grace roads

moments of wonder inside the journey of grace…

Adoption, two years in…

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Two years in…

What a laborious process to enter into belonging, a sort of a laboring to enter rest. Being home and being at home and comfortable are two very different things. The truth is, you can be chosen and sealed by adoption and still live like an orphan, taking things into your own hands, living unwanted and projecting that onto every relationship. The truth and one’s experience don’t always necessarily line up.

In my naivety, I thought the legality of the adoption would solve most issues. I can understand the insecurity and inability to trust when you haven’t been granted the promise of forever, but I wasn’t prepared for how slow the work of love can be. Sure, there were immediate changes and we indeed celebrated them, but I could not have known the depths of gardening that would need to be done. The weeds and thorns don’t disappear into thin air with the blooming of the flowers.

This whole thing has been so much more than just giving a child, or five, a home. I’ve seen Eternal Life. I’ve learned more about myself in the last few years than I knew in a lifetime. I’ve learned more about God. I’ve come to know the gospel and I’ve stood at the shores of the Father’s vast, unconditional love. Bible study and research could never teach my heart the ways of adoption, I could only come to this knowledge with the companionship of the Holy Spirit, through the pain and victories on this road of redemption.

I have come to understand the saving work of Jesus through the rescuing of a few, of which I am one. I’ve come to see how ridiculous the notion that we, orphans, somehow had a part to play in our being brought home. The responsible party in the process of adoption is always the parent, never the child. They could not choose me if I had not already chosen them. I still want them to choose me, and some days they do, and oh how sweet those days are.

Our story doesn’t end in adoption, it’s where it begins. The truth is they are at home, but not always comfortable. There are days when chaos seems more comforting than peace, when abandonment is the lens through which they see, and old memories sometimes cloud the present.

Likewise, our adoption in Christ. We began in the heart of God before time was. We were chosen in Him before the world began. Our story begins in Him. In Jesus we were all gathered and made one new family. Sometimes we still live fatherless, but we are not. We may still be wearing our God-forsaken-lenses, but we are not. He has come for us, as He promised, and He has brought us Home to the Father. Whether we feel it or not, it’s what is true about us.

We are still in the process of our adoption, even though it took place two years ago. The truth is, my kids are wanted, chosen, loved, and secure, whether they feel it or not. I still choose them, I still promise forever, and I’m still committed to their wholeness. As love continues to pave the way of redemption, we will continue to walk it; to bring them into the feeling-it, because what good is it if it can’t be felt? Jesus didn’t leave a fragment in the gathering, and we will collect the spoils.

Here’s to the journey of forever, the coming to see what’s already true, and the becoming of who we already are. Here’s to living out our adoption.

The Moment All Things Are Made New

It is buried so deep, yet sits so raw right underneath the surface of my chest; such a huge part of my story. There is a truth I know about it that can’t be put into words, yet. It’s the ruins of my dreams.

Without being able to articulate this knowing I have in regard to what looks to be the loss of hope in my story, I’ve stumbled across a quote in an Anne Lamott book that begins to frame it.

“Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasure.”

There is an awareness I carry that I’ve lost nothing, even though at times I struggle to remind myself that I am not broken. Even if I failed to perform the most fundamental role of a woman, and a wife, I am not what I can provide.

How can it be, that the most painful part of my story has lent to the most beautiful part of it? Would I have these five adopted treasures in my home if I had not miscarried eight? Somehow this loss of life has birthed gathered life. Somehow casting fruit before it’s time has produced the fruit that remains. You see why there are no words. This is – amazing grace.

Death where is your sting? (Honestly, sometimes it’s not hard to place the sting, but thank God it’s not lasting)

These are deep things and at times I fear the exploration of them, but I can’t help but wonder how He does it. How does He take such a mess and make such a miracle of it all? It’s all too wonderful for me. But this I know, we aren’t stuck living a plan-B life, for redemption is always His plan A. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had already planned our redemption before Adam’s fall, and you can be rest assured what has fallen to pieces in your life will not play the leading role either. He makes all things new.

Only a Savior can take the fragmented pieces of our broken hearts and turn them into the story of our deliverance. It’s almost as if it’s the cracks of our lives that His life shines through the brightest. There is such hope. There is truly life to be lived, without fear, if even our death gives way to a glorious resurrection.

 

ALLthingsnew

Adoption and The Gospel.

I’m convinced that adoption is the gospel. I’ve learned more about God in the last five years of taking care of children in my home than all my years of studying scripture. I think what’s impacted me most is the way that a neglected child thinks and how different it is from the thinking of a child that has been raised in a loving and secure home. I refer to this way of thinking as an orphan mentality.

