Winter Of The Soul

Winter is in full swing here in New England. It is the beginning of February and I am shouting a silent “hallelujah” that we made it through January- I find it to be THE LONGEST. Holidays are over, decorations need to be taken down, and you just never know how many snow storms we may encounter. Every so often I find myself scrolling through my pictures of warmer days and reflecting on the sun, warmth, and beauty.

My daughter loves to play games in the car while we drive. Usually it is “I Spy”. She loves to find colors out her window and have me guess what she is looking at. The fall is so much fun to do this as the trees are bursting with the most vibrant of colors. But now, in winter, she often asks me where the leaves are. I have been explaining to her that the leaves are all gone and this is the season in which the trees rest. Rest helps the trees prepare for spring in which new life is born.

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As I reflect on this, I am reminded that ALL seasons are important- it isn’t just the spring and summer seasons where there is life, vitality, and fruit-producing action. Winter is just as important. In fact, it is vital so that the other seasons can accomplish what they are individually designed for.

And so it is with the seasons of our soul. Some seasons are full of life, beauty, and action. Some are filled with calmness and everyday routine. But winter inevitably comes- and that is okay. It is good, actually. A winter season of the soul may look differently from one individual to the next. It may feel stormy. Or possibly gray and gloomy. And for some, it may just be a time of no activity and a necessary time to rest.

I feel like I am in the middle of a winter period, with all of those things meshed together that I just described. The plans I had outlined for my year have gone the complete opposite and are completely out of my control. I have found myself more home bound than I would have ever wanted even though I am a self proclaimed homebody. However, despite the physical pain, I am also experiencing moments of rest, both physically and emotionally. I have learned to accept help from family and friends- and it has brought so much joy! I have also been able to write more- God has been working on my heart and moving me towards different things in this area that I may have missed otherwise. This reminds me of how active our God is.

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I constantly say that the Lord is not a waster of time- no matter what season we find ourselves in! So I am doing the best I can to embrace winter. I am filling my soul with God’s word and reserving moments of stillness each day to hear His voice. I am embracing the beauty found in letting others help me- because the love of Jesus is found in each person that walks through my door. I am storing up the truths and promises that the Lord reveals to me so that I will be ready to spring into action once winter passes.

I am embracing winter and all it has to offer. It has been hard. It has been humbling. But I am starting to see the beauty that lies within the cold, the dark, and the gray.

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On Gratitude

I love how practicing gratitude shifts my heart. It takes the focus off myself and steers my vision to the goodness of God around me. God’s goodness shows up everyday, everywhere. It doesn’t have to be in a grand or vibrant way that requires pomp and circumstance. I mean, look at how the Jesus entered the world – quietly in the back of an old inn where the barnyard animals were getting ready to sleep. Yet, the goodness of God was born to us in the humble form of a baby. Some witnessed this Goodness first hand. Most had no idea.

I don’t want to be found in that category of “most”. I want to experience and see first hand the goodness that God has surrounded me with and allow the transforming power of gratitude to permeate my soul.  As of late, this has been hard for me to do yet I am disciplining myself to look beyond my circumstances.

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As I write this, I have been in chronic pain for the last month where I spend most of my day sitting (or at least trying to) while making feeble attempts to take care of my two children. I have had so many moments – and continue to – of frustration and discouragement. The human part of me wants to stay stuck on this and throw myself a pity party all day. However, that is more debilitating than the pain I am facing.

So I have been taking shaky steps towards looking outside of myself. I am amazed at what I see:

  • hysterical laughter from my two kids while they jump on the couch
  • coffee with good friends
  • Hope’s random i love you’s
  • a simple prayer of healing prayed by Hope
  • the way the world looks after a snowstorm

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Having gratitude for things great and small takes me to a place that God has created just for me to see. These are His reminders that there is goodness in the world despite pain and setbacks; that His love is unending; and that I am not alone even though He has not lifted my pain yet. Instead, God has expanded my vision, giving me a chance to see a glimpse through His lens of how He views my small corner of the world.

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Everything we touch throughout the day leaves fingerprints. And so it is with the Lord. In Psalm 118:24, the Psalmist reminds us that the Lord has created each day. Therefore, His fingerprints have been left behind reminding us that He is there. I encourage you to look around you and shift your focus. I bet you won’t have to look too far.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    to sing praises to the Most High.
 It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
    your faithfulness in the evening,
accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, a harp,
    and the melody of a lyre.

You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!
    I sing for joy because of what you have done.
 O Lord, what great works you do!
    And how deep are your thoughts.

Psalm 92:1-5

Actively Waiting

It has been quite a year. Filled with new life, new hopes, new dreams, and some bumps along the way. I find myself back in a waiting period. And that is OK. I have found that these waiting periods are God’s most active times. Isn’t that ironic? We feel so still, so quiet. Yet, God is doing His thing and is moving and placing and planning. These are truths that I am constantly reminding myself of right now.

