Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Inspiration!

Paige and Tyson Snedeker are two young adults in our church who live a very difficult life, but one blessed by the Lord. A couple of months ago, Joni and Friends came to their home to do an interview and story about their lives. Please watch this amazing video. I am honored to be called their friends.

Have your kleenex ready!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Worthy or Not?

What picture does your mind conjure up when I say humility? A soft spoken person? Washing feet ceremony? An elderly deacon in your church? A soldier just home from war?

I came across a picture of humility that I had never seemed to notice before. And a picture of a contrast between the religious (and puffed up) elite and a strong man with a conscience that saw the need for Christ.

Luke 7:1-10
After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue." And Jesus went with them. 

The Jewish leaders never got it. Their pride was in the way. Their perspective was not to see Christ as much, but to see themselves and their leaders as much. Look at the contrast of the centurion's friends perspective. 

When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent Friends, saying to him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

And Jesus rewarded this humility.  May our lives be mirrors of this. 

James 4:6 reminds us, "...God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

My prayer for you and me is that our lives would be marked by this kind of humility. Whether it is the simple act of seeking your child's forgiveness for an unkind word or impatient gesture, or looking to a friend's needs greater than your own. Strive for this today, friend.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

God's Wisdom Vs. Ours

We think we have things together way too often. We navigate through life with the attitude of "I'm in control."

When we really don't. When we really aren't.

James 4:13-15 reminds us:
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that."

It is 3:00 in the morning. My eyes are wide awake and my mind is running. Thinking about my to-do list. Thinking about decisions that have been or need to be made. Thinking about my children and the path they are on. Thinking I need to go to prayer as I might be on the edge of worry. 

I'm so thankful God is the One in control. He knows the answer to all these things.

So I rest in this. 

And I meditate on this:
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:31-34

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Good Laugh

All mothers, please read this!

You will laugh harder than you have laughed in a long time!

Friday, December 5, 2014

God Only Wise

"Wisdom without power would be pathetic, a broken reed; power without wisdom would be merely frightening; but in God boundless wisdom and endless power are united, and this makes Him utterly worthy of our fullest trust." - J.I. Packer, Knowing God

I want to trust God. Daily. I'm sure you do too. But fears arise and the unknown can scare me at times. My mind quickly goes to next year.

So today I am thankful for this reminder that God is almighty and perfect. 

*In His wisdom
*In His power
*In His timing

I have no reason to fear. I have all reasons to trust.

So do you.

Even when we can't see what's around the corner.


Or what will happen over the next foggy mountaintop.


God is all wise. And powerful. And we CAN trust in Him.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fierce Convictions - Book Review

The latest book I've been engrossed in, Fierce Convictions, has definitely got me thinking. This book is written by Karen Swallow Prior and follows the life of a strong woman, Hannah More. She is a woman who is not easily swayed away from what she firmly believes in: abolition of slavery, loving one who may not believe as she does, the training up of children in all areas, and being a voice for the poor and downtrodden, among many others.

Her life begins in a family of father, mother, and four sisters. They were poor, but loved. She grew up to be a widely respected lady who rubbed shoulders with the likes of William Wilberforce, John Newton, and many others. She was a poet who wrote what she believed in that beautiful art of communication. Even if you disagreed with her, you couldn't help but love her. For she spoke what was in her heart with love and compassion, but certainly with conviction.

I love history and learning about historical people. I had never heard of Hannah More.

I have come to love her.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy 20th Babe

To the Love of my life,

As we celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary together, I cannot help but reflect on what God has done and accomplished in our own lives. We have been through so much together and I am so thankful that God saw fit to bring us together 21 years ago. I knew from the moment you visited me in the hospital during my first surgery (of many) and brought me Barney the Dinosaur holding a dozen roses that you were the one for me. (I still have that purple guy too) So many hours you spent reading Scripture to me. That was the best medicine of all.

