It Is Finished

I seem to readily welcome the wrestling with my past sin and shame. I open the door to my thoughts and allow them to take up space in my mind. Those thoughts then dictate my attitude and behavior throughout the coming days.

This time of year when so much is focused on Jesus‘ birth, as it rightly should be, my heart is drawn to the cross and His sacrificial death. I can’t seem to focus on his birth without jumping to the end… And what His life resulted in.

As I allow shameful memories to cloud my freedom, I am living as if something more needs to be done. As if Jesus’ life and death were not enough. As if the Lord wants me to walk around weighed down in guilt and shame as an additional sacrifice to the price He paid on the cross.

Years ago, at Christmas time I asked my daughter to paint me a couple of pictures for my prayer closet. I said I would love one of Jesus’ birth and one of the empty cross. Each morning as I spend time in my prayer closet, my eyes and heart always turn to these paintings. I need this reminder each day. I need to remember multiple times a day that there is nothing, nothing I can add on to Jesus’ life or the sacrifice He paid for me.

It is finished.

Finished is the same as paid in full.

Jesus came to finish God’s work of salvation.

In the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ sacrificial death, you will find the words it is finished. As I read those words each time, I am struck by the finality of them. It is not open ended, segueing into a need for further sacrifice or work. No. I read it again. The words read, “It is finished.

Because of Jesus’ life and ultimate sacrificial death on the cross, the Lord sees me as righteous and I am secure.

Are you walking around with guilt and shame this Christmas season? Are you allowing your past to take up space in your heart and mind? Is yesterday weighing you down? Can you begin to consider that the word is true, it is finished. You can rest in knowing that Jesus’ work is complete. You and I can walk in freedom. We can rest in peace. We can count on the truth of his saving grace.

Psalm 7:9 O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.

A Diagnosis Changed Everything—Our Adoption Story Part 1

In honor of National Adoption Month, my friend at Rich Faith Rising is sharing real life adoption stories. I was honored to share our story. Be sure to hop over to Rich Faith Rising to read inspirational adoption stories.

Oh, I was certain I was ready to be a parent. I began babysitting as soon as the neighbors allowed me to watch their children. I had worked at daycares and preschools. I had my own classroom in a public school for 6 years at that point. I was ready!

Oh, the naivety. Oh, the denial. Oh, the trust from the Father!

Shortly after getting married, my husband and I learned that it would be incredibly risky for me to get pregnant due to an ultra-rare blood disease I have called, aHUS (atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome).

I wasn’t very surprised that the doctor strongly suggested considering other methods to become parents, but it still felt very final and heartbreaking all at the same time.

I wasn’t raised to give up, so I immediately began considering different possibilities. Surrogacy, adoption, fostering? My husband wasn’t ready yet. He needed time to process that our story was not going to be the typical story of getting married, soon after getting pregnant, and then having babies.

It didn’t take long though and after about a month he was ready to talk about it again. I can remember we were driving home from our one year wedding anniversary vacation, a road trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. We were almost home and I said, “Just think a birth mom could be pregnant right now with our baby!” Little did we know, she was!

Through divine intervention we learned that a good friend of ours had an uncle that was a well-known adoption attorney in Seattle. We were told we could have a free consultation appointment with him. We wrote down all of our questions and went to meet him. He explained the differences between independent adoption and adopting through an agency.

My husband would say I have always had too much energy and focus so the independent route sounded perfect for us because it would keep me busy! We would create our own website, business cards, posters, and profile with a photo album to get the word out to birth moms that we were ready to adopt.

We completed our home study with a social worker and on December 23rd 2004, we were all signed off and ready to fully commence our search. Everyday I tried to leave a business card someplace with our contact information. We received several calls from birth moms considering placing their unborn babies for adoption. Each time my hopes soared! One birth mom even told us we were the ones she had chosen, only to never hear from her again. I am not going to lie, this was devastating. And not proudly, I instantly began to doubt God’s plans for us.

After that fail, it was literally 2 weeks later we learned about a lovely birth mom that wanted to meet us that coming weekend. We learned that their had been drug use during the pregnancy. We also learned that the birth mom had a previous child two years prior that had many problems at birth as well as a definite birth mark. We had said to ourselves that due to my health condition, we would not be adopting a special needs child and this included any babies who were impacted by drugs and alcohol. So why were we both drawn to this unborn baby immediately? Because she was to be ours! We went to meet the birth mom and one week later, less than 5 months after completing our home study, our baby was born!

She was perfect. The nurses gave her a 10 on the Apgar test and claimed they never do that! But this one was perfect. My husband and I could not take our eyes off her. We stared at her in the hospital. We took turns staring at her on the drive home. And, then we stared at her once we got her home.

This perfect baby of ours cried a lot. There was little that consoled her except getting out of the house and moving around. She loved being in the front pack and being on the move. She absolutely would not sleep without cuddling, swaddling, and rocking for hours. She was so unlike my friend’s baby whom I had taken care of for months. My friend’s baby would sleep any where. The car, the couch, the stroller, the floor! Literally anywhere. My baby would not sleep. She could not shut out the world.