What I saw playing out in my home began to blow my mind. As I watch children respond so uniquely different in the same environment something began to dawn on me, what a child believes to be true is infinitely more important to them than what is real. There is a belief they hold that colors life for them and that is this, I have to look out for myself because no one else has. No one is to be trusted. I’m on my own.

For example, no matter how full the pantry is they are convinced there is not enough to eat, and the fact that they’ve been told that it’s not time to eat yet only confirms the fear to them that they will not eat. No matter how consistent you’ve been at providing three meals a day in your home, there is still one thousand questions a day regarding meal time and what will be served and if there will be seconds.

Learning how the orphan thinks has given me a radically new understanding of how humanity responds to God and why the gospel has been so misunderstood. An alienated mind only has a certain way of seeing things and therefor is left with few options as to response.

We are the orphan, the child that can’t quite comprehend His goodness.

In my home I’ve realized that it can never be up to the child to change their responses but it must be up to the parent to prove their faithfulness. A neglected child only knows neglect, until they know something different. It’s up to the new parent to show them love and consistency so they can in turn learn trust and therefore learn new responses.

This has huge implications for me on the form of the gospel that I’ve believed. I was taught that Jesus provided a way back to the Father and if I’ll….well, it depends on which denomination you’re in to help you answer that question, but it always offers this news to you as a being potential and not an accomplished fact. It’s been presented that you’re separate and He’s made a way for you to find your way back to Him. Well that’s not good news to the orphan! The orphan knows they’re on their own and that no one can be trusted, they don’t know the proper response to what is real, because they don’t see real, they see neglect. If someone doesn’t take in the child, when they don’t have anything to offer, to give them a forever home and promise to love them forever, no matter what they do, there’s no chance for them to start to see truth, much less respond to it.

It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance.

This is where the weak gospel I’d known my whole life began to fall apart. I’ve come to see how Jesus has to be a much bigger player in the grand scheme of things than I had previously believed, or we’re all desperately in trouble.  Adoption is a beautiful act of redemption and at the same time it’s a bloody mess. The responsibility of reconciliation rests solely on the rescuer, not the orphan. It’s up to the one who adopts to be the eyes that lead the blind child, to be the one who commits to reveal their goodness when there’s not a bone in the body of the orphan that believes it. It’s an excruciating process, but there’s eternal commitment to bringing the child to wholeness. This is what Papa has done for us in Jesus. He’s reconciled us and committed Himself to the process of our wholeness and it has been a bloody mess.

I remember the day we told the kids we wanted to adopt them. I got down on one knee in front of the whole family and with shaky words and trembling knees I proposed “will you be ours, forever?” The celebration that took place in that living room, well, there aren’t words enough. One said “I told you they loved us!!!” There was shrilling screams of excitement, laughter, tears, and utter relief. That one word forever is all the orphan needs to hear. This was their baptism.

We were that orphan and He made a promise to not leave us. He said He would come, and He did. He is a God of relationship, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is familial to the core and He doesn’t do abandonment. Jesus came to reveal the true God, Father. He came to save the world, and He, the Word, successfully accomplished what He was sent forth to do. He gathered us in the far country and brought us home to the Father.

We are home.

Papa is not unfit and He will never relinquish His rights. He’s eternally committed to us coming to know Him and becoming comfortable as sons and daughters. As children who tend to live from an orphan mentality we are asked to change our alienated thinking, but He knows that will come as His goodness is revealed and as His love is proven by His unending commitment to us. Rest assured, we are His and the burden of proof is on Him.

 

blog pic (adoption)

Confessions of a Facebooker.

confessions of a Facebooker“Wait! You’ve got it all wrong about me!” These are my thoughts as I read some of the comments on Facebook. Comments such as “you’re awesome” and “you have hearts of gold” and I think “no, wait…”

I hate coming off as someone who has their stuff together. I’m no mother Theresa! The other evening over coffee with a friend,  she began to give compliment to me, comparing herself to me about something, I don’t even remember what, but she had put herself in an inferior light.  I stopped her mid-sentence and said “listen, I may love orphan care and Africa, open my home to share the gospel, etc. but I’m just a shit-head who’s doing it!” This may seem inappropriate to you but it was a hilariously, holy moment. We laughed until we cried; a pure medicinal treatment we were both in need of.

