Monday, September 15, 2014

We are the same.

Matthew 11:28
Come to me, ALL you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

I watch her from across the room.
Her curly blonde locks poking out of her dark knit hat.
His little body is still, quiet, sleeping.
She stands close to the cold, white steel bars that close in around her baby.
She gently touches his tiny hand, rubbing it back and forth, being careful not to touch the tubes and wires going in and out of his body.
Her lips do not move, but I see her deep breaths go in and out every few minutes, as she does her best to hold back the tears.
Her smooth flawless skin reveals her youth. She is young, very young.

It's the day of our little guy's cardiac surgery.
His body is motionless, quiet, still, sleeping, paralyzed under medication.
I stand next to the cold, white steel bars that close around my baby.
I gently touch his chubby little hand, rubbing it back and forth, being careful not to touch the tubes and wires going in and out of his body.
My lips do not move. They lay frozen and I am almost shell shocked at what I see.
I take deep breaths every few minutes, doing my best not to break down into tears.
My heavy eyes that hold new age lines reveal my age. I am older, much older.

We are different, yet we are the same.

Two mothers.
Two babies.
Two stories.
The same kind of pain.

The room is full of them...
mothers, babies, stories and pain.

It is the following day and I sit next to him. I rub his little arm and I whisper close to his little ear, telling him that I am near, oh so near. I whisper how my life has been enriched by his love. I tell him how I need him to fight through this, to be strong and to get better.  I tell him that I don't know what I would ever do without him. And even though he was unexpected, he was purposefully placed within my arms, and that I don't recognize my life without him in it. I pray with everything in me, for his healing and for his life and to be all that he needs me to be right now.

I let the tears fall as I hear the swishing noise of the ventilator as it breathes for him.

I think of her often, his birth mom.
As I sit next to his hospital bed, she floods my mind.

I wonder, what those few quiet moments were like for her.
As she held him close to her in that hospital bed.
I see her as she rubs his little arm and whispers close to his little ear, telling him that for a small moment, she is near. She whispers how her life will forever be changed by his. She tells him that she needs him to fight through this, to be strong and to be the best that he can be. She tells him that she doesn't know what she will do without him. And even though he was unexpected, he was purposefully placed within her tummy, but she can't give him what he needs right now. With everything in her, she prays over his life.

She lets the tears fall as she holds him close, memorizing his tiny face before she tells him goodbye.

Our pain is different, yet we are the same.
We are mothers.
He is our baby.
It is the same story.

I see this girl several times during the week that we stay in the CICU waiting for our boy to get stronger. Her curly blonde locks sticking out of her dark knit hat. She is alone each time.

There is shift change and I go across the hall to get some change out of my purse to get some much needed coffee.

There she sits. Alone.

I go to walk passed her and then I pause. I turn back and introduce myself and sit next to her.
I open the conversation by asking how her little one is doing. Her voice responds gently and meekly.
She explains that her baby is only 3 weeks old and has been here, within that steel crib since the day after he was born. He was awaiting his second heart surgery and would go on to have a third in a few months. My heart cracks for her as she speaks. She goes on to tell me that she is there alone that she is only 18 years old, and how she drove herself and followed the ambulance, that held her very sick baby,  just one day after giving birth to her son. Just one day after.

We talk and giggle like close friends for a short while, because in those few moments, we are the same. We are no different.

We continue to share our babies' heart stories and in those few moments, He enters in.

I ask her if I can pray with her. She responds with just a nodded yes. In her eyes I see the sigh of relief that someone has come, someone has come close enough to her to feel her heart and the pain and worry within.

I grab her hand and we close our eyes.

We pray for just a few moments and as I finish speaking and look up, I see the tears flowing down her face.

She thanks me for praying with her and for speaking to her. She confesses to me that I am the first person she has spoken to in 3 weeks, besides nurses, surgeons and specialists. 

