The Difference a Mess Can Make

Looking for Peace in all the wrong places….

I clean. I organize. I reorganize. I declutter. I have “me-time.” I invite others over for dinner. I plan. I prepare. I am in control of most of my day. I’m on a search for Peace… and I’ve been looking in all the wrong places.

It’s been said (by me) that if you were to walk into my house and it’s a crazy mess that would be a good indicator of the state of mind at any given point. When you walk in and see a crazy, messy, unorganized, chaos of a house… well- welcome to my crazy- messy- unorganized chaos of mind.

IT is true. When I’m feeling overwhelmed – I pull back. I can’t handle it all. My brain is on overload and I cannot even bear to think of straightening my house YET AGAIN… because then surely an emotional breakdown is next with the sniffles, anger and frustrations with the lingering questions of;

“Didn’t I JUST clean this room? Wasn’t this room JUST vacuumed? How can trash appear all over the house when it was JUST cleaned? Where did those toothpicks on the floor come from? Why are there toys on the floor directly in my walking path AGAIN? Why socks? Just why?! And yes… that is a fort under my never used desk complete with crayons, all the pillows from the couch, blanket from all corners of the house and… scissors too?”

Yup… Daily.

But I don’t want to be that person anymore. I don’t want to co-relate the way my house looks with the lack of peace on the inside.

The PEACE I need can’t be found EVEN in a CLEAN HOUSE. The Peace I need starts with Jesus. Starts with doing NOTHING. Starts with being Mary. Starts with sitting and being in the presence of the one who sustains peace.

I have this backwards almost daily. I strive to find peace in the order of my day, things accomplished, the ability of MYSELF to keep my home maintained, my family fed and my girls educated. I am looking for peace in those things. From what I can do. Can you relate?

I had lunch with some sweet friends of mine a few weeks ago and they pinpointed on the head what I have been feeling. One friend had just returned from a missions trip to Venezuela. Describing to us a birthday party her Venezuelan friends threw for her she went on to say that these people brought her into their home, took her back to their bedroom and dressed her beautifully for her party- and that their bedroom was A MESS. Their house was a mess. What stuck out to my friend was that they didn’t care about their mess. They didn’t apologize for it. They didn’t try to hide it. They didn’t try to run around and exhaust themselves straightening everything up.

All they cared about was that their guest was honored, was comfortable, had food, was shown love and that she had fun. They didn’t find peace in their surroundings… peace and joy was found in showing HIS love to others by focusing all their attention on their guest.

How often have I sat in my own home and felt lonely? Ideally I would love to have friends that will just pop-in for coffee or tea. But nope- I have to have it planned- at least a week in advance. That way I can make sure I have treats to serve, my schedule is clear and most importantly so I can deep clean my house. By the time my guests arrive, I am exhausted and thinking “I’m not doing this again for a long time… it takes way too much effort to invite people into my home.”

Backwards.

When I walk into my friends’ homes and it is not organized, not 100% clean, when there are still dirty dishes on the table, laundry on the couch and crumbs on the floor… I think “Man, she is just like me! I feel so comfortable here, I feel like I can be myself. Why can’t I be more like her?”

This year… is the year of Simplifying. Of Margin. Of Rest. Of Relationships. Of being myself. Inviting others into my home to focus on making them feel comfortable, loved, appreciated and heard. This year I am letting go of trying to find PEACE in a clean, organized, simplified house- and will turn to Jesus for my Peace.

He would invite others into his messy home… will you be vulnerable enough to do the same? Will you be vulnerable enough to drop the facade that you have it all together? Will you be open to sharing your “mess” with others? We are all in need of a Savior, not one of us is perfect. Let’s stop trying to be women who’ve got a handle on everything and start being women who lean on their Savior for peace.Women who are vulnerable enough to keep the house “as is” when inviting others to our home without apologizing for the mess. Women who truly think about other’s needs instead of thinking “what do they think of me?”

