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From Joy to the World, a traditional Christmas carol written by famous hymn writer Isaac Watts in the 18th century. Here’s a great version.

 He rules the world with truth and grace

And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness

And wonders of His love

It has certainly been a tumultuous political season, one which has left people I know on both sides of the spectrum feeling saddened and uncertain, whether their candidate won or not. There has been a lot of fear-based thinking, and it’s led a lot of people to say questionable and hurtful things.

I think one of the things at the core of this is that we all want to dwell in safety. We all desire peace. And we all have different ideas about how that might happen.

As Christians, our responsibility in this whole mess is to remember that there is only One who has the right idea about how that might happen. The perfect idea. There is only one real solution for the nations raging all around.

If we don’t believe in His sovereignty, we stand on the shaky ground of our own sufficiency, and if history teaches us anything, it’s that not one person’s sufficiency ever saved them. So, if He is sovereign, and if we cannot control all that is around us, our comfort lies in trusting that He is wiser, kinder, more righteous, and more loving than we could ever be.

In our eyes, it often seems that His purposes are strange, even unfair. But Scripture teaches that time and time again He makes nations and people prove His righteousness and His love to a dying world. He will bring glory to Himself, even if it’s not in the way that makes sense to us.

Take heart that while Satan still roams this earth, looking to destroy and devour, He has ultimately lost already to a God who rules, and will continue to rule, with truth and grace.

“He shall judge between nations,

            and shall decide disputes for many peoples;

 and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

            and their spears into pruning hooks;

 nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

            neither shall they learn war anymore.

  O house of Jacob,

            Come, let us walk

            In the light of the Lord.” (Is. 2:4-5)


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You know that moment when your kid is doing something really defiant or disobedient and instead of calmly correcting and disciplining them you get angry and let your temper get the best of you? No? Ok, think harder then, because we’ve all been there.

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(Arms Akimbo: The scolding, angry mom pose)

Something no one quite prepared me for was this common occurrence in parenting, sinning against one’s own children. I don’t know that anything makes me feel quite so low, quite so inadequate, quite so hideous, as when, instead of teaching my children by example, I display the very thing I’ve asked them not to do. My attention is wanted, and I say “Not now, I’m busy,” in exasperation. The same instruction is disobeyed for the 40th time in one day and I yell, “Just do what I say!!” A fight breaks out between 2 (or more) and everyone gets sent to their room in anger instead of being engaged and trained and disciplined.

I wish these were hypothetical situations for me, but they are all too real. And perhaps they are real for you, too. Perhaps you find yourself wallowing in guilt as you think of the ways you haven’t parented as you should have. And yet it is this very thing, this moment of failure, that can be one of your greatest opportunities as a parent.

Somehow in all the parenting literature and teaching I think we’ve lost the importance of repenting to our own children. Now, don’t get me wrong. Instructing children in the way they should go, when they rise up, when they walk along the way, when they sit down to eat, when they lay down to sleep, this is vastly important (Deuteronomy 6). We are called to it, and it IS indeed vile and disappointing when we don’t live it. Yet we live on this side of the cross, where the perfect parenting life was lived by Jesus, and our punishment for sinning against God in parenting was taken by the death of Jesus. His life and death make it possible for us to both live holy parenting lives AND repent freely when we don’t.

If you’re anything like me, though, repenting is the LAST thing you want to do. Not only is it embarrassing when you act like a spoiled child TO your spoiled child, but usually, said child is in the middle of sinning against you when you sin against him/her. So even if you feel a little guilty you also feel a teensy bit justified. When I let out a Miss Piggy like noise of frustration when one of my kids is writhing on the floor in rebellion I’m not usually feeling like my frustration is unwarranted.

(I should confess that RIGHT NOW one of my children is out of bed for the FIFTH time telling me totally unimportant things and my own writing is convicting me as I battle the urge to throw myself face first onto the couch and yell “JUST GO TO BED ALREADY FOR THE LOVE”)

Let’s have a real life example. This will be fun.