After our wedding we were deluged by surgeries, miscarriages,  emotional upheavals, failed adoptions, and many more day to day struggles. Yet through it all Christ was our focus and you helped me to keep my eyes on Him. We now have four beautiful children through adoption. Thank you for opening your heart to this ministry. As we continue to add to our "God's Faithfulness Journal", we have been so blessed babe. God provided us this house, a van (though it be almost 16 years old), unexpected monetary blessings, among many more things.

The day after you asked for my hand in marriage you started a new job that would be yours to this day. You are the hardest worker I know. So many wives complain about their husbands coming home from work and sticking the newspaper or T.V. in front of their faces. You have never been one of those. You come home and engage our family. And you keep working at home, taking care of this place God has graciously given us. You have aged and continued to work hard. You have passed down this hard work ethic to our boys. Thank you.

The last five years have been the biggest trial of our marriage. I read and hear about all those couples dealing with struggling teens that break their marriages apart and I know it is by God's grace that we have grown closer. I know God has used this in our own lives to makes us so dependent on Him. I know I love you more than ever! Thank you for all you have helped this family accomplish in these last few years.

We are entering a new time in our lives. We now have our first senior of three consecutive years. We have some decisions to make financially too. I know God will provide and give us wisdom as we age and our lives change with the seasons. We will continue to seek Him and grow closer together as we do. Remember, even if we are in a shack, TOGETHER, I will be forever grateful to have you by my side.

So on this 20th anniversary of our love, the love of becoming man and wife, I am humbled and rejoicing. I am so in love with you. You are my leader, my lover, and my best friend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Our Special Friends

I hate cats!

This is what I said before Oreo came into our lives. Two years ago, Little Joe purchased a kitten for Inger for her 7th birthday. From just a local pet store. But he is one special cat that makes our lives happy, especially, Inger's.

And now, because we were duped to think all cats are Oreo, we have Snickerdoodles too. Snicks is now one and was raised from one day old by Inger. She bottle fed him and had to mimic a mother cat in many ways. Lots of you tube videos were watched about how to stimulate a baby kitten to use the bathroom. (I bet you didn't know a mother cat licks a baby kittens...you know what...to stimulate them to pee.) Sorry for all the extra info.

So on this 39 degree morning here in Florida, please enjoy these photos of our special cats...and dog...and hens...and parakeets. So thankful for my little Inger who loves animals.














Thursday, November 13, 2014

Our Story in Brief

Some of you have followed the last 5 years of our lives, but may have never put together or been told our story. The following is a letter I submitted to a magazine that focuses on family, adoption and life.

Dear Nancy,

Let me start by saying how much I have been encouraged by your Above Rubies magazine. I love your focus on adoptive families and the gift of life. As my husband and I were looking over the new issue last night, he said to me, "You should write an article featuring our story." I have been blogging for the last 5 years about it, but feel like maybe I can be a voice to those who have struggled with the same things. 

We are an adoptive family. We are an multi-cultural family. All four of our adopted children are African American.  My husband and I have been married for 20 years this year. After many surgeries due to endometriosis, we started the adoption process for our oldest. This was our first and only private adoption. Our son, Joshua, was born on December 21, 1996. He was born in another state so we anxiously awaited that phone call. But our hopes were dashed as his birth mother changed her mind. God took us through that roller coaster and after 5 weeks she changed her mind again and he was placed in our arms. 

Twenty two months later, our second son, Nate, came into our lives at 5 months old. He was part of the foster care system and struggled with attachment reactive disorder until 5 years old. God's grace is the only way we were able to get through those years. But through those dark days, God called us to home school. The furthest thing is my mind was "being with that child" all day. But God changed my heart and showed me that's exactly what he needed.

Just over two years later, the department of family services called us and told us about a little special needs girl who needed a home. Esther was 22 months at that time. Since they knew we already had adopted African American children they thought of us. Esther had/has fetal alcohol syndrome and was failure to thrive. After one year of being our daughter, tests were run to rule out Autism, and it was discovered she had ACC (Agensis of the Corpus Collosum). In layman's terms, the central part of the brain in your Corpus Collusum. Hers is missing. This part holds 500,000,000 connectors to both hemispheres of your brain. We have been told she should be in a wheelchair not walking or talking. She "appears" normal to those who don't know her well. She struggles mostly with developmental/schooling delays and some social issues. But she is a miracle. Love is an amazing thing!

