Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I ran across this prayer that Sir Francis Drake wrote...

"Disturb us, Lord, when

We are too pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true

Because we dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely

Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when

With the abundance of things we possess

We have lost our thirst

For the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity

And in our efforts to build a new earth,

We have allowed our vision

Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

We ask you to push back

The horizons of our hopes;

And to push back the future

In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,

Who is Jesus Christ."

AMEN!!!!  Here are just a few of my thoughts as I digest this...

  • I need to be DISTURBED!!
  • Although I feel like I dream big a lot of the time, I am NOT.  God's capacity and greatness is so far beyond me that my idea of big is a miniscule fleck in the grand scheme of things.  I want to be dreaming things that I could never fulfill on my own - things that God MUST show up to make happen!
  • I often arrive safely and miss out on the majesty of what God wants to show me. Why?  Because I am afraid of what waits for me and how I might have to count the cost.  Ridiculous!! I LONG to journey further out to experience all that God has for me!!
  • I do not want the abundance of my things to keep me from thirsting after God.  I want to cut it all loose and run hard after Him, the Living Water who will always be the  only One who can quench my thirst. 
  • Scripture says "God has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet we cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end". Although God has set eternity in my heart, I admit I often cease to dream of it.  I am so busy with life on this earth, that my vision for heaven does dim.  I choose to focus my eyes in places that hold false peace rather than on the One who is the true giver of peace.
  • Perhaps if I could fathom what God is doing I would indeed dare more boldly.  But when I can't see the big picture and how things fit together, I more often than not hesitate which simply leads to me sitting on my duff doing nothing.  Sometimes it seems my dares are only ever things I suspect I'll be able to work out on my own in the end.  What kind of a dare is that??  Certainly not a bold one and likely not a dare at all.  But doesn't "dare" in it's very meaning imply that we try something when we can't ensure what the outcome will be? Shouldn't that be the very nature of my faith? I'm thinking my view of God needs to be stretched - big time.  I need to more fully recognize the HUGENESS of His nature, His power and His love.  The relentless, consuming love that God has for me should lead me to run full speed ahead into what He has for me because I know that He will be there.  It must kill Him sometimes to look down at me being so afraid and unwilling to step out and actually risk something!!  He is everything I need and I miss out on GOOD things when I don't boldly dare.  
I think my favorite part of this prayer is the following:

To venture on wilder seas

Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

WOW.  The wild seas, the unknown...the storms, the difficult, painful and crazy stuff we go through in this life - those things show His mastery.  It is in those times when we feel least in control and most weak that God shows up.  He comes through.  He carries us.  He brings us out.  He works good out of awful circumstances.  He refines us.  He makes us look more like Him. He reveals His splendor.  Doesn't that sound better than trudging through life in perceived safety, rarely counting on God to show His faithfulness and mastery? 

If I never allow myself to lose sight of land I won't find the stars - at least, not the vast expanse of them in all of their glory.  If I continue to hold on to this earthly life I will miss out on how God wants to use me to bring His kingdom to earth.  But if I can just start paddling out further and further away from the land and the things that are known, the promise of finding God in deeper, more meaningful ways waits for me.  Which causes me to call out from the core of my being...

"Disturb ME, Oh God!"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Well, it's time again to let my husband take over my blog for this post.  I don't know about you, but I LOVE it when he writes!!  Wish he would do it more often.  So enjoy these words from my sweet husband who I am daily amazed by...

 I am in the process of thinking though all that God has been doing in our lives over the last few days.  As many of you know, I got a call one week ago that changed my life in a moment.  It was the call from our adoption agency telling me the story of a little boy who suffered at the hands of his father.  “He needs a special daddy, one who is good and kind and can be patient with him” she told me.  “We read your file and thought that might be you.  Does that sound right? Can you be that Daddy to him?”   What do you say to that?  Everything in me cried out “I want to be!” but at that same moment all my failings as a dad flashed in my mind.  The times I let my exhaustion result in a sharp tone, the times when I've parented out of my own weakness or insecurity.  All the mistakes and missed opportunities.
“He sounds like a really special boy who needs a family to love him.  I will talk to Amy and pray about it.  You will hear from us shortly”.  That was all I could muster.  I sat in my car shell shocked and sobbing.  Sobbing for this boy, my son, and from the weight of the question….Can you be that Daddy?