One of the most destructive ideas that I believe we have is that one day we’ll arrive to a place in life where, well, you name it. It’s that deep sense of feeling that you’re not enough, or you’re not there yet. We have dreams and hopes, but we won’t allow ourselves to start living them until…until what? We have more time, more money? It’s a lie that could potentially end us up on the deathbed of regret one day.  We will have arrived safely to the end of our lives leaving the good intentions never lived behind. People who are living out the things that we long for are no different than us, they’re just doing it.

On the other hand, you have people who have wonderfully simple lives who refuse to allow themselves to enjoy it because what they do isn’t “enough.”  For instance, women who are “just mothers”, who, by the way, have an awful close resemblance to the savior of the world, who laid down His life and served for the benefit of others, that’s all. They give of themselves daily, hourly, yet they never give themselves permission to live in the dignity and joy that comes with such a divine role.

My point is, don’t let anything stop you from doing what’s in your heart, certainly not because of comparison or some false belief that you’re not cut out to be doing something that seems to come so easily for someone else. We are all beautifully limited, so utterly human. Also, don’t allow what others are doing (or posting), to keep you from recognizing the importance and potential of your own role and living in the gratitude of it.

I didn’t adopt five children because I’m super mom. I don’t fly to Africa because my heart beats to some natural humanitarian tune. I don’t share the gospel because I’ve lived it perfectly or even understand it fully.  Everything I do is messy, because I pretty much have nothing together, but what I’ve found to be true in my own little life is that showing up is the battle and that every minute is full of grace.

I’m a hopeless inspirational-story-junkie, a product of too many great you-can-change-the-world movies. I succumbed to the belief that I could make an impact, and maybe I have, and it’s the parts of my life that I love to share. Never to come off as awesome, but to show what redemption looks like, what Papa can do with an uneducated, mistake-making, unqualified girl who is just aware enough to know she has something to share.  My hope is that whatever glorious moments of my life that I choose to go all social media with, what would be conveyed and recognized is the fact that anyone with a beating heart can be the jumper cables that help to get the other hearts feeling again. That the ones who step out to rescue, redeem, or restore others are most often time the broken ones who in turn become the rescued, redeemed, and restored. None of us in life do anything because we are whole and we have it all together, right? We do it with much fear and trembling and sometimes it turns out something beautiful.

Let’s enjoy wherever we find ourselves, but let’s also know that we can do whatever’s  in our hearts, big and small, because we are all just abnormally normal, yet divinely constructed to be reconciliation to the hurting, for we are the hurting who probably just know a secret about the power of our weakness. We are all the same and someone in front of you just needs to hear you say “me, too.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The moment he said the words…Multiple Sclerosis.

MSIt’s been one roller coaster of a ride. Unexplained symptoms, fears that history would repeat itself, old wounds resurfaced. Thirty-six years young and invincible, or maybe not.

I remember sitting in the neurologist’ office and the words rolling off his tongue like he was telling me what he had eaten for lunch, “It looks like you have Multiple Sclerosis.” I was there because my symptoms pointed to a stroke, I wasn’t ready for MS. I didn’t know a whole lot about MS but what I did know, I didn’t like. He sent me for a second MRI (which alone is a blog-worthy story!!)

I instantly became a victim. I hate victims!! (not literally, but you know.) “I just adopted 5 kids! I go to Africa!  I kind of need my legs and my mind!” I quickly went to a mentality that I despise and then I was angry at myself for even thinking that way. I had pity-parties, BIG ONES. No one was invited but they were indeed grand.  My mind ran away with me. Then, my personality kicked in. “Multiple Sclerosis? THE HELL YOU SAY!!” Yes, my Christian friends, I cussed. Quite a few words, actually.  I thought, “I’m glad I have a name, now I know whos ____ to kick! (You’re welcome Mom.)

I began researching any info I could find on anyone who had defeated this. I found some! I began doing all they had done, eating perfectly. I wasn’t going to allow this to interfere with my plans. I don’t really do plans, but whatever. I became overly aware of my body and the way it reacted to everything. This would be the only thing in my life that I would decide not to sabotage, and while we are on that subject, of course it would be an auto-immune disease I had, since I’ve attacked myself my entire life. I was told that getting lots of sleep and keeping yourself stress-free were two really important things. Are you kidding me?? “Hey kids, family, don’t mind me, I’m going to just be sleeping! Sure, do whatever y’all want, just don’t tell me about it and no more food or clean laundry for anyone!”