We can show the love of Christ and it doesn’t have to be in a 100% spot free, freshly vacuumed, organized, magazine picture perfect of a home. It can be in our dust, dirty kitchens, laundry covered couches and at our sticky tables.

I will do it. Will you join me? Will you invite a friend over into your reality this week? Spontaneously call a friend who needs some encouragement- start the coffee or heat up some tea and just sit and listen. What a difference a mess can make. I think so!

And when you start to get frustrated, angry and overly dramatic about how messy your house is and how it makes you feel… take a look inside and see if peace from the source isn’t what you need instead!

I know I will!

A Long Journey Home

“We wait in hope for the LORD;

HE is our help and our shield.

In HIM our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,

even as we put our hope in you.”

Psalm 33:20-22

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 34:4

       We have come so far from where we once were. A year ago we had gotten Phoebe’s picture and were hoping to be through court by Christmas. Today, a year later, we are still hoping for the same thing. To get through court by Christmas.

       It’s odd to say we have come so far when in reality we are at the same place in the process that we were a year ago. But over that year there were many times when we thought it was all over. We thought we had lost her to the red tape either in her country or in ours. So even though we are at the same place in our process that we were a year ago- we have come so far!

        God has made a way where there wasn’t a way. He provided a fellow believer that lives in IL who also happens to be Congolese and travels regularly to the DRC that has a compassionate heart willing to help. God changed the hearts of several people that have stood in our path to Phoebe. He provided an organization to bring food to the orphanage montly. God has provided all the funding we have needed up to this point. He has provided a church family, friends and extended family who love, support and pray for us. God has done these things! He provided a missions trip at just the right time to sway some hearts and for Phoebe to have the gift of a full day of being loved on by our sweet friend. He has done this!

        We know that even now the Lord is moving hearts and making things happen in the DRC that we are unaware of at this point. We pray for eyes to see his hand in every step and we praise him in everything. In all ways, he has been faithful.

       We recently found out that the cost of the next step in our adoption has gone up over a thousand dollars. Fundrasing has taken a back seat for the past 6 months while we have been waiting out some major issues in our case. I was starting to believe that people are tired of our journey. Many are tired of waiting, tired of asking how its going and tired of hearing our stories. Burnt out and Done.

       I was talking to my dear friend on the phone this morning telling her about what the Lord has done in my heart through his people. Chadwick and I decided last Friday to throw together a super quick fundraiser to fund the rest of this next payment that has increased and to help pay for orphanage fees for the next “x” amount of months. Many of my neighbor friends and I were talking recently about Christmas coming up and how we all like to go through our kids toys and donate the old toys that aren’t played with anymore. We like to simplify a bit before more toys and gifts are brought into our home during the holidays. This conversation sparked the idea for our fundraiser. We are calling it Christmas is Coming Sale! The plan is to get donations of toys, electronics, Christmas décor etc. for us to turn around and sell at a Christmas shop. I feel like it’s a win-win! Those that like to can clean out their homes before Christmas and those who like to buy gently used items for Christmas can come shop at the sale!

     But then I started to get worried. Haven’t we burnt out our friends and family on fundraising? Aren’t they tired of us asking for help? Lies. Lies. Lies. I was believing lies.

           After getting all the approvals we needed, we made a flyer and began spreading the word the next morning at church, through emails, instagram etc.

Very quickly the Lord gathered people to support, encourage and help us through this next fundraising venture! It was as though he had already been preparing others to help!

