Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Spoiled Brat.

I have had such a charmed life. I grew up in a family that loved me, protected me, had plenty of money, great vacations, and had very little in the way of hardship or obstacles. The sheen progressively wore off (as it does as we age into adulthood, and walk away from the innocence of childhood), and as it did I would get disappointed, thinking something was wrong/needed to be fixed because it wasn't 'perfect' or 'easy' like it used to be.

I heard a quote from Dr. Phil the other day (yes, I know, I'm about to quote Dr. Phil!) about anger. He said something like, anger comes from the feeling of something being unfair. (I know, I'm attempting to quote him and I don't even know exactly what he said. Sorry...). He also said it's an outward expression of hurt, fear and frustration.

I think, after some examination, I've realized that I have anger at the root of my frustration in life. I've been describing it as rebellion, but I think I should be calling it anger/frustration instead. I feel rebellious in it, because I'm sensing leading in some areas but I don't want to act on them because of this deep down feeling of 'it's not fair'.

So, after doing some prayer and psychologizing about my current state-of-heart, I landed on Romans 12. Where my bible heading reads 'how to behave.' Nice. :) So many verses in that chapter just jumped off the page to me... (I'm going to paraphrase) Do not conform but be transformed. Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. Love must be sincere. Honor one another above yourselves.

I have spent too much time upset with some things that have not turned out as rosy as I thought they were supposed to. (And reflecting on those passages in Romans 12) Instead of being transformed (in the depths of my mind), I've been conformed into what I grew up thinking that family, happiness, health, and life were 'supposed' to look like. Instead of thinking of myself as a disciple/daughter of God, I've thought of myself as someone who 'deserves' such and such... :( I've realized that love MUST be sincere for it to be love... and I've not honored others above myself, but instead I've whined about the injustice of having to spend my time and energy on things that were not my choice, but were 'given' to me or happened to me/my family.

At the heart of it, the ugly truth is that I've been angry at God because I've expected my life to 'look' and 'feel' a certain way, and instead He's making it look the way He wants it to look (and we live in a fallen world, where disease, death, and stuff happens). The irony is that I've ASKED Him to make it look the way He wants it to look, but I get angry because 'it's not fair' that it has to be different than I expected, or more demanding than I anticipated (ha! it makes me laugh at myself to even type it- but friends, it's the ugly truth!). In my attempts to 'fix' it and make it look more like my life when I was a kid, I'm only frustrating myself and probably making myself more internally focused and self-centered! yucky truth.

So, I'm grateful for some perspective. At my breaking point/or point of true self-realization on this issue earlier this week, I spoke to the Lord from my heart and said "Lord, you must be so disappointed in me." To which I heard in my heart that he replied "No, Sarah, YOU are disappointed in you." And He reminded me that His grace is there for me, whether I walk in it or not. His love for me is there, whether I believe it or not.

Now to continue walking it out. Our God is so persistent. This theme has been reoccurring in my life for a while now... He's going to keep bringing up the subject until I surrender to Him fully in this area of my thinking. Gotta love how many scriptures are out there that take the focus off of us and point it back to Him. That is the cure, you know...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Eagerly watch...

In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. Psalm 5:3

I read this yesterday morning and it struck a chord with me. In the mornings I've been waking so hungry to see what God will do with my life, my kids, my circumstances; mostly because I feel pinned down in most of those situations, unable to provide radical change by my own doing/by my own hand. I read this verse and was so moved by the image of 'eagerly watching' for what the Lord will do in response to our prayers. What images come to mind when you think of 'eagerly watching?' I think of hunters sitting in stillness and silence waiting on prey. I think of checking the mailbox when you're expecting a letter. I think of that look on my kids' faces when they're watching an enthralling cartoon (imagine the zoned out zombie... you could drop a frying pan in the kitchen and they wouldn't flinch...).

In all of those images in my head, a few words come to mind: perseverance, hunger, determination, and excitement. I started to wonder about how those four words are playing out in my prayer life and in my pursuit of God as I 'eagerly watch.'

Our adoption process is officially 'moving' again, and we're back in line- but after reading a program update today, it looks like the whole program (on the India side) is stalled for an undetermined amount of time. So, I stared at the Christmas tree earlier tonight, wondering if we'd be sitting in the same spot next Christmas, pining over our little girl, OR if we'd be holding her in our arms so she doesn't pull all the ornaments off the tree? I don't know- but I do know that I can eagerly watch for the Lord to move- and I KNOW that He'll move, so why don't I just watch with expectancy and joy!?

When I got out our Christmas stuff this weekend, I pulled out this 'little people' brown skinned girl with a ponytail that came in a stocking that I had bought on sale last year and tucked away. I had envisioned that it would be a play toy this Christmas for my little brown skinned beauty, but instead, I hung it up on her stocking hook and laughed a little at the image of the word PEACE so prominently displayed on the mantle that's been empty of her real stocking for two Christmases already! :)



My cynical/joking side thinks that things are going to start proceeding pretty quickly with the adoption, because we relaxed with our finances this fall, and had some medical/car bills that dented our adoption savings! I reasoned that when our resources are dwindling, that God has a plan and that things are going to go forward with HIS provision instead. I'm not sure that's a healthy response to seeing my savings account dip, but it's fun to think that because it's draining God is on the move bringing our little girl! :) Hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving! Happy Christ Mass preparation to you all! ;)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Truthseekers and the work of reconciliation

Humility and Love in action
Have you heard of Truthseekers International? Probably not- so I'm telling you about them today. :) A family that we worked with while we were living in India working with eMi moved back to India with Truthseekers in New Delhi. They've been there for a number of years and the ministry that they do is so wonderful. The ministry of Truthseekers is primarily to bring the gospel to the Dalit class/caste in India (the untouchables). Every Thanksgiving/end of November, they do a really neat event where Christians from around the world travel to India and do foot washing ceremonies for the untouchables. These Christians become the hands of Christ, touching and serving people who are so often NOT touched or served. It is powerful.

They have a blog:
http://truthseekersfootwashing.blogspot.com/

This is where people who are currently on this trip (right now!) are blogging for their friends and family about the experience of touching and washing the feet of the Dalit caste. They have posted pictures, personal journal entries, etc... It's really exciting- not only to see the way they're being changed by ministering, but also seeing the people who have been labeled as 'untouchable' receive touch/love/prayer!

Please pray with them/me for the footwashing events. Pray for God to open the hearts of all involved. Pray for His spirit to flow fully, and His love to be evident in the hearts of people who have not received His love before. If you scroll down on their blog page, it has their travel schedule. India is roughly 12 hours ahead of us in the US- so you can pray for the events as they're happening. :) They did a footwashing event today (Sunday) and they have another in just a few hours (Monday).

I love the heart of Truthseekers- and wanted to tell you about it too.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finished the table project!