Lately, one of my children, who shall remain nameless, has been having a bit of an extra hard time with being told no. Said child pouts, glares, refuses to respond, stomps, slams doors and cries. Here are 2 responses to this kind of behavior:

1. I calmly send the child to his/her room. Then I calmly explain why this behavior is unacceptable. Then I, again, calmly talk about the gospel and how it is the only way to God, who is the only one who can give us a heart to obey. Then I continue to calmly respond as said child either repents or continues to rebel.


Obviously approach one is both preferable and significantly more godly. In it, I reveal the gospel to my child through my words. But in the second, if I repent to my child, I’m able to reveal the gospel to my child through my actions. The child sees that saying sorry for sin and asking forgiveness isn’t scary, it’s freeing. If mommy can say, “That was wrong. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me,” then he or she can say it, too. If mommy can pray and ask God to cleanse her of sin and renew her heart, then he or she can go to God, too.

Besides showing our children a very tangible picture of the gospel, repenting to them also gives us credibility. Our pastors have often said that children can sniff out hypocrisy in their parents like nobody’s business. And it’s true. They know when their parents aren’t who they say they are. BUT, if their parents are honest when this happens, when they aren’t who they know they’re called to be, it’s not hypocrisy, it’s the gospel.

For some reason we want to hide our true selves from our children. I suppose it’s because we all want to be heroes in our children’s eyes. But our calling isn’t to make ourselves into heroes to our children. It’s to make our children see Jesus as their hero. It’s important that we acknowledge to them that we aren’t the heroes of the story. They already know it. They’re not blind. But when we admit it, they see through our failings to a gospel that saves and frees us to live lives of obedience and repentance.

Parent, don’t be afraid to let those kids see your weaknesses. You might find that your best parenting is done when you’ve completely failed. After all, His power is made perfect in weakness.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

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One afternoon last week I was upstairs doing something or other…

Sorry, can we talk about 2 story houses for a minute? I get that kids think they’re awesome and there is some advantage to having your living space completely separated from your company space but OH MY GOSH there are times when I don’t know what we were thinking. And why is the laundry room downstairs? WHY? Josh got me a Fitbit for my birthday (which I love, btw) and I’m always working like crazy to get all my steps in but have climbed like 3x the normal amount of stairs. It’s ridiculous.

Anyhow, I was upstairs, completely away from my children and their downstairs shenanigans. They were carrying on loudly, as they do, when I heard some female shrieking (common occurrence in our home) and then stomp stomp stomp all the way up those 15 steps.


Life and death situation here, people.

So without much thought I replied “Charlie can be whatever she wants, Reagan. Just go play.” Which sounds like a calm and patient response when I write it down but I’m pretty sure it came out in an exasperated exhale that sounded anything but calm and patient.

I didn’t really hear anything else and thought, Huh. That worked surprisingly well. A few minutes later I was downstairs doing something or other in the kitchen (You like how I’m always doing “something or other”? It’s funny how the laundry and cooking and cleaning and sorting and helping with homework, etc. all kind of melds together in your memory and just becomes “I was doing something or other”). So I was doing something or other in the kitchen when Reagan zoomed in and out of the kitchen like the Flash and left a piece of paper fluttering on the counter. Which I promptly ignored because of the nameless thing I was doing. Then I heard “Mom! Did you read what I wrote??” from the direction of Josh’s office.

So I paused and picked up the paper and I honestly can’t remember the exact words and of course I think I threw it away already but it said something along the lines of

Dear Mommy,

I feel like the worst person in the world. Please come into the office and talk to me.

Love, Reagan

Oh dear.

So I said a quick prayer for help because I have no idea what to do with all the emotions and feelings in this house and I went in and sat next to her. And we began to talk.

As a mom, I feel like I have a million conversations with my kids a day and sometimes I get to the end of the day and I can’t remember a single word and it mostly feels exhausting. But sometimes God really punches me in the gut with a conversation with one of my kids and this was one of those times.

As it turns out, Reagan had come back down and implied to Charlie that I had actually agreed that she could not be a princess in that game. Charlie, of course, paid this no heed and did her own thing. But Reagan was completely wracked with guilt over her lie. Her lie that I didn’t know about, and never would have known about. I was tempted to talk about lying, why we shouldn’t, why it’s dangerous, why it’s sinful. But then it hit me that my kid was feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit. My little 7 year old knew it was a sin, not because I came in and told her not to do it. She knew it was wrong because her conscience was pricked and she didn’t like the way it felt.

