Monthly Archives: October 2014

My Psalm of Response {after a trip to an orphanage}

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

O Lord, Sovereign God, maker of all things, sustainer of life.
You know all things; nothing exists that you do not know.
You don’t stop there. You don’t just know all things; you are engaged with all things.
You are always present, always active, always working.

Lord, it was you who nudged me. It was you who stirred my spirit.
It was you who gently led me and fully provided.
It was you who picked me up and carried me across the world as your ambassador.
It was you who whispered encouragement in my ear and into my heart and upheld me.

psalm of response1

You said, “This is my servant. I am her God. I delight in her,”
proving yourself a faithful and gentle Father
not because of who I am but because of who you are.
Your song over me and your joy in me sustained me when my knees were weak and lifted my spirit when I was weary.

You led me on a path I did not know, a path I thought would bring your light to a dark place.
But, that path led me to you, father to the fatherless, companion to the lonely, the One true friend to the seeking.
You were already there, already at work, already drying tears and healing broken hearts.
You were already closing the gaps on tiny lips and in people’s lives.

You don’t need me to bring you there. You don’t need me to be a savior.
I lay down before you knowing I am unable, aware of my frailty and my own need to be saved.
But, you lift me up and welcome me as your child to be a part my Father’s work.
You invite me to love with my heart, head, and hands despite of myself.

psalm of response2

You are higher than the mountains, louder than the cries of humanity, bigger than the greatest walls man can build.
You show compassion to those without a family and those who grieve not cradling their children.
You guide the hands of even those who do not yet know you to do your work. You give glimpses of you.
How can I not know you more, crave you more, love you more?

O Lord, Sovereign God, maker of all things, sustainer of life.
You know all things; nothing exists that you do not know.
I humbly thank you for calling me, saving me, loving me, using me.
You are the only sovereign Lord, and I am your servant.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

China picture
 

____________________________________
Kelly-NHBO1-150x150

Kelly has a passion for supporting adoptive families, specifically to encourage parents to be intentional and understand their own hearts more clearly as they seek to care for their hearts of their children. Kelly has a Master’s degree in counseling and has been working with adoptive families since she and her husband Mark founded the The Sparrow Fund. Married to Mark since 1998, they have 3 biological children and 1 daughter who was adopted as a toddler from China in 2010. You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed by the experience of adoption, and what life for them looks like on Kelly’s personal blog, My Overthinking.

I’m me again…or now

I’m a new woman today.

6 days post China and I finally feel myself again. 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night may have something to do with it. I woke up ready to jump up, open my curtains wide, and sing The Sound of Music or some Chinese equivalent. But, saying that I’m “feeling myself again” and finally getting back to “real life” just doesn’t seem totally fitting. I’ve been to China a few times now. And, I’ll be going there a few more times. And, every time I go, I feel like I come back changed. I can’t help but come back changed because while I’m there I encounter Him and experience the world in a way that demands a response, demands a change within me. I can’t come home and put my best pictures into a photo album that sits on our coffee table for guests to admire. I didn’t go to China to take neat pictures of a fog-covered Great Wall and meet cute kids.

I went to China to be a part of His story by entering into their story and allowing them to be a part of my own.

We blew a lot of bubbles and drew a lot of chalk sunshines.

feeling myself51

feeling myself1

We watched some serious dancing.

I played musical chairs…and lost.

We rocked babies and prayed a lot of blessings.

pws064

We told children who know they are different that they were beautiful.

feeling myself3

Xing Yun1

Above else, we built relationships. We gave our hearts away. We fell in love…with them…with the ones He loves…with those He has called to care for them…with the One who made all things who we see more clearly and understand more deeply because He allowed us to see a glimpse of Him there.

Today marks 6 days after coming home from China, and I’m feeling myself not again but for today, right where He wants me to be, knowing that our God is sovereign over all things everywhere and that He is for the fatherless, that He is close to the brokenhearted, and that He redeems all things.

I’m feeling myself now.

feeling myself41

____________________________________

Kelly-NHBO1-150x150

Kelly has a passion for supporting adoptive families, specifically to encourage parents to be intentional and understand their own hearts more clearly as they seek to care for their hearts of their children. Kelly has a Master’s degree in counseling and has been working with adoptive families since she and her husband Mark founded the The Sparrow Fund. Married to Mark since 1998, they have 3 biological children and 1 daughter who was adopted as a toddler from China in 2010. You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed by the experience of adoption, and what life for them looks like on Kelly’s personal blog, My Overthinking.