Finally finished my table project! I'm really enjoying the look! Still working on my friend's table though. For some reason the finish on hers started to bubble up with the LAST coat of lacquer! Bleh. So, hoping for a few more warm days in the garage to work on it sans children (and hubby is really hoping for me to finish so he can park his car in the garage before the weather gets yucky). :)

I'm really glad that it is finished just in time for the holidays! It made me so happy to imagine our Christmas dinner this year on a table that is big enough to fit us all (I have two more chairs that match, and the bench can seat 3)!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We have lift off!!!! :)

This is the feeling I have right now:

We finally have lift-off! :) We met with our social worker today and completed our home study update meeting! :) She'll now type it up and do whatever they do to make it official- and we're back in line again! I think we'll be back at #2, but we'll wait to know for sure once the update is official. :)

Ahh... Thank you Jesus! Makes me want to run and wave my hat in the air, just like those guys. :)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Leslie is with Jesus.

Thank you to my friends who prayed for Leslie Evans. Leslie went to be with the Lord this morning. Please continue to pray for her husband Mark and family. Mark lost his first wife Melinda to cancer only a few years ago, and his three children have now lost their second mom.

I'm a wreck about this right now. I'm praying that I can make it to her funeral, whenever it is...

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Doing the paperwork shuffle :)


As we prepared to be eligible to be back in line again for the adoption process with the new job firmly under our belt, I grossly underestimated the amount of paperwork that was going to need to be done! AGH!

So, we have the two documents that I knew we would need (new health insurance, new job letter), now I'm working on updated child abuse clearance forms, background checks, bank statements, etc... :) Ahh the joys of paperwork. Because it's been more than a year since those documents were turned in, we have to do them again... For the 3rd time!!! (I'm choosing joy. I'm choosing joy. I'm choosing joy.)

tick, tock, tick, tock... I'm a little glad that October is really slow for India adoptions, as it's currently allowing us time to get all of the paperwork back and get our homestudy update done before things get moving again... :)

I stole this picture from somewhere else online- just to remind me WHY i'm doing all this paperwork. :)

Monday, October 04, 2010

Still praying for Leslie

Hi blog friends. I'm still praying for Leslie. A friend of hers created a blog that is being updated with any updates on her health.

http://www.lesliejoyevans.blogspot.com/

Health, life, peace and God's miraculous Power be yours, Leslie! In Jesus' name!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Will you pray?

I received information that has me sick to my stomach, as well as soul-sick for this family friend...

Here's the history: my friends Mark and Melinda were high school sweethearts. After being married for about 10 years, Melinda, at age 31, died of breast cancer- leaving behind 3 small kids and a husband who loved her dearly. Mark went through that difficult ordeal and walked through it with the Lord at his side. A few years later, Mark met Leslie. I don't know their love story- but I do know they fell in love and got married, blending their families together. They had their one year anniversary earlier this year. I got an email this weekend that made me sick with longing for the Lord to intervene and heal... Please read the paragraph below (borrowed from a Facebook prayer page for her) and pray with us for Leslie's healing. She's currently in a coma.

"Leslie was pregnant with twins. Her water broke when she was at 19 weeks. They were able to stabilize her and the babies up to 21 weeks. Then baby a a girl was born stillborn this last Sunday. They tried to keep her from having baby b and she unfortunately did and that baby was unable to make it due to lack of lung function. Leslie, had an amniotic embolism which supposedly hasn't been heard of since the 40's and only one recorded time since this. But, she had a heart attack, and was with out oxygen for 17 minutes, her kidneys have failed and she's been put on dialysis, she's been placed on a ventilator and started at 100% oxygen but has started breathing at 60% on her own, which is good. She was seizing but that has decreased, and her blood pressure was low, however, that has gone up to normal and meds have been reduced which is good. There is risk of brain damage, heart problems and other organ damage. EEG shows improvements and stabilization, Leslie hasn't responded to touch or sound but her pupil's dilate with light- which is good. We are praying for complete healing and recovery. We need a miracle!!!"

Our God is mighty to save! Pray with me!

One Less...

Can you hear the crickets chirping on my blog? :) It's been pretty quiet around here lately. Not many blog posts. I've been filling my time with lots of good worship, painting/decorating my kitchen, and shopping on craigslist... :) So, my post today is about two "one less" things. :) I have one less boring/beige room in my house. And I posted a video from Matthew West, "One Less" about orphans...

Here's a before picture of the kitchen table area. Bland and unexciting. Nothing to please the eye, or make me want to linger there. :)
I had an image in mind of what I wanted in the space, but wasn't inspired, and didn't have money saved to do anything. But after a friend mentioned that she couldn't seat her family of 5 around her dinky kitchen table, the wheels started turning in my head to give her my table and shop for a table better suited for my space. :) So, I finally dedicated some money to the project by selling something else on craigslist, and started watching for deals.

It took me about 8 different shades of blue/green samples to match and find just the perfect shade... but after I painted, the whole project took shape. :)

Here is the 'almost finished' shot with too much light from the morning sun, but ahh, what a great place for lingering quiet times, coffee, and blogging!. :) I'll try to remember to post an actual 'finished' shot after I paint the set, with better light, and all of the roman shades pulled to exactly the same height (that bothers me... but not enough to put my coffee down and take a new pic). :)

I found this table, 6 chairs, and buffet table on craigslist ($95 for ALL of it), and splurged and bought a bench at wal*lly world, that you can't see because it's behind the table (my kids were sad at the thought of giving away their old beloved bench where they can pester one another/hug on each other while eating). My plan is to paint the table and chairs black, and do something different to the buffet. Maybe something crazy like a bold green or maybe cream underneath silverleaf... what do you think?

I sewed the curtain panels out of fabric that I got at 40% off at Hobby Lobby with a coupon and my birthday money, and I got a steal of a deal at Be* Ba* and Be*... with coupons. Did anyone else know that you can use expired coupons there? A friend told me about that, so I headed over with 4 coupons for the 4 roman shades that I wanted and sheepishly checked with a sales associate. Apparently, if you have the mailed coupons, they'll take them, no matter what the date! So, I saved $5 on EACH of the shades, that were already marked down 50%!


It's funny, but I'm excited to sit in my kitchen now. It's calming, pretty, soothing, AND it didn't break the bank. Now, I just need to get to painting the table set. :) And, I'm loving that with the shades down, I can still see out and watch my boys on the swingset, without sun in my eyes.

My garage, ready to get stinky with paint. And, Brandi's table, that I'll have to re-tackle after it gets warm again... I learned a thing or two from my failed attempts at spraying her table with lacquer...

And, the nearly finished product (with photography/lighting skills that leave something to be desired). :)
Now I just need to figure out what color to do the little buffet table that I use for my laptop.

On the adoption front: We have updated employment letters sent off to the secretary of state for apostille (again!)! My heart is HUNGRY for my daughter! Not in the 'fi-fi-fo-fum' way :) but in the aching, longing, need-to-hold-you-and-love-on-you-in-person-been-waiting-on-you-all-my-life kind of way. I'm wearing my 'Man Up. Protect and love the fatherless.' T-shirt from the Alsworth's fundraiser as I type this. Game on, people. :)

I saw this video and knew I needed to post it and share it here with you.

One Less by Matthew West (The Story Behind The Song) from emicmg on Vimeo


I think I might submit my project in this blog party:

Monday, August 30, 2010

2 years and counting...

