Monday, September 24, 2012

Presence in Pain

Today's JOURNEY devotion talked about how when we accept Christ, He lives within us, so whenever we are hurting, God hurts, too. We often hear people say that God is with us, but it really struck me this morning how God doesn't just sympathize with us-He experiences life WITH us. I love this quote from their devotion this morning: "He isn't just aware of our pain, He also feels our pain."

If we are totally transparent, I think we could all point to some very specific hurts and disappointments we have endured or are currently going through in our lives. The pain is real, the hurt often feels unbearable, and the solution doesn't seem attainable...and it leaves us feeling hopeless and alone, because we forget that Jesus hasn't left us, but rather He is just working in ways that are unseen by our human vision. I'm reminded of this every time I look at my precious baby boy-the child my heart had yearned for and prayed about for so long. As I looked over at him during my quiet time this morning, he was chomping away happily on a teething stuffie while he stared curiously at his bouncy seat toys, and my heart instantly filled with so much emotion as I thought of all of the other mornings I had sat in this very spot during my prayer time, pleading with the Lord to answer our heart's desire to grow our family...and now, right here next to me was sitting God's answer, in an even more beautiful and precious form than I ever hoped for our could have imagined.

I'm so thankful this morning for God's sweet and gentle reminders of His faithfulness and His sovereignty. I'm so thankful that He never leaves us and He always answers us, and in the midst of life that He is ALWAYS there with us. Our pain is real, but so is His presence, and I choose to rest in Him today!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

God's orchestration of blessings...

Gabriel snuggling in bed with Daddy
Gabriel slept from around 11pm until 6AM this morning!  I couldn't believe it!  I got up and fed him and then he went back to sleep...well, except that when I swaddled him and put him back in his pack n play he woke up, so I knew what he was wanting, so I laid him in our bed next to his daddy.  We tend to let him sleep with us after his morning feeding and he takes the BEST morning nap.  It makes me think of my struggle with insomina--I have such a horrible time being able to rest well, mostly because there's always so much on my mind and I can't seem to shut it all down so that I can rest.  But, when I allow myself to calm down and feel secure in all that's going on in life, I usually sleep much better.  I think it's the same with Gabriel--he feels secure next to his mommy and daddy, so he sleeps well snuggled closely next to us:)  (Not to mention I'm sure our mattress is WAY more cushy!  lol:)

Lucy before school today
Because I was up early, I decided to go ahead and fire up the keurig and have my quiet time before getting Lucy up for school.  Most of you know that I am NOT a morning person, but every now and then I find that I do enjoy the stillness of an early morning, and today was one of those days.  I love sitting at our table with a cup of coffee and my devotional books, eager to hear whatever the Lord has to speak to me.  As I was finishing up writing in my journal, my sweet girl woke up (Another reason I don't get up earlier than I "have" to is because Lucy is probably the lightest sleeper in the world!  Even if I'm just sitting in the other room reading, she somehow knows I'm up and will wake up, too.  She just doesn't want to miss ANYthing!) and crawled in my lap.  My heart felt so full this morning as I realized I had gotten such sweet snuggles with my baby boy earlier, and now my precious daughter was curled up in my lap, too.  She then started asking me what I was doing, and we had a little conversation.  I was brought back to those sweet memories of rocking her in the wee hours of the morning (well, AND the late hours of the night, and pretty much all of the other hours of the day, too! LOL)    Of course, I miss those precious moments, but I also treasure the present moments, because now my baby girl is growing, and that means I can experience even more things with her, like our sweet little conversations, which is actually what I had been journaling about just before she had woken up...
Lucy before school yesterday (that should say Day 18)

After Lucy got home from school yesterday and took a little nap (Wednesdays are team kid night, so I try to get her to take a nap after school.  I know it's late in the day for a nap, but that is quite a long day for a little girl!) I had a praise baby DVD in for Gabriel and she started watching it with him.  She started asking different questions stemming from the praise songs she was hearing (I absolutely LOVE those DVDS!) and asked "Why did God make snakes if they're bad?"  I'll admit, I had to stop for a minute and ask myself the same question!  LOL  But I answered her with something like this: "Lucy, God has a purpose for EVERYTHING He created, but sometimes the Devil tries to make evil out of what God meant for good."

