Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Trust and Obey

Obedience is the theme weaving through my life now. God reminds me as the seasons change; the way the leaves begin their duty of turning, changing, and falling. He whispers to me as the sun sets and brilliant colors interplay with light until darkness swallows them away to rest. All of nature obediently follows the path the Lord has set for them.

Yet, in His goodness, God gives man freedom of choice.

Who are we that we should entertain thoughts that our ways are higher than His? Yet, when we cease to immediately obey, isn't that what we do?

Adoption was my highest form of obedience. When God called us to adopt ten years ago, He spoke to my husband and me in supernatural ways that only He can do. We knew without a doubt what God was telling us...asking us to do. Our understanding of His will and our obedience to it has been an extreme blessing that has transformed so many areas in my life. Like a pebble thrown into a body of water, the effects have reached far and wide.

Now He has chosen us for adoption again. But, just as no child is the same, no person is the same, no pregnancy is the same, no adoption story is the same. He is calling our hearts to a little girl who has spent most of her eight years in an orphanage among "the least of these." Her special need will be addressed with surgery when she comes home to her forever family, so in the midst of transition and so many new and scary things to her, she will also have to deal with many medical visits and hospitalizations.

These issues are bigger than my husband or me. They are not too big for God. He created her. He created us. He knew His plan long before any of us were born.  His ways are higher than ours. His ways are perfect as He develops us...not be become flawless, but more perfectly like Him as we are transformed daily into more of who He created us to be.

Transformation isn't pretty. Nor is it easy. But just as the caterpillar undergoes a radical shift from a wormlike larvae to a gorgeous and delicate work of art and grace, He is reworking us with every request for obedience.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Resource Review: Forever Families - God's Gift of Adoption

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December Give-Away Time!

This months giveaway is brought to you by

A little about Mary & Martha:
MARY & MARTHA ARE OUR FOUNDERS. Over 2,000 years ago they began serving in their home. They learned through their experiences that having people in your home isn'’t about the act of entertaining, but it is the method by which we invite Guests into our homes to Love on Them. In fact, the greatest Guest felt so welcomed in their home, He was entertained there many times. This is where you enter the story. We are inviting you to join us. See your home transformed. Let us show you how easy it can be. We have created products and tips to give you the confidence that you can have people in your home without it being perfect, complex or routine; so you can focus on the main thing. The guests that enter into your homes.

A little about Jenny:
After dealing with infertility for 5 years, we realized that God was not going to provide us with a “traditional” family.  We were foster parents 2010 – 2012.  We received our son through foster care at birth and finalized his adoption 10 months later.  We have since been in the “hurry up and wait” process of a private adoption for the past two years, and in the process suffered a failed adoption.  We also recently reinstated our contract as foster parents again and are awaiting our first placement.

Enter to win a set of Faith Building Magnets
Each magnet has a letter and corresponding faith-building word and quote to creatively remind your child what God wants them to be.

Entering this giveaway is simple:
Under the post about this giveaway share with us one way that you serve in your home. 
For a bonus entry, "like" Jenny's FB page:
Comment on the same post as mentioned above that you "liked".

Winner will be announced on Thursday, 9pm CST.
(Item will not be delivered in time for Christmas)

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Minute with Nikki - Her First Christmas

We’re working on a year home. December is month 11. In some ways it feels like much longer than 11 months, and in others, its gone by in a flash. Through it all, we’ve seen such incredible growth in this little lady. Growth in going from a size 6 when we got here to now wearing appropriately sized 10 pants. Growth in seeing glimmers of her being able to self-regulate when the plans go awry. Growth in seeing her deal with disappointments and taking criticisms better. Growth in making lasting peer friendships. Growth in eating a cheese stick (originally thought to be the most vile food products on the planet). Growth in manners, patience, maturity, caring for others…the list can go on, because, well, my daughter is amazing.

But the most glaring growth that we see in this child, as we are in the thick of the Advent season, is her spiritual growth. From such a pure and tender place, Yiyi started to explore her faith early on. Not because we pushed it, but rather gave it an air of mystery and intrigue.  For a child who thrives on those things it wasn’t a tough sell. It started small, a prayer here, a Jesus Storybook Bible story there, and then it just continued. What started out as simple questions “Who is that shu shu (man), mommy?” “Why is his head bleeding?” “What’s wrong with his hands?” changed to statements like (after a friend died) “That’s ok, now he’s going to be with Jesus until his family can get there. He’s no more hurting or sick.”

