Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkin Patch Run

The kids before diaper dash (12mo-3yo) and ghoul run (4-8yo)

The morning was crisp and cool as we bundled up. The smell of fire pits and coffee filled the air and warm apple cider warmed our hands. "Sports candy", as the kids call fruit (thank you Sporticus) and water were waiting in the pavilion for a yummy post race snack. We were excited to run our first family race together!

I think it's fair to say that we may have caught the running bug. The kids have been begging to run since they saw their mama run the half marathon this past spring. The pumpkin patch run was the perfect place for the kids to start. K dressed up as Sophia, S a ninja turtle, C was Mario, and Q Iron Patriot. 

C and Q finished their race in record time. They both ran a 400m and I was lucky enough to get to run it with them. They were so delighted - and so were we. Just love them!

Seriously overjoyed for this little girl. Two years ago she wasn't walking. She has the most severe form of spina bifida. Today she dances, jumps and runs. Unbelievable. So honored to place her first medal around her neck.  Thrilled for her! 

S excited to have finished chasing Elmo down the dirt road for 40 yards. Look how adorable he is in his costume. And so super sweet to be around. So proud of this little boy!

Oh Lord, thank you for these days with our children. Such special, unforgettable memories!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Love-ism: Unique Characteristics of Love

My loving S man

I had a bit of a rough start to a busy day this last week. Several factors were adding up, and to be honest, I was exhausted. This little guy must have felt his mama's discontent. He rides his horse (paper towels on the wood floor) next to my feet and hands me my phone. He had already started my Christian music from my playlist. He reaches his arms up and asks me to dance. And that's what we did. We danced in the living room. His sweet face buried in my cheek, arms wrapped around my neck snuggled in close. We sang out loud, "Bless the Lord Oh My Soul". Everyone joined in and before we knew it the room was filled with praises to God with four beautiful, little voices. 

In just moments our day completely flipped around. Gods there in the crazy. In the chaotic. In the storm. He's there in the still. In the quiet. In the peace. In our strong and week moments. He's abounding in grace for our family. And in the love of our children. He knows just what I need when I need it. And wow - I needed this. I needed a small change in perspective to get this day going well. The days agenda can wait for minutes like these. For this day, in this moment, I just needed a reminder to breathe. To soak in these moments that we can easily dismiss in the busy. I needed to dance. To praise. To be in His presence. And to simply love.

Thank you Jesus for showing me love through our children! 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Let's Talk

Phil 4:13

When I was a junior in high school, our 2 mile (3200 meter) relay team made it to the state tournament, ranked number one in our class. I remember getting the baton and running my first 400 faster than I had ever ran before that day. I came upon my second 400 in first place as expected. My coach, who was always a positive guy, encourages me from the sidelines saying, "You're doing great, J. You are 6 seconds ahead of your personal best time." My immediate next thoughts were, "Oh my goodness, 6 seconds?!? I'm never going to make it at this speed to the finish line. I have to slow down. What am I doing on this team? Everyone is faster than I am. I will never succeed." I passed the baton after crossing the finish line. Though the next 2 runners made up time, we did not come in first. In fact, I don't think that we even placed. 

It's common for children to talk out loud their inner thoughts, especially through play. They use "self talk" as a way to work out their feelings and thoughts. Around the age of 5, children start to internalize their self talk. We continue into adulthood using this same method to process our days. Research says that we use self talk approximately 50,000 times a day. What we say to ourselves can have either a positive or negative impact on our behavior and our relationships. It effects all around us. It shows up in our confidence or lack there of. It makes its appearance in the way that we succeed or fail. It rears its ugliness or beauty when one compares themselves to others. It's obvious in the way that we treat our spouse, our friends, our co-workers, strangers and family. 

When we get caught in negative self talk, like I did above, we allow the enemy (satan) to add to our thoughts. He may speak words into your mind that will cause harm. They will alter the way that we see ourselves. The way we see others. Phrases that completely contradict what God says is true. He will ask you questions that manipulate your mind into believing all that you know is from Jesus. Satan will use deeply hurting people to negatively speak into your life until you start saying the same thing to yourself. Some of the most freeing words spoken to me were, "Please don't think that every thought that enters into your mind is yours!" I'd never considered this before it being said. You have the power to stop negative thoughts. God blesses you with the strength to overcome every strong hold. The bible speaks of spiritual warfare saying that the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. That someone is you and me. The enemy seeks to proclaim war in our hearts. A battlefield in our minds. 

