Wednesday, February 25, 2015

For His Glory

I figured it was about time for an update.

Let's start with this guy.  We call him Piggle.






Piggle is all boy.  He is pretty much the boss of me, and he is carried or held by someone all day and night. 



Forget tummy time or developmental milestones like rolling over, this kid's feet rarely touch the ground.  If they do, he does this:




...And he is quickly picked up. 

He is fully enjoying all of the benefits that come with being the Miracle Baby.  We just can't get enough of this kid, and he knows it!



Haven and Aaron are doing AMAZING.  Their English vocabulary continues to grow, and they have learned our alphabet. 



Haven is moving ahead with handwriting and blends, while Aaron is working on fine motor skills and phonics. 



They both really love to learn, which makes the language barrier a little easier on Mama.  How could I not smile with this kid and his constant sunshine face?




Aaron has been officially diagnosed with Achondroplasia, and we are still waiting for more clarity on Haven's second genetic test to determine which syndromes and dysplasia she has.  There will be another trip to Dupont, and likely more surgeries, but nothing slows this girl down.  She never stops. 




Daisy has started Kindergarten, and Miriam is in a K4 curriculum. 

 



They say that all of the "school stuff" gets in the way of playing with the baby, which is their favorite activity, so we have to move quickly with these two.





Moses has been coming out of his shell.  Gaining two brothers in one year has brought out a compassionate, goofy, and protective side of him.  He is such a cool kid, and we feel like we have just scratched the surface with him.



My sweet Lilly.  She is halfway through first grade, and within these past few weeks has experienced that huge jump in fluency and comprehension that happens around this time. 


 

 


More children means more responsibilities for all, so we have been focusing on personal responsibility and diligence and staying ON TASK.  It has been amazing to see what they are capable of when put to the test, with everything from small chores to memorizing large portions of scripture. 



 This is truly the season of life for training, training, and more training...and I remind myself daily that the season of reaping never proceeds the sowing.



Behind all these pretty pictures of progress and growth, I have also been in training.  I am, by nature, a perfectionist.  This can become a monster in my life.  Perfectionism is not sustainable in a household with this many littles, and I am SO thankful for that.  God has used these children to break me and sanctify me.  My perfectionism is rooted in pride, flat out, and God HATES my pride. 

Pride has led me to care about what others think of myself and my family and to strive for approval - and with this many children, that approval will never come.  So in a way, my pride has led me to into complete humiliation at the hands of this world.  I find myself holding onto hurts, chasing after vapors, and breaking my Father's heart. 



By placing my value (or the value of my family) in what others think, I have been COMPLETELY trampled underfoot.  Haven't we all?  Whenever we step outside of the security of the humility found in Christ, we will experience humiliation at the hands of this world.  

This world would lead me to believe that our choice to follow God into these adoptions is only validated by the success of our children, or in my ability to "fix"them.  When I begin to weigh the value of these faces with the successes or failure of our homeschool, or by the triumphs or defeat that comes with medical disabilities, I know I have lost sight of the cross and am seeing things through a worldly lens. 
 

When I say that my value lies in Christ, this is no small thing.  It is everything.  When I lose sight of this truth, it begins to eat away at my personal fellowship with my Heavenly Father, and that fellowship is life-giving.  Without it I am useless

But God never leaves me in my mess.  He is faithful.  He has used my own perfectionism to break me, sanctify me, and draw me nearer to Him.  I am not going to lie, growth HURTS, but it is so necessary.  Discipline and growth are privileges afforded to His Children, and it reminds me of His love for me as His daughter and His desire to make me more like Christ. 



I've never been the type to be "real" on my blog.  I believe people are about as real on the internet as actors on a TV show.  You will never get a real picture of our family by the pictures I hand-pick to publicly display, but my local friends know - the struggle is real, people.  I do believe that some struggles are worth sharing, and here is what I have learned this year: 

 
Every victory is His.  And it's all for His Glory, not ours.  Every time we take credit for a good day, we lose the opportunity to hand Him our bad ones, and every last set back is a place to find rest and validation in His arms alone, because HE KNOWS and HE SEES and He will equip us for every good work.    Your children were hand-picked, and so were you.