Let’s leave that question to hang out there for a few minutes.  In the meantime I’ll tell you about one of my Christmas traditions….
Every year I make a Christmas CD.  I know, it seems a bit weird, but it’s just one of those things I fell into over the years.  Amy is to blame.  I could fill a 10 volume book series on the amazing things about my wife.  Chief among her virtues is her kindness.  The way she loves those around her is startling and the most beautiful thing in the world to behold.  That being said, in that 10 volume “Ode to Amy”, you would be hard pressed to find a description of her love for GOOD music.  She does love music, it’s just that a lot of it is, well…. not great to listen to in my opinion.  I’m sure you’re thinking her kindness must be unending to live for so long with a jerk like me…you are correct.  :) If she controlled the play list Christmas music would start around Labor Day and end around the 4th of July.  I decided if I was doomed to 6 months of Christmas music, I would do my best to find some that’s tolerable to listen to.  So that is how 10 years ago, I started making Christmas CD’s. 
Now the process of scouring through thousands of Christmas songs is part of my holiday tradition.  No joke, I have well over 600 Christmas songs on my iPod right now.  Ridiculous... I know.  My favorite part of the tradition is that (while listening to Stryper Christmas Reunion Album) I get to refocus my mind on what Christmas is about. 
This year, as our adoption is closer than has seemed possible, I reflect on the birth of Christ in a new way.  I can only imagine being in a field in the middle of the night, watching my animals as the most important moment in the history of the world is happening right over the next rise.  It is still now a thought that makes me fall on my knees.  That God would choose a frail and flawed race of people to bear his image.  That he would demonstrate his plan for humanity through a baby born to a young girl and an adoptive father who were in poverty.  You get a glimpse of the Fathers heart. 
I can only scratch the surface of what Joseph must have been feeling.  Is this really God’s baby?  Was that really God’s angel who appeared to me in my dream?  How can I be a father to God’s son? The confusion and fear he must have felt would be paralyzing.  Would he even feel worthy to be Jesus’ father?  

Truly we are not worthy to be God’s hands and feet to those around us.  To those that God has put in our care.  As I again reflect on that question “Can you be that Daddy?” I know that I cannot give my son or my other children the full measure of the love they deserve.  I know that the love I give is filtered through the broken and frail man that I am, BUT I know who can be that Daddy.  And I know that He loves me.  And when I press into His love, it can spill out of me and cover those around me.  It is a privilege that God uses us to share His heart with those around us.  In a new way I learned to say to God… “I will love your kids as best as I can.  Forgive me when I fail.  Thank you for the pleasure of letting me have them for a while.  They are yours to do with as you see fit, because I know you will be a better father than I can ever be.  Help me be more like you, Father.  Then I can be that Daddy.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

God Sets The Lonely In Families

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families." - Psalm 68:5-6

I know many of you have likely read that verse many times.  So have I.  But as I sit here tonight it has taken on a new meaning.  These words are alive on the pages of my heart. The last five days have been some of the happiest of my life as I have seen God prove Himself as the Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows and as I have watched Him set the lonely in families - even in MY family!  

Many of you know that after two years of being in the adoption process we received a referral for our son "T" last Thursday.  When we got back from Uganda God began to stir our hearts for the older children we saw there...many of whom were taking care of their younger siblings and some walking many miles on their own to get water.  I can't tell you the countless kids I saw walking along the side of the road dragging heavy water containers with them while the hot sun burned their barefeet.

It was just heart wrenching to watch their forms fade into the distance.  All along we thought we'd wanted an infant boy from Ethiopia but God started to change and move our hearts with what we saw in Uganda.  So much so that I started to check out the Waiting Children's List on our agency's website.  (For those of you new to adoption lingo that just means kids who are waiting for adoption due to older age or medical my friend Sarah pointed out - the least of these).  I found a small blurb about a four year old boy who had a sweet disposition but had something wrong with his hand.  They don't give much info or a picture so I requested some more information on him.  However, since we were only approved for an infant they wouldn't allow me to see anything additional.  That started us wondering if we shouldn't just go ahead and pursue changing our age range in case God had other plans for our family than an infant.  So, in November we started the process of changing our age range and last Monday we were officially approved for a little boy up to age 4.  

I was sitting in the pick up line at school last Thursday (yes...just 3 days later) to get Ella when we got THE call.  I was shocked.  I couldn't believe that we would get a referral so soon.  And Ben was on the phone telling me that our case worker called him to ask if we'd be willing to look at a child from the Waiting Children's List to consider for referral.  Ben went on to tell me about little 4 year old "T" who had a problem with his right hand.  And then things began to fall into place in my mind.  This was HIM.  The little boy that touched my heart a few months back from the list.  I drove home and ran down to my computer to see the email from the case worker.  As I opened the email I prayed and asked God to just clearly speak to my heart when I saw him if this was to be my son.  The picture loaded and at first all I saw were pictures of his burned hand.  And then there his face was all of sudden swallowing up my screen.  My heart raced and I sobbed. It took all of one second for me to take him in and KNOW that Little "T" was indeed ours.  He was meant to be in our family.  