Now, having 3 children with a span of 2 years of age among them, I was overwhelmed for quite a while. There were many days of therapies and struggling to seemingly survive the emotional struggles. Little did we know that this would be a small part of the rest of our story.

In 2005, we received a phone call from a local pregnancy center about needing a family for a special needs 10 month old boy who would be placed privately. He had kidney failure as well as crossed eyes and severe developmental delay. He was like a newborn. We prayed about it and felt God's leading. Within two weeks, we had our home study done and were traveling 2 hours away to pick him up. The adoption laws in the state we live allow for the birth mother to change her mind within 3 days, if the child is over 6 months old. On the third day, we received a call from our attorney stating the unthinkable. She had changed her mind. This was a very tough place. My husband rose to the occasion and the next morning met our attorney and the birth mother at the train depot. They exchanged signatures for our precious Elisha that we had grown to love like our own. I am so grateful for my husband who used that opportunity to proclaim Jesus to Elisha's birth mom. Two weeks later we received a phone call from a deputy stating, "....there is an investigation into a little boy's death." Yes, Elisha had passed away in her care. I struggled with anger and resentment to the Lord. But eventually, He helped me to see that my sweet baby is with him and better off than the life he would have had. He also worked on my heart dealing with the idols that had formed in my own life.

The good news is that having Elisha in our home opened our hearts up to adoption again. In September 2005 a little girl was born and two years later she would become ours. Hannah was placed in our home after two years of foster care.  She was a crack baby with lots of hurting places. But thankful we have been granted to raise her.

Adoption is a beautiful thing, but it is also messy. Our boys hit the teen years with rejection and identity issues surfacing. Anger became out of control. We chose for our oldest to attend a Christian boarding school for a few years to protect him from himself. These were so very difficult years. The ache that happened in ourselves but most of all him was so painful. 

Hannah struggles with severe ADHD and outbursts of anger. Parenting adopted children brings a whole new set of issues. There is so much hurting and open wounds that seem to take years to work through...really until adulthood.

We have come to know the daily struggles that come along side raising adopted children. It can be a lonely place, where others don't understand. We have faced judgment on our parenting as well as struggled with fear of man...."what do people think?", which we still fight daily. So many times, adoption is viewed through rose colored glasses. It is so messy at times, but adoption is the brightest light we can shine that exemplifies the Gospel, for isn't that the picture Christ gives about our relationship with Him? Our parenting of these special kids has been greatly affected by grace. For how often do we spurn God's grace and parenting of us? How often do we choose defiance and rebellion? Yet, He keeps pursuing us. He keeps showering us with His love. He never lets go or gives us back up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Grit of Adoption: Warfare

As "Mr. Carwright" and I have been proceeding through this book on adoption, we are faced with the reality that we know deep down in our hearts, but one that is difficult to remember in the day to day struggles.

The author, Brian Borgman, does such an outstanding job reminding us of many aspects of adoption, as he retells his and his wife's own journey. He reminds us this job is not fulfilling our own needs, but one of ministry. That's the grace of adoption. Then bam!

We are faced with the deepest part: the grit of adoption. Spiritual warfare.

Many of you know our story, how we've struggled through some very tumultuous years with our loves. Our little lambs have grown through some of those struggles, and we know this warfare first hand.

Mr. Borgman says, "...adoption is war, but adoptive parents must remember that, despite how it sometimes feels, this war is never with the child....Let yourself get entangled in whatever real or perceived misery you might experience because you adopted, and you can lose perspective. There is so much at stake here. Self-pity and resentment toward your child for your present challenges will turn you inward - the quickest way to lose ground in your battle."
            "Satan does not believe in the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, or the beauty of family. He will use your adoptive struggles to wage war on your marriage, on your family, and on your faith. He is a murderer and the father of lies."

Daily we must fight friends. Daily we must put on our armor and lean on Christ to help us fight. This is much bigger than just saving your child physically. Cry out to him for help! He will come and fight with you.