About six months ago, Reagan prayed to invite Jesus Christ to be the Lord of her life. Now Josh and I are fully aware that kids who grow up in the church are pretty likely to want to pray the sinner’s prayer, to know how to speak the lingo, and to want to please their parents by doing these things. After all, we grew up in that exact environment. We’re also aware that  as pastor’s kids, ours are even more susceptible to these things. But we’ve also been praying for our kids’ salvation from before birth/adoption, and everything we’ve seen points to this being a genuine conversion for our Reagan.

As I talked to Reagan that day, I explained that what she was feeling was the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I told her that even though we love Jesus, we still sin sometimes, but because we have Jesus, we are safe to go to God and confess our sins to Him. We no longer fear Him being angry. Instead, we experience His forgiveness in an ongoing way as He makes us more like Him. I told her she could pray and ask God right then to forgive her for lying. To my surprise and delight, she told me she had already been praying.

Here’s why this conversation got me (aside from

all of the obvious, wonderful things about it). It’s because I have to fight every day to believe this very important truth: My kids don’t need to be good, they need a Savior.

But oh how I want them to be good.

It’s so easy to get off track in this. In the day to day, it would just make MY life so much easier if my kids could be good. If they could stop fighting with each other, sit still when they’re told, stop running around like crazy animals at church, stop talking back, stop disobeying, stop blame-shifting, stop hitting, just STOP with all the bad behavior already.

I think this goes without saying but obviously I think we need to teach our kids how to behave. Duh. That’s just part of parenting. Kids can’t just think they run the show. They have to submit to authority. They have to learn how to do or not do all of the aforementioned things. However, the WHY of all of this is what I’m talking about. And like I said, sometimes I want them to be good just to make my day better. Because I’m selfish.

But the real why that I need to teach them is this: Because there is a great savior who already got punished for all of your sin, you can obey. But only if you let Him be in charge. The conversation can’t end with “You need to obey” or “You need to make a better choice.” Because even little children can figure out how to do all the right things for all the wrong reasons and look really good doing it. We adults are pretty good at that as well.

As I talked to Reagan, I was reminded of the goal. The goal is not children who behave well. The goal is children who know where to go when they sin. And of course, this is the goal for us parents as well. When we teach our kids these things we are teaching them to ourselves again and again. Finding my little one praying, asking God to help her, on her own is better than a thousand good deeds that came from a sinful heart.

Reagan Raising Hand

(Photo courtesy of 4Oaks Kids, who take the job of teaching kids to love Jesus very seriously, and I cannot thank them enough for all they do)

Mundane Monday


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It is 6:00pm. I drag myself up our 15 steps, red basket overflowing with unfolded laundry in my arms. I drop it onto our semi made bed and begin folding, piling, sorting. My sinus headache is raging again, and my eyes are begging me to let them close. They’ve got that grainy, open way too long feeling. But I’ve got 30 minutes until our church’s family meeting, just enough time to fold this last load, maybe even get it all put away, before we leave.

Downstairs, Titus picks at his dinner and stares at his sisters, free and playing, with the longest, saddest face you’ve ever seen. It doesn’t move me. I am tired of this battle, tired of him taking 45 minutes to eat in hopes that we’ll just give up, only to beg for food 10 minutes later. So I tell him harshly, “You will eat this. All of it. And I don’t care how long it takes. Don’t get up.”

Charlie is playing games on my computer because at some point in this day I told her she could and now I am regretting that promise that I’m sure I made in an effort to smooth over some sort of Charlie drama. Reagan is trying to help Charlie and their mutual frustration is escalating.

I shout down that they should all put their shoes on and I’m pretty sure no one hears me. Whose Elsa pajamas are these? They all look the same. Eh, who cares, just fold it and get it in a drawer. It’s almost peaceful for a moment, when suddenly the calm is pierced by Eva’s shrieking laughter and Titus’ cries of distress and injustice. I shout down again.


