Giving and Getting at Christmastime {a guest post from Amy Julia Becker}

If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you’ve heard me mention Amy Julia Becker.  Amy Julia and I were, first, friends by default, as our husbands lived together in college. But since, we have formed a sweet and separate friendship, where she’s encouraged me at all the right times in my writing. She’s recently published her second book —  a beautifully thoughtful reflection of finding God in the midst of parenting children. It is called: Small Talk: Learning From My Children About What Matters Most. I love that I get to share this writing space with her just a few days before Christmas, as I think this narrative (nope, it’s not a prescriptive parenting guide) is a perfect gift for the one who wants to slow up and consider life in God amid parenting.

And now, hear from this friend …

Holidays and celebrations start early in our household. Marilee, about to turn four, is already discussing next year’s Halloween costume. (This morning, she wondered aloud about being the baby Jesus. Her six-year old brother William pointed out that she would have to be wheeled around in a manger, so she went back to the Cat in the Hat.) They discuss the Thanksgiving decorations in August. You can probably imagine the long lead up to Christmas.

Winter BranchMJ

They began writing lists in October. All three hang on the kitchen wall. William’s begins with an array of electronic devices—iPad, iPod, iPhone (none of which he will be receiving)—and then moves on to small animals—fish, bird, gerbil, hamster—before enumerating the more typical Lego-type options. Marilee’s is shorter, but more complicated. It makes reference to items like, “the skirt Layla was wearing at school today.” Our oldest child, Penny, almost nine, kept it simple: Books. Board games. (She also asked for a baby brother or sister, but we are ignoring that request.)

In other words, we entered Advent with material desires clearly stated. As a mom who has always wrestled with the commercial aspects of Christmas, in recent years I have stopped seeing my children’s expectations of presents as being in conflict with our celebration of the incarnation. I’ve even begun to see the two as interrelated. Our kids see a direct connection between Jesus’ birth as a gift to the world and the gifts they receive on Christmas morning. They also see feasting and presents as a crucial way to celebrate, and it seems fitting that our birthday party for Jesus is the biggest and best of the year.

IMG_1546

Still, Advent is a season of preparation, a season of waiting. We have one type of waiting figured out. It’s the waiting with eager anticipation for December 25th, the anticipation that prompts Marilee to ask every morning, “Is it Christmas tomorrow?” But Advent also involves a different type of waiting, the sorrowful expectation that God will indeed bring good news by showing up in our messy, painful, broken lives. The lyrics of “O Come O Come Emmanuel” hint at the contemplative and even mournful season practiced by Christians of old.

CandlesMJ

Now, Christmas lists and “Holly Jolly Christmas” and sitting on Santa’s lap at the local fire station don’t come close to conveying that sense of longing for Jesus to return in fullness to this broken world. I want our kids to at least have a glimpse of the expectation that arises out of scarcity and brokenness, out of vulnerability and need. I can’t say I’ve figured out a way for Advent to supersede the festivities that begin well before Christmas day, but we have integrated a new tradition into our Advent practice this year. It is a tradition we will certainly continue, because it may have taken us all one step closer to knowing Jesus as both the one we celebrate, and the one we long to see again.

IMG_0851

We decided to each give away one thing every day during Advent. The idea came from my friend Margot Starbuck, who made a video about her family giving away 1000 things. We decided to start with 25 (or so) each. I thought our kids might resist, but so far they have liked this tangible expression of faith and hope. We’ve created bags and bags of giveaway clothing. Piles of stuffed animals. Stacks of DVDs. Boxes of books. Each child offers a different reason for this new practice: “Because there are people less fortunate than we are,” says William. “To make room for the stuff we’ll get at Christmas,” says Penny. “Because you said to give some things away,” says Marilee.

I don’t know that our children will connect this physical act of giving away stuff to the gifts they will open on Christmas morning, but I hope this practice has deepened all of our understanding of the spirit of this season. Yes, a season of feasting and celebration and jumping up and down with delight. And also a season to recognize the disparity between what we have been given and the needs of others in our community. A season to let “every heart prepare him room,” a season to make space for Jesus in our households and in our lives.

