Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Holy Spirit Response

Yesterday Billy sent a letter out to some of the staff and members of our church to ask for prayer over our adoption. After life group this morning a dear lady embraced me tightly and all she said was, "let me take some of that off you" while she proceeded to shed tears on my behalf. That response allowed me to cry unapologetically and release all the feelings of isolation that the enemy had so cleverly planted in my heart. I didn't know that this woman's response is what I needed. All my friends have been encouraging, full of wisdom in their thoughts regarding our adoption and constantly reminding me that they are praying. Many times I have walked away encouraged and blessed. But I confess, I have often walked away thinking, "that's so easy for them to say" or "they really have no idea how hard this is". This is a pride issue the enemy presented to my heart (without saying ,"hey, be prideful") make me feel like I'm the only one who knows the depth of this struggle...which, of course, is a lie.

But there is another issue...a cultural issue. We live in a culture/generation that is uncomfortable with being silent, with saying less. In a "its my right to have free-speech" culture and in a constant-entertainment generation our focus is seldom "less of me, more of other people". We love things and self-felt words more than we love authentic, uncomfortable, undistracted, still, deep connection with the hearts of others. I'm talking to myself here too.

As I drove away from the church I was thinking of how much I appreciated (and needed) this woman's response. I also realized that I felt lighter. I think she really did bare up my burdens and lift them off me. The Lord reminded me of the Scripture "mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice" and it came to mind that the purpose of mourning or rejoicing with someone over a matter is because it is a way the body of Christ can protect the mourner's/rejoicer's heart from taking on such prideful thoughts that lead to isolation. The enemy's greatest tool is pride and isolation. The Father's tools are the Spirit and his hands and feet - the Body!

When you see someone hurting, I encourage you to simply embrace them...take on the heaviness they bare. Receive it as your own with a hug and tears. In this way you will be Jesus. You will be creating a barrier of protection around the hurting person's heart that says, "I get this. I'm taking it on with you. You are not alone. It brings me to tears too." Or if someone is rejoicing, celebrate with them. Let them know their victory is as important as any other. Embrace that person and laugh as one in awe of the goodness of God. Make it personal. Take it upon yourself.

Tears have become my prayer language. I'm so grateful the Spirit responded back to me with tears through this woman so that I know He sees my burden as his own. So that I know I'm not alone. What a comfort. And better, if the Spirit carries my burdens He is certainly going to render them powerless for good!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

When the day gets tough...

It's a good thing I read from "Jesus Calling" this morning. It said, "Stay calmly conscious of Me today, no matter what. Remember that I go before you as well as with you into the day. Nothing takes Me by surprise. I will not allow circumstances to overwhelm you, so long as you look to Me. I will help you cope with whatever the moment presents. Callaborating with Me brings blessings that far outweigh all your troubles. Awareness of My Presence contains joy that can ENDURE all eventualities." I had no idea how much I would have to cling to these words today. When you can't go to sleep at night even though you know you'll not want to get up in the morning... When you have no words left to say in prayer... When you can't cry when you want to and you cry when you don't want to... You might be 2.5 years into trying to bring your growing-up-fast child home. We may have hit a roadblock...again. Maybe it will delay us 2 days...maybe 4 months... I don't know. Prayers of those enduring this long road with us = greatly appreciated.

Monday, June 25, 2012

God Was Good Before I Came Along

Two years, 5 months into the process of bringing Sunny home I find myself in Amarillo, TX attending a Bible Study with several dozen beautiful, godly women. The focus of the study,  relationships; how we can not truly be in loving relationships until we grasp how our Father loves us. After an introduction to the lesson we are encouraged to embrace the joy of the Lord as we worship. Everyone is expressing joy. Dancing, singing, smiles. I can't do it and I know I'm wrong for it. But I physically can't express it. I feel, on this day, like I'd be faking it to smile that way. I know God has been good to us and we have much to be thankful for, but I can't stop thinking about how sad I am that Sunny is not yet home. Its easy to say (and think you believe) that Jesus is the Father to the fatherless until its your daughter growing up without you in a third world country. How does Sunny see the love of God? Does she see/know his love?

A few weeks prior to this day we had received a translation of a letter that Sunny had a friend write for us. I had encouraged her to write a letter for me with her own be open with me and say what she wants to say. She can't read or write so she had her friend write it. It said,

"Greetings, Mommy. Today I am very happy to be writing you this letter.  Before I get much further, let me greet you in Jesus' name. Mommy, I want you to know I pray for you and Daddy and I pray for my sisters too.  I cannot wait until I am with you all. Mommy, I cannot wait to sing with you and my Dad plays guitar and I can play with my sisters. I always pray for the day/time that you will come and pick me up. Mommy, why doesn’t my dad ever come and see me? I cry for dad a lot. Sometimes when I am with my little friends we always (remember) you....I can’t wait until we are living together.”

Heart-wrenching, real words. A love letter from an orphan longing for home. Before you think bad of Billy for not visiting her more, let me explain. Two summers ago he traveled to Haiti to meet her.   Billy was not what Sunny was expecting even though she had seen pictures of him. She was a tiny six year old. He was a giant, 6'3" bald headed man with a goatee. She was slightly terrified. He made some progress with her that week and it ended well, but we both decided from that point on it might be best if I was the one to visit her. Besides - I wanted to see her. You couldn't hold this mama back! We had no idea then how long the journey would be. And we had no idea - NO IDEA - she was wondering why he hadn't come back....crying for him. Daughters love their fathers. So she longs for him. Why are we so surprised!?