Muddling through the adoption paperwork haze . . .

“So tell me,” a friend asked with some trepidation in her voice, “does adoption paperwork get any easier, I mean, you know, with your third adoption?”

“I wish!” I replied with a sigh. 

In fact, I this go around is the hardest yet! Yes, you would think it would all be old hat for me by now, but I find myself more frustrated than the last time. I know what each document needs, I know how long it can take, and all I want is to hold my baby in my arms. 
My child who is waiting for her forever family, not even knowing that at this very moment I am staring at her picture for the 10th time today with tears in my eyes. This is the reality of the adoption paperwork haze, friends.

So I have been struggling this third go around staying focused on God. He has provided for us at every step of each adoption, and it has always been in His perfect timing, so why do I doubt?

Lately, I had been praying, “God, please help us get these documents together quickly!” And then suddenly this week, I stopped my nonsense long enough to hear that whisper in my heart, “Suzanne, stop. Just stop, be still and listen. Be open to my plan and timing. I love Eva more than you can imagine. I am with her, protecting her, comforting her and preparing her heart. The same goes for you. Be still and know that I am God.”

Wow, what a burden has been lifted. It doesn’t mean that I won’t still struggle but I feel a sense of peace now that surpasses all comprehension.

Praise God for His perfect plan!


_________________________________________

SONY DSC

Suzanne Meledeo

After struggling with infertility for 5 years, God led Suzanne and her husband Adam to His Plan A for their lives—adoption! Their daughter, Grace Lihua, came into their lives in 2011 from the Fujian Province, China. Their son, Anthony Jianyou, joined their family in January of 2013 from Shanghai, and another little girl will be joining their family in 2015 from the Hunan Province. After a career in politics, Suzanne is thankful for God’s provision in their lives that now allows her to work part time as a Pilates instructor while home schooling their children and working as a part of the WAGI leadership team. You can follow their adoption journey and life on their blog, Surpassing Greatness.

The view from where I’m standing

I’ve been wondering ever since I committed to The Sparrow Fund’s team why I’ve been called to go to China on this trip and serve at this orphanage halfway around the world. The call, the timing were clearly orchestrated by God in the craziness that only His hands can perform. Yet, my role on this trip has been foggy. I feel like I am in a waiting period. Like dusk, that time right before the sun is about to rise. It is still nighttime, the stars are slightly visible and most of nature and people are still asleep, but the moon is beginning to set and shades of purple fill the sky. Birds are starting to sing and slowly you can make out the shape of the landscape surrounding-all indicators of change happening. That is where I feel like I am. Dawn is on the rise and I will soon be able to see what God is doing in my life, but for now I am still waiting on Him, listening to the birds and seeing the beauty of dusk.

So what am I hearing, what am I seeing in China?
baby in crib1The beauty in holding a little boy, 13 months old, who is not yet walking nor crawling nor even standing up as he should be doing and, therefore, often sits all day, watching a DVD on loop play, playing with a handful of the same toys on a mat only 12×15 feet in size, rarely leaving that space. And, yet, he laughs. He smiles big melt-your-heart smiles. He has dimples and only two little bottom teeth. He loves to be tickled. He has a silent chuckle of pure joy. He loves to be held. He baby talks. I find myself holding him many of the days and I consider where would he be if he was in a normal home setting with furniture to pull up on, space to be mobile, family to play with? Would he be walking? Eating cheerios out of snack cups and playing with matchbox cars? I find myself whispering to him to fight. To grow strong, to work hard and crawl. I want his chances for adoption to be better. I want him to know what it is like to have a Dad and Mom, siblings, pets. But I know that is not fair to ask him that, and he can’t really understand me and what an expectation to ask of a child? And then I realize in the unfairness of it all, I’d take him as he is. Isn’t that what God does for us? He takes us in our weakness because He sees our inner beauty. He fights for us to be in His family.

children eating1

That little boy is just one song. One shade in this dusk sky that surrounds me.

There are many more. I had 19 kids in my room at the orphanage alone and each is another story—a different shade, a beautiful shade in the sky.