She goes on to tell me that she couldn't talk to anyone because of the fear of what they would tell her. Their stories of their babies may be too much for her to hear, when her sweet tiny boy lay in the bed next to theirs. My heart cracks a little more with every word she speaks.

I hear Him whisper,
  "Tell her she is not alone in her pain. Tell her I am here. Tell her I see her. Tell her I see everything. Tell her she belongs to Me. Tell her your story of loneliness. Tell her what I am for you, I am also for her."

I respond to God in hesitation, "Oh, Lord, how is my story like hers? How will it help her?"

With a lump in my throat and a fast beating heart, I tell her what God whispers to her. I tell her His words of love and my story of loneliness growing up in a house with a half litter of children. And yet, still, I always felt alone. I tell her how He swept me up out of that loneliness and held me close to Him. I tell her that He has always been my Rescuer and how He has saved me time and time again.  I tell her that loneliness does not exist when God is near. I tell her redemption is near. I tell her He is near.

Her tears flow like a waterfall and she thanks me for stopping and talking to her. She tells me that she doesn't feel so alone anymore.  She tells me that she feels Him close now. She tells me, with the taste of tears on her lips and a smile in her eyes, "I know He is here with me and me and my baby are going to make it, because I know we aren't alone."

I walk out of the room to get my purse and that change for that much needed coffee, and I am overwhelmed by what God has just done. And I think to myself, "We're not so different after all."

We are His daughters.
Our stories are different.
His love for us is the same.

How many times do we separate ourselves from others because, frankly, they just don't know what we are going through? They can't possibly feel what we feel. We tell ourselves that our differences are just too much and our similarities simply not enough.

Maybe, just maybe, it's actually our differences that make us the same.

Doesn't He tell us that even though we are all uniquely designed, that we are all the same?
That His love for each of us is no different.
That there is nothing that we can do to make Him love us anymore or any less.
Doesn't His Spirit usher us all in and make us run to the same exact the cross, to Jesus?

Romans 2:11
For there is no partiality with God.

We are all different and we all have different paths to take, different struggles to walk through, different triumphs to be held, different places and faces to see, but we are all here for the same thing...
His glory.

His and His alone.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are ALL His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 

(emphasis mine)

When we are tired and weary, it is the same God who comforts you and who comforts me.
When we are broken and experiencing life's painful blow, it is the same God who mends us and makes us whole.
When we are chained and bound by sin's clawing grip, it is the same God who defeats the enemy and sets us free.
When we are lost and alone, it is the same God who rescues and saves us.

He is God and we are ALL His. We are the same.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that ALL who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(emphasis mine)

The world is full of them, people, their stories and their pain.
Someone within your reach needs you today.
Someone needs to know that you have come with your story of redemption.
They need to know that what He has done for you, He can do for them.
They need to know that even though their run may look different, and their strides not the same as yours, that we all run the same race.
They need to know that even though the waves crashed against you, and at times pulled you under leaving you breathless, you did not drown.
They need to know that you survived and that they can too.
They need to know that He is not just your hope and their hope, but He is the Hope.
They need to know that they can run to Him, just as you did, and be saved. Be rescued.
They need to know that they are seen by Him and loved by Him.
They need to know that they are not alone.
They need to know that we are all the same.
That each of our stories are but His story.
That we are ALL His.

Lord, let us not be held back by our differences. Let us help each other by embracing one another with the same love that You give to us. The love that shows no boundaries. The love that does not recognize differences, but sees us all the same. The love that sees us all as Yours.

Yours and yours alone.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

When He leans.


Psalm 116:1-2
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
Friends tell me all the time that I have what it takes to do this.
That God knew this sweet boy needed me. That he needed what only I could give him.
And each time I hear my friends say that...
I feel less than qualified.
In eight days, our little guy will undergo a major operation.
They will open his tiny little chest and repair an artery near his heart that has caused him more trouble than all of us expected.
And I wonder,
"How on earth am I prepared or qualified to handle this?"
I wonder, on some days, when I am so tired that I can't even remember the last time I bathed and sleeping becomes more important than eating, if God should have given this little angel to a twenty something-ball of energy-conquer the world-super girl...rather than me.
I question it...
where this invisible strength and ability that other people see stems from.

