So today is truly day 1 in Operation Farm Renovation. Let me pre-empt this blog by letting you in on a few secrets. #1 I am deathly afraid of rats & mice. #2 I am also afraid of snakes... like mortally afraid. Like heart stopping afraid.
There is something about her little angelic face that just makes my heart warm. Last night was the first time she has shown wear for this impending move. This little ballerina, with the beautiful face, sat here on the couch and teared up when she talked about leaving behind her friends. She can be tempted with new dogs, and the possibility of one day having a horse, but there is no way to prepare a little girl to turn her life upside down. Even as her mother, I am stumped for the great words of comfort. I just pulled her onto my lap, and loved on her.
Then I did what any good mother would do. I sent her to Nanna's.Where the rule is, there are no rules. Where peanut butter spoons justify a meal as long as accompanied by chocolate milk. Where Swiss Family Robinson is a movie favorite and where Nanna's lap can ease the heartache of a 9 year old little girl. Where shopping is mandatory and naps are relished.
My Nanny used to make this when she was having company over at the holidays because it didn't take many ingredients & took very little time to make and set up. It has never failed me.
1 12 oz bag of semi-sweet morsels
1 12 oz bag of peanut butter morsels
2 cans of sweetened evaporated milk
optional.. 2 snickers bars chopped up.
Microwave in a small bowl 1 can of milk & 1 bag of chips. Spread evenly in bottom of foil liked square pan. Sprinkle with snickers if desired. Microwave remained ingredients and spread evenly on other layers. Refrigerate 1 hour before cutting.
Cheryl's Miracle Cookies
Mix together well in a large mixing bowl:
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 bag chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts - FINELY chopped... almost to a powder.
Mix this well with your hands to the chips get coated and also so you can make sure there aren't too many chunks of brown sugar.
Whisk together 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Pour this on top of your dry stuff but don't mix yet.
Finally, take 1 stick of room-temperature butter and plop that on the top. Now mix it all together as well as you can with a spoon. Don't get too far, do you? Now use your hands. (Kids are great for this!) Make sure you get all the dry stuff from the bottom of the bowl. It's almost like you're kneading bread dough, right?
Now grab two big spoons (not serving spoons... like your soup spoons) and drop some golf ball sized cookies into your greased muffin tin. Yes, your muffin tin. Bake those babies at 350 for around 11 or 12 minutes. Yes, they'll look under done. When you take them out of the oven, let the stay in the muffin tins with a towel placed over them for about 3 minutes, THEN take them out.
MMMM.... gooey.... and soft....... MMMMM.......
***I don't use muffin tins because believe it or not I don't have any. They are wonderful just globbed on a cookie sheet. My oven gets them just right in 10 minutes. ~JL***
You can find more of Cheryl's wonderbar creations on her blog.
you take yourself with you.
Respect the un-respectable
Just like you desire to be loved
your hair is sticking up &
you had garlic for dinner
the night before -
The onion has so many layers
-how does one learn to cope-
with the smell
& the tears.
in a world full of mediocrity
Is like taking a pig shopping
in New York City.
Who will follow the scholar
into the halls of dusty books
When they can live life
stealing a sideways look
-at no cost
Spicy Tortellini Soup
1 pkg of hot Italian sausage cut into bite size pieces & unsheathed
1 medium onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pat of butter
3 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup frozen spinach
2 boxes of chicken broth
2 pkg dried cheese filled tortellini
grated Parmesan cheese
In a 5 qt stockpot fry brown sausage in olive oil. After cooked through add butter, onion & carrots. Saute until onions are translucent. Add garlic and stir just for a moment, until you can smell it really well. Pour in 2 boxes of chicken broth and bring to a slight boil. Add spinach, return to boil. Add tortellini and allow to simmer for 30 minutes until tortellini is cooked through. Garnish with parmesan cheese & red pepper flakes (optional).
This will feed my family of 5 twice.
Heather's Potato Soup
5 pound of potatoes, cut & boiled
1 large onion diced
1 large bag of frozen corn
2 sticks of butter
8 oz sour cream
8 oz cream cheese
2 cups cheddar cheese
2 cups of milk
2 cups of heavy cream
season to taste
Saute onions in butter until soft. Add sour cream, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, milk and cream. Pour over potatoes & corn. Season to taste, cook until desired consistency.
