40 Days of Prayer: Conversations With the King Day 17

Blog

Dear Reader,

The other evening my husband and I were sitting out on our deck. While we were out there two monarch butterflies came flying right up to us, and fluttered around us almost as if they were happy we were there. They weren’t in anyway afraid of us, though we were a hundred times their size. It was a really amazing moment. I don’t understand their lack of fear or really why they were drawn to us. After a while they flew off below the pines and were on their way together. Sometimes God enters our life this way too. Suddenly we find ourselves receiving undeserved Grace in His presence, and we are bewildered at why such a wonderful and perfect God would desire to be in our presence. We can’t understand why such a Good God would love us so deeply. Prayer ushers us into those moments. We may begin speaking to Him, and suddenly feel a connection with Him, a peace, or an understanding that takes us completely by surprise and leaves us breathless. What can I say about this powerful loving God who desires to be with us so much? How can my words ever sum up His Goodness towards us? Sometimes there are no words. Sometimes just resting silently in the Goodness of the presence of God is more than enough. His words are enough. His Goodness is enough. I pray you will experience moments like these in your own prayer life with Him. Chances are you already have. Because when God comes down to be with us, He really comes down to dwell among us.The Holy Spirit of God is so real and is often so tangible. The old hymn tells it best: “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned, unclean. How marvelous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be. How wonderful, how marvelous, is my Savior’s love for me.” Jesus gave this gift to us. He gave us the ability to once again stand in the presence of our Father God. He stands with us and for us and He tells us to come boldly as dearly loved children and sit at His Father’s feet and be wrapped in His Father’s love. This is what prayer is all about. It’s about being able to experience home with God for a few moments while we still walk this earth.

In Him,

A Fellow Grace Wanderer

A Burning Bush: Why Adoption Sits on the Far Side of the Wilderness


Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” Genesis 3 1-3

The story of the burning bush in Genesis has taken on new symbolic meaning for me. God placed this event in scripture on my heart late last week, and for days I could not figure out what it meant. But now He has begun revealing this to me through it: My dreams in life have often become my burning bushes. I have wandered to the far side of the wilderness, as Moses did, to pursue things I could not understand instead of the things I had planned for myself. I walked up to these bushes with this burning thought: “How can this be?”
How is it possible that my heart has found peace as we have entered into the adoption process…something that is certainly not for the faint of heart or weak in spirit? My dream was to be a mother, the natural way. It seemed like a simple request. It seemed normal and something that God was likely to do for me. And yet…God placed this burning bush, adoption, in the far side of the wilderness of my heart and called me to this place with His fire. His power is made perfect in my weakness.

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”  Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Genesis 3:4-6

I am learning that adoption is holy ground. It was placed in our hearts only by the fire of God. Our weakness led us to this place…and yet God’s strength shines so beautifully in it. I feel as if I could simply insert my name into the passage “when the Lord saw that he had gone to look”…as if it could be read, “when the Lord saw that I had gone over to look, He called to me from within the bush.” It is as if He wanted me to look at adoption all along, and as soon as I was ready, as soon I would hear His voice and wonder about His fire, He would call out my name…and His power would be made evident to me in it.God has asked me to take off my sandals, and He has reiterated who He is to me…Jehovah, Father, Provider, and King.

And like Moses, I have felt the need to hide my face. Because this journey to motherhood is no longer about me. It’s no longer about what I can do. It’s about how God weaves together lives and writes our life stories and sews together the beauty of the universe. It is about God, and only Him. He has called us all into His family through the spirit of adoption. And suddenly I have realized…that my prayer can still be answered. Because this is how God has chosen to build His own family…and I believe so strongly that in this most beautiful way of sacrifice, and love, and surrender, He can build mine too.

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Genesis 3: 11-12

Moses didn’t set His people free…God did. And I won’t set anyone free either. Adoption is about love, all the way around. The love of a birth mother who loves her baby so much that she sacrifices her heart. The love of an adopted mama who has felt the bondage of her own Egypt, infertility, and has felt God redeem parts of her heart she thought could never live again. The love of birth fathers and adoptive fathers who have become witnesses and partakers in the miracle of life. And the love of our Father God…whose over arching Love has set all of us free.

