Friday, February 24, 2012

Our "Yes" is on the Table

Just about every Sunday morning, right before our pastor steps up to the podium to deliver the message to the church body, our worship pastor unashamedly and passionately prays these words over us: 

"God, we choose to put our 'Yes' on the table right now. 
Let us be doers of Your Word and not hearers only."

Translation:  Whatever the Lord tells us to do today, do it. 

No matter how hard it seems. 
No matter how afraid we are. 
No matter how much sacrifice it will take. 
No matter how we think it might inconvenience us.
No matter how it may interfere with our lives.
No matter what others might think. 
Just do it.  Just obey.

Over the last several months, Derek and I have sensed a very new and very profound plan for our family during this season in our lives.  Something neither my husband, nor I, would have ever dreamed or imagined or thought of by ourselves.

"No eye has seen, no ear as heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him, but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit." 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

A gentle, yet firm nudging upon our spirits.  
An unrelenting, overwhelming pressing in our gut.
An all-encompassing sensory onslaught within our minds and upon our hearts. 

Through confirmation upon confirmation, the Lord has unmistakably revealed His desire for our family and the new adventure He has set before us.

Without keeping you in suspense a moment longer...

*(insert drum roll, please)*

God is leading our family toward adoption!  More specifically, to adopt a little girl from India. 

Our response:  "Yes, Lord!"

God is so good and so gracious and so patient as He has been preparing us for this commitment.  Over time He has opened our eyes to the world in which we live.  I'm ashamed to admit that even though we have taught and served and obeyed for much of our adult Christian lives, we have done so mostly for those within the confines of our own church building and mostly for ourselves. 

But God has been calling us to step out of the familiar and the comfortable and look for ways to honor others above ourselves, particularly children.  Particularly children living in extreme poverty.  Particularly children around the world with no mother, no father.  The homeless.  The loveless. Orphans.

In scripture, our heavenly Father is seen as a "Helper of the fatherless" (Ps. 10:14 - NIV) and an "Advocate for orphans" (Prov. 23:10 - The Message).

As it turns out, God's heart is for adoption, with the central gospel message serving as the epitome of adoption.  His love pursued us when we were alienated, unlovable, and all alone.

Because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and His unwillingness to think only of Himself, the good news is that we were not left alone.  In fact, as children of God, we have been adopted into God's family and are now co-heirs with Him, sharing in all the Father has given the Son. 

We've all been adopted! (Rom. 8:15-17)

What an amazing picture for us to emulate! 

So with overwhelming joy and excitement, our family is jumping in, feet first.

No cautious tip-toeing into these waters of uncertainty.  No ma'am.  No sir.

Just a giant cannon ball into the depths of the unknown.  But we're okay with that. 

Why?  Because we follow a God who walks upon the water.  And as long as we follow where He's leading, we're good.  Actually, I surmise we're better than good.

So humbly, we ask these things of you right now:
1. Please pray for us.  We need it. 
2. Please pray for our daughter on the other side of the world.  She needs it.

"Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes'..." Matthew 5:37

**(Yes, there are like a million other details as to how God initiated this journey and how He confirmed it, which I will try to share along the way.  But if you'd like the story first-hand, and a little sooner, invite us to dinner and we'd be glad to share our hearts with you. :)  We really enjoy eating what someone else took the time to prepare. :))**

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's Not How You Start

My husband and I like to run.  Not crazy marathon running.  More like simple, leisurely runs.  A couple times a year we might run a six-miler together.  Other than that, we stick to the less strenuous, three-mile outings.  

For a very worthy cause, we chose to participate in another 5K this past Saturday.  This 5K was not in our hometown, nor was it a familiar race to us.  As a matter of fact, this supposedly simple 5K turned out to be the hardest course we've encountered to date. 

In the midst of all my huffing and puffing while running, a few epiphanies struck my mind and heart.  After sorting through them, I thought I'd share five lessons I learned during that brief, but tough, thirty minutes:

1.  Details are important.
As in all the other 5K's we've run, we assumed we would be running on pavement.  But just minutes from arriving at the race, I checked the website and was surprised to find that the race terrain was listed as "dirt, rocks, and wood chips."  