Omit corn. With onion brown 1 pound of bacon. Add green onions as a garnish. Then it could be loaded potato soup.
Dreamy Peanut Butter Pie
3/4 cup JIF peanut butter
3 oz cream cheese
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
12 oz whipped topping
1 9 inch chocolate cookie crumb pie crust
Mix together peanut butter, cream cheese & sugar. The stir in whipped topping. Whisk until smooth and no lumps remain.
Pour into pie cruse and refrigerate 3 hours. Drizzle with chocolate syrup for decorative garnish.
Shrimp Cavatappi Amatriciana
1 lb.box of cavatappi or spiral pasta.
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cans (14 ounce each) diced tomatoes in tomato juice
1 pound of clean deveined shrimp
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Romano cheese
Cook cavatappi according to package directions; drain.
Saute onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes in olive oil over medium heat till onions are soft and translucent.
Add white wine and cook till nearly evaporated. Stir in tomatoes with their juice till slightly thickened (3-5 minutes). Add shrimp and cook until just pink.
Taste, and add salt and pepper as desired. Mix into cooked cavatappi. Toss with Romano.
1/2 box of Bowties
1 chopped onion
1 Tbsp butter
1 1/4 milk
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 cups cooked chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
14 oz can artichokes
1 box of frozen spinach (thawed and very well drained)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp melted butter
Preheat oven to 350. Cook bowties & drain. In skillet cook onion in 1 tbsp butter until tender. In bowl stir together eggs, milk, seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir in chicken, cheese, artichokes, spinach, half of the parmesan cheese, pasta and onion. Put into a rectangular baking pan. Bake covered in foil 20 minutes. In bowl mix remaining parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, paprika and melted butter. Sprinkle over pasta and bake 10 more minutes or until golden.
Antipasto Rotini Salad
3 cups uncooked rotini pasta
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
4 oz thinly sliced Genoa salami, cut into strips
1 can dark red kidney beans
4 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
3/4 cup Italian dressing
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 minced cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tsps course ground black pepper
Cook rotini, adding broccoli during last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool. In a large bowl combine with remaining salad ingredients. Mix dressing and pour over salad. Toss until well mixed. Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.
Man that guy can read my mail. If you have never done a year with "My Utmost for His Highest" I would recommend it. This morning it hit me like a ton of bricks. Agony of repentance...unspeakable shame - all replaced by His love for me. That even as we stumble through the process of reconciliation and sanctification...He is continuing to pour out His love usually faster than we are able to receive it. We cry, we hold on to the pain, the broken parts...but rarely do we reach out for the love that he purposes for us. That he wants to give us so freely. He never backs up, he never is always there...just waiting for us to realize His extravagance.
My earthly Father has to love me through his own pain. His own feable attempts at reconciliation. He can't love me, he doesn't receive the love and God and without it we are unable to love anyone else. God is love, without Him we just have a sense of responsibility for the warfare of. We just care deeply, but we can't love someone through their sins, through the hard places, unless He has filled us. It is because He first loved us that we are able to love others.
When we face trials, when more sin is revealed, when God puts His finger on the next layer and the process begins all over again, it is then that we are taught humility. That again, we needed corrected, again He wants to love us through a clean love and not through our filters. I think the lesson learned, is that He cares more about my position in Him than my circumstances. I think back to David, he consistantly fell but would fall towards God. God honored him. In 1 Kings 14 we are told by God himself that David followed God with all his heart. Even as David sinned God loved him and David allowed God to reconcile him to Himself.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." ~2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Lord, hear my prayer this morning. In the words of King David, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Lord, I long for the joy. Lord, all I am is yours. Only you can satisfy me. I am not longer content with happy...happy is for everyone...I want joy. Overflowing out of my heart, contageously. Thank you Father, for the ministry of reconciliation. That we don't have to walk around the living dead. That in you there is eternal life, eternal love and eternal joy. Bless you...I love you. In the Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”- Psalm 37:4
He is reminding me that only He has the power to allow me the quietness that I find this morning. The house is quiet except for the tapping of my keys and the dog whining watching the squirrels gather the black walnuts out of my yard.
