We will see a victory

“Can you turn our favorite song on?”

“You got it, bud!”

We were heading home from daycare, after having a “super-cali-fragilistic” kind of day (I’m quoting one of our awesome teachers at our preschool, I can’t rave about them enough!).  I turned on “our favorite song” and immediately I have two babies in the backseat clapping their hands.

This moment is a victory for me.

I see them watch me and Troy so intently. Like a sponge, they are soaking up any and all information, gestures, and actions they can take it. The [sometimes] scary but [often] rewarding part comes afterwards when I see them do what we do. Can I just give God praise here?? He chose to not give me children when I wanted them some years ago and even as recent as one year ago. I wouldn’t have been ready and He knew it. I fought it, I begged Him but I have a clearer perspective where I am today. I wouldn’t have been ready for the mirroring. I wouldn’t have been displaying actions I’d want children to pick up. All glory to God for His perfect timing! All glory to Him for His sanctifying grace!

[Side Note: It is farrrr easier for me to accept this plan of His in hindsight of those deep, aching moments. I know some of you may be walking through a place that you are struggling to see the goodness of God. I have been there too so can I remind you of something pretty huge? Even when you don’t see it, especially when you don’t feel it, know that God is good. He is always good. He is always faithful. It’s His character, He can’t not be what is His nature. I had to speak this Truth into what was the opposite of what I was experiencing emotionally. I was hurting and it’s in that place where God was close. He is close to the brokenhearted. Listen, God can choose to withhold from His children. It’s His right as our Abba but His withholding doesn’t mean He’s not good. Trust Him, friend. He is with you always. If nothing else…there’s perfect comfort in His Presence.]

As he points to my bible, “Can we read the armor?”

“Let’s read and put it on!”

“Yeah!”

This moment is victory for me.

Can we pause for a minute and think about the Garden?

“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…’ … So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God he created them;” Genesis 1:26, 27

Adam & Eve had the reward of walking with God, sharing intimacy, and watching Him intently. But in order to enjoy relationship, there has to be freedom to choose it. Without free will, we don’t have relationship and God has always wanted us to choose Him.

We have been made in the image of God but because of the fall, we’ve been separated from our Father in Heaven. Praise God that He knew all along what He would do to bring us home…

Enter Jesus.

Enter His perfect sacrifice.

Enter His resurrection and ascension.

Enter Holy Spirit dwelling.

Without the indwelling of the Spirit of the Living God, we cannot mirror the likeness of our good Father. The Spirit is our mirror. The Spirit gives us connection, direction, conviction, and guidance to change our hearts and minds to be like Jesus. Without Him, we cannot bear the fruit of life. Without Him, we cannot mirror God as He intended from the beginning.

These babies we have weren’t created in our image, they have none of our genetics yet they mimic us, they act in our likeness. I desperately want those imitations to be ones that glorify God.

I see our 17-month-old stand with her arms crossed over her chest and our 4-year-old starting to use his hands as he talks. I see them watch me as I brush my teeth and as I put make up on. I see them watch Troy and I as we talk and as we hug one another. I see them watch us worship God in our home and how we treat others. I see them look at our hands as we lift them up as we play worship music, wondering what the heck we’re doing. I see them studying us. We are subtly answering the subconscious questions about what healthy relationships look like, about what “right” living looks like. Without the Holy Spirit, parenting these babies is an impossible task. And I’ll be the first to admit my lack in it.

I have been reading, daily, a portion of scripture recorded in the gospel of John. It’s Jesus talking to His closest friends, in John 15-16:15. I’m praying you pull your bible out and read it for yourselves. It’s powerful. There’s so much in it and more gets revealed after you continue to re-read it. Here’s what I’ve been so locked into:

I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes (or cleans) so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:1-7)

I cannot be a life-giving wife God is calling me to be if I am disconnected from the vine.

I cannot be the grace-offering mama God is calling me to be if I am disconnected from the vine.

I cannot be a kind, loving friend God is calling me to be if I am disconnected from the vine.

No matter my effort, no matter how much I will and want to be it…I will bear no fruit if I do not remain in Jesus. BUT praise God [!!] It is in Him that fruit and more fruit can and will be produced.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Great love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:9-14)

The Spirit is our mirror, to be like Jesus.

The Spirit is our guide, aligning our hearts and wills with our Father.

Without the Spirit, without remaining in the vine…we can do nothing life-producing. Sure, we can try and may do pretty well but we will never go as far as God calls us without the Spirit.

Without the Spirit, I may be an OK wife but I’ll always end up keeping score.

Without the Spirit, I may be a pretty good mom but I’ll always end up wanting our kids to “do as I say, not as I do”.

Without the Spirit, I may be a nice friend but I’ll always end up pursuing my own preference rather than that of the other.

With the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, I am acting not on my own but by the love of God. I can fully love, fully forgive, I can be fully present, I can be others-focused. When we remain in the vine, our joy is made complete. In the midst of chaos, despite the chaos, our joy is found in Jesus and is…with a deep sigh of relief here…complete.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:16-17)

We are called to something more. 

