Our Newest Foster Child and Waiting On The Resurrection. UNITE

It took her three days.  Three days of pushing, screaming, hiding, clinging...to finally let go and rest in my arms. 

It was Sunday, and it was then, at church, I felt break-through coming.

And just when she rested from fighting and fleeing, the state picked her up, twenty minutes notice; social worker placing her back in their car seat.

And why is it when trusting is build, God allows us to be unglued from those we are rooted with?  Is it to strengthen us, or teach us...the only safe place is with Him?

Arms reach for me, she screams loudly, as they take her.  

She cried that day she left. I did too.

And isn't it those first heart wounds, those first lessons of who is trustworthy and who isn't, that scar us most?

And I believe in the resurrection.  But when a child age one has already learned to push people away, there is the crucifix still working....and its shadows can blind us from experiencing the fullness of our redemption.

Weeks later.  I get a call again.  She's in danger. Her story's on Amber Alert.  They call me, to see if I'll take her...if somehow they can manage to find her and her parents.   

They do.  The State rips her a second time from her mothers arms. 

And no wonder children now-days learn early, often, frequent...that human love isn't lasting.  Those closest to us can hurt us, harden us, or deceive us....though Jesus has promised life everlasting.

Her mother cried when they took her that day.  So did she. 

I get her home this second time around.  Hours straight; I try to rock, comfort, walk with, bundle a kicking, screaming baby...not understanding why she is separated again from the one she has nestled with, trusted.

It is good Friday when they first tried to find her.  But nothing feels "good" about the crucifix of such suffering; pain, abuse, hurting.  And how can fear be so alive when we're dangling dead?

She pushes me away.  Does she remember how she trusted?  Then how they took her without any warning, like they did again with her mother? And How do you explain to a one year old; your family is sick, the social workers are trying, and when babies are taken, it's never their fault.

Finally, I let her stiff screaming body slide, down my lap to my feet; after bottle, food, toys, singing, phones, and stuffed animals fail to ease her internal suffering.

Three days straight and I am beat, warn, empty...like her. Like Jesus before His death.

The last energy she has leads her to grip the only thing she brought this time...a blanket and the jacket.  Both dirty.  Both stained.

She curls in a ball, but when I touch her, she screams.  I rub her back anyway.  And there on my feet, she holds her rags, gripping all she has, near enough...though rejecting my comfort for the sorrow that she feels.

And how many times have I been the one, wanting to draw near, but pushing, shoving, kicking those that love me far away?

I speak softly...but nothing helps her.  And then there, for a second, I soak in the silence.  This day between the crucifix and resurrection.

"Resurrection is coming"...ah....I fill my mind with truth.  "There is hope. Your going to be o.k." I whisper gently.  "There is always hope. God isn't through with you yet."

Not knowing if this promise is for to me...or her.

And I wonder today, how many of us have lived through pain, rejection, isolation, an orphan spirit in every sense?  How many have lived disillusioned when our hellos turned to goodbyes, or the ones closest to us have betrayed us....And we fall broken, at the feet of our crucified God, wondering if He'll ever live again? If we will ever get through this world's crazy non-sense? 

And I can almost hear them.  The disciples.  "Where is our redemption?  How is He to save us, if He is stripped from all He has.  Naked.  Needy.  Dead in every sense."

But, my God brought to life a dead man...He brought me from death to life...and I know He can do it again.

I lay her in our crib.  The distance seems to silence her.  And I am suspecting...some voices need to be quieted before they can listen.

She quietly bangs her head, a way to comfort.  I squirm at the thought.  But as soon as I touch her, she screams again.  And I remember when I cried out for hope, when all that helped was when I sat alone, untouched. 

And it is there I shed a tear, outside her door.

This resurrected life, not mine.  For it is His hope inside that is so hard not to share.  Even though, silence only comes sometimes when we can step back, lay low, and let God be God of each and all of our cares.  

I ache, and sorrow, and grieve for my Savior.  For this child used as a pulley, this infant who at age one became her parent's weapon...

And I know there is hope, life resurrected from even the most broken places. Yes, we have a God who brings beauty from ashes.  So for a moment, I stand at the door; testifying to His power and His healing; before tip-toeing downstairs as the stillness pierces us, and she finally sleeps soundly...

Because tomorrow is Easter.  

And God isn't through with us yet.


UNITE LINK PARTY

Welcome friends!  There is nothing like gathering together from around the world, to encourage, strengthen, support, and cheer on those needing it!?