I have family in town. That really doesn't know me anymore. The last 5 years have changed me...I have more confidence, I have more faith...I am grounded in a way that I am sure that they may sense but can not recognize. I am thankful to the Lord that he delivered me from that "normal" and has allowed me to sit with Him in these mountains and truly be fed by Him.
I am overtaken with gratitude. That even as I have been around this tree before this time He is with me. This time I chose to hold his hand instead of running. The goodness of God is that He has allowed me to just soak. I don't have to go somewhere just because it will make someone else feel better about where I am. I have my relationship with Him personally where I can talk to Him and I hear his voice...loving, guiding, protecting. As I soak in Him and "do nothing" He is taking care of it. Right down the list, I can put check marks. Things that I was dreading facing...He has taken care of it in only ways that He can.
So often we ask what talents can we lay before the Lord. "If I get this right, if I learn this lesson God can use me." "If you do well with the responsibility God will give you the authority." There seems to be a system of steps to take in order to be qualified to serve God. It's something we strive for. We foresake our God given responsibilities to chase other things that we find more worthy of our time and energy. If I write a book with the greatest revelation of all time, but my husband is dying in sin, or my children are starved for their mother then I have been futile in my ministry.
It is my heart to hear God's voice, the Holy Spirit's guidence every day. "Lord, what do you have for me today", is going to become my heart cry every day.
Father, I repent for chasing after something that only you can give me. Lord, if all I ever get from you is a soaking relationship then there is nothing more I would ever desire. I long to hear you and to feel your presence on me. I know that you are here and that you are showing me the things that I have set as boundaries between You and I. Lord, I thank you for knocking down those walls. I give you permission to meddle in my life. I give you permission to work on anything and everything that seperates me from your fullness for me. Lord, align my step with yours. Lord, align my family...our hearts, our intentions, over love for one another. I love you Father, I love you. I am grateful for the Son and I thank the Holy Spirit that comes for comfort and guidance. Blessings to all of you. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.
Your personal convictions [on such matters]--exercise [them] as in God's presence, keeping them to yourself [striving only to know the truth and obey His will]. Blessed (happy, to be envied) is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves [who does not convict himself by what he chooses to do]. - Romans 14:22 AMP
I am beginning to believe more and more that God allows Satan to bring things sin to our lives to teach us to take them to the cross. He wants it to be our knee jerk reaction. It doesn't mean that you don't get hurt, it doesn't mean that you won't have to pay the consequences of your sin, but when you purpose yourself to take it to the cross the pain changes. It goes from being the pain of watching it grow to being the pain of having it removed.
The sun is shining in my dining room this morning as if right on me. Like I can see daylight for the first time through all of the debris and dust of these last few months. I truly believe that God has given me a vision of what this looks like. When it hits, we go into survival mode. We blame others around us. We want to make it about everyone else. But in times of war, bombs and other weapons formed against us cause collateral damage. However, we can either be the victim or we can take the time for ourselves to be healed. Searching for God's face even among the pain, the confusion, the tears.
I want to give you a visual. With the cross in the middle. When you are carrying your own stuff, with the tears and the bags, and the ripped clothes. You have just been in a war. You are battered you are bruised. In some cases, you have an elephant chained to your leg. You struggle to get to the cross, you call others to help you carry your burdens because this time they are just more than you can carry by yourself. You get to the cross and you lay those burdens at the cross. Jesus covers them with His blood.
There is a transferance that happens at the cross. Jesus hands us hope, he gives us an extra portion of grace. He floods us with His love. He shines the sun on us to remind us that He sees our pain but that he has given us the tools to begin to eat the elephant one bite at a time. I always thought that once you brought it to the cross that it was over. Well, some of it is over, but some of it continues. The man next to Jesus on the cross asked for forgiveness, Jesus forgave him, gave him grace, love and hope. However, He didn't take him down off that cross. There are circumstances to the sin. There are still lessons that must be learned. You can't leave it at the cross...for true healing you have to dig through the box. Get bloody. You can't leave in fear of the blood. You need to live in fear of not having the blood.