God chose us. He chose us to enjoy relationship and intimacy with Him. Just as our kiddos look intently on us, we can be so close to God that we, too, can intently gaze on His goodness and be changed by it. We can mirror His ways. All we have to do is choose Him back. He is waiting to give life and life to the full and it hinges on your choice. Yes, there is a cost. There’s always a cost but look back to the Garden. Look at what that choice cost. The other side generates far greater rewards. That choice will produce fruit that will last eternity. All you must do is acknowledge your lack, your need, and your desire for Jesus. Welcome the Spirit and the reward of receiving God Himself.

 

So…as I’m sure you’ve been dying to know what our favorite song is, here you go. It’s been my song for these kids since the day I heard it. I don’t know how long we get to love them close but I do know that God has loved them first. And he will “take what the enemy meant for evil and turn it for good”. I will be praying this over all those who read these words and as I sing it over our kiddos. Whether it happens on this side of heaven or if we see it as we enter into our eternal home with God…we will see a victory.

 

• For our good and His glory •

For now, for however long.

Alright. So…I had an introduction all planned for this post and it was funny. Well…it made me laugh but as of Tuesday afternoon, I couldn’t hit erase fast enough. God had an entirely different plan as to how this would go. Ever heard the saying, “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”? In the midst of the laughter, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness. Thankful that His vantage point is so much higher and His ways are so much greater. I am in awe of how good our God is.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

Our lives are going to be very, very different very, very shortly. You know…up to this point, we have been so prayerful and focused on pursuing God in the preparation to welcome children into our home. The prep: the prayers, the conversations, the devotional, more conversation, talking with those who are also fostering, the training – they were all so important. I’m confident we did everything we possibly could to prepare our home and hearts for whoever God decided to bring into them. But now…it’s go time. We’re about to go from zero children to two. I sit here, writing that fact and I’m so nervous but am brought to tears by how God is choosing to move. I’m blown away at how present He is. It’s like…I knew it before but He keeps giving me new experiences with Him. I’m in awe of You, Lord.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a Warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with joy; He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins], He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3:17, Amplified Bible

I have and will continue to express how honored I am that God is entrusting these babies to our care. In the next breath, I acknowledge how desperately I need Jesus in all of this (I think that’s the best place for me to be…). This past weekend, I definitely wrestled with my doubt, saying – “God…maybe this is why we haven’t gotten pregnant. Are you sure you want me doing this (being a parent)?” Praise Jesus for His presence and the reminders He gave me each time I questioned. He countered my doubt with His Truth. He is so patient with me – Jesus, my source of courage in the face of my fear. I pray that I will be the best I can be but I am fully aware that it will never be enough for them. My love and actions will always fall short. So I’m just choosing to take a huge deep breath, turn my eyes to Jesus, and refocus on our “why”: To live lives that point to Jesus; to love these babies for now, for however long we get to, unreservedly. All of this is up to God, all up to how our Abba, Father sees it good to move. I trust my Father. I trust You, Abba.

“I will rest in the Father’s hands
Leave the rest in the Father’s hands
I will rest in the Father’s hands
Leave the rest in the Father’s hands”
Bigger than I thought – Sean Curran

Lindsey (feel free to replace with your own name) – Quit focusing on and stressing over all the ways you come up short. Choose to boast in all the ways God has available to Him to demonstrate His strength. Don’t focus your energy on trying to be fearless. Be courageous instead. Move ahead in spite of your fear. You are more than a conqueror through Him who loves you. God is with you. God is for you. He goes before you and will never leave you.

That’s the reminder I got while I was playing with this awesome matching game (for parents and kids alike!). By no coincidence, this was the first card I flipped over:

 I’m taking you at Your Word, LORD.
I’m so grateful You’re so faithful.
HALLELUJAH

Here we go. We’re doing this. We’re loving these babies and praying for these parents. God is doing this for us. He is filling every gap and strengthening every weakness. All for our good and all for His glory. Oh, He is so so good and I’m going to rest in that place. I will rest in Jesus.

Be kind, my friends.
Be love.
Be with Jesus.

 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28

“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.”
Ephesians 1:11-12

• For our good & His Glory •

It’s a…

Toddler and a preschooler!

Oh, gosh. Were you expecting to hear if we were having a boy or girl? Well, this isn’t your typical announcement but both! Maybe? (That’s a word I’m adding to my regular vocabulary) Are you confused? Great! You’re welcome here LOL.

Now, if this is your first time following along with me then you should know a pretty important detail (which I’m sure you caught onto considering you can’t birth a toddler or a preschooler). Troy and I are not pregnant but we are expecting. You see, we are weeks away from having our foster care license officially approved and we are already preparing to have two little ones come into our home once that happens. I know that sounds exciting and I do have that emotion mixed in with a few others but maybe “honored” is a more fitting word choice. I’m honored to love them and stand in the gap that exists in their lives, for however long we get to. I’m already feeling the tension of the gap and have been continually reminding myself why this is happening in the first place. This is anything but an exciting time for these kiddos. I thank God for opening our eyes to the reality of the deep pain and brokenness that’s occurring all around us. That awareness compelled us to take action. Wherever you find yourself right now, chaos & all forms of abuse are happening around you as well. As the church, we’re called to respond. Collectively, it’s not judgment we need but willingness to jump in and be love like Jesus. He jumped in – unreservedly. It’s willingness to wage war in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6) on behalf of these families. What you’re reading and joining us in is our jump.