Your Grace abounds in deepest waters.
The past few days have been the hardest.

The questions I ask are the same but different.

"How do I do this, God? How do I hand my baby over to these doctors to perform this surgery? How?"
I try to wrap my mind around what is about to happen and I fall apart in tears at the drop of the smallest hat.
I'm in deep, real deep.
This is more than I can handle.
This is big, and I feel very small.
I wrote the struggle of this journey in a blog post a while back. It was at the beginning when we were just finding out about the health issues Isaac was having. At the time, all I could do was lean into God, because I felt my feet were failing me.
Around every corner they come...the tears.
They fall and they fall and I lean and I lean.
 The weakness takes over and I just want to fall over more and more.
I can barely feel my feet beneath me.
My heart is heavy.
That was almost seven months ago.
Since then, I have seen more than my momma's eyes and heart could imagine.
I have seen more needles poked into his soft fragile arms than I can count.
I have held him down screaming for the doctors to run test after test after test.
I have rocked a sick and tired baby for hours and hours and hours.
I have memorized the sound his heart beat makes as he has slept on my chest night after night.
I have laid my hands on his little body and prayed healing prayers until I have become breathless.
And today, as we finally have the answers we have searched for all these months, those feet...
have finally failed me and I feel as though I am falling flat on my face.
The energy to get back up...well, it's just not there.
My smallness gets even smaller.
But, that's when it happens...
The Leaning.
Not mine...but His.
Love that goes upward is worship;
 love that goes outward is affection;
 love that stoops is Grace.
~~Donald Grey Barnhouse

It's at the moment when I have collapsed in my weakness, that He leans into me.
As my chin falls to the floor, He lifts it up gently towards Him.
And He reminds me.
That He is all that I need.
That I don't have to be strong in every moment that comes.
That He is my help when I feel helpless.

Psalm 46:1
 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.

Within His touch, my smallness doesn't seem to matter anymore...because His greatness is all I see.

His presence is all I feel.
  I begin to weep and say His name Jesus, over and over with grief ridden breathlessness.
Then He leans in,
 He hears
 and He knows.
 He knows my heart is heavy, worried and overflowing with love for this little boy.
He knows that I feel unqualified, unprepared, and less than enough.

 Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

He leans toward me, whispers softly into my heart the reason why I am qualified for this journey...
"Because you are mine and you were made for this."

And just as Sarah laughed when the Angel of The Lord told her she'd have a child in her old age, just as I laughed when God spoke those words to me... I giggle under my breath...
"Oh, God, You must know something that I don't."

Then I am reminded of the suitcase that is packed in my bedroom and sitting in the baby's crib.
I see it in my mind, the mountain of clothes and necessities being packed to be away from home with Isaac as he undergoes cardiac surgery.

Then I remember something else...

I've had a bag packed for over 7 months now.
I keep it tucked away in my closet. It's a small overnight bag. It has a set of clean clothes, toiletries and pajamas inside. Everything I need for an emergency trip is in that small bag.
We've visited the hospital so many times in this little boy's life, that I have kept a bag packed just in case. Just in case.
I tried many times to unpack it, but I could never get myself to do it.

He shows me that this suitcase represents my preparedness. It represents my readiness to go where He leads me. Its size represents how small I feel up against this giant we are about to face. But, still in all, it carries what I need. I may not have known why I packed the bag or where I was going, but I was ready to go and had everything I needed already inside of it.

I had everything I needed already inside of it.

I have everything I need already inside of me.
It's been tucked away for such a time as this.
And even though I feel small, there is greatness on the inside of me.
I carry everything I need inside of me.