            One sweet family from our small group had at least 20 tubs full of items that they had told us for several weeks that we could have for our next fundraiser garage sale. A few weeks ago we were thinking, that is so great- we can keep those things for a few months and have a fundraiser sale in the spring. But the Lord knew we wouldn’t need them next spring, we needed them NOW! Once went to pick up all the items they were donating we couldn’t thank them enough or tell them how amazed we were at God’s timing.
        Another friend from church had wanted to do a garage sale this previous summer for us as a fundraiser. Our summers both went different ways and we were never able to make that happen. She came up to me Sunday and told me how excited she was that we were having a sale because she has a garage full of things for us that she has been saving since last summer. She volunteered her stuff and her time to help!
         Another friend called this morning who lives two hours away and said “I’m bringing hot drinks! Lattes you can sell!” My amazing sister in law just called (while I was in the midst of writing this) and said she wants to help… “How can we help?!” They live 6 hours away and so the last thing I was going to tell her was to come here to help (even though I really want her here!) so I told her that baking cookies and sending them would be helpful, praying for our weekend and spreading the word. “But,” she said, “I have a TON of stuff that I really want to give you.” So she is going to try to work it out and come sometime to help me prepare for the fundraiser. Several others have already emailed telling me they have items for us and many more are volunteering their time to help prepare and during the sale.

We are feeling the confidence and assurance of the Lord through others… through YOU! When you step out in faith and share the burden with us we realize that we are NOT ALONE in this journey! God has and is providing through HIS people.

Another very dear friend of mine encouraged me this past weekend telling me that she feels like the Lord wants us to pray that Phoebe is an Anderson by Christmas. For Phoebe to become an Anderson by Christmas we need to get through the court process, which normally takes anywhere from 1-3 months, in the next 6 weeks.

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The Lord wants us to Believe… to Hope.. to Trust… to KNOW that he can do ALL things.

We believe. We hope. We trust. We know.

We are praying this same prayer. We would be honored if you would pray with us. Please pray that the papers that need signed by the mayor would be done quickly, that the Lord would begin working on the heart of the judge that will hear our case in court and that there won’t be any bumps along the way and ultimately that we would have a 4th daughter by Christmas! She may not be in our home by Christmas, but she will be a legal part of our family.

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We feel so blessed that those with us on this long journey have not given up, have not grown tired of our stories, have not stopped praying or stopped asking. Thank you to all of you who have refused to stop believing and have kept walking with us.

The Journey may be Long… But the Lord is Good and we HAVE and WILL see his goodness in the land of the living.

If you are local and would like more information about our Christmas shop Fundraiser the flyer below. If you would like a pdf so that you can print flyers to pass out or to post on your FB page, please leave a comment with your e-mail address and I will send it to you. Thanks so much!

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In His Timing

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord, my God, I will give you thanks forever.”

Psalm 30:11-12

Lord- we already give you thanks. We praise you because we know you will turn our wailing into dancing. You will remove our sackcloth and clothe us with joy, our hearts will sing again and not be silent and we do give you thanks forever.”

-Journal entry 9-2-14

Yesterday we heard news we didn’t expect. Normally we get news from our agency because we are constantly emailing, thinking about it and pressing for something…anything.

This time we got an email out of the blue.

We have been waiting for a year for our documents to go to court. Not even getting through court, just the documents we need to be submitted to court in the Congo. After much back and forth, many tears and lots of days filled with uncertainty… the papers were completed.

The papers many thought we would never get.

They were handed over to the mayor of the commune to sign.

Another wall.

He didn’t want to sign the papers. He wanted to hold on to them until the country reopened. We were upset but at the same time we understood. There are a lot of risks with being involved with the adoptions in the Congo right now. A lot of risk for the Congolese to have their name on an adoption related document. We were frustrated, but we could wait. So we have been waiting it out for weeks knowing that parliament is currently meeting and eventually decisions would be made on adoption related issues. Once those decisions were made, the mayor would feel comfortable signing the papers and then we would hear the good news!

Parliament is not done meeting, we don’t think they have even talked adoption.

So maybe it will be awhile..

When I was least expecting it (I was taking a nap!) my husband came in and woke me saying,

“You aren’t going to believe this! We got an e-mail from our agency and the mayor has given the go ahead in our case!”

Relief.

                  Confusion.

                                         Questions.

Praise!

So many things flooded my mind in that second.

We were being given GOOD news?! Our case it moving forward?

Before we expected?

