Table of Trust

Table-of-Trust2

“I don’t want that!”

A familiar scene in our house unfolds as I announce the meal planned for the night. My sweet food-finicky child invariably complains about my well-deliberated choice.

This night hamburgers were on the menu, and I knew it would garner at least one complaint. Thankfully, my husband was on hand and heard the comment. In his official highway patrolman voice, he proclaimed we were still cooking burgers and this child was going to eat one!

I also decided to put the time into making homemade potato skins to go with burgers. What’s not to love about them? Cheese, bacon, ranch dressing. I’m hungry just thinking of them. If our lovely child decided to seriously protest the hamburgers, at least he could fill up on those.

As I stood in the kitchen scooping out the potato, I felt God whisper that I do the same thing with Him spiritually.

Ouch. Thanks, God, for putting me in my place.

Sometimes, when God calls us to the table for spiritual food, we say, “I don’t want that!”

Read the rest over on my first post over on Deeper Waters

14

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Matt and Jacob against Emma and Heather

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a post talking about goals for the year. I mused that this might be the year we adopt. It was a far off hope when I wrote it. Little did I know in July we would meet our son.

Although I didn’t write it because it felt a bit premature, I internally hoped it may also be the year that my sister married Matt. They’d only been dating for about a month at the time, but I felt it was a good possibility with how things were progressing.

While I held hope for both of these things, I couldn’t have anticipated at the time that either would actually come to fruition by the end of the year.

How awesome has it been to see both of those come to life.

2014: The Year of Double Completion

God has been whispering this year to me that the two are tied together. I don’t think the timing of our adoption and Matt and Heather’s marriage is a happy accident. In fact, I believe our son Jacob and my sister’s new husband Matt have a God-ordained bond, which we have yet to see even the beginnings of.

Seven is a significant number in Scripture. I can’t begin to tell you all the ways it is used, but suffice it to say that God specifically used the number 7 to show himself. The root actually has 3 meanings: seven, full/complete/perfection, and oath.

At times, God used multiples of 7 to have specific meaning. You might remember Jesus saying to forgive your enemy not 7 times, but 7 times 70 times. This is a reference to the 7th time Noah’s name was used when God described him as perfect. The word that was used to mean perfect was Thamim.  In Hebrew, words also have a numerical value.  Each symbol is a number and when the letters are added together, the resulting word also has a numerical value.  Thamim’s numerical value is 490, the product of 70 times 7.

You can actually see all the different multiples of 7 that are used in Scripture here. Sometimes it is to show his power, the cross, truth, the fullness of the Gentiles.

So, the original word and number have a specific meaning, but when multiplied, it has a different, but still significant meaning, particularly with the number 7.

I believe God has used 14 as a significant number, and multiple of 2 and 7, to show how He has worked in me and my sister’s lives through her husband and my son.

The number 2 is used to represent a union and 7 is perfection or completion. So, 14 implies a double measure of spiritual perfection, or indicates double completion.

Our family has prayed for years for these two people. I don’t find it accidental that in the year 2014 that they have come into our lives.  Our families are becoming more complete and we are giving legal oaths to these two people to make them family.

I mean, think about this, year 14 hasn’t happened for a whole century and won’t happen again for another whole century. It’s not like this could happen often. And what are the chances that at 34 my sister would get married after some matchmaking from a friend and after years of being in the system, we would be matched with our son all in the same year.  I would say we both have a heavenly matchmaker that wants it to be made known that he’s done it!

I have seen several other correlations between the adoption and their marriage, and specifically between Matt and Jacob.

Scripture

On Friday at the wedding, the pastor closed out the wedding ceremony by sharing a verse that Matt and Heather picked out. It was a popular one from Joshua, As for me and me and my house, we will serve the Lord. I was able to share, in video, that night my toast to the couple. I shared how God had traveled with Heather on her broken road, transformed her and now brought someone into her life to share it with.

Just 2 days later we sat in church this weekend and do you know what played on the screen? A video that Scott and I filmed about our adoption. Do you know what the sermon was about? Joshua. And do you know what verse the pastor closed his sermon with? As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

Dates

Once I made these connections, I began thinking of other ways 14 played a part in this and then realized: Matt and Heather’s wedding was October 24th and exactly 14 days later we will be signing final adoption papers for Jacob on November 7th, 90 days after Jacob was placed with us on August 7th.