God is that greatness.

God is that everything.

He is everything.

John 15:9
"For without me you can do nothing."

As this revelation becomes clearer and clearer to me, He leans in closer...
"You have Me. I am enough. I am all you need."

He is strong enough to hold me when I can not stand.
He is strong enough to hold me.
He is strong enough.
 He is enough.

He leans even closer, and His voice resonates in my heart as He speaks life into this baby...
"You don't hand him to them. You hand him to Me. I am enough for you and I am enough for him."

 I see Him stretching His arms out for me to collapse into them.
  I feel the warmth of His embrace as my tears mingle together as they fall at His feet.
I see the love in His eyes as He becomes ALL that I need and more.
I hear the comfort in His voice as He reminds me who He is.
Because today, right now, in this very moment...
I need Him to be all that He says He is.

Luke 18:27
"But He said, 'What is impossible with men is possible with God.'"

When He leans...I don't feel so small anymore,
because His greatness is on the inside of me.

  He is everything I need.

He is enough.

"Lead my by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you."

Please be in prayer with us as we approach Isaac's day of surgery and believe with us...
 that God is more than enough.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I hope you'll join me.

I'm writing over at Joli Blog today. 
I'm sharing our amazing journey to this cutie-patootie...
I hope you'll join me!
Be blessed!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Let them see You.


 "That is why waiting does not diminish us,
any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother.
(We are enlarged in the waiting.)
We don't see what is enlarging us.
But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
The moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along.
If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter.
 He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of wordless sighs, our aching groans.
 He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our condition,
and keeps us present before God.
That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives
 of love for God is worked into something GOOD."
 ~~Romans 8:24-28

It's been a while since I have written in this space.
The last time I wrote about our little Isaac, we had just received some news about his health and we were leaning into God with every ounce of energy we had.

Things were hard. Very hard.
To be honest,
we are still in that place of leaning.

And some days, some nights...are still very hard.

There are some days, that I don't even know what to pray or how to pray.
Sometimes, my prayers to God are just tears that I finally get to shed in the bathtub, when I am all alone in the quiet.

It feels as though we've been waiting forever to figure out exactly what's been going on inside of Isaac's little body, causing the issues that he is having.
We've spent the past few months searching for answers to many questions.
Some we have found, and some we are still on the hunt for.

 As we continue to search, we watch our little guy struggling with things that we wish we could take from him.
As I was riding in the car the other day on the way to another doctor appointment for Isaac,
I found myself in that place of leaning again.
That place of needing God to hold me...

 I see Him stretching His arms out for me to collapse into them.
  I feel the warmth of His embrace as my tears mingle together as they fall at His feet.
I see the love in His eyes as He becomes ALL that I need and more.
I hear the comfort in His voice as He reminds me who He is.

Because today, right now, in this very moment...
I need Him to be all that He says He is.

As the tears ran down my cheek, I pleaded with God...
"Let today be the day. Let this be the day we find an answer. I am tired, Lord. For Isaac's sake, let us find an answer today. Be my strength for yet another day, another appointment."
I continued driving and crying and listening to music. As the tears continued to moisten my face, God reminded me of something He had told me a few months before.
It was a few weeks before Isaac was born. We were preparing to have a newborn baby after thinking our little family was complete. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I was praying and asking for God's guidance.

I had questions then too.
How will we do this?
How will we raise a newborn at our age?
How will we provide the needs for another child?

God spoke to me in just a few simple words...

"Isaac will lack nothing."

As I drove, I thought of those words over and over until something finally clicked in my mind.

He will lack nothing.

He hasn't. He honestly hasn't.
God provided the way for us to get to Isaac. The path was a smooth one. One without flaw or without any detail left undone.
God has provided each and every little, or big thing that Isaac has needed, and much more.
He has provided everything that we have needed to care for him.
He has provided us with the strength to take on each day, each long night, each ER visit, each hospital stay, each specialist visit and each procedure.
He has given Isaac the strength to endure it all within his tiny little body.
He opened doors that were otherwise shut.
He has provided us with the most amazing community of friends to push us through, to encourage us along, to offer support, to pray and to love on us.