(Look, I know the shouting is unattractive/likely sinful but I’m just keeping it real here. I do pray for a gentler tone. And I do still sin. This is reality.)

As she appears at the top of the stairs with Titus’ giant Olaf in hand and I hear the victim’s voice trailing off downstairs “…want my Olaf!…” I quickly assess the situation. Eva is tormenting her brother, stuck at the table, with his Olaf, and delighting in his unhappiness. I yank the Olaf out of her arms and throw it over the banister, calling down to Titus that he can come get it.

“Eva, why are you laughing at your brother when he’s crying?? Why are you being mean to him? You can’t treat him like this!” Again, I know this is unattractive. I’m aware that this is the least helpful thing in the world to say. But I’m so tired of this conversation. I’m feeling completely at a loss as to what on earth will break through this child’s tough exterior. I’m at my wit’s end with her, and I’m giving in completely to my own frustration and weariness.

I tell her to sit on the floor in my room while I’m folding laundry because she can’t be trusted to be downstairs with the other kids. She sits just out of sight behind my dresser.

“No, Eva, you can’t hide from me. Sit where I can see you.”

She moves to the floor right by the bed, so that I can only see about half of her.

If you think this move is accidental, it’s not. She knows what she’s doing. Eva is 7. But she has only been experiencing consistent parenting and discipline for 2 years. So we like to say we’re fighting the 2 year old battles with her. The problem is that because she is 7, and smart, her disobedience is significantly more clever than that of a 2 year old.

I make her sit in the chair. She doesn’t like it.

We remain in silence for a few minutes, me folding, her glowering. Then she bursts out with, “But it’s just so hard to be kind!”

I sigh. The Lord won’t let me miss this parenting opportunity by selfishly hoping she’ll just get over it and move on. He wants to teach her something. He wants to teach me something.

So I begin the conversation I’ve had with Eva over and over, the one I’m sure to have many, MANY more times before this journey is over.

“It is so hard to be kind. It’s too hard. We can’t do it on our own, Eva. We need help. Who helps us?”

Again, she glares. She doesn’t like the answer. “God.”

“That’s right, sweetheart. God gave us Jesus. He loves us. He can help us be kind. But we have to let Him be in charge. And you don’t want Him to be in charge. You want to be in charge.”

My tone gentles and softens as I talk to her. As always my own words convict me. A gentle answer turns away wrath. But I don’t respond gently to her. I give in to my sin and lash out in frustration. Why can’t I be gentle?? It’s so HARD. I know how Eva feels. I need help.

We talk a little more. We don’t really get anywhere, but I have faith that the conversation is just another tiny piece of kindling on the fire that I hope the Spirit will ignite in her someday.

Then, as is necessary with Eva, I help her move on by giving her a task. She loves to have a job. So she helps me get the laundry put away, and she’s skipping down the stairs, incident forgotten.

This is a mere 20 minutes of my day. And yet it’s a picture of the all day every day all consuming completely exhausting nature of motherhood. It is not easy, and it is not meant to be. By some mysterious miracle, God uses the mother to refine the child, but in a greater way uses the child to refine the mother. These children reveal my anger, my selfishness, my laziness, my anxiety, every second, every day. But it is because He does not intend to leave me in my sin. He intends to expose it and bring me from one degree of glory to the next.

Oh, for the faith to believe that these mundane moments are for my good and for His glory.


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So I haven’t written here in a while. And I’ve really wanted to but I just…haven’t. I think there are a couple reasons for this.

On a purely practical level I have been so much busier than I anticipated. When you have babies and toddlers and are immersed in it all you think is that when they all get to school you’ll be able to take a breath and things will get a little easier. I guess that’s true in a way but the taking a breath SO did not happen. And yes, to all of my older mom friends who told me this, I fully admit I am wrong and you are right. So there you have it.

On an emotional/mental level, this has been a fairly challenging season. I’m tired. These kids are exhausting. They’re exhausting because they are four children spanning two years in age. They are exhausting for all of the reasons everyone’s 5 and 6 and 7 year olds are exhausting.

