Praising and Begging

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MaRabelo 

I’ve heard of people, that in face of great danger, sacrifice, turmoil or opposition, they praise the Lord instead of complain. Many find it inspiring that someone would have such great faith to actually praise the Lord in terrible circumstances.

I’m beginning to believe, though, that they praise him not because of great faith but because of their need for great faith.

These last days have been hard. New things have arisen. Jacob is safe. Everyone is safe. No one’s going anywhere. We are more certain as ever before that things are happening as they should. But things have happened–things which I cannot talk about it and I’m sorry to be vague. But I need you to know even though this is exactly right and you’ll see smiles in the pictures, there is more going on. Isn’t there always?

When I have been at my lowest, I have been singing praise because I need to believe. I need more faith that He is good, that He’s working everything out for our good and that He can be trusted. I praise Him because if I do not, I am lost in despair, in grief, in anxiety, and in anger.

My heart is longing more than ever for God to rescue us forevermore from this sin that entangles us.  We are all slaves to these feeble bodies. And the consequences are sometimes more than I can handle.  I do not want to beg for his coming so others have time to know him, but today I do.

Today I praise and today I beg.

Pray for us?

 

When Our Best Yes Was Almost a No

This post is part of Lysa TerKeurst’s “The Best Yes” Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers.  To learn more, CLICK HERE. (http://goo.gl/bQVJW0)

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Lysa TerKeurst at The Best Yes Book Launch in Charlotte, NC

It’s very hard to believe that we only met Jacob a month ago.  It’s been quite a ride already.  We’ve seen God open door after door quickly and if you know the social services world, that’s rare.

One story I haven’t told yet, though, is how we almost said no to Jacob.

In case you missed it, we spent the bulk of May with thoughts that we might adopt a little boy that we found out about from one of our friends.  We began making many preparations for his arrival.  We cleared out the playroom to make it into a bedroom and spent time crossing things off our to-do list around the house.  Once we found out he was being placed with another family, we were disappointed.  Once again, we had a no from God.

We were at peace, though, knowing that if that wasn’t our child, then God was still at work bringing him home.

But we couldn’t help but feel that God was on the move.  Adoption didn’t leave our minds.

In late June, we began exploring the idea of fostering a little boy for a short time. Without going into too much detail, this little boy’s family is struggling and we have been banging our heads trying to find a way to help them move forward.  We began talking with each other about taking custody of him until the family could get some forward momentum going.

We thought maybe God had led us start preparing in May just so we would be ready for this move.

But, every time we talked about it, we talked in circles always just looking at each other in the end and saying, “I just don’t know.”

Sure, it was a “good” thing to do.  Helping a family in need in hard times is something we’re supposed to do.  It seemed hard, but we thought maybe God was just calling us to something hard and we were just having trouble saying yes.

When we talked with family about it, some were ok with it, but others didn’t feel peace about it.

We talked to an attorney to see what options we had since it would be an arrangement on our own, and not through social services.  After those conversations, we felt even less peace about it.  We never gave an outright no to anyone, but we began to just sit on it to see if God would move our hearts to an absolute yes.

In conversations with someone about it, they said, “If you say yes to this, though, you are basically saying no to your adoption.”

If we took this child in, we really weren’t sure when we’d be giving him back.  What if we were matched while we still had him?  Would DSS even consider us still if we were already fostering another child?

As it turned out, just one week later, we did get the call from DSS that we’d been matched with Jacob.  And I don’t think anyone would argue that he absolutely is the one who is supposed to be with our family.

He is what Lysa TerKeurst calls our Best Yes.

I can’t imagine that we may have missed out on Jacob or the very least, it would have made some relationships very strained and not have helped anyone at all in the process.

Lysa talks in her book The Best Yes about making wise decisions.  When you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to another.  And a lot of times those decisions are between something good and good.  Some decisions are clear-cut, but decisions like these are hard.  Should we foster a child to help a family out or hold out on the adoption we feel God has called us to?  Good and good.