We originally thought the “Jesus is the reason for the season” Christmas pitch would be a hard sell.  When Yiyi came here, quickly the questions about “The Christmas Man” started. Although she never celebrated Christmas, Yiyi was knowledgeable about the whole Santa deal. She has much trepidation about strangers coming into our house, so quickly I spilled the beans about the truth of The Christmas Man as I promised her that nobody comes into our house without our permission to deliver presents or otherwise. The girl loves her presents, so she seemed un-phased that I was the total Santa Grinch. So long as she’s getting presents, they can get under the tree however they want to!

But then the Elf on the Shelf (ours is named Spider Man) came. With him, he brought a note that said he was coming to visit for a month because he is also a new follower of Jesus and wanted to learn more about Advent with Yiyi. Seemingly forgetting about my telling her Santa isn’t real, she took right to the magic of Spider Man the Elf. We light our Advent wreath candles before dinner each night and talk about what each candle means. She sticks with it and remembers better than I do that week 1 is the hope candle. Last night we found the little known movie “Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Elf” and watched in horror as first Nestor’s mom died, but then is selected to be the donkey that a very pregnant Mary rode on to Bethlehem. Not surprisingly, Mary riding the donkey to Bethlehem is the part of the movie she remembered best and was talking about this morning. And we’ve broached the subject that Yiyi will only be getting three presents for Christmas, just like baby Jesus got. Surprisingly, she was totally ok with that. Then she set up the Nativity, perfectly, like she had done it 11 years previous, with absolutely no prompting or instruction. She totally gets it, 100% she’s down for it all. Down with Christmas, down with Jesus, and down with her new beliefs.

Once again, Little Miss has surprised us. She has declared Christmas is her favorite holiday, though we’re still two weeks out and she hasn’t seen one present. She loves the lights, music, fun, family, (and the hope of presents to come) but most of all, she loves it because she truly understands the meaning behind it all. That is not something my husband or I did. That, my friends, is what we call A Christmas Miracle.

Nikki has been working as an adoption social worker for the past 10 years.  The consummate single gal was married in 2012 and started an adoption process to adopt a 10-year-old with special needs from China soon after.  Nikki loves writing home studies in the Western Missouri area and preparing families for the realities of adoption.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Confessions of a Waiting Mommy: The Great Wait

Remember that time I was reading a scripture about waiting on the Lord while on stage at our first Advent service this past Sunday in front of hundreds of people and it didn’t hit me until exactly THAT moment that this season of waiting was so unbelievably powerful for me that I started crying and could barely even finish the sentence? Ahh yes. Just another typical “Maggie has no emotional control whatsoever” moment. Surely that’s a scientific symptom of adoption, right? I recently described it to someone like this – If at any regular moment in life your emotional state is at a 5, I basically start crying if it jumps anywhere above a 6 or below a 4. Happy about red holiday cups returning to Starbucks? I cry. Sad that my favorite character died on Walking Dead? Instant tears. Excited that my husband put Christmas lights on our house?  Hot mess.  I’m basically a ticking emotional time bomb.

I digress.

I’ve never taken Advent that seriously until this year. I think it’s because I never really had a grasp on waiting until this year. Yes, I’ve waited for an upcoming vacation, and I’ve waited for holidays, and I’ve waited for my food at a restaurant before (but let’s be real, this is why I go to Chick-fil-a. Seriously, do they have ninjas working in the kitchen or what? My food is ready before I even get my ketchup), but never in a way like this. The uncertainty of the future does not do well for my gotta-have-a-plan mind, but the beauty of what God is teaching me through it cannot be overlooked.

I was recently reading through Luke 1 and saw something that I’ve passed over multiple times before. In this chapter, Luke is telling of the pregnancies of Mary and Elizabeth and their time together before each of their babies were born. Elizabeth is welcoming Mary into her home and says the following statement,

“Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

This hit me like a ton of bricks. Elizabeth doesn’t say “blessed is she who has already seen the fulfillment and because of that trusts that God knew what He was doing.” No. She says, “blessed is she who believed.” Mary has no clue what the heck God is doing right now. She doesn’t understand the plan. She doesn’t know what this whole thing is going to play out to be. BUT she knew what God had spoken to her, and she trusted Him based on His word.

As a Jew, she was told there would be a Messiah.
As a pregnant teenager, she was told there would be a baby that makes the difficult journey worth it.
As a daughter of the King, she was told there would be redemption.

She didn’t demand proof. She didn’t ask to see the plan laid out in front of her. She simply said, “Let it be to me according to your word.”

Whatever you’re waiting for this Advent season, remember this:
The Lord has spoken. He promises hope. He promises peace. He promises joy. He promises love.

Blessed is she who believes there will be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.

Friday, December 5, 2014

My Story