Author Portraits

Next Wednesday evening, we will gather at my parents’ house for a birthday party for Jesus. Penny will read the Christmas story out loud while William and Marilee arrange a nativity scene to represent the words. And I will remind them that we have been giving things away, just as God gave away his son to us.

I will remind them that we have been making room, and that Jesus offers to come into our lives to stay. And then we will sing Happy Birthday. We will eat chocolate cake. The next morning, we will open lots of presents. And I hope they, and I, will have a better sense of what Christmas is all about, giving and receiving, longing and rejoicing, God with us in our need and in our abundance.

I hope we will be better prepared to sing with joy, for the Lord has come.

AmyJuliaBecker-14017 1    

Amy Julia Becker is the author of Small Talk: Learning from My Children about What Matters Most (Zondervan). Find out more at amyjuliabecker.com.

(Author headshot courtesy of Eddie Berman; Seascape shot by Chris Capozzielo; Nightscape by Hannah Gray; Christmas shot (the blurry one) laughingly taken by the author.)

Falling Down, In Love Again

This December we fill the base of a thirsty Christmas tree with water. It’s hanging on for just a few more days. We sing hymns by the fire while the littles wrap their fingers around big mugs of hot chocolate. My house is full of anticipation. We tromp through a live nativity in 45 degrees and sing the Hallelujah Chorus just like it’s an everyday anthem.

All while my insides ache. Again.

This December, we lost a baby.

Rain

In the fall we whispered shouts, to each other, about this crazy miracle: Twice — this long-barren womb, opened twice? Could it be?!

Every diagnostic came back as a reassurance, but really I didn’t need it. The miracle was had. This configuration of his DNA and mine was warming in secret so that we could say again, out loud: “He is the God of the impossible.”

I didn’t count the years to see how old I’d be when this babe graduated college. I didn’t count beds or bedrooms or even myself as “one of those” who hears don’t you know how babies are made? with a one year-old underfoot. Sometime around age thirty, with already years of waiting behind me, I knew that any brush with life inside me — no matter how old I was or how many years my crew had been potty-trained — would leave me in awe.

So I when we stared, giddy — expectant, at a sterile screen with no blink of life, I plunged from quite a height.

I walked through the waiting room, past round women with life bulging out of their girth, and realized I was no longer one of them. My frame had become a casket.

This wisp of a life had only found a temporary home in me.

Doorway

I assumed that a baby who didn’t consume my food or energy for the better part of a year wouldn’t also consume my emotions. I didn’t know the color of her eyes or where her birthmarks were or whether her toes were stubs or long, like Nate’s. This unknowing, I thought, would make it easy to let go.

But I woke up to unexpected pain and fell asleep in grief. I missed her, the babe I never held.

MJ Baby SHoes

Can you grieve over someone you never knew?

I wanted to feel the lumpy flesh of newborn legs and uncurl infant ears. I wanted to see a three-year old twirl and watch her learn to read. I wanted her lanky teenage frame to lay across my bedspread and laugh with me well after what was (once) bedtime.

But I never saw her heart beat.

All of a sudden, 6pm dinner plans and the laundry pile that’s spilled on the floor and the long task list don’t matter. The toilet handle that’s broken and the dentist appointments that need to be scheduled and the extra practice I’d planned to give her, writing her letters, all fade.

Grief pares your life back. It makes life simple, if we let it.

Lantern

I fold myself up under pillowed down, near the fire, with a candle lit on my bedside table. I cry on my Bible and add tissues to the growing pile next to my bed. I read phrases, not chapters — over and again — and listen to worship songs on repeat so that they would tell me truth that my heart might not feel.

I mourn.

This time, I don’t need to resist the urge to harden and push through — I don’t have any of that powerless fight left in me. I let the loss of this babe and this life — this season of thrill and delight that slipped through my frame — crack open new parts of me and make me bare before God.

I bleed my tears.

As I do, my heart receives that which my mind can’t yet catch: this place is the one where I fall in love.