On a less sarcastic note, though. This has changed me. Just one month. It’s amazing to me how we can see things so differently when we are sitting in a mess, with junk piles everywhere, and we find Jesus there, because He’s always been there. How quickly we realize what’s important, who’s important. These are things I teach, but how real they became for me, again. I’m going to be OK; it’s all going to be OK. When Jesus doesn’t leave you, there really is nothing to fear. I didn’t see Him cleaning up my mess; I didn’t see Him doing anything, just sitting there with me. On one hand that’s way cool, but then shouldn’t He be doing something? Big things are going on with me and He’s just sitting there!

He never ceases to amaze me, His ways. Who knows?  All I know is it always looks like love. No matter what happens or what I face, He always shows up as love. He’s not the take charge God I’ve made Him out to be, He’s the constant sit-with-me-in-the-mess God, always has been. Y’all, HE NEVER LEAVES! He doesn’t do abandonment, it’s not in His nature. He’s always been the one who finds a way into our darkness, into our pain, and He becomes one with us there. Who does that?? He’d rather make Himself known to us as one like us, not as like our idea of Him. He’s very comfortable in our abandoned thoughts. He’s not scared of our pain and hurt, even when it’s directed at Him. He just keeps loving us and will do anything for us to know it. I laid in bed one night, during one of my biggest pity parties, and told Him “So what that You’re love if I can’t feel it? Anyway, God, I really need to feel it, please?” It’s the only words I could say to Him. The very next day I ‘happen’ to run across a video of Adele singing “Make you feel my love.” Read these words:

 

When the rain is blowing in your face,

And the whole world is on your case,

I could offer you a warm embrace

To make you feel my love.

 

When the evening shadows and the stars appear,

And there is no one there to dry your tears,

I could hold you for a million years

To make you feel my love.

 

I know you haven’t made your mind up yet,

But I will never do you wrong.

I’ve known it from the moment that we met,

No doubt in my mind where you belong.

 

I’d go hungry; I’d go black and blue,

And I’d go crawling down the avenue.

No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do

To make you feel my love.

 

The storms are raging on the rolling sea

And on the highway of regret.

The winds of change are blowing wild and free,

You ain’t seen nothing like me yet.

 

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true.

Nothing that I wouldn’t do.

Go to the ends of the Earth for you,

To make you feel my love

 

As if Jesus dying for me wasn’t enough for me to feel loved, I asked Him again, to make me feel His love. Did I get reprimanded? No!! He just met me right there in my blindness and He opened my eyes to His love. AGAIN.  He will never stop with us, guys. He doesn’t care about being right, He just wants us to know Him, whatever it takes.

And, oh, by the way, the neurologist called and I DO NOT HAVE MS!!!!

 

The moment I realize we must stop the spread of what’s killing us.

black and white

Passion is flowing up from the deepest part of me, so much so it threatens to choke me if I don’t open the valve, so I speak out. Empathy has a grip on me, squeezing so hard, this has to spill out on paper. Humanity, what has happened to us? The hatred and violence must come to an end. Where did we lose sight of the value of life? All life; every human life is manifested desire of God. When will we choose love?

Fear.

It’s eating our lunch and popping the bag. It’s destroying us, people. We have been blinded, paralyzed, and made ineffective by fear and we don’t even see it. We are afraid of everything! Ebola, Muslims, the flu, the government, the devil, foster kids, man’s opinion, homosexuals, as the TV series ‘Lost’ would call them…others. We are afraid of everything and everyone who isn’t us. We sit in our homes and draw the shades in fear. Self-preservation is our only real threat and it’s the only thing we’ve grabbed hold of in our blindness. It’s killing us!

We are laying down in fear. We must rise up, and live. Stand for life. Stand for the precious ones around us and beyond, the least of these. An ocean of separation doesn’t differentiate our value as humans. You are loved; they are loved. How can we say we love God and hate our brothers and sisters? You love God, whom you can’t see, and curse the one standing in front of you, made in His very image. This is wrong and it’s eating us like a cancer.

Religion is the worst. People, in the name of God, killing others, trying to appease a god who isn’t real, that’s not the true God. God is love. God is family. God takes in those who are outcast, alone, strangers, you know, those very people we hate and demonize, the unlovely? Them. Those are the ones He stands with.

We are dying, and the killer is fear, and we have chosen to abide with it as if it’s our friend. We must get rid of it and stop the spread of it. It’s time to call for quarantine.

Screw Ebola! To hell with fear; every form of it. TO HELL WITH ALL THE FEAR! Stop the fearful Facebook posts, warning of potential outcomes and attacking what we don’t understand, and crucifying the ones who believe different than we do. Let’s do love. Let’s be known for our love. Love is dangerous and it’s risky. Life is found in Love and giving into it is the only way you’ll ever really experience all it has to offer.