He has provided it all.

Isaac has lacked nothing.

So this tells me, that Isaac's body...lacks nothing also.

It lacks nothing.

nothing-not a thing

God knit Isaac's body together to His own perfection, inside his mother's womb,
 and he lacks nothing.

Not a thing.

That tells me that Isaac is already made whole. He is healed, inside and out.
 He is whole. Lacking nothing.

So, maybe we don't have the answers we search for. Maybe we don't know what is going on for sure with our little Isaac.

But whatever it may be...I know that he lacks nothing.

And that gives me peace. A very welcomed peace.

Psalm 16:5
Lord, You are my (Isaac's) portion and my (Isaac's) cup [of blessing]; You hold my (Isaac's) future.

I know that God has not left one thing out. Not one.

I know that God is his everything. He is our everything.
He is our portion. Our cup of blessing runneth over!

He is our answer. He is The Answer.
He is the way. He is the truth. He is the Life.
(John 14:6)

I've also realized, that even though I get weary going to doctor visit after doctor visit, each one is an opportunity to talk about Isaac's story and our journey to him.

It's an opportunity to give God praise for Isaac!
 It's an open door to share our miraculous adoption journey with each and every person that we come in contact with.

And believe me, everyone has asked how or why we chose to adopt a brand new baby at "our age".

It's been amazing to share the great things God has done, everywhere we go.
With everyone we meet.

It's been a chance for us to share with others the endless blessings behind obedience to God.

Because there are many!

It's a chance for us to let people know that this was not our doing at all, but all God's doing.

It's a chance for people to look into Isaac's sweet little face and see how God has detailed his life in such a beautiful way. Just like He has detailed all of our lives.

Isaac has totally rocked our world! In the best way possible!
 He has been such a precious gift to our family. Our family has grown tremendously closer because of Isaac.  I don't want to focus on what's wrong with Isaac anymore. I want to draw my energy towards everything that is right with him.

He is beautifully and wonderfully made by a Father who loves him!
That is worth praising God for!

Psalm 9:1
    I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.

"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."
  ~~John Piper

I know that this season of unanswered questions is part of our story.
 It's part of Isaac's story.
 It's God's story and He is writing it through us.
I know that God is working everything out for Isaac's good. For our good.

For that, I am humbled and grateful.
 In that, I find peace and contentment for exactly where we are.
I trust God's heart concerning Isaac. I trust His heart concerning me.
I trust His heart concerning our family, and the lot that He has given us.

The idea that He would use Isaac's little life, my life, our bring Him GLORY, is just amazing!
It's. just. amazing.

How can I not be changed by that?

I pray,
when I find myself weary,
when I begin to doubt or fear,
that I remember this...
 and that I be forever changed by it.
By this entire journey.

"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked our for us."
~~Hebrews 12:1b

We will get the answers we search for in due time, and we know that God's timing is always perfect.  Until then, Jesus is the only answer we need.

The only One.

You've got to look for the glory and hunt for the grace and seize beauty in ugly and laugh brave and defiant in the dark and you can lose everything but nothing can steal Jesus and He is enough.
~~Ann Voskamp

This is my prayer today,
that behind every examining room door,
 doctor's office,
 procedure room,
every question about our journey asked,
or within each waiting room conversation...
people see God.

That they see Him. Really see Him.
Not me, not Isaac...but only the Glory that our lives bring to Him.

Let them see You, God. Let them see You.

Let them see You.

Psalm 27:13
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

Psalm 31:24
 So be strong and courageous,
    all you who put your hope in the Lord!

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Hope your visit was a pleasant one. Be blessed and come back soon!