Because when you walk past the cross and back into the world...if you didn't learn the lesson, it you didn't get bloody, you tend to attract the same sin. Again and again and again. The blood on that sin is the vaccine. So that when you see that again, you are protected. You know what it tastes likes, what is smells like. You have the blood on your hands to grab it by the neck and say, I have fought you before, I know how to have victory here. That's the greatest gift Jesus ever gives us. The ability to slay our own giants and then walk around carrying it's head and showing it in the village. This giant has tormented me long enough. Today is the day that I had victory.
You are able to live in freedom because the fear of it reappearing is gone. Your mind is renewed, lines up with God's and you are able to stop judging yourself as less than. The beach ball has broken the surface and you realize this isn't something that you have to continue to control..that is when you feel the ease of the pain. That's it when for the first time in long time you breathe deeply and realize that you are loved unconditionally.
Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, I love you all. All as one and all independently. Father, I thank you for loving me enough to teach me the lesson. For taking the time to remind me of your love by discipling me. By placing your hand on me and saying honey, we need to deal with this...you my beautiful girl deserve better. Jesus, oh Jesus. Oh the nights you heard my heart even as all I could do was call out your name. Thank you for the cross, for meeting me there, for the hope, the love, the extravagant grace, for the forgiveness. You are the lover of my soul and my husband and I look forward to an eternity in your presence. Holy Spirit, thank you for coming, for enveloping me in your arms. Your comfort has been my life safer. The peace that you bring is beyond understanding. Your ability to hear my heart, to know my desires, and to fill me with such love. I am eternally grateful. I am a blessed woman because of my relationship with you. All of you. And is it through you, and in the name of Jesus I say amen.
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.”- Proverbs 19:20-21
Oh I have planned, I have envisioned, dreamed, named and claimed...and even as everything around me is tumbling to the ground I am realizing that God's hand is in mine. I am still shuffling trying to get my step in line with His but nevertheless He is holding my hand. It's almost like he is walking me through a nuclear fallout site. All of the strongholds I have built, the lies I have believed and made foundations to the definition of myself.
How loving a God that will tear you down to the base, that he doesn't leave an ounce of cancer, of hurt of pain. He takes it all. One brick at a time. If we would only be willing to do what He has asked us to do. I would like to say that there isn't much left. But that would be a lie. There is a lot left. There is still pride, there are still childhood dreams, there are still wants and desires that stem from my flesh and not from Him. There are still things that I use to comfort myself, when I hit the really hard places. There are methods that I have used before that are an option now. The only place I want to be is in the arms of Christ, yet most of the time I find myself hunkered down holding in bitter thoughts and trying not to spew.
I am trying to learn to find my voice that can carry on a conversation. I am good to tap out my pain here, it's when it's in a conversation that I tend to get quiet. I can throw down in a fight, but I would really love to get to the point that I can express my hurts or anger without hurting the other person, but yet express it in a way that I don't just hold it all inside and try to put on the pretty face so that everything appears ok on the outside but I am vomiting on the inside.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. - Psalm 51:17
Lord, I know that I am not going to do this perfect. I know that perfection isn't what you expect out of me in this moment. Father, all I can do is come to you and ask you to please be my comfort. Teach me what I can and can't do, make it so obvious that I don't mess this up. I don't want bitterness, I don't want rejection, I reject both of them in the name of Jesus. I just decide to receive your love and to continue holding your hand. I don't know what I am looking at and I don't know exactly where we are going. I am holding on for dear life Lord. Superglue my hand to yours. There is nothing left for me without you. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.
The vision I keep seeing is the woman with the issue of blood. Her face down, looking at the ground, in a large group of people who rejected her. She is on all fours and she approaches him. Tears stream down her face and leave tracks. She is anemic and pale, weary. She is shaking, she has Godly fear. She knows she has to have what He has but she is aware that there is going to be consequences to her decision. She has come to far to turn back, but she will continue to reach for his cloak until she can get the healing she so desires.