As I began my quiet time this morning, the devotional seemed to center around those same thoughts.  I was reminded how the Devil truly "roams around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."  (1 Peter 5:8)  But my prayer is that I can have enough faith to see past his schemes and to trust my Heavenly Father who is able to make all things beautiful again in His time.  The devotional I read this morning (journey) closed today's entry with this:
"God can use painful things of our fallen world for good.  We can trust Jesus completely when we walk through difficult trials.  Remember that He sees the whole picture while we hold a mere piece of the puzzle in our hand.  We can not see the ways God intends to use our trial for good or the miraculous blessings He can bring out of it, but we can experience His mercies every day.  They are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23.)"

When I think of this concept of God bringing "beauty from the ashes," so many things come to my mind, but the most recent one is my son.  While I don't think Gabriel's birthmother ever considered abortion, I know that so often women who are in a bad or difficult situation will choose to have an abortion, rather than choosing life for their baby.  Our world so easily forgets though that the child is the most wonderful blessing we could ever receive.  Why would we take away away the most beautiful gift we could be given, even if it is born out of something that is difficult?  Children are TRULY a blessing:
Gabriel yesterday, loving on his sophies
"When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world."John 16:21 ESV
"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward." Psalm 127:3 ESV 
It might have been easier at the time for Gabriel's birthmother to choose an abortion when she realized she wouldn't be able to take care of him, but instead, she made the selfless decision to choose LIFE for him.  I told someone today how it has been almost five years since Lucy entered our lives and over twelve weeks since Gabriel was born, but I still find myself sitting back in amazement over how God has orchestrated this incredible gift we get to call our family.  Both of our children are miracles in different ways, and both were born out of heartache in different ways--Lucy came after a time of great trials and difficultly in our lives as we had gone through DH being diagnosed with cancer and then the tremendous loss of my father.  Lucy's birth breathed new life into our family and reminded us how God brings beauty into our life even in the midst of pain.  And then Gabriel came into our lives after a very long road of struggling to grow our family, and after I'm sure what was a time of great struggle for his birthmother as well.  But with his birth brought joy and again the reminder of new life. 

I pray I never take for granted the great gift we have been given in our family.  We are truly blessed in so many ways, and I am so thankful I get to see the evidence of that every day in the faces of my Lucy Shea and Gabriel Paul!

"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." Ephesians 1:5

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Way or Yahweh...

I have a growing list of topics I've been wanting to blog about, but mommyhood has been calling my name much louder than my blog space, and I'm pretty sure you guys know which one wins out:)  (Hint: It's not the blog!:-)  But, I've had a little bit too much caffeine this evening, and Gabriel isn't quite ready for his next feeding, so I figured it was a good time to try and get an entry in...

Just a few updates (which I hope to elaborate on in future posts.)

*All is going great with our adoption process, and we are so thankful for that!  We have had three visits with our caseworker, two of which have been at our home, and we are hoping to consummate Gabriel's adoption in early December.  I seriously can't believe how big he is getting!  He was 13lb 5oz at his 2 month check up and 23 and one quarter inches long!  He is smiling and cooing a lot now, and he holds up his head like a champ.  His still has all of his gorgeous dark hair and those adorable chubby cheeks.  He is just the sweetest most precious little cuddlebug, and we are so in love with him!  I seriously cannot put into words the feelings we have towards him...

*Lucy started pre-k a few weeks ago.  This was not at all a part of our original plan for this school year, but I was reminded God's plans aren't always my plans.  She is LOVING it and really seems to be thriving.  She is truly my social butterfly, so I know she is eating up getting to spend all day with her friends.  I sure am missing her though, let me tell you!  I pray daily that she will live up to her name of being a bringer of light.  What a special little girl she is!