Our life is full of these decisions between good and good.  Do I do a bible study or do I stay home and cook dinner for my family? Do we sign him up for soccer or boy scouts? Do we homeschool or do we send them to public school? So many big and small decisions we must make in life.

I have found that there are 3 things that help me when I make decisions.

1 - Does what I want to do line up with God’s word?  If it’s sinful or unwise, clearly that’s a no decision.  In this case, there was no reason to think Biblically it was wrong.

2 – Are the people around me that love the Lord confirming that it’s a good decision?  Many times, I have seen that God will use godly people around you to confirm a decision.  Sometimes it’s through a book or a sermon or people close to you or sometimes it’s someone we haven’t talked to in a while but the Lord lays us on their hearts.  But usually, I find that it’s confirmed from someone somewhere.  Be cautious here because sometimes God asks us to do hard things and our friends and families aren’t on board.   I have found that the next step will help you determine these best yes decisions most.

3 – Do I feel an utter peace and conviction from the Holy Spirit that this is what I’m supposed to do?  Most of the time, I know it’s the Lord asking me to do things when I feel peace and not confusion.  When I feel confusion, I know that is not the Lord.  He is not a God of confusion. Now don’t confuse confusion with difficulty. Many times he asks us to do difficult things, but we can still feel peace and conviction that we’re supposed to do it.  I remember when we moved to Columbia, SC it was a very difficult decisions, but we were at peace with it and looking back now, God absolutely helped us through that time and it was the right thing.  In our case this time, we could not come to a peaceful, convicted state so we knew not to move forward.

The Lord knew His plans. Just a week later our best yes was presented and we have felt nothing but peace and joy through the process of adopting Jacob and we have had many people confirm with us they see God at work.

Part of me wonders if that was a test of our faith to say, do you really believe that I called you adoption?  Will you say no to the dream I planted in your hearts or will you trust me to provide?

 

What are some decisions you’re struggling through right now?  Pray that the Lord will show you through his word any clear direction, willl bring people into your life to help speak wisdom and slow down enough to hear his Holy Spirit give you that peace.

If this is a topic you need some more wisdom on, I’d highly recommend Lysa TerKeurst’s The Best Yes.  This book will encourage you and remind you of the importance of slowing down so you can see the Lord working and hear his best yes for you.

And I’m so thankful for people like Lysa who use their gifts of writing to instill wisdom into the lives of women so we can enjoy our Best Yes!

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First Day of School and a Stay at Home Mom {of 3!}

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It’s Monday morning, but just barely.  Lunch time is already upon me.  It is my first day as a stay-at-home-mom-while-the-kids-are-in-school.  It’s not permanent, of course.  I probably will return to work next week.  But today?  It’s good.  I have wanted so long to be at home and while I have come to peace with working full-time, I am enjoying this while I can.  I have not ever, since I started working at 15, taken any sort of extended break beyond a week for vacation, except for the births of my first two. And then, I was a disaster and busy with a newborn.

Today, I got the kids off to school, came home and exercised and then it was my absolute privilege to finish the laundry–even iron!–vacuum, do dishes, get dinner in the crockpot, make beds and straighten up rooms.  I can’t tell you how many times I have sat at my desk working, seeing all the things that need done around me and wishing I could get them done. My mom told me I shouldn’t lift a finger today and just relax. And while I do plan on picking up a book in a few minutes, this taking care of my home and family is a complete and utter joy to me today.

Is that hokey?  Because it felt kind of hokey writing that.  And honestly, I’m not sure I could do this 365 days a year.  But really, it feels good for it to be Monday and know that I don’t have a list a mile long that I need to do to catch-up from the weekend.

And speaking of the weekend, we finished our first full week with Jacob and the last week of summer with a bang.

My uncle, aunt and two boys were in town for the last half of the week so we spent the bulk of our time with them.

Friday we all went to Carowinds.  It was Jacob’s first time there and even though he’s not quite tall enough to ride the big rides, he was excited to ride anything someone else was. And if you remember this post, then you’ll know that excites me to no end.  I have a riding partner, y’all!

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Saturday we let the kids play ball and swim.  Then, I was off to the Hillsong concert with my sister.  If they are playing near you, please get a ticket.  It’s not so much a concert as it is a 2 hour worship session.