The new breath of God resuscitates long-dead parts of me when I slow down to undress my grieving heart before Him.

Feeling nearness to God, here, isn’t about Him being near. (He is). I move from knowing to feeling the nearness of God when I finally let the weakest parts of myself unfurl, exposed and raw, before the One who knows what to do with them … the One who knows what to do with me when I’m a mess.

Grief removes the option.

My ordered life with labeled bins for socks and toys and books and a calendar with lists and checkmarks (every day marking accomplishments ) and those neat and tidy goals … well, it makes me want to bear down in loss. To keep my head down and lock my jaw and gut it out.

But in those few, rare moments of life when you face the kind of grief that you just can’t push through — when you serve dinner on paper plates and you can barely show up to work (forget performing well), and you choke down sobs at the grocery store  — the line between our humanity and God’s unseen reality is thinned. Suddenly, He has eyes that hold within them fresh corridors of tenderness to explore. He has hands, rough with once-worn flesh, that cup my tears.

He knows my pain in a way no one else can.

He holds me in the place where death has dropped me …

this place that is now is becoming the one where I fall in love. 

MJ

Dear mama who’s lost your baby — or one who’s walking through this advent, living loss,

When you push through the grocery store line today and everything in you wants to scream on the inside while life happens (gleefully ignorant) around you, come home to your bedroom and cry.

Undress your heart before Him.

There are a dozen reasons around you telling you to stuff this grief and get on with life. They tell you: just.keep.moving. Plow through.

But might I suggest this: take this rare moment to breathe. Him.

We crave the unseen — the radical life in God — yet we often have no idea how to get there. Mama, with your baby, gone, (or you with your pain and your grief) this ache can be your road. Radically encountering the radical love of the God of Bible life happens when life gets quiet on the outside and we expose our insides to Him. 

And grief brings that inevitable exposure. (If we let it.)

Underneath this babe you never dressed, mama, is your bare-naked heart, invited to meet the One who is beauty. You’ve been ushered into line with the growing number of those who’ve lost — who can no longer survive life by staring at Him from afar.

What if this child and your loss is the entry-point to an encounter with God that paints a forever majesty over death’s sting? 

What if it’s at the tomb that you fall in love … with God?

[Have you, yet, read this story? This may just be the advent-read you need to remind your heart, in this loss, that He is beautifully near.]

 

For Your Continued Pursuit: Matthew 5:4 | Psalm 30:5 | Hebrews 13:5 | Isaiah 41:10 | Isaiah 43:1-3 | Romans 8:38-39 | Joshua 1:9 | Deuteronomy 31:6 | 1 Corinthians 3:16 | 1 Corinthians 15:55 | Song of Solomon 8:6 | Psalm 34:18 | 2 Corinthians 1:3 | Psalm 106:44

Photos compliments of Mandie Joy.

 

 

Broken (Together)

Before I share this very personal post, let me tell you that not one of these posts goes up without Nate’s eyes first reading them.

And this post below, especially, I might as well call *our* post, not just mine. I wrote the words, but we both are living them. I chose to be discreet about any specifics here because what may seem like “big” sin to me, in my world, could be very small in yours and what is “big” to you may cause me to shrug. Comparison doesn’t help us to understand what God has for us. This story isn’t about what we’re not, it’s really about who He is.

 

The dirt floor of the inn got all gritty in my fingernails at twenty-three.

Before then, I didn’t have much patience for mess. In fact, what I knew of mess I avoided so that I wouldn’t need to have patience for it. Christianity — for me — was slick, at least then. It was a tight listand firm boundaries and success of the pious kind. Sunday-shined shoes. It wasn’t just about appearances, though. When the shades were pulled I lived in fear of how one false move might leave my heart destitute.

I was my own keeper.

I expected marriage to be a mere extension of this way of life. The fence was now widened to fit two of us. As long as we both were careful not to make a misstep, our trajectory was good.

But it didn’t quite work that way.

Now Nate’s story is his own to tell. But because of his story, I have a story.