It is my prayer that as the sun begins to rise in my life, it would on many other lives as well, and they would be moved by the Spirit to search for their role in this story and take steps in faith to mesh their story with the stories of these children.

_____________________________

Kelly dixon bio pic

Kelly Dixon

Kelly has been married 13 years and has two children, Charlotte age 7 and Jasper who just turned 2. Passionate about serving and discipling teenage youth, she works part time as a middle and high school science teacher to home-schooled students in the greater Philadelphia region. In addition, she is involved in mentoring youth at her church as a youth group leader. Through a close friend, God brought her to join The Sparrow Fund team to Shaanxi, China where the world of serving and caring for the orphan became part of hers.

When Words Fail

As our China Team is returning from their fall trip to serve orphans, we wanted to share Heather’s reflections following her trip to China with the Sparrow Fund Team last spring.

___________________________

Sparrow fund march 1

It’s been almost a week since I stepped off a plane back onto U.S. soil after being in China for 11 days.  I planned on writing about my experience shortly after, but here I am, six days later, and I’m still struggling to find words to adequately describe the trip.

How do you accurately explain to people a journey that profoundly impacts the way that you see God and others?  

How do you put into words what happens in your heart when you walk into a place expecting hopelessness and see God at work there?  

How do you eloquently share the emotion you’ve experienced when you have looked into the eyes of an orphan whose story is a mystery and pray with faith that God has a divine destiny for them?

Sparrow fund march 2

I could sit here and write about what we did while we were in China.  I could tell you about what our days in the orphanage looked like.  I could describe the children, their caregivers and the facility.  I could give you the itinerary of our trip and tell you about the incredible sights we saw.  

But now, in this moment when my heart is still raw and my mind is constantly drawn back to the orphanage, to their faces…

Sparrow fund march 3

Instead of telling you what I did, I feel it’s much more important to try and share what God did in me.

I left for China with the desire to love orphans.  I came home with the understanding that God was already there, loving them in a way I never could.

I left for China thinking we would bring hope to the hopeless.  I came home knowing that, even in the most tragic of places, God’s spirit is there, hope in hand. 

I left for China ready to be a light to the staff and caregivers at the orphanage.  I came home having witnessed His light radiating through the beautiful people we met. 

I left for China thinking God needed me to go and do something for Him.  I came home realizing that God had already been at work there, and I was simply invited to come and be a part of it.

Sparrow fund march 4

Our God is so incredibly big.  He is at work in the far corners of the earth, His presence bringing hope and light and healing to the least of these.  His hand is gentle and strong and is able to do mighty works on behalf of those who don’t even know His name.  He is drawing people to Himself through His goodness and mercy.  And when we step out in obedience, He gives us the incredible opportunity to be a part of that work.  

It’s not about us.  It’s not about what we can do.  It’s not about good deeds or works or humanitarian efforts or anything based on human skill or emotion.  Our lives should be spent- poured out, broken, completely used up- as we make ourselves available to God’s purposes.  It’s never about us.  It’s about finding where He is at work and joining in what He is doing.

For each of us, that will look different.  For me, the Lord has opened my eyes to what He is doing in orphan care and adoption.  He is setting the lonely in families, and I want to be a part of that.  I love seeing His redemption and grace mercifully poured out through adoption.  I have been a witness firsthand through the grafting in of our son to our family.  I believe God is doing an incredible thing and I am willing to join in that work, in whatever capacity the Lord sees fit.  I am His humble servant, He is Sovereign God.

Sparrow fund march 5

Today, as I sit here in my comfortable house with the sounds of my three precious children in the background, my thoughts drift to those dark brown eyes, all 13 sets of them, that I looked into as I prayed and declared blessing and favor over them for 5 days.  I am not hopeless, and not saddened for them, because I know that God has already been at work and will continue to move on behalf of these precious treasures that He calls by name.   I cannot rescue them all, but I can be a part of what God is doing through prayer and advocating.  

How do you describe what you’ve experienced when words fail you and tears are the only thing that come easy?  

Just be still and know that HE IS GOD. 

I’m waiting. 

