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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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.

Where we are at today

Monday night, Adam and I met with Carol, our social worker to just catch up on where we stand in the adoption process. I thought I would just give you all a quick update on what’s been done and what we are currently working on:

We are working on acquiring the last few forms we need to submit to Carol so that she can write up our home study. Our goal is to get these things done this weekend. I’m laughing as I type this because I am thinking of the five million things that need to be done the week before Christmas. Carol hopes that she will be able to have it written by sometime in January.

Next step will be for the home study to be handed off to US-CIS which is a branch of Immigration to be reviewed. They will then release it to Carolina Adoption Services. Then the real fun begins…putting together all of our international paperwork.
Could you pray for one specific thing right now?
1. My medical report: THANKFULLY it is current enough for Carol to write it for our home study (I just found out today) However, because of the date it was done, we only have 6 months for it to be valid with US-CIS so the home study can be approved. This brings us to March 1, 2012. I am fervently working on getting another doctors appointment ASAP, but right now the earliest one I have isn’t until April 26. Please pray that I am able to get another appointment and/or that we can get the last of this paperwork done quickly so we can submit it for approval.

Update on Moldova:
A representative from Carolina Adoption just returned from Moldova in which she helped 2 families finalize their adoptions. These families had been in limbo for quite some time and CAS was able to help them bring their kids home! Such awesome news. Currently, a meeting is still waiting to be scheduled with the head department that runs the adoptions in Moldova. Unfortunately a date hasn’t been set yet. This meeting is supposed to help smooth out all the kinks and finalize their regulations surrounding adoption. Knowing Moldova as we do, it could be awhile. So we continue to wait…and pray. Carol asked us how long we wanted to wait and asked what our next plan would be if we decided against Moldova. We just looked at each other and were honest: we don’t have another plan. We told her very clearly that we have faith that God has placed us on this path and has brought us to Moldova. Right now neither of us have felt that God has closed this door for us so we will continue to press on. I know it sounds crazy. Those close to Adam and I know how much we desire a family and would do anything to have it happen right now. Yet, we truly believe we are on the path God has laid out for us. And He is requiring us to trust completely in HIS timing not our own. The Bible is full of examples in which God asks His followers to follow in complete faith, to listen to only HIS instructions, even if it didn’t quite make sense to others.

So that’s where are right now…walking in faith, trusting in God’s voice to guide us, and enjoying what He’s teaching us along the way.

I was reading this verse this morning:
Psalm 138:8~ “The Lord will work out His plans for my life- for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.”
So comforting. Thanks for checking in 🙂

Stretchmarks of Faith

So many of you have been so sweet and asking if it is OK to ask us how our adoption is going. Of course it is!:) Unfortunately, we continue to have no new news. Carolina Adoption Services have been approved to be re-accredited in Moldova and they are waiting on some of the final steps from the Moldovan government. So, this is positive. When will we find out? Who knows! We just keep pressing on..we have to complete a bunch of pre-adoptive education online and we just have not had the time or energy to do it. If you could pray for us to get this completed, we would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!:)

Counting the blessings:
A close friend of mine e-mailed me about a month ago and said that she was praying for us. Her specific prayer was that I would find another mom who was trying to adopt from Moldova so we could help support each other. Sure enough, I got a message on Facebook a few days later from a friend who lives in Colorado. She had met a woman at her church that was trying to adopt from Moldova and wants us to stay in touch. God is good, isn’t He?

Every so often, I wish we had something physical to remind us that a baby is on the way. An ultrasound. A growing stomach. A sure timeline of 9 months. Anything. But with those fleeting thoughts comes conviction. Sometimes a whisper. Sometimes a shout. Jesus reminding me “I AM enough”. His fingerprints have been on this whole journey. I don’t want to miss Him~His voice, His convictions, His encouragement. The Lord HAS to be my number one desire. HE has to be the source of my joy. Nothing else can bring full satisfaction. Friends can disappoint us. Jobs can leave us. Marriages can fail. Kids can make bad decisions. Jesus is the only constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His grace is sufficient in our weakness. Through pain, He brings peace that passes all understanding. His love is unfailing. He came to give us fullness of life. I was reading yesterday how the name that God calls himself  “I AM” is present tense. He loves you today, He is with you today, and He wants to be your number one …forever.

My deepest desire is to be a mom and have blessed chaos in our small apartment. But if it never happens and the only thing I come out of this is with a deeper relationship with the Lord..not just knowing about Him, but knowing Him…I will have won. Actually, I already have won.

So, come and stretch with me:) I would love to hear what God is doing in your life. He loves you like crazy and so do I! Thank you for checking in on us:)

Psalm 91:2 “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God and I trust Him.”