Friday, August 29, 2008

Fairy Tale Friday

there was a girl named Holly. And the girl loved her family. And her family loved the girl.

The girl loved to serve her family. It was an honor really. However, the girl really did not like piles of laundry in the laundry room. Day after day after day, the laundry was there. stinky. smelly. dirty. laundry.

One day, the girl said that she was no longer going to do laundry. She was quitting the laundry business.

And so, the laundry sat. And the girl waited. And the laundry sat some more. And the girl waited some more. And still the laundry sat some more. (you get the picture, right?)

Then one day, the girl noticed that her son was wearing pants that did not fit just right. When she asked about it, he said that they were "the only thing he had clean". That same day, the girl noticed her husband looking for socks. She knew that there were socks in the basket of clothes waiting to be put away (for 9 days). And yet, she remained silent. He wore sandals.

That afternoon, after an entire week of watching the laundry sit there waiting for someone to wash it, the girl gave up. She knew that there was no one else that was going to do it. And so, she gave in and took the job of laundry girl once again. She couldn't stand to see it there one minute longer.

The girl wasn't mad. Not at all. She was a little frustrated, but not mad. And she decided that the next time it piled up without anyone offering to help with it again, she would simply take it outside and have a bonfire with it.

And the girl lived happily ever after.

The End

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sorry... this is a long one

Our recent adoption news (see previous post if you don't know what I am talking about) has really taken its toll on me. I would be lying if I said that I didn't take the news hard. We all did really. And since I am being honest here, I will tell you that I am still struggling with it all. I hadn't realized how much I already love Ellie, even though I have never seen her or even know where she is in the world! Last week was especially hard on me, and I found myself withdrawing from people. I didn't talk on the phone as much (sorry mom), and I even backed out on a planned trip to Chattanooga to see friends (sorry again, guys!).

Jeff & Bryan already had plans to be at Kings Island on Saturday with the college students at church, so when I decided not to go to Chattanooga, that meant that I would be home alone. Now, let me tell you that sometimes that is dangerous for me when I am feeling down. I tend to get lonely, cry a lot and basically just feel sorry for myself. I really didn't want this day to be like that, so I decided to keep myself occupied. I had some movies to watch and a good book, so I was good to go.

I woke up earlier than I had planned (bummer), and I didn't want to watch all of my movies before noon, so I decided to go to Lexington and do some shopping. I drove across the ferry on the way there and back because it's beautiful and I have some great conversations with God on those country roads. I truly felt at peace on the way there. In fact, I felt "okay" with our adoption situation for the first time all week, knowing that God was still in control. But it also felt like there was something that He was trying to get me to understand that I was running from. To be honest, I didn't want to hear anything other than words from God that He was going to bring my little girl home to me. Nothing else. It was sort of an attitude of "God, you do what I want, and then I will listen to more. For now, this is all I want to hear".

I don't think God liked that attitude.

On the way home, I drove by a lady holding a sign that looked like this:

Something about her drew me in. I had to stop. I didn't have any cash on me to give to her, but there was a Lil' Ceasar's across the street, so I went over and got a "hot 'n ready" pizza and drove back to where she was standing. I was so nervous! I got out of the van and walked across the parking lot to her and asked if I could give her some food. She said yes, and so I asked if I could sit with her.

We spent the next hour sitting on a piece of cardboard in the parking lot of a Liquor Barn, eating pizza (i am assuming God will forgive that it wasn't on my diet since I was doing something He asked!) Her name is Lisa, and she is beautiful. I mean that. Beneath the dirt and the obvious initial distrust of my true intentions, was a lady who was stunning.

Lisa immediately asked if I was a "God person" there only to "preach" to her. Lisa has had enough of that, let me tell you. She shared with me about how she was in a church when her husband died, but the church seemed "happy to not have to deal with him anymore". It was someone in her church who called Social Services when she lost her temper and slapped her child. As Lisa said "They never stopped to ask why I was so stressed out. I was working 3 jobs and trying to keep food on the table. I hadn't slept in days when that happened, but it didn't matter". When Social Services came, she tested positive for drugs (she claims that she was taking pills to stay awake for her 3 jobs, and really, it didn't matter to me. Who am I to judge her?). They took her kids away. In a nutshell, Lisa feels like the church was quick to accuse her, but no one ever wanted to help redeem her. She actually used the word redeem. Instead, Lisa has been living on the streets for a little more than a year with no contact at all with her children. She said "I might not have hope, but at least I have pizza, right?".

I got back in the van after our lunch, drove back to the ferry, parked and cried. And I heard God whisper to me again "I needed you to hear me remind you that it's not all about you".

I'm sorry, God.