August 26th was our two year anniversary of starting the adoption process! I've been thinking about it all week. Asking God for a scripture and some word from Him on this whole situation that has been SO interesting... :)

The scripture I felt led to was:
Philippians 1:3-6 (The Message)

A Love That Will Grow
Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God's Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

God is accomplishing a LOT through this adoption process, and thankfully, He will complete it... Lots of refining in me. Lots of heart work in us as a family. Lots of ups, and lots of downs. If you had told me two years ago, that I'd still be sitting here, without my daughter, I KNOW I would have cried. Hard. And, I will admit I've been a little emotionally off kilter this week... a bit of grief that I'm still waiting, and still haven't met her yet... but just like that scripture says- every time she crosses my mind- I break out in exclamations to God. :) We're still waiting on you, peanut!!!

Thankfully, part of what God is working in me through the job loss situation, is to let go. I had thought that I had 'let go' of everything regarding this process... except for the finances. I was a financial tightwad and it was not healthy for the family... When we got our first paycheck from this new job (that did NOT involve a $700/month commute like the job over the summer! Hallelujah!), I let out a big sigh of relief. God provided. And God provided sooo well. Hubby came home this week and said that he is so fulfilled and challenged in this job. So, in celebration of us staying in our house, and not being a tightwad- I made some curtains, and we're finally going to paint! :)

Another special thing about the 2 year anniversary this week is that we went to our annual India Fest here in Tulsa. It was wonderful, the food was great, and the boys loved it. They took a rickshaw ride, I got henna on my hand, and I loved that the theme was Indian weddings! Such beautiful colors and textures!

Happy 2 years of waiting, everyone! Thanks for walking us through this process, bloggy friends. Here's a pic of my henna'd hand up against my new curtains!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Aarti's Paarti- Awesome Indian Food

I've been watching the Food Network Star for the summer and ever since the first show, had my favorite contestant. Her name is Aarti. She has a really interesting background and a delightful personality on camera- but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that she's out there putting Indian recipes in the forefront- and making traditional foods with an Indian twist. I already cook Indian probably once every week or two, but I'm so excited after reading some of her recipes and seeing her videos on vimeo. The finale of FNS is this Sunday and I'm rooting for her to win. I'm already excited about recording and saving her shows on my DVR. :) She's also a believer- and shares her faith so beautifully on her blog. Such an encouragement. I pray that she's able to be a light to those in the food/tv industry.

Here are some links to some recipes that I can't wait to try:

Baked Samosas: These excite me to try because samosas are amazingly wonderful crazy-cheap treats that I used to eat on train trips across India, and from a local tea stall around the corner from where we lived. They are simple, hot, flaky, and are almost like comfort food, Indian style. It's been something I've actually missed about India because they have always seemed complicated- and I don't want to fry up a large vat of oil to make them... AND- in India, they're SO cheap (think pennies, maybe nickels)- but here it's like $3.00 for one or two at my favorite Indian restaurant.

Tandoori Chicken: I have tried similiar recipes- but based upon everyone's reaction to her cooking on the show, I'm going to try hers. :)

Ok- outta time. My little has been sleeping for 3 hours... If I don't get off the computer and wake him, it's going to be a very, very long night for all of us... :)

Monday, August 02, 2010

Fun deals and such

OK- no big cerebral or spiritual lessons for me to type about today, just some fun deals to share with my bloggie friends...

I did a big shopping trip online at CBD (Christian Book Distributors) and used a free shipping code: 313114TS (Free Shipping w/purchase of $35 or more. exp. 9/10/2010). I landed there because I was looking for decently priced kids worship dvds but ended up spending most of the $35 on other random fun clearance items... And, know that they have more than Christian Books on this site...

I wanted to list a few of the clearance items here, because they're so cute, fun and CHEAP! You should check them out: :)

#1 Favorite: Emeril's there's a chef in my world (Worldwide recipes for kids!)- $2.99. It has neat info for kids and lists different recipes from a lot of different countries... This sucker is also 210 pages long! So much in it!

#2 Favorite (for you adoptive moms of Indian kiddos): Cherry Tree by Ruskin Bond- $1.99 a cute short paperback story about a 6 year old Indian girl and her grandpa in the hills of India who plant a cherry seed. Ruskin Bond is an author who has lived in India for years and years and written many books on/about India. He lives in Mussoorie (the city in the foothills of the Himalayas where we lived). Kinda wish I'd taken the initiative and tried to meet him...

#3 Favorite: One Special Me: A book celebrating how God makes us special- $3.99 This is a really cute board book with flaps that lift and curly hair to touch, and things to spin, that tells a great story (with scripture at the end) about how we're all different, praises uniqueness and how it makes us special. Features kids of different skin tones, heights, kids with glasses, different colored eyes, etc.

#4 Favorite: The Spirit of Adoption: At home in God's family. $2.99 Haven't read it yet- but it looks to be an interesting read on the scriptural basis for adoption, and God as the adopter. :)

#5 Favorite: Let's go on a mommy date, by Karen Kingsbury. $2.99 This is a cute book about how mommy loves to be with and play with her kids. :)
 
#6 Favorite: Big Racing Car: GIANT board book $.50 (yes, .50!) This is a huge, colorful, board book and would be fun for a little dude to look at. :)
 
Anyway- they have so many fun things on clearance that it's easy to spend $35 so you don't have to pay shipping... I also bought a few worship DVDs for me, and one for the kids.
 
We also went on our 11th Anniversary date this weekend. We were able to go on a fancy dinner date! And, we're also celebrating God opening up the job for us by having a big BBQ at our house on Sunday. So, if you're within driving distance of Tulsa and want to come, let me know! :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blog under construction! *But hey, so is my life... :)

OK- so the blog looks half-done right now... Sorry, I've not taken big enough chunks of time in updating it to complete it yet...

Two sweet things that happened with my oldest child, made my heart sing... In bed on Thursday night, he calls out to me as I'm leaving the room and tells me his heart feels funny (how he refers to being stirred by the Lord sometimes). I tell him to pause, listen to what God is saying, and then we'll pray together about it... He pauses, then says... "I think God is telling me that Daddy got the job." I say 'Wow, honey, that's fabulous. Let's pray and agree that God would do that." We pray, and he falls asleep... Then Friday, we're leaving the house in a complete scramble because of a last minute house showing (and I do mean scramble... I filled the passenger seat of the car with a giant pile of clean laundry, because I didn't have anywhere else to put it!), and we round the corner and park the car while I throw on some make up (again, read 'totally unprepared' to leave the house for a showing... I was in my swimsuit in the backyard with dirty dishes in the sink and laundry going when the phone rang...). My 4 year old looks out the window and sees a rainbow... but it's not a rainbow shape- it's a rainbow cloud! A whole small cloud, lit up like a prism/rainbow! It was sooo beautiful and surprising! My oldest says again- 'Rainbows are signs of God's promises... I think God is telling me for sure that Daddy got this job!" Wow... such faith. :)

A bloggy friend of mine posted this verse today and it rang true with me:
Exodus 14:14 (NIV)

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."