          I am learning to lean in and trust in God’s timing. There are so many things we can’t control, many things we can’t schedule or add to our calendars. I am definitely a calendar person. My best friend is absolutely NOT a calendar person. So when we make plans I will make sure to say “Putting it on the calendar?” I need to know that what we planned, what we both anticipate… WILL actually happen because we blocked out that space on our calendar for each other. I have gone away from a paper calendar and primarily use my phone calendar. I love it! Not only do I always have it with me, but I can set a reminder to “ding!” in case I forget what I have planned that day.

With our adoption story, timing has not been in our control. There has not been anything about our adoption process that I can write on our calendar to remind me that “Ding!” Today we will receive this completed paperwork! “Ding!” Today we will get approved and pass through court! I have had to let go and completely trust in God and those who are helping us to bring Phoebe home; our lawyer, our caseworkers, our agency, the orphanage, the mayor, the judge of the commune and even the country itself.

We can’t control any of it.

This has been hard.

So hard.

But just recently I have found freedom.

Here is an entry from my journal two months ago:

“Lord, what’s going to happen? We are pushing through, we will do whatever we can to see that she comes home. Phoebe, we are so close! WE have the papers for court! Maybe this time next week we will be submitted to court. Lord- you have done this. You have made a way for this little blessing, this little girl. Give us courage now as we take a huge step of Faith and continue through court even though the country is not yet open. I pray you give my husband wisdom, faith, hope and courage. I ask you give him the next steps our family should take. Living day by day is less burdensome than trying to predict the future. God I give the future to you and ask you to help me focus on the JOYS of today! The problems that today brings and the answers for today. Help me live in the present and not worry about tomorrow. Teach me Present Kingdom Living- In the Now. Open my eyes to see your plan for today. Give me strength and energy to do all I need to do as a wife, momma and teacher. Lord, prioritize my day and show me how to bring your kingdom here.”

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

Proverbs 27:1

“ Let your roots grow down into HIM, and let your lives be built on HIM, then you faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

Colossians 2:7

release

A sweet friend recently encouraged me with the words that one day,when Phoebe is here, it will be our new normal. We will look back on all of this time, waiting and struggle and it will feel so small in comparison to the gift of having her in our lives.

WE will be there someday.

Trust in that, hold on to that

 , We will look back and see the goodness of the Lord in every bit of our story.

I really needed to hear those words- that one day, Phoebe being here will be our new normal.

How have you seen the Lord’s timing in your story?

Dear Adoptive Mama in waiting… Believe!

“Consider it pure JOY, my brothers (and sisters!), whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-3

We are facing a huge trial. Our daughter is stuck in a difficult situation. Many around us have stopped asking about our adoption and others are riddled with fear. We are in a HARD PLACE.

But HOPE comes- PEACE comes- JOY comes.

We see the trials and we face them head on. We see the brokenness that keeps our daughter stuck in an orphanage.

phoebe sleeping

There are days when things seem impossible.

“We can begin to find JOY in our trials when we accept them for what they are- schools of instruction for our soul.”

– Women of Faith

It is a battle.

Not just against flesh.

IT’S a fight for souls and a fight for lives.

Our daughter doesn’t know who we are and doesn’t understand what’s at stake.

Her LIFE- Her FREEDOM- Her FUTURE.

Our tiny girl is a warrior and she doesn’t even know it.

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We felt a bit in shock as we stood facing another battle.

But you know what settled in and around that shock?

Through the brokenness and cracks of our story?

PEACE-TRUST-GOODNESS-LOVE-JOY-FAITHFULNESS-PERSEVERANCE

In those broken places – the LORD reminded me that he is GOOD.

He loves ME.

He loves our daughter across the ocean.

He is over all. I am so sure of his goodness that it pushed the fear out.

He is in control and HIS best WILL happen.