Today marked a very important day for us in that DH and I celebrated our twelve year "Meetiversary."  On September 11, 2000, we first met on the third floor of the music building at Ouachita Baptist University.  I was surprised with a beautiful rose from my sweet hubby today in honor of the occasion, and we went to eat with friends tonight at Chickfila to help celebrate--one because it is kids eat free night, but two because Chickfila was where our first unofficial date took place (which didn't happen until some time in October, but I'm always reminded of that when I think of this time of year.)  As we were leaving the house tonight to head into town, DH said, "Can you believe it's been twelve years??!"  I said, "In some ways I can't believe it's already been twelve years, but in other ways I can't believe it's ONLY been twelve years, because I just can't imagine my life without you in it."  DH truly is my soul mate, my best friend, and the love of my life.  I am continually thanking God for placing him in my life as my spiritual leader and partner in ministry and life in general.  DH then posed another question as we were making our way back home this evening: "What if I wouldn't have gone to practice that evening?  Do you think we would still have met?"  I quickly responded, "I don't even want to think about that!" but in all honesty, I couldn't help but think about his statement.  I found myself so very thankful that I didn't have to worry about that "what-if" in life, and I was reminded of such a great truth--that we don't ever need to worry about those what-ifs, because God truly is always in control.  Proverbs 16:9 says this: "The heart of a man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his steps."  What a great reminder that God is always directing our steps and always working, even when we don't realize it.  My prayer is that I will allow myself to be fully aligned with His will and completely willing to follow His guidance, no matter what, for what a beautiful view it is when we get to that other side of things!  Would I want to travel back through the past twelve years of my life?  To be honest, not really.  There have been a lot of trials and heartaches and difficulties.  However, when I look back on all of those troubles, I see how God has woven them all together to create such a beautiful pathway.  He has given me so many examples of how He truly makes beauty from the ashes of our lives, and I am so very grateful.   So what do all of these things have in common?

  • If I would have had life MY way, I would have been pregnant about two years ago, and we probably would not have felt led towards adoption, and Gabriel would not be our son...and with all my heart, I know that he is exactly the baby our hearts have yearned for all of this time.  The past two years were so devastating for us as we desired to have a child so badly but month after month felt confused and heartbroken.  BUT, God knew what He was doing when I did not, and His timing was perfect!
  • If I would have had life MY way, my Lucy-bug would be staying at home with me each day.  It wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for her, but I see how GOOD her being in school has been for her.  It does present other challenges for us, but overall I know without a doubt it was the right decision for her for right now.  Many people have asked why we "changed our minds" about school, because we had stated several times she would be staying home for at least this year.  But honestly, we just have prayed about it this entire year, and it wasn't until just days before school began that God revealed His plan for Lucy was for her to go to school this year.  And you know what is so neat about His timing?  With all honesty, just having a few days to mentally prepare for L going to school was SO much easier for me to adjust to than gearing my mind that way (i.e. worrying and stressing about it) for the whole year.   Again, God knew what He was doing when I did not, and His timing was perfect.
  • And lastly, if I would have had life MY way...well, I still would have chosen DH to be my husband!  :-)  I guess sometimes things DO go as we hope for them to, and I'm thankful for that as well!  However, it's still so easy for us to make a mess of things when life is placed in our human hands.  I'm so thankful that God truly did direct my steps though, and He allowed me to end up exactly where He wanted to be, which was married to this amazing man that I get to call my husband.   
    First Date at Chickfila almost twelve years ago
Almost Twelve years later: FAMILY of FOUR date at Chickfila:)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rain down...

I'm sitting here late at night feeding Gabriel as I listen to a glorious rain quickly falling outside the window. You can look at the landscape of these parts and easily see how badly we need the rain. But just like the ground needs refreshing from the rain, I realize that so often we need that spiritually, too, and tonight my heart is so burdened for a family who needs God to rain down on them in a mighty way...

This precious family was blessed with a beautiful baby boy in early August, but the birthfather decided last week he wanted the baby, so this couple had to return their baby boy to his birthmother today. My heart just breaks for them as I can't even imagine the grief they must be experiencing. Please join me in praying for this precious family-for peace and healing and for God's love to truly rain down on them in a mighty way. Please pray for safety and well being for this baby boy as well...

I'm reminded of what we were told in our orientation earlier this year-that adoption is NOT a risk-free journey. Even if the wait seems short to some or the process appears to be going smoothly from the outside, there are SO many little details going on in the background that make it anything but a smooth and easy road. It is often paved with twists and turns and heartache. But I take comfort in the fact that I follow the One who is in control. None of these things take Him by surprise, so I just have to keep learning to trust in Him and depend upon Him, knowing He loves me and is guiding me. It's just so hard when it doesn't make sense in our human eyes though, but that's when we can allow God to build our faith the most...

So tonight I find myself hugging Gabriel a little tighter and a little bit closer. I can't imagine our lives without our son, and my heart is grieving for this family trying to make sense of things without theirs.