Names

It then hit me both Matt and Jacob share Biblical first names that are linked. Jacob—the father of the Israelites and Matthew, an apostle of Jesus.

In the gospel of Matthew, Matthew writes Jesus’s genealogy. There are 3 sets of 14 generations between Abraham and Joseph, including 2 Jacobs.  The first, is the son of Isaac and the second is Jesus’s grandfather (who knew?).

Matt and Jacob also share the exact same middle name Ryan. And do you know that the name Ryan means “little King” or “kingly?”

Uncle and Nephew

Now, hold on to your hats, people, because this final connection is crazy. I started seeing all these themes of 14 outside of the year 2014 and got super dorky. I really felt like there was a piece of this puzzle I was still missing so I went looking.

I started trying to find Hebrew words that had a numerical value of 14. Symbols in Hebrew can also be used to denote numbers, so you can add up the letters in the word and come up with a numerical value of the word. So, you could have a 10 + 4 = 14 or a 5 + 5 + 4 = 14, or I felt like in our case, the 7 + 7 = 14 would be more appropriate. A 7 in Hebrew is the letter Zayin and if you put two of those together you get זז, the numerical value of the word is 14 and it means “moving” (thank you, Google Translate). On one site I found, it actually has this expanded definition:

to boil; to warm or move (the heart); to love; and object of love, a beloved; a friend; uncle; nephew, pr.n. “David” = “Beloved”; boiler, pot, kettle; basket.

Oh my gosh, did you catch that? Moving love like in between uncle and nephew?? That’s what Matt and Jacob are as of Friday.

And just to put it over the top, my name means beloved which is another definition of the same Hebrew word.

Are you kidding me?

 

God is so faithful to his people. If he never does another single thing, he has confirmed that He has moved, that he has blessed us, that he is with us. I know I can speak for our families to say as for us, we will serve the Lord.

I do believe, though, that there is something special between Matt and Jacob. I have seen some inklings over the past months how they have already challenged each other. We have yet to see the extent to which this will go, but let me choose this day to say I see God moving and anxiously await his work.

 

Let this be an encouragement to you that God is in the details of your life right now.  Maybe he feels absent and uncaring.  But if we seek him and follow his ways and his direction, he absolutely will create beauty when we least expect it and in ways that will simply blow our minds.

 

The Tollison Wedding

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This weekend this couple became husband and wife. Witnessing it was one of the greatest pleasures of my life.

 

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Words simply escape me on not just how beautiful the wedding was, but how beautiful it was to see two people who have been through so much come together with so much happiness and love for each other. I said it in my toast and I’ll say it here–I’ve never seen my sister happier than I have in the last year.

 

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Heather wrote this on the morning of her wedding day.

If you see me crying today it’s tears of joy and being humbled by the journey that brought me to this day and to this wonderful man. He is truly a gift that I do not deserve. It has been a journey that required me to surrender all of my past hurt, mistakes, doubt and pain to God. Then to trust HIM first with my heart before bringing someone into my life that would protect it. To allow God to heal me and make me whole. Today is my testimony of that. Today is a celebration of what God has done and what He will do through our marriage!!

God did the beautiful work of redemption. Heather was satisfied in Him, but then, God in all his glory and grace gave her a husband to share the rest of her journey.

Our family loves Matt so much and  I am so excited for the two of them. “Happily Ever After” was a theme of the wedding and the day truly was like a fairytale. My sister looked like a beautiful princess and her prince could not love her more.

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I don’t have all the pictures from the wedding. I’ll let the professionals share all the pictures when they’re ready.
However, Heather’s father-in-law put together the gathered pictures we have and put it against the song that Matt’s twin sister Angie sang during the ceremony, a song by Matthew West called “When I Say I Do”.

Heather and Matt, congratulations again and we love you!

Five Feathers, The Print

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After everything began happening with the feathers in August, I determined very quickly that I wanted to commemorate what God was doing (and still is) in some way.  We’ve talked about putting some of the feathers in a shadow box.  I found my feather pillow at Pottery Barn. I realizd I have a feather wreath that’s been hanging in my kitchen for years.  I’ve put some of the larger feathers in the base of a glass lamp we have. I guess what I’m saying is I love marrying the decorations in my home with the feathers as a reminder of His work all around us.