I think there needs to be a book called the Adoption Battle or maybe just the Adoption Journey Survival Guide. For the Encouragement and Sustainability during the weeks and months of waiting. It is SO EASY to turn negative, I have been there. I still find myself there some days. But it is so much more freeing to find trust- joy-peace and want to persevere. There was a time when I felt like I might Give up. Why? Because I began to believe the lie that God wasn’t for ME instead of believing the truth.

believe his love

If you don’t believe ask the Lord to help you- to hold you up and keep going when you struggle with doubt. And on those days when you can’t hold your arms in praise because it is so terribly hard to see the positive in your situation, call a friend and ask her to pray for you and keep your arms lifted for you. Because doubt is there. It is SO STRONG- it can shake you. But don’t let it. I think I’ll call my book

Dear Adoptive Mama in waiting… Believe!

The Door

Believe the door will open. Believe when you doubt. Believe his goodness is true and his love for you is new.

The door may be strong- it may be heavy.

The door seems to be blocking your view of freedom. No way past it. You feel stuck.

But the truth is not always visible. We have to believe in God’s truth. He sees what is just past that door and it’s his love.

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He loves us so. More than we will ever begin to know.

I see his love in his pursuit of me and those I love.

I see his love in connections he makes- people I meet and friends who stay near.

His love is in the sun, the rain and soil. IT grows – just as he has planned- as he keeps tending our souls.

Don’t give up- Believe even in the Doubt.

Speak with your heart.

Pray with your soul.

Jesus is near. Do you feel him next to you?

He knows what best, even while we sit in pain

His goodness and love are never the test- they always stay the same.

Consider it JOY.

Dear Adoptive Momma in waiting,

“He has put a new song in your mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:3

             Oh precious one. From our lips he has ordained praise! In the dark places, the doubting places- he has ordained praise. The Lord will put a new song in your mouth, a hymn of Praise. Praise the Lord for the ways he loves you, for his goodness that knows no end. For the Peace the squelches the wildfire in your soul. Praise him for the song- the notes spaced out perfectly and placed at ease. He is the composer and He is writing a new song in you! Praise him for things yet unseen. Praise him, for many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. He places us on a rock. His goodness fills you, his love reaches you.. His peace fills your every need. Praise him when you are weary. Trust that he is moving mountains and answering prayers beyond your line of vision. He is fighting your battle!

“Be confident of this: YOU will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14

*note that italics are a change in words from the original

How has Praise changed your life?

Waiting for Phoebe: In The Present

     I’ve been living my life in fast forward. Today I hit the pause button.

      Waiting for Phoebe for the past 2 ½ years has enabled me to put my present in the past sooner than intended. Instead of being able to enjoy each moment, each day for today… some days I just get through my day so it can be over. Then maybe tomorrow we will hear good news? Tomorrow comes and we hear nothing. So maybe the next day we will hear good news? And I wait. I keep waiting. My life keeps moving forward and I do not stop to savor the little things about today because I am stuck in anxious anticipation.

        Today, I pause to reflect. What have I missed? My mind is so busy hoping for, waiting for and planning for the “some-day” when Phoebe is home that I often forget to live in the present. I feel like something is missing from our family- someone is missing. And until she is here, normal things don’t seem normal. We go on a family vacation and we all think “What would this be like if she were here?” We sit down to eat dinner or lunch and we wonder “Will she like this kind of food?” The girls are tucked into bed and we pray every night that Phoebe is kept safe, she sleeps well and we bring her home soon. We wonder “What is she dreaming about right now? Is she safe?” When we are bored we wonder “What is Phoebe doing right now?” The present is a hard place to be when your whole heart yearns for the future days when our family is whole.

new family pic 2013

     I have been trying to work on living in the present since January 2013. My new year’s resolution was to “be present.” I was aware that I was carrying around a large amount of overwhelming anxiety over the future that will spill out of my heart into the lives of those closest to me. I wanted that to change. I had just finished reading Ann Voskamps “A Thousand Gifts.” Taking on a dare, Ann creates a list of 1,000 blessings that chronicle her days. From the tiny bubbles in her kitchen sink to thankfulness for her family, she takes you on a journey to discover that our relationship with Christ is all about Eucharisteo. Give Thanks.

“While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving. True saints know that the place where all the joy comes from is far deeper than that of feelings; joy comes from the place of the very presence of God. Joy is God and God is joy and joy doesn’t negate all other emotions- joy transcends all other emotions.”