My prayer is that your heart is stirred and your eyes will be opened to the unique part that God is calling you to play. Now, I’m sure you didn’t click to read this post in hopes to be volun-told for something. [BUT STAY WITH ME HERE] I believe deep within you is an innate desire to make a difference. I can promise you, you can make one. And friend…there’s a desperate need for your extended hand.

I am still trying to put words to how I feel after Sunday’s surprise. Our friends put together a “Foster Care Shower” that was so unexpected. Hence the bun and headband. Side note…if you know me, even a little bit you know that both are pretty appropriate; it’s very much me. Let’s just say, when I have my hair down I tend to shock people because it’s such a rarity. Anywhooo…We celebrated, yes, but we were also blessed to be given an explanation of what foster care really looks like from my dear friend who has had the firsthand experience. She painted a very real, vulnerable picture for all of us who wouldn’t know such details on our own. The need for all of us to do something is so heartbreakingly real and I’m so grateful for her honesty. I was so overwhelmed by the day that I had a difficult time forming sentences. (Now that’s a shocker, I know!) So I do want to take a moment and say what I wasn’t able to piece together Sunday:

To our friends and family – THANK YOU. Of course, thank you for surprising me and showering us with beautiful books, gifts, and such love but even more than that…thank you for saying “yes” to us. You have been so willing to learn about foster care and support Troy & I from the beginning. We know that you weren’t the ones who chose to step into the unknown, to enter into these vulnerable places, with children and their families whom you don’t know. You weren’t the ones who volunteered to the temporary but what you have constantly relayed is your confident “yes” to us. You’ve said “yes” to loving and supporting us. We want to respect that and you throughout this journey. We want you to know how important your role is in our process and in our lives. We love you more than we can possibly express.


As I think about how God is bringing us into this new season, I am so grateful. I will say that this decision to get involved in foster care was not just a spur of the moment choice but a culmination of obedient steps in following Holy Spirit’s promptings. I often think of the ten children Troy and I sponsored in our first 6 years together. God didn’t say to us all at once – sponsor ten. No, He had us sponsor one child and then one more and then one more until we were supporting ten children through sponsorship. Now we are entering into this new season but it has a similar feel as before. Our step into this unknown is about choosing to rest in the sovereignty of God when I really want to know what’s going to happen next. It’s about being willing to say “yes” to the children that God brings before us, one at a time because each one matters to God. Each one was created by God and for God. Each one is His “prized possession” (James 1:18 NLT) And just like Christ would have died even if it was just for you, just for one person…then our “yes” to foster care is worth it even just for one child so they can know the love of Jesus.

Romans 12 has been what I’ve been reading and repeating and praying over our foster care journey. Now is when you’ll want to pause from here and read Romans 12. Let Holy Spirit move and illuminate God’s Word within your spirit. I will be praying this over you (yes you, who read these words) as you work out what part you can play. “No one can do everything but everyone can do something” – Max Lucado. Not everyone may be called to bring children into their home physically but we are all so important to this area of desperate need. Click here for a list of ways to jump in. (I got that link from the show notes from The Forgotten Podcast – Season 6 Episode 10 You’ll find so many awesome resources on that site!) You are valuable in this call. You are a member, a part of one body – the Church – “all with different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Romans 12:6a). When we turn our eyes to Jesus and step into the gifts and talents He’s given us, lives will change. And I believe it will start with you. You’ll see purpose and meaning in ways you haven’t experienced before.

I’ll just speak for myself here and say that I want my life to matter. I always have but what I have come to realize is that if my life is not pointing others to Jesus, what’s the point? We will all be gone in a blink of an eye and how will we then measure the difference we’ve made? I have said to Troy a few times and I’ll say it here, we cannot take things to heaven but we can take people. If I’m not focused on loving people then I’m wasting my time.

Jesus – help us, shift our focus so we do not waste the time we have on this earth. Wake us up! “We are children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6) Wake us up! Stir in our hearts, open our eyes to the specific part we can play in the lives of others – in these vulnerable children and adults. Let today be a day we surrender our lives to You. In Your Name, the one above all others – Amen!


I am praying our spirits are united in the desire to point others to Jesus through the way we live and love. Be guided into all the Truth. (John 16:13) Friends, please know that you are never alone as you walk this road of life. If there are specific areas you are struggling with and need prayer for …My friends – Tina and Michelle – and I would be honored to pray for and with you. You can email those prayer requests to hello@otmministries.com OR comment them here and we will connect with you through that avenue.


Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus & your mind set on things above. Be renewed and transformed by His abundant grace and truth.
He is grace. He is Truth. He is love for you.