This is the place that I find myself. In a place where Jesus has made himself available but it is up to be to be diligent in my pursuit of Him and what He has for me. For years I have sat and been fed. Others have done the hard work for me but at this point in my life I feel like God is saying, "Honey, you aren't a baby anymore".
I was reading in Genesis 22 this morning with my children during Bible Study. Teaching them about Jehovah Jirah. Abraham went up the mountain prepared. He took the tools that he was going to need to make Issac the sacrifice for God. He didn't take someone else's wood, or knife. He took his own tools. He didn't ask someone else to do it for him, he took 2 servants, but this himself he had to do. God had walked with him and given him great promises of this child. He had built his dreams upon his precious Issac. He had to lay it on the altar, what I find so overwhelming is that he had so much faith in God.
The Provider met him prepared with his tools. He didn't just merely walk Issac up the mountain and expect it all to be taken care of for him. God is God, He can do all things at any time. But Abraham had to be prepared to make his own altar, his own sacrifice. I wonder as he packed did he bring his best knife, or his dullest. If you are going to meet God, and kill your own son, I would think that you would bring the best sharpest knife you owned. Somehow I would think that it would make it less painful for Issac.
I have been in a fast accelerated season of growth. I have been pulled out of my comfort zone, I have been asked to climb a mountain and to bring my tools. I can honestly say in my quiet past few months, I have hurt more, cried more and hurt more than probably any other time in my life. I have felt chewed up and left to die. I felt like that woman, bleeding without cease. I have been torchered with mockery of my peers, I felt at times like I was climbing on the cutting board for the butcher. God used a lot of mouths to prepare me for this climb, for this absolute surrender of my self and all that He has invested in me on the altar. I have been set up to fail. The fight has been intense. I remember one night sitting on the edge of my bed and knowing that I was in the fight of my life. It was life versus death that night. I am not done with this battle but I know that night, I decided that victory was mine. I was not going to lie down and die. I am willingly going to surrender to the will of God and raise my knife to kill my dreams and allow God to provide the replacement. God is a God of ressurrection power. He will kill what isn't of Him and bring back or create new what he desires in me.
I want to be fully reliant on God. I don't want to be dependant on anyone but God the Father. There is no sacrifice that can be the equivilent of Jesus. There is no comfort but that which comes from the Holy Spirit. There is nothing else that satisfies my soul, my hunger nor my needs except for these.
Father, the pain is unfathonable. However, today, I willingly choose to walk this path to healing. I thank you for no recovering, I want full healing. I don't want to deal with these issues again, I don't want them to resonate the hurt that they have for so many years. Lord, I pray that you pull it all the way out. That nothing remains. You are not a God that teaching coping, you are a God that sent your son for deliverance. I praise you Lord, my soul longs for you. In the name of the most powerful son that ever walked the planet. Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!
My senses were overloaded and even for a preacher girl like me the need, the smell, the open sewers leave me without a cognitive thought. There are some things about Nicaragua that change a person. Even after living in Puerto Rico I was not prepared for the political unrest in the country. The light poles are painted with colors to show their support for the different “parties” of government. They hang flags on their homes, much like us, but it is to show their political views…there is very little unity in Nicaragua. The one thing that I learned quickly…we all say that we are proud to be Americans. We are so selfish, so prideful…they quickly remind me that we are North Americans but that they too are Americans. They don’t like us… if you don’t know the story of the Iran Contra Affair they you wouldn’t know that the USA launched an attack against Nicaragua. We gringos stick out like a sore thumb. We travel with armed drivers everywhere we go. The compound where we sleep there is a guard 24/7.
There is a city dump in Managua. Five thousand people make up a community there. They actually live in the dump…and their children are so full of parasites that they come out of their scalps. There are parents of young girls in the dump that sell their daughters for first pick at the trash for food. As I sit here typing at my brand new laptop I realize how blessed I am and am humbled in a way that I can’t begin to describe.
We spent most of our time at the orphanage. These kids are given a decent life. They are fed, they are schooled…when groups come in like us, the go to the movies, the go to the park…but they are always full of fear. We took a small boy Justin with us to the movies…he was still in diapers so I am guessing less than 3 years old. I don’t know that he had ever been to the movies, he sat and ate his popcorn and drank his Pepsi and then fell asleep in the a/c of the theater. These kids don’t know anything of air conditioning…or the pleasures of fountain drinks. Everything is a new experience for them.