“I accept the gift of now as it is- accept God- for I can’t be receptive to God unless I receive what He gives. Joy’s light flickers, breathes, fueled by the will of God- fueled by Him.”

                                                                                          Ann Voskamp; One Thousand Gifts

Thanks is the key to now. It has taken me quite awhile to learn this. When I daily anticipate the future, wondering when our daughter will be home and the wait is over, I am missing all the blessings the Lord has given me for today. The Lord has given me enough for TODAY. I am trying to take the piece of manna from heaven for today and make it stretch all the way into the future by worrying about things that are days, months and years from now. The Lord didn’t create us to live this way. He gave the Israelites enough manna for 1 day and if they kept more for the next day it would spoil. There are days when I think I can stretch my bread from 1 day to the next, just like the Israelites, and my day spoils. The Strength and presence of God comes when we daily seek his face and It all starts with acknowledging the blessings of today.

Taking notice.

Stopping to see.

Not rushing.

Hit Pause.

I created a piece of art for our living room. I would consider it a functional piece of art. It’s a large 100 year old door that was left in our basement. When you are waiting for so long on a journey that you are not sure is going to turn out the way you want it to you will hear the phrase OFTEN… “We are praying that the door will open.” I pray this, I’m sure you pray this… up until now it never seemed too “cliche.” Our door is not opening. Does this mean we are not doing the right thing? Nope. Sometimes what God asks of us is not easy, it takes time, struggle, faith, hope, perseverance… Sound familiar?

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The door we want to open may never open, but we trust and live in hope that what the Lord has to offer his kingdom through our struggles is worthy of praise. 

So once seeing these doors in my basement, I came up with a plan to “Kick down the door” as Bob Goff would say. We would praise God while we were waiting for the many doors to open. We would write our praises down on post-it notes and stick them on the door.

Our doors may remain closed, but we will STILL praise God in the waiting. We will live a life of gratitude and thankfulness even if our doors remain closed forever. Because it is not the opening of doors that warrants praise and celebration from our lips…

We must be present, however to see what he is doing. Everyone in our family participates in this door project. I painted the old door a fun turquoise color and leaned it up against our dining room wall. The post its and pen stay put on our dining room table. Whenever I feel like the door is too full with post its or we need a fresh start, I take down the post its and tape them in a special book to keep and look back on. This is mainly a huge reminder for me (I need visual reminders!), but it is also a way to train our girls to give thanks in the midst of discouragement and waiting.

We need to train ourselves to give thanks in the midst of Struggle. Giving thanks turns into HOPE that we think we may of lost along the way as we see the way our God provides.

Here is a small snapshot of some of the things we have written on our door:

  • “God made the earth”- Sophie (age 6)

  • “You God”- Sophie

  • “Phoebe” – Ruby (age 5)

  • “Funny sisters”- Addie (age 8)

  • “ A loving church family” Dad

  • “Molly can see!” Ruby

  • “God made the earth” Ruby

  • “For the Love in our house” Ruby

  • “A husband who is willing to do anything to bring his daughter HOME!” Mom

  • “Funny bunnies”- Addie

  • “The color purple”- Mom

  • “Helpful Daughters”- Dad

As I am reading these off my door, I am realizing that my daughters have my husband and I beat on how many notes of thankfulness we have posted on our door. I think it’s time to take the notes down and start fresh! This door stands to remind all of us that the Lord deserves to be praised.

We will choose to wait with thankfulness that overflows from our hearts that will protect our minds from anxiety about the future.

We will choose to notice the special moments, the little battles won, the struggle, the waiting, God’s beautiful creation, common things and mundane tasks AS GIFTS.

We will choose to take our bread daily and not try to make God’s strength stretch far into the future, but only use what he has given us for today.

We will choose to open our eyes to the present instead of always waiting for completion.

We will choose to Give thanks and HOPE.

