My Dreams Are Not My Own

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As a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a mama when I was older. I’ve always had a passion for children, but after marriage, we quickly learned it was not going to be easy to make my dream of motherhood come to fruition.

“As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.” Psalm 127:4

We soon began to experience miscarriage after miscarriage and surgery after surgery, and I began to lose hope. I started to experience a truth firsthand that I already knew in my head. God’s ways are not my own. (Isaiah 55:8) My life is God’s to do with as He sees fit. After seeing specialists and crying out to God on behalf of our hearts’ desires we were blessed with a boy miracle and, 19 months later, with another boy miracle.

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It wasn’t until we were blessed with our girl miracle and later lost her that I began to say…” I can’t believe this is my life!” You see, I was still in my 20’s. I had my dreams and my life planned out perfectly. Probably the same way you do. But when I held my newborn in my arms while listening to burial instructions, I knew my dreams were exactly that. They were mine. And mine alone. I hadn’t been praying for God’s will and for God to align my dreams with His. Rather, I tried to explain to the Lord that I had a pretty good set of plans and I felt He should consider them.  I now know and acknowledge His plans for me far exceed my dreams for myself.

“For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26

This past week we received an adoption case. Case 22 to be exact.  This case, well, it seemed perfect. We were excited to put our yes on the table, and we waited to hear if we had been chosen. There were only two families being presented to this particular birth-mom, and we were one of them. I was to the point I wanted a baby so much I felt confident our time had come, and we would be the family chosen. Sam and I both spoke to the social worker who was handling the case, and we sent in all of the necessary pictures and information. We both felt “good” about it. Let’s be serious a second: who wouldn’t want us to be their child’s family? (That’s rhetorical. Don’t answer!) As the hours ticked away and we continued to wait for a decision, my confidence quickly faded away. The Lord was giving me the peace I needed to know I would be okay if we weren’t chosen. A day passed. It seemed like an eternity waiting to hear the birth-mom’s decision. Another day passed… It was the morning of day 3 that I received word that we were NOT chosen. It was a hard text to wake up to. I needed Jesus, some deep breaths, a glass of SunDrop, and to call the hubs. He was out of town for work, and he took the news much better than I did  well. He was at peace.

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart”. Psalm 37:4

I sent my beautiful friend and adoption consultant this image and an accompanying text…

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“I just read this and smiled. I feel like I wrote it.

I never dreamed this… That this brokenness would be my lot in life. But when I got your text that we weren’t chosen, my heart was at peace. I was so happy for the other couple. I didn’t want to hurt them by us being chosen and so I had prayed they would be. It hurts still, and tears stream my cheeks as my (secondary) infertility is more real than ever before, but it’s in the Savior’s hands. He has given me peace, grace and strength to walk another mile of this journey. Molding my dreams into His plans for me, and it was a beautiful glimpse of what’s to come!”

“But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Romans 8:25

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I’m not tooting my own horn by sharing this with you. Rather, I hope you’ll see that I’m tooting the horn of my Lord and Savior. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to pray for that other couple we were “competing” against. But I am living in a rainy season of brokenness, and just like the ground, my heart is soft. Humble. Raw.  Just at the right stage for Christ to mold me and make me more like Him. He has given me such a deep passion for adoption. A passion that goes further than just wanting to adopt a child of my own.

I’ve been praying for months that God would give me a glimpse that He is working and moving in our joy journey, and even though we weren’t chosen in this case, He showed me how my own heart had changed.  No, this wasn’t how I saw my life going. But no one ever thinks they will have to bury a child or a spouse. Rebuild a house or sign divorce papers. We don’t dream of the rainy seasons; we only dream of the sunshiny ones. Rainy seasons are a must to get us to grow into the people God intended us to be. His plans for us are perfect.  So, with all things considered…it was a beautiful glimpse! Have you ever found yourself like me, dreaming? It may be of a future spouse, a baby, a job, a house, etc. when all of a sudden those dreams are wrecked? Here are the words God would say to us.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 “His thoughts towards us are peace and not evil.” Jer. 29:11 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. Hang in there, friend. I’m with you, saying, “I can’t believe this is my life!”  But I do know that in a split second He can (and will) give beauty for ashes. So let’s leave it in the Savior’s hands. His dreams are always better!

