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.

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