 

Compelled by love

“See you next week.”

The door closed; a few minutes later Troy left for the gym and I picked up my bible and said with urgency, “Lord. I know there’s parenting advice in Proverbs. Please speak to me!”

I sat on the floor and quickly opened my bible while an adorable, ten pound pup stepped on my legs to get close enough to lick my face. I tried scanning the pages but nothing jumped out at me (dog kisses could have definitely played a part in that). Within minutes, I heard an inaudible voice speak straight to my spirit – “I did not bring you to this point for you to have to figure the rest out on your own.” Lord, thank you. I, then, grabbed a chunk of pages and happened to land in 1 Peter…”Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (4:8) Lord. I may be completely unprepared for whatever is to come but I can love. We can love.

We had finished week one of the foster care training process and panic overwhelmed me. Each week since, our eyes have been opened to many areas that we would not have otherwise considered if we were the ones pregnant. I will tell you honestly, moving forward with foster care has humbled me. I had to process the fact that I wanted to be pregnant so badly that I never considered what would happen when the child entered the world. Were we ready to have our lives completely changed? Were we ready to selflessly enter into parenthood? With each “yes” we choose to speak in our foster care journey, it’s been a “yes” we say back to Jesus. It’s another step in faith towards my Savior.

You did read that correctly – Troy and I are getting trained as foster parents. We are excited because we are confident we are following the call of God. Doors have been opening in places where we previously had resistance. I can say that we are becoming increasingly aware of the road we’re on. It’s one that will continue to require faith and humility in way of sacrificial action. It’s leaving the external security of our lives and saying “I’m choosing you over comfort”. It’s the surrendering of even the areas we think are good so God can shake away everything that is not of Jesus (Hebrews 12:27), all for His glory. Satan has stirred up arguments, fear, and such strong spiritual battles within the walls of our home. I’m choosing to take these battles as confirmation that we’re moving in the right direction. Satan doesn’t want us or you to intervene in the lives of children. If he can break down and hurt little ones…he can work to halt the kingdom of God and he is going to try to convince you that what you’re doing won’t make any difference. [[But always be reminded of the sovereignty and victory of our Father.]] So here we are; standing firm on the Rock that is Jesus Christ, shouting with every breath in our lungs – NOT TODAY SATAN. Not here. Not now. Not these children. Every child that comes into our care, every parent that’s made mistakes and caused harm, they’re worth our sacrifice. & you know…if we do nothing else but love them…Praise God. 

Above all else, love each other deeply

Last year, I spent probably the majority, if not the entirety, of the year grieving. Following the advice of those close to me, I had to allow myself to grieve over our inability to get pregnant. I grieved over the death of close friends, that came suddenly and far too soon in their lifetimes. I wrestled with the conflict of grief and joy while those close to me announced their pregnancies. Having such different emotions all at once felt anything but comfortable. I felt so ugly inside but by facing my grief and all its sources, I was able to be present in my life and the lives of those around me. I could celebrate with them and still allow myself to feel the sadness of my “not yet”. The grief didn’t cripple me as it once did. As I lean into God more, as I talk with those close to me, as I pray, and as I open my heart to hear from Him…I see the fact that deep pain and true joy CAN co-exist. In fact, that’s the Gospel.

“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Jesus walked the road to Calvary with His own eyes fixed on the joy of redemption all while experiencing deep pain – physically and emotionally. Jesus has been there. He knows the conflict on a greater level than I’ll ever know. He endured and He overcame! Through all of my internal struggle, I arrive once again at Jesus. I’m reminded, it all starts and ends with Him. “He is before all things and in Him, all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). In surrendering our desires to Him, God has done and continues to do a work in us that’s completely new and different than we expected. As I see it unfolding, I know without Him this simply would not be. He has shifted our thoughts and hearts to foster care, to reunification. “We have a safe and loving home”, we would agree. “We can love them (the children and the parents) in a terribly difficult time.” “We can be a light in the darkness.” The thread that has run through every decision moving forward in this journey has been this:

Christ left heaven for us!

Out of love, He pursued us. He didn’t say – “You know, that path is going to be really uncomfortable and painful. I think I’ll pass.” No. Rather, He counted the cost and was compelled by His love to endure the pain and suffering, for you and for me. Because He loved us. This past weekend we celebrated, we remembered. And you know, I don’t want to just remember one weekend of the year. I want to live my life in light of resurrection Sunday. I want to be like Jesus, compelled by my love for Him to be His hands and feet and eyes and ears. Whatever part of the body God needs me to be. Heck, I’ll be the butt if it means I’ll be obeying and being with Jesus. My dear friends, I want this for you. To clarify, I’m not saying I want you to literally be a butt but I am saying I want you to choose Jesus. I want you to choose to surrender your hearts to Him. My heart longs for it because I know Who’s waiting for you on the other side of that surrender. I am praying that when you begin to feel an unsettling in your spirit that you would take it as a nudge to open your mind to God. My hope and prayer is that you would know Jesus more than what you do right now – whatever that looks like in your life. Maybe it’s a first-time “yes”. Maybe it’s a renewal to your “yes” from long ago. Maybe you need to finally stop saying “no” to that thing God has placed in your heart and say “yes” to whatever He’s calling you to. Let me remind you – God has not brought you here to leave you on your own to figure the rest out. He’s the One who loved you so much that He chose to leave Heaven for you. There’s no length He won’t go. He counted the cost and walked the painful road to Calvary with His eyes fixed on the joy of redeeming you. He is fullness of life and He wants to pour into you so you can be a source of hope and light for others. Say yes.

