Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Joy Over Jealousy

I'll admit I was jealous. I was jealous when my good friend Caleb (see his blog here) got the news that they would be traveling this month to pick up their little girl, when they hadn't been in the process near as long as we had. I was jealous when he got to go with his dad and meet her. I was jealous when their Gotcha Day, the day she became their's forever was on Christmas. I was jealous when I found out little Julia would be home by New Years.

I'm a very jealous person, aren't I? At first I felt justified, and wallowed in my own jealousy. It wasn't fair that Evan wasn't coming home and Julia was. Why did we have to wait so long?

Then I caught myself. How dare I? How dare I be upset over a baby coming home to her forever family, let alone the sister of one of my friends? Not to mention questioning God's timing... All those justifications melted away, leaving only cruel and hurtful jealousy.

I had absolutely no right to be jealous. In fact, I had every cause to be joyful. One of God's princesses is coming home to her family! She was saved from a "life" in a institution, abandoned and unloved. Evan will come home when it's time for her to come home, which leaves only room for absolute and uninhibited joy at the homecoming of another princess.

Please pray for their trip home from the Ukraine tomorrow. It's a long plane ride, and they'll have a 4-year-old who's not even used to them, let alone a plane.

Jealousy is a seed of Satan, but it can be overcome by joy. Don't let jealousy get in the way of being truly happy for others. I can say now that while, no, I'm not happy that Evan isn't home yet, I am ecstatic over the fact that my friend gets to experience the fun and joy of having a sibling with Down syndrome now. I am filled to the brim with joy that this little baby was saved from a life in an institution. And jealousy has been vanquished.

Another baby is coming home! Let's rejoice!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Raising Up a Generation

I am tired. Tired of this world's youth being content to be passive. Tired of teenagers ignoring their calling. Tired of youth rebelling against what they know in their hearts to be true simply for the sake of rebelling. Tired of teenagers being focused on the inconsequential, the mundane, the worldly. Tired of teenagers putting God second, or third, or tenth, or last. Tired of youth searching for something to fill them up when it's right in front them.

What are we doing?

We fritter away our days focusing on relationships and popularity and social interactions and appearances. We get our satisfaction from having the most friends on facebook, texting people at all hours, and looking in the mirror for something that we won't be able to find. We feel the emptiness in us; we feel it gnawing at our very souls, but we can't figure out how to fill it because no one has showed us that God can.

As modern-day Christian teens, we've seen God work through people, but not us. We've heard all the stories of the Bible, but we don't understand how they apply to us. We've heard them say that we can have a relationship with God, but we don't know how. We want that relationship, we want to do something with what we believe, but no one gives us any avenue for action. So we are stuck.

As a modern-day Christian teen, I'm ready. I'm ready for God to work through me. I'm ready to delve into God's word. I'm ready to have a relationship with Him that will fill me so that I am overflowing with love and joy. I'm ready to move to action. I'm ready to cast out my days filled with worries about appearance, wasted time on the computer, and pointless conversations with friends who aren't really friends. I'm ready to open my eyes to the effects our culture's spiritual laziness has had on the world. I'm ready to do something about it.

It's time. Time for God to raise up a generation of those who forego their comfortable, empty lives for a life bursting at the seams with passion and zeal. Time for the youth to hear God calling us out of ourselves and into Him. Time for us to see the crushing oppression of the orphan, the widow, the fatherless. Time for us to open our eyes to the hopelessness of the world around us, open our eyes to our duty, as believers, to bring them hope. It's time.

There are those who will move, and those will not. One path leads to a fulfilled life beyond your wildest dreams, and the other, to a life-long search for something you've seen, but ignored.

Which path will you take?

Friday, December 17, 2010


Beautiful. There isn't a girl in the world who doesn't desire with all of her heart to be beautiful.

While most Christian girls know that beauty comes from the heart, not from appearance, it doesn't change the fact that they want that outward beauty.

Sometimes I wonder why God made me to look the way I do. Why I wasn't created to have what the world views as beauty. There are other strong, godly girls that are skinny, don't have acne, and have gorgeous hair. Why me? Why can't I be beautiful like those other girls?

It took me years to hear God's answer. Maybe because I wasn't paying attention. Maybe I didn't want to pay attention.

God whispered to me. He whispered, You are! Can't you see it? You're every bit as beautiful as the other girls! Do they have huge hearts for special needs orphans? No! Don't you see? You have a beauty that no one else could ever have! I made you so beautiful just for Me! You are perfect!

