Monday, June 17, 2013

Adoption Update: Periods and Question Marks – 6.17.2013

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it – psalm 127:1

We heard a sermon yesterday about how the devil puts question marks where God has put periods.  He emphasized how Satan tried it with Eve in the garden: “Yea, hath God said…?” When I heard that I thought, He just tried that on us last week!  Just a few days from when we took our stand in faith, the serpent came slithering in with two tempting sibling groups and asked, “hath God really said under school age?”  Both groups had children over the age limit. We didn’t have peace about either one. But, they were there…and available…and we struggled. But, by God’s grace we were able to lean on His truth and resist what we ultimately saw as temptation.  In His strength, we stood firm, “God hath said under school age. Period.

And hardly 3 days later…we received a phone call from our caseworker (yes, this has been the most activity we have seen during our whole 16 months of waiting) reporting that she had heard from the caseworker of one of the groups we had rejected last week (the third temptation in 5 days). She said the caseworker announced that we had been selected (as 1 of 3 candidates) for that sibling group (ages 3, 4, 5……and 10).  Our caseworker reminded her that we were no longer interested (because of the age breech we discussed last week) and the caseworker insisted, “please, won’t you participate in the selection meeting on Wednesday?  We are very interested in your family for this group.”  So, our caseworker called us to see where we stood. 

We have been selected? They are very interested in us? The opportunity we shakily turned down last week was suddenly a little more appealing. The stakes had been raised.  We had been moved even closer to the prize.  Tantalized by the lust of the flesh, like Eve fondling a ripened fruit, we wavered.  And the question marks rolled….. “Is God opening a door that we tried to close? Is He trying to tell us we’re not on the right path?  Is this His will for us?  Did He really mean under school age? Yea, hath God said…?”

A song we sing in our Bible Study class played in my mind as I knelt down to beg for clarity and peace:

Fret not, He’s watching over you
Fret not, His love will see you through
Fret not, He’ll help you pass the test
Commit and trust…delight and rest.

That’s what was missing….rest.  We had no peace. Only questions and doubts.  Knowing God is not the author of confusion; he ultimately revealed impatience, faithlessness, and fear at the root of these questions.  I know God is teaching me to find peace in His periods. Wait on the Lord…period. Delight in the Lord…period. Rest in the Lord…period.  My nature is unstable, but His commands are absolute.   I am learning now to turn to those commands in the face of doubt.  The Lord is always faithful and, once again, He helped us pass the test.  He provided the strength for us to face our fear (that we will accidently miss God’s will) and guided us by the hand as we walked away (again) from a very tempting opportunity.  So, we carry on down this narrow path….a little stronger, and yet so aware of our dependency on God’s merciful hand.  Our heart is strengthened and we are determined to trust that the Lord will be faithful in what He has called us to. We know that God is faithful. Period.  He has called us to adoption. Period.  He will build our house. Period.

“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Adoption Update - A Tempting Fork on a Narrow Road - 6.13.2013

For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted as we are yet, with without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16

Making a declaration of faith is always a war cry.  But, never have I seen such a swift response as the temptation delivered this morning.  We had just determined to take God at his word. To commit to a path, to walk a narrow road, to trust in His will.  Then, we received a phone call from our caseworker. She had a question about a sibling group we had inquired on before God gave us such a pointed direction.  It is always thrilling to have a prospect, any prospect (and the devil knows that).  My flesh jumped ahead of my spirit and I immediately justified the parameter breach in my mind: “I know God just showed us that He was going to point us toward younger children, but…”  “Maybe God was just testing us….maybe He wasn’t really meaning under school age…maybe not all the children….maybe…maybe….HELP!

I called my husband to update him on the open opportunity and we both hit our knees, he in his office and I at the living room sofa.  Are we to continue on the path we were so sure He set us on?  Or are we to take this fork?  Which way, Lord?  I begged for confidence, for peace, and for confirmation.

My prayers were answered through a phone call from my sister. She immediately sensed my hesitation.  She identified fear, temptation, and a desperation that was understandable, but still faithless.  I knew she was right.  She delivered a rebuke that encompassed a year’s worth of doubts.  It was high time those were cleared out anyway.  When I spoke again with my husband we each shared our thoughts.  We agreed that if we were to pursue this group it would be out of fear rather than faith and we were ashamed to have considered it.

And as sure as we had claimed a victory, we received another call from our caseworker. Another sibling group. Another temptation. This one even more alluring than the first. What a wicked game the devil played with us. And yet, I’m glad. I feel my faith was strengthened, not only in resisting, but also in seeing the great escape the Lord leaves for us.  How sweet to find grace to help in time of need.  We are going to carry on down the narrow road. May God get the glory.

God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. -1 Corinthians 10:13


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Adoption Update – Commit Thy Way Unto the Lord – 6.12.2013

-Psalm 37:3-4

After dinner a few nights ago our daughter carefully ushered my husband to the couch with a sly smile.  He knew she wanted to watch the homesteading dvd we had been saving, but she had been told not to ask about it.  So, instead, in the nature of the serpent himself, she said, "Are you going to go sit on the couch, Daddy? I think that's a good idea."  After he retired to the living room, she hunted down the tv controllers and asked, "Do you need these, Daddy?"  He answered, "No, I don't think I need those."  She then placed them on the arm of the chair beside him and said, "Well, I'll just put them right here...even though we're not doing anything...just in case."  The blatant manipulation was shocking and truly truly wicked. 