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Waiting for Phoebe: In the Remembering

As each year passes, I cannot believe how quickly the days are crossed off the calendar. My life is passing before my eyes. In 2013 my new year’s resolution was to live in the moment. I was so motivated… So on fire! I had a plan. A simple one, to be present in moments with my daughters, with my husband, friends, with family and with the Lord. I would be present. My mind would not be wandering. My to – do list would magically disappear. I would let go of stressful situations. My mind would become this amazing focus machine – living in each moment- just because I had the willpower to make it happen. I am sad to say, it did not happen. Not only did it not happen, it got worse. My doctor was convinced I had ADD the way I described my brain with it’s popcorn thoughts. I had trouble reading, finishing projects, couldn’t sit and have a conversation without my mind racing ahead to the next question I wanted to ask. What is the deal? Looking back, I believe the enemy knew my plan… and he was crouching. He knew this was a weakness in my life. I was bombarded by distractions. Convinved my life was not busy enough, that I was not “doing” enough and so added to my plate. My house could never be clean enough, meal planning didn’t get done, school was disorganized and inconsistant, my house was physically cluttered and my mind even more. I became ungrateful. I became bitter. I became discouraged.

This year, 2014, I am doing things differently. The Lord has shown me ungratefulness leads to unhappiness- unfullfilled hearts- disconent- depression- anxiety – distraction and not living in the moment. So instead of trying to fix it my way… with my own will power. I am asking the Lord to walk with me step by step in an attitude of gratefulness.

O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let thy goodness, like a fetter,

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to Wander, Lord, I feel it,

Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,

Seal it fo rThey courts above.”

“Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.”

This is my prayer. Lord, bind my heart to thee.

Living in gratefulness requires remembering. I have a difficult time with this. I am usually so focused on what needs to get done that second or for the future that I seldom take time to sit and remember. Thanking the Lord for his provision in the past. I often go through spurts of discouragement and times of encouragement. Right now I am discouraged. I have been sulking in my discouragement. I have been breeding ungratefulness- because I am not where I think I should be. Phoebe should be home. Our daugther, in the the Congo, should be home. We should not be coming up to a 3rd Christmas without her. I shouldn’t of had to put away the Halloween costume I bought for her, I should be rejoicing in God’s faithfulness – the fulfillment of our adoption. Instead, we are still a year away from bringing her home. I am in a place that would be easy for anyone to find discouragement. And I have. But living in gratefulness requires remembering. In remembering we find gratefulness. We remember the provision of the Lord. Jehovah Jireh.The Israelites did not remember the huge provision of the Lord when he freed them from slavery. They rejoiced and were singing their praises the day and a few days after he had led them through the Red Sea and when Pharoh’s army was swept up in the waves. But, not even a few days later they began complaining. Complaining of what they did not have. Complaining of the way the Lord provided for them. Complaining and wishing they could go back to slavery.

Did they not remember? The Lord had provided! They remembered, but they remembered the comforts of Egypt- they idolized the comforts over the God who provides.

They became content in their discontent and so they wandered. The Lord is showing me, as I walk through my wilderness, that a heart bred of discontent and ungratefulness leads to an unhappy, wandering, idol worshipping life.

And so… I remember and am grateful…

I remember the moment the Lord chose to speak to me about adopting a child from Africa and am grateful.

I remember the 2 weeks I prayed for my husband to get on board with the idea of adopting and am

grateful.

I remember when my husband’s heart turned and he then became the father of 4 not 3 and am

grateful.

I remember when we needed our first $1500 to have our homestudy done and am

grateful.

I remember when the Lord directed our steps to our first agency and all that we learned and am

grateful.

I remember all the sweet little faces we had to say “no” to because the Lord was directing and am

gratfeul.

I remember the days when I felt unsettled as if the Lord was doing a new thing in our adoption and am

grateful.

I remember when the Lord pursued me and spoke to me saying we were in the wrong “place” and am

grateful.

I remember when we switched agencies and there was a little girl whose name meant star and am

grateful.