Sparrow fund march 6

“Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and destitute.”
Psalms 82:3

_____________________________

Heather Fallis

Heather Fallis

Heather and her husband Derick stay busy raising their two biological daughters and their son who came to their family from South Korea in 2012.  They are youth pastors at their local church and Heather is a director of a private Christian preschool. When she is not working or spending time loving on her family, you can find her sharing coffee with friends, writing, making music, or getting creative [messy] in the kitchen. You can follow their family’s journey at Confessions of an Honest Mom and Our Heart-N-Seoul.

Come brokenhearted…

Lord I find You in the morning
Lord I seek You everyday
Let my life be for Your glory
Woven in Your threads of grace
Oh how I need You

I’m going to be honest. Meeting orphans, looking them in the eye, knowing the truth, is hard. But, nothing else brings me as much joy and happiness as being in China and holding these China babies in my arms. My heart has never been so full, and I have never loved as much as I have before coming to China. These China babies do more for me than I do for them. My life has been changed by meeting them. I’m ruined for anything else. This trip came after I had already lived in China for 2 years working with orphans with special needs. I didn’t know why I was coming back at this time, except that I REALLY wanted to. Sometimes God calls us to things, or something happens in our lives, and we don’t know why. Sometimes we will never know EXACTLY why we were called, or why it happened, but I know that God can and does make everything beautiful. If we step out and give our lives completely to God, He will show himself faithful and bless us beyond what we could ever ask or imagine. Sometimes it’s hard, and we feel like we can’t go on, but God doesn’t ask us to do it on our own strength. When I feel like I’m done, like I can’t do anymore… I can’t fall in love with another kid, He gives me the grace, peace, and strength to keep going. All I do is cry out to him and He picks me back up.

This week I didn’t want to fall in love with one of the kids but kind of knew it would happen anyway. So…

…Let my life be for your glory…

print048On the second day at the orphanage, I was sitting on the floor holding one of the kids, when a boy sitting in a bumbo chair reached around and grabbed my hand. I had just sat down and, since his back was facing me, hadn’t made my way to him just yet. But, he noticed me sitting there and grabbed my hand. I moved a little closer so I could hold one boy and also hold H’s hand. Well, that was it. When his little hand grabbed mine, I was done for. Over the next few days, I tried to hold all of the kids equally, but I couldn’t help holding H the most. He gradually started making more eye contact with me and would lean his head against mine. Oh man…when that kid smiled or laughed or put his little hand in mind, my heart seriously melted.

I am still not sure why exactly God had me come here. But I came anyway and if only for those sweet moments with H, it was worth it. There were so many amazing moments this week, too many to write about here. I am so humbled that God let us be part of his work. I feel unworthy and ask, “who am I?” that for a week, God let me hold and love his children. If I can love one child this much after a week, how much more does God love them? How much more is He taking care of them and holding them in his arms? I might not be able to hold H again, but if I’ve learned anything from my time working in a foster home and visiting kids waiting for families, it’s that God has a plan, and holds onto them when we can’t. Our time there was temporary, but God never leaves them or forsakes them. My heart is breaking, but praise God that he heals the brokenhearted and puts the lonely in families.

As I end this post, and as we pack up and prepare to travel, I’m listening to Crowder’s “Come as you are.” One line in the song is a perfect way to end, and gives us hope in a broken and hurting world.

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come brokenhearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel

Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal.
Earth has no sorrow that
Heaven can’t heal.

____________________________________

Chrissy Kelly

Chrissy Kelly

In the past 7 years, Chrissy has traveled to Brazil, Australia, and Papua New Guinea, but no other place grabbed her heart like China. She spent 2 1/2 years working at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village, a foster home for special needs orphans, located outside of Beijing. While on staff there, she homeschooled for a family from the US, helped with visitors, and worked with the chinese staff handling donations and supplies. She went to China with the plan of only staying for one year, but immediately fell in love with the children and knew that she would stay longer. With the desire to continue advocating for waiting children and serving as He calls, Chrissy joined the Sparrow Fund’s team to serve at an orphanage in Shaanxi.

Piaoliang

Piaoliang.

Mandarin for beautiful. It is the first word I learned and have actually remembered among all the others.

When I decided to come to China to serve in the orphanage, I expected darkness, fear, sadness, hurt…suffering. From the moment we arrived at the orphanage on that first day, these preconceived expectations were shattered. My very first thought as we pulled into the gate was, “how beautiful.” Each hall so bright and cheerful, every detail and decoration exploding with color and life. Beauty. And, the children. Each one unique, sweet faced, deep and hopeful. Their smiles, full of promise and truth. They are beautiful. The nannies…their devotion, attention, and playful love for each child…again, beautiful.