 

Be kind. Be love. Be with Jesus.

 

 

 

Lindsey – in the months and years to come you’ll want to read this and reread it when you need a reminder of where and why you started. Here you go. You and Troy can do this. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t hold back…love out of His abundance. His grace and mercy will never fail and never run out. “I did not bring you to this point for you to have to figure the rest out on your own.” Pray with urgency and sincerity. God is a breath away. He loves you, He’s chosen you. You are His joy.

One small step for man…

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong took that infamous first step on the moon. The moon. He was the first to enter into the unknown place, to step onto another piece of creation; that which governs our night sky (read Genesis 1 for all the brilliant details). Think about that for a minute or two. God’s detail provided throughout scripture was all for our benefit. So when we ask the questions like – how did all this come to be? Coincidence or plan? If an atom cannot be created or destroyed, then where did the first atom come from? Boom. Genesis. “And God said, ‘Let there be light’. And there was light.” (That verse stirs my spirit but I’ll get to that another time) I believe we have been created and I say that with a confidence that I’ve never known before. I love science & do not believe God and science are mutually exclusive because, simply put, God is the Author of order, not of chaos.

When I was young, I was so intrigued by our solar system. I remember having this interactive board – you pushed a planet and it would give you facts about each one. I played with it so often that literally the buttons stopped working. The batteries didn’t just die, the buttons broke. Have you ever seen pictures of our galaxy; ones that have been captured by satellites or by astronauts themselves? They’re spectacular. The detail, the beauty, the wonderful order that God spoke into being. There’s mystery to it all because we weren’t present at its creation but yet, we get to marvel and explore its existence. As Neil stepped onto the moon, recordings captured his first words during the feat:

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong

One small step. That is all it took in that particular moment to make epic impact.

One small step.

I’ve been thinking about that concept recently. Prayerfully focusing on the things I can do today to move closer towards Jesus and the path that He’s purposed for me to follow. You see, I often find myself dreaming dreams for our life and even praying over the adults and children in our lives, saying things like – “God loves you beyond understanding, He’s got big plans for you.” “You’re going to do great things for the kingdom.” I declare that over them. I pray it for them, that it would come to pass in God’s perfect timing. And I do believe it. But what about the moments between now and those great things? What about the preparation? You see, my go-to prayer for them never tends to be – “May you have the willingness to do small, daily actions for God.” And currently, I’m questioning why that’s not my prayer for them. I’m asking myself, why that isn’t my prayer for me, my husband, my family and my friends.

That prayer sounds somewhat silly at first read but listen…if I am not willing to take small, daily steps of obedience towards and for God, what makes me think that He’s going to trust me to take on those big responsibilities like when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. Neil didn’t wake up on July 20, 1969 and walk onto Kennedy Space Station for the first time ever without any background or training. No. He endured more preparation than I can probably even begin to assume.

If you have ever watched a professional sports game/match/tournament then you know that you’re watching them perform on the big stage. On that particular day, you’re not too concerned with the hours and grueling training they’ve endured to get where they are. You are only enjoying the fruits of that training and commitment. Have you ever been to a concert or show of some type? Those artists are not just walking off the street without any vocal or musical training and performing in front of hundreds or thousands of people off a whim. No. We get to watch and enjoy their gifts after they’ve endured a trying road of hard work and endurance and, I’m sure, a lot of rejection.

Why do I not apply the same principles to my own life? Okay, so no, I’m not training to be a professional athlete or musical artist but I am running my race, striving towards entering into eternity. And each day I’m one day closer to it. When I meet my Lord face to face, the words I hope to hear are these:

“Well done, my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

Well done.

I want to steward my life and the lives of those people God is entrusting to me, well. I want everything I do to point to Jesus. He is my joy (Ps.28:7) and my prize (Ps. 16:5-8). I wrote previously about our desire for children, for having a family, and working on patience for His perfect timing. I write today and share that those desires have still not come to pass in our lives but I tell you what…my eyes are fixed on Jesus. And because He is what I want to want more and more, my heart has peace. My heart has joy. My womb may be empty but my soul is full. That peace has come as I trust Jesus more. The more I trust Him, the more peace I receive. I’m so grateful for the exchange.

So God is disciplining me to focus more on asking myself and prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit – “What is one thing I can do today to obey?”

Yes, there are times where I feel God speaking straight into my spirit for a specific area but I can tell you, with full assurance, that the answer is always this – through it all, just love.

