HOW could God ask us to leave?! 

So we prayed.
We cried.
And we prayed some more.

And God answered, "Go". 

In all honesty, this is one of the hardest things about ministry; moving when God says go. But in the last several weeks, I have learned so much by just trusting in HIM alone.  I want to share my heart openly and honestly, and I pray it encourages someone out there today.

I hate goodbyes.  They are awful and the "ugly cry face" that goes along with them is even worse!  We said our goodbyes to everyone we love so much, pulled out of Ft Smith and headed to Broken Arrow, OK....trusting God.  Looking in the back seat at our sweet Hannah, holding her stuffed animals and crying because she didn't want to leave her friends, ripped my heart to pieces. 

I knew God had called us.
I wanted to be strong.
I wanted to encourage Hannah to trust God.
But I was sad too. 
I was angry that we had to move once again - our fourth move to another state.

So many thoughts raced through my mind as we pulled away.  Reality sunk in:
Moving would change everything: 
  • It put a halt to our adoption process. The application process is different in every state. BUT God sees a bigger picture than we can see - And BOY, did He know something we didn't know!!!!  (*More on that in my next blog)
  • Our children have to start in a new school with new teachers and try to make new friends.
  • We have to start over in youth ministry...not knowing a single teenager's name.  New ministry, new staff, new location.
  • We would be living in a rental house until we could find somewhere to live. (SO very thankful the church provided us a place to stay!)
  • Spence and I have to start over in friendships....the awkward "get-to-know-you" conversations...Leaving a place where so many were family to us.  They knew us already.

I truly believe it is in THESE times that the true colors of our Christianity come to the surface.

I am ashamed to say, the colors that came to the surface in my life, were not pretty.  I was angry that we had to move again.  I was sad.  I cried every day for three weeks and could hardly find the motivation to do cook, to clean, to even get out of bed sometimes. 

I wallowed in the pit of self-pity.  My prayers sounded much like this, "God, I know it was your will that we moved here, but I don't like it!  I HATE moving our children and I HATE starting over."

I know that God's word tells me to
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances..."  1 Thessalonians 5:16
But my life had no joy.

I know the fruits of the Spirit are
"love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" Galatians 5:22-23
But there seemed to be no fruit in my life.

I know I am suppose to
"Trust in the Lord will all my heart and lean not on my own understanding; in all my ways acknowledge him, and he will make my paths straight"  Proverbs 3:5-6
But I was leaning on my own understanding.

28 years of being a Christian...I should know these things by now!  But living them out takes my faith to a whole other level. 

God didn't make me feel like a failure in my valley of struggle.  In time, this is where He led me:
  • He led me to simply speak His words of truth - to pray scripture out loud when I don't have the words to pray.
  • He reminded me that I may only see a small puzzle piece of the here and now, but He sees the big picture in its entirety.
  • He reminded me that He has not changed.  The same God who knows the number of hairs on my head, knows what's best for me and my family.
  • He led me to divine appointments: 
    • A lady at the park who spoke into my life without her even knowing it. 
    • A lunch date with a new friend who's story pierced my heart.  Her joy through her valleys inspired me beyond words.
  • He brought peace in ways I never imagined.
If you find yourself in a valley today, don't lose heart.  Stay faithful to Him.  This world will always let you down, but our God is faithful to the end.  Don't beat yourself up when you find it hard to live this Christian life.  Stay faithful to His word, to prayer, and just open your eyes to those He brings into your path.  Sometimes I think we just get so wrapped up in our anger and self-pity, we miss everything He is doing around us.  I know, because I've been there.