In short, he would fall down. Like the rest of us do daily and hourly — he fell.

The problem is he married a wife who’d patterned her life around not falling and did her best to only fall in secret. There were certain types of stumblings that were within the category of acceptable for her — an occasional bout with pride or a terse word or a judgmental thought — and others that just weren’t. His was of the latter kind.

This girl of his, she unraveled. What’s a girl to do with a man who does what he does not want to do and needs more than just a stern admonishment to get back on the path?

So he fell down and I caved. I judged. I feared. I raged on the inside. All while he broke.

I spent weeks (into months that rolled over into years) consumed with what he wasn’t, lost in the noise that comes when someone you share covers with fails. I started believing the lies he believed about himself — that inevitably led him to that fall.

And while I was distracted, he started a new habit … (Continue reading here, where I’m very honored to share …)

When God Has a Better Word

As I sighed under my breath towards her, I caught her eye.

She’d heard the exasperation that was intended only for me. Her sister was on edge, too. She needed my cheek against hers and my hand on her back, but in my tiredness she got the one-sentence pep-talk that rarely moves a heart. I was coach, today, barking instructions and correcting their errors. I couldn’t see them past the seven things on my list that needed to be done (yesterday) and the fact that I was hours away from dinner and I’d forgotten the main ingredient at the grocery store meat counter. Again.

They were players on a field, not hearts, to me on this day.

But the real evaluation happening in our home was centered around me. Failed! — at the chance to reach her when my sigh betrayed my words. Failed! — at speaking to where she was when I used flat phrases. Failed! — at training when I chose to command, not teach. Failed! — at keeping up with yesterday, which left me in the negative today. All capped off by another family dinner from Chipotle to cover over this mama’s gaps.

I carried my internal report card into the nook off our bedroom, without even noticing. It’s hard to catch on to your own scrutiny when you’re always under it. As I stepped across the threshold into that sacred place where I get to breathe, I heard on my inside His declaration over me: yes, this is good. And I knew as I absorbed the words that “this” meant my home, these children, this environment we’d created in the space that held more laundry and disparate doll clothes and random puzzle pieces than I’d like.

He had a declaration for me that day. It was different than my own. {continue reading over here –>}

Waiting On Thankfulness

We’d been home for months when this curious stranger approached me with eyes full of questions. “Where are they from?” and “Are they siblings?” and “Are they all yours?” stumbled out of her mouth. I was trying to shield little ears from hearing when she looked at my daughter and said, “Sweetheart, you must be so thankful to have a mommy like this. You sure are lucky.”

I cringed, hoping my little girl didn’t hear. Sure, she’d been adopted. We flew halfway around the world to get her. To this innocent bystander, my daughter had a bed and a doll and cute boots and a headband and could expect a meal every 3 hours. She was getting an education and could take a shower every day. She was “lucky.” Why shouldn’t she be thankful?

For many years before that bed and doll and those warm showers, my little girl went to sleep every night afraid. No one had told her the boogie-man wasn’t real. She didn’t even have a last name. The intersection of that history and ours came to mean that two strangers with skin that looked and smelled different were telling her to call them “Mommy” and “Daddy.”

Becoming a daughter meant inheriting even more questions, and different from when she was one survivor among many. Did my birth mommy’s nose wrinkle when she smiled, like mine does? Would she sing while she cooked? Did she talk to God? During these early days, thankfulness would have been an extension of luck. Airy. Light. Here today, gone tomorrow. Mere optimism, with no weight.

This woman’s well-intentioned mention of thankfulness spoke to the way we can so often short-circuit the long and painstaking work of God towards the darkest parts of our story. {Continue reading on Christianity Today’s Her.Meneutics blog … }

Inviting Your Child to Find God, One Minute at a Time

At fifteen, I said “yes” to Jesus under the Michigan sky. My body shivered under layers of winter gear but my heart burned.

At twenty-three, I linked my arm inside my Dad’s and walked with him to meet the man who would now kiss my life-ouchies.