But I’ve been learning that the added element of two of them being adopted and one of those two having attachment/security/abandonment issues takes an extra toll. I have never ever wanted to be that person who says “Here I am over here by myself! Adoptive parent! No one gets it!” But I think in an effort to NOT be that person I wasn’t acknowledging that there is anything different about it at all. And there is a world of difference. Sometimes I AM the same as all of my friends. And sometimes I AM in a completely isolated situation and, yes, no one gets it. And that’s ok.

Our first year after adopting? It was so strangely…normal. Maybe people would say we were in denial. I don’t really think so. I just think God was gracious in that. I also think that when you expect the nightmare around every corner and it just doesn’t come it’s a pleasant surprise. I mean, I just kept thinking things like, Huh. They’re learning English fairly quickly. They seem to receive love from us pretty easily. They aren’t having major separation anxiety. Our bio kids and our adopted kids seem to be bonding. There’s no violence. Josh and I are closer than ever.  And so on and so forth. It really did exceed our expectations.

For us, it’s been year two that’s proven more challenging. All of the above miracles are true for sure. But we’ve also begun to KNOW our new children. And in that knowing there is pain and struggle and sin and brokenness. That’s just what happens when you really truly know someone.

ANYWAY, in thinking through and dealing with all of that, I just haven’t really had it in me to write much about it. And I really do want to. I don’t only want to write about the fun and beauty of adoption. I want to write about the hard parts, too. They do exist, and I face them daily. With adoption that’s rooted in Jesus, though, the beauty is in the easy and the hard. It’s always beautiful. And I always want to express that. What does Ann Voskamp call it? Ugly-Beautiful? Exactly.

I’ll get to the hard, but today I do want to take a moment to record this day. A good day. A great day. A day that shone into the night of a lot of hard days.

This morning Eva had a very small surgery done on her right ear. She has had a perforation in that ear drum since we adopted her, and probably long before. It is one of the first things I remember about her, that wad of cotton plugging up the infected ear in that little orphan who climbed up in my lap. You can see it in this first picture taken of us, back before I knew she’d be ours.


Once we had it treated here in the States, and the infections ceased, the consensus was that we would wait and see if the tiny hole healed itself, and if not, it would need to be surgically fixed. Well, it didn’t, so here we are. The surgery itself is pretty minor, but of course no parent wants their kid going under anesthesia and having their inner ear operated on. For me, there was a certain amount of dread about this day. Which Eva would we get after this surgery? Strong, brave, resilient Eva, bouncing back and moving on? Or scared, insecure, needy Eva, not trusting us, spiraling into old patterns because this brought back the old fears? I dreaded the latter.

Yesterday I texted some friends and asked them to be praying and one told me she’d be praying that this be an opportunity for breakthrough with her. I was struck that I hadn’t even thought to pray this way. I hadn’t viewed this surgery as anything other than an inconvenience and possible setback. The thought that it would instead prove fruitful in our relationship had never occurred to me. Why oh why do I not expect good from a completely good God? So I really asked him to surprise me.

This is actually the second time Eva had to go under general anesthesia. The first time was to put 7 caps on her teeth that had rotted through and pull one that was beyond repair. She had a horrible time coming out of it. I mean, she was fine later that day, but the 2 hours after her surgery were rough. She cried and fought and refused to be consoled. So I asked God to give her a miraculous recovery from the anesthesia. And I asked that it would be strong Eva who came out of it, not scared Eva. And I asked that she’d trust us.

This is how our day went:

This morning all of the kids were up by the time we left. Josh’s mom came to our house suuuper early and took on the morning routine with the other three. Reagan gave Eva one of her favorite bunnies to lie in the bed with her during surgery. Eva was thrilled. (Thank you Lord for this sisterly bond. Thank you for sacrificial family members.)

Eva was a little nervous and giggly as we were prepped and led back for surgery, but she was ultimately just a bundle of joy, making everyone around her smile. She loved the blue socks. She loved the hospital bracelet. She loved the stickers. She loved the bed on wheels. As they wheeled her down the hall she was shouting “Wee!” (Thank you Lord for the unbelievable JOY in this child who was deprived of so much.)