The theme for the photo workshop on the first day was beauty. The children were instructed to take pictures of things that they found beautiful. Our little WY galloped around the front courtyard, taking pictures of everything from concrete to bricks, a shoe, and the side of a metal van. The whole time I followed her around and watched with the feeling a parent gets when they are watching their child do something that is too advanced or “out of their league.” You know, that, “awww…that is so cute” feeling. The assumption that little WL could not understand Ben’s directions because of her delayed cognitive development was there. She bent down to take a very VERY close shot of a 3-foot section of clover. I just thought to myself, “wow, that is going to be a pretty rough picture.” Upon seeing the developed image, again my expectations were shattered. The ever-changing hues of green, the veins winding through bringing life to the sturdy stem, the smallest drop of rain cradled on a single leaf.

Beautiful.

Piaoliang.

Little WY taught me to ignore my schooled knowledge and years of wisdom, my everyday ho-hum look at life. She taught me to crouch down really low to the ground, to life, and capture what is there beneath the expectations and knowledge. We must look deeper than what is normal, what is comfortable, to see the beauty. We must let go of preconceived ideas so we can consider and see more closely the beauty in God’s creation. He has made all things…all and everything beautiful. We just have to look more closely sometimes.

Piaoliang.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

silly group picture

____________________________________

Beth Curry bioBeth Curry is the mother to three young children and married to a middle school teacher. Her heart for ministry has always been with youth, particularly high school students. She taught high school social studies for 6 years before deciding to stay at home to raise their three kids. However, she continues to work with youth as a leader for her church’s youth group, where she seeks to help teens embrace and know the grace of The Lord. More recently, she has become truly aware of the everyday blessings and love that the youth, as well as her own children receive and she was overcome with the desire to share the basic gift of love with the fatherless. This desire, and the will of God led her to join a Sparrow Fund/AWAA trip to an orphanage in China. Here, Beth hopes to share the basic love of a mother and the love of Christ with the nannies and children.

Come and see

Words poured out during a hazy afternoon in China…

____________________________________

The righteous deeds of the saints—the good things we do in the service of Jesus…they are our glory, they are Jesus’ gift to us…He made it Himself as beautifully as only the creator of the sunsets and of stars can.

–John Hindley

Thursday Baoji10
it is not about us.
it isn’t even all about them.
it’s all about Him.
His heart. His kingdom work. Drawing us and them, His creations, closer to Himself.
Revealing even just a glimpse of who He is through touch…locked eyes…words that we cannot understand but expression and tone that we can…relationship.

Thursday Baoji09

Thursday Baoji03

Thursday Baoji04

I imagine Him smiling, nudging me along much like I do the children before me.
He’s saying…
Let me show you who I am.
Come take a look at hope.
Come and see my redeeming love.
Let me guide your hands to join me.
Be my ambassador
not because you are worthy but because you are my child and I can’t wait to show myself to you.
I am good.
Right here.
at this orphanage in China.
I am good.
I am.

Thursday Baoji05

Thursday Baoji06

Thursday Baoji07

Thursday Baoji08

____________________________________ Kelly-NHBO1-150x150

Kelly has a passion for supporting adoptive families, specifically to encourage parents to be intentional and understand their own hearts more clearly as they seek to care for their hearts of their children. Kelly has a Master’s degree in counseling and has been working with adoptive families since she and her husband Mark founded the The Sparrow Fund. Married to Mark since 1998, they have 3 biological children and 1 daughter who was adopted as a toddler from China in 2010. You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed by the experience of adoption, and what life for them looks like on Kelly’s personal blog, My Overthinking.