At thirty-two, my dad died and at thirty-four I went from being a mother of two, to a mother of four.

All these mile-markers — the dates I remember — lead me to believe that it’s in life’s biggest moments that a change occurs. For me, and for my girls.

I want a weekend away when she’s thirteen to commemorate moving from wee thing to big girl. I want a surprise birthday party to memorialize just how much we celebrate her. I want her baptism when she’s six to be a forever flag of what she’s said yes to.

But really — it’s the minutes between the commemorative moments that shape a girl and her mama.

We didn’t talk for hours on my bed the night after when she opened up to me about the heartache of losing her biological mother. She wasn’t ready for it. But I did see her surreptitiously copy down scripture we’d read as a family that spoke to the void she’d expressed earlier in the week. {Continue reading here, at Mothers of Daughters … }

How to Find Beauty In The Mess

He went fishing.

Days before, we’d sat around a table of those to whom we’d entrusted the most broken parts of ourselves. He stared at his hands and I tried to look through the expressions of these ones who spoke tough love, wondering if they had hope for us. Could anyone have hope for us? The typed document from which they read, delivering strong but full-of-love suggestions for the health of our marriage and of our future family, was weighted paper. We weren’t little kids anymore.

How did we get ourselves here? I wondered, identifying with the woman who’d been dragged, half-dressed, before a sea of men who saw her sin and didn’t just hear about it. She couldn’t dress it up for them. Did she think back to when she was innocent and sin felt small?

Lewis_Smith-4

I’d done everything in my adult walk with God to avoid mess. My sin was tidy, explainable. I could share it with a Bible Study or over tea with a friend and not bat an eye. I was a Good Girl by most standards. Until I married this man. The pain of my life got pinned on the sin of another. I wasn’t so messy before I got married. He made me this way.

Days after this meeting that left my stomach feeling hollow, not hopeful, and as I realized that we’d really moved past juvenile offenses with our emotional dukes raised high towards one another — that we’d gotten to the point of needing outside intervention … he went fishing.

I couldn’t uncurl myself from the ache of this man who’d de-robed me.

All while he was fishing.

Chair

I groped in the dark and found the only thing I could to give me any perspective. I was either angry and fuming or reading Words that told me of another reality. His Word was my escape. For one of the first times, His Word felt beautifully other to me. So often it had been a tool I’d used to share with others. I came to it and through it with an air of strength and familiarity. I quoted it and taught from it as if I was on my way to mastery. “I got this!”

Though, this particular weekend, when I’d been unraveled, not just in my home but now before trusted friends, His Word came in sharp contrast to who I was and what I was living.

It was water and I was parched. Finally parched, after years of seemingly clean christian living.

Doorknob

I got up. Off the couch of my grief, and started speaking it. It read like German to me, there where I was. We had been strangers, me and God’s Word, and I never knew it. The girl who’d made a life of neat and tidy couldn’t climb into the pages of whores and beggars and the always-bleeding who always needed something. I’d neatly positioned my life not to need, not to lean. So of course it became “a great tool”. A resource. (You either breathe God’s Word because you’re desperate or it becomes your System For Better Living.)

The guy who went fishing made me desperate.

His sin uncovered my sin. His need-to-lean made me uncomfortable. He was unkempt and his mess threatened how I’d spent years positioning myself, in my own mind and before God and others. He exposed me.

That mess that we couldn’t just keep underneath our roof — that mess that got aired to our pastors and mentors — put me in the line-up of the whores and beggars and always-bleeding who always needed something.

I didn’t know that line-up and didn’t know those people, but quickly I began to learn that here, among the desperate, was where I wanted to be. I wanted to be them and if to be hungry I had to have my mess exposed, not tightly tucked out of sight, I was willing.

DSC06016

So the fisherman came home living the Word I’d been reading.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m so so sorry,” he said with eyes on the ground.

Then he looked up at me from underneath heavy shoulders that had been bearing the weight of his wife’s expectations of perfection, and I saw something new. I saw life. A life that would grow, over years, well beyond what “neat and tidy” could ever accomplish.