Love God’s people. Love them with a love He has poured out and the type of love that you’ve experienced. People doubt that loves exists. So…just love.

Love.

It’s not just a word we speak. It’s not just sitting around, smiling but yet doing nothing. That’s not the love that God is instructing of us. After we receive His grace, God is telling us to then give His people action. Be a carrier of grace, be a giver of love.

Jesus.

He came, fulfilled all of scripture, and demonstrated that love. He gave His life up for our’s.

Action.

Talk to the person you’re in the elevator with. Say hello to the one who walks by you on the street. Yes, smile! Hold the door for someone. Ask if you can do something for someone. Ask someone what they need. Meet a real need of another person.

Action.

That’s what is going to stir the heart of the person you’re interacting with. Yes, they may not know how to respond but give them time…I’m confident their hearts with soften when they encounter someone who loves.

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong

I hope one day God will use me and use my husband for big things that glorify Jesus but for all the moments in between now and those great things, I want to obey Him and really…I think that honors God too. I want Him to entrust the little things to me. I want to take one small step towards Jesus so that I can be part of the grand story of God’s pursuit of His people.

One small step.

In trials, in wanting, and in praying, yet not receiving, I will lift up the Name that is above all other Names because I have already received more than I deserve. I have been given life, I have been given relationship with God, my Creator, my Redeemer. What a glorious gift for a sinner like me. I will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus as He changes my heart and makes me look more like Him.

One small step.

I’m going to rethink my prayers and declarations over myself, over my husband, over my family, over my friends, and over the beautiful children God has surrounded Troy & I with. May we obey God daily, may they be willing to do the small things that may not bring much recognition but that will glorify God through it all. May we know freedom. May you know Jesus more and more. May we all love in action.

Will you join me?

Will you choose to take one small step of obedience today?

I believe when you do, you’ll witness God’s presence in the routine of your life. I don’t think you’ll see those moments as mundane any longer. You won’t be telling stories of what God did for you a year ago, you’ll be on fire to share what God did today, with a heart overflowing with gratitude that you got to be a part of it.

So as you prayerfully consider what your step of obedience will be today, I want to leave you with the words and prayer of Paul in Romans 15. If you have your bible app, open it to chapter 15 and utilize the audio tool where it reads to you. Close your eyes and let verse 13 be spoken over you…

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV

Take one small step today, my friend. You’ll be one step closer to Jesus and that’s one step you’ll never regret.

Be a sweet potato.

I just want to get to the point. No cliff hanger or climax of a story to build up towards: patience is hard.

I wrestle with it – my lack, my desire to just be gifted with it, and the reality that its attainment rests on the action of waiting. You see, I don’t wait well. I ask a whole lot of “why’s” and “why not’s” and you can be sure there’s a lot of physical and spiritual eye-rolling and heavy stepping as I walk. (Did you like that, “heavy stepping”? I thought it sounded classier than “stomping”) I am half laughing, half shaking my head because…well, as a 28-year-old woman, it’s slightly embarrassing that my description is not an exaggeration.

I bring it up in the first place because I’m trying to live a transparent life, as I’ve said before. I want to continue to expose all of me to bring glory to my Father in heaven. I want every ounce of my being to point to Jesus. I’ve been wrestling with my desires and how they line up with God’s will. Most recently, the want I’m waiting for is one of having our own family. We’ve been praying and trying, and it just hasn’t happened. Listen, I know God is still good. I know He has a love for me and my husband that surpasses all understanding. That’s why I’m wrestling. I want to know that love more and more. I want more of Jesus and less of me. Ultimately, I want the waiting to bring me closer to Him. I do not want to be the girl who “heavy steps” her way through the waiting. I want to be the one who is looking to Jesus, with eyes focused on His faithfulness not rolling them at my unmet desires.

While I was at work the other day, we began to talk about dinner plans. A patient of mine said, “steak and…probably sweet potatoes”. “Ah”, I said “I love sweet potatoes but I can never get them right”. He looked at me and his response made my nose wrinkle. “You’re probably rushing it”, he said.

Excuse me, sir? What are we talking about again, sweet potatoes or my life?

What a silly comparison but man, it hit me.

Foster care and adoption have become more of a conversation this year. Ever since Troy and I talked about a future together, I’ve shared with him that adoption has always been on my heart. As a young girl, I remember telling my mother that I wanted to adopt. I have three cousins through adoption and without it, my extended family would not have been complete. What a beautiful option. And as I’ve gotten closer and closer to God, the more I know that’s what He asks of us. “to look after the orphans and widows…” (James 1:27). I actually wrote in my bible on 5/3/2017, “tell me when Lord”. What I should have written is, tell US when. You see, since the biological avenue hasn’t been working the way I want it to, I’ve turned towards foster care and adoption because it’s always been part of my plan. I’ll be honest and say it’s always been part of my back up plan. My attitude has been: “Okay God, if You choose not to give us biological children then I still have the other avenue to pursue.” The option in and of itself is beautiful, it’s life-giving, and with the gospel at the forefront, it is Kingdom building. I believe that. But…my motives and the way I’ve been operating lately have been to completely leave God (and my husband) out of the equation. I want it so let’s do it now.

