Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mountains and Valleys- The Wait

Most of you know that we are trying to get licensed again to foster/adopt. (We were foster parents in AK) This process has taken FOREVER. We were told originally that it would only be a couple months max. Now seven months later we are still waiting. It has driven us crazy and been a subject of lots of prayer. A couple weeks ago I was especially anxious and praying. In the middle of my prayer God reminded me of a story that really threw me for a loop. It was one of those "God did you really just say that" moments. As I share this with you, you may have the same sentiment. Don't say you weren't warned ;)

So years ago while I was babysitting we went to the park. We were playing and the little boy said he needed to go to the bathroom. So we walk to the bathroom. His brother went in with him and I waited. After a bit his brother comes out and we continue to wait. I am about to send the brother back in when I hear his voice shout, "Come onnnnnnn penis!!!" (sorry that is the word). When he came out and I asked him about it he told me I wanted to be done going so he could go back to playing.

I asked God why are you reminding me of this? This does not make sense.

In that moment He gave me clarity. I'm the child in the story. I am trying to rush through the mundane tasks of life and get back to playing. You can't do that. Stop trying to rush it. Eventually you'll be done with this phase.

Not the answer I wanted.



I'm trying to do a good thing. A Biblical thing. God says to take care of orphans. I could fill this blog with verses on that. I have been a foster parent before and insert other reasons why there should not be THIS long of a wait. So why am I waiting?

At church our pastor used a metaphor for why we go through the rough times/ wait. He talked about how we want to go from mountain top to mountain top without the valley. But growth does not happen on the mountain tops. At the tops of mountains are rocks and snow. Nothing grows. The growth is in the valley. So it is with life. In the valley- that is where we grow.

Case in point- On Black Tail. Notice the snow and rocks. No greenery. 

In the valley at the Nature Center. Green everywhere. 

This wait has caused growth. We are on our knees daily for our future kids. Most days in the quiet moments I say a quick prayer for them as well. Or when I am bawling my eyes out catching Annie or anything orphan related. It is like one of my favorite songs "Orphan" by John Waller. I tear up every time I hear it. The line "Little did they know, little did they know Mom and Dad were coming" describes us. These kids have no clue we are coming. But we pray daily for God to make it happen.

And it is not just for them. During this wait I have felt the weight of adoption as a need for a miracle. The joining of a child to a new family is a miracle. The process is long and difficult. So while we wait on that miracle, I have my Wall of Miracles with index cards of everyone we are praying for daily. During this wait we are seeing Him move.

This wait is driving me crazy, but I have faith when the timing is right He will bring our family together. I cannot wait to share that with all of you.

I know we all have things we are waiting for whether it be kids, jobs, education, money, health, ect. So much of this life is in the waiting. But I am reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses.

Isaiah 40: 31, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

We like the end of that verse. Yes, strength, eagles wings, run, and walk. But that fourth word. Wait. In order to get those things we have to wait. So while I am ready to fly. I am ready to be on that mountain top. I must wait. I must grow. And when we get there it will all be worth it.

So if you are waiting too- take heart. God is with you. He has a plan. Keep trudging through the mundane. Someday you'll be playing on the mountain tops.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Other Path

To all the moms out there- Happy Mother's Day! The rest of this post probably doesn't apply to you.

To the rest of us- the ones labeled barren, infertile, motherless or whatever the correct term for it is- I know today is probably one of the hardest days all year. If you are like me you just want to hide under the covers all day and wake up Monday morning with this holiday over. No news feeds full of happy families. No sermons on the joys of motherhood. You probably skip church this day or have a plan to hide in the bathroom until the mothers portion is over. It is a reminder of what we are missing. It is just hard.

So on this hard day I want to encourage you. God has really been working on my heart about my priorities and the bitterness I sometimes have when it comes to things to do with motherhood. My mantra for today has been "Christ is enough for me." When the aches of my barrenness come- Christ is enough. When I want to pity party- Christ is enough. When I see my news feed full of babies and sonograms- Christ is enough. See for too long I have been putting my joy on the hopes of having a child. Acting as if God just gave us kids, everything would be perfect in the world. I am learning though that if I can't find joy in Jesus, I won't find joy in motherhood. Jesus is enough and every other blessing He gives is just a bonus.