What do you blog about?  Would you take a few seconds and add a blog post here!?

UNITE simply asks that you add any family-friendly post, link back here, and comment on a post, or few before yours!

Life is better together...don't ya think!?

And remember, UNITE is an all-inclusive, no-rules link-up!  UNITE welcomes YOU!!!



What We Can Forget About The Cross And Resurrection

The plane descends from the heavens, and the ground thickens as the clouds pour out their initiation to Spring.

Sprigs of purple, pink.  Weeping trees bending at the glory of it all.  Fruit promised from the blooms we see...if ground doesn't freeze, sun and rain keep dancing in perfect harmony.

And I want fruit.  Don't you?

Another night, I see His feet tap hard up the dirty street. The weight of wood, the sin's of generations baring down, pressing hard, on this Good Friday.

Mary watching.  And what if that was my son?  My soul compassion?  My flesh and bone who confused what the prophet told.  "Suffering would come with this baring of the Christ-child."

But, who knew that He would die?  And I would live?  This Savior child, generation after generation waiting, having been hailed fiercely with palm leaves, just a few days earlier?

The nights seem darker.  Evenings brighter.  A world looking, hurting, aching for someone...something more.  Needing more than promises or good intentions.

And yet, our eyes shift to Easter eggs, draw towards bunny rabbits and sunny things.  For we all prefer day than the night that came and crucified Him.

I mean, who really likes talking about piercings, and beatings, and swords spilling water-blood anyway?

I can almost feel the earth shake, like it did back then.  The moment even the doubters sensed that Jesus was more than man, but a gift.  A gift to us all...we failed to see.  Failed to trust. Failed to love.

And where were the men Jesus devoted himself to? The ones He discipled and loved?  And yet, don't we invest in others and expect some return?  Aren't we hailed one day, and get bitter and angry when they pierce us soon after?

The weather says spring is here.  The early rising says days are getting longer, winter's deepest darkening is over.  And we all want sunshine, brighter days.  But who has time or wants to feel the weight of a Savior lain crucified for us?

They wrapped Him in cloth. Oh to touch a son, or the Savior incarnate who delivered us from the darkest nightmare plaguing us.

And how do we wrap what was beloved?  Lay hold the lifelessness of The One who once was adored, and treasured, and followed. Wishing we could make Him rise, but knowing we lack, in human form, in will alone, any standing strength.

For some days, just making beds, and cleaning dishes, and folding stacks again of clothes that will be
dug through, changed into, can sometimes bring discouragement.

And we all want the resurrection, but we forget that Jesus got lower, more silent, more willing, the closer to the cross He got.

And I want my walk to Calvary to be one where flesh doesn't cry out, but dies willingly at all costs.  So those near me can see His power taking me to the place where only God can get the credit for breathing in this well-worn body.

I want my life to lay down.  My hands and feet be pierced, if it means I too will stand, tall, strong, valiant in victory, like He did, three days later.

And, as the passover bows me low.  As this rain keeps pouring and colors bloom all along fruit trees promising hope....I hold on for a few more days.  A few more darkest nights.  A few more strong silences after the earthquake of life shakes all I am standing on....

For, this laying-low ending is the preface of something bigger.  This dead-to-life is the power we need to bypass the weight of this rain continually pouring...

And this life is the fruit, and the doubts get drowned when we realize laying down us is the key to fullness of life we have all been seeking.

For this passover, His weight gets heavier.  But mine, lighter.  His feet hit dirt, while mine are well groomed, carefully shoed, and are clean from the sins I once willfully committed.

I mourn for my beloved, knowing it was the weight of the worlds sin, my sin, that pierced Him to the cross, and stopped the world as He cried out, "Forgive them."

But I also know, death couldn't hold Him.  A thousand demons couldn't keep Him from this redemption plan that shines life from the tomb after the crucifix.

So, we wait, but we wait with hope.  Because sun alone won't make flowers bloom, fruit fountain from the trees outside.

We need both the crucifixion and  the new life given by Him at His resurrection.  We need the death, to testify that God alone was the redeeming goodness behind the grave's lies.  We need the sorrow, the last breath, the hoping, our Jesus calling...

To run to the tomb.  To touch His scared hands.  To see Him ascend in the fullness of who He really is...both in and through us.

Seeing, Jesus is so much more than a man, human....He is our Savior, the Resurrected One, God incarnate. The fullness of Heaven's Redemption Plan.