I have acted like it's all about me. I have been so focused on what I want that I have failed to see the needs of others. And Lisa reminded me that there are people out there with no hope at all. And more importantly, that I can share that hope by something as simple as a pizza.

Matthew 25:31-40 says: “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

1 Peter 3:15 says "If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it".
Are you living like you have Hope?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What do you do when you come to a dead end? Do you turn around and go back the way you came? Or do you try to make your own path? Or do you just lay down and quit, ready to stay in that same spot forever? These are the questions I find myself asking these days. You see, we have come to what appears to be a dead end in our adoption journey. On Friday we received "the call" from our agency that told us we would not be bringing Ellie home. Period.

To say that we are heartbroken doesn't even come close to describing the pain we feel right now. We are sad. We are questioning. We are confused. We are angry. We are tired.

But we still believe in God's power.

Today, I wanted to be anywhere at all except in church. Honestly, it wasn't because I am angry with God. I am not. I am just hurting, and it seems that I always cry the most in church (why is that, by the way?). I just wanted to stay home and cry by myself. Yet, my brothers and sisters in Christ strengthened me. As Jeff and I knelt at the altar, friends gathered around us to pray for us, and I felt strengthened. That's powerful, folks!

We have been given the option of stopping now, waiting until Vietnam opens again for referrals (could be years from now in all honesty), or switching to another country. And we don't know what to do. We never had a "Plan B". We trusted that God led us in this direction, and we put all of our eggs in one basket.

Today, I spent a lot of time in prayer about all of this... what we should do, where to go, how I feel, where is God in all of this.. all of that stuff. And He repeatedly brought to mind verses about standing still. I told Him that I felt like we were at a dead end, and God brought to mind the story of Moses when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. They were finally freed from slavery, and then they came to what was seemingly a dead end... the Red Sea. The Israelites, freshly freed from captivity, whined and said "Didn't we tell you to leave us alone while we were still in Egypt? Our slavery was far better than dying out here in the wilderness". (Seriously??)

Scripture goes on to say
"But Moses told the people, 'Don't be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you. The Egyptians that you see today will never be seen again. The Lord Himself will fight for you'".

As God brought that story back to my mind today, I knew that He was telling us to "stand still" and let Him fight for us. That's not easy. I am human; I prefer to know exactly how things are going to work out. But scripture also says that God's ways are not our ways, and if I really trust Him, I will let go of the need to work things out myself.

I want my little girl home. I believe that Ellie is waiting for us to come get her from wherever she may be. I believe that God brought us this far, and I believe that He is faithful to finish what He started. Please pray for us. We need some strength and encouragement right about now.

Thanks so much... we love ya'll.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

15 years and counting...

Dear Jeff,
15 years ago today, we stood before a sanctuary full of family and friends, vowing that we would be together for the rest of our lives. I knew that I loved you, but I had no idea how much that love would grow. I can't even put it into words; it's just there in my heart, and it completes me. Really it does. I'm not just borrowing a line from Jerry Maguire.

I have to tell you that I am so thankful that you wanted to marry me. I am far from good enough for you. You deserve so much more than I can ever hope to give you, but I am grateful for how you inspire me to be better, to be more, to be beautiful. You have loved me in a way that has allowed me to blossom, and I can never thank you enough for that.

I hear it said all the time that opposites attract. It's really not that way with us, is it? The longer I love you, the more I am becoming like you, and that's a good thing. I happen to think you are the best. There are lots of mushy things I could say here, but I will save that for a private moment. However, I had to share some things that I love about you with those who will read this blog. Why? Well, because I love ya, and I want the world to know it!

So... in honor of our 15 blessed years, I give you my "Top 15 things I love about Jeff" ...

15. the way you mis-pronounce words like "accountant", "Colorado" and "birthday" on purpose now just to make me smile.
14. the way you sing "Close to You" to me at home and over the phone just like the guy from The Parenthood movie.
13. the way we love "the Heart" (inside joke that I will NOT tell others).
12. the way you laugh at me when I get excited about getting a new book to read.
11. how we finish each other's sentences sometimes or think the same thoughts. (scary, huh?) call me beautiful no matter what I really look like! (even with no make up and messy hair)
9. the way you look in that peach shirt and tie. or out of it... whichever.
8. the way you always kiss me first when you come home from work.
7. how you call me at work in the middle of the day just to tell me that you love me..again.
6. Saturday morning breakfast dates.
5. after 15 years, you still bring me the little spoon, and I think it's funny. sad, but funny.
4. you look for the good in everyone all the time.
3. your excitement at the thought of having a little girl & the visions of you with her that go through my head
2. Dad 'n Lad dates... I love how you make Bryan a priority. He always knows you love him wholly!
1. You are a Godly man, Godly husband, Godly dad. And you still give me butterflies in my stomach after all these years!

I love you Jeff... forever.