Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Prone to Wander, Lord, I Feel It

I like setting goals and achieving goals. It's one of the ways God made me, and like many of my personality traits, the Lord can use it in mighty ways, but the devil sure knows how to use it as a temptation. If there was a theme in my life, this would certainly be it.

So often, I feel like I have neglected the constants in my life - those things that require daily, often mundane work (my spiritual walk, family, close friends, ongoing ministries, etc.). Instead, I have often gotten wrapped up in grand ideas that seem like good work for the kingdom. The problem, however, is that the Lord most often never called me to these seemingly "good works," and He hasn't laid out the path before me.

This week has been a rough week for me as I have, yet again, found myself in this valley - expending a great deal of effort in areas that the Lord may have never intended. The good news is that "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." - Romans 8:1. The bad news is that the Lord is, yet again, having to do the painful work of getting my priorities in check.

The result has been a very harried household, not one marked by "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control" - Galatians 5:22-23. I don't think it has to do with busy-ness alone. Our household has been busy for quite some time and still strong and stable. I think it has everything to do with the things around which that busy-ness revolves. When we have been busy laboring for His kingdom - in the ways in which He has laid out for us - it has been life-giving for us! When we have been busy laboring for ourselves and our own plans and schemes, it has sucked the joy right out of life.

"For we are God's workmanship, 
created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, 
that we should walk in them."
Ephesians 2:10

Father, I am awed and humbled by the truth that you have ordained specific good works, like being a wife and a foster parent, for me to walk in. These are works for which you have thoroughly equipped me and through which I will bring You the most glory. Help me not to take these tasks lightly. Help me not to check them off my to-do list prematurely. Help me not to be persuaded by my pride that tells me I have already achieved these and am ready to move onto something new. Help me, instead, Lord, to fix my eyes on You alone and not to neglect my prayer life.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lord, Establish Our Steps

I'm having an unexpected day at home this Sunday morning after Emmy spent yesterday and today not feeling her best. While she is sleeping soundly upstairs, I thought I would take a quick moment to post a long-overdue update. Emmy has continued to thrive lately! She is not yet crawling, but for the first time today, I saw a tooth poking through on her bottom gum! She continues to be a studious girl who examines things, people, and situations quite seriously, but we see hundreds of those sweet smiles and hear several of those sweet giggles daily now. My husband has been playing piano for her more and more, and she just stops dead in her tracks to listen. She's also becoming quite the singer - opening her mouth for a nice round "Ahh" sound, lifting that soft palette, and getting some extremely wide vibrato going daily (usually at dinner time). My husband and I usually join in loudly which only encourages her to proceed at the top of her lungs. I'm not sure this is our wisest decision, but it sure is fun!

Emmy has proven to be a most wonderful traveler. We keep her on her toes most days with new adventures all the time, and most of the time, she does quite well being flexible and just continuing to be a joy to be around. All of this leads me to my primary prayer request which is much the same as in previous posts, but it's becoming more and more of an imminent reality.

Emmy has a family member who continues to be very unpredictable in his desire to adopt. We really don't know what will end up happening there. DFACS is going through a home evaluation process to potentially approve him to be a temporary placement until Emmy is adopted. What I gather (which could be about as accurate as a crystal ball, mind you) is that unless we declare our intention to adopt Emmy, they will most likely move her to her family member's home as soon as the home evaluation is complete. Why this would ever be in the best interest of a child, I do not know, but with DFACS, blood runs thicker than just about anything, and it is pretty much always best for children to be around biological relatives.

Like I said, I could be hearing false information or drawing false conclusions, but regardless, we feel a bit more urgency (and we're being asked with a bit more urgency) about our decision whether or not to adopt Emmy if the option presents itself. Needless to say, my husband and I have poured over this decision. In full disclosure, we have probably spent entirely too much time thinking about the practical implications of all of this and not nearly enough time in prayer, but we are turning to the Lord more than ever and seeking His wisdom and guidance in this decision. I don't necessarily feel comfortable outlining any of the specific thoughts we have had, but please join us in praying about this, and we will continue to keep you posted as decisions are made along the way.