“…to give unto them, beauty for ashes, the oil of  joy for mourning,

the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;” Isaiah 61:3

Facing The Giant

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We all have giants that come into our lives from time to time, and I can almost guarantee you your giant looks completely different than mine. Your giant may be your job, your spouse, your kids, a relationship, a medical condition, etc.  In the Bible, whenever the Israelites went into battle, they always knew God was with them. He led His chosen people out of the desert, through the parted sea, and He used little David to fight the Giant Goliath. Why wouldn’t He use little ol’ me?

Last week, I was faced with the “Giant” that I knew was coming.  I just didn’t realize it was coming so soon!  When I heard the giant was coming, I wanted to run and hide.  I wanted to climb into my bed and pull the covers up over my head and hide out until the giant had passed.  Avoiding it seemed best. The first night I went to bed in hopes that the giant would go away.  Disappear!  But the next morning, the giant was still there, staring me in the face. It hadn’t gone away like I had hoped.  And as much as I wanted to thump the giant in the throat and run, I went to the scriptures instead. I read my first devotional and nothing…I picked up the second and nothing.   “Okay, Lord,” I prayed.  “I really need You to speak to me.  These feelings needed to be laid down, but how?  How do I do that when I am on tilt, and this scary giant is staring me in the face? Speak to me, Lord!  Please!”

“God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

And just like that, the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear something I once heard a preacher say: “Christ didn’t endure the cat of nine tails so that I could be comfortable!”

Reality hit home like a punch in the gut!  Yes, Lord.  You’re right!  I hear You loud and clear!  This world is not my home.  I was created to bring Glory to my Heavenly Father.  And here I am acting like a spoiled brat. Avoiding a situation (a giant) that God had already strengthened me to stand up against.. So you know what I did?  I sucked it up!  I put on my big girl undies and the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-11).  I applied my makeup and picked out the cutest outfit and was off to face my giant!  No more ignoring the giant and trying to get away from it.  It was time to face it.  I got into my car and began praying.  Praying Heaven down.  Lord, meet with me again.  And I kid you not this song came on the radio…

“Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a Sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand

But the giant’s calling out my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again, “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me 
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.”

Casting Crowns

Sometimes God has to put us in uncomfortable situations.  He uses someone as small, weak and feeble as I am so that I can see just how BIG He is! Christ didn’t endure being crucified for you and me to be comfortable. Stand up, friend, and go fight that giant. Give God the glory for the victory that is to come.

Matthew 27:29:  “A crown of thorns was placed upon His head.”

Verse 30: They spit on Him. 

Verse 31: They mocked Him.

The Crucifixion of Christ

Matthew 27: 32-38, 48, 50

Mark 15: 21-26, 36, 37

Luke 23: 26-33, 38, 46

Christ died NOT so that we could live a life of comfort. Rather, He died so that we could be SAVED and we can live eternally with Him in Heaven one day. Face your giant no matter how painful. Pray for strength from God, and cast your tiny stone that it might slay the giant and that Christ would be glorified through your obedience.

Romans 10:9-10, 13:  9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”


Adoption Update

There is NO update!  No news.  Please feel free to spread the word about our hearts’ desire to adopt.  And share the blog!  You never know if baby Joy’s birth mom will be reading it because you shared!  Have you ever been a part of a miracle?  Share this post and see how God uses you 😉

A Story I Wouldn’t Re-write

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After my sweet girl died, I was reading a book one night that had this quot in it, and I fell in love. I have always loved Corrie Ten Boom and admired her strength and perseverance for the Lord’s work. But as I read this, I could really visualize this 1o-year- old girl talking to her Father.

Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place:

“Father, what is sexsin?” He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise, he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor. “Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said. “It’s too heavy,” I said. “Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.” And I was satisfied. More than satisfied – wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions. For now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.

My baby had just died. We hadn’t even buried her yet, and I was reading these words. Wise words. True words. Corrie said, “I was satisfied…at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions. For now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.”

