Ok, so many of you have "Thankful Thursday" but I'm going to dare to be different and have a "Thankful Friday". No better way to face life's challenges than to ponder on the things we are most grateful for. With a house full of sick ones all week it's been a challenging week needless to say, so what better way to shift my attention upwards than to list a few things that I'm thankful for. Here goes:
1. I'm so grateful for my Father who has adopted me. He chose me before the foundations of the world were laid. He also loves me not just for who I am but also in spite of who I am. What perfect love! Praise God for ADOPTION!!!
2. These days I have to say we don't take much for granted. I am so thankful that I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach and clothes on my back. I've always thought that I was thankful for these simple things but let me tell you... I AM SO THANKFUL FOR THESE THINGS!!!
3. I am truly humbled by the generous friends that God has brought into our lives. I have learned so much these last couple of months simply watching them respond to our situation.
We may not have the biggest bank account in town but we are most certainly among the richest. Thank you Jesus.
It's tough being a woman! Talk about an understatement. There is the role of wife, mother, daughter, friend, encourager, comforter, teacher, chef, CFO, COO and the list goes on. You ladies know what I'm talking about. How do we balance all these hats and to do it with class and dignity. You know, have it all together.
With this great juggling act that I'm trying to maintain Satan loves to toss in this big, hard to juggle, object that has me struggling not to drop each an every ball that I'm trying so delicately to manage. This big, ugly object is fear. Fear of an uncertain future, fear that our Emma will never come home from China, fear that we won't be able to have another biological child, fear that we aren't teaching our son the most important things about God and life. Fear about being older parents and not being around for our children or grandchildren and the list goes on.
Fear is one of Satan's most powerful weapons in his arsenal. It is crippling. It's paralyzing. I'm here today to be as transparent as I can and say this is the fight I'm currently in. Thank God that He has me in the Beth Moore study of the wonderful book of Esther. Esther is such a wonderful role model for woman. And you talk about fear, can you imagine the fear that surely crept into Esther as she became aware of the royal edict that had been issued to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews. What about the weight of the responsibility to step up and take action and try to save her people. The fear of going before the king uninvited, knowing that unless he extends his golden scepter she would be put to death.
As part of Beth's study she has given several scenarios and one is "It's tough being a woman in the tight fist of fear." Can you say "Amen". However, Isaiah 49:16a says, "Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands." What love and I praise God for His perfect love. The God of the universe loves me so much that He has called me to these roles that I juggle. I was never meant to juggle these roles on my own but I can only keep all the balls in the air if I allow the juggle Master to work in and through me. I'm so thankful that He who began a good work in me will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Let me close with a quote from Beth, "Every time you're in a tight fist of fear, remember you're in something much tighter."
My cousin’s wife has an interesting blog called Homemaker’s Chronicles which is simply dedicated to homemakers. It’s a very fun, interesting blog and on Fridays she has dedicated the entry as “Homemaker Moments”. She has also invited women everywhere to include their own “homemaker moment” on their own blog and so after many weeks here is my first attempt. I have to note this was actually written a few weeks ago but we had some major computer issues that put me out of commission. Anyway, here goes...
Often times I find myself pondering the infamous question “Am I doing a good job at being a mom?” After all it is one of the two most important roles that I have waited all my life for, it’s what I spend much of my efforts on but still I wonder “is it enough?” It’s hard not to question whether or not I’m making a positive impact on the life of my child.
My role as mom has many sub-roles, such as cook, nurse, playmate, teacher, and the list goes on. Let me focus on the role of teacher for just one moment. My husband and I have chosen to home school our son for his pre-school years. Our goal is to have him adequately prepared for his kindergarten year. I have taken on this role. I have made the commitment even though I don’t always enjoy having to take the time required to go over the lesson for the next day or getting all the necessary games and activities together. However, I continue to gladly take on this role because it is what’s best for our son. We want our son to know how to read and write and to do numbers but more importantly than his scholastic education is his knowledge of God and the Bible.
My heart is filled with joy as I listen to my little four-year-old quote scripture each day and to hear him retell me the Bible stories that we have studied. We have even spent time teaching basic doctrine such as our one God is made of three persons, known as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Not that there is three gods but one God in three persons. Now, how many four-year-olds can have a discussion on the trinity with you? We have also taught that the Bible is absolute truth, every word and that God’s word never changes. I could go on but the point is, when I wonder “Am I making an impact?” I can remember these moments we have each day in school and answer "yes".
Let me close with a final bedtime moment from a week ago. As a family we have found ourselves in the middle of a very difficult trial. At the onset of this trial we had to honestly examine our belief in God and His word. Is God real? Do we believe God’s word to be truth? Has what we’ve been teaching our son true and if so are we going to now live it? The answer is obviously YES, WE BELIEVE! However, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t struggled along this very rocky road. As a matter of fact, it was one of those days last week. Well, each night when we put Eli to bed we all three have a time of prayer. We have done this for as long as I can remember and we don’t pray at a child’s level, we just pray as we normally would. I don’t remember what I prayed exactly that night but it was something to the fact that I was struggling with our current trial and that I was having a tendency to become fearful, so I prayed that God will help me. After I had finished my prayer it was then Eli’s turn and this was his prayer: Dear God, please help my mom to remember that verse “Fear not, for I am with thee.” Let me tell you, I had tears rolling down my checks because there we were in a monumental moment and in that moment I could most certainly say “Yes, we are doing something right!”
Each year I purposefully avoid making New Year's resolutions. I mean, why set yourself up for failure anyway. I kind of laughed this morning as it dawned on me that "Hey, I think God has, in a round about way, set a New Year's resolution for me". What is the resolution all about you ask. What is it that our almighty, all knowing God thinks that I need to work on? Flexibility!!! Wow, that's a big one God. I'm really going to need your help on this one.