He made me a true wife, in all of his mess: broken, hungry, desperate. In undeserved white. He put me before the throne, with his life (and his own beautifully unkempt hunger for God that got birthed right there,  in that unlikely season).

The mess I’d been avoiding my whole life had been the very invitation I needed into desperation for God. (And the desperate are the ones who find Him.)

FLower opened

I’m not the woman he married, he tells me all the time, with a spark in his eye. “You made me this way,” I say, in response.

His mess took the uniformed-girl in knee socks and plaid polyester and put her in the line-up of those that would open their eyes to a God-Man who doesn’t clean-up … but consumes.

Hey you, the one with a neat and tidy life that seems to be slipping through your fingers (the one who cringes at the thought of walking through what I describe),

Might the person you’re resenting or the circumstance that seems to be dragging you away from the life you’ve patterned be the very thing you need?

That son, that wife, that husband — that child you adopted — could it be they’re stationed, purposefully? Yup, right in their mess. Your mess. Could the end of “neat and tidy” be the beginning of passion and the pursuit of Him you’ve secretly always wanted but has evaded you whenever you’ve tried it on? Are you dragging a dustpan to the parts of your life that are mess — when He’s whispering in the background “this may be the greatest turning point in your story”? Find Me here.

Can I say it again? This may be the greatest turning point in your story.

Candles Cherish

For Your Continued Pursuit: Ephesians 5:23-33 | Deuteronomy 4:24 | John 8:1-11 | Psalm 42:1-5 | Revelation 19:6-8 | Song of Solomon 1:5 | Proverbs 24:16 | Romans 2:4 | Psalm 32:3-5 | 1 Timothy 1:15-16

First and sixth photos compliments of Cherish Andrea Photography. Second through fifth photos compliments of Mandie Joy. 

[And …have you read this yet? It may be just the reminder of Him, in your mess, that you need:

Book & Keys]

When It’s Time To Redefine the Golden Moment

It was Sunday and we were ready. Early! The babe was in his brand-new fall overalls and my girls were color-clad. Caleb had time to find his belt. I didn’t just curl my hair, I wore lipstick and put on perfume too.

We walked into church and they were singing my song. Rather than being hurried and frantic (as it so often is from scooting seven bodies out the door and into our rusty suburban full of wrappers from yesterday’s lunch), my heart was open to receive.

This Sunday was ours. Golden.

Then, less than one song in, she melted.

Many days, I forget their history — their orphaned years — until I’m blind-sided by an unexpected moment like this and it all {Continue Reading Over Here –>}

What Happens When We Give Him Our History {with a podcast IF: Gathering interview & some sweet new adoration tools}

She was a babe, naked to all that the world can steal but with an infant life that was stolen, nonetheless. Loss was her lot. She has no early memories of gain.

So He hid her.

But she didn’t know it.

My former-orphan was protected, but spent her nights wide-eyed, vigilant, waiting for the darkness to shroud her.

He folded her lanky body in His arms, while she trembled with loneliness. He was near and she’d grown numb — vacant — from her searching. Her hope had been deflated by what she couldn’t see. Her world got small. It was whittled down to what was right in front of her.

And now that she’s in our grip, He is narrating her story. He is re-framing the narrative that she’d once tucked away into the darkened parts of her mind. (He’s going back there, with her.)

My little girl is starting to see. More than just what’s in front of her. And with her seeing, has come a song.

Piano

I sing about carrots and sweet potatoes in a stew of coconut oil, throwing words into the pot next to the babe who’s strapped into his chair (mesmerized). I make-up songs about “Baby Bo’s toes and all that grows.” I’m flippant with my choruses … while she sits with her piano teacher and pens the true narrative of her life, from who He is in His Word.

Just run to Me. And hide yourself. She writes.

She’s seeing the hand that hid her, now calling her to choose the hiding. What once was passive and barely-received (or even acknowledged) is now a call and a charge for my little girl who is letting God tell her not just who He is, but who He was to her, then.

And of course: she’s no different than me.