Enter Arin with TrueCotton. I first met Arin after our daughters became fast friends in school. In the following year, I watched as she launched her business TrueCotton. Arin paints ridiculously amazing pieces with watercolor that incorporate Scripture.

 

 

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In fact, her work is currently being featured in the SheReadsTruth 28-day Advent Book.

 

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So I was scrolling through her Instagram feed one day last month and realized what a perfect combination our feathers, Psalm 91:4 and her work would be.

Quickly after contacting her, Arin agreed to paint a commissioned piece and EEEKKKK, here it is! I love it so much!

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I have the original 11×14 piece and can’t wait to get a frame and put it in a special place in our home.

I love that the colors she choose–without any direction from me–fit perfectly in just about any room in our house.  And when I went to pick up the print from her house, I happened to have a feather in my van and it was almost an exact replica of the one in the middle.

And the amazing news is she made prints in several sizes available to you in her etsy shop!  Head over here if you want a print of it too. And check out her other pieces. They really are so beautiful.

Arin also agreed to do a little Q&A with me on how she started painting, how TrueCotton started, where her inspiration comes from and tips on starting to paint on your own.

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I’m fascinated by people who can draw and paint. How did painting start for you?

I grew up in a creative household with two artists for parents. My mom did stained-glass windows & oil paintings. My dad a blacksmith & watercolor artist.
I took a few drawing classes as a child. I took visual art classes all throughout school, & into college. I have a degree in Interior Architecture….What I did mostly….was doodle. The pages of notebooks & binders and book covers were covered in doodles. I would say though that my passion for it didn’t become clear until I was four-deep in motherhood.

How did True Cotton start?
I officially launched TrueCotton last fall.
3 years prior was when I realized that my heart needed to absorb ‘truth’ differently. As a mother of 3 at the time, and pregnant with our fourth, we were in the midst of selling our house & trying to move to Fort Mill.  14 months, 64 showings & another ‘tiny’ later, we finally moved. The season of wait for me was a hard, quiet, but rich.

As any new mother knows, the fatigue is overwhelming as you take care of a new baby and other children. There are little to no moments of rest, or down time…and there was absolutely no time alone.  Sitting down to read scripture or pray resulted in me, asleep. So in those few quiet moments I would choose a verse & just started picking up my pencil. So last fall I felt like it was time to launch. Weeks of names & sketches landed me on TrueCotton.
Almost all of the words I paint are Biblical Truth=TRUE
‘To Cotton’ something means to grasp or understand….& I also paint on 90-100% cold pressed cotton rag watercolor paper!


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 You mix Scripture and art in your paintings. Does each one have a story or how do you pick the Scripture and art combination?
Each piece is very different for me. The scripture typically comes from my own personal study. There are mornings that I am in a particular mood to do calligraphy instead of paint, or I choose to use a Sharpie instead of a brush. Every now and then I will see color combinations or dream of a design, but mostly I sit & begin to draw. There are days I don’t paint at all. I have learned not to force it, to not feel controlled to create, that is a place that brings me life & joy. The last several months I have been doing a lot of ‘imperatives'; ‘be thankful’, ‘be free’, ‘be still’. I love that as I step back from these, this is a sweet place of worship for my heart, a place that God lays down truth for my hands to create and my heart to absorb.

If someone wanted to start, what recommendations do you have?  Any online classes? What materials would you need?
My recommendations are just to start drawing. Draw fruit, draw flowers, draw creatures, buy a beginner watercolor set. The hardest part is to start. We have a family rule about art, ‘There are no mistakes in art’! The only way you can know who you are as an artist is to start drawing. Be original, don’t copy & don’t compare. I feel very strongly that we are all created to mirror The Creator. God didn’t design you to mimic someone else, he design you to be YOU. You will be good at some things someone else won’t. You will master something they struggle with. My art has changed even just in the last 6 months. The more I paint & draw, the more comfortable I become to create without boundaries. For materials I have to send you to my most favorite store, Cheap Joes. Hands down the best paper, paint & brushes! I use nothing else!

Thank you, so much, Arin!

Isn’t wonderful to see how God blesses us all with so many different talents to be used for his glory?  Head over to her shop and check it all out! I think these would make wonderful, unique Christmas presents.

FiveFeathers

Adoption: A Ten Week Update

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Turns out I have a very soft spot for boys in camo pants.