Life is messy.  Attachment issues are REAL.  Days do not go as planned - pretty much EVER.  Sometimes doors slam and children scream. Every fun activity brings fingerprints and every life-giving meal brings crumbs. 




Sometimes homeschool looks like puzzles and circuit kits and picture books all over the floor, and Mamas get tired.  But the best parts of life are buried in these messes.


 


No good thing is easy.  Children from hard places need grace, and a lot of it.  But oh, how beautiful is a day dressed in grace in this home, or in any home for that matter.  Perfection is the opposite of grace, and people are more important than things.



What a blessing it is to have children in my home who need grace, because they remind me that I DO TOO.  They remind me, everyday, of the unmerited Grace I have received, and that my value is not determined by my performance.  







 
 


 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On His Throne


Not long ago, a tiny heart started beating 
in the darkness of his mother's body.  
He had been named long before.
Because that Mama....she knew.

This baby was a miracle - he was impossible.  On top of that, he was a scandal.  This was not the "right time" for his mother to be pregnant (it was actually a ridiculous time) and she knew what sort of criticism awaited her.  So she tucked strategically placed scarves around her growing belly to disguise the love growing inside of her and braced herself for what was to come.

A few months later in the midst of a long journey, she found herself on the floor of a stall, crying out to God for mercy.  This baby was to be born at the worst possible time, in the worst possible place, and none of it made any sense.  


But it was perfect.  



And with Heaven opened up wide to a filthy stable, 
our King was born. 




Angels were released into our darkness, 
and they hovered over the place where he lay.  

More still, rushing the hillsides to announce 
the Savior's birth to the working class in the fields. 



"Come and see this baby boy 
who is making all sad things untrue!"  

And they came to worship.




Light shone down on the lowly part of town, and the One who crafted the world with his powerful hands now shivered in the night; 
those powerful hands now cloaked in infant flesh.

The God who made us all
With these two tiny hands
Is bringing us His Kingdom 
Quiet as a Lamb



His first breath taken for you; 
His every breath taken for you.  

Right up until His last breath - the one he mustered up at the very end so that he could shout your freedom into the air...

Paid for!  Tetelestai!

And that tiny heart, the one that we celebrate this time of year?  Because God is love?  And He loves us all?  That heart was for you - every beat for you.  



And eventually that tiny heart would be pierced and speared under a dark sky and his life poured out like water - every bit for you.  

His mother, the one who held his tiny body on this Christmas night?   

Her heart would also be pierced.  She would hold his shredded, ruined body after he gave his life up willingly for you.




For you.  

Everything for you.


Not long ago, a tiny heart started beating.  
God became flesh and dwelt among us.  

There was no way for us to come to Him, covered in our rags, so He came down to us and wrapped Himself in our sin - trading His life for ours, paying our debt on the cross.  





And those angels who heralded his birth?  


Years later, God held back armies of them while they raged in fury, watching in anguish from above as that same baby boy bled and died willingly for us, refusing to call them down for rescue - their King of Heaven pinned to a tree - while God the Father turned away.  

And it pleased God the Father to bruise Him - to crush Jesus under our weight.




Why?


For you.



You were the prize at stake.

On that first silent night, the divine conspiracy was put into motion that would set us free.  He would die, rise again, and defeat death, and ask for us to Believe in Him alone for our salvation - not our own goodness, not our works, not our religion - just Jesus.

"Goodwill to Men, Peace on Earth..."
This is Christ - this is NOT us or what we do.

We are NOT peace and goodwill. 
We ARE war, murder, lust, hatred - we are thieves.
  
We are lost, and yet the weary world rejoices.



This season, we are all the "wise men" bowing low at His feet with our goodwill and our "gifts" for Him.  We want to stay here, in this place of worship at the manger, but we can't because HE DIDN'T.  