That's pretty much what we've been hearing from the Lord regarding waiting on the job situation for my husband, all summer long...and I'm pleased to announce that last night at 5:05 PM, we received the job offer we were waiting on and we get to stay in our house/school/church/etc! It's amazing, a true blessing, totally a God thing, and was done at 11:59 (figuratively)... We give all the credit to the Lord- and we're going to send some Omaha Steaks to the old college buddy who gave us this lead! AMAZING GOD!

We're praying that my hubby thrives in the new work environment, adapts easily, is a witness in the workplace, and helps this company put out quality engineering for many years. :)

Thanks all for your prayers! God is sooo faithful.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Do the limbo rock! (sing it with all the La, la, la, la, la, la's)

Still in Limbo. :) Haven't blogged in a while for a number of reasons- but most recently because we've just been crazy busy.

Finished up a week of leading the worship portion of VBS on Friday night. It was awesome. and insane. :) In a good way. It was so involved, yet so completely wonderful and anointed. God met us and we were changed!

And- an update for everyone in blogland, Steve interviewed for a job HERE in town last week! It looks promising, but we're asking God to seal the deal so that we can stay! So, as I wait for more info on the location of my future dwelling, I reflect on the goodness of God, and in thankfulness that I'll always remain in HIS dwelling, no matter where I actually lay my head.

This touched me today: Psalm 90:12-17
12 Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Relent, O LORD! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

And these verses have been speaking to me during all this interim time of 'waiting' and wondering where I'll dwell: Psalm 27:4-8 NLT
4 The one thing I ask of the Lord—

the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6 Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.
7 Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

And, I love, love, love, that the sermon on Sunday was AGAIN, tailor made for ME. Such good stuff, straight to my heart. In a few days, the sermon from Sunday the 18th will be posted here. Listen or watch. Good stuff.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Biggest Loser Skunky Meatloaf

I was thinking today about the projects I had in mind for the summer. One of which was sewing some fun things- some to possibly sell to fundraise for the adoption. Well, it's nearly July and the table I got out to put the sewing stuff on is now covered in piles of unaddressed junk! Bleh! So, I've not taken on any sewing projects- and I've avoided most other productive things as well! I did start a tiling project in the bathroom that should be done in another day or two though... All comes down to motivation, I guess. I'm pretty much motivated to experience summer with the boys. And that's about it.

Well, my 3 year old just announced that he smells a skunk. I'll try not to take it personally, knowing that it means the attempt at a new meatloaf recipe is almost finished cooking. :( Let's just say that all of the meals I've tried cooking from this Biggest Loser Cookbook have not gone over very well with the fam. I guess that does generally lead to weight loss though, huh. If no one actually eats the dinner... :)

Gotta revert to humor when life is stuck in limbo. Apparently that is one of my coping mechanisms. :) Happy Monday bloggy friends!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Waiting in line

So, I finally published (4 days later) the blog I started on Thursday.

I'm still reflecting on all that God is attempting to teach me and areas where He's trying to stretch and grow me right now.

I'm such a visual person and a person who learns through analogy. That is often how God speaks to me- through pictures or stories...

So, here's today's image. Waiting in line at a waterpark. I'm the 9th person back. I see the waterpark through the gates, I see the fun all the others who got in before me are having. I watch and wait. I get tired of standing. I see signs all around that not only declare the fun I'll be having once I'm through the gates, but I also see all kinds of warning signs. Waterparks can be fun if you know how to swim and you know how to do it safely (with knowledge). Waterparks can be dangerous if you don't know how to swim and you don't heed the warnings.

Finally, I'm #2 in line and my excitement is definitely building. Then an employee pulls me out of line! WHAT? I've been standing here for soo long, and now I'm out of line. He says I'm not ready, and that while I'm out of line, I should take time to make sure I'm ready/healthy/prepared. My first response is immature. Something along the lines of 'I don't care if I'm ready, healthy or prepared, it's almost my turn!' But then, I think, OK, surely there's some truth to what he's saying...

So, this is where I am in adoption land. :) We've been chugging along for nearly 2 years in this adoption process, and now we're out of line, just after we got up to #2! I was pretty miffed at first- and have dealt with most of that. :) Now I'm trying to make sure that (while God obviously knows what He's doing, and is preparing our little girls' timing to be matched with our timing) I'm ready when the time comes for us to get back in line. This is most of what my maturity/immaturity post led me to think about, btw. So, instead of getting caught up in how unfair it feels (immaturity), I need to be thinking how I can best use my time out of line to prepare me to be the best/healthiest/most prepared mom I can be to our little princess (and my two princes). Is my parenting skillset where it needs to be? Is my marriage as healthy/strong as it needs to be? Is my education on bonding/attachment/adoption preparation as strong as it needs to be?

It's ironic- but this season of unemployment that has been followed by employment but uncertainty regarding where we'll live/if we'll move, has actually led to more rest than I've had lately. I'm so glad that God does strange stuff in our lives. It's the unexpected stuff that makes us look up and go, 'huh?' But it made me look up, right? :)

Are there situations in your life right now where you may not have an actual number in line- but that you've been waiting on God to get you to that place, or bring about that promised thing, and you've been plucked out? I urge you not to think so much about what you're being pulled FROM- but instead about what you're being pulled TO. Go to the arms of the Savior- and find health, strength, & wisdom. Be equipped, not discouraged. If you need a good book on the subject, I highly recommend In the Meantime: The Practice of Proactive Waiting- by Rob Brendle.

Wisdom and Knowledge; Maturity and Immaturity

I heard a quote from a friend recently that made me laugh. 'Knowledge is knowing that tomatoes are a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to include it in a fruit salad.'
-----------------------------------------
I took the kids to the zoo on Thursday and had a great time- but I also had a few moments of reflection afterward, in my exhaustion. :)

In one particular exhibit, there was a fantastic animal behind the glass, but my 3 year old only saw the little buttons all over the room that he could push to make something illuminate or speak... No matter how many times I kept trying to show him the amazing, rare animal that only exists in this country in zoos... he didn't care. His focus was entirely on the buttons.

Have you ever pondered how two people can be in the same place and see something completely different from one another? I'm not talking about those brain puzzle things where you have to cross your eyes to see them... those kind of annoy me. What I was thinking about regarding this zoo experience is how maturity can dictate what we see in a situation.

In my 'mature' eyes, I knew the rarity of what I was seeing when I looked at the amazing animal through the glass. My 3 year old on the other hand- only saw the glowing red buttons that demanded to be pushed (nevermind that he didn't care what the result of pushing the buttons was...).

As I thought about this while driving home, I realized that there are definitely pros and cons to maturity. At first I only thought about how much he missed because he wasn't looking at the right thing, and didn't know the importance/meaning of what was there. But then I realized that him looking at things through childlike eyes brought him JOY, not disappointment. The only disappointment that occurred was mine; me trying to push my way of thinking upon him (trying to burden him with the responsibility that comes with knowledge?).

Anyway- the point of all my rambling was more about MY heart than anything else. There are examples in scripture of how we should seek wisdom, but there are also examples where the faith of a child is praised too. I felt challenged to see if there are areas of my life where I need to approach things with more of a childlike heart. Are there areas where I'm not stepping up in the wisdom that I know I have? Am I choosing the immature route because to choose wisdom requires something of me that I'm not willing to give? I'm not saying to abandon reason or to choose immaturity over maturity. I AM saying that I can be over critical and call it 'wisdom'... and I can be foolish and call it 'childlike'. Ugh. Examination of my heart is messy.