The surgery went perfectly (Thank you Lord for modern medicine. What a GIFT.)

We were led to a room where Eva was sitting up in bed, licking an orange popsicle. Perfectly Lucid. No horrible effects of anesthesia. (Thank you Lord, for hearing my prayer.)(And thank you for the lovely nurses who wrapped the bunny’s arm in a bandage to match her own.)

I crawled into bed with her. She crawled into my lap. She put her head on my shoulder. She wanted me, she needed me. She trusted me. She let me comfort her. I couldn’t help but remember that moment in that first picture. The orphan who wanted to be held but was terrified to even ask for it. (Thank you Lord that a little girl in Africa needed a mommy and somehow I am that mommy. You alone have the power to graft in and unite in such a way.)



(She looks like she’s sleeping but if you look closely you can see that she’s playing games on my phone. We’ve thoroughly Americanized her. Also, the bunny. Come on.)

On the way home, Eva said “Mommy, you were right. They didn’t hurt me.” I can’t tell you how those words felt. Not “Mommy why did you let them do that.”  (Thank you Lord for every step forward in trust.)

We went home, she ate, and within 30 minutes I had to tell her to stop jumping around the room. (Thank you Lord, that she is back to normal SO FAST. Even if it is driving me a little crazy.)

And, maybe my favorite part of the day, Reagan bursting through the door after school, “Where’s my Evie Lou?!!” And Eva telling her sister all about it. And telling Reagan that the bunny was there the whole time. And Reagan feeling so proud.

The thing is, I think it’s easy to just feel relieved about these sorts of moments. Grateful that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. But when we pause and slow down and look at the details and really think about it, we can see the little miracles all over the place. We can see a God who is saying, “See, here, here, here and here I met your little needs because to Me they are not small. They are precious.”

I really do want to acknowledge and talk about how sometimes it’s hard and I struggle to trust and I don’t see the good. But I also want to remember moments like these. When the hard days come, and they always do, I want to be like the Psalmist, who says,

Has God forgotten to be gracious?

Has he in anger shut up his compassion?


I will remember the deeds of the Lord;

yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

I will ponder all your work,

and meditate on your mighty deeds.


You are the God who works wonders;

you have made known your might among the peoples.

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Over Christmas break (and can we all agree that we use the term “break” very loosely when we have small children? K, thanks) I started reading through those iconic, familiar, Christmasy chapters of Luke. You know, the ones everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, are familiar with. If you’ve seen Charlie Brown Christmas then you can hear Linus’ voice in your head, “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus…”. Now I know that’s kind of the cliche thing to do over the Advent season, reading those overly familiar passages. But this was one of the very reasons I came back to it again this year. Lord, show me something new. Remind me how great this news really is. I came at it hungry, longing to see, touch, feel my salvation all over again.

The last 3 months had been rough, guys. Not unbearable, not horrific, not earth-shattering. Just rough. Josh and I agree that the first year of our adoption was strangely peaceful in a lot of ways. Things went so much more smoothly than we anticipated. But about a year in (last summer) is when I think it really sank in, this crazy thing we had done. So the fall just really felt like the reality of it all was really sinking in. Anyway, more about that another time.

So as I came to Luke 1, reading those same old familiar passages again, I was anxious and weary. The busyness of the upcoming Christmas season was weighing on me, the pressures of motherhood, all that needed to be done. And I didn’t want to get pulled into all of that only to lose sight of what we’re really celebrating.

A few days into this re-reading of those well-known verses, He did indeed show me something new, and I’ve really thought about it almost every day since. I was reminded again that this event that took place in that “little town of Bethlehem” reaches through time and history and culture and experience and has life-changing implications for each of us, if we would only have eyes to see.

Here’s the scene: Mary has found out from the angel, Gabriel, that she is going to conceive the very Son of God. That a miracle is going to take place in her body and not only will this miracle impact her, it will be answer of the cry of every heart for redemption and salvation. In other words, she went from being average teenager to God’s chosen vessel to bring about the pinnacle of His great eternal plan. I think when we read this we have some glowing beautiful picture of Mary in our minds but I’d venture a guess that she was scared out of her mind. This is the end of her life as she knows it. It’s standing on the cliff and jumping when God asks you to jump, knowing the only way you’ll survive is if He keeps you from crashing into the rocks below.