I hear my doubts and fears echoed in Moses’ own thoughts: “Who am I that I should go?” Who am I that could be chosen to forever and always carry a child in my arms that I did not carry in my womb? Who am I to think that I could hold such a sacred place in the heart of a child and a birth mother? And to all of this God answers: ” I will be with you. And I will give you signs so that you know it is I who have sent you, and you will worship God on this mountain.” This mountain I have built so high with my pain and grief and worry through infertility, this mountain that I have still added to as I have begun the paperwork and anxious worrying and waiting in adoption, this mountain that God has stood on top of with me the entire time…on this mountain I will worship God.

There are no guarantees in adoption. No guarantee we will be matched or placed or chosen. But God has made it clear, that this is His holy ground.

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Genesis 3:14

I believe that God sends people to each other at exactly the right time. I believe that an entire adoption story can point back to my God who tells us, “I AM has sent me to you.” I have heard it argued that adoption should not be viewed as a calling, or as mission. We shouldn’t view ourselves as the Moses of this story, because we aren’t heroes. And I wholeheartedly agree. But I do believe that my Father God is so invested in each of His children that He makes a way for them. I believe that He is the one who opens adoptive parents hearts to adoption in the first place. I believe that He is the one who speaks “choose life” in birth mama’s ear. I believe that He is absolutely involved.

Adoption is most definitely a burning bush like the one God spoke to Moses through. In a perfect story, no mother would have to choose to place her child into it and adoptive mothers simply wouldn’t exist. And yet, because our world is broken and our dreams don’t always come true, He places this beautiful promise at the far end of the wilderness…He allows adoption to catch our eye, to cause us to wonder and to hope, to humble us deeply, and to place our lives and hearts into His powerful hands where they belong and where they are most treasured.

So this coming Mother’s Day, I will be here marveling at how the God of Genesis,  and of Moses, and of burning bushes, chooses to also be my God and to speak into my heart in the most miraculous ways. He has taken my weaknesses, and used them for His glory. I trust that though I am weak and unworthy as Moses was, that my God is strong and powerful.

We will be scheduling our homestudy in the next couple of months, and though I am anxious, I know that God will lead us to where we need to be. My goals and outcomes are now subject to His love and mercy. Wherever He chooses to lead us in this, I pray we will bravely follow. But for now, I am simply taking off my sandals, and patiently standing on God’s holy ground. It’s not just about me, it’s about how God will wield His beautiful power in this story.

I AM who I Am has brought me to this place. And that is everything that I need to know.

 

 

A Grace Note: When Fear met Grace


Dear Reader, 

Sometimes Grace falls subtle and soft on our lives and sometimes it comes suddenly and roaring forth. The snow has returned to Wisconsin today after a week or so of temperatures warm enough to melt the ice away and allow us to air out our homes through open windows. This morning as I was driving my husband to work I uttered a quick prayer as I usually do before we go out on the road for protection. I usually drive scared, but I’ve never once been in an accident. This morning after making it through the slick and winding back country roads we were merging onto the highway when I lost control. The car slid out back and forth into the lanes of traffic and just as a semi came plowing by, control of the wheel was regained and I slid back to my lane before any damage was done. It happened so fast. My heart was racing and I kept thinking, that could have been it. Right there. I prayed for protection this morning and God answered, as I’m sure He does everyday but I just don’t realize it. God’s Grace over our humble and fragile lives becomes gloriously evident when He saves us from our lack of control. If you want to feel steady and sturdy in this life then you have to place your fragile hand into His and trust Him. He is our safety, our future, our strength. This one was definitely a prayer for the prayer journal. It’s been documented and I’m hoping to remember this moment when fear met Grace and when God answered a prayer I wasn’t even sure was needed when I uttered it. Prayer is powerful, and our God’s attention on our life is so incredibly life changing.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer

Day 1 of Advent Joy 


Dear Reader, 

You have probably read my post about my childhood upright piano, the one I learned to play all of the Christmas hymns on, the one that arrived free to us with its broken bridge and its well worn keys. The piano in today’s photograph has a similar story. We purchased our first home a year and a half ago. I had prayed for months that God would lead us to exactly the house He wanted for us. We had been touring this particular house for maybe ten minutes when our realtor led us downstairs and informed us that the seller would be leaving this piano here. It was in the basement and would be too hard to move and was quite old and beaten up so she had no desire to keep it. My heart leapt with joy at her words. Surely God was well aware of my love for old worn in and slightly out of tune upright pianos…and this one was sitting there in front of me like it was just waiting for us to find it. The house was exactly the price we were looking for. It is exactly the right size for two people hoping to one day raise a little family. We had been married four years at that point and had moved four times in those four years, from apartment to apartment. It had been so long since I had a real piano, and finding out this one was ours was like the puzzle piece that made me so sure this was meant to be our home. I’ve been playing through Debussy, one of my favorite composers, and all my unhappy thoughts seem to melt away here. God has provided so much joy through this instrument, I don’t think I will ever be able to find the right words to express how happy my heart feels when I see it, and how loved by God I feel when I remember how He gave it to us. God is so incredibly aware of even the smallest details of our lives. He knows our hearts so well. Today I’m finding joy in the provision He has already given to us, and hope that He has laid Good things in the plans for our future as well. This was a moment when I knew how clearly God saw me. I pray that today you find joy in a similar moment, in a moment when you knew for sure that God really saw you. Christmas is coming, and all of God’s gifts from the entire year are coming to light. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

Autumnal Grace: A Moment of Rest


My husband is out at his life group tonight for church, and I’m in bed recovering from a slight bout of sickness which tried to take me down today and won. You won’t read this post until morning, but I couldn’t help but sit here and think how maybe you would like to hear about the beauty of my evening in, the beauty of an evening just spent in rest.

I probably could have willed myself out of this bed and tried to get more housework done. Or maybe I could have continued my search for some work-from-home writing jobs, (if you hear of any let me know!). But instead I sat here with windows open and heart at rest. And I could hear the kids playing down the street. The little boys who are still too young for school but who ride their little tricycles by my kitchen window each day and whose voices I hear rising high above the fence of their backyard and spilling out across the neighborhood. It’s this sound I hear tonight, combined with the crackling of a neighbor’s fire, burning leaves that he raked from the yard earlier this afternoon, and the scent of an autumn crackling burn pile wafts right in here next to me. And I keep thinking how almost everything I write to you these days has been heavy. Just really heavy stuff. Because honestly that has been what is on my heart, and that has been what is filling my days.

But there is lighter stuff mixed in there too. I was thinking tonight about how maybe the lighter stuff is just as important as the heavy, because maybe it reminds us that God is full of peace and that nights like this one are His gifts to us. Perhaps it is important for me to remind you and remind myself that it’s these lighter days, no matter how rare, that give us the strength to greet the harder ones.

And I just want to remind you that our God is full of so much peace. That our Jesus is a soft spoken, grace-filled, power-house whose joy is in our resting in Him. It’s a message that I heard preached at my church a few weeks ago, how we need His rest, and it’s a message I hadn’t fully grasped until right now. Did I want rest? Of course I did, but maybe it just wasn’t my time to rest yet.

There are times when it is necessary to pursue God’s Kingdom in hard places, times when we feel the need to fight against the breaking waters of this world just to see His Grace fill us again. And then there comes the calm in the storm, the moments when Jesus himself went out in a boat across the sea just to rest, just to be alone with God. My moment for this happened tonight.

Maybe tomorrow I will wake up with a new battle set before me. Maybe tomorrow I will forget that today I was brave in the pursuing of new dreams. Maybe tomorrow I will fall into doubt. But for today, for right now, I’m caught up in His peace.

Friends, I’m praying you have peace like this in your life. I’m praying that every now and then a glimmer of Heaven will peak in through your windows and that you will summon up the grace enough to sit down and dwell in it. That maybe for just a moment we could set down our baggage and feel what it is to arrive at home, feel what it is to know that our home is in the arms of Jesus and these quiet nights and quiet mornings are all just a gift from Him as we are passing by.