Side note- Don't let facebook or instagram bring you down. Research shows that they can cause depression. Don't believe me- google it. These websites give us the impression that every family is perfect and that all we need is just to be like them and we'll be happy. Don't believe the lies. Life is messy for everyone. If looking at social media is having a negative effect on your emotions, turn it off. There is no shame in that. There are days I can't take it and the best thing I can do is avoid it.

The other thing I have been learning is that it is okay to be on what I'll call "the other path." We grow up seeing motherhood as the end all be all of womanhood. If you're not a mom then what are you? Why are you not a mom? I used to think it was because I was not good enough or that God didn't love me as much as He loved those He blessed with children. That is a dangerous road full of hurt. God loves you. He chose you to walk the other path- not because He doesn't love you- but because He DOES love you. You hear from adoptive moms all the time how it was all worth it. We may want to just shrug it off and say maybe for you- you're a mom now. But God keeps whispering in my ear, "Trust me. I love you. My plan is the best. Walk the path I have for you." I'm guessing He is saying the same to you. It is easy to get discontent and caught up in the what our lives would be if we did the other path. DON'T! That makes you miss the good of the path you are on now. Sure it is less traveled and has crazy dips and turns, but it is your path. There is beauty in the wait. While I focus on what my life would have been like without infertility I am a miserable, bitter person. When I focus on finding purpose while on the other path, I still have rough days but there are, also, good days. Below are some of my good days and I am sure if you think about your life you'll see the good times too. :)

Days climbing rocks in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Days hiking on glaciers.

Days camping with lions and hippos.

Days investing in kids who need love and need to know Jesus.

If I had gone straight to motherhood, would I still have done these things? Would I still have the ache to help children in need? Would I be me?

Maybe yes or Maybe no. We'll never know. All I know is I cannot change the path God has for me. I do not know what is around the next bend.

I do know that whatever comes, God is with me and He loves me.

So if you are walking the other path, find the good in where you are. Know you are not alone. And know that God loves you and has a purpose in this.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Stand Strong and Light Up the Darkness

A lot has happened since my last post. We have seen God working in our lives. A few weeks back I walked into church barely able to walk. Clinging to my husband for balance, I went forward for prayer. After that Sunday, my vertebrae are back in place and so is my hip. I can walk and even hike now. Recently we went on a five mile hike. The girl who could barely stand through a worship set at church is now hiking.

We, also, had a financial miracle. We came back to the States without insurance. It was an emergency. I was in the hospital for a week getting testing done because I had the symptoms of a stroke. I did not want to go because I was worried about the cost- but the situation forced me. We applied for financial assistance and recently got a letter saying my hospital stay was completely covered.

These are only recent miracles. Looking back I see God's hand in so many things. I cannot tell you how many times God has come through for us. You would think with all of these amazing things happening life would be easy- but the hits keep coming. For every victory, Satan has come back hitting us harder trying to keep us down. We believe that part of my health issues has been from a curse being put on me. I have not just been facing health problems but spiritual oppression and attacks. I have tormenting visions. I plead the blood of Jesus over me and they go away- but they keep coming back. With my health, I am healed of one thing and then comes something else.

I know I am not the only one experiencing this. We have a list of people we pray for daily that need miracles. The darkness is trying to extinguish our light. It is trying to keep us from becoming who God created us to be. They have it wrong though. It is in darkness that the light shines the brightest. Why can't you see the Northern Lights in Alaska during summer? Because there is no darkness then. It is in the cold, dark nights of winter that the sky is lit up. It is out in the bush of Africa with no city lights that the stars shine so bright. See the irony is that when things are going wrong, when we are in the midst of trials- that is when our faith comes out if we let it. There are times I want to run in fear. I want to say "No more. I can't fight." But God has been showing me I don't have to fight. I just have to stand on the Rock (Jesus). The battle is His and He has already won. 2 Chronicles 20:15 says, "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's." We can't do it- because He has already done it.

