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Thursday, June 18, 2015

It's always plan A

I've been in denial. With all of me I dreaded trusting the wrenching in my stomach, what deep down I knew: this isn't it, RMI is not where he wants us. I've pushed and tried to ignore it, but I knew I no longer could.

Fear, frustration. Honesty.

This voice had grown louder over time, this brought up a hard realization, as John and I talked he revealed that he had been feeling the same way for a while, even longer than I.

More frustration. Then relief, hope.

We talked about what had been stirring in our hearts: U.S waiting children. For John, this has been more his heart from the beginning, really since before the beginning. For me, I said yes, but not yet. I'm not ready. Well, with patience, persistence, and tenderness my Father has stirred, confronted, and molded my heart...toward these kiddos. All the books, all the training, classes and assessments have overwhelmed my heart with stubborn love for these kids, and a deep longing to be their all-in mother and best advocate. In an always, forever, no matter what kind of way.

I can't think long enough or hard enough to figure this all out. In my relaxed state my brain still tries to figure out if we missed something, but as I look back I know that's a lie. This is where he has us, he's taught, stretched and grown us so much and that was not his plan B, that was his plan A. What's he's going to do next, what's on the other side of this? I surely don't know. All I know is that our God writes great stories, and don't all of the best stories have twists, turns, and unexpected endings? Why yes, yes they do.

I'll end with a lesson learned.

This is not something I get to choose, or  control. This is not in the slightest about me. This is not about John. This is not about us and what we want. This is not about trying harder.
This is about learning how to listen, follow, love, trust, and not hold back. This is about learning to let go, and fully be where he has us.

We are here, myself at least weary from fighting to make things move, and finally surrendering what I have left and offering it to our King. He is so gentle with me when I need it most, filling my aching body with fresh water, my heart with assurance of hope of what is to come.

My posts will be more frequent, and questions well be answered as we get them. We appreciate you all, and ask for your prayers, mostly that we would continue to be united in the mission to keep our focus on Christ.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Waiting for the wait...grace and more grace in the time between

Yes, it has been 2.5 months since I've posted last. This is not however for lack of God moving, teaching and growing us. So many times I've wanted to write, but my thoughts have been incomplete so I simply wrote a piece and saved it for later. Ok, so sometimes it was just incomplete, but sometimes it was just too raw, and my pride wouldn't let me post it and I told myself it wasn't polished enough. Seriously...prides covers itself in all sorts of ways! My thoughts still are incomplete today as I sit here, but trust that it's ok, they don't need to be. This is, after all, is what God has continually and consistently asking me to do with this blog; 'be honest, be real, be unashamed, this is not just about you Jackie'. So, I think it's important that I lay my pride aside, be obedient and share the unpublished mini posts I had started in the last couple months. So here they are, pride aside. Deep breath...the second one is hard.

3/15
It's funny how I see in myself at times when I've seen God change me I end up thinking I had a ton to do with it. That where I'm at now had hugely to do with me..I love that God has shown me different. As I sit doing my bible study, I'm struck by these words: "..the closer Christ's presence comes to us, the more humble a discerning person becomes." - Beth Moore. This, I find is one of the many things my Father has been teaching me over the last couple years: HE is the builder, not me. His work in me is His doing, not mine!

"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 2:4-5

3/22/15
Sometimes I have no idea, right now I have no idea. Why am I here, what is next, how should I feel? Does what I feel change anything? Does it mean anything? How do I move forward, what does it look like, and where is forward? Is it behind me, in front, or to the side of me?  And how will I know?
Oppression, is that what this is? I hate it, much more than the pain searing and threatening to numb me, I hate the confusion. I feel lost in what is, what will be and what I even long for, or if it's right?
I feel pressure, weight and burden. Deep and throughout. Frustration and anger. Longing and un-surety of what I long for...do I even know anymore? I don't know. Confusion and weariness, emptiness.
This is not where God will leave me, but when oh Lord, when will you come? I know you are here. You offer sweet reassurance, yet no rescue, no not yet. I wait. I yearn, I hunger, I feel hindrance. My cup is dry and cracking. Others are full and vibrant, I glare with hot tears, waiting.
I feel Huge pregnant, my emotions huge and messy, my back, my body ever tired and aching. I long for this baby to come, for this weight to leave my body. I dream of the lightness, the freedom, is it just a dream? No, not so. Maybe though.
The momma's who are beginning: glowing, expectant, excited, seamingly beautifully unhindered by the weight that will come, the heart that will grow and bleed as it tears to grow larger, size change unknown. Leaning back here, 24 months along and counting...I wonder when the delivery will be. Will it happen, or will baby be surgically extracted again as others glowingly come home children in tow to add to their many.
Patience, gone. When and how will more come? My journey is not the same. These women are not mothers-to-be. They Are mothers; everyday, real, actual, factual mothers. Do not tell me that I am already, do not say I am to many. Come to the stillness of my home at evening, throughout the day and in the wee hours of the morning, and tell me I am a mother then. You can't, and I hope you won't try. So do not lump me together with already-mothers adopting more children, unless of course your aim is pain and refusal to see the difference. I am here, my knees ache, my head throbs, my heart breaking, fear rising, torment in progress.
This is now, not what will be. Do not force me up, do not load more weight of expectation of attitude on me now. I am already buckling, help me or leave me to my Father. His rescue will come, whether miscarriage or delivery room, his rescue will come as surely as He lives and reigns. He will come find me, right where I am and as I am.