Let me explain in further detail. For those of you who don't know me so well, I'm your typical "A" personality. I thrive on schedules, list and order, not to mention neatness. All of a sudden my 2009 has started with one of the biggest changes, my hubby's new job with the railroad. After the five grueling weeks of school without him around, now he's actually working and I find that I don't know which end is up any more. I find myself thinking first thing in the morning, "Am I in bed alone or is my favorite guy next to me?" "Is he coming home this morning, tonight or tomorrow morning?" As far as that goes, "What day is it and when did he leave?"
Now that's confusing enough but then let's move on to railroad time. Hold on tight, here we go. Not only does the railroad use military time but they also use Eastern time, and let me point out that we live in the Central time zone. Thank goodness God had the foreknowledge to know that my job as personnel manager and having to do time cards, using military time, would come in handy 10 years down the road. Okay, moving right along, employees must have so many hours of rest before they can be called up to catch the next train, and how many hour off is dependent on how many hours they just worked. Is your head spinning yet? I find myself trying to figure out "okay, what time did he get home and when could he possibly get called up?; should I try to fit in the home schooling before he goes to work or after he leaves? What about a shower." Once hubby receives the "call" he has two hours to report to work. I think it was his second time out I found myself asking the silly question "So, what time do you have to be there?"' his response is "14:30". Okay 14:30, let me see, that would be 2:30 right? No, 1:30. What??? 14 minus 12 is 2 the last time I checked, isn't it? Oh, I forgot about the silly Eastern time zone thing. This conversation sounded much like that old familiar "Who's On First". I've decided to make things a little easier on myself by simply asking "when did you get the call?" then I know that he has two hours before he goes off on another ride.
In the middle of all this change in work schedules I'm trying to figure out how my sweet hubby can get the adequate sleep he needs, plus time to spend quality time playing with our four-year-old, and not to mention have a few precious moments with me. I'd like to see if any of you mathematical geniuses out there can come up with the right equation for me to accomplish this task. We haven't even began to calculate how do I plan and fix our meals, fit in the home schooling and the countless other task that need to get checked off the list today. One thing is for sure, I'm having to learn to let go of my tightly clutched fist on my schedules and to be flexible. There, I said it... flexible. Not something I feel to comfortable with in all honesty.
I think this is something that God is going to use to stretch me, to grow me, to be more like Him. This has really caused me to think about what is the most important things in my life and then to be flexible with everything else. I can't believe I'm even saying these words. All of you "A" type people out there can feel the uncomfortable place God has me right now, can't ya?
God also brought to my attention the verse in Philippians 4:11, Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Not only must I learn to let go and be flexible but I must also be content. Lord, I'm really going to need your help here. Please teach me.
On this first day of 2009 I can't help but to think "Will this be the year Emma comes home?" Oh how I pray that it is. Actually, I noticed that as we went through several of our Christmas traditions I would picture our sweet China doll in the middle of it all. As we were in line waiting to see Santa I said "Eli, next year Emma should be in the picture with you and Santa". I cautiously realized that I may be setting myself up for a heartbreak. One thing that we have learned on this adoption journey is that it is filled with many unknowns and when will we bring Emma home is just one.
I have to admit that as I sit here at the beginning of this new year and I see the long road ahead of us I think, "I just can't do it". I don't have it in me to go through another year with this gigantic hole in my heart that is painfully real and runs deep. However, I hear God's voice saying "I know, I never said you could but I have always said I would".
Thank you dear God for the many blessing you have lavished upon us during 2009. I pray that I remember that when I am weak, then I am strong. Thank you for your never ending strength to carry me through this journey. I pray that I will boldly take one step at a time.
07/28/2003 Matt listened to Stephen Curtis Chapman on Family Life Today
07/29/2003 Shawna tuned in to day 2 of Family Life Today
10/11/2003 Attended the “If You Were Mine” adoption workshop in Brentwood, TN
10/11/2003 God conceived in our hearts our daughter from China
02/2004 Found out we were pregnant with Eli ~ adoption on but on hold
07/2005 Sent in Pre-Application to Bethany Christian Services ~ was told by Bethany we should wait another year
07/22/2005 Mailed Bethany a letter stating why we believed God had said “Now is the time”, along with our financial statements
08/22/2005 Mailed official Adoption Application, auto-biographies, other Bethany forms, and the first check of many
10/11/2005 Criminal History Report request mailed off to the state of Indiana
11/07/2005 Passports issued
11/14/2005 Submitted our I-600 to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services
12/27/2005 Home study complete
03/15/2006 Fingerprint appointment in Indianapolis
04/03/2006 Dossier completed and submitted to Bethany
05/04/2006 Dossier mailed from Bethany, Grand Rapids, to China
05/11/2006 Dossier received by China ~ LID
07/2007 Second set of fingerprints done in Indianapolis
07/25/2008 Felt the Lord calling us to enter the COP program
07/25/2008 Sent off for Eli’s passport
07/26/2008 Began to doubt God’s calling to adopt ~ sought out council and was encouraged to look back and identify times we were certain we heard God and saw God work and then to cling to those movements
07/28/2008 Third social worker comes to update our home study to reflect our new house
07/30/2008 Third set of fingerprints done in Louisville
11/14/2008 I-600A Refile
02/09/2009 I-600A Refile
08/27/2009 Fourth set of fingerprints done in Louisville
06/14/2010 I-600A Refile
09/10/2010 5th set of fingerprints done in Louisville
11/06/2010 Home Study Update
5/25/2010 Ethan Blaine was born
08/06/2010 Went "on hold" due to the birth of our 2nd child
01/21/2010 Letter to request to be taken off hold was mailed to China