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And as I wait, maybe you are too? Maybe waiting for a job, a child, a spouse, or a dream that has become a fervent prayer?

May I encourage you with some things that God continues to impress on me and teach me on a daily basis?

  1. God is not a waster of time. Wasting anything is not of God. He is a redeemer of time! Even though it feels like things aren’t moving as quickly as I would like, God is actively working. When I think of waiting, I am reminded of the 4 seasons – each one vital to the earth being able to produce to its’ absolute highest quality. And so it is with waiting. It is vital for me as it requires me to rely solely on the Lord. Yes, I could take matters into my own hands and try to “speed things up”…but… I am well aware of how that will turn out. I am risking missing out on God’s blessing on my life.
  2. God encourages our honesty. There have been times I have wanted to just run – like, book it. I love the freedom that God gives us to feel this; to be honest with him, to express openly our frustrations, doubts, concerns. And then..He stops me. Dead in my tracks. Like any loving Father does, He gently pulls me back in and presses me into Him. The closer I get to Him, the more I just want to stay. He is my security and I am reassured by His embrace that He is guiding me and protecting me.
  3. The Lord’s mercies are truly new each day. How comforting that God’s grace never runs dry! It is endless and always abounding. I don’t know about you, but I am in desperate need of grace. It pieces the cracks of my heart back together when everything seems on the verge of breaking. He is such a kind and faithful God.

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So as I sit here with my coffee and prayer journal typing out all these random thoughts, I pray it touches your heart if you are active in your own waiting. These are precious times. Cherish them. Glean from them. Watch God do what He does best – guiding us to a deeper relationship with Him.

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Working on our profile

We are nearing the end of our paperwork. At least I hope. 🙂 Tomorrow we mail out a packet which will retain us with Kirsh & Kirsh. Hallelujah! The final thing we need to work on is our letter to the birth mom which will include our family profile. Our goal is to have it done by the end of next week. This profile will be looked at by birth moms and they will use our profile to select us to be parents to their child. We feel like it’s our most important document that we have worked on so far. I started writing it awhile ago, bits and pieces here and there. But, I struggle. What do you say to a woman who is choosing to give you the greatest gift? A gift of sacrifice and love? Needless to say my heart is heavy. Last week I googled birthmom blogs. I was curious about them and was hoping that some kept a blog so I could get a small glimpse of their emotions. What I found were women who were raw; healing; and those who would forever process the decision to give part of themselves away. I found myself coming to terms with my own ignorance of the day our baby will be born and we are handed him/her. It will be our greatest joy to hold them, yet there will be a woman leaving the hospital empty handed and with an empty heart. I had never really thought about it until just a few weeks ago. We go home with a family yet she goes home with grief and pain. The Lord continues to lay on my heart how much she needs our prayers. Not just during her pregnancy but for a lifetime afterwards. Oh, how I pray that through this storm, she will find Jesus. The ultimate Healer. Comforter. Father. I have no idea where God is leading us, but I do know our birth mom will be just as much a gift as our baby. We will be gaining 2 people in our family not just 1. Will you join us in praying for her? We continue to meditate on our verse for 2012: “Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act.” Psalm 37:7 We pray you are having a wonderful summer so far. We are having a blast:) XOXO

Seasons

You are on my heart and I have been praying for you. Over the last few weeks, I have felt God impressing on my heart to leave a message here for those who are hurting, going through a waiting period, or are in need of healing. I finally have a free moment to sit down and write this.
Whether you are waiting for a job, a spouse, a test result from a doctor, or any other answer God is real and is heartbroken over your pain. Psalms states that he collects our tears in a bottle. (Psalms 56:8)  I have walked through the valley of marriage, the valley of vocation, and the valley of desiring a family. There have been many times that I have questioned if the Lord could really hear my cries out to Him or if He could really see me in the valley. At the end of the day, I had to make a choice. I had to choose to really believe in who He says He is or I had to choose to walk on my own.
Last summer, I was going through an emotional winter. And just like physical New England winters, I felt like my winter was never going to end. And through my hurt and pain, I had to make the choice of believing in God’s promises or not. I chose to believe. That was a battle in and of itself. But God promises us that His Word is our weapon and it is active.(Hebrews 4:12) I found verses to pray through several times a day for several months. And ever so slowly, there was break through. The pain or the struggle didn’t immediately go away, but God’s peace started to flood through the cracks and it soon overshadowed my difficulties. These valleys made God’s promises real to me. It is one thing to say I believed in Him. It’s another to cling to it and place all my trust in Him because He was all I had at that time.
I believe He can do the same for you. I am overwhelmed by your suffering. Some I know of specifically, some I don’t. But the burden I have for you is real and I am praying.