I am here to tell you that His rescue is sweet, it is miraculous and complete. I'll be honest, as my Father has asked me to be. John and I were at a standstill in our adoption it seemed, documents that were supposed to have taken a couple weeks still weren't there at a couple months. My dreams of us traveling this spring/summer were crushed, we would be lucky to have our Dossier sent by then and the average wait time after that we learned is currently 9 months (putting travel to be expected more like January). Fear started to creep in, my self-protection mode came with it, and best yet I didn't want to talk about it. Around that time, we heard the news of many friends in our church who were all beginning the adoption process. I was struck with fear where excitement, trust, and joy should have been. Satan knows me all too well, all the chinks in my armor...let me mention that my Father does also and more so, but for the moment I want to explain how Satan worked. Satan knew that I was pregnant with many women, that I was the only one who lost their child, and the additional heartbreak and sting that brought. Satan has watched as God made beauty from the ashes of that and I know it angered him so. He has seen how because of the awesome and tender work my Father has done, I can now whole-heartedly embrace and praise God for new life beginning when I hear of a pregnancy, unplanned or planned. My trust is securely in Him for that new life, and my heart is for that child. God has given me a heart to help, a heart to be joyous with them, and a deep excitement and respect for that new precious life! If it's a pregnancy for an unequipped mother, my heart is now better able to go out for the two of them, and my prayers do too, unhindered. That is His works in me, His patience with me is crazy deep and persistent, let me tell you!! But back to that first week or so of adoption news: I was struggling, badly. I looked to my Father saying, 'please don't make me learn how to be joyful about adoption through loss as I did with pregnancy', 'please, I do Not want to learn anymore right now, my heart hurts too bad', and 'If you want me to be a resource or put on a happy face for them I am going to snap, I am not able to right now, don't you see?!', my heels were fully dug in. What a human response. I think back on it now and I'm disappointed in myself for having those thoughts, those emotions, for letting Satan have even an inch of ground. But at the very same time, if I didn't struggle there, I wouldn't have learned this type of emotional rescue and this testimony wouldn't be as sweet. I couldn't tell you how I not only couldn't believe God could walk me across that bridge to trust him, and how I straight up didn't want to go and was angry He was asking me to. Well, He took his crossed armed, stern faced kiddo and carried her across anyways, and I'm so glad he did!! I know I can trust him, with my deepest hurts, and my deepest longings, even when they are one and them same. I know I can freely rejoice, and live with joy, no matter what comes. He cares enough to teach us how to trust him, what great papa we have. I know more how much I need my Father, crazy I know that he loves me and my deep thinking-emotional self just as I am. I don't have to come to him refined or healed, He is the refiner and healer. He can see me before I was born, as I am now, and who I will be in glory with him...all at the same time, and He speaks to me patiently my identity in Him again and again. He teaches me that I can trust him, not with my breath held anticipating pain and knowing it will be worth it if I endure, but taking sure breathes, awaiting as a child would the good gifts their Father has for them. He is teaching me more why He created me the way he did, and how I'm made to bring Him glory in spite of and because of it at different times. How many more ways do I have to praise him now? More and more and more all the time. How awesome is our God? How faithful, even when we doubt him time and time again. My paster often says.."There is nothing I can do to make him love me anymore and nothing I can do to make him love me any less." What deep truth and freedom there is in that.
 A few things God did for me besides working on my heart? 
He gave me a free 14 pound puppy to love on and nurture...for free. Buddy, as John has now named him, is a 7 month old Boston terrier/rat terrier mix. Him and Sadie are BFF's and this pup loves to snuggle and be by his human momma. Our two dogs, Sadie & Buddy are such awesome blessings! I am a dog person through and through, but for real...these pups are the best. They bring so much joy and fun to our lives everyday, they remind me to relax and have fun, and they allow me to love on and nurture them. 
He has also so increased John and I's desire to learn as much as we can about child development, and how to best love and nurture adoptive children. I'm becoming a nerd, but that's fine with me! I love it, it has continually opened my eyes to children around me, and allowed me to form such special relationships with them, I can honestly say I love kids in general more than I ever thought possible. I have a deeper understanding of my childhood, the consequences of different things and how they have affected me into my adult life. I understand now how important it is for me to understand and heal from my past so I can model to our children how to face, process, and forgive their deep hurts and learn to trust again. This spurs my compassion on toward not just children, but also adults and what they may have missed out on as young people. After all, don't we all have moments we feel like little kids again? How much more compassion do I have for even my husband when I imagine him as a little boy inside, hurt by my disrespect or impatience? Much more. If you have never heard of Empowered to Connect, google it. It's such an amazing resource no matter how old you are or if you have adopted kiddos or not! John and I went to a local simulcast conference last weekend and the very next day registered for the Conference in Minneapolis!! 
Anyways, I will end this post now because, man, no matter how hard I try I'm long winded!!! I will end with my favorite psalm as of late, one that has filled me with joy and hope for what is to come!