Leyli found Julia on our first visit to the orphanage. She clung to her and they played from the first moment. I feel in love with a young baby girl named Guadeloupe and spent time holding her and rocking her. Ande was building with the men, and the boys were with their friends. I had no intention of bringing any of these children home. I went with a pretty closed mind. In my own selfishness, I had it in my mind that I was halfway through with homeschooling Julia, I didn’t realize that I had been counting down the days to my freedom. But about day 7, I shut down. I was ready to come home, I was tired of loving on these kids, I was tired of the smells, and my stomach was aching with diarrhea. I realized that I was building some pretty big fences. I had my defenses up. I could paint, I could work with the mother of the orphanage for admin stuff, I could work mindlessly through a list of things to do but I couldn’t look at the kids without crying. That was the first night that Ande mentioned bringing Leyli home with us to the states.
Ande talked to Chris the mother of the orphanage about Leyli, she told him that she had a brother there as well and that if they were ever adopted out that they would not be separated. Ande is in his wisdom kept feeding me this information to which I really didn’t reply. It is my heart to do women’s ministry…I want to travel, I want to do conferences…I can’t do that toting kids around. He asked me to pray about it. I prayed that God would change his heart. The next conversation that we had about it he asked me if I was willing to do it. Was I willing to lay it all down for these two…
Leyli and Darwin’s biological mother is a prostitute. She has had 6 children that Chris and Tim are aware of. Leyli is number 4 and Darwin is 5…Mom just had another one. Leyli and Darwin have been at the center since November. Their oldest sister Jenna is 11 and she is a foster child of Chris and Tim. The children have to be declared abandoned before they can be put up for adoption. Jenna, has been fostered for 4 years but the mom will not sign the papers for her to be adopted. If these children can’t be adopted that means when they turn 18 that one of their only options will be to return to their mother. They are an impoverished people and they don’t have the choices that we do here in the USA. The thought of Leyli having to live like that….
Yes, I was willing to lay it all down for them. Leyli is the only girl in her age group; the others are still babies and still have lots of opportunities to be adopted. It changed the trip for us. We began to spend as much as we could with Leyli and with little Darwin. We began to ask questions, lots of questions about their past. We began to tell them that we loved them, we began to hold them every chance we had. I know that we did other things but I don’t remember anything but their little faces.
The last day that we were there…there was another team there and they were taking the older kids to the zoo. It was going to be the last chance we had to spend with Leyli. Ande and I had to press in to see her. The other group was trying to block her and we just were persistent. That last half an hour…my heart was flooded with a love for this child. Before they pulled out I told her “I love you” and she said “I love you”. Then I backed up and made room for Ande. I told him to tell her I love you. He said I don’t know how. I told him just say it in English…he did and again she repeated it back to him. That is a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. I spent the rest of our time there coloring her a picture, because if I talked to anyone I was going to lose it. Te Amo…We love you, I wrote it at the bottom of the picture and left it on her bed.
Darwin sang a funny song and was making himself laugh. Ande got it all on video…almost like Darwin knew that things had changed for him. He has laughter in his young eyes. I look forward to him riding in Ande’s truck and hanging with Dad. I can’t think about it without my eyes tearing up. Even now Ande is reading about adoption and about the Nicaraguan government. We are committed.
Later in the evening, after we knew that they would be home from the zoo…Ande and Julia went back to the center to see Leyli. She was sleeping but they were allowed to wake her up and give her the purse, the socks and the hairbows that Ande had bought for his little girl. She saw them and immediately hugged Julia. Then she pulled the picture out that I had colored for her from under her pillow. I hate to think of her knowing that we were leaving…I hate to think of her thoughts the next day when we didn’t come to her.
We are already pricing plane tickets. It doesn’t appear that we can get back to our children before January. We pray for them constantly…we will begin to send money for them. We don’t know what God has in store for us, but whether we bring them here…or we have to go there to be with them…we will do whatever it takes. The biggest prayer request that we have right now, is that the children could be declared abandoned. Because no matter how prepared we get...if they are not adoptable the only option that we have is to move down there to foster them.