To further complicate our negative self talk, we allow ourselves to attach emotions to our feelings causing them to replay like a broken record. We can't seem to get rid of them. We often then go to our spouse or our friends, especially women, and say, "Help, I've got this yuck". Talking to others in a time of need is important. Its part of community. It allows an exit from our inner workings. A place to vent. To allow the self talk to depart. Most of the time, relationships are the glue that hold us together. It the place where God allows communion. A place where He allows His spirit to work through others. 

Sometimes though, your friends can wrestle with their own negative talk and not even realize the poison that it allows to slowly seep into their lives. It can add a muck layer of their opinions in a matter that may not line up with what God says. That's why it is so important to go to God in prayer and to know what He says about us. It's essential that we know the love that only he can offer. The unconditional love of our father. We have a choice each day to believe what we say to ourselves or to believe what God says about us (read my post on Identity to learn what our Father says about you). When we choose Him, He opens our heart to His promise. 

We may recognize a mess but Gods makes it our message.

We may see a trial but God turns it into our triumph. 

We may say test but God says let this be your testimony. 

We may feel like a victim but God shows us the path of victory. 

The beautiful part is that He isn't done sculpting our hearts. He takes the negative and makes it positive. When we go through a rough patch, He is refining our minds. He promises to be faithful. He showers us His love. He gently guides us back to Him. I rejoice for He offers all that I need. He asks us to trust His plan. God asks us to learn what it means to be a child of the everlasting true King. He says that our richest duty is devotion to Him. He wants a relationship with us. He isn't stuck looking into the do's and don't of religion like we sometimes humanly do in order to gain a checklist of control over our environment. Instead, He asks us to relax. To be humble. To find security as we rest in Him. He is our Father. In Him he is well pleased with us. 

Stand strong in His word. Welcome challenging times as an opportunity to learn from Him. Do not measure your strength or let others size you up to them. God measures life differently. In your weakness, He wants to teach you of his strength. Turn every negative thought about yourself and others into a word of praise and thanksgiving. Let Him be the center of it all. The peace that He gives you transcends your intellect. He wants to stop the spinning of your mind while He covers you in love. He gives you the time that you need to make the switch. He invites you to be still and let Him control your inner most being. He is loyal. Worthy to be praised. Immanual. He is with us. 

He shows us each day to come to Him. He has designed us to need Him. God is all around us abounding in love. It is us who get distracted with the stimuli of the world. We need Him in each moment. As we become aware of our need for Him, so does the realization of his abundant sufficiency. There is nothing that He cannot do. When no one else seems to understand, it is He who says, I know. He loves you just the way that you are. He views you through His eyes of grace. He's waiting for you to ask him for blessings. You only need to lean in. He doesn't require fancy prayers. Just You. Just Him. Just simple love. 

This last week, I ran on another relay team. This time the race was 78 miles long from one city market to another. We had a great team. The weather was just right. The day was perfect for running and I could feel God's favor as the adrenaline pumped through my body. I'm standing on the dirt path waiting for my teammate to hand me the time chip band - our baton. As I get ready to take off, my thoughts start to kick in. My mind is flooded with emotions. I'm reminded of the above high school experience. This time though I give thanks. I'm not who I used to be. God has grown me and developed our relationship. I'm glad that I didn't put a time frame on allowing God to work in my life. I didn't give up on Him. Fifteen years later, my initial thoughts were balanced and in line with His. "You've totally got this. God is with you. When you get tired, lean into Him for strength. Let Him carry you. Allow Him to speak into your heart.  Run the best that you can and let Him do the rest." I beat each mile that I ran 1.5 minutes faster than my estimated time. Glory to God!