Sunday was our norm. Although, while we were picking up last minute things for school, we ended up picking up a basketball goal for Jacob.  We’ve been planning to get one, but have really been waiting for him to show some interest.  Yesterday was the day!

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As you can see, Scott was a bit overwhelmed and Jacob was super excited. He couldn’t believe we were buying all of it.  I actually had to stop him from playing basketball before school this morning so I could use the time to take the school pictures.

So, they were off without a hitch this morning.  We had everything prepped last night, everyone woke up in a good mood and all the drop-offs went well.  Lexi and Jacob are riding the bus home and it will be Lexi’s first time.  Emma is at her first day of middle school changing classes, so I’m anxious to hear all the reports this afternoon.

And before that afternoon sneaks up on me, I’m going to hop off here and go pick up that book!

 

One Week

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One week. It’s been one week almost to the minute that we officially signed our adoption papers.

Part of me would like to tell you how hard it’s been and how adoption is not for the faint of heart and we must be saints, but really, it’s been pretty easy. I attribute that to a lot of things, one of which is all the prayer for our family. Thank you to everyone that’s been so supportive of us.

He has blended into our family so well. I know that’s not the case for every adoption, even when prayed over well, and some transitions are downright brutal. But I certainly cannot say that for us.

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His DSS case worker came by for our first visit yesterday and within 10 minutes she looked at me with wide eyes and said, “I have never seen him smile this much. He clearly is happy.” She had told us that he didn’t smile or laugh much, but that certainly has not been what we’ve seen.

Almost everyone that meets him tells us he fits in so well. It still astounds me how he fits in emotionally, culturally, spiritually and even physically. We certainly were not expecting any of it, really. My friend made the comment that she thinks God might have prepared us for the worst (or maybe Satan tried to frighten us with it) and then God gave us the best-case scenario.

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Although, it’s only been a week and we’ve all basically been on a staycation for the last week. I haven’t worked, Scott took the weekend off and we’ve been doing fun things like going to the local museum, out shopping and playing games around the house. I expect a (literal) wake-up call when school starts next week and I begin to return to work in the next few weeks.

In some ways though, I think it says at least something that we’re all together nearly 24-7 and we all seem to be getting along ok.

All this isn’t to say that it’s been perfect. They are still fighting over the van, he is learning to listen the first time and the kids argue, but it’s nothing we wouldn’t experience with a biological child.

I know this week has been tough with the news. I can barely read the headlines. But take this post as some good news among the bad. At least one orphan has found his home and he’s happier than ever.

His Name. Their Name. Your Name.

Our weekend went very well.  We are settling in with one another more each day.  Jacob is learning our house rules, we are all struggling through our new ones and we are trying our best to learn him well.  While it can be exhausting, it is also very good.  I’m not nearly as overwhelmed as I was at the end of last weekend.  I don’t feel so pressed for time, so anxious to to take advantage of every single second.  We’re in this for the long haul and that helps me relax into our new roles.

Two moments I must share from the weekend, before I get to today’s real post, for those of you not on social media.

The first, is this moment that Scott captured Saturday night as we were having our Bible study together.  This family Bible story reading is new.  Jacob likes gathering everyone before bed in our room and having someone read the story.  He also loves cuddling in the evenings. Very innocent and very sweet.  This boy is already healing so many parts of my heart.  We set out to show him love and he is filling us to full with his.

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We surprised him with a visit to a ball game at the Knights stadium in Charlotte.  Our good friends Ken and JoAnn invited Scott and Jacob to the game to celebrate their son’s birthday.

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It’s very special watching the two boys.  JoAnn prayed for her son for 7 years before she had him so seeing them together (and looking so much alike!) is like watching God’s grace in little boy form times two.

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Ok, I could talk forever so let me get on to today’s post.  I really wanted to share the other half of a story I shared on Thursday.  At the time, I didn’t know there was another half, but clearly God wasn’t done.

His Name

First, I must tell you some back story.