Looking back, I was in denial. She was very healthy. She was born full-term. All of her fingers, toes, and organs were fully developed. But, this inability to self-soothe and prolonged crying was not normal. Looking back, I wish we had sought help from a doctor who specialized in adoption. I wish I had been able to look at her and trust that God would help her and us and not just deny the problems.

But, God is so very faithful.

Little by little, as we’ve grown in our walk with the Lord, we’ve been able to look more humbly at our need for help. We’ve been able to accept our daughter’s imperfections as well as our own. The Lord continually shows us that we are the perfect parents for our daughter and she is the perfect child for us.

Nothing has grown my faith and trust in the Father and nothing has yielded fruit as much as parenting my children has.

Sleep in Peace

I absolutely can not get enough of Psalms right now. The Lord is leading me through each one, verse by verse, revealing more of His heart with each line I dissect.

Here is the understanding the Holy Spirit revealed to me from my study this week from Psalm 4.

Hear me when I call, My Holy God. Deliver me from my trouble; be gracious to me as you hear my prayer.

How long, you people who oppose God, will you turn my honor from God into shame? How long will you love that which is hopeless?

Be assured of the truth that the Lord has chosen for Himself the ones who follow after His heart; when I pray, the Lord hears and delivers. 

Admit that you are angry but do not rebel. Calmly and deeply consider these things when you lie down and do not continue in your rage.

Offer God obedience and praise and place your confidence in Him.

Many are doubtful or are seeking earthly pleasures. But your Gracious Love is truly what we need, O Lord.

You have given me joy and deep contentment, which do not change with circumstances.

I will rest securely on your promises. You alone, O Lord, are sufficient to keep me safe.

In the Psalms I find trust, praise, rejoicing, and unfailing love.

When I lay awake at night with racing thoughts, I find I am in need of trust, praise, rejoicing, and unfailing love.

The soft whir of the fan. The neighbor’s light tinging wind chime. The cat’s footsteps out in the hall. The deep sound of slumber from my husband. None of the night noises were enough to explain my inability to sleep.

But the constant barrage of thoughts could explain my insomnia. Replaying situations. Thinking about upcoming events. Rehearsing necessary conversations.

God’s loving nudge tugged at my heart and my Psalm 4 study time flashed in my mind: I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4: 8. 

I sense the questions coming, “What have I called you to? What have I placed under your care?”

My response? Okay let’s see.

I have two beautiful daughters whom God blessed me with. Sleeping.

There’s the sweet husband the Lord has given me to encourage and help. Sleeping.

There are children in Sunday school and others at our co-op who God has so graciously called me to teach. Sleeping (at least for their parent’s sake, I hope they are!)

There are ministries in which the Lord has both called and equipped me. All currently at rest. 

The Bible clearly states that we each have a calling. And God wants our faith to be active not lazy or hidden. But, He also has appointed times and seasons for us.

Lying in bed at night, He has called me to do none other than rest. Rest in His safety. Rest in His love. Calmly consider Him and TRUST, PRAISE, REJOICE, and mediate on His UNFAILING LOVE.

Thank you, Lord, for rest, sweet rest. You have called me to no more and no less than my particular calling from You. Thank you that I can rest securely on your promises. Amen. 

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He Who Dwells

Studying and personalizing Psalms is becoming a personal favorite for me during my quiet time. Taking each Psalm slowly, meditating on the words, studying their meanings, and then responding is filling my soul with goodness.

Isn’t that what a loving relationship entails…really listening and then responding? The Lord first loved us. 1 John 4:19 reminds us of that truth, We love Him because He first loved us. We have a choice to respond. When I read the Psalms, I feel an urge to respond to the Lord.

This past week, I studied Psalm 91 and then responded by putting the words into my own and personalizing it as if it is between me and the Lord.

Psalm 91:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

My response:

I stay in the protection beneath God and find refreshing relief in my position under the All-Powerful God.

I will tell others about God, “He is my protection and place of security; He is my God in whom I rely.”

Without doubt, God will save me from the traps of the devil and from deadly evil.

As a bird protects its young, God will cover me and be my shelter; He will keep His promises and be my protection and defense.

Day and night, I have nothing to fear. The evil in the dark and the destruction during the day will not bring fear.

I will only see the effect of the trouble that passes  by me. I will not suffer the punishment the wicked suffer.

I will be protected if I rest under the Almighty God, and yes, I do rest under Him – death will not come to me or my family.

He sends his angels as a bodyguard for the faithful. His angels will carry me so that I can avoid even small evils.

I will march victoriously over opponents, even over the most powerful evil.

Because I am bound to Him and cling to Him, He will rescue me. When I call to Him for help, He will answer me and rescue me and provide satisfaction and…

ETERNAL LIFE. 

Amen.

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Seed Among the Thorns

I cried out. I received salvation. And, I believed.

But, still so many thorns persisted.