 

Last Thursday was 10 weeks since we’ve adopted.  Today is day 74.

As I look back on the last 2 1/2 months, it feels like we were all stuffed in a small blender and someone pressed high speed. Chopped up and meshed together. It’s certainly has been a whirlwind.  I’ve said it a few times to some people in real life, and I’ll say it here: if everything stopped today and there were no future with Jacob, I would do the last 74 days all over again.

I have seen God more clearly and so closely that every single tear and frustration has been worth it. I have learned more about myself and have grown more in 74 days than I have in a long time. I am a better parent and mother–person, even–than I was 74 days ago.

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Jacob trying on Emma’s Halloween wig. It was as hilarious as it looked.

 

My eyes have been opened to the plight of the orphan.  Do I get it all? No, of course not, but now I see how complicated and painful it is for so many involved.

My eyes have been opened to special needs children. I have a new compassion for the families of children with special needs and illnesses.  I want to send you buckets of money, coffee and hugs. I see your hard work better now.

My eyes have been opened to the hard work that blended families go through. I never realized how many similarities we have, but now I do and I have a new compassion for you.

My eyes have been opened to God’s comfort and protection. Never have I understood it more than the last 74 days.

My eyes have been opened to my own deep need and flaws. I have dealt with more things from my past in the last 74 days than my entire life.

My eyes have been opened to the searing need for a support group around those struggling. Encouraging and listening to those in need is good, and sometimes hard, work.

I’m not even sure I can list all the things the past 74 days have done for me and our family.  And we have not even touched what it has done for Jacob. No, I would not trade it.

And here’s the good news.  At 74 days, I can tell you that somewhere about 65 days, we hit some kind of turning point. I don’t know what it was, but we got to the end of last week and Scott and I looked at each other and said, hey, it’s been a good week.

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We went out for froyo Thursday and the kids played while the adults talked. That’s Jacob on Emma’s back.

 

We can’t quite put our finger on the difference, but there is definitely some sort of settling in going on.

Even my mom, who went to go eat lunch with Jacob mid-week last week, said he was acting differently–more relaxed or something.  We certainly still have issues. Oh, don’t let me convince you our problems are gone.  But, this week, maybe the blender was turned down a notch.  We can feel it. We can’t quite articulate what happened, but something good is happening.

 

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Jacob’s first time at a car wash Sunday–he rocked the vacuuming.

 

Jen Hatmaker wrote a post after 1 year of adopting her children and I have read it so many times over the past months.  Our timetable seems different than hers, but it does seem to follow the same trend. I feel like we moved last week to what she coined Stage 3:

Somewhere around the 4th or 5th month, you realize the fits are under ten minutes and only happening every fourth day. This alone is reason to live. You’re out of the weeds. Your little one has been pulled from the burning building and subsequent terror and spaz-o-rama, and she is now in triage. You are definitely not out of the woods – the assessments, the precision surgery, the rehab is still to come – but she is out of immediate danger and stabilizing.

Evidence of her preciousness keeps peeking out. You see her real self more and more frequently. She is feeling a teeny bit safer, just beginning to trust your love.

As for you, you’re coming out of the fog. You start returning phone calls. You brave a Date Night. You look at your bio kids and ask, “Oh, hi there. So how have you been the last seven months?” Maybe your new role as Trauma Counselor won’t be permanent after all. You color your two inches of gray and get a haircut. You step on the scale and realize you’ve either lost or gained ten pounds from stress. Okay, it’s gained. I’m just trying to give you hope.

 

I relate to this except the fits she described were made mostly by me, not Jacob.

And for the record, I gained five pounds from the stress. My sister’s wedding is this weekend and I can barely fit my bridesmaid dress I ordered this Spring (I ordered some wraps. I’ll let you know how they are. Also, WEDDING WEEK!).

As I’m typing this, Jacob has finished his bath and is in his footed Batman pajamas. Scott is tickling him in the living room. I hear the girls getting their showers before bed. I’m getting ready to run out to the store to buy some groceries so we can pack lunches tomorrow.  I guess what I’m saying is we’re doing it.  These 74 days have been so hard, but God has proven himself faithful. He has met me every single time I’ve cried, every single time I’ve had to make a decision, every single time I’ve needed to love when I didn’t feel like it. I am beginning to understand James, the brother of Jesus’, words and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.