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the circumstances that you have given me to alter my thinking. Thank you that you continually work in my heart. Thank you that you never give up on me. Thank you for showing me through trials that its You that I need to run to when my heart is heavy. It's you who says redeemed when others say condemned. It is in you that you bring peace to my heart and comfort in the storm. Thank you for never leaving me. For breathing truth into my life when my fleshly thoughts were to listen to negativity from myself and others. I ask that you bless over others when they get stuck in that rut. I ask that it is you that they seek to find hope. I pray that you pull them close and shut out the business in our minds when it is not a productive thought to bring you praise. I ask that you quiet hearts when the negative words find their way to their mouths. Stop our minds and tongues from anything short of glory to you. Help us to only speak truth about others and ourselves. Help us to lift up others in your omniscient presence. Help us to be a support in time of struggle. To remember that you have called us all on different journeys. Called us all to have different struggles to form us uniquely into your plan. Help us to remember that what we see on the outside is only a small percentage of what is going on inside. There is no judgment and condemnation in You. Let each word that I speak be a blessing to myself and others. Let the words I say bring love and life. I trust that every difficult lesson, each trial, in life is a specific tailored-for-me blessing. That you work all things together for good. Thank you Father for your truth. For it is you, your truth, that sets us free! Amen. 

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fun Friday - Update 6

Love her sweet white dress. And look at those little hands. 
So excited to hold them soon!! :)

Praise God! Another great update with healthy babies! Both baby E and G are just over 10 lbs! Can you believe that?!? In early August, they were barely over 5lbs. Each week brings new growth both physically and developmentally. We are so thankful for the nanny's that are caring for our girls. We are thankful for the doctor who frequently rounds through to make sure that the girls are healthy. We are thankful for the guards that keep the facility safe. For the women who do the laundry, cook, and clean. For the women who seek donations to keep the facility running properly. For the women who love on ours girls each and every day. Lord, we have so much to be thankful for.

Father, please continue to bless over the girls. Please keep them safe and healthy. Please bring abundant blessings to so many caring for our girls. Thank you for the countless hours that they spend pouring affection on our girls while we are so very far away. Please bless over our hearts as we still wait to hear when we will travel. We are so excited to meet them! Above all else Lord, we want to be obedient in the life that you have for us. We pray that you light our path and show us your will. Please give us patience and strength as we move forward together with you. Amen.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fun Friday - Update 5

What mama doesn't love to receive an update when her baby is in "I heart mom and dad" pj's. Seriously. Can't. Wait. to cuddle with both girls. Our sweet E and G. Praise God for another week of big gains and happy grins! We have reached 9.5 lbs!! Their little cheeks are rounding out and their content smiles make me melt.

Lord, thank you for our babies. It is so encouraging to get updates each week. We love that even thousands of miles apart, we get to watch the girls grow to reach new milestones that no family wants to miss. This next week is a big week for us. We should know in a week or two how our adoption paperwork will progress. Lord, please continue to bless our adoption and the paperwork as it is processed. God will you please allow only ethical, thorough inspectors to view our paperwork so that our girls will always know that we did all that we could to verify their family history. We pray that the paperwork is "as stated" as government officials routinely investigate their case. We ask that your peace and comfort surround us as we move forward. We pray that the girls remain healthy and happy until we soon meet. We have heard that there are many "bugs" running through the foster home but we pray that you offer them your supernatural protection. We hope to meet them very soon, but trust Father, that your timing is perfect. We know that you have brought us this far and that you will see us through. Walking beside us all in hope. In peace. In your almighty love. Amen.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fun Friday - Update 4

Praise God for another healthy update! To make this mama heart rejoice even more, we also received pictures with our first smiles! And check out this frohawk! Oh my goodness, is this not the cutest?!?

Thank you for your prayers friends and family! Thank you for being part of the "village" that wraps your arms around our girls. Thank you for supporting our dream of adoption and for your positive words of encouragement as we continue to dance through this adoption journey. We praise God for each and every one of you!

Lord, we are so thankful for our weekly updates!  Thank you for another week of good health! It's so easy to take for granted our health. Thank you for the formula that the girls are receiving to gain weight and receive the nutrients needed to grow and thrive. What a blessing to have food available for the girls. Thank you for blessing us with so many amazing family and friends who pray for our girls. Thank you for your provision and love. That you would allow us to get to parent two more girls. Please prepare our hearts and theirs as time draws near for us to meet. We are so excited! Amen.