Yes, the plane has landed.  And summer is coming.  Fruit will bloom.  And rain always prefaces seasons of plenty.


(Linking with Faith Filled Fridays,  Barbie @ Weekend Brew

How to Love Unloving People


“Frequently the enemy entices Christians to harbor an unforgiving spirit - a very common symptom indeed among God's children. Such bitterness and fault-finding and enmity inflict a severe blow upon spiritual life.” ~ Watchman Nee


Let’s face it; sometimes people are hard to love, and boulders of offense can “snowball” inside us, until hurt from others hinders us from the fullness of missional living, Christ intended. 


And don’t we all want weightless lives, filled with the joy and rewards of truly passionate missional living, sold out, willingly, and obediently surrendered to Him?


So, let’s talk about letting go. Softening our hearts is a two part process.  First, it must involve us.  Second, it requires the grace of God working through us. 


God tells us more than once that it is our job to break up the fallow ground of our hearts. (Hosea 10:12, Jer. 4:3) Soft soil requires purposeful and willing forgiveness of those who have offended us. Remember 70 x 7? (Matt 18:21-22)


Second, the healing of our hearts requires the miracle working power of God. Ezekial 36:26 reads,  

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you and heart of flesh.”

So clearly, Christ died that we might be free to love unloving people, but it is also our choice to love and keeping loving those who offend us.


So, what about when the same people continue to intentionally offend us?  (To continue this article, click HERE)


Today, you can read the rest of this article and find some other amazing articles over at Missional Women.  

After just flying home to Seattle, from the Missional Women Conference in Denver....I came to realize, these aren't your average, everyday, ordinary, self-promoting, internally focused women....

Missional Women live having their minds, hearts, and hands dialed outward.  They have figured it out....how to live for others, while balancing and keeping centered, their families.

Please take some time and read the rest of this article, but also dive in and take time discovering the joy found in missional living.

I have forever been changed because of these humble, self-less, Christ centered women....and I am sure you will be too! 


(Linking with Emily, Lyli)

Real Women. Real Hope. Real Faith. Missional Women Conference 2014. UNITE.

I got the e-mail, then a loud, "yes" in my spirit, after reading the words, "Would you consider writing for Missional Women" over a year ago.

At the time, I didn't know what I was getting into.  It was blind faith, really...and trusting that still small voice inside me that saw, what at the time, I couldn't understand.

And God has blessed this "yes", molding and transforming me through an amazing group of women.  This weekend, I was so blessed to be able to share at the Missional Women Conference in Denver. Meeting faces I had only had contact with in the distant, safe screen of black and white.

And in a world of, "What you see isn't what you get", words alone can never determine the heart of who another really is.

But then I walk in, and Melissa Deming greets me like a long lost friend. Sara McNutt following with her gentle grace.  An instant God-connection forming as I listen to her story of patiently waiting on the Lord for what to say.  It confirmed my own story, and I knew this was one lady, walking deeply and closely with God.

We find a table, where Jenna Knight and her friend bubble over in such joy.  We all share in the break-outs sessions. I hear about her half marathon and her heart for adoption.  I love her instantly.  How can you not?

Then, there is Melissa Davis Bradley.  A gentle soul, with one God-strong passion to serve the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength.  A powerhouse, and a sister in every sense.

Rhonda Denison and Erin Herbst, I also just loved the moment I met them. I have so much respect for Rhonda's instant vulnerability, and Erin's deep, well-thought out wisdom as she speaks.

Then of course there is Laura Krokos, the heart and the soul behind Missional Women. Often you find people either gentle and gracious....or strong powerhouses, filled with unwavering faith.  More rarely will you ever find BOTH of those qualities in one person.  Yet, my daughter and I, throughout the entire conference kept saying how we were so moved by the cool combination of strength and grace in a women who made leading an entire conference seem relaxing and completely effortless.

Angi Pratt  from "Stuff Angi Does", was another who I love and who just beamed with a heart for the nations.  If we had more time, I am sure the both of us could talk missions for hours.  (You know you want to come to Seattle Angi! :)  Just sayin'...