Glimpses

Words from the journal of one of our teammates while I make my 1 + 2 Nescafe in my room and start the day…
______________________________________________

Day 1 in the orphanage was overwhelming. I loved playing with the 5-7 month old babies. SS was a happy, smiley baby girl. She seemed healthy with good development. PZ was another sweet baby. But, what made the day hard was the baby with CP. I feel deeply in love. I think the Lord is calling me to special needs. We have a PT in our team room and she was showing me how to care for this need. She didn’t have a lot of head control or control in her arms and legs. I spent a good amount of the day stretching her arms and massaging her palms. Her right hand gripped my finger tightly. It was then that I felt invested, committed. Her left hand was still limp with no dexterity. I kept working on it in small doses with intermittent neck movements and arm stretches. I helped her with a chopping motion. She didn’t like it. She would cringe lightly with the movement of crossing her arms in front of her body. We tried some belly time. She laid like an airplane with her chest in my palm. I held a toy in front of her and helped her grab it. Her heart rate went up. I could feel each heart beat pound in my hand. She was getting the exercise she needed. I smiled. She was working so hard. She was strong. I gave her a break and just held her, rubbing her back before we tried belly time a while later. After the second belly time, I had her in my lap when suddenly, with her left hand, she gripped my knee. I leaped for joy inside! Shortly after, she fell asleep in my arms. She worked so hard, and I was so proud.

______________________________________________

When this team member entered the same room for Day 2, ready to pursue this sweet child again, she was handed a different baby. She thought, “I don’t want this baby this morning. I want my little girl from yesterday…how can I get my hands on her instead!” As she was surveying the scene to strategize to that end, she stopped.

One of the ayis was in the corner of the room doing the exact exercises with the baby girl that our team member had done the day before.

She had watched her from a distance without asking questions, observing, noticing the progress, seeing the joy in our team member when the baby girl gripped her knee. And, now, there she was, doing exactly what the PT had shown our team member to do.

If only for that one moment, if only for that one ayi, if only for that one baby receiving what she needs, this trip with 15 people was worth it.

Glimpses…

Room B1 Room A1 Room d1 baoji outside1 ____________________________________ Kelly-NHBO1-150x150Kelly has a passion for supporting adoptive families, specifically to encourage parents to be intentional and understand their own hearts more clearly as they seek to care for their hearts of their children. Kelly has a Master’s degree in counseling and has been working with adoptive families since she and her husband Mark founded the The Sparrow Fund. Married to Mark since 1998, they have 3 biological children and 1 daughter who was adopted as a toddler from China in 2010. You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed by the experience of adoption, and what life for them looks like on Kelly’s personal blog, My Overthinking.

Stripping Away Layers {Resting in His Faithfulness}

It’s been 6 months since we moved to the farm:) What we call the farm anyway. Little by little–we are making this place our home. It’s not easy making updates with homeschooling and 5 children under 10, but each time we put our mark on something–it feels a little more like home…like it fits us.

This weekend.

Oh the lessons.

Bit by bit we can do updates–and this next month, it will be the carpet upstairs. Removing 10 years of someone else’s stuff and replacing it with clean, new carpet. I decided to help the cost a bit by ripping up the carpet on the stairs. Only–my projects never, ever seem to help the cost. Some times, just add to it.

So on Thursday I decided to just rip it up. It was no easy task. And I’ve got battle wounds to prove that. Scraps all over my arm from those staples left in the carpet as I twisted and pulled and pulled some more. On Friday–I started sanding. Then that night–I stained. And uh oh. Applied Minwax. NEVER. EVER. EVER. EVER. apply Minwax stain to stairs or floor or furniture until you have every speck of stain completely removed. Or else. You are left with a sticky mess. That must be paint thinned off. Washed and scrubbed and sanded AGAIN.

Then you just grab a can of paint and say, “Forget it!” and paint the stairs grey. And you aren’t sure how it will look–but at this point you don’t even care because you just need them to not be sticky and send little feet all over the house with traces of stain all over them.

Don’t get me wrong–seeing little footprints throughout the house this weekend has been sweet…even mine:) BUT–that’s just not what I was going for.

It. Has. Been. A. MESS!

Richard assures me that in the end–it will be beautiful. And the perfect fit…because it has our stamp and hand all over it. But right now…it’s quite a mess.

And last night. I sat in my driveway as the sunset and cried for the first time in a very, very, VERY long time. But not about the stain. Or the stairs. Or wishing I could go back to 3 days ago and just let the carpet folks to it as we had once planned. Instead…it was over the hard in the now of helping little ones heal…

I’ve missed every soccer game for my oldest this season because my littlest ones either need naps or they aren’t able to sit and watch without running on the field…or having a tantrum because of sensory overstimulation. On Friday we missed a Nutcracker ballet session because of dealing with lots and lots of layers…and in the mess of trying to talk through the layers and why who did what and how that hurt someone else…something important was missed by another child.

