Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Blessings :)






We. Are. So. Blessed.

And beyond excited about another little one joining our family!

The night we told Ava, it took her an hour to go to sleep because she was so hyped up and kept coming out to tell me that she really wanted me to have a girl!  I have a feeling God will hear some sweet prayers from my Ava girl over the next few months begging for a little sister!  Grayson has been so sweet too and is already putting his little hands on my belly and praying for the baby.
Melt. My. Heart. :)

Some of you may be shocked at this news . . . you aren't alone!  Shock has been the reaction of most people who have heard the news.  After all, aren't we adopting?  Yes, we are still in the process of adopting Easton!  We'll just have another little one join our family before Easton gets home!  Because of the incredibly long wait times, our agency recently changed their policy about pregnancy or concurrent adoptions.  We will continue to move up on the waitlist, but won't be able to receive a referral for Easton until baby #3 is at least one year old.  We were already preparing ourselves for another two years waiting on Easton so this little one doesn't actually change the time table too much.

In June, I wrote an adoption update and confessed my desire to manipulate the whole process.  Thankfully, God revealed my sin and pulled me out of that pit.

This new little one is not a result of my selfish manipulation, but of divine revelation, heart transformation, and God's sovereign grace.

{I know how the evil one likes to divide Jesus' Bride so I'm going to give a little disclaimer before I begin:  I'm going to share what God has done in our hearts over the last few months.  It is our story.  I'm not holding a stone.  There are no accusations.  I am not setting up our family as a new law or a new standard.  There is no condemnation, comparison or judging.  There are biblical principles and truths that I'll share that should be an anchor for all of us, but how that plays out in our lives may look very different.  I'm humbled and honored to share how the Father has spoken specifically to us!}

Divine Revelation

It all started when Chad ended one of his sermons with the question, "Do you want the Father's plans or your plans?"  This question haunted me.  I couldn't even see yet what area of my life God was touching with the Word that day, but it wouldn't let go of me.

At this same time, I was teaching Job and then Ecclesiastes in Sunday School.  As I studied, I saw the thread of God's sovereignty and His goodness exalted all through these two books.  I knew these were realities about God that I believed, but began wondering if I was really walking in them.

I also read an article about a woman who was pregnant with triplets, but chose to have two aborted.  A few of her reasons were that having triplets would have a negative affect on her career and that she would have to start shopping at Costco.  I was appalled at the selfishness that in her mind justified ending the lives of these two gifts from God.

All of this set the stage for God to speak.  Sin by it's nature is deceptive and we can so often be blind to our own sin.  God was ready to open my eyes.

You see, my motto regarding children has been summed up in two phrases . . . "We'll take it one at a time" and "I don't want to drive a bus."  Meaning . . . when I feel like I can't handle another one, we'll stop {which is laughable because the truth is that on my own I'm not enough to handle even one!}.  And our time to stop will definitely be before we have so many kids that they can't fit in our van.  I think large families are beautiful and all the ones I've know are amazing, but it just terrifies me. {Just being real.}

So a few days later we had lunch with some of our best friends.  I shared about the article and how shocked I was at the blatant selfishness that led this woman to abort two of her children.  Keith said, "But don't we often do the same thing?"  The conversation continued, but I was done.  The veil had been lifted.  I got home and wept as the Lord spoke gently, but powerfully to my heart.

"How is your heart any different from that woman whose story grieved you so?  She murders.  You refuse.  Neither of you are open to the blessings I may have for you.  Neither of you are seeking My plans.  You are putting your selfish desires above My desires for you.  You are not really walking in the Truths you say you believe."

God's divine revelation cut to the very heart of how I viewed children and how we were not seeking the Lord's plans regarding our family.

Heart Transformation

This the step I so often miss.  God speaks.  My toes are stepped on.  And then I keep on walking.  But when God speaks, the conversation is not complete without heart transformation.  There were only two options . . . obedience or disobedience . . . and though I knew where it would end, I put up quite a fight.

I wrestled with this for a week.  I'm talking mind consumed, tears flowing, laying it down then taking it back up kind of wrestling.  I wanted a middle ground.  Somewhere between full surrender and disobedience.  Somewhere that left me with a little bit of control so that I could ease the fears that raged.  Chad said that I wanted disobedience that looked like faith.  Yes, I'll take some of that. :)

God even gave me confirmation of what He had spoken in a way that only He could get the credit.  The day after my eyes were opened, Inward had a night of prayer and a time where we were to seek God and then speak a Word to each other.  My dear friend Christi said that she had spoken a word to another friend that day, but somehow felt that it was for me too . . . Be open to something other than your plan.  Okay God, I get it!  But even with that confirmation, I continued to wrestle.