It is easier to stand if others are standing with you. So this is my invitation to all who are struggling. Let's stand together. Share just your name or your prayer request. When God answers or another attack comes share that too. If there is interest, I would like to start a facebook group for us to stand together in prayer for each other.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Desert Dweller

This morning has been rainy- not exactly the weather one generally hopes for on their birthday. Normally I would want sunshine or a good snow (aka a foot of snow that you can actually play in). Being in Africa changed my viewpoint on rain though. Here rain is an annoyance. We get rain in abundance off and on throughout the year. In Bots, it only rains during the rainy season. You get a couple months of rain and then nothing for the majority of the year. When I say nothing, I am not exaggerating. There is a reason it is called the dry season. Due to this rain is precious. To give you a hint at the value they place on rain, the word for rain is the same word they use for money. Nearing the end of the dry season everyone is waiting for that first rain especially on years that the dam is low. ( article on the water almost running out). We want an end to water rationing (yes, our water was turned off for days at a time). The earth is thirsty for that rain and so are we.

Nxai Pan 

Right now I feel like I am in a dry season. Everyday I am in pain. My bones ache but it is not just my bones. My heart hurts in ways I cannot fully describe. I am grumpier than I want to be. My joy is missing. I'm just not me. We are in a season of waiting and it is hard. Some days I just want to give up. Hillsong United wrote a song called "Desert Song" and I feel it fits us right now.

"This is my prayer in the desert
When all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me, Lord, through the flame"

This desert is difficult but I know God is walking with me. Ezekiel 37 is the chapter about dry bones. God brings Ezekiel to a valley of bones and tells him to prophesy life into the bones. Then God does the miraculous and brings the bones to life. In a commentary on this chapter the unknown author writes, "The reviving of the dry bones signified God’s plan for Israel’s future national restoration. The vision also, and most importantly, showed that Israel’s new life depended on God’s power and not the circumstances of the people. Putting “breath” by God’s Spirit in the bones showed that God would not only restore them physically but spiritually as well." (Full commentary

 I think God is promising us the same thing. Now before you start thinking I am spouting out the prosperity gospel, let me explain. Our restoration may happen here or in heaven- but it will happen someday. I have spent the last year in pain and I may continue to be in constant pain until I breathe my last breath. However, God promises that there will be no more pain in Heaven (Rev. 21:4). This life is temporary. I'm not going to give up a life of eternal joy due to an earthly temporary life of pain. So I trudge on. It is not easy. If I am honest, most days it is more of a crawl than a walk. There are days I have to rely on others to carry me. (Thank you so much to everyone who has been there for me. Y'all are amazing). But I know a day is coming where the sky will open up and the rains will come. On that day, I don't plan to walk- I am going to dance again in the rain. 

Dancing in the rain Thanksgiving 2013

So if you are in the desert place too, don't give up. If you are lonely or weary, find someone to walk with you. I'm not the best company currently, but we can walk/crawl together. 

Also, I would be remiss not to mention that even in the desert there is beauty. It is not the same as an ocean or mountain top. Sometimes you have to work harder to see it. Hold onto those moments while waiting.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

In sickness and in health

It has been a long time since I wrote. Every time I try, I end up erasing it. Explaining where I am at right now is difficult. My body is one place and part of my heart is here as well- but a big part of me still has not come back to the States. I miss Bots. There is a moment almost everyday where I am reminded of it and I am happy and sad at the same time. Don't get me wrong. I love being with my family and friends that I have spent way too little time with over the last five years. It was amazing meeting my niece. I met her at her first birthday party. I got to spend time with my other nieces and nephews over Christmas and couldn't believe how much they had grown. I kept thinking my niece was her older sister because there was no way my little niece could have grown that much. Time kept ticking by while we were away and it is good to get caught up.


I miss my friends

I miss our adventures

I miss the wildlife. Where else can you camp with the lions, hippos, and rhinos?

But most of all I miss the kids and our mission. 

If we loved it so much why did we leave? My health. It has gotten pretty bad and my doctor (and several other doctors and nurses) said it was time. So I have had test after test run but the doctors can't diagnose it. They say obviously something is wrong but they do not know what. Some say autoimmune, others say neurological, and others say there is a spiritual warfare component. I have even changed my diet to try to boost my immune system. We are that desperate. It has been incredibly frustrating and part of me just wants to give up and go back.

What keeps me here is I believe God has a purpose in this. While in Africa we saw 2 miracles. The first was the dog bite being healed. The leg went from gushing blood and me being incoherent about to pass out to us laying hands on it and the bleeding stops and I regain clarity. The doctor at the hospital was amazed. He chastised us for wrapping it because "you don't do that with bites without lots of blood."