Fact #1: We do not own trail running shoes.  
Fact #2: We wore our newest, cleanest Asics to the race. 
Fact #3: We were less than thrilled about tramping through muddy trails, especially after three days of consecutive rain.
Fact #4: We ran it anyway. 

Mark my word, though.  Next time we'll pay more attention to the details.

2. I can do hard.
From the moment the race began, and I started sloshing through the muck and mire, I had a feeling this was going to be a hard run.  Headed into the second mile of the race, I started up the first of four very large hills.  You know, the kind Jack and Jill probably tumbled down? 

At first glance I thought, "No big deal.  I got this."  But halfway up the hill, I had to stop running and walk.  And I never stop in a race.  I may slow down, but I certainly never stop.  Slowly, but steadily, I made my way to the top and continued my run, despite how hard it was. 

The good news is that I didn't have to stop at the second mountain, er, hill.  Or the third.  On the fourth.  Nope.  I'd convinced myself that I could do it--no matter how hard it was. 

Yes, my heart was beating hard.  Yes, I was breathing hard.  But I did not quit. 

Maybe, just maybe,  I can do hard.

3. It's okay not to know the whole route before you run it.
The planner in both my husband and me wished we knew where we headed when the race began.  The most frustrating part was running up a hill and having no idea what awaited us at the top.  Or around the corner. 

It certainly would have been easier to have had a bird's eye view of the course. 

We could have anticipated the intimidating hills, prepared ourselves for them and conquered them.  We could have avoided the huge mud puddles before we were right upon them. 
We could have side-stepped the large rocks and tree roots protruding from the ground, all silently waiting to trip up an ill-prepared or less vigilant runner, causing him/her to stumble and fall.

Unfortunately, we didn't know the route beforehand.  Nope.  Instead, we had to run by faith. 

4. Don't worry.  Just follow the narrow path marked out for you.
This lesson follows on the heels of #3.  Just into the heavily wooded course, I looked down and noticed bright green, florescent arrows spray-painted on the ground. 

Someone had gone before us.  Someone who knew the way marked out the path for us.  We didn't need to worry about getting lost.  We didn't need to concern ourselves with not knowing where to go.

No worry.  No fear.  All we had to do was trust and follow the path marked out for us, straight to the finish line.

5. It's not how you start.  It's how you finish.
As soon as the announcer said, "Go!", I knew I was going to struggle with this race.  The terrain was unfamiliar, the ground was soggy, and my legs were already sore from a fierce leg workout just days earlier.  My thoughts ranged from "Do the best you can" to "I just don't want to get hurt" to "I am not going to have a good finishing time" to a host of others.  I didn't feel I started well.  I felt nervous, uncertain, and slow. 

Cautious?  Yep.  That's me. 
Calculated?  Guilty. 
Analytical?  Me again.

But typically, it's only in the beginning phase of any given event in my life.  After a slow start, my boldness increases.  Trust takes over.  Faith claims the victory.

Same thing is true in this 5K.  After a hesitant first mile, I got my second wind.  Instead of only looking down, I started to look up and around at my surroundings.  I passed a serene lake and gorgeous foliage.  I felt the warm sunshine and breathed in the cool winter air.  I started to rest, even while I was running.  I began to enjoy the adventure along the way.

As the final leg of the race came into view, I took off.  Faster and faster.  Eager to finish well.  Motivated to come close to the goal I'd set for myself.

I knew my start was less than desirable.  I knew it wasn't picture-perfect.  But I had hope my finish could be better. 

And ultimately in the end, that's the most important lesson for us all.

It's not how you start.  It's how you finish that counts. 

So, here's to life lessons.  Here's to perseverance.  Here's to strong finishes. 

"Go with God as He goes after your circumstances. Pursue what you know to be true of God. Continue in worship and trusting. The outcome is God's part; the process is ours."
Graham Cooke

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