Today when I wake up to a morning meltdown from a child and a bill I forgot to pay and a stretching calling He’s put in front of me inside my home and out, when all I really want to do is run to the gym and pretend I’m twenty-three and free again, I need to know not just who He is now, but who He was then.

When I had a marriage hanging by a thin thread and a heart even more amuck, He was alluring me.

When I had an empty womb and stripped-dry heart — tired from years of running hard for God — He was the one unraveling me.

When I had a dad forgetting my name because cancer had taken over his brain, He was showing Himself to me as the Father who would never die.

Just as my daughter didn’t know when her body was paralyzed with fear over the sounds of the never-ending night, I didn’t know back then just how near He was. But as He re-frames the narrative of my history, today looks different. He looks different.

We force our history into a one-time testimony and try to tie it up all neat — just once, and (phew!) gone in a flash and never to intercept our life again — when it’s meant to be fodder for our now conversation with God. We run from the parts of our past that we wouldn’t share at dinner parties nor over the pews during post-Sunday service conversation, and we forget that He wants to redeem those, too.

She sings, now, of who He was … then. Who He was, then, is that He is giving her her song.

What’s the story He is telling in you? What’s the narrative He is re-framing from your life with His Word and with His whisper? 

Boots MJ

So, I have this book. This story. Who He was, then, in my own long night, is shaping the way I speak of Him now. And I’m blown away by how this little re-framing of His is making a dent in your hearts. The stories you’re sharing about His response to your reach and the hunger for Him welling up within you are … overwhelming.

As you read (and as some of you adore*) might you also sing? Tell the story. Even just a snippet. How is He re-shaping your perspective on your life through His Word and His whisper? How is He making you hungry for more of Him?

See below for the hashtag we’ve chosen (#EBTISstories), and share your stories in pictures and words … in your way. Let’s link arms and not-just-whisper how He is restoring our perspective towards Him (and making us hungry for more!) in our dark days.

EBTISstories

+++

‘Cause sometimes it’s nice to hear the story through a voice and not just on page: I had the total honor of sharing my story with Lindsey Nobles from the IF: Gathering. Click on over to listen.

IFSH

 

+++

For those of you dipping your toes in the water of adoration, Faith Gateway is giving away a 30 Day Adoration Devotional I created with my daughter, Lily. I love what these people have made available to you. (They’re making it hard for us to say no to this little habit of adoration that might just transform our families.)

children adore

 

And I say: Thank you.

 

Photos compliments of Mandie Joy. 

“Of My Own” {what our language about adoption reveals about our hearts}

“If Mommy gets a baby in her belly, will you send me back?” she asked him, with nervous eyes searching the floor, inhaling the shame of those words as if they were her indictment.

It’s often near the surface for this one — not the year she was “chosen” and a mommy and daddy flew all the way across the ocean to look her in the eyes and call her daughter — but the too-many, earlier years that still seem to weigh heavier. These days, she lives buoyant and giddy. Her eyes have found a sparkle and we see them more than we see those hands that spent nearly a year awkwardly covering them. My little girl laughs. A lot. And this week when I hugged her I could tell her body wanted to melt (not stiffen) in my arms.

But just within her reach is the shame she feels about her life on the other side, when her given last name tied her to no one. One phrase or question or hint of her past and I watch those eyes, which just harnessed a sparkle, go dark.

Adoption saved her and it haunts her, because of its open-ended definition to her. It’s still a question.

She, like many of the rest of us, has yet to reconcile the power of this one act.

I hadn’t even kissed their foreheads or tickled their feet and this stranger’s words about them stung.

“Oh, you’re adopting? Just you wait. Once you have them at home I’m sure you’ll be able to have children of your own.”

A phrase I’ve heard a hundred times, and it never ceases to give my heart pause. Children of your own, words that expose a subconscious understanding of adoption as charitable affection versus primal love. As if these, once-adopted ones, were somehow, not truly … mine.

There is a distinction in our language about those children, once adopted, and their biological counterparts that reveals much {continue reading over here on Christianity Today –>}