You might remember that I found out we were matched with a child from Scott through a text message.  What I didn’t tell, because I couldn’t at the time, was that Scott told me the wrong name.  In the very first text message, Scott told me Jacob’s name was Joseph.  He simply remembered wrong.  That was on the Thursday before July 4th and I didn’t get to follow up wtih the DSS case worker until Monday after the holiday so we spent the first 4 days believing his name was Joseph.

Now, you may not realize the significance of this.

When I first saw that name, I admit, I was truly overwhelmed.  My middle name, what that “J” up there stands for, is Jo.  I am named after my dad whose middle name is Joseph and he is named after his father’s first name, Joseph.

So, to hear that a little boy that we were matched with was named Joseph was just a little astounding.

Also, if you know the Biblical account of Joseph, you might already be thinking of how ironic it is.  Joseph was rejected by his brothers, sold into slavery and then put in charge of Egypt by Pharoah because he could interpret dreams. He was later reunited with his family and forgave them for their mistreatment of him.

One of the lines that people often take from his story is Joseph’s comment to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

To think that this little boy was named Joseph with our familial significance and Biblical significance, well, it was a little overwhelming to me.

When I called on Monday morning and the DSS worker said, “Yes, I wanted to talk to you about Jacob,” I admit I was a little disappointed. Jacob?  It has to be Joseph!

After thinking on it more, though, I thought maybe God purposely had Scott remember it wrong so that we would believe from the beginning that he was meant for our family.  And do you know what Emma said to me a few days later, “Maybe we heard it wrong so we would know he was ours.”  I hadn’t said that out loud to anyone else so she wouldn’t have overheard me and picked up on it.  I let it at that and believed that perhaps it had been a happy mistake that helped tie us to him from the beginning.

 

Back to last week.  On Thursday after I showed you pictures of Jacob, I shared a story of my friend Shannon who relayed a message to me that a sandy-brown haired boy, similar to the one on Old Yeller, was still trying to find his way home and that their church had fasted and prayed that he would.

It turns out that wasn’t all.

After I posted that on Thursday, Shannon messaged me to ask what his middle name was. I told her it was Ry@n. *(changed for Google’s sake)

She says, “I had only told this to my neighbor, when I asked God what your sons name was He gave me the name Ry@n.”

I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t even know his middle name until we went for his presentation meeting in mid-July and she said she heard this name earlier in the summer.

But that wasn’t all. She continued:

I should mention that I believed that it was going to be Joseph Ry@n but hey Jacob Ry@n is close enough…. I must have not listened too well to God at that point haha”

I couldn’t believe it!  Not only had she heard his first name “wrong”, but it was the SAME name WE heard wrong. Out of the thousands of names, how could this be a coincidence?

But to be honest, I really don’t know what the significance of this is except that I don’t think it is a coincidence.

He gave her the name Ry@n and then I really do think there is some significance that he gave her the name Joseph and not Jaocb.

And just to top it off, Joseph’s father in the Bible is Jacob. His actual name is still Biblically tied to Joseph.

Maybe we are supposed to give him the name Joseph.

Maybe he is supposed to “own” Joseph’s story.

Maybe it is just more confirmation that he belongs in our family.

I don’t know!  I just know “Joseph” keeps coming up and it’s not happenstance.

Their Name

I was thinking on all this this weekend while stories of the children in Iraq appeared over and over again on my timeline.  How heinous is the news of what is happening.  It is nothing short of demonic. What else could possess a person to do these things?

The Lord whispered some comfort to me. Just as he didn’t forget Jacob all those years and he knew his name and how many hairs on his head he had, he has not forgotten these children.  He knows them by name and he knows the number of hairs on their head.  He has not forgotten them. Their rescue might only be heavenly, but he will lift them up and honor them.  He will exact justice on the evil that he is being done to his people. I just pray their deliverance is swift.

Your Name

Where do you feel God has abandoned your story?  Where is he absent and it feels like he is not working for you?

Remember that he knows your name. He knows the number of hairs on your head and he is working it all out. He has not forgotten you. He is weaving the threads of your story together in his time.  He promises.

 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28