What follows is the famous “Magnificat”, Mary’s song of praise to a God who is making good on His promise to redeem His people. But what gave me pause as I read comes right before that. Mary goes to see her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth knows, without needing to be told, that Mary is pregnant with the Messiah. And as she is praising God she says this:

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”  (Luke 1:45)

I read this and do you know what I think? I think we tend to get the idea of “blessing” all wrong. Why is Mary blessed? Is it because God has given her an easy life, a comfortable one? Is it because she has all the things she needs or perfect relationships? I think we can agree this is not the case. As I just said, Mary is in a precarious position. Her reputation is going to be in shreds, her husband-to-be could very well leave or or have her killed (though we know he doesn’t). We also know that this Son she has is going to leave her and die a gruesome death before her eyes. No, Mary’s life is not going to be easy.

But she is blessed. She is blessed because she believes. She believes that this great God has greater good than our eyes can see. That He makes good on His promises. That He speaks and He acts and He fulfills. That though the very mountains fall into the sea and this world as we know it fall to pieces, He WILL be all that He has promised to be.

Friends, this Word spoken over Mary is a word for you. Today. In the midst of whatever hardship you are facing. Believe.

Sometimes I am hit so hard with all that we face as women. In my own life I have moments like the other day, when my poor little Eva falls to pieces because she is so afraid of being alone. This girl is so broken. She has been abandoned twice and she is afraid to believe it will not happen again. She is afraid, all the time. I feel helpless as I face it. Oh, God, help her to trust me. Help. I don’t know how to help her.”

And all around me are women facing hardship so heavy I don’t know how they will walk through it. Daily life alone can be so challenging. Not sleeping for weeks on end because of  a newborn. Being stuck in a difficult job with no possibility of leaving. Even trying to keep up with all the seemingly mundane responsibilities of life is just hard some days. And then there are the more acutely difficult seasons. Painful marriages, divorce, a long road of singleness, cancer, wayward children, children with disabilities, broken relationships. Women who, like Mary, are standing on the edge of what God has called them too, not knowing how they’ll get through it.

My prayer today for myself, for these women I’ve described, is that we, like Mary, would believe that God fulfills His promises. In this there is blessing. Not necessarily a change of circumstance or an answer to prayer, but blessing. Because true blessing is found in simply knowing God and drawing near to Him through Jesus. All of these struggles, as heavy as they may sometimes feel, are fading like the grass, as are we. But God has promised us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs these temporal difficulties. And when we believe that this promise will be fulfilled, that someday the sorrow and the tears and the heartache will vanish as we enjoy His very presence, we can find that we are really, truly blessed.

Good Questions


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This weekend my four crazy children and I drove to Orlando for the weekend to visit my parents. Josh had a big conference at the church, it was a long weekend, and it seemed a good opportunity to both visit my parents and get a little extra help with the kids. A year and a half ago that drive with all four, on my own, would have terrified me. But I’m happy to report we made it both ways without much incident, other than the occasional “I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM SO BAD WE HAVE TO STOP NOW MOM!”

It’s amazing to me to see how far we’ve come. Everything about this trip would have felt stressful to me a mere year and a half ago. I couldn’t have imagined a time that our kids would all be playing together, sharing a room, etc. without the emotional strain that came with the adoption. At times it felt that Eva would never bond with her sisters, Titus would never stop clinging to me, and I’d have to do everything for these children forever and ever. But God delights in blessing his children and He has continually proven Himself kind and gracious in this area. The road ahead is still long, but I see so much growth.

So though this trip was exhausting in the way you would expect traveling with 4 kids to be exhausting, it was fairly easy and enjoyable. It was the first time Eva didn’t immediately start asking when we were going home the moment we arrived. In fact, she didn’t want to come home at the end of our stay! This is huge, as change in routine is typically very upsetting and confusing for her. She grows more and more comfortable, not just with our nuclear family, but with our extended family. Seeing this circle of trust grow is very encouraging.