So, I pray. Father God, teach me Your ways. Help me to walk daily in Your truth, holding fast to the wisdom and knowledge that comes from you. Also, help me to release my fear and control over things that I don't understand, so that I can have the faith of a child.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sharing a fun link today

Still processing and trusting that God is going to lead us over the next few months. Thankfully, I'm doing pretty well at staying in the place of trust, at least for the time being. :) I realize that God has a specific child in mind for our family, and a specific job in mind for my husband- and that my faith muscles are getting stretched and strengthened as I wait and trust for both to be revealed... in season. :)

I'm sharing a fun link today. I was looking for the name of a berry picking farm to go with the kids this week, when I found this fun website:

http://www.pickyourown.org/

They have a listing of states, and then farm listings by county. Some are a bit outdated- but what a neat resource! They list the name of the farm and the different types of produce that they offer (pumpkins, berries, etc. and listings of farmer's markets and such!).

Another one is a fun Oklahoma State Agritourism site that has similar mapped listings:

http://agritourism.travelok.com/?id=134


How fun. Get outside, people (especially before it gets blazing hot!)!

Monday, May 17, 2010

While I wait...

Well, I'm in limbo still. Waiting.

The good news is that in the midst of all of our upheaval, we're seeing God's blessing and provision in amazing ways. We were given a gigantic swing set by the neighbors; we received a tax credit that we didn't know for sure that we qualified for; we received another savings that will save us $800/month while we wait for group health insurance to kick in; we have friends (missionaries to Burkina Faso) staying with us who are blessing us with prayers, encouragement and quality time. All in all, it has been really encouraging.

On a funny note, I picked up my 6 year old from school and he promptly informed me that he broke up with Addie (his friend girl... :)). When I asked why, he said she lied. :( Something about a rolleypoley (never had to spell that before?). Ahh, young love. I said, 'you'll make up,' to which he replied, "yeah, maybe tomorrow."

So sweet.

Well, for now Steve is working in Edmond and driving 100 miles each way. We're thinking and praying about solutions in the short term while we figure out what the long term decisions will be. We did figure out that it costs us $32/day for gas and tolls. Bleh! Not to mention the 3 hours on the road every day. We're still on the adoption waiting list- but basically ineligible to receive a referral until we have something solid in place regarding job/living situation... and we don't have firm answers for those questions as of yet.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You win some, you lose some.

In this case, we lost one. A job that is.

Life has taken an interesting twist...

Psalm 32: 6-8
"Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found;
surely when the mighty waters rise,
they will not reach him.

You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Selah

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you."

And, just like my blog title, I'm trusting that God will lead us (as blind as we feel right now) along these unfamiliar paths...

What I've been grieving lately is what this means for the adoption. I guess we're on hold. (?) I don't know if this means we have to re-do our dossier with new employment info, new finance info, new health insurance coverage (or lack thereof- as we currently stand- waiting for the COBRA paperwork to arrive)...

I'm grateful that the study plan that I'm currently going through is taking me through all these scriptures (like the ones I posted a few days ago) about the Lord walking with us through darkness, and hiding in the shadow of His wings. I'd love your prayers for a great job to open up for my hubby. I'd love prayers that that we would remain in a place of trust, that we would be wise with our thoughts, words, actions and spending as we wait.

A little caveat to honor my husband... I'm so blessed to have a humble man at my side. He accepted a part time job delivering pizzas (thanks to Dave Ramsey's suggestions on his radio show. Go Dave!) in this interim period. It was enough last weekend to buy our groceries and gas for the week... and we got a free pizza out of the deal- which means the boys now like daddy's new job better than his old one! :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hit pause on my blog music player thing- then play this. :) Good stuff by JJ Heller.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Getting yanked to safety by the Shepherd...

Through my reflection the past few days, I'm looking at familiar scriptures with new eyes. Looking at some thinking to myself, "This is true, Sarah. Read it again, and this time, read it like it's true."

Like this verse:
Psalm 23:4 (New International Version)
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Upon examination- this scripture is saying that God's big shepherd's crook was comforting. I appreciate that while walking through dark days/experiences, God is very clearly leading and guiding (that' what shepherd's staffs do, right?). I'm guessing what it feels like though, in the darkness, is just someone yanking on you. What we can't see is that He's yanking you away from danger.

Another phrase I'm stuck on: All the verses that reference hiding in the shadow of His wings?

Psalm 57:1
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.

Since I have never actually seen something hide under a wing, my mind reverts to the image of being a child, hiding in a closet with my parents during a tornado (no, not the same, but stay with me here). Although curious to see the tornado, there was no way I was going to leave that safe spot, and leave my parents to get a look.

Are any of you like me? In some twisted way even though I know that I'll probably get hurt, I want a front row seat during the stormy/difficult/dark times. I think that by watching the storm pass, I'll see clearly what God is doing, and how He's doing it, so that I can see exactly how He's going to lead me out. Imagine the amount of debris that would wound/hurt me if I insist upon seeing all the carnage that the storm causes... When what I'm supposed to be doing during the storms that rage in my life is tucking up next to/under Him, and listening to His heartbeat while the storm passes. He shields me from the disaster and I walk away unscathed.


If you're up for it: I have an odd challenge for you bloggie friends out there. If you could give a scripture or testimony of God's faithfulness in times of storms/darkness/unknowns/difficulty, what would it be? Share as a comment below- and read others' comments too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bunk Beds and Wedded Bliss...

Well, we had a whirlwind weekend. Check out my handsome family! And yes, my 3 year old is accurately depicted in this photo... Just as cheeky as you see here:My mom got married on Saturday. :) I am so excited for Mom and Charlie. My dad died 6 years ago, and Charlie's wife passed away a few years before that. They met about 3 years ago through mutual friends and have been spending practically every minute together since then... :) It brings me such joy to see my mom happy and in love, especially knowing the grief that she endured for the months and years following my dad's sudden death. They seem so well suited for each other and I love that they both love to travel, because my mom really grieved the loss of the idea that she would travel all over the world in retirement... Now she gets to revive that dream again. This is the only pic I got of them... not great, but it at least shows my mom's smiling face... Sorry, Charlie for the bad picture on the internet! :) I was amazed too, that my brother and his wife and kids showed up looking so well-rested and alert! :) Their little baby girl was born about 3 weeks ago, and they trekked the 12+ hours in the car to be there for mom's wedding. Kudos to you, Sam and Kate! I got to meet my beautiful new, red haired neice!
Our other family fun happened yesterday, on a different note, but still fun. :) The boys got their bunk beds!!!! (Although, as I type this, they're both too hyped to quiet down and my 3 year old asked to go back to his old bed for his nap... I guess we'll have to ease into the excitement.) :)And, assuming I can get my 3 year old to sucessfully calm down and sleep in the new bed, we'll have a bedroom completely freed up for our little Indian Princess. :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Week of splurges...