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Do you ever feel like you missed it? Like the right train went by and you were busy, maybe disobedient, maybe distracted but the train is gone and you look around and you life looks nothing like it was supposed to look. Nothing like the fairy tales you dreamt of as a child?
This morning I am trying to remember that God's will and plan for me is probably very different than I ever envisioned for myself. That my little girl dreams were just that...little girl dreams. If I were honest, I'd tell you that in my little girl visions of myself I was never a homeschool mom, I wasn't a bookkeeper, I wasn't struggling. My life just didn't turn out the way that I imagined that it would. Of course white horses and knights...well that part is close....but the ivory tower from which I look out isn't what I imagined at all.
I have a proclivity for the beach. I always pictured this large white house on the beach, with a crow's nest office. Miles of ocean before me as I poured my heart out on a keyboard. Windows open, in my little studio office. Flowing in white cotton, and with bare feet tucked up underneath myself. Coffee at my side. Even sitting here I can smell the salt in the air and feel the cool breeze. So how did I get from there to a table for 8, in a ranch style home, in the mountains? It has to be God, it has to be his will for me. I guess this morning I am just struggling to get it all to come together and to understand how you look up at 35 years into your life and wonder how you got here. Almost like I have been asleep for a while and you sit up in a panic wondering where you are.
I told Ande this morning, it's not that I don't like my life. I am very content with my life. I do feel a bit caged, I feel a bit smothered but not in a bad way. Hence Psalm 139...the verse that reminds me....You hem me in...for my own protection. As if I were a bird that got caught up in a storm and got put into a cage to be nursed back to health. God has hemmed me in to nurse me back to health so that when he allows me to fly that I will be healthy and whole. I will be able to stay on course...then my mind wonders...what if this is it? What if I spend the rest of my life sitting here on this perch looking out and watching others? If that is God's will for me...I will accept it. I will say "Yes, Sir". I just feel this great since of mourning. This great and deep sense of letting that little girl down, and almost as if she is dying. I have a little girl of my own now...she has her own dreams. She has her own plans for her life. God I implore you to allow me to set her up to chase those dreams, head first into the wind.
Father, I come to you this morning. I don't know what to do with these feelings, I don't know if they are an indicator, or if I am just having a pity party. Lord, only you can search me and know the truth. I have nothing to offer but myself. Lord, teach me to open my hands and allow you to take all that I hold on to so dearly. I have chosen to follow you, you didn't tell me what it would look like, but You didn't show Abraham, you didn't show the Apostles, it takes a blind faith, a sense of allowing whatever you choose in order to be submitted. I understand that...I am just realizing...what it costs to follow you. Peter dreamt of being a fisherman, Paul dreamt of being a Pharisee, Abraham dreamt of being a childless man. Lord, let me will be willing to submit to your will. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Monday was my precious little girls birthday, she turned nine. After the hustle and bustle of the day, the barage of kids and company, parades and barbeque I found myself laying with her on her new trampoline in the yard looking up at the sky. These are the moments that I find precious...when I can still be her superhero and that there is no one around but her an I. She shares so much in those moments...her thoughts of the events of the day. Her hurts, her fears, her likes and dislikes. She scooched close to me and just laid her head on me as we laid there and looked up at the sky. In the craziness of the day, I hadn't spent much time with her, she was entertaining her friends and I was busy making preparations for her and her guests. I covet those moments when she seeks me and asks to spend time with me. When the world slows down long enough for us to watch the clouds go by.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5
The thought came to me, God waits for me in much the same way. Always watching, laughing when he sees me laugh, coming in close to hear my voice, but not interupting. I don't always take the time to spend with Him yet he is always here making preparations for me. Orchastrating what is going on around me...lovingly keeping an eye and an ear on me...despite how many are here.