I wanted some assurances before I walked in faith {which makes my walking not actually in faith at all}.  I realized that as I was desiring to trust, I was also asking God to promise not to bring me to a place of desperation, to a place that is terrifying and overwhelming, to a place where I could never be enough.  What loving Father would say yes to a request like that?  That place is exactly where He wants me to be . . . a place of desperation for Him, of moment by moment dependence on Him, of faith in His Sovereignty and Goodness, and of utter reliance on His uninterrupted Grace in my life.

When it finally came down to it, I had to chose to believe and walk in what God says is True.

  • He knows what is best for me.  I don't.
  • He is Sovereign over all things.
  • He works for my good and for His glory.
  • He knows how I still need to be transformed and how that needs to happen. {Children are mighty instruments in the Lord's hands.  They change you in a thousand ways that you need to be changed.  Can I get an amen?}
  • He is worthy of my worship, trust, and obedience.
  • Children are a blessing from the Lord.  
I surrendered.  We surrendered.  {I was praying and processing all this with Chad, but he got to this point before me.}  Finally letting go of our plans was scary, but so freeing.  I would have never said that my precious kids were a burden, but until then I don't know that I had ever truly embraced them as the blessing that they are.  Chad noticed a change in me immediately . . . more joy, more patience, more purpose.

Chad changed immediately too.  As we decided to begin diligently seeking the Lord regarding His plans for our family, I told Chad that I was trusting him to lead us in this walk of faith.  The responsibility drove him to his knees and brought a new level of intimacy in our marriage as we prayed for direction.  We decided that we would let the Lord . . . not culture, not fear, not self . . . determine how we walked in this area.  Chad pointed out that children were the only blessing that we had essentially asked God to limit.  We never ask Him to hold off the blessings of health or provision, but we had done just that with one of the greatest blessings He pours out.

God's Sovereign Grace

We had such joy this past month as we were trusting in God's plan.  I'll be honest . . . I expected to get pregnant right away because that is how it has happened with all three of my pregnancies.  So when I took a test and it was negative, I was shocked.  And disappointed.  I had actually found myself hoping.  {I confessed my disappointment to my friend, Keri, and she pointed out what a testimony that was of God's work in my heart over the last month!}

We prayed and thanked God for His sovereignty and His perfect plans.  We shared this whole journey with our "For Better, For Worse, For the Gospel" group of young married couples and told them that I wasn't pregnant.  And then a few days later we found out that we were wrong!

Oh the grace!  We are so humbled and full of gratitude that God would chose to bless two broken and often blind followers like us with another precious one.

I'm not gonna lie though, I can still be overwhelmed at the thought of what lies ahead.  We don't have a clue what God's plan will look like for us.  But rather than focusing on all the unknowns, we are choosing to hold tight to the One we do know.  He is the Author of our story and it will be a better story than we could ever write for ourselves.  We'll just have to continually make sure that we haven't again taken the pen out of His hands.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Birthday Girl

 How is it possible for my baby girl to be five already?

Just yesterday she looked like this . . .

1st Birthday

2nd Birthday

3rd Birthday

4th Birthday

And now she's 5!

We have had a week-long celebration of her birthday, ending today with her getting to choose our dinner and dessert spot.  She enjoyed her favorite pasta at East of Italy and froyo at Orange Leaf . . . no shocker there!

{With a fun ride in a shopping cart in between!}

 Yesterday we also celebrated a special "girl's day" with Mommy and Lili!

We had a "fancy" lunch at La Madeleine.  Getting to drink iced tea might have been the highlight of her day . . . my girl is easy to impress!

Ava also got to pick out a new outfit at Carters.

Then we let the guys join the fun at the movies to see Planes.  This was Grayson's first time in a theater and only Ava's second.  They loved it!

Mommy and Daddy got our Ava girl something special to wear to school!  Grammy and Paw Paw also got her a Saints jersey and new shoes so she is set!

 It is amazing how much Ava has grown in the last year . . . not so much in size . . . she is still under 30 lbs!  

But she has matured in her desire to learn {she is LOVING school}, in compassion, in creativity, in responsibility, in generosity, in seeing and responding to the world around her, and in love for God and for others. 

Psalm 96 continues to be my prayer for Ava . . .

Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!

Ava is a joy and an absolute blessing to our family.  To God be the glory for this precious life entrusted to us!