Some times I hear those awful lines that only mean commenters or the enemy himself would say…you shouldn’t have grown your family again and again if you couldn’t handle it…didn’t you know adoption was going to be full of healing–you knew what you were getting into. The list goes on to the things we can hear–but none of them truth, encouragement, love or even reality. Because the reality is that the Lord did call us to this…it is more than we can handle…but it isn’t more than He wants to handle and plans to handle for us.

I sat there–stripping off layer after layer of stain.

It’s so hard. The layers.

It looked better being that old scuffed up carpet runner. But that was taken away. And the layers could begin to come off. I wanted it to look new. But it won’t ever look that way. So paint. And it will be beautiful–but not until all those layers come off.

And Richard comes in and hears me complaining as I paint the first layer…”Look how awful this looks on the side…I’m making such a mess. This is harder than I thought it was going to be. I just want to quit.”

“Why do you want everything to be perfect when you know you are in the middle of it? It won’t be until–you’re done. It will be–we just gotta get there,” he said.

The paint brush stopped.

And I thought of my children.

“Why do I want everything to be perfect when I know we are in the middle of it? It won’t be until–we’re done. It will be–we just gotta get there.”

The layers…the peeling away…the healing…the working through the effects of past trauma…IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY…or pretty or look perfect.

I know this is true about my stairs–but why can’t I grasp and believe it about something as grand as my family and children?

Then…I stopped to get ready for a Bible study with my Laney girl tomorrow. We shared our hearts and wishes and our wants.

Her wishes…my wishes…they might never be–but still we wished them…and my heart melted when she shared hers…and it was mine too. I tucked her in and went downstairs to put together scripture memory cards for the girls in our group–and this month…focusing on His faithfulness and perseverance.

Faithfulness…

Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock. His works are perfect and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”

Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.”

Psalm 18:25 “To the faithful, You show Yourself faithful…”

Psalm 145:13 “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.”

Psalm 57:10 “For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”

Proverbs 3:3-4 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the table of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good beam in the sight of God and man.”

Perseverance…

Isaiah 40:28-29 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired and weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

Romans 5:3-4 “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

1 Corinthians 13:7 “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”

Those scriptures–I know are for the girls. But…tonight–how much they felt FOR ME. I sat there typing them away feeling as if I was having a little revival myself.

I can’t worry about tomorrow. Or what things might look like when our kids are teenagers or after. Will healing come? Will things be easier? Will they get who they are in Him? With us? Will I remember any of this myself because oh my…some days I’d just like to be normal–not homeschooling because of a special need or staying up late to learn attachment ideas or taking off the layers and layers and layers of stuff that we just aren’t promised a clear picture of what it will look like. BUT we are given in His Word a clear picture of what it is FOR.

For His glory.

For us to know Him.

To be shaped to be like Him.

To learn to trust in His faithfulness.

To keep going because He is in us and has gone before us.

Because healing is in HIS hands and not mine…and for that I am ever so thankful.

Even in the middle of the layers—when I want it to look beautiful but it’s hard—I can step back and see the beauty even in the hard. (Although tonight the word beauty wouldn’t be my first word to use). BUT…I know I will see it. And I’m starting to. Because it’s also MY layers that must be stripped away. The first layer–giving up wanting it to not be hard…or to look pretty in between the hard…and to just learn to embrace the ashes and the beauty all together while the transforming is actually happening.

Oh how I’m learning.

And instead of throwing my hands up in the air the next time the tantrum happens on the field or sewing needle is stuck in a brother’s back (ouch!)–I want to remember these are just layers. The taking time to bend down to look in their eyes…or rock them before–and even after nap time…it’s the new paint going on. When layers and layers come off–one layer of paint won’t fully cover it. Layers and layers and layers must go back on. It will take days. Years. Maybe even forever.

But He is faithful and good–and has a plan…and I trust Him.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

                                  ______________________________

andrea youngAndrea is a stay-at-home momma of five. who loves homeschooling her kiddos.  She’s also a photographer and orphan/widow advocate giving of her time to Wiphan Ministries and ministering to adoptive mommas through Created 4 Care.  She truly believes the Lord can use us all right where we ALREADY are to make a big difference in this world.  You can read more of her writing at Babe of My Heart.