I was scared to death to plunge into adoption. The fears of the future and the “what if’s” nearly suffocated me. But, there were five little ones who needed a home and deserved one. They were the ones in front of me. Would I step over them to love another? Some encouraged me to do it, although they knew they couldn’t. Some warned me and confirmed the ideas in my own mind. Some hated me for taking so long to dive in. So many voices. Fear was attacking me at every angle. Fear of making the wrong decision had me paralyzed and incapable of living. I had to reject fear. I had to decide that I would die living before I would let fear lead me. We don’t wait until we aren’t afraid, we do it afraid. The point of living is not to arrive safely to our death, but in pouring out the treasures of heaven while we are here. Being, giving, and participating in Love, our origin. I found life. No, life found me. Life is in this home of mine, and I nearly traded it in for fear.

Fear is causing our panic and is the root of our hate. Our hatred, our need to kill, verbally or physically, in wars or on Facebook, has to come to an end. Peace is ours, a kingdom within us, and until we let it have its way we will live in turmoil and angst, waiting for death to save us while we attack those who oppose.

We participate in evil when we refuse love. It’s not who we are and it’s not why we are here. Open our eyes, Lord. Help us to identify our fears and reject them. May we see. May we turn. May we love.

The Moment Miranda Lambert makes sense of my theology

The kids have all been safely dropped at school and I’ve set out on a journey of dangerous adventure and discovery, fending off wildlife without weapon and putting my physical abilities to the test. OK, I went on a walk in the neighborhood, but in my mind the threats are real. This day my choice of music from Pandora is country, Miranda Lambert’s song The House That Built Me begins to play. Before you know it, I’m there, right in the middle of the song, acting out in my imaginations every word, as if I’m the one she’s singing about. (I love how music can do that.) In the song she’s returning to the old home she grew up in, looking for answers to life, and I suddenly remember the reason I always wanted a “home I grew up in.” I wanted that for me, and I’ve wanted it for my children. I questioned myself as to why. I think my heart is just trying to give picture to its deepest longing. What is it that I’m really looking for? It’s not a house, per say, nor is it a location, I believe it goes much deeper. I think what I, like so many, am after are roots, somewhere I belong, some place that tells my story and validates my being, a place to return to, where I’m always welcome and everybody knows my name.

HOME.

Does that word not conjure up the most magnificent feelings? It instantly manifests peace and rest on the inside. It seems to gives weight to our very existence!

We set out with dreams. We aspire to live out the greatness we know we were made for. We learn, we live, we fall, we grow, we succeed, we fail, and somewhere in the middle of trying to find ourselves we forget who we are. We wander, lost, yearning to remember. We know there is more. There is more to this life than what we are living and we are in fear that we’ll never see it. The fear of missing the meaning of our life and coming to the end of it having never experienced what we’re created for does one of two things, we either allow it to paralyze us, or we, out of sheer terror of being left out, will put it in overdrive, in a frantic search, to validate our reason for being, through any sort of success we can conjure up, whether real or not. We all want to know who we are and why we are here, and the best way to get the answers we are looking for seems to be in returning home.

 The words to the song keep ringing in my ear:

“ ..I thought if I could touch this place or feel it

This brokenness inside me might start healing

Out here it’s like I’m someone else

I thought that maybe I could find myself…

In the house that built me.”

 Something struck me as I read the words of C. Baxter Kruger in God Is For Us, “…Jesus has hold of us. He is not external to our existence; He is the ground of our being, and our raison d’être (reason for being). To meet Him and know Him is to find rest and peace for He is simply no foreigner. He is our one and only home. In a quite fundamental sense, to meet Jesus Christ is to meet our self.”

Jesus is that place we are all in frantic search to find. He’s our one and only home, and when we come to know Him we come to know our self. He said in John 14 that He was going to prepare a place for us, and “in that day you will know that I am in my Father, You’re in Me, and I’m in you. “ The I Am… in you. When we return to Him, we return home, and in returning, we are met with our own being, for we are His home, and this is where we’ll find out who we really are.

Home is our starting place. It’s the place we live out of, knowing we are loved and accepted. Knowing we are cherished. No need to prove who we are and free to live out of our desires and passions because the light of who we are is shining and we aren’t in fear of missing out any longer. No more living in the shadow of others judgments but in the light of His love, our hearts are anchored and secure, no fear of drifting. Our hope is sure. Yes, Miranda, this is where the brokenness starts healing.

We are safe.

We are free.

We have found ourselves, at home.