Friday, September 16, 2016

A Fully Abundant Life

My ladies' Bible class has just begun a study of Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts".  I can't wait to see where this quarter leads, but having just listened to the first couple of chapters, I'm convinced this study will be challenging.  She suggests that the fall from grace in the garden of Eden was a result of ingratitude.  Humankind had perfect fellowship with God, but became discontented.  We wanted more...we had been shielded and mercifully blind, but now we see all the evil this world is capable of producing.  The author shares multiple events in her life that have lead to a hardening of her heart and begins to ask the hard questions. Is there a God? If so, is He really good? Can He really be trusted with our lives and hearts?   If you could change your story, would you?
She mentions a passage I had not considered.  King Hezekiah asked God for 15 more years. 1 Kings 20:2-3. God answered his prayer, but that resulted in his son Manasseh and all his mess.  Even before that, Israel asked God for earthy kings despite His warnings.  He consented in the short run to teach them to rely on Him in the long run.
I am so thankful God hears all prayers, but I pray for wisdom to know what to bring to Him.  Looking back, I can sincerely thank Him for some of the unanswered prayers.  :) God is good.  He can be trusted.  In complete faith I can say I would not change my story.
Can we eat the manna daily? Can we be thankful for the mysteries? For the unexplainable? He did not send the Israelites anything within their comfort zone.  He brought them something that looked unusual.  It was good, but strange.  It was sustenance, but it didn't vary.  Again, we became discontented.  Ingratitude for the manna brought back the snake.  We are the Israelites...we have seen the wonders of the Almighty and still we forget.  There was no hoarding of manna, but a daily nourishment of God's grace.  We still need a steady diet of the Bread of Life and never forget to give thanks for it.

We had our first class this past Wednesday night and a question posed to the group was: Has there been a time in your life that was hard and painful and looked nothing like a gift? When you look back, can you see the gift wrapped in pain?  My eyes filled with tears, but I couldn't raise my hand to share.  I've found peace with losing my baby, but am I actually grateful for the loss? I am at peace being childless, but can I sincerely call my barrenness a gift from God?.....Maybe.
Is it our world-warped eyes that make blessings look like curses? Maybe losing my baby isn't where my mind needs to be focused. Maybe that's the devil showing me the fruit on the tree that I shouldn't have.  Maybe I need to be looking at the garden FULL of blessings that are mine for the taking! The three days I had with my "Little Foot" are a blessing that I still have with me! The memories of those days are beautiful and wonderful and I carry them with me.  That blessing is not diminished because of it's duration.  Time is of this world, not my world.  I am not of this world anymore, so my joy of those three days are not confined to those 72 hours.  The blessing I received, I still receive if I'm willing to accept it and not be distracted by the fruit that God has set apart, NOT for me.  Whatever that fruit may be.  To borrow a concept from the movie "Interstellar", love is not bound by time.  God IS love.  Therefore, the blessings he gives are also not limited by the dimensions of this world.
Here I raise my Ebenezer and say, "Thus far the Lord has helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12.  Therefore, I have no reason to think that will change because He does not change.  This world was not created that I could feel happy all the time with everything I could possibly, success, travel...This world is a training ground.  I am given opportunities to practice living as a disciple of Christ every day.  Can I be grateful for that opportunity? Do I remember to give thanks Daily for the honor of showing Christ to the world? Even when it really hurts? To paraphrase Ann, the miracle is always preceded by gratitude.
Matthew 15:36 - Christ gives thanks for the insufficient loaves BEFORE they are made sufficient.
John 11:41 - Christ giving THANKS while a friend lies in his grave.
Luke 22:19 - Less than 12 hours before suffering the cross, Jesus giving THANKS for the bread, His very body about to be broken.  Literally giving thanks for the toruture he was about to endure because He knew the this had been the plan since the garden.
Romans 1:20 - "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been CLEARLY SEEN, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." Through gratitude, my world-warped eyes become clear.
I'm so grateful the Lord's purpose will prevail, in all and through all and today I will do my best to be truly grateful for it ALL...even the strange manna and my insufficient abilities and offerings...and even for friends in the grave. I will give thanks and watch the miracle.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What I've learned from Mary Kay