On Friday my parents were at work so I walked down to the neighborhood playground with the kids for something fun to do. While they were playing I chatted with a few of the other moms and I had a really refreshing conversation with one of them that I thought I’d share here.

Having adopted kids of a different race automatically inspires questions. Typically people do one of three things. Most often, people don’t ask the questions. I can see the questions there in their eyes. Is this lady babysitting? Are these her kids? Where are they from? I wonder what it’s like. But they don’t escape their lips. Fear of offending, embarrassment, awkwardness. Whatever the reason, they simply smile at me and move on.

Sometimes people ask the polite questions. “Are they yours?” or “If you don’t mind my asking, are your kids adopted?” (Uh, they are African, soooo….). Occasionally I get the “What was THAT process like?” from these people. But they never delve into the personal questions. They are curious but don’t ask any of the burning questions.

But occasionally, rarely, I run into someone who asks the real  questions. The questions that I think many think but few ask. This person I love.

Side note: I have read several blog posts and articles by adoptive parents which list all of the appropriate and inappropriate questions to ask adoptive parents and to be perfectly honest I hate this. As though the burden is on those who know nothing about adoption to suddenly know what they should and should not ask. This is totally unfair in my opinion. Of course it would be rude to say something racist or demeaning. But to say that someone is not allowed to ask personal questions because it is offensive is elitist and ungenerous. Instead, I believe that adoptive parents also adopt the burden of explaining the heart of adoption to those who with no knowledge or experience. So I welcome questions, especially honest ones.

This mom I ran into at the park? She asked the real questions. Unapologetically. And I loved it. She asked why. She didn’t hide her surprise that someone would adopt two children the exact same ages as her biological children. Because, of course, it’s kind of crazy. I do not fault her for finding it crazy. She asked what it’s like. What is my life like?  It’s hard. It’s hectic. It’s exhausting. I gladly share this because I want people to see that it’s not about being awesome. It’s about the One who can equip us for every good work. She asked all kinds of other questions. Questions about learning to do hair (yikes. that is an entire blog post in and of itself). Questions about having four. Questions questions questions.

But the question I love most of all, one that I welcome, was this. “Do you feel the same way about them?” You guys, this is a real, good, honest, heartfelt question. It is not rude. It is the very question I asked myself over and over as we went through this process. How will I feel about them? It is so hard to imagine loving children who you have not borne in the same way that you do your own flesh and blood. This question I love because this is where the gospel pours in.

We Christians serve a God who has grafted us into his family (Romans 9). Again and again we are referred to as adopted sons. The heart of adoption is the heart of the gospel. God does not love us because we are His own flesh and blood. He does not love us because we are lovely. He loves us because He chooses to do so. Somehow it is part of His sovereign will to love the low, ugly, unlovely sinners of this world.

When we adopted these kids, God literally did a miracle in my heart and Josh’s and we had a whole new understanding of God as father. Make no mistake; neglected, abandoned orphans are not lovely. They are the unloved of this world. Our kids were malnourished, sick, dirty and poor. Eva had an ear infection that caused her ear to ooze. Titus’ belly was horribly distended. His nose ran constantly. Constantly. And he coughed all night every night. Eva’s head was shaved and she looked like a boy. Her teeth were rotted and her breath stank.

We love them because we chose to love them and make them our own. And it took time. In the beginning it felt strange. It didn’t come in the same way a love comes as you raise a child from birth and share every waking (and sleeping) moment with him/her. And, if you want the truth, it came more quickly for Josh than it did for me. He knew them 10 seconds and was head over heels in love with them. For me it was strange and scary and confusing and slowly became normal and easy and comfortable. But it did come. And in it we saw the gospel.

If you ask this question in your heart when you see adoptive families, “How do you feel about them?”, there is no shame in this question. It, to me, is the right question to ask. It’s the question that gets you to the real reason for adoption. That adoption is a reflection of our loving God. That Jesus came down and loved the unlovely, that this love is greater than we can imagine, and that adoption is in the heart of this great God whom we serve.