So, thanks to the unexpected escrow refund check, we splurged a little- and Steve felt that after my post about no new shoes- that it was time... :) So I have new shoes. :) Exciting times around here! I feel like a little kid about it. We also spotted some sweet bunk beds on craigslist and are hopefully headed to get them on Sunday. Yee haw. :) The boys will be ecstatic- and technically that will free up an extra room for a special little someone from India!! Now, we just wait for some forward movement on the adoption... :) Come on temporary licensing paperwork!!! We're ready for some action! :)

Friday, April 09, 2010

Sarah is singing the #5 song...


Just got an email that another family ahead of us is on hold, and therefore we are bumped up to #5. I thought I would feel a lot happier about movement, but it's hard when its at the expense of another family having to hit Pause while something in life changes for them (I'm guessing). Kind of bittersweet.


So, agree with me in prayer for this family that had to go on hold. Be with them Lord, as I'm sure their expectations are much like mine, and their frustration at the length of the process is similar to mine as well. Hold them, strengthen them and encourage them in the wait.


How appropriate that Steve called earlier today and said he's taking us on a family date to the local fast food Indian place for dinner! Yeah for splurges! *Another strange God provision type of thing happened today as well. Apparently the mortgage company had been collecting too much for our taxes/insurance/etc. to put in our escrow acct.- and so they sent us a $600 check, and lowered our mortgage payment starting in June! Technically, it's just getting my own money back- but I'll take it!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The gospel according to a soccer mom.

I've been 'chewing' on something since yesterday.

Here's the image: I'm sitting on the sidelines watching my 6 year old play soccer. My 3 year old is having a hard time sitting still through 2 soccer games, but all the while is super encouraging. He's yelling encouragement to nearly every player on the field by name, and clapping. :) All the while, I know that his chief desire is not to be on the sideline; he wants to be IN the game. But amazingly, he's content to be on the sideline with mommy and daddy, and is a blessing/encouragement to those that are playing.

Hopefully I won't lose you as I make a spiritual analogy here that actually brought tears to my eyes on the sidelines (I know you're thinking, GOSH Sarah, you are such a crier! I know, I know...) I've felt in some seasons of my life, like I'm on the sideline- and that the REAL ministry is out happening somewhere else, while I'm at home, raising my kids, doing things that go 'unseen.'

I thought of the passage in Acts chapter 6 that talks about how in the days of the early church, they had been so consumed with spreading the message that they realized they had been neglecting the care of the poor. So they set out to select some men to be dedicated to service, so that the others could be dedicated to preaching/teaching. But you'll notice they didn't say "those most spiritual/gifted among us should go preach the word and the rest of you stay and wait tables"... What they actually did was choose 7 who were known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom... then they presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them (commissioned them for service).

I love looking at this story, and realizing how intentional it was, that specific men would be dedicated and commissioned for service, and others would be sent out for the public ministry. It was not those who hadn't yet 'arrived' or that weren't as 'good' at the ministry... it was men (as the Message translation puts it) 'whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense.' I love that they were actually commissioned (which usually means 'sent out') to STAY and wait tables.

Anyway- back to the soccer game. My exhausted 6 year old kept looking back at us when he was really tired. He would see us hooting and hollering and cheering him on, and he would find more energy and play harder... He would smile and motion to us after he scored a goal... And when he subbed out, he fell, breathing hard, across my lap, and we handed him his water and told him how proud we all were. It totally made me look at my life and evaluate how well I was doing in my sidelines job. Am I encouraging and supporting those that are out in more public ministry? Am I realizing the value/importance of my role? Am I seeing that yes, those on the field get to make all the goals, but they're also the ones who are more likely to get hurt, bruised, and exhausted?

It was just a sweet reminder that God fully intended me & my three year old to be doing the job of 'encouragement' and for my 6 year old to be out there playing in the game. Imagine how strange it would have been for me or my 3 year old to sub in and start playing the game because we 'really wanted to play.' Ugh- how awkward... Is that how it looks when we try to assume a roll in God's kingdom that was meant for someone else?

My final thought: The other cool perk about being there, encouraging the players, is that my 3 year old got to share in the team snack after the game. :) I'll let you reflect and draw your own parallels here. :) Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The good kind of testing:

"Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions." Exodus 16:4 (If you don't know the story, read the verses around this particular verse to see how God was asking them to trust him for daily bread- and not to store it up for a later date...)

This is my life lately, encapsulated in a single Bible verse. :)

Aimee posted about how much it sucks to live during the process of doing Dave Ramsey's plan and Laura posted about God's provision in her adoption process and I have to agree with both. But through both, it has been amazing and miraculous to see what God has done. Steve and I had a great conversation earlier in the week about it- and I keep reflecting on it all week, so I'm going to write a VERY LONG blog post about it. :)

We have been truly put to the test through this process in the area of our finances. We started out, before starting the adoption, feeling convicted about getting our finances in order, during the spring of 2008- and started on Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps . We had been doing it half-heartedly before then, but as Dave says, we got 'gazelle intense' (visualize a gazelle being chased by a cheetah!).

When Andy was diagnosed in Feb of '08 with Type 1 Diabetes, it not only rocked every part of our 'emotional world' and daily life, it wrecked our finances. We had health insurance but not 'good insurance.' I drove (in tears) to a reputable coin dealer in town, and sold 3/4 of the coins my grandfather saved and left to me when he died. We had previously talked about how we would be content to sell them to pay for adoption expenses- and how special that would be that the inheritance would be used to grow our family- but here we were, selling it to pay for medical bills.

We sold one of our two cars, sold a bunch of stuff on craigslist, stopped eating out (unless it was a secret shop), and lived (and live) on a paired down budget. We've muttered Dave's name under our breath at times, but we knew it was best to get out from the debt we were in: Credit cards (about $5K, $3K of which was the medical bills), Car loan $12K, and the last of the Student Loan from Steve's Master's degree (I don't remember how much... maybe 1 or 2K?)... So, we dug in our heels and did it- intentionally keeping our tithing/giving going strong through the whole process.

We used anniversary, birthday, and Christmas $ to pay down debt. We used tax refunds to pay down debt. We live on a VERY paired down budget and continued to pay things off/save. And girls, I'm talking about how I honestly don't remember the last pair of shoes I bought for myself... Nope- upon reflection, I bought a pair in November of 2008 but threw them out this winter because they were cheap and made my feet stink. :) Anyway- I digress.

All the while, we still felt like we were being led toward starting the adoption process - but wanted to do it without debt. So, we prayed. And, in August of 2008, sent in the adoption application with only a little over $1000 in our savings acct. And God responded. The reason we were able to start the adoption when we did, was because of a family gift to get us rolling.

Then, 7 months later, it began to look like Steve was going to lose his job. His boss came to him and suggested he look around, just in case... so we did. And, man did God provide. Not only did he get offered a job, they moved us and reimbursed EVERY expense except for things relating to the sale of our house... and now we have AWESOME health insurance coverage- for a while at least ;). We realized though that with Andy starting school, we would be unable to live on 1 car here- so we used our adoption fund to buy a $2800 car. :( But amazingly through it all, we only went a week without a paycheck.