PSALM 34: Taste and See That the Lord Is Good
Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.
"I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes it's boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned."

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Love is Patient

So I don't know about you but music speaks to me. At times I feel it reaches my marrow and I feel my Saviors presence at my very core, it lingers and flows through me there. I love that, I love that God created me that way. It's not that I'm particularly musical, but rather it's a language God chooses to speak to me through. As John and I played with the worship team I felt the words sink in, settling with such deep conviction I almost stopped playing just to listen. (I have the song written below) This adoption has been an interesting and refining journey as I've mentioned, one that I find myself desperately trying to force ahead. Flash back to my childhood for a moment with me. There wasn't anything I wouldn't carry, for instance: grocery shopping. It didn't matter how heavy the bags, how many there were, one trip was the only acceptable option. I would pile on a row of grocery bags onto my arms until there literally wasn't room for more, then I'd grab a milk jug or two. I'd come ramming into the house, slide/slam the bags down and practically crawl over my pile of goods, not graceful I know. As I grew up this stayed the same, whether I carried wood to the fire, hose at work, drug leaves across the yard...less trips were always better than one. I'm still like this, some things you don't outgrow. Some call this determination, grit. Sometimes maybe it is, but other times it's simply stubbornness, the vain kind. If you don't know me that well, I generally have two speeds when working: Fast or not moving. Oh...and I want to choose my speed. So, that brings us back to adoption, and on a larger scale...life. We have been waiting for our hardcopy homestudy for over two months now, so to say the least I've been frustrated that I can't choose the 'Fast" pace and had to settle for the temporarily not moving pace instead. How many times have I learned that I don't get to choose the pace or direction, that I'm not actually the captain of this ship? Honestly you don't want to know, in my short 27 years it just may surpass some of my elders by a long shot. You see I think I have such 'great ideas', such 'perfect timelines'. The fact is though, I don't, God does. I'm humbled all the time by him, brought back to my knees in surrender and he is ever so patient with me as he waits for this. He waits as I sit re-arranging our paperwork for the 100th time, driving myself crazy thinking and venting to John about how 'logically' XY and Z should have been done months ago and on and on I go. He waits, probably tender laughs escaping him at times seeing my stubbornness. He waits until I stop fighting him, stop pretending that I can build our house, that my effort will stand next to his plan. When I look, when I read and pray, when I sing and ponder the words, mentally finding the scriptures for them in my heart and head, I remember again who He is. Who I am. That alone stopped me in my tracks again as I listened and played this song, seeing myself compared to his greatness. I am no longer who I once was, all because of him. I am who He says I am, predestined for adoption as his daughter, and his promises for me stretch out before me, my great inheritance: seemingly unending in their number and grandeur. That is not the only reason I love him though, it is who He IS that's greater still. Even if He did not save me, my praises he would still deserve. He is unchanging, I am constantly changing it seams. My weeks of frustration and angst to force this adoption forward nag at me, my heart for motherhood echo through me, my questions of what else I can prepare for, look on craigslist for, look forward to...tempt to distract and swallow me. Oh but how he reminds me that this adoption will come to pass, He has blessed me greatly with such a peace that it will. More than that though, through song today he lovingly brings me for a moment higher, seeing again in my minds eye that there is so much more than this, such a bigger picture. His purposes are greater, VASTLY LARGER, zoomed in intricately put together, and all will be done according to His Perfect will, in his perfect time. This tapestry he is weaving is beautiful. He begins with wretched rags, he tenderly cleanses, restores, redeems, refines, and works, one to another in such meticulous perfection you could scarcely take your eyes off if you watched. How can I stop him and say, 'that doesn't go there', or 'that's not how I want to be weaved into that' or 'why won't you do it this way?' or 'that's much the wrong color for that part of my strand'. I can't, his Spirit in me resolves that I don't want to. It's true, I don't. I want what he wants, and when I don't I long for him to change me, create in me a heart that loves what he loves the way he loves it. This does not mean I do not pray and make petition before him, by all means I do, relentlessly it seams, lifting up friends, family, strangers. But as he refines me, as he loves me and I accept his love, I learn to trust him more. I learn to trust that if what I earnestly ask in his name for, weep before him for, I trust as sure as He sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us, He will not grant what is not good for us, and glorifying to him. I trust He is our Savior, even from ourselves. So often we don't understand, or 
get to see why it is good..although with all certainty I know one day we will. I trust whatever comes, he will not let myself or my brothers and sisters go under, but through the waves, and when we reach the other side we will know him more, and as we step out of the water we will look more like him. In the meantime, as so much of life is...in the meantime...through him I must choose to see the day...see the beauty of the tapestry I'm able to see thus far. How he has knit people together in friendship, sharing all the joy of seeing his hand move around us. Thanking him for the time he's given us and the blessing of his presence and desire to walk with us...even run with us at times...him choosing the speed. I sit tonight resting in his provision for us, his steadfast kindness and promise to never leave nor forsake us. Smiling now as I think of the man he set me beside..one that teaches me how to be patient and not throw a fit...and helps me back on my feet when I have one anyways. My Father is so good to me, his grace amazes me and his ability to use me does too. 