The other miracle was God straightened my spine. The doctor thought some of my pain was caused by my scoliosis. Friends laid hands on my back and prayed and my spine straightened. It caused me to grow over an inch and a half.

In that moment, God could have healed whatever is causing this but He didn't. That tells me that there is a reason. I have been seeing doctor after doctor and getting to share our story. I get weird looks when I say God straightened my spine- and that's okay. After all we've been through searching for answers and wanting a diagnosis, I have come to the conclusion that the doctors aren't going to fix me. We aren't waiting on them to perform just the right test or for me to eat just the right diet or take the right medicine. We are waiting on another miracle.

We don't fully understand the purpose of the wait. This has been going on for eleven months. We may never have a clear picture. However, we are going to continue our mission back in the States. We are going to share God's love. We are going to open up our home to orphans. We are going to make the most of this time. I may be in pain but I'm not dead yet. I can still make a difference. I cried in church last week as we sang the line from "In Christ Alone" that states, "No power of hell. No scheme of man. Can ever pluck me from His hand." God is in control. My job is not to understand but to trust and obey.

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Albert Einstein

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Scars and Love

​We just celebrated one year in Africa :) Africa has been quite the adventure. Full of ups and downs. Unfortunately due to my health, we are heading back to the States soon. I haven't written much because my health continues to decline and typing with numb fingers is a challenge. I won't give more details here but please pray for me. Africa has definitely left its mark on me. I mean this literally and figuratively. I am going home with physical scars from our time here. While the rainbow bruise is gone, almost a year later I still have my scar from the dog bite from Sam's dad. It reminds me of the miracle God did that day. So while perfect legs would be nice, I will enjoy my scar and praise God. I, also, have a scars from the impetigo. They are tiny and may go unnoticed but it is another reminder of what God has brought us through. The most difficult scars though are the ones left on my heart. We are leaving behind amazing people who are family to us. We love you guys. We are leaving behind two great organizations we were proud to be a part of. But the hardest is leaving the kids. Just like Mark and Kaitlyn before them, these nine kiddos have a piece of my heart. Their names are forever etched on my heart. My heart hurts but an amazing thing happens when you love- truly love. Even though you give and give, your heart grows instead of shrinks. My heart is full even in this pain. This life is about love. There is so much hate in the world today. Don't believe me- just turn on the news. That is not who we are meant to be. Shine your light and love today. As I think back on our time here I think of a quote by Mother Theresa. She said, "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." I did not do anything huge here. I did not leave my mark on Africa as it did on me. However, I did little things that I hope spoke of the love of Christ. I hope when those little ones remember Auntie they remember what I told them as I held them. "Auntie loves you and Jesus does too."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Don't Run

Fear and pain. Wow do I hate those. Yet so often they are intertwined. That's me right now. Most of you may already know and may be sick of hearing about it but I am battling severe pain. Still. Argh. Started before Easter and 2 months later is still here. Medicine hasn't helped. Still no real diagnosis. And I am tired. I am weak. And I want to give up. I feel like a failure. I keep hearing come home! I want to run. I want to run all the way back to the States- back to what I know. Back to what is comfortable. But I know I need to stand firm. In 1 Peter 5, Peter describes Satan as a lion on the prowl and tells believers to stand firm against him. Running from a lion while it may be instinct is exactly what you are not supposed to do. A popular phrase here and a great book is "whatever you do don't run." (The book is by Peter Allison) Instead you are to face the predator, get as big as possible, and stand your ground. Then the predator will hopefully see you as another predator and not as prey- and then it will back down.  In this journey called life from time to time a lion (or a bear, moose, water buffalo, you name it) will come into our path. We all have 2 options- run or muster up our courage and strength in the Lord (we can't do this on our own) and stare down that lion. Please continue to pray for Ryan and I as it seems like we are continually facing one of the Big 5 in our path. It is hard- but this is where the Lord has called us. I know He is using this to mold me from this shy, weak little girl into a brave, strong woman for Him.  Thank you for the encouragement and prayers. May we bring glory to God as we stand for Him no matter what lies in our path.