The pesky, persistent thorns described in Matthew 13,

 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:  When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.  But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

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The thorns in my life choked out much of the seed that fell. Growth of the good was slow. It was shaded and undernourished due to the overgrowth of thorns. Little tiny roots took hold, but years and years of thorns reached tall. Their roots held firm, established.

Thorns of fear, depression, anxiety, anger, disease, selfishness, pride.

But, the gardener…

He continued to tend to His seed. There was no negligence on His part. Only love and care. He remained close by, filtering what came to me. Oh, He prunes so lovingly. He pulls away the thorns, little by little as I let them release.

With barren spots where the thorns were uprooted, the Sun can now shine on the seed, the good seed, with it’s little sprouts and thin roots growing deeper.

His fellow workers sowing more seed, teaching the truth, choking out more and more thorns.

The weeds the enemy scattered becoming smaller, withering away without anymore deceitful lies.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a little fruit emerges. It’s new, unexpected, beautiful. The root below was once thin, and is now strong, carrying life, victory, and the Kingdom through it’s cells, feeding the sprout.

The sprout reaches up to the Sun, while it shades out the thorns below. Now it’s the thorns that become thin and shriveled, while the fruit develops.

Because of the One who wore the crown of thorns, the enemy’s power in my life, the thorn bearer, now lies defeated.

 

Dear one, the Lord tends to us so lovingly, so patiently. Pruning, sowing, cultivating. His love is deep, nourishing, victorious. Let go of the old thorns and see the fruit He will bring into your life. 

 

 

No Longer an Orphan

Searching for identity

purpose

belonging

Overwhelming loneliness

Longing to be filled

Suffocating need to achieve

Carrying a heavy burden

Always striving

………………………………..

Hearing the whisper

Accepting the call

Reading the truth

      I am chosen

                  redeemed 

                  marked with a seal

                  heir of Christ

His workmanship

bought with His blood

filled with His fullness

                  adopted as His own

      No longer an orphan

freedom

What I Learned in May

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

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Each month, I am looking for pictures of paths as I go about my life. I love paths. They depict a journey, which is exactly where I find myself. On a journey. A journey of leaving behind old, non-fruit bearing patterns, and seeking out the path the Lord has for me. The picture I chose for this month depicts my journey through the month of May. Sharp edges, beautiful, rugged, cutting away, some smoothed down rocks, trees rooted holding on to their foundation for life. Yes, that describes my month.

It’s the cutting away that is rough. It leaves me feeling rugged and edgy at times. But, when it’s all said and done, I am smoother. My heart more beautiful. And my foundation more secure.

Thank you, God. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for not leaving me the way I was. 

Books I am reading (which are aiding in my refining):

Books I am reading with my girls as read alouds:

books in May

A Summary of my learning this month:

Let Your Yes be Yes

Matthew 5:37, Jesus says, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ be ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

When I have a deep conviction or belief about something, but I allow something to continue which goes against that  belief, I will have anxiety, unrest, turmoil inside…no peace!

An example of this is our homeschool schedule. If I have a belief that our school day should start by a certain time, but I allow my kids to sleep later each morning, dawdle, procrastinate until past our start time, then I am already beginning the day with conflict within myself. In contrast to this approach would be to clearly communicate the expectations the night before and have a plan in place for how and when the kids will wake up. I can expect there will be conflict and complaints about waking up and adhering to the schedule, but I won’t have conflict within myself. I will have peace within myself because my yes will be yes and my no will be no!

Letting Go of Control

The following quote by Sally Clarkson in the book, Different,  summed up what I am learning about letting go of control, “It is possible to be content even when life feels out of control. And, that as long as we assume we could not be happy until we control all the circumstances of our lives, we will continue to be unhappy.”

My prayer closet preparation for the day each morning, allows me to remind myself of God’s greatness. I speak it aloud to Him, not because He needs reminding of His power or Sovereign control, but because I desperately do. I speak it aloud to my loving Heavenly Father, and then I breathe and rest in knowing I don’t control this life. This life which feels so out of control at times, is actually out of MY control. But, it’s not spinning wildly. It’s being held together. It’s been perfectly planned. And, I have a joy in knowing HIs purposes are greater than mine.

People Need Hope

Through desperate actions, an old friend reminded me how hopeless the world is around us. People around us are taking drastic actions each day. Taking deadly drugs, downing large amounts of alcohol, leaving their loved ones, harming themselves, and even killing themselves because they have no hope. If you are a Christian, a follower after Christ, you have a responsibility, I have a responsibility. We need to be sharing about the source of our hope. Jesus is the only never-failing source of hope, and the world desperately needs to hear our message.

1 Peter 3:15 says,  “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect“.

Whew, and we are on to June. I don’t know about you, but for me, this month has been exhausting. Sometimes the Lord turns up the heat and the growth He takes us through is a bit grueling. But, it’s done in love. Oh, dear one, never forget, it’s done in love. Whatever place you may be stuck in right now, He won’t leave you there. He loves you too much to ever leave you there. Look to Him. Keep looking to Him and He will pull you out of that place. 

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