As I was catching up on some blog reading, I ran across some of the latest (and more reliable) orphan statistics here. Very hard to swallow and yet my God made each one of them fearfully and wonderfully and I know that He cares for them. May the Lord stir my heart to care even more in even more specific ways. And may I devote myself to pray more fervently for these children.
It’s Wednesday, courts have been opened for a week and a half, and we have no clue when our cases will get heard. The courts have told our agency reps that they will hear open cases in between scheduled cases during the week. If that goes on for a while, and our cases still haven’t gone before the courts, our agency will most like re-file our cases and then we’ll be assigned a new date. So, it’s definitely looking like the boys won’t be home for Christmas.
How am I doing? It depends on which day (or maybe which hour!) you ask me. But overall, I would say my God has been very gracious to sustain me and even grant me the strength to keep moving forward and pray mightily for these boys. Of course there are still moments of deep grief for the time lost or hopelessness when I think about our paperwork buried under piles and piles of other cases. But most of the time, the Lord is quick to interrupt those feelings with His truth and His promises are my refuge. So, for now, all we can do is press on in the wait and trust that in all things God is working out His good purposes (Romans 8:28 has and continues to be my lifeline). What a sweet day it will be when God finally places our boys in a family and many, many saints will be able to rejoice with us! Praying that day will be here so very soon!
I finished this book several weeks ago, but haven’t found the time to write up a review. And even now, I’m going to keep this one short! I had a hard time getting into this book, mostly because I found the writing style to be hard to follow. I think this can easily happen when you have two authors compiling one work and sometimes thoughts don’t flow as easily as they ought. But I’m thankful that God encouraged me to persevere as it turned out to be very helpful in opening my eyes to see the lack of service to others in my life. I had always thought of hospitality as opening my home to others, providing a meal, etc. While it includes those things, Ennis and Tatlock explore the biblical definition of hospitality and conclude that hospitality is lovingly and willingly meeting the needs of all people: family, friends, strangers, foreigners, widows, orphans, the poor and the homeless (pp 47-50). As I made my way through the book, I began to see my own selfishness and how I am often very unwilling to meet the needs of those around me. I was encouraged to ask the Lord to open my eyes to even small ways that I could be of more service to those who have needs around me and have continued to pray that these last few weeks. When opportunities arise, I am more inclined to thank God, serve the need and pray that Christ would be glorified through my hospitality. If serving others is an area of your life that you feel particularly weak in or maybe even indifferent, I would encourage you to pick up this book.
One other note: I really enjoyed the chapter on hospitality and family. I think the authors were wise to make note that as wives and mothers, our first acts of hospitality are to our own families. They also encouraged us to include our children in our hospitality efforts so that our children don’t feel unloved or ignored as we seek to serve others. I thought about how many mornings I’ve left Molly Kate to play by herself while I prepare a meal for a family who has just had a baby. The last thing I want to create in Molly Kate is a heart that resents hospitality, so I’ve strived to make sure I prepare meals during nap or in the evenings, and then include her when we take the meal to the family. She is always excited to meet the new babies and its fun to explain to her why we are taking them food. It was also helpful (and a bit relieving) to remember that hospitality will look different in different seasons of life (for example, I have time to serve others now with just one child in a way that I most likely won’t be able to do when my two little men from Ethiopia come home).
We can easily become frustrated with the limitations of each season in life if we do not also appreciate the opportunities each brings. Practicing hospitality can be experienced during every season of life. However, it may not always be implemented in the same manner. We may need to invite people for dessert rather than a full meal, or meet them for breakfast rather than lunch. Our commitment to hospitality should motivate us to be flexible and resourceful during each season of life (p. 77).
Even if you feel hospitality is an area where God has blessed you, you might benefit from the many practical suggestions offered in this book. I was pleased with the chapters about serving internationals and gained several ideas I hope to put to use. Happy reading!
This recipe is way too delicious to be this easy!