Oh, and then there is Joy Barker RudolfAn iron woman, overcoming incredible odds.  A worshiper, a fighter, a lover of Jesus.  Once you hear her testimony you learn to know just how much she truly clings to Jesus.  (Oh how I love that kind of God-needing faith)

I am not sure now how I ever used to think online people were somehow "unreal", where the fast game of life is like a hard game of speed-ball.  One where you keep your helmet on, glove up, and pad yourself with distance, protecting yourself with a chest-plate around the thing most vulnerable in all of us....our hearts. 

Because, let's face it....real life, in your face people...people we are up-close and personal with...can sometimes hurt us.

But God is always in the business of shining truth where lies have pierced us. And it's amazing how we can go from grace to grace, person to person...and find faith in people we would have never known, unless someone like Laura challenged us to come out of the shells and embrace the identity of being who God calls us to be.

Oh and then there was Ann Dunagan, author of The Missions Minded Family.  The first time I heard her speaking, I literally wanted to jump out of my seat and shout, "AMEN!"  She talked about not only head faith, but heart compassion; about not running from this roller-coaster life, but fearlessly living out boldly our deepest heart passions.


With seven kids, churches, ministries, and evangelizing all over Africa, Ann seems unstoppable.

Getting to really witness in her a reflection of my own heart-cry to answer the call and follow in a BIG-WAY, revealed that the God-passions He has placed in me, is not sin, or some prideful selfish thing...but truly HIS passion living, breathing inside of me!

Her new friendship was one of the biggest blessings of the conference!  There is so much I can learn from her and I can't wait to connect again soon.

And last, but not least, Shaun Groves from Compassion Ministries.  Nearly every person I talked to said he was the person that impacted them most.  His stories took us into the very heart of the children he told us about.  He made us laugh and cry.  And he somehow managed to confront our cultures sin of inequality, and yet we cheered him along; realizing we all take extra mana...just in case it turns out, "One day, God can't be trusted". His heart was so God-tender and His words, grace-filled, and eloquent.

When I first talked to Shaun, I wanted to tell him about my husband and I meeting our sponsor a few months ago.  But in reality, you can never go up to a person of great humility and share in any other way than to lay down all defense, baring it all, and exposing your own heart....for the sake of wanting the fullness of the very same Christ alive in that person.

So, I shared my heart with Shaun.  Cried for the bazillionth time. And asked him to pray.  He didn't turn away like some other people known as "celebrities" may have...but really listened hard, got low, and said he could relate to this heart-cry, bubbling over to display God's great splendor to all the world.

And most special was to get to spend three straight days with my oldest daughter who at eighteen felt called to sponsor a child.  She made a commitment to a five-year-old from Africa. The whole story is a beautiful testimony to what can happen when we lean in, really listen, and are willing to say "yes".

She now goes around calling herself a new mother. (So, wondering...does that makes me a Grandma??) 

And what if we all stilled ourselves to listen, resisting all thoughts, all logic, all sense that we might be too old or too young, too rich or too poor, too fixed or too broken....and just followed God's call to care for the orphan?  How might the world be different?  How might WE be different?  

So now, I am so full as I wake up this morning.  As if I have been more than crucified....but resurrected.  Severely sleep deprived, but awake like I haven't been in years.  I have been thanking God all morning for His heart and clear call to share about foster children and adoption.

And I have been resting in awe at how God can use an online world, like Missional Women, to reveal...
  • Not all people require defenses, or helmets, or chest plates. 
  • Not all leaders gate around for their own glory, seeking their own fulfillment.
  • Not all Christian's live sucking the energy and using those around them....others really live outward, faith-filled lives, selflessly serving missionally.
And not all online people live behind smoke-screens, covering up their lives, behind walls and computers....

There really is a world filled with strong, capable, kind, humble, gracious, spirit-filled people that live for just one person and one purpose only.....

"To make His name known among the nations."

Have you pulled up a chair, and really sat down with the ladies from Missional Women yet?  If not, after linking up, stop by and listen to what they have to share, by clicking HERE.


UNITE LINK PARTY

O.K. It is time to link up, sit back, and UNITE with a whole load of other AMAZING bloggers!  Don't know what to post?  Post anything you write about, link back here, then take a few moments to read and comment to what others posting around you!

Remember, UNITE is an all-inclusive, no-rules blog hop!  Have FUN!! 



How Extravagance Catches the Eye of God

When we hear the word "extravagant", we often think about the opposite of who Jesus is. As we know, He came meek, humble, quiet in a manger.

And even more so, we know about The Blessed...

Blessed are....the weak, poor, hungry etc. as it talks about on the Sermon on the Mount.