What did he say about sweet potatoes again? Oh that’s right, “you’re probably rushing it.”

After having a conversation with my husband a few weeks ago, I immediately went to God – just crying, and calling out to Him. I had to look straight into the selfishness I was acting out of while pursuing my plan and the lack of regard for my husband’s feelings. Through my tears I felt God was speaking to my spirit. I believe He was saying to me –

Surrender this to me.
Foster care and adoption have been your back up plan.
Let go of it.
Let Me be your only plan.

Responding through my tears and sadness, I said – God, I want to want You more than I want children. I’m going to humble myself and say…lately it’s been quite the opposite. I believe it is good to want a family and children, I really do. But I have to look at the order of my wanting. You see, He is asking for all of me & He’s asking for all of you; all of your hopes, dreams, desires, all of your expectations, all of your hurts and sadness. In full surrender – with open hands to give to Jesus all of our own plans and receive all that God has intended for us. As I go further in my journey with Jesus, I’m seeing more and more areas of my life that I’m holding onto. I’m seeing more areas that need to be surrendered.

Here’s my reminder: your Father in Heaven is a good, good Father. He does NOT withhold goodness and love from you. No. His heart is for you. He gives in a way that the world cannot give (John 14:27). In surrendering all of you to all of Him, you will continue to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Don’t be closed-fisted towards our God of abundance. Open up those hands. Be protected by the boundaries of His will and His timing. Be encouraged by His faithfulness, that He is for you, not against you. Be reminded that the God who is love, gave Jesus for you. That is the weight of your meaning to Him. He is faithful in keeping His promises. That is just who He is.

“Fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

Maybe as you are reading this, you’re struggling with patience in an area of your life as well. Maybe you’ve been waiting and hoping for something that has yet to come to pass. Please know, my heart is heavy for you. I have an idea of what that may feel like. My hope is that you read and reread that “reminder” written above. I’ll be reading it again and again right along with you.

I’m also hoping that one day I will be able to write an addendum or even a part 2 to this entry about what it looks like to have received but while I’m in this waiting I’ll end with this…my God loves me. And you know what…even if time passes and I don’t receive what I’m praying for, my God is still good. I’m just going to declare that today. He will and has always loved me. Jesus is still pursuing me and His Spirit is still working in me to fulfill His purposes. The same is true for you. So, maybe instead of focusing on receiving, we can change our focus to the unseen, to be fixed on the Giver.

Our God is faithful in keeping His promises. Lean into Him more and more…

Don’t rush it, my friend.

Be a sweet potato.

A little change in perspective.

Last year some time I had this great idea. I said to Tina and Michelle…”We could write a blog! I do love to write…” & well duh. That makes me qualified…(insert chuckle here).

I don’t feel qualified for any of this actually, life in general. More times than not I’m doing my best to go with the flow and just trying to put a face of confidence on. Even that doesn’t go so well as I’m completely and utterly transparent. Recently, I’ve had a change in perspective, no longer fighting it & have begun to desire more of it – transparency. I’m learning to be thankful for my areas of weakness because it’s been in and through them that I’ve witnessed God, personally and powerfully. I am grateful for a God who uses those completely unqualified but just willing in order to demonstrate His glory. He’s able to show a lot through me. And for that…I’m overwhelmingly grateful.

One month ago Michelle and I were returning from a missions trip in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. Sunday, March 18th at 3am I walked through the door of my home with a mix of emotions – gratitude for all that my heart experience over those seven days, a twinge of sadness already missing my people, and just super excited to see my husband. He’s just awesome, I can’t help myself.

I do want to share one of my experiences with you because…well, it’s TOO GOOD not to share. Now, let me preface this…it has nothing to do with me but everything to do with what God did. I simply got to be a witness to it. I was just a body in a building on an island about 4 hours flight-time away from home. There was nothing special about me being there, I am no different from you reading this. Experiencing the still active and loving Jesus is not exclusive. No. It’s all-inclusive. If you’re doubting or questioning that in your heart, I just want to encourage you through this. I want to encourage you to dig into who Jesus is. I’m not speaking on denomination, tradition, or building. I’m specifically speaking on this Jesus who changed everything by His life & more by His death & resurrection, this Jesus who has established and is the unshakeable rock. I don’t know about you…but I so want to be rooted in something that isn’t going to crumble under criticism or trial. I want to stand firm in the midst of chaos that this world throws my way. I gotta tell ya…in Jesus, you’ll find exactly this and so much more.

Oh. Now, back to the DR.