Last November, a friend of mine, another music therapist, asked if I'd like a free facial. She shared that she was a new Mary Kay beauty consultant and needed to practice presenting the products and instructing others how to use them.  I didn't think much of it, but was grateful for any excuse to meet up with a friend and have coffee.  Well, by the end of that night, I was SOLD! From the first swipe of Fancy Nancy lip gloss, I was sold on the products; but then, I became sold on the company...What is this phenomenon that Mary Kay created and what made it so special to have lasted so long?
Almost a year has gone by and I'm still finding more answers to those questions, but one thing is very clear.  Mary Kay is a culture of caring.
This company cares about each individual woman.  They offer extensive opportunities to learn from intelligent, successful, and generous women.  The things I've learned from Mary Kay and her company are applicable in almost every other area of my life.  Please ask me sometime about all the reasons Why I Love My Mary Kay, but for now, let me focus on one lesson I've learned.
When getting to know people, we tend to ask a lot of questions.  Desperate for some thread of commonality on which we can begin to build a relationship.  After several minutes of playing the '20 questions' game, we've either found something else to discuss or the conversation lags and we realize we are probably not looking at a future BFF.  However, in my Mary Kay business (and in most encounters throughout the day), I don't have that much time.  People are either excited and impatient to begin their facial or they just need to get back to the business of being them! :)
So, Mary Kay came up with a great way to get to the meat of the conversation much quicker.  Don't ask a question, but make a request.
"Please tell me about yourself."
So simple, so elegant, and so under-utilized.  You simply request information and then LISTEN! Don't jump on the first thing they say that you know something about...just listen.
The very first things out of their mouth will probably show you the road map to their heart! It answers so many questions: How do you see yourself? What do you value most? What takes up your time and energy?
Chris and I both cringe when meeting new people and we inevitably get to that part of the '20 questions' game when we have to answer, "No, no children", smile politely when they assure us there is no hurry/still time, and then assure them we have not been living under a rock and have, in fact, 'considered adoption' (I'm not even sure what that question means anymore).  We've reached the awkward lag in conversation already and we know essentially NOTHING about each other! No, I have no children, but that does not define all that I am. I end up making a joke about how I have three
'Fur babies'. It lets them off the hook by moving the conversation forward, but I hate doing it. I love my animals, but they are not my children. I love my nieces and nephew, but they are not my children. I love my clients who I've seen grow and develop for years, but they are not my children. I am not a parent, but my life is beautiful and full. My cup still runs over with blessings being constantly poured on me.
"Please tell me about yourself".
No risk of judgment in giving the hard, but honest answers. Simply an open invitation to share the real you. What is important to you? What takes up the spaces in your heart?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Finding Peace.

Another Mother's Day...another negative pregnancy test...but I didn't breakdown! As luck would have it, Sunday morning during worship, I sat next to a woman who had lost a child, a teenager, several years ago. She shared with me later this was the first year for her to attend worship on Mother's Day. Sadly, she became very emotional and wasn't able to stay. It got me thinking again about grief and how tricky it can be. She acknowledged the next day that nothing specific happened to set it some point, it was just too much. I totally get it. Our grief is on different levels, but similar paths.
This morning, I was so completely convinced I was pregnant. I was seven days late with no sign of spotting, cramping, or sugar/salt cravings...very unusual, even for me! I said, negative. Even as I was waiting those LONG three minutes, I was excited to know, but not all...For the first time EVER, I was totally ok with whatever the answer would be.  I was so grateful! Feeling the beautiful fruit of the Spirit for which I had been praying for so long...God granted me His Peace! I know grief will visit again, but that's ok.  My God is big enough to handle whatever I am willing to give Him...and then use it for some good. We serve a mighty God.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