When we first began this adoption pursuit, our faith was shamefully small.  We weren’t sure what to believe in, but our own zeal.  We eagerly “left our options open”, giving God a nice wide range of ages, genders, group sizes, and states to choose from.  Our caseworker introduced herself, talked with our daughter for 5 minutes, then made an immediate judgment, “I’m going to find you a small sibling group…young children…under school age…”. My husband and I were taken aback by her precision.  We quickly argued, “Oh no, we’ll take any age, any gender…we’ll take singles, large sibling groups… any combination of children… we’ll go to any state to get them...we just don’t know what God has for us!”  We thought we were acting in faith by submitting to the unknown. Noble, I suppose, but foolish just the same.  When friends and family suggested a narrow focus, we insisted that we wanted to be open to anything.  When we felt a tugging in a certain direction, we saw it as clashing with our idealistic desire to be dead to a personal preference.  We were determined to be available for God’s will, no matter what it was, “just in case” that’s what He wanted for us. We were enthusiastic, but aimless.  When we felt a no, we returned it with a, "okay, but I'll just put these kids right here next to you...just in case." And with all eagerness to avoid our own will, we followed a selfish desire nonetheless…a desire to “be ready for everything”…without allowing God to prepare us for anything.  And He let us flounder in that for a while.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and how foolish and shameful it seems now to think God would need a “just in case”. How wicked we were to think God needed our intrusive suggestions. How clever the devil was to use fear to fuel our directionless approach.  We didn’t want to open any doors or peek down any corridors God hadn’t sanctioned, and so we buzzed in circles until the lesson was learned.  We had no business trying to add extra lanes on this highway, we were to follow the Lord's way.  We were commanded to "Commit thy way". Which way, Lord?  Please show us which way, and we will commit. Give us a desire, a direction, and we will go, show us the way and we will trust in You.

For 16 months we insisted on trusting in a god who we were sure would keep us on our toes, come out of left field, or drop a surprise in our lap, rather than a God who promises to lovingly lead us by the hand. How patient our Lord is with our foolishness. How sinful it was to have an evil heart of unbelief, to think God needed our suggestions, our assumptions, our plans. And yet, in His mercy, he has taken this time of waiting and wandering to reveal His true character and show us what submission really looks like.  How plainly we see it now. Did the Lord tell Noah, "Start building an ark... but be ready just in case you are to lead a people through the wilderness, endure imprisonment, suffer a martyr's death, face Goliath, spend some time in the belly of a fish, lead a battle, face a famine, or rule as king?  No. He told Noah to build a boat...and the Lord filled it.

So, when the world expects us to broaden are parameters, God has called us to narrow our aim. He has changed our hearts and directed our path.  Our Mighty Father has taken our enthusiasm and given us a new and entirely unexpected desire:  a small sibling group –young children -under school age -in Texas.  We stand in awe at the boldness expected of us.  We know it is a very small target…only a Wondrous God can hit.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Adoption Update - Tying a Knot and Hanging On – 6.3.2013

We received a card yesterday from our pastor’s wife that had this quote from Franklin Roosevelt on the front cove: “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”  

As friends and family join us on this roller coaster of hope and disappointment, we receive words of encouragement, empathy, and support with each announcement.  “Think positive!”, “Stay strong!”, “Don’t give up!”, and “It will all work out!”.  But, when my heart was heaviest (last week) these vain promises just pulled me deeper down.  I yielded to a desperation fueled by fear.  I looked to my husband for strength, but he was as angry and hopeless as I was.  We had lost sight of God.  We were looking to the process, the works of men, to logic, and to our own strength. And when the devil had just about convinced us to walk away, we opened an email from my newly saved sister-in-law.  She did not try to sympathize. She did not try to coax us in to a false hope. She did not promise that it will all work out. She simple wrote:

"Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage. And He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.” –Psalm 27:14

God is not One for subtlety.  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword.  It surely felt like I had been struck as I read that verse over and over.  “Wait on me” (not negotiable).  “Be of good courage” (I know you’ve seen a lot of disappointment- do it anyway).  “I will strengthen your heart” (That is a promise) “Wait, I say” (in case you thought it was a suggestion) “ on Me”.

I felt the power in this verse.  It was a command and we were to obey. But strangely, I found peace in that.  I said, “Yes, Lord.” and hid it in my heart. My daughter and I quoted it daily, sometimes hourly when needed over the next week. My husband and I sought council from godly friends and family as we prayed for a renewed hope in this process.  Right now, we’re living on faith. We have all these empty beds and no prospects to fill them. We’re at the end of our rope.  But, Psalm 27:14 is our knot.  We have nothing else to cling to but the promise of God, so we’re hanging on.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Adoption Update - Just Keep Gleaning - 5.21.2013


By sight, that sibling group seemed perfect. By sight, they seemed so near.  And yet, by faith we carry on.  Just keep gleaning, gleaning, gleaning...