I will admit, through all of these things, I would trust God but get discouraged in the in between times- looking at the circumstance and wondering HOW IN THE WORLD it was going to all work out??? I kept wondering why everything we would save up, would get sucked right back out of the bank account for something else! But amazingly, God came through EVERY time. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Random friends came out of the woodwork and gave us $ for the adoption, donated toward our garage sale, etc.

And- in September of 2009 the debts were ALL paid. We paid off everything but the house, and we have NO debt on the adoption process. And we got an adoption grant for more money than we had even asked for in our application!? WHAT? :)

So, when I start to worry about the next steps in the adoption, or in life for that matter, and our bank account seems like a pocket with a hole in it, I'm reminded that God has done amazing things to provide for us. He has blessed our diligence to remain out of debt and honored our desire to still be a giving family. So, it breeds a sense of expectancy in me because everything we try to 'save for tomorrow' ends up going toward something else- yet all of the adoption fees keep getting paid some other way. Its like God is being VERY intentional in showing us that WE are not doing this. HE is doing this.

I'll admit though, I'd REALLY enjoy not being in this 'manna' season where there is only enough for the day... :) Be encouraged, blog friend! God is on your side and He's moving on your behalf! Even if certain areas of your life feel like pockets with holes in them... :)

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."
-Malachi 3:10

Monday, March 29, 2010

Accreditation update

*NEW UPDATE as of 4/2/10: A temporary license has been issued! Hopefully we'll see movement soon!!!

Update as of 3/29------
No- the accreditation has not gone through yet. There is talk of a temporary license being issued in the meantime so that referrals can occur and other things can progress... :) Word also has it that there are a few babies ready to be referred! So, I'm praising God that movement is coming and little people will be with their forever families soon!

Thanks for praying, and keep it up! We're hopeful that the process will be complete soon and that several families will get 'the call'! :)

I've been thinking about Rom 8:25 lately regarding the adoption/our baby girl: '...if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.' Yes, Lord. :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beginning to sew...


Well, I'm beginning a new venture that will hopefully be in full swing in the next few months. I'm going to make some things out of the plethora of beautiful Indian fabrics I have and sell them as a fundraiser for the adoption... . Some were bought new in India in bazaars, others at Fab India, and others at the used saree bazaar in Dehradun (It's like going to goodwill/ARC except it's yards and yards of beautiful Indian fabrics- with only minor defects that you can cut around when sewing!) Once I get some things finished I'll post pictures and hopefully draw some interest from parents who have adopted or will adopt Indian kiddos (or those of you out there who just want to buy something cute to support our adoption). :) Some of the fabrics look blatantly Indian, others are not obviously Indian- (including some cream colored organic cotton not pictured). And I actually have some Thai Silk and some brocades from Hong Kong that I could use if some of you have friends adopting from Thailand or China...
Here are some ideas I'm throwing around in my head... I'm going to break out the sewing machine after all the little people around here get healthy (and aren't as clingy)!
  • Child-size cooking/craft aprons

  • Tooth fairy pillows

  • Doll sized punjabi suits/kurtas (sarees are WAY too difficult to undertake at this point)

  • wall hangings/small quilts

  • rag dolls (like a pillowcase or handkerchief doll)

  • Christmas stockings

  • Dress Up Clothes
Any other suggestions out there of things I could make? I'm just a mama with a sewing machine though- so don't ask for replicas of the taj mahal out of fabric or anything... :) Here is a blanket I did last year for a friend- but that one is not from the fun Indian fabrics... :) Also, one of my dilemmas is that some of the fabric is really flowy/sheer and will 1) be a bit more difficult to sew/hem and 2) need to be backed with another fabric for strength.

So, comment away on what would be more desirable, or what I should attempt to make, and I'll get to experimenting and see what comes of it! :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Are you looking for the way of escape?

Our church Lenten messages have been really great at bringing me to a place of repentance. (If you want to hear/watch the mini-messages click here. The messages are called 'The Call' and labeled 1-5.) Yesterday we watched #4 and one part of the message that stood out to me was about 1 Cor 10:13- 'No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.'

What stuck with me was what he said about finding freedom from temptation. He asked if we were actively LOOKING FOR the way of escape that God provides in every temptation.

It calls to mind something that my dad taught me about defensive driving when I was 16. He taught me to always be mindful of the way of escape- even when the road was not difficult and the people around me were driving normally. That way- when the terrain suddenly changes or the car in front of you gets a sudden flat- you're prepared and have a 'way of escape' in mind, so that you avoid a crash.

My temptation in the weariness of life (We had an ER visit from 11-3 last night- so I'm definitely needing this today!) is to put the kids to bed and turn the TV on for about 3 hours, then go to bed just as exhausted as I started the evening... But tonight, my way of escape is going to His word, re-reading His promises and finding rest and peace in the Spirit of God that is alive and well; comforting, strengthening, and building us up in our faith. Let them be your way of escape too:

Isaiah 40:31 ESV
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Psalm 37:7 ESV
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Stepping back and seeing the pattern.

I'm looking back over the 6 months or so and I'm noticing a pattern. Over and over again I am finding myself stunned, shocked, thrown off kilter, perturbed, etc... because of new information popping up that I 'should' have known about, but for some reason didn't.

Here's an example or two:
  • Every parent from my kindergartner's class (except me) receiving weekly emails from the teacher and me feeling really out of touch (And A getting really sad every time I didn't remember something that I didn't know about yet).
  • I did a secret shop, performed it to the letter, then had an editor contact me to tell me that I had done it wrong and that the instructions stated blah, blah, blah... when in fact, my instructions didn't say that. To which she replies "Well, they used to. Sorry, we're not going to pay you for that job." What?! (And, I did request to speak to the manager about the secret shop job, AND got paid, btw...)
What I felt at the core was this: I cannot be held responsible for something I don't know. AND- it's not fair.

Each situation was not life-changing or too big to deal with- but yet each situation left me with a choice:
1. Whine and complain, then blame others who dropped the ball.
2. Pick up whatever pieces were left, dust them off and attempt to put them back together with grace.

Initially I thought it was just some part of my crazy love for organization or structure that was making me have a problem with it- but then on Wednesday it hit me. These two examples were only a fraction of the events like this that have happened to me lately. It's happening OVER and OVER and OVER again (Weird, I know).