I remember when the Lord brought us our first little Congolese girl we accepted as our own and am

grateful.

I remember when we needed $9,500 to say yes to our new Congolese princess and am

grateful.

I remember when we would randomly receive $1,000 check from those that were praying for us and am

grateful.

I remember the moment when my heart broke and was joyful when saying good-bye to our princess and am grateful.

I remember the waiting and praying for our new princess and the early morning e-mail and am

grateful.

I remember the sweet face, big eyes and precious dress of a little girl who is now ours and am

grateful.

I remember the days of waiting and praying for medicals to come through and am

grateful.

I remember the days when my hope was lost and a friend gave a box of scripture just for me and am

grateful.

I remember the moments when I was lost and brought to my knees by confusion and loss and am

grateful.

I remember the sweet prayers of my 3 little girls asking that Phoebe would “know us” and am

grateful.

I remember the Congolese man from IL who has stepped in and given his time to help us and am

grateful.

I remember my caseworker from IL who has given so much to get us where we are and am

grateful.

I remember those who have stood by us through the past 2 1/2 years and have prayed and am

grateful.

I remember my husband who has been my rock when I wanted to give up and am

grateful.

Asking the Lord to indeed renew my persepective through a thankful countenance to be one who remembers and is grateful.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:67

Advent: the coming & HOPE

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One of the greatest gifts…

HOPE.

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“Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot, yes a new Branch 

bearing fruit from the old root, And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-

the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might,

the Spirit of knowledge and the fear or the Lord….

 

In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world.

The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.”

                                                ISAIAH 11:1-2, 10

HOPE.

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For advent this year I am reading through the book, “The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas” by Ann Voskamp. If you have not read anything by Ann, you need to put her book, “One Thousand Gifts” on your “to read” list for 2014. You can also meet Ann on her blog and see what she is up to on a day to day basis! She is an inspirational woman with a huge heart for sharing the love story of God and how we can be in constant communion with HIM through words of gratitude. I loved her first book and so I was so excited to buy this book to use as a daily reading through advent this year. You can hear more of Ann’s heart about this new release by watching “Christmas at the Farm.”  It is 1 hour, so grab a cup of hot chocolate or coffee and sit down with Ann and Liz Curtis Higgs. Trust me, you will feel like you are sitting with some good friends, listening to them chat away! It’s wonderful! 

 

“I DON’T WANT A CHRISTMAS YOU CAN BUY.

I DON’T WANT A CHRISTMAS YOU CAN MAKE.

WHAT I WANT IS A CHRISTMAS YOU CAN HOLD.

A CHRISTMAS THAT HOLDS ME.

REMAKES ME, REVIVES ME, 

I WANT A CHRISTMAS THAT WHISPERS, JESUS.”

-Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

 

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Ann’s book takes you from Genesis through Jesus’ birth and recaptures how the word of life is pointing to God’s Love and the Messiah along the way. Each day there is a small section of scripture to read, a poetic and thoughtful response from Ann, a daily application, 3 questions to journal and an ornament to put on your Jesse tree. The concept of a Jesse tree is not new. I tried to do the Jesse tree a few years ago with my girls and we didn’t make it through the whole month. I am loving doing it just for myself this year. I grabbed some twigs that we used for our thankful tree at Thanksgiving time and made them look all “wintery” with some white paint and glitter. When you buy Ann’s book, you get the code to download free ornaments that represent each day’s bible story. I printed those on card stock, added some ribbon and put them in a cute box next to my tree so they are ready for each day. I am LOVING doing this every morning! There are some mornings where it is just too crazy and I end up sitting down at night to read my daily portion, but it is just as effective. It is keeping my mind focused and in anticipation. I am such a visual person so to have the tree with the ornaments on them reminds me of what I have read so far. It also is a great talking point with my girls. They have been asking me about the ornaments and I retell the bible stories to them. They are catching on and so I try to point to an ornament to see if they can tell me the bible story! 

Be sure to check out Ann’s book, it is not too late to get started. You can get it on kindle start on week 2 with me tomorrow!