About six months ago I was out shopping and ran across a wall decal that said "We took one look at you and our hearts stood still".  I bought it with the intention of hanging it in our baby's nursery, but now I know that for us, our hearts truly did stand still when we soaked in his picture and his story.  Amazing to me to think about how this loooong wait has all been because Little "T" didn't come into care until 3 months ago...about the time my heart was being broken for little ones his age in Uganda.  I've said this so many times in the past few weeks, but it's worth saying again.  God truly does do ALL things well.  Perfectly.  So much better than I ever could on my best day.  His timing is perfect.  His plans stand.  His faithfulness never ends - no matter what or how long it takes.  I am so blown away that our family gets to be a part of Little "T's" story.  We get to see God literally set a lonely little boy in our family, in our hearts and soon - in our arms.  His word is true and His promises are real.  I am seeing it with my own eyes and oh how beautiful the view is!

The day after our referral we hopped on a plane to go to Oklahoma City to see my friend Lindsey's church engage in sponsorship of the community of Ngariam (Uganda) where Ben and I were in September.  Talk about a dream of a weekend.  We folded about 500 profiles of children on Friday night.  Imagine picking up a picture of a child and turning it over to read their insanely sad story.  Child after child after child.  All of us (Vince and Brandi from HopeChest were there too) just sat there with tears flowing down our faces as we put the profiles together and prayed for each child by name one by one.  Lindsey was sitting across the table from me and held up a photo of a boy and commented on his sweet face.  I took the profile and turned it over to read his story.  And guess what?  It was BOSCOE!  Boscoe was the boy who we raised money for about a month ago so he could have his leg amputated and save his life.  And here was his little face showing up in a stack of profiles.  SO cool!

Typically, it's quite a bit to ask a church to sponsor even 200 kids and so the fact that Lindsey had the dream of seeing her church sponsor 600 kids (an entire community of orphans) was honestly a little bit crazy. Turns out we serve a crazy huge God.  Sunday was one of my all-time favorite days.  A lot of sharing and prayer and three services later, 400 children were sponsored.  In ONE Sunday.  HELLO!!  That is just unheard of, really. And yet, God placed each of the orphans in Ngariam on Lindsey's heart without ever having seen them and then He MOVED hearts to reach out and care for the least of these.  It was powerful stuff.


A lot of times we read Psalm 68 and focus in on the "father to the fatherless" part.  But this weekend I also got to see God come through on His promise to be a defender of widows.  You may not realize that in Uganda a child who has lost his father but still has his mother is considered an orphan.  This is because men typically hold all the status and when they die or desert their wives the widow is often stripped of her hut, her land, her income and left with nothing but her children.  These women are in dire situations and many of them are watching their children starve to death.  Because people stepped up on Sunday in Oklahoma City to give $34 a month, these women are going to get to KEEP their children and not have to watch them die from hunger or relinquish them to someone else.  God stood up and defended the widows of Ngariam this weekend.  He engaged people with the things that move and break His heart and as a result the entire orphan community of Ngariam will be sponsored.  There are only 80 some profiles left and Lindsey can't keep up with all the phone calls and emails asking for a child to sponsor.

So, this week has been AMAZING.  Our God is great. He sees the entire picture of every life on the planet and moves on behalf of His children both young and old to see that they know of His love.  As the widows are waking up this morning in Ngariam they will soon receive news that God IS their defender.  That they have HOPE as a result of the love of God pouring out on them.  They will not have to give up their children whom they love because they cannot feed them.  God has come to their rescue.  The little ones with no parents won't have to wonder when and where their food will come from.  God is going to feed them - day after day after day. And all those little orphans with no daddies will get to experience the Love of God through their surrogate sponsor fathers who will speak love and care and peace to them.   And my Little T will know very soon that God loves him enough to reach down and swoop him up in His strong and loving arms and set him in our family where he will be lonely no more.

My heart is beyond full tonight.  I can't believe that God allows us to be a part of His plan for the world.  Actually, I can't believe that He allows us to BE His plan for the world.  As my friend Vince said this weekend - God's people are Plan A.  He has no Plan B.  We are His plan to be love.  To sacrifice, to surrender, to live with reckless abandon for the God who relentlessly pursues each of us. 

It's a beautiful thing to witness the love of God like I did this week.  And I do believe there's so much more to be experienced as we open up our lives and hearts to the Father to the fatherless, the defender of widows and the One who sets the lonely in families. Tonight my heart sings -  O come let us adore Him,Christ the Lord!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We Got A Referral!!

I am soaring right now! We just officially were approved on Monday of this week to adopt an "older" child in Ethiopia - up to age 5. We've been waiting for a year for a referral and we got one today!!! The sweetest little four year old boy - we'll just call him T for now since we can't post pictures or his name until later in the process - will be joining our family in about 4-6 months! THANK YOU GOD!!!!

Ben and I are leaving tonight for Oklahoma City so I have no time to write more at the moment, but I just had to share the amazing news!! More to come soon on this - I promise!

If you think of it, would you please pray this weekend as we are going to OKC to see a church sponsor 600 orphans in Ngariam, where Ben and I visited on our trip to Uganda. You can read more about our time in Ngariam here and here. We are asking God to move in hearts this weekend to see ALL of the children sponsored. Thank you for joining us in prayer!