Thankfully, I was able to sit and think about it while reflecting with a friend the other day and I saw the pattern... The HUGE pattern. Not only had it been happening over and over again- but I realized that I progressively handled the situations with more and more grace/peace. Let's just say that the secret shop job, I landed on door #1 (blood boiling, keep your tone-down, Sarah..., thank God this is over the phone so they can't see how angry you look, etc.). Others, I was able to go with door #2... :)

And, after seeing such a grand pattern: I finally submitted my heart to God over it. I told him that I recognized that it was a lesson He was attempting to teach me- and that I was failing in big and small ways repeatedly. I surrendered the blame, anger, unfairness, etc. and asked Him for help the next time around. I can't help but think that I have a whopper coming around the corner at me though. Lord, let me be ready and let me choose door #2.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Home of the Dying

I had about an hour last night where I lay awake in my bed, unable to fall asleep after checking A's blood sugar at 2:00 AM, then staying up long enough to make sure it went up to a good level before I went back to bed. All I could think about were the pictures of the Home of the Dying that I had looked through earlier in the day. So, I'll reflect a bit with you all- and this one is pretty far off from the funny/humiliating experience I posted about yesterday. Just be warned that this is pretty raw and a bit gritty. If you want rainbows and sunshine- this isn't the day to read my blog. This is one of those that is based on the thought that the difficult experiences in life are often the ones that shape you most:
During 2 months spent in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1998, I toured Titagar on my 22nd birthday (a Missionaries of Charity run leper colony outside of Calcutta) and spent a series of days working in one of Mother Teresa's homes, The Home of the Destitute and Dying (Nirmal Hriday- meaning Pure Heart).
The home is an old, abandoned temple. Mother Teresa sought permission in the 1950's to use it as a hospice type facility for the poor. It practically shares a wall with Kali Temple (Kali is the Hindu goddess of death). How ironic, that a home to rescue the dying would be smack next to the temple celebrating and worshipping the goddess of death. This photo is of the roof of the home of the dying with linens drying in the sun, with the top of Kali temple just behind it.The building is divided into several large rooms. The men and women are in separate areas, for purposes of dignity and privacy. Male volunteers help the men, female volunteers help the women. Cots line the walls. These beds have vinyl covered foam mattresses on them (which had to be a wonderful comfort to the aching bodies of those that lay in them, considering that many of these people had been sleeping on the streets). Some of the people here regain strength and health and are able to go home, or move on. Others die, but die with whatever dignity and peace can be offered, and are surrounded with love as they pass.

This photo is taken from wikipedia of the men's area. The rest of the pics are a bit grainy, but are my own.

It is a home where the destitute are brought. Many here were found dying on the streets. Some are in late stages of diseases and are brought by family that can do nothing to help them. Others are merely too poor, low caste, or too disabled to receive medical care or feed themselves. This home made clear to me the heart of Mother Teresa, and the Missionaries of Charity. There is nothing boastful about this place. Nothing bold or blatantly evangelical. It is love, in one of it's purest and rarest forms; servanthood. Love for the unlovable, hurting, diseased, and cast out. And it is love that looks past caste or religion, in a nation that has a hard time looking past those divisions.
My first impression of the ladies I was helping, was that they must have looked similar to what those who survived the holocaust looked like. The second observation was that no matter how much I wanted to hear their stories, I didn't speak their language.
The sisters and volunteers that work here daily are amazingly selfless, tireless, and focused. They care for those they serve by preparing, and often hand-feeding them hot meals, washing linens/clothing daily, hand-bathing and helping the men and women use the restroom, dosing medications, administering physical therapy (so many of the women I helped had such atrophied muscles that it was painful for them to attempt to straighten their limbs). They know the men and women by name, and treat them with such respect, attention and care.

I don't remember exactly how many days we worked there. Maybe a week. But so many things struck me to the core. As you can see from the two pictures here of us holding the women, they would hold you back. Tightly. How often are they actually 'held' and not just 'lifted' to go to the shower or bathroom? One of the girls on our team actually got Tuberculosis on this trip. That's how real the death/disease is in this place.
I would go through those days, mostly subsisting on the mental level necessary to help out. I was completely in shock, having come from my wealthy, suburban, clean, and medical-care-abundant, American life, expecting to 'give my heart out to the poor.' I think that's why they have volunteers rotate duties/jobs at these homes. They rotate you through so that you're doing various tasks all day long (laundry, cooking, dispensing medication, showers, hand feeding some of them, bathroom assistance, etc.) - but I think it's so that you don't melt down from the overwhelming need that is so constant. There is a forced tea break as well- and I think that break has very little to do with nourishment for the volunteers... As I got back to our hostel each night, I would break down and just weep while listening to worship music in an attempt to be re-filled so that I could find the strength to do it again another day.
Passages in the Bible about helping the poor, helping the least of these, etc. took on such a depth of meaning to me that I had not experienced before. Thinking of these women, bruised and bleeding, in need of not only physical help, but someone to hold them in the absence of their family or friends. I went into it imagining that I could be a light, and pray over these women. I know I did those things- but it seemed so paltry in comparison to the raw needs they had (food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and rest). At one point, one of the longer term residents who was in a recovery stage- and one of the only ones who spoke English, shouted across the room at me "Use Force, Sister" as I was attempting to gently help a woman stretch her legs.
When I got home from India, I was asked to speak to the youth at The Rock in Bartlesville, OK. I don't remember what I said that day- but I was a MESS. I was still in some stage of shock, and still unable to fully make sense of the dichotomy...

So many things stand out in my memory, even 12 years later. If I close my eyes, I can still smell and feel the lye soap on my red, raw hands. I can hear the sounds of clanging gongs and goats being sacrificed in the temple nextdoor, and a loud funeral procession going through the streets outside. I can feel the heat on my hands of a glass of steaming HOT tea, served in a cup with no handle. I remember the thoughts I had as I washed my outfit every night at our hostel, wondering what germs/diseases I had present on my body and in my clothing. And the prayers I prayed each night that none of the ladies that I was helping that day would die while I slept...

Somehow, in some amazing way that only God could have orchestrated, I came home knowing that a piece of me had stayed in India, and a piece of India had remained in me. I knew that someday I would return. Now, years later, I look back. I lived there for a year, and am in the process of bringing a little Indian girl home to be part of our family. India will forever be a part of me!
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Other things:
This beautiful prayer was prayed by the Pope on his visit there in 1986. Here also, is an amazing photo website, that you really MUST see, with many more images that reveal the beauty and the pain of this place. And this article showcases the work of the Missionaries of Charity, with info about a number of their homes/projects in Calcutta.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Pray for accreditation:

Pray for the ACA's license to be renewed by CARA. :) Lots of letters/abbreviations, but that's the prayer that needs to be prayed. :) No Dillon/India referrals have taken place in more than a month because this renewal process isn't complete yet. So- for all of you friends/bloggers out there- take it to the Lord for all of us who are waiting. :)

And- Nancy asked for some stories from days in India... I thought of a few- but this one was particularly funny that I ran across in old journals:
Humorous moment from the Bilaspur project trip:
As we all got up to join Steve in singing a few songs in the Sunday service- Sarah gets up from her front row seat (where we all sat down when we arrived at the service before the rest of the congregation arrived) and realized that she was sitting on the men's side of the church- AND that all of the women (sitting on their appropriate side...) had their heads covered! AHH!
:-) I apologized to the pastor afterward- but it still makes for quite an interesting experience... (I think it was better than on a previous trip to India when all the girls on my team showed up to church wearing men's Indian Punjabi suits instead of women's...- ask me later for the story).

I'll try to look up other more interesting and culturally revealing stories from my old journals- but this one was a funny glimpse back into this small town church experience. :)

On a more somber note, I came across some pictures of my time spent working in Mother Teresa's Home of the Dying. That was surely one of the most humbling acts of service I've ever experienced. I'll see if I can scan them and put some up here...