More and more each day, the Lord is knitting our hearts together with this little girl, and it becomes increasingly difficult to imagine our lives without her in them! Praise God that He has seen fit to use us - with all of our many imperfections - to provide a healthy, strong family attachment for this sweet baby. On the flip side, we recognize that obedience to His will may, in fact, require us to release our control over her future and leave it entirely in the Lord's hands. Either way, we know that He is good and that He is sovereign over all things. My prayer and my comfort lies in the Truth revealed in these verses - that no decision I make is going to thwart the plans of God. If we make a decision that is outside of His divine will, may He shut the door quickly, and though it may be painful to endure, let us praise His name and take heart that He is directing Emmy's steps.

"The heart of man plans his way, 
but the LORD establishes his steps."
Proverbs 16:9

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand."
Proverbs 19:21

"I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps."
Jeremiah 10:23

"Who has spoken and it came to pass,
unless the Lord has commanded it?"
Lamentations 3:37

Thank you for praying.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Family, Laughter, and Puppy Love

This pretty much sums up the very best of what's been going on over here in Emmy's life. Ever since she hit 6 months, the world has become Emmy's playground, and she's enjoying her new discoveries each and every day. Here are the things that I have noticed and been most thankful for this past month or so...

Family: We have a lot to celebrate in our extended families these days with the arrival of my new niece among other things, and as we've gone through this season of celebrations, family vacations, and other get-togethers, I have often caught myself sitting back, holding back a few tears, and praying silently over Emmy in the midst of it all. What incredible grace the Lord has given Emmy in many ways, but one of the most profound I see is His provision of family for this sweet baby girl. Not only is she healthy (against the odds set against her), with a safe place to call home and parents who adore and pray for her, she also has the amazing blessing of grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends who may as well be family, neighbors, a church family filled with people who anxiously await her arrival each Sunday and Wednesday and are genuinely disappointed when she is not there, and the list goes on and on!! It honestly moves me to tears if I sit and think about it long enough. How blessed are we all by our families?! And how often are we compelled to take all of this for granted? More than anything, I am moved by the words of Psalm 68 that describe God as a "father to the fatherless." It says, "God sets the lonely in families." I am overwhelmed by His work in this child's life, and I am so grateful for the multitude of people whom He is leading to serve as family to Emmy.

Laughter: Emmy had her first real bout of laughter this weekend. The great news is that we were able to catch it on video. The unfortunate news is that I can't post it here. Needless to say, days are getting more and more fun over here, and we're falling more in love with this girl and praising the Lord for the adorable way He created her every single day! Can't wait to see what she'll get into next :)

Puppy Love: The other thing that has marked this past month is Emmy's newly acquired love for Layla and Layla's newly acquired love for Emmy. Layla's only problem is that sometimes she loves Emmy too much and can't seem to figure out why she isn't able to lick her in the face for hours on end. Emmy's problem is that she can't see anything wrong with hitting or kicking Layla in the face when she gets excited to see her. All-in-all, these are fine problems to have, because everyone is happy and enjoying each other quite well. Here are a few fun shots of Layla's first encounter with the Johnny Jump-Up. I'm not sure who was more enthralled with whom...

Thank you for continuing to pray with us. The Lord still hasn't illuminated the path before us brightly enough for us to make big decisions about our future with Emmy. He's still illuminating one tiny step at a time, and we are waiting on His perfect timing. This month, however, has been an affirmation to me that the Lord is the one directing Emmy's future. He is the one giving grace to her every step of the way and placing her in loving families like ours. The most difficult decision we will have to make will be the decision to let Emmy go if that's how we feel the Lord leading. However, I have to believe that if that is the Lord's will, He will be faithful to our prayers, and we will, yet again, stand amazed at His sovereign provision in Emmy's life. Please continue to pray for clarity in this decision process. Also, continue to pray for Emmy's interaction with her grandfather. He will be completing the approval process soon, and then Emmy will most likely begin visiting with him regularly. Pray that this will be a blessing to both of them.