I was just looking at the different countries where this blog has been read.  It's amazing how small the world has become and how common our stories and struggles are for ours to permeate into so many people's hearts.  There's a blog I read regularly called "He Remembers The Barren" and while I do not agree 100% with the author's theology, I have to say she has been a welcomed voice of comfort, faith, and support when I feel completely alone.  Many times, the most recent post is not the most applicable at the time it is published, but sometimes it hits the nail right on the head...these thoughts were inspired by one such post:
There have been so many reasons to feel grateful this past month...spending time with each other and with our families...we both found ourselves saying, 'it's kind of nice that we don't have children...doing things like [spur of the moment dinner dates, afternoons/evenings out] would be so much more complicated if we had to arrange child-care'.  I don't mean to be flip; I'm simply sharing how we express our sense of peace about our circumstances.
I've found that recently, the hardest struggle has been with the world.  The world is a broken, lost, evil place.  The only hope and joy we have is that Christ has conquered the world and given us sweet redemption from the pain and loss to which the world is doomed.  So, it's only fitting that when my eyes are not on Christ, but looking at things/people in the world and of the world that I experience physical pain.  People who are given incredible gifts and not only squander them, but actually abuse them! Our gifts, whatever they may be, are from God and are entrusted to us for a time that they may be used to bring Him glory.  Matthew chapter 25 tells us about the foolish man who hid his master's gold for fear of losing it.  What I see the world doing to its children is so much worse than hiding them! I see them forgotten, abandoned, abused, aborted!! How dare we treat our gifts with such disdain?! It's not grief for my own loss that I feel; it's actual anger and resentment to others.  I can be at peace with my lot in life and be grateful for the gifts I do have, but being at peace while there is such evil in our midst...nearly impossible.
So, where does that leave me? I guess it's a challenge.  If it's so easy for me to see other's failings by not using/cherishing their gifts...that must reflect something about my own life.  What gifts am I hiding or squandering?  As this new year begins, that's my focus! I will show others how grateful I am for my gifts by USING them! :) When you give someone a sweater and you see them actually wear great is that? God has given me the most precious and beautiful gifts imaginable...It's time for me to put them on...I've put on Christ in baptism, so what does that look like?  What WILL it look like?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Back burner

By no means are we 'done' with this process, but we've come to the decision to put it least for now. It would be so easy to say, "well, they must not really want a child as much as they say"...and that couldn't be further from the truth. However, we are both frustrated with the process and the expense..not to mention the nagging thoughts that we still just really want a biological child.
I came across this quote the other day and it hit me right between the eyes...
"Frustration is when your expectations don't line up with your willingness to make it happen." [If anyone knows who originally said it, please let me know!]
At first, it hurt...being unwilling...sounds a lot like being lazy.  However, I considered that word for a while...unwilling...not have have misgivings...those all seem to be easier to swallow.
Yes, we are hesitant to invest time and money; we have misgivings about the emotional investment; we are not enthusiastic about jumping through hoops to prove to someone that we are capable of providing for and raising a child.  So, hence the frustration.
The youth minister at Webb Chapel Church of Christ had some really wise words a few months ago.  He taught an entire lesson on how to know what God's will for your life may be...he made lots of good points, but the one that stuck went something like this: If God has not blessed you in a certain area; perhaps it is not his will that you use the gifts you do not have! [ that a double-negative?]  I may feel in my heart that I could be THE BEST dancer since Ginger Rogers, but God has certainly not blessed me in that area, so I can know with a fair amount of certainty that being a dancer is not the best way for my life to bring glory to Him.  It made me take a good long look at blessings.
Even though I started this post AGES ago, it seems almost fitting to post it now...the day before Thanksgiving.  I am so grateful for all the blessings in my life and there are so many ways I can use my gifts to serve others.  The last thing I think anyone wants is for their desires to become a stubbling block...we cannot allow the gifts OR the withholding of gifts to drive a wedge between us and God's love and grace.  He is good; He is wise; He is worthy of our trust and praise.
Like I said at the beginning, this is just our story...I don't know if this post will prove to be a period or a comma, but we have faith and hope and love...No matter what, God reigns!

Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers! Your support and love mean so much to both of us!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Summer is over...maybe not according to the weather forecast, but in terms of having extra hours in the day to get stuff done, it's gone! Don't get me wrong, it was a great summer filled with family and fun. Important things filled our days and weeks, but sadly, not much progress in terms of The Stack.  So now, as I look at the quickly filling calendar and realize how fast fall will turn into winter, I'm extremely discouraged.  We know all too well the busyness of the orchestra season and the school year. Weekends are not our own. There are late nights followed by early mornings.
A few big things that still need to happen are our 6 hours of parenting classes, CPR/First aid certification, scrapbook, confirmation of insurance timing for the kiddo [keep reading for more on THAT!], and financial reports.
We did get a FEW things done this summer...namely our physicals! lol Our doctor has affirmed she expects us to live long enough to get a kiddo raised up.  ;) We also completed our family trees (they want to know the educational and health background of EVERYONE!), our complete health history, and floor plan/dimensions of our home.
So, back to the insurance - this is interesting since I hadn't considered this an issue previously - We have to ensure we have coverage for a child AT PLACEMENT.  So, kiddo gets born...rights are waived...when we are allowed to bring them home from the hospital, they need to be covered.  This is an issue because there are many things that we probably will not have until the consumation of the adoption 6 months later [like a social security number for the kiddo].  So, if our current insurance will not cover a dependant at birth/placement, only at finalization, we'll have to purchase additional insurance just for the kiddo until that point.  Not a huge deal, but again, just more time and money!
I'm trying to not get too 'down' about all of this and specifically trying NOT to think about all the couples that were at the same orientation as us, not to mention those who attended the June orientation, who probably have all of their stuff done and IN. :(  I am completely apathetic about so much, sometimes I forget my annoying competitive side...the annoying part is that it rarely motivates me to action; it just makes me feel worse about my current worthless a trait is that? lol


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pushy, pushy, pushy.

So, I've mentioned this before, about adoption being a very proactive experience; we're very purposefully 'making' something happen that is typically reactive. I do want to be the kind of person who does things purposefully, intentionally taking steps to make myself and those around me more like Christ. So, I can't really explain why this annoys me.  Please believe me when I say that I do understand where they are coming from and I'm probably making more of this than it really is.  However, in my completely biased, one-side-of-the-fence, limited point of view, it's a tad ridiculous.
Part of THE STACK is to fill out a spiritual plan for your family. We describe how we came to our faith and how we intend to share that faith with our children. I get it, 'Christian' is right there in the name, so they of course want to make every effort to place children in homes that will teach Christian values. But, come if everything else weren't enough...the prodding into our finances, the required reading and classes, the examination of everything we are and I have to explain,in detail, how I will teach this child whom I know NOTHING about yet? C'mon. I'm sure they just want to ensure we spend at least a few minutes considering that future conversation, but it's not going to be just one conversation or even ten conversations! It's going to be everything my child will see me do, hear me say, feel me imply for the rest of my life.  I'm not going to 'teach' them to be Christian; I'm going to Show them what a Christian life looks/feels/sounds like.   I'm going to teach them the word of God. There is no other plan. Genesis to Revelation...anything less is too little; anything more is too much.

Just FYI, here are the questions.  How would you answer them?

How do you plan to share your faith with your children? Please be specific.
Discuss your thoughts and feelings regarding the importance of parental example in teaching and developing spiritual values in your children.
If you recognize the need for changes within your life to accomplish the outlined plan, please identify what changes are needed and how/when those changes will be initiated and accomplished. Please be specific.

Ephesians 4:29 says to...'build others up according to their needs...'  Forgive me, I'm taking it a little out of context, but how can I explain "specifically" what I will say to teach someone when I don't know them or their needs? We all come to our faith differently albeit similarly.  I know however my child learns, God will provide the words they need to hear. 

On a side note, I'm amazed how much my view of 'openness' with the future birth mother of our child has changed. I not only am willing to have ongoing visitation with her, but I am actually excited at the thought of having her present at holidays and important life events for our child. I pray wherever she is, God is already at work in her heart as well.