Here I lay soaking in a hot bubble bath, reading these words. With tears streaming down my cheeks and my arms resting on my big, no longer pregnant belly, I knew her words to be true. I was planning a celebration service, a funeral for the daughter I had prayed for, yet I knew a peace like I’ve never known before. Such peace can only come from my Creator.  My Savior.  I was content to leave my questions in my Father’s keeping because let’s be honest… who am I to question His plans? Sure, my heart was broken.  Shattered to pieces.  But I wasn’t burning up my prayer line with questions. I was content that this was God’s plan. I had written in my prayer journal, “Lord, your plans far exceed my dreams.”

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 

Have you ever been in a season of life, whether it be cancer or illness, death or loss, a change of careers, etc., where you have found yourself wishing things had turned out differently?  I think it’s only human nature to want out of the valley.  I have a precious friend that is in the valley.  She’s been there for some time now.  Her husband — the leader of her home, her sweetheart, the father of her children, a Godly man — has terminal cancer. They are young.  Active.  Hardworking.  Loving…and deep in the valley.  It seems so surreal.  So wrong.  You see, she’s refreshingly real, courageous and brave.  She’s a go-getter who is honest, genuine, fiercely loyal, quirky, and a teeny bit inappropriate to which – I secretly hate love!  I admire her and look up to her even on her darkest Debbie Downer days.

I was reminded while reading One Thousand Gifts of the story in the Old Testament in the book of 2 Kings, chapter 20 and in the book 2 Chronicles, chapters 32-33.  King Hezekiah was sick and supposed to die.  He cried out to the Lord, and the Lord allowed Hezekiah to live 15 more years.  Hezekiah went on to have a son named Manasseh. When Hezekiah died, Manasseh was made King.  Manasseh was evil.  He did evil deeds and caused the Israelites to do more evil than the surrounding heathen nations. Had Hezekiah died when God first intended, Manasseh would have never been born. I write of this Old Testament story to say this…we don’t want to rewrite the story because we don’t know what a different ending holds.

Even in her valley and even in my grief, my friend and I both know our stories, our lives, are for HIS glory!  Just as your stories are.  We wouldn’t change it.  (And I hope you wouldn’t either.)  We would accept a spa day or  some caffeine…but ultimately we wouldn’t change our stories.  It’s not ours to change; it’s His.  His plans far exceed my dreams, and so for now, I am “content to leave them in my father’s keeping. “

Good Grief

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Disclaimer: I’m not writing this for your pity…I’m writing this because I want to be honest.  Raw.  Authentic.  We can go on with our lives putting on a happy face and acting like we’ve got it all together, but the truth is we are all just broken people in deep need of the Savior’s help.

“Let us come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need.”:  Hebrews 4:16

My boys have been watching Old Yeller, and I just absolutely love this quotation from the Father to the Son…

“That was rough…. Thing to do now is try and forget it…. I guess I don’t quite mean that. It’s not a thing you can forget. Maybe not even a thing you want to forget…. Life’s like that sometimes… Now and then for no good reason a man can figure out, life will just haul off and knock him flat, slam him agin’ the ground so hard it seems like all his insides is busted. But it’s not all like that. A lot of it’s mighty fine, and you can’t afford to waste the good part frettin’ about the bad. That makes it all bad…. Sure, I know – sayin’ it’s one thing and feelin’ it’s another. But I’ll tell you a trick that’s sometimes a big help. When you start lookin’ around for something good to take the place of the bad, as a general rule you can find it.”-Old Yeller

If you are grieving or have grieved a loved one, you’ll completely understand me when I say you just never know what is going to set your grief off! Just like Mr. Coates tells Travis in Old Yeller, “Life’s like that sometimes… Now and then for no good reason a man can figure out, life will just haul off and knock him flat, slam him agin’ the ground so hard it seems like all his insides is busted.” You may have days and/or weeks that you’re surviving, making the most out of what God has given you. And then there are days where something sets you off, and there you are…just barely hanging on.  Laying there feeling like your “insides is busted!”  Yep, I had that happen yesterday.  Out of the blue, I was smacked in the face with the reality that I am a grieving mother… And once something sets you off, you are susceptible to Satan sucker punching you the rest of that day and possibly the following day until you surrender to the ugly cry (and maybe or maybe not to a box of doughnuts!).  The tears fell yesterday, and as much as I wanted to get back on my feet and as much as I wanted to wake up hearing …