But what if, when we think about God...instead of sandals, holy hands, and humbleness coming to mind...we think of extravagance? 

But scripture says nothing about Him calling His beloved, "extravagant"....does it?

We live in the town of Arlington, the umbrella city of Oso, where the mudslide occurred. My seven-year-old has been collecting change and bringing it to school, to help with a fund-drive to support those victims.

The other day, my youngest scurried around the house.  It was one of those days my "mom-alert" got signaled.

"What are you doing?" I ask.

"We are collecting change for the mudslide victims and we only need $200. more dollars, but we need it in two days." She says all in one breathe.

I dig in my purse, separate from the cupboard's "collect all" cup, the money from China, Korea, Peru, and U.S.. Without hesitating, she scoops up what is O.K.ed to her.  I think nothing of it, as I am leaving on a plane this Friday and I have a ton filling up my mind.

I go outside, resting on the newly placed hammock, along the trees, over the clean cut grass. The closest place I will ever get to heaven here on earth. I need to think.  I need to let me mind rest.  I need this.  I need that.  I need way so much.

But even there, I see my little one running out the door barefoot, and scurrying to the car.  "What are you doing?"  I inquire again.

"I remembered, I saw two dimes on the floor of the car.  I need them, cause we are raising money for the mudslide victims."  She repeats as if I had forgotten our conversation a couple minutes prior. 

"O.k. I mumble", still wrapping myself in my world of "self".

And all would be well, but then I cam inside awhile later and saw the counter filled with all the change from our household.  There on the counter, was my husband's "collect change" jar.  It was emptied and placed into little bags.

But then I notice further.  The green frog.  The piggy bank her Grandma gave her to save all her pennies to go to college.  I knew there was at least $100.00 dollars in there.

"What are you doing?"  I say for the third time. 

"Dad gave me all his pennies.  I also want to give everything I have in my piggy-bank to the victims from the mudslide."

I wrestle.  Doubt.  Fear.  Praise it all at the same time in my head.

I mean...
  • What do you say to a child who thinks of others instead of sits in the hammock of her own self-absorption?
  • What do you say to a little one who has not yet learned that the world thinks money is God, money is power, that people struggle in this life (whether rich or poor) with the fear that they just don't have enough?
  • What do you say, when the depravity and emptiness found in "loss" just hasn't caught up with her yet.  And giving is the gift.  And offering all seems just as natural as the greediness we justify as if that in and of itself were not sin?
  • What do you say when your daughter's heart is filled with such compassion that she can't just sit.  Rest.  Wait on pretty grass in her own oblivious state....but that she just has to do something!?
"O.K." I finally say.  I mean, how can you tell a child not to give?

And as soon as those words slipped fearfully from my lips, another story comes to mind.

There were many.  They had a lot.  They gave, but only a little bit.  Just enough that it wouldn't dent
their pockets.  Enough that it wouldn't be noticed when it was gone.

There was another.  She was poor.  She had no income.  All she had was a little, what to us would be two coins....or two pennies.

Jesus called his disciples over to witness the churches collection.  And what He said is shocking.  Jesus said that the lady who gave two pennies gave more than all the money of the entire church put together.

O.K. maybe not in quantity....but because she didn't give just a portion of what she hoarded...The widow gave all she had.

I think of my little girl.  I think of her digging through the car and running around the house in a frenzy, because she just can't wait to give.

When had I done that lately?

And I think about how Jesus said He cherishes the poor widow, not because she gave much....but because she gave everything!

And oh how I want to be her.  My daughter.  The widow.  Oh how I don't want to hoard, or ignore, or sit in complacency as the world perishes and I sit on my hammock dreaming.

Oh how I want to love with such a love overflowing....in a way that I simply can't hold back, keep, weigh or question my own security.

Jesus called the poor widows giving "extravagant", I finally end up reading to her in the Message, so she will understand.   I explain to her that that kind of giving makes Jesus stop and turn.  I scripture, He even alerted the disciples to the heart of one who held back nothing.

And isn't that what He is asking of us today?

My friends. My prayer is, that although we count the cost, weigh and use well what He has given us....that in our heart of hearts.....we would be giving and digging and pursuing where He calls us too.  So much so that every last coin of our resources is placed like an offering, to Him.

Because God's eyes truly are on the extravagant.  Yet what we often fail to get is that....

God's extravagance often doesn't look like ours.