I joined with 14 others of a variety of ages and walks of faith under the organization called: Viva Kids. Check them out. From personal experience, they’re pretty fantastic. I believe we’re all called to different mission fields – our homes, families, workplaces, friend groups, inner and outer cities, countries, tribes, villages. Our hearts all break for different reasons and it’s perfect that way. If everyone went “here” then no one would go “there”. You know? Our differences in desires are quite beautiful and purposed. Viva Kids…their heart has been moved to this community in San Pedro de Macoris, to the children and the families here, to supporting the Mercedes’ family. To meet this family is to be powerfully impacted. They are living within the purpose of God’s plan for them. The school they started, the children they love on, the water building that serves the surrounding community, the people they know and serve. There is proof after proof of God’s miracles. They can simply look around and see all the ways God has done the impossible in their lives. Listen, if you’re sitting here and feeling as if you don’t have proof of miracles in your own life, maybe you’re not stepping out of your comfort zone. Maybe you just haven’t looked in the rearview mirror of your life. Maybe you need just a little change in perspective. If you never step into the light, how can you say the Son doesn’t shine?

Before leaving for the trip, we had accumulated about $3,500 to give to the family – typically this money would be used for a work project but the needs of the school and the family were deemed more important, none opposed. This money would be put towards some of the debt that’s been acquired due to operation and upkeep of the school. Monday night, after a packed day of meeting the kids and hosting a teacher appreciation event, we were informed that the money – all $3,500 – had been stolen out of a locked car. Every penny gone. NEVER has this happened before. Never.

The 15 of us agreed, let’s pray. Let’s go to God about this. Worrying wasn’t even a thought in that moment. I’m still in awe of this response. As we sat in a circle, those who felt moved, prayed aloud. “God, we don’t understand this but we’re calling on You to do something about it! You are always good, no matter what!” That was the overall attitude. We then agreed that we should worship, let’s lift up the Name that is above all other Names simply because He is God! It’s hard to describe what happened in that common-room but hearts that started off with confusion left that worship time with joy, expecting God to show up and show off.

That’s what worship does. It changes our perspective. Taking it off of ourselves and back onto a God who is working all things out for the good of those who love Him.

Our group moved their feet, spreading the word about what had happened and hearts were responding quickly. By Tuesday night, donations had poured in and totaled about $6,800. Almost double the amount that was stolen. But God wasn’t done there and we weren’t expecting Him to be. Wednesday afternoon – as we were on our way back from distributing bagged meals to families living in a local sugar cane village – we were told that donations now were at $7,100 and the money that was stolen on Monday was returned. Say, what now?? So, you’re telling me that instead of the $3,500 that was originally raised, you now have triple the amount?!

Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying.

I kept saying “I’m not surprised. I’m just so excited!”
You see, when you are moving within the boundaries of the path set before you by God himself, when you have aligned your life with the will of God, you can expect Him to show up and show off in your life. He wants to do that. He delights in His people and in showing unmerited favor onto them, onto us. He wants to give you moment after moment saying, “I’m not surprised. I’m just so excited!”

I learned an unbelievably valuable lesson during my week in the DR.
Worshipping God, giving God glory is not dependent upon your circumstances. You see, that’s not natural to me. When my life and my circumstances are good then I’m over here like (hands in the air)…”God is good…all the time! Yeahh!” But when my life is hit with trial and my circumstances aren’t anything to excitedly jump around about then I put to question God’s character. I attend church, refusing to lift my hands or even sing the songs. Who’s the one actually changing here?

God is who He is regardless of what you’re going through. We are invited into personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, who is absolutely constant. We can bring our needs, our pains, and our joys to Him. When was the last time you thanked God just for being who He is? Have you done it in the midst of trial? For me, that was when my understanding of His goodness deepened. I began to understand a “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Phil.4:7) and ” a sacrifice of praise” (Heb.13:15). By laying aside my hurt & pain, choosing to lift up praise to my Father in heaven who loves me in spite of my mess, has transformed my heart. Choosing to proclaim His goodness in the midst of my struggle has changed my perspective. I’m looking, I’m expecting God to show up in my pain. And my friends, when you look for God…you’re going to find Him.

In reflecting on Hebrews 12:1-3, 7a
– Throw off everything (Heb12:1) – laying aside our pains and trials, your shortcomings, your past, your current situation
– Fixing our eyes on Jesus (Heb12:2) – looking up to Jesus instead of around to our circumstances
– Consider him (Heb12:3) – think about everything Christ did for YOU, the love He demonstrated, the opposition He faced, the pain He endured, the evil He overcame, the power that lies within Him and now within you
– Endure (Heb12:7) – when you reach to Jesus, you now have access to an unwavering strength. You can be confident in the midst of chaos. With Jesus can we endure.

If you are feeling as if your life is being controlled by fear, insecurity, or pain, if you’re struggling to change your perspective…let me remind you – God is simply waiting for you to call on His Name. Throw that stuff off, fix your eyes on Jesus, consider Him, and endure. Just a little bit of willingness goes a long way.

One last thing, please help us in praying for protection over the Mercedes’ family. The feeling of unease is thick after having your car broken into not just once but twice. Imagine that for a moment. Imagine having something stolen from you in one location and then returned to you in another location, your car broken into in both instances? I would be concerned for my safety and for the safety of my family. We are reminded though – we live in a broken world. We don’t have to live in fear but we are called to be on guard. We have victory in Jesus’ name.

Keep looking for God and you’ll keep finding Him.