What confidence you can walk with, what joy you can have knowing that the God of the universe designed a type of beauty specifically for you. Every girl has her own beauty. Their own special type that makes them stunningly gorgeous in God's eyes, and in the eyes of those who know Him.

The other people don't matter. And, really, why would you want to impress someone who won't accept you for who you are? Their acceptance isn't important. If they don't see your beauty, then they're obviously blind to what God has created.

Because beauty is a truth. Beauty can not be refuted, not when you know it in your heart. It cannot be denied, when you believe it. People can say all they like. They can make all sorts of accusations about your beauty, but there is one simple reply that will refute all of it.

I am beautiful because God says I am beautiful.

The God of the universe, Lord of Lords, Creator of Heaven and Earth cannot be argued with.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ignoring What You Know Is Coming

Let me make it very clear that there isn't much that I dread more than puking. I would rather have a cough or cold for months than throw up once.

So you can imagine how scared I was when I woke up on Monday morning to find out my brother had barfed like crazy all through the night, was still sicky, and my mom had caught the bug too. Refusing to touch anything they had touched or go anywhere near them, I apprehensively made my way through the day, washing my hands as often as possible and carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer in each hand. I felt queasy all day, most likely because I was paranoid. But, later that night, I felt it coming on. You know how it feels. You know, you just know you're going to throw up. And you can't do a single thing about it.

The dread before throwing up is terrible for me. I mean, I know it must be horrible for everyone, but it's absolutely dreadful (no pun intended) for me. I get so scared that I can barely focus on anything.

None of the handwashing, sanitizing, or staying away from the sickies helped me one speck. I got that stomach bug and there was nothing I could do about it. What was crazy was that I went to all that trouble avoiding it, and got it anyway.

It makes me think about Jesus. If knowing I'm going to throw up causes that much fear in me, I can't even begin to imagine how much knowing He was going to die struck fear in Jesus.

He was fully human. He must have felt fear. He lived his entire life knowing that He was going to die. He must have tried to avoid it. He pleaded with God that there would be some other way to save the world.

I just can't imagine how he'd live. How he'd go every single day and live it like he would live it anyway when he knew he was going to die.

It had to be the hardest thing in the world, ignoring that. But, He did it. It makes me wonder. Should we try and avoid what we know is coming? Or should we accept it, and focus on the things of the present?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Who God Says I Am

Testimony. A public recounting of a religious conversion or experience. When I went to Peru this summer, I had to give my testimony. I'm usually very good with words, at least when it comes to writing. But, this was difficult for me. I didn't know my testimony. I hadn't had a "conversion" like some people. I'd grown up in the church. I failed to realize, though, that my testimony is just as powerful as anyone else's. It's just different. They're all different, and they're all part of God's story.

I'd like to invite you to read my testimony today, and also browse this site for other incredible testimonies. God is so good, and this is such an example of that. So many people with so many different stories, yet they all weave into one.

How I came to have a relationship with Christ, and who I am in Him, IS who I am. You cannot know me, truly, without knowing this.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holding On By a Thread

"I gave you empty stomachs in every city
       and lack of bread in every town,
       yet you have not returned to me,"
                                        declares the Lord.

"I also withheld rain from you
       when the harvest was still three
             months away.
I sent rain on one town,
       but withheld it from another.
One field had rain;
       another had none and dried up.
People staggered from town to town for water
       but did not get enough to drink,
       yet you have not returned to me,"
                                        declares the Lord

"Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,
       I struck them with blight and mildew.
Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees,
       yet you have not returned to me,"
                                        declares the Lord.

"I sent plagues among you
       as I did to Egypt.
I killed your young men with the sword,
       along with your captured horses.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,
       yet you have not returned to me,"
                                        declares the Lord.

"I overthrew some of you
       as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire,
       yet you have not returned to me,"
                                        declares the Lord.

                            -- Amos 4:6-11

It's ironic that I read these verses for the very first time the day before I needed them the most. The day when hope like it was gone. Poof. Just like that.

We got an update from our judge. It turns out that we won't be gone in late December; she'll issue our court date in late December. We won't travel until mid- to late January. But even that's iffy. And, to top it off, she's making us redo all of our lab work. All our blood tests. Lots of our documents. All because they'll expire before our actual court date.

