Friday, September 27, 2013

THE DESIRE OF MY HEART

Life is a story.
A story that God is writing.
Everyone's story is different.
Different characters, different setting, different circumstances, different purpose.
Different.

Sometimes, it's tempting to wish your story was more like someone else's.
Especially if you are only reading their happy, feel-good chapters.
You know the ones.
The ones they post on social media.

Everyone's story has good and bad.
Chapters that are full of joy and blessings.
Chapters that are full of hurts and heartaches.
The toughest chapters are the ones that, while you are in the middle of them being written, you want to snatch the pen out of God's hand and help Him out a little.

The hardest chapter of my story is the one God began writing fourteen years ago.
When God started building our family, I never saw the twists and turns this chapter would take.

I had no trouble getting pregnant with Alex.
We weren't officially trying, but we had decided to, kind of, maybe, think about it.
Two weeks later -- pregnant.

After Alex was born, it was three long years before I got pregnant again.  The pregnancy ended up being ectopic and I lost the baby.  I had some complications from the internal bleeding and spent the next five months making weekly trips to the doctor to monitor my levels.  And once a week, for about 5 months, I was told I was not pregnant.  Having that spoken out loud to me week after week really messed with my head.

I was tired, discouraged and without realizing it at the time, I became very guarded.  Pain hurts.  I mean, why in the world would God give me the desire to have more children but not fulfill the desire of my heart.  The Bible says that children are a blessing from the Lord.  When God is not allowing you to receive the blessing of children, it's hard not to take it personal.  It's especially hard when Satan is working overtime, whispering lies in your ear.  Satan plays dirty and will kick you when you don't have any fight left in you.

For some reason, God decided to do a little copy/paste action in this chapter.  I got pregnant again three years later and had a miscarriage.  More complications, more weekly trips to the doctor, and more being told that I am not pregnant.

I didn't know what was next for our little family of three, but I knew I never wanted to go through that again.  It was just way too hard.  I begged God to take away the desire to have more children.  Keith and I prayed the next couple of years and decided we were done.  We were done losing babies.

When God started to stir in our hearts to care for the least of these, we were more than willing.  More than willing to sponsor another child or even give financially to families who were adopting.  But God was asking us to give so much more.

He was asking us to give Him our hearts and our lives.
He was asking us to trust Him to continue writing this chapter.

We tried to ignore Him.  (I hate admitting that.)
Honestly, it felt cruel that He would make me revisit those hurts.
Nothing about it felt like love.
But, we have always said we'll go anywhere God wants us to go and do anything He wants us to do. So we said yes, trusting that He was going to change our hearts.

Over the next eighteen months, God watered and grew the seed of adoption that He planted in my heart in a way that only He can do.  It is unexplainable how you can love a child that you have never laid eyes on so much it hurts.  Without even realizing it, God was not only preparing my heart for Miles, but he was healing my heart from the journey I had to take to get to Miles.  He never took the desire away from me because our family wasn't complete.  And He knew my heart needed some serious healing to be able to walk through the next part of my journey.

When Miles finally came home, it was such an exciting time.
The baby my heart longed for was finally in my arms.  After ten years.
But after several months of being home, life with Miles started getting really challenging.

We stepped out in faith, obeyed God's call and life got harder.

The next three years would prove to be the toughest, darkest days of this fourteen year journey.  But that is where my faith was tested.  It's easy to believe God is good when life is good.  It is much harder to believe God is good when your life is falling apart.

When I finally came to the end of myself, there He was, waiting.
I have spent the last year sitting at His feet.
Learning who God is.  Learning His character.

The more I learn who God really is, the more I trust Him.
The more I empty myself out before Him, the more clearly I see Him.

The depth of God's love for me is breathtaking and I pray that I never, get over it.
The ways God has revealed Himself to me this last year makes every hurt, every heartache, every loss worth it.

When I glance back at this chapter, I realize it is less of a story of God building my family and more of God's active pursuit of my heart.  If one of the chapters in your story resembles mine, grab a hold of the One who deeply loves you.  I believe that God gives us barren times in our lives because He wants our hearts and He wants us to know His.

Has God placed a desire in your heart that you are still waiting to be fulfilled?
What are you doing with your wait?

God is ready and willing, every single day, to meet the desire of my heart.
Because all I desire is Him.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

PARENTING REDEFINED

In the last couple of years,
God has completely turned my view of parenting upside down.

You see, with adoption, you have to be very intentional about the way you parent.
Right from the start, you are parenting a broken child.
For them to be in the situation to be adopted, there is hurt, loss, and pain.
And depending on their specific situation, they could be extremely fragile.

Littles that come from hard places will have a much more difficult time if you are not willing to adjust your parenting style for the purpose of attaching and healing.

Attachment may not be something you have had to think about in your parenting,
but it is something that I think about everyday.
Every. Single. Day.

Attachment simply means how my heart connects to your heart.

My desire to understand attachment started with our adoption, then we saw the benefits of it as we sought wisdom to better disciple Alex, and even our marriage counselor has taught Keith and I ways to protect our own hearts and each others hearts.  Heart connection consumes my thinking.  (Just ask my friends.)

The more I learn to parent Miles through the filter of attaching my heart to his heart, the more God reveals to me about the way He parents me.

Just as Miles came to me with hurts, sickness and a heart longing
to be loved, to be chosen, to be part of a forever family,
I come to God the exact same way.

I am a complete mess.
I am broken, selfish, sinful and in desperate need of someone to heal my hurts.
And it was God's plan all along to do just that.


"God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family
by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ.  That is what He wanted to do,
and it gave Him great pleasure."
{Ephesians 1:5}

What better person to learn how to parent an adopted child than from the One who created me, pursues me, loves me and adopted me?

I am watching God pick up all the pieces of the last several years and literally fit them together like a puzzle.  And I am overwhelmed.  He is so good!

A few months ago, I was in a meeting and the question was asked,
"Do you want to go to the Father after you've sinned? If not, why?"
God immediately connected this question with a simple correction strategy that I learned in my adoption training 5 years ago.

Dr. Karyn Purvis taught us the importance of drawing your children closer to you when they misbehave or are simply struggling.  When my kids mess up, if my first reaction is to send them away (go to your room, go sit in time-out), that could communicate that they need to leave my presence until they can behave.  But, if I draw them close so I can be near them (come sit by me, come here), I can better help them correct the behavior and they leave without feeling shame and better connected.  To think that the way I parent my boys gives them a glimpse into the character of God is amazing and heavy all at the same time.

This has me sifting all my parenting 'instincts' through scripture and really evaluating what it communicates about God's character.  God is redefining my role as a parent.  I want to parent my children the way God parents me.  

God's Word, from beginning to end, is the story of His pursuit of us and His love for us.  He has always desired to dwell with us, to have a relationship with us, to have our hearts.

My desire is that both of my boys will know that God is crazy about them, that He deeply loves them, and there is absolutely nothing they can do to keep God from pursuing their hearts.

Nothing!

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