How can you get through your valley?

* Claim God’s promises. If you haven’t already, get out your Bible and find a verse that speaks to you about your situation. Memorize it. Pray it. It may take some time for the pain to subside and the peace to come in, but I promise you, it will. If you don’t have a Bible, I would love to buy you one. Please let me know!

* Praise God. Yes, you read that right. We are to praise God. I personally don’t think we have to praise Him FOR the valley while we are in it, but praise Him DESPITE it. By giving thanks to HIm, we are turning our eyes to Him only and taking our focus off of the trial. Philippians 4:6-7 states:” 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (NLT) This will be hard. I know. I read in one of the Psalms about David offeirng a “sacrifice of praise”. I now understand that phrase. Praise IS a sacrifice..but it is something God will honor.

* Journal. By recording what God is doing for you and through you during hard times will serve as a reminder of His faithfulness in the future. In the Old Testament, God’s leaders would set up stone altars as a reminder of how God was faithful to them. These were markers of His answers. I have found this to be true of my prayer journals or notes I have written in my Bible. They have served as constant reminders of God’s faithfulness in the past.

I continue to pray for you. I pray that God’s faithfulness and peace will eventually be able to supercede your pain. He is the only constant in this world.

Two Paths

When Adam and I decided to change our focus to domestic adoption, I started to think about the new possibilities and the new people God would put on our path. The way God brings people into our lives is amazing, isn’t it? We have seen Him work in pretty awesome ways in our own lives and we don’t doubt that this will be any different.
A couple of nights after we made our decision, I started thinking about this certain young woman. This young woman who will be making the ultimate sacrifice of love which will allow us to become a mom and dad. My heart was heavy for her. Not knowing these thoughts, my sister-in-law brought her up in a recent conversation and said “Your paths are about to cross.” Who knows where she is right now, but she is heading down a path that will bring her into crisis. Yet, the result of her crisis will become our greatest joy. As we sit here waiting, she is searching, wandering. How I wish I could tell her that we are on the other side waiting and there is hope. Kind of like how God is speaking to us right now. He knows the end of this story; we just need to trust. There is hope. Our stories are so similar. I’m starting a journal for her and am planning on giving it to her when we meet. My prayer is that through her own struggles and pain, the result will end in her finding contentment in Jesus, just as I have found.
Adam and I have shifted focus in not just praying for this baby but also for its’ other mom. Will you pray for us as we continue on in deciding how we can reach out to her, whenever our paths are meant to cross?

“And we know that God causes everything
to work together for the good
of those who love God
 and are called according to His purpose for them.
Romans 8:28

Changes

It’s been awhile since I had given an update. Over the last 2 weeks, things have changed quite a bit. 2 weeks ago, we received an e-mail from our agency in North Carolina stating that the Moldovan government is still dragging its’ feet with changing and revising adoption laws. Currently there are 4 families in our agency who have been in limbo for a year and the social workers are working hard to get them moving. Unfortunately, they aren’t even going to be looked at til May. Which means we still could not begin the paperwork we need to. Our program director has also said that it appears that the youngest children available will be 5 year olds and we had given a range of 2-4. She said we are looking at at least another 1 1/2 year wait. After much discussion and prayer, we feel God has closed this door for right now. This decision has been so hard to make. With it, has come alot of anger, sadness, and guilt. In our kitchen, I have a collage of pictures from our past trips and as I look at those pictures, I see Hope/Noah and I wonder if we are turning our back on a baby in Moldova. I know in reality that isn’t true, but the feeling is still real. I am angry at Mother’s Day and pregnancies and paperwork.
I share all of this to say, that despite all of that, God is faithful. I was writing that short statement out this morning and it reminded me greatly that YES, the Lord has been so faithful to us! I see His fingerprints over the last year in so many areas. I was tempted to sit and think of how much we wasted this last year and the Lord has reminded me this morning that this year was a gift, really. A year for growing our marriage, growing us as individuals and growing in our knowledge of who the Lord is to us. God’s timing is never a waste. How thankful I am for the way He is active even in waiting periods. Adam and I trust Him; we believe in His promises to us; and we believe that His way is perfect.
Our plan is to move forward with a domestic adoption. We are praying for an infant and are so excited to see where God leads. My friend Noelle was saying how exciting it is to think that Hope/Noah are so close to us! Yes!:) Wherever this baby is, we love it so much already…we can’t wait to see their cute face:)
The wait seems to still be long, between 1-2 years, but who knows, it could be shorter.

Our verse for 2012:
“Be still in the presence of the Lord
and wait patiently for Him to act.” Psalm 37:7

Please continue to pray for us. We covet and treasure your prayers! We love you.