Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Gift I Gave Jesus, And What He Gave Me in Return

It's been one year today.

For three months I had been moping around, grieving the death of a dream to adopt from Haiti. Nathan had been trying in his own gentle ways to point me toward foster care and domestic adoption. But I was resistant. 

I didn't think I could open my home and my heart to that kind of potential heartache. All the unknowns. All the problems. All the complications. All about me. 

But as last November crept up on December, God began to knock. And when I cracked open the door, He blew right in.

Nathan had requested an information packet about foster care and adoption from the Department of Human Resources the August before. It collected dust for a few months as I clung tightly to my reasons for not filling out the application.

At one point I finally threw it away. 

Forgotten and dismissed, I plunged into the Christmas season with no idea that it was going to make it's way right back into our home.

As the first week of December came and went, I began to consider what gift our family would give to Jesus for His birthday. Usually it's monetary. A lump sum to foreign missions, presents for needy families in the area, or some other endeavor that involves making His name known or giving to the least of these. We were still tossing around ideas when an application to foster/adopt through the state showed up in our mailbox. Unrequested. 

One year ago today chills covered my body when I saw the manila envelope in Nathan's hands. In that same moment I heard Christ whisper, "This is what I want for Christmas." And my soul shifted.

He was asking me to say yes to foster care. Asking for the gift of my trust and this home and our future. He wanted what He always wants. My willingness to follow Him anywhere, into any unknown, with only Him as my Shepherd.

A year ago today I gave Jesus exactly what He asked for and said yes to foster care. We didn't lay our heads on the pillow that night until we had filled out the entire (lengthy!!!) application. When I finally snuggled under the covers, I experienced the sweetest peace knowing I was giving Jesus what He wanted for His birthday. 

But how on earth could I have known that by offering that one gift to Him, He would give me 10,000 in return?

Because ya'll, it was me who got the gift.

I got the gift of kindred spirits while traveling this rocky road with other foster parents. I got to rejoice over their placements and intercede when their hearts broke. I got deep deep friendship.

I got the gift of water walking with Jesus. As we stepped out of the boat in every conceivable way; with our children, our finances, our future, our time, I got to hold the hand of the Master and know the satisfaction of doing what I thought humanly impossible.

I got the gift of a 5lb bundle of pure sweetness to hold and love and squeeze and rock. I got to pray over him at night, to feel his little body on my chest, and to nuzzle his tender cheek. 

I got the gift of watching my biological children dote over a new sibling. Of seeing them be proud as peacocks when others adored him. Of witnessing their growth as they gave up much and took on more to make room for this new one. 

I got the gift of his first smile, his first giggle, his first crawl. I got to see his uncontainable delight when I walked in the room. I got the gift of his preference. 

I got the gift of showing him off to others, of hearing them make a fuss over him, of picking him up from the nursery, and taking him home with me when day is done.

I got the gift of loving him so much that I fear losing him. And the gift of knowing the love of the Father more deeply because of it. 

I got the gift of his presence in our lives. I got the gift of more of His presence in my life. 

But unlike the gift I gave Christ, I deserved none of it.

I didn't give to Him to get something in return. But it just goes to show that anytime we offer something to Christ, we are the ones who benefit from it. 

That gift I gave Jesus a year ago, I'm so much richer for it.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Not Into Normal: More of Me than You Might Want to See

Today I decided to dig out the journal from 2013 and walk down memory lane. You know, since there's nothing else to do around here and all. What with the three kids and the two dogs and the laundry and the two dozen toys my son wants me to replace batteries in and the party I'm hosting TOMORROW NIGHT. 

While enjoying the denial zone and reading through my little green leather journal, I ran across this entry from August of last year. (Yes, I write in a journal every day. Yes, I'm going to let you read it. Yes, you'll know the extent of my mental instability afterward. Like me, anyway, please.) I remember being in such a state of unrest and confusion. That feeling that God was calling me to something else...but what?  For those of you who feel like you're on the verge....

"Went to the grocery store and talked with Jenna on the way home. For a brief moment I felt "this is how it should be." Run errands. Take care of things at home. Do normal stuff. 

15 minutes later I'm reading Jen Hatmaker's blog about the trials of bringing home Ben and crying into my lunch plate. 

I am so not into normal. I've dabbled in normal and found it terribly...not for me. It gives me the ibbie jibbies. I want to blow the doors off of normal

Meanwhile, I vacillate between the urge to contact Jen Hatmaker and beg her to tell me something helpful (cause I'm sure she's got time for that) and telling myself to quit obsessing over whatever "this" is and unload the dishwasher. But I don't want to unload the dishwasher. I WANT _______?

Dare I say it? Something big. God sized. A little scary. Water Walking.

All that really matters to me, Jesus, is what you want me to do. Do we adopt? Domestic or international? Are you sure? I'm not. I feel selfish wanting more. And I feel like a glutton for eating both those pieces of chocolate. 


I think we have success in the "not normal" part. Cause there ain't nothin' normal about this here foster care thing. Reading that entry reminded me how when God's got a mind to do something unusual in your life, He often gives you an appetite for it even before you know the name of the meal. 

His ways continue to astound me. 

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