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
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My oh my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine heading my way
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
Zip-A-Dee-A”

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I didn’t.  I woke up to find I was still broken.  Still struggling to breathe.  A sadness had a strong grip on my heart. Satan whispers in my ear, “Failure. Ungrateful. Unworthy.”  Because I have been so blessed, yet the tears are still falling today.  Why can’t I just shake this grief and move on?  I am a blessed woman.  I have a husband who works hard despite his MS and two amazingly cute little stinkers to love on yet…I cry.

“My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”: Psalm 73:26

It has been nine months since I touched her tiny hands, kissed her on the forehead, and gazed at her beautiful little face.  It has been nine months since I last dreamed if she would look like me or her daddy.  Nine long months since I told my sweet girl goodbye.  It still seems so surreal!  So ugly and bad.  But just as Mr. Coates tells Travis, “But it’s not all like that. A lot of it’s mighty fine, and you can’t afford to waste the good part frettin’ about the bad. That makes it all bad…. Sure, I know – sayin’ it’s one thing and feelin’ it’s another.”  Sayin’ it and feelin’ it are two very different things, and I sure am feeling it!  But this story isn’t all bad and sad.  You see,  Allie Grace is with her Maker.  Her Creator!  She is in Glory and will never know no pain or heartache.  God is still the same.  He was there with me nine months ago when I walked into the hospital with her full of life, her tiny feet kicking inside of me, and He was the same when I was rolled out of the hospital with a big belly and empty arms.  He hasn’t changed.  I have.  As much as I’d like to be the author of this story, I’m not.  God is.  He wrote this story long before I was ever born, and He has blessed me and chosen me to narrate it for you all reading and watching it unfold.  There is good in this grief that is yet to come…

“…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”:  Psalm 30:5

“But I’ll tell you a trick that’s sometimes a big help. When you start lookin’ around for something good to take the place of the bad, as a general rule you can find it.” And just like in the book One Thousand Gifts (see Favorite Books), I have decided to look for the good in grief.  And I count those gifts of joy, as we wait for our morning to come…

  • Sticky little toddler fingers needing to be washed after the enjoyment of a warm doughnut
  • Tuck asking Sam, ” Will you help me sing “Jesus Loves Me”?”
  • A buggy full of groceries and the means to purchase them
  • A full box of Kleenex
  • The boys helping make fresh baked cookies
  • Blue skies peeking through the storm clouds…
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I found this little stinker with the empty box of doughnuts on the floor. The last doughnut was safely placed in his bowl. 😉

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Boys fixing cookies with Jengy

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I said, “Lord, I’m coming as boldly as I know how.” And He gave me grace… blue skies peeking through the storm clouds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potty Expectations

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As we drove home from the beach, we passed a billboard sign that read “Cleanest bathrooms on I-20”. I was so intrigued that I read the sign out loud. The boys were sleeping soundly in the back seat when Sam and I both felt the urge to “go”. We decided to take our chances and pull off the exit towards the BP that professed to have the “cleanest bathrooms on I-20”. We stopped and “went”, and once we were back into the van, I said “Well, the bathroom wasn’t the worst I’ve been in, but it sure wasn’t the “cleanest!” Then my husband chimed in…