That letter changed things. For one, Billy is headed to Haiti on July 2-6 to see her. She has been given a message that he is coming and she is very excited! For me, her letter sent me into a deeper longing to see her come home....

Back to Bible Study. I am crying so hard I have to leave the room. I'm jealous that everyone has tapped into this joy so easily. I'm mad that I am so single-minded that I can't pull out of the trench of sadness to express the gratitude I know I have inside of me. I have to leave the room to get my composure. 

I go back to worship and still can't really keep it together. I need to go. I pick up Gracie from childcare and she is mad at me for picking her up before she can have snack time. She cries and pitches a fit in the car as I calmly try to tell her I'm sorry...through my own tears. Jesus says, "This is what you are doing to me. Throwing a fit because you're not getting what you want when you want it...holding my love at a distance as you whine." Ouch. 

We pick Libby up from art camp and head home to make lunch. As I'm making sandwiches I ask the girls to tell me how God has been good to them. I tell them Mommy needs to have a grateful, joyful heart and I need reminders. Libby answers first. "God's been good to me because he made me be born." Gracie answers second. "God's been so great to me, he fed me." Right then the Spirit speaks to my heart saying, "Both of your daughters just referred to the time when they were orphans as they spoke of my goodness. I gave Libby life...which is a big deal in China where the lives of baby girls are not often valued.  I fed Gracie....which is a big deal in Ethiopia where many die of starvation. She almost died, you remember. These 2 girls didn't refer to their lives with you when asked about my goodness...not that their lives with you are not good. Even though they were only orphans for a short time until the ages of 10 months and 4.5 months...what they know best about my goodness comes from that time before you came along. Do you not think that Sunny will be able to say the same? She has had me as her only Father for 8.5 years. She will look back on these days and remember my goodness. Now be sure I am a Father to the fatherless and be grateful. Have joy. I am good to Sunny."

.....Speechless. Just tears rolling down my face as deep speaks to deep. Let me not forget his goodness. Let me be like one who says, "But as for me, I will hope continually. And will praise You yet more and more."

The latest is this.
We are in the final Haitian office where the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and Immigrations shares a building. We have been there for 8 weeks. MOI is asking for 5 IDs (long story). The person in charge of obtaining these IDs has been trying for over a week. We need those IDs to move on to next step. This is the last correction needed before MOI can give Immigration permission to print Sunny's passport! Once we have that passport our papers go to the US Embassy and then we are in the final stages....which takes approximately 2 months (give or take a little). We are ever so close, but much prayer is needed. Pray for Billy's trip to Haiti. Pray for Sunny to receive him well with hugs as he dotes on her with dresses and food! And pray that his prayerful, worshipful presence there makes for a turnaround and our process begins to move quickly to its end. I dream of the day I will hold Sunny's hand as we enter our first plane to go home...a day in which I will have NO doubt in God's powerful goodness!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

April Continues with a Visit from Grammy and Papa

April....part 2 ... homeschool, art, riding bikes, and a visit from Grammy and Papa!

Grammy and Papa came to visit our new home in Amarillo for the first time! It was so good to have them here and show off our new home. About the only fascinating thing to do around here is hike the canyons so we drove out there one Friday morning. However, it was the weekend President Bush was biking with war heroes through the canyons so we didn't get to hike in far. 

Libby really opened up. She has matured so much here in Amarillo. Grammy and Papa were loving her loving on them:)
And of course, Gracie is always loving on her Grammy.

Look at that fro!

Precious grandparents with their crazy grandkids!

Family photo time

Libby does a great impression of her sweet Grammy. She ADORES Grammy!

Friday, June 08, 2012

SC in April

Easter Morning in Amarillo, 2012:

After Easter the girls and I made a special trip to Charleston, SC. We had not visited my family there in one years time due to our move to Amarillo at Christmas time. We made a vacation out of it! We went downtown, went on a carriage ride, ate the most amazing pralines, hung out with family, threw my sister a baby shower (she's having her 3rd girl in August!), and visited the Aquarium. It was so good to be home, especially after moving to a new town and feeling so unfamiliar with people/places. There's no place like home! It was also wonderful to see my mom continuing to do so well.

dying Easter eggs

Egg hunt at Gigi's and Papa's

Kelly with his daughter, Sage

Gap kids...seriously, they could be!

Cammy! Such character!

Sagey baby and Carissa

Taylor and Libby had a blast together!

My sister and her 2....#3 in her belly:)

the Cousin birdnest


my mom and dad - doing GREAT!

gotta love downtown Charleston's gates and homes

baby shower time!

The hot and happening couple:)

hot and happening couple numero dos

family picnic day

sweetness during the prayer

My friend, Allison Singelton, made a trip down to Charleston with her family so I could hug her neck! I also had the honor of meeting my friend's, Misty, new baby girl, Ellason.

My oh-so-talented sister-in-law took these fabulous pictures of my girls in their pretty dresses at Magnolia Gardens.

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