Lord, I thank for you being here with me. Even as I am busy, and not engaging with you, I know that you are here, providing for me, loving me and taking care of me. Your outrageous omnipresent love...there are just no words. Bless you Father, I love you...and I look forward to laying my head on your and watching the clouds...TODAY. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5
Psalm 86 The Message
Bend an ear, God; answer me. I'm one miserable wretch! Keep me safe—haven't I lived a good life? Help your servant—I'm depending on you! You're my God; have mercy on me. I count on you from morning to night. Give your servant a happy life; I put myself in your hands! You're well-known as good and forgiving, bighearted to all who ask for help. Pay attention, God, to my prayer; bend down and listen to my cry for help. Every time I'm in trouble I call on you, confident that you'll answer. There's no one quite like you among the gods, O Lord, and nothing to compare with your works. All the nations you made are on their way, ready to give honor to you, O Lord, Ready to put your beauty on display, parading your greatness, And the great things you do— God, you're the one, there's no one but you! Train me, God, to walk straight; then I'll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I'll worship in joyful fear. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord; I've never kept secret what you're up to. You've always been great toward me—what love! You snatched me from the brink of disaster! God, these bullies have reared their heads! A gang of thugs is after me— and they don't care a thing about you. But you, O God, are both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit. So look me in the eye and show kindness, give your servant the strength to go on, save your dear, dear child! Make a show of how much you love me so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed, As you, God, gently and powerfully put me back on my feet.
The Lord is so full of love, our Pastor this weekend was teaching on perspective and I really know that perspective can make or break a situation. Right now to look at my reality...which is so different from the truth...you would think that God's hand is not with me. However, I know that He is here. I know that He loves me enough everyday to grow me up.
Over the last few months the Lord has been teaching me what I have used as crutches to help me on my road to spiritual growth. The rituals, the safety nets, the people. He is walking me through a season right now, that feels very familiar. This time though I want to hear his voice all the way through the storm. This time I want His opinion. This time I don't want to lean to my own understanding. I don't want to pacify myself. Oh I do beleive me, I want to cry, I want to whine I want the whole world to know of my hurt. God is developing a heart of David within me. He has me in the refiners fire and is moment by moment cleansing me.
I know that I am not the only one feeling the heat of His fire. I know that I have friends that also are walking in these places. I have sisters in the faith, brothers in the faith that are also struggling to move forward. It's constant prayer, it's asking for help, it's being honest that is going to get my family through this time. Laying down our pride, and crying out for help, to the God who knows where we are, who knows our needs, who knows our anxieties, our thoughts, who can feel our depression and our fear.
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Right now all I have is my faith and my trust in the Lord. There is no comfort that my husband, my children, my family, my friends can provide. There is very little than any can do but God Himself. Shopping, anti anxiety meds, anti depressants, vacations, the things that have worked for me in the past aren't options now. This is a minute by minute sacrifice and burning of self that God is requiring. It seems that I have been here for the last few months, all of it seems like stepping stones, like one leads to another. I am reminded of a dream I had at my Women's Encounter in February. I was walking along a wooded path and along the way the Lord was handing me wrapped packages...gifts. I feel like that is what I am doing every day. Walking this path...Walking in His Ways....and as I get to a certain point there is an exchange. I give up another part of my flesh, another god, another crutch and as I do that, the Lord hands me something more beautiful, something that brings more peace, something that more than restores the whole left.
The pain comes from not wanting to do the transaction. The pain comes from holding on to what God is trying to pry out of my fingers. I remember doing that with my middle son, buying him a new blanket to replace his crib quilt that he carried for 9 years. It took some time, it was his night night, he had slept with it every night of his life. It took some conversation, but he had to be willing to give it up to get the new, big boy blanket. That is what God is doing to me right now. He is taking something that has been my comfort, that others have used to define me, we used to laughingly call my son Linus, and has a more mature version to give me.
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Lord, I need you, you are here. I know that you are. Lord, give me grace through this season. Lord, I pray for my children, heal their hearts Lord. Heal my heart, and his Lord. Lord I pray for my family this morning. Lord, I know your hand, I know your love, I pray for them this morning that you would encourage them and cover them with your love this morning. I cling to you Lord. I cling to you with everything that I have. Lord, it hurts, Daddy I am scared, I am anxious, but Lord I bring those emotions to you and say that I trust you. There is nothing else that I can do. I continue to walk this path. I praise you, I love you and I give you my life and my family. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.