***  Ladies, tomorrow is our Missional Women Conference in Denver, Colorado. Woo Hoo!  Just in case you are curious, the Missional Women Conference isn't just for missionaries living in huts in Africa.  

The Missional Women Conference is targeted for all women, young and old, actively in ministry, or quietly sitting in their homes retired or raising children.  

Missional Women is about shining Jesus right where you are.  

The conference focus is about "How to be that light in practical ways, right around you".  A "bloom where you are planted" kinda deal!  :) 

You will explore new, broad ways to serve, be strengthened in an area you are already serving in, and discover the fullness of how you can be the "arms and feet" of Jesus in your very own community.

If you are even slightly interested, join our live stream of the conference FREE, by clicking....HERE 

Ladies, WE are the body of Christ, and it's time we go into all the world and SHINE!!!!


Linking with Lyli,
Emily

When Jesus Looks Like A Little Hawaiian Girl, Rippling Grace Wherever She Goes. UNITE

"Hawaiian."  As soon as I heard that word on the other line, I knew I was in trouble. A foster parent leaving in eight days to fly to Denver to speak on adoption.

What was I thinking? 

Then, I hear the lady continue on the other line, "She is fourteen months old, just taken away.  Stuck in shelter care.  She has been there two days.  She needs a home now."

And sometimes God's plans aren't ours.  Sometimes we want to curl up in the safety of our homes, and preach the gospel....instead of live it. 

And sometimes, just when we think we have gotten our lives all perfectly orchestrated, that is when He comes, bends low, and  softly whispers, "Are you ready to die further, lying down your life even more for me?"

And it is at this crossroad of choices, we can either keep going in our own direction, or lay our lives like Isaac, on the alter of His will, purposes, and expectations. 

"O.k.  I'll take her." 

Within forty-five minutes; I rush, hair still wet, from the salon, drop my daughter at swimming lessons, grab bottles at the grocery store, and clean my house before a tired looking social worker appears with a slant-eyed little package at the front door.


She screams as the social worker leaves her, as if I just bought some stray puppy from Craigslist.  She has me sign, leaves in a wink, and points to the stack of papers in the manila envelope for me to begin reading.   

And sometimes we never know the reality of what we have signed up for until we read the fine print.  

And yet, Christ lives in the flesh and bone, scripture beats loud in this "see a little one thirsty, and give her something to drink"....This "as if unto me" living.  Grace abounds when we look unto the children with sad brown eyes, one curl peeking from on top of their foreheads.

And sometimes God calls us to the threshing floor.  But other times willing obedience is the very thing stirring us to say "yes", when all around us insists, "no".

Yes, grace is thick in our home now.  Like the time the hospital sent us off with the five pound preemie.  Us rookie foster parents, totally panicking, knowing we needed Christ in a big way if we are to care for such eating issues and heart stopping, seizures all throughout the night. 

And isn't it when we are spent, crumbled, washed up, broken in every way...that is when grace is most clear, His mercies become near, His presence is felt in a way it never could be...when we are strong, self-sufficient, independently living our own agendas?

Yes, His grace was so tangible.  The next day, I knew why.

I give baby a bath.  And what appeared to be wounds, sends me into autopilot, as my seven-year-old watches how I will react.

We get in the car.  She needs some new clothes.  She has nothing, but a blanket she won't let go of, and a few small, outdated dirty clothes.

On the way, I want to weep.  Shout out to the heavens.  Cry out to God, "Why do the innocent have to suffer like this?"....but I am learning slowly not to question.  I have seen glory come out of the most horrific situations....so I choose to trust instead.

I remember my conference, the list of "must do's", while the work of having a little one tries to pierce the faith fortress that guards my spirit.

But there, outside of the second hand store, I finally take a breathe. And it is there I whisper, "Oh God, show me I have followed your will.  Please give me some kind of confirmation that I did what you wanted by me taking her...that it is your will I care for this little girl."

The dream of slanted eyes, the one where I heard, "Hawaiian child" tip-toes through my mind.  And I remember what the singer Stephen Curtis Chapman once said when people questioned if they should adopt or not, "How can caring for the weak or the helpless and raising them in the ways of God ever NOT be God's plan?"

I finally go in.  Stroller.  Two children.  Drawing on His message...trusting what I do not see.  The wounds keep surfacing painfully in my mind, but I dig through the clothes....clinging in faith instead of camping on what my eyes just saw.