Psalm 23: 1-3 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”

The Strength of the Weak: Grace to Live a Powerful Life


Sharing your struggles with the world is hard. It makes you vulnerable. It makes you second guess your decisions. It places a sort of magnifying glass over your life, and suddenly, everybody knows about the pain. But do they also see the strength? Because I’m guessing your pain has also ignited something inside of you.

Isaiah 40: 27-31 “Why do you say, Israel,“My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah is giving a prophecy of the life that is to come, but maybe it’s possible that a sliver of that new life, that new strength, can be found in you now. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Are you weary? Have the struggles in your life caused you to grow faint? There is hope, friend. Maybe you feel broken by struggles with things like infertility, relationships, health issues, loneliness, or pain. But I bet you have had glimpses of light shine through. I’ve bet you have contemplated what God could do with this, how you could be refined through this. What does it mean that when we are weak, then we are strong? What does it mean to be more than conquerors?

For me it has meant that God is the light at the end of my dark tunnel, at the end of my dark days, at the end and in the midst of my hard battles. I’ve discovered that this world has created a veil with words like pain, suffering, struggles, addiction, and unfulfillment. That veil covers our eyes to the possibility that we can overcome. It is impressed upon our minds that there are battles which are too hard, that there is pain that will overtake us, that we will be broken and can’t be fixed.

Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

I have found strength in Jesus. Only He can heal the blinding pain and replace it with fulfillment. Don’t you know that God works for our good? Don’t you know that Christ came to redeem us from the things that hurt us? Jesus didn’t just die to save you from the big church words, sin and death and imperfection. He died to save you from the things that hurt. He can heal you physically and spiritually and emotionally. He has changed the entire trajectory of our lives. We are no longer bound by the things which were once set out to break us. The bondage has been lifted. He has replaced the idea of destruction by the these things with the reality of refinement. One of the biggest defeats over the devil is possibly that Christ turned absolutely everything about sin and death and pain on its head. Sin? He washed us clean from it. Death? The entrance to Heaven, no longer a sentence but now a rest. Pain? Only temporary, not meant to destroy us but to remake us. Pain is not something Jesus has allowed to enter into His kingdom, it can not pass through the gates of Heaven. It is now only a residue of sin which will one day be totally and completely removed by Him.

Want to know why I no longer feel defined by my infertility? Why I no longer feel that my life can’t be whole? Because Jesus has made all things new. Not just eternal things, but present things. I prayed for peace, and friend, Jesus can provide it. I prayed that God would use my life for good, that He wouldn’t let me be destroyed by a desire I can’t shake. And you know what He gave me instead? A mission field. A new life. A new purpose. A rebirthing of my soul.

Do not put your life on hold because of the trouble of this world. Do not let your heart stop pounding for the passions God has placed there. Do not stop pursuing fulfillment in the great and mighty things God has set forth for your life. The biggest lie of the devil is that you won’t be able to find joy outside of the plans you have set for yourself. But the biggest truth of God is that in Him is life. New life.

Cultural, Emotional, and Physical expectations do not define us and they can not contain us. We are citizens of Heavens. A home far from here, but an eternal identity that has left the mark of a courageous spirit, rooted in the love of the Father. Live this life with power, with the authority of Jesus, and with the undeniable joy of the Spirit. Laugh at the days to come.

I refuse to wake up 80 years old one day with the realization that I never lived the life God had created me for because I was too busy mourning for the things that never came. I refuse to say that infertility beat me. I refuse to stop loving and to stop serving. Maybe you’re not there yet…but you can be, friend. A prayer for peace and for fulfillment in Christ is never a prayer gone unheard, it’s never a prayer that will go unanswered. Take a second look at those glimpses of light that keep trying to shine in. Keep looking up. Keep following Him.

It’s the beginning of a new week, friend. And I woke up this morning with a determination to pursue a new dream. I didn’t get there on my own and I didn’t get there quickly. Instead I pressed my hands hard in prayer and leaned in close to the comfort and the courage of my Savior. You can press hard too. And you can live a beautiful and powerful life. Don’t be afraid to set down your pain. Don’t be afraid to allow growth from your struggle. And don’t be afraid to take the hand of Jesus and walk into something completely new.

Acts 5:20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”