I want to end this little post with an encouragement. I am not particularly talented or outspoken, I have a checkered past, but I am by God's grace redeemed, and made to share the gifts he's given me and shine for him...and so are you. So I encourage you to speak. To use discretion but not your own, to instead be bold when listening to the Holy Spirit. Share, speak life, real life, to those you meet and are feel called to. If you are saved by Jesus, your debt is paid, you are a new creation. You can stand courageous and beautiful in the ashes of who you were, remembering the cost, and speak hope to those still lost, discouraged, or broken. I have been so encouraged to hear others, some who I hardly know, or are my elders, say that this blog has blessed them or spoken something they needed to hear, what a testimony to what God can do with one small act of faithfulness, one life. Think back for a minute on the people God chose to use...Abram, Jacob, Rahab, David, Paul, Mary, and the list goes on. Some with scandalous pasts, deceitful, murderous, even those like Mary that probably felt like they had no testimony. What a reminder that God is sovereign to equip and use whoever he chooses. He has given each of us a specific voice, a specific thread in his tapestry, let us shine and be bold for our King goes before us. 

Should nothing of our efforts stand 
No legacy survive 
Unless the Lord does raise the house 
In vain its builders strive 

To you who boast tomorrow’s gain 
Tell me what is your life 
A mist that vanishes at dawn 
All glory be to Christ! 

All glory be to Christ our king! 
All glory be to Christ! 
His rule and reign we'll ever sing, 
All glory be to Christ! 

His will be done 
His kingdom come 
On earth as is above 
Who is Himself our daily bread 
Praise Him the Lord of love 

Let living water satisfy 
The thirsty without price 
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet 
All glory be to Christ! 

All glory be to Christ our king! 
All glory be to Christ! 
His rule and reign we'll ever sing, 
All glory be to Christ! 

When on the day the great I Am 
The faithful and the true 
The Lamb who was for sinners slain 
Is making all things new. 

Behold our God shall live with us 
And be our steadfast light 
And we shall ere his people be 
All glory be to Christ! 

All glory be to Christ our king! 
All glory be to Christ! 
His rule and reign we'll ever sing, 
All glory be to Christ!

-Words by Dustin Kensrue