I don't think I've ever felt so hopeless. So frustrated that there's absolutely nothing I can do. It's not like Peru, where at least I can raise money. No amount of money will make this process any easier, or make it move faster.

Looking back, I don't know why I thought my parents would be gone on Christmas, let alone that Evan would be home. Do I still believe that God can give us a Christmas miracle? Absolutely. Do I believe He will? I don't know. Not enough to get my hopes up anymore. Not again. Not just to have them crushed into a pulp. It hurts too bad.

The truth is that I am holding on to Amos 4:6-11 with everything I have. God gives us hardship as an opportunity to turn to Him. So that's what I'm doing. There's literally nothing else I can do. I don't think I've ever had a situation where I have come before the Lord more humbly or in a more pleading manner. Please, please, please let her come home soon, I beg with tears streaming down my face. I can't do this. Without God, I absolutely cannot do this anymore.

My only consolation is knowing that at least I'm giving the devil a hard time if God truly is giving us this hardship to show Satan that we will turn to Him.

I'm begging you to lift sweet Evan and the rest of our family up in prayer. All we want is for her to come home. And it's so hard when you're so full of hope, and I'm generally the visionary, the one who sees things as they could be. It's especially hard to be let down when you're the one who can see that.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hoping Against Hope

I've hoped for a lot of ridiculous things in my lifetime. A lot of things that probably couldn't happen. Some of them did, and some of them didn't. But, none of them ever seemed as hopeless as this.

There are 21 days until Christmas. The likelihood that Evan will be home in 21 days is nearing nonexistence. The likelihood that my parents will, at least, be in Russia getting ready to bring her home on Christmas is slim, at best. So why do I still have hope?

I can't explain it. People have warned me time and time again not to get my hopes up. Don't get too excited about what may never happen. But, I can't seem to help it. I know God's in control, but I want her home so badly. Is it that such a crime? To what to spend Christmas with my family? All of my family?

Yes, it'd be fantastic for everyone to be home on Christmas. In fact, it'd be the best gift in the world. But, I'd take that gift a few days late. Would it be sad and lonely for me, celebrating Christmas with just me and Levi and my grandparents? Of course. But we would have an overwhelming joy knowing that our family would be home soon, bringing our sister with them.

So even though the chances are slim, even though it is almost impossible that we'll get a court date in the month of December, I am daring to hope against hope.

I truly, truly believe that God can give us a Christmas miracle. There is no doubt in my mind that Evan can be home by Christmas. Whether or not God sees this as the best course is entirely out of our hands. But, what isn't out of our hands is our ability to plead with God, to beg him for what we want. Because God wants us to be happy. He wants Evan to be happy. And Evan coming home would make me happier than a million mission trips, happier than five thousand iPods, happier, even, than having Christmas with my family.

I beg any who read this to please, please, lift up our little Eva Noel in prayer. We love her so much, and we just want her to be home. Pray for a Christmas miracle.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Adoption Update (Finally)

Well, for those of you who have been reading the blog for quite a while, you may remember a post that I wrote a little over a year ago. It announced that we were adopting again! That I was finally, after years and years of prayer, going to have a sister. We thought she'd be home in June. We thought we might even have our first court date by March.

But God's plans weren't the same as ours. Months passed, and we heard nothing. Then something happened. Something that threw us off. A woman in TN who had adopted a little boy from Russia had literally sent her child back on a plane with a letter explaining that she couldn't handle him.

You can imagine that this upset the Russian government. We were scared that they might close down all adoptions, scared that Evan might never come home. But God was merciful. While the process has been agonizingly slow, we've come through it. Adoptions were not closed, but they were prolonged.

For the past six months, Russia and America have been working to come to an adoption agreement so adoptions can proceed. The agreement still hasn't been signed. And Evan's judge, for the longest time, refused to issue any court dates until that agreement was signed.

Most of my family had lost hope of getting her home at Christmastime. The chances were slim. The agreement wouldn't be signed until late December or January.

But, yesterday, we got an email from the adoption agency. Our judge is going to start issuing court dates! Even though the agreement isn't signed!

Talk about a Christmas miracle! Maybe she'll be home! This is the first time in my life that I've prayed that my parents will be gone on Christmas - that they'll be in Russia bringing home the best Christmas present of all time.

Please pray that Evan will come home soon! I can't help but think that I only have two and half years left until I go to college. I want to spend as much of that time as possible getting to know my little sister. I want her to be home.

Her middle name is Noel. That can't be a coincidence.