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (18.25-ounce) package butter-flavored yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter, melted
vanilla ice cream
Ground nutmeg (optional)
Stir together first 5 ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture; sprinkle evenly with pecans. Drizzle butter evenly over pecans.
Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle with nutmeg, if desired.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17
Kevin and I laughed last night as we were getting into bed. I said “I really think this time we are going to pass.” He said, “Really?” in a very I-don’t-believe-you kind of way. Caught red-handed, I replied, “No, but I want the Lord to think I believe because I really do believe He can do it, just not that He will.” How silly is that? The Lord knows my deepest thoughts and the innermost parts of my heart and yet I’m trying to somehow muster up faith on my own that this adoption will actually happen one day. I cannot muster faith on my own…faith is a gift of God and it comes from hearing His Word. May my mind and heart hear this truth today and supply faith to believe God:
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. Psalm 34:17-20
Yours, O Lord , is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord , and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12
The courts are open and our agency has informed us that they plan to hear open cases (this is our situation) in the next two weeks. If they don’t hear all the open cases in the next two weeks, they plan to assign court dates to these cases quickly and give them priority! My heart is dancing!! If we are heard in the next two weeks (and pass…key point!) then our boys just might be home by Christmas! Please, please pray and urge God to move these courts to act on our behalf!
Finally, finally…the courts are indeed opening next week! Unfortunately at this point, that doesn’t mean too much for us, other than we can at least feel like we are moving forward again! Nevertheless, we are praying that the courts will either hear our case quickly or re-assign us our fifth (I know…hard to believe) court date and that the boys would officially be ours. I know how hard it is to persevere in prayer for us…I struggle all the time to believe that God is actually going to make this happen. But until He informs us otherwise, I know He desires for us to press on in faith and trust Him to work out all things for both us and these two little guys that we have come to love so deeply. We humbly ask that you press on in prayer with us and believe that God can and will bring our sons home very soon!
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:5-8
I’m loving how many fun things there are to do with children this time of year. On Saturday, we visited Gallrein Farms in Shelbyville, Kentucky to pick some pumpkins. Molly Kate was beyond herself with joy…not only did she LOVE the pony ride, but then she got to pet a ton of animals in the free petting zoo and let them eat out of her hand. My little girl is a true animal lover…she would pet and hug any and every animal with no fear (I had to gently steer her away from the pit bulls at the St. James Art Fair on Sunday!). The staff at the farm was so friendly and we enjoyed some great family time with Nana!
Friday my precious hubby and I celebrated our first five years of marriage! It feels like we’ve been married forever and yet these five years have flown by. What I can say is that our marriage is better than ever and I spent the entire weekend praising God for the incredible work that He’s done in our hearts through our union. For one of my seminary classes, I wrote a paper on the purpose of sanctification in marriage. While it might not have been my best paper academically speaking, God used my reading, research and work to affirm a truth that I probably never thought twice about before I said “I do.” The Lord truly uses our marriages to make us more like Christ. The longer we are married, the more I see God growing us in faith and holiness. The more I see God growing us, the more thankful I am for the spouse God chose for me. I could list a hundred things that I adore about Kevin, but most of all, I praise God that he loves Jesus Christ and he longs to always be a better husband and a better father. Our anniversary dinner date provided such a sweet time of reminiscing and recalling God’s faithfulness to us these last five years. We both agreed that the greatest, most life-changing event was the death of baby Jaiden. We could have never imagined that a miscarriage would be the one of the most useful means by which God would deepen our faith in Him and our love for one another. But we concluded that we are both indebted to the Lord for His wisdom and sovereign goodness that gave and took away our child. By it we learned more of the Cross and gained more of Christ.
The beautiful thing of reaching this milestone in our marriage is that I am even more anticipating and excited to see what God has for us in the next five years. I love that God has given me such a great love and passion for my husband. I love the life He is unfolding for us and that we get to live it together. Hard as it may be at times, it is rich and joyful. “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” Psalm 84:11.