Then, I hear it.  A voice I know.  An old neighbor, with seven kids.  A mother in every sense of the word.  She looks at my little one.  I work hard smiling, asking questions, trying to encourage instead of curling up in the ball of doubt I am pulled to as we speak.

Then, she turns to me.  "I want to give you this."  She hands over cash to cover some of the expense of the diaper bag, toys, and new wardrobe I need for this infant.  Then, more amazingly, the lady at the counter chimes in, "And I will give you half off of all the clothes you purchase because you are a foster parent."

I tear.  So humbled.  Blown away at this "coincidence", drown in love by the blessing of a God who sees it all.

I don't need the money, but I was feeling bankrupt.  And sometimes arms reaching can be the very thing helping us to see the glory in what we are facing, the face of Jesus in the least of these, the hope before us in the strangest times, the most unexpected season.

We hug.  Sister-hearts become one.  She ministers in words, as we talk about how the world has it wrong.  How children are a gift, and those called to care for them are not doing the lesser thing at all.

Still teary.  Humbled.  I tell her how just now before entering I prayed that God would clearly confirm that I was "doing the right thing".  And how she was my sign, this angel before me....not just in word, but in deed.

Breathing slowing.  She finally leaves.  I barely wipe away the tears and another friend (completely unaware of what happened) enters.  I have now seen her twice in a month.....after not seeing her for years and years.

A faith-filled lady, a daycare owner, also loving kids. We talk about her new grand-baby, her family, and whatever else I can learn about this old friend I love.

Then shockingly, she tells the owner, "I want to give the proceeds from what I am returning, after buying the two outfits, to Jen."  I stop.  Completely speechless. This is just too much!

Then the store owner, who I soon learn is also a Christian, jumps in further, "Better yet, I will give you those two outfits, and offer Jen all of the proceeds from what you are returning."

I am just stumped.  Still.  Silent.  Thankful. 

I hug my friend.  Then she says, "You know, us meeting here is no coincidence.  God planned it.  He knows.  It blesses Him what you are doing."  So in shock, I couldn't even share how I had prayed in the car for confirmation, how the store owner blessed me with half off, or how another lady I knew just left before her doing the same thing....

But what I do know was that God is all over this, caring for the orphans thing. 

That He ordains, and joins, and appoints our meetings...all of them.  And that to Him there are no "coincidences".  He knew the history of this infant.  The mom's heart cry.  The meetings that would happen before they ever did in the consignment store that day.

And what we forget sometimes when we are in the forest of our circumstances is that His blessings truly are abundant, going on and on, never just stopping with us...

That night, the baby, fourteen-months old who couldn't walk and whose social worker told me she would need physical therapy....walked for the very first time ever.  Seven steps across the bedroom floor.

My hair dresser was also so moved by the story of us "jumping" at the need of a little girl, that she too is now looking into being licensed as a foster parent.
 
Yes, it is true....obedience is not suffering as martyrs to be painfully purged from our selfishness.  Obedience is not craziness, or forced surrendering.  It is not giving to get, or laying down because we think that that's what "good" Christianity asks or requires of us.

Obedience is the door, the gift of grace He holds in front of us, quietly whispering for us to enter through it, in complete and full surrender...in faith and trust that He is bigger than us.

And maybe this laying down our life is really all that we have been looking for?  This glorious obedience, the very key that as believers we should be rejoicing over?  This great exchange is the testimony we fervently and fearlessly speak about.

For what if grace is in the doing...difficult situations the very thresh-hold of mercy He uses to bring healing to all of us.  What if hope is in the hardships, and life abundant is in the dying and willingness to say "yes" to whatever He happens to call us to?

For maybe Jesus looks like a little Hawaiian girl, rippling mercies wherever she goes...

And maybe grace is in our, yes'. And His goodness truly does lie waiting for us, each and every morning?

UNITE LINK PARTY

Ready for another week of UNITE? Here at UNITE, we believe that a variety of colors and textures make up the beautiful pallet of God's most splendid creation...
....and NO ONE is exempt from His beauty!  No one!  

So, will you come join us just as you are!?  Sweats, shoes off, kicking back on your sofa, coffee in hand?  Or there on your phone, or from the laptop at Starbucks!?

It's simple....Link up a post, add a link back, then comment on one or two posts before yours!  

We, here at UNITE, simply long to connect, love, encourage, and celebrate one another in all our uniqueness's as God's creations!~

Ready?  O.K. Time to UNITE below....



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