“I didn’t think they were that bad. I have been in a lot of gas station restrooms, and I feel like I have a good grasp on what they look like. Most of the restrooms seem to be an afterthought when constructing the interior of the gas station. I can almost visualize the planning:  “Oh yeah, we’re going to need a restroom… uh, we’ll just section off that closet in the corner and use it. Yeah, this will work. Put the toilet right here in front of the door, which swings into the bathroom dangerously close to the point where it may hit the person using the facility. But that’s OK; put a lock on it and a doorknob that rattles.  Oh, and also make sure there is a crack just large enough between the door and the jam that from just the right angle, the person using the toilet can get enough of a view back into the gas station that they will see someone coming before they burst through the door. Good, now back to the toilet. Cram it in the corner, and take one of the bolts out of the bottom so that it rocks just a little bit if someone gets too aggressive. Also take one of the screws out of the plastic seat so that there’s about 2″ of slide to either side of the bowl, not to the point that someone may fall off, but enough that nobody gets too comfortable. Put a toilet paper dispenser on the wall beside the toilet, but it doesn’t have to work.  Just put a 10” roll of toilet paper on top of the dispenser, but make sure about 24″ of paper is unrolled hanging down to the floor, slowly absorbing “floor liquid”.  Now, in the other corner, put the sink. No, we don’t need a mirror or hot water. But yes, put a soap dispenser on the wall, but set it up so the first six pumps produce absolutely no soap. Finally, have an employee come in each morning and pour a bucket of water in the restroom floor, just to slick it up good and to keep people guessing!”

You see, we both had an idea or expectation of what we thought this restroom would be like. I read “cleanest” and was hopeful- expecting the best. Sam read “cleanest” and was expecting average. I was disappointed and felt like they had over-exaggerated the billboard sign.  But, truth be told, this store probably did have the cleanest restrooms…I know that is a skanky thought, but let’s be real. Public restrooms are the pit!

We still had a long drive ahead of us, and I began to think about expectations. Ann Voskamp wrote in her book One Thousand Gifts, “Expectations kill relationships.” “Expectations kill relationships-especially with God.” Wow! That is so powerful I highlighted it! She is so right! How many times do we pray for something or someone, and our prayers are not answered quickly enough (ex. read Our Adoption Timeline). Or our prayers are not answered the way we had expected them to be answered (ex. read Allie’s Story). We become angry idealists and think, “What’s the use of praying if God isn’t going to answer me, OR He’s going to do what He wants to anyway?  What’s the point in prayer?”  Isaiah 53:5:  “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”  He doesn’t owe us anything!  He died a horrible death so that I may have eternal life in Heaven.  I am the one who is in debt to Him, yet we complain when our prayers, our” expectations” fall short… “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9 We can choose to be bitter and let our expectations ruin our relationship with our Heavenly Father, OR we can seek out scriptures from the living word of God and continue to pray. Trusting and knowing that God created us, loves us, and wants what is best for us, and He will answer in His time! “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” John 14:14.

Nahum 1:7:  “The Lord is good. A stronghold in the day of trouble. He knows them that trust in him.”

The restrooms of this particular BP gas station did not live up to my expectations! I could have been bitter and written ugly comments with a Sharpie marker on the bathroom wall, but instead I sucked it up like a big girl and complained to my husband! 😉

 

 

 

“Don’t waste your story”

I decided to start this blog because we are humbled and overwhelmed by those praying for us, sending texts, sending private messages and emails, or just stopping me in public to ask the hard questions. “What happened to your baby?”  “Is it just going to be you and the boys, or are y’all going to try again?” (I kid you not; that was a serious question I was asked…) “When are y’all going to adopt?” and the comment… “You know once you adopt, you’ll become pregnant!”  Umm, so I love you all, and it blesses my soul to know you care for me and my family the way you do. (Even those of you who shouldn’t ever speak out loud. Ever!)  I realized that I am not the only one grieving our sweet little girl nor am I the only one ready for “Joy to come in the morning”.  I am also unable to keep everyone updated the way I had hoped.  And I am simply too tired, sad and emotional to be telling the same story over and over.  A blog seemed like the best option on keeping those we love and who love us updated on our story.  My mother-in-law once told me, “God gives us stories, and it’s up to us if we waste them or not.”  Ours will not be wasted.  Please note that this is going to be a sacred place for me as I pour out my heart as well as ask for specific prayer requests and offer praises to my Lord and Savior!

If you’re reading this page to be nosy or to criticize, please move on to another blog.  Rude and discouraging comments are not wanted.