We all must decide what to do with this Baby.  As we pack away the decorations, how often do we tuck Him back into His manger, or pin Him back up on that cross - or worse yet - we stuff Him into that grave and we leave Him there.  In our own inability to accept Him as He is, we put Him ANYWHERE but where He IS... 

On His Throne as the Risen Savior, holding back the day when He will judge our righteousness by our own merit or by His.  

You see, He is not a baby.  And no matter what you do with Him or who you say He is, He will keep being God.  He is eternal.  Everlasting.  Unchanging.  And He is not dead.  

Jesus is alive.  And we have been Redeemed.  And His Peace on Earth is coming.  Are you ready?  If you aren't ready, GET ready.  



Because this Christmas carol, the one we all sing that asks us to prepare Him room....

"Joy to the world, the Lord has come.  
Let Earth receive her King!"

That hymn was NOT written about Christmas...
it was written to herald the second coming of Christ.  

Because that baby?  
He's coming back.

Let every heart prepare Him room.
Let Heaven and Nature Sing.








Merry Christmas






Friday, September 26, 2014

Labor Day

Joshua was born on September 1st, 2014.  
Labor Day.



I spent two days in labor (and in denial) and landed at the hospital just in time.  Just a few hours before he was born, I was timing contractions on an app while walking around Bass Pro Shops with Paul and the kids, wondering if this would be the day.

It was.



While the kids were playing outside with Paul, my cute little contractions rolled over into massive, falling-on-the-floor-waves while I was on the phone with Belinda (I was trying to convince her I was probably in false labor) and suddenly my house was filled with neighbors and friends and babysitters, all helping Paul and I get out the door.

Delivery was fast, and I found myself staring into the face that was the result of a thousand miracles and even more prayers.  



The next day, friends who had been waiting to meet Joshua began pouring into the hospital.



This picture of Becky meeting my son, the same one she and I mourned together in the Chicago hospital, brings me to tears every time.


And finally, it was time for him to meet his siblings. 

He belongs to all of them, equally, and they know it. 



 After coming home, I have seen each child care for Joshua in their own way.  Lilly and Daisy are "Little Mamas" and are such a help to me.  



Coming from a place where children are often the caregivers of other children, Haven is very protective over Joshua.



Aaron makes sure I know when Joshua is crying, and he insists I pick him up right away!  If I do not get there quick enough, I often find a toy car or block sitting on Joshua's chest.  He wants Brother to know we are here for him.  



Birthing a child after 4 adoptions has changed my perspective.  I am more appreciative of the privilege of caring for my newborn.

I find myself comparing my children's institutional life - and what they lost and missed in these early weeks and months - to Joshua's life.  

For example, now that Joshua is 1 month and weighs 9 pounds, 
I have not forgotten that this was what Mimi weighed at 1 YEARS old.  


As we hit that 1-month mark, I think of the pain and loss that 3 of my babies were ALREADY experiencing at this point in their lives, and how one son's life can differ so much from another's.


But that was Before.

And this is After.


I praise God for giving us all a picture of how it SHOULD be - of babies wrapped up warm in the love of their family home.  I know seeing this played out in our family serves as healing for my adopted children.

Every child deserves this.


And someday, when Christ returns, the fact that there are more children than there are parents in this world will be remedied.

 He is coming to set things straight and claim His children as sons, and adoption and foster care will no longer be necessary

(Come quickly!)



Until He returns, all of these children are stewarded to our earthly care.  They are worth fighting for, they are worth our time, our attention, our sacrifice, and our patience.  They are the only earthly treasure in our homes that we have any chance of bringing into eternity.  

They are arrows to be shot out into the world to reflect His Glory and tell His Story.  They are the future rulers in the Millennial Kingdom.  And they are a picture of His love for us.


And as we fumble our way through this life as the parents of seven of these treasures, we cling more than ever to the saving Grace of Jesus, freeing us from the standards and expectations of this world - and from the Law - which we can never appease.


We could never deserve this.  

And we thank Him everyday for a seat among Princes
and for this abundant heritage.


"He raises the poor from the dust, 
and lifts the needy from the ash heap; 
He sits them with princes, 
with the princes of His people. 
He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children."