Life’s “bitter-to-sweet” circumstances over the past years have caused a shift in my thinking. My list of expectations for life and goals for my future is slowly … diminishing. This is not for lack of dreaming and hoping — instead it’s because I’m coming to find that this list isn’t mine to compose.

(As I type, it’s as if I’m window shopping, cautiously peering on the other side of the glass, not quite sure if I want to go in and try on these thoughts and have them be mine.)

My words “I want to surrender all to you, God” are tested almost daily when I find myself clinging to patterns of thinking and means of self-justification that have been stuck within me since who-knows-when. I mean, its nice to say “God, I will give ALL to you” but He’s not one to let these words fall to the ground without slowly but surely taking us to the brink of the very “cliff” we fear falling from most. He then asks us, ever-so-gently, if we really mean it.

This is surrender, I think. Being willing to engage in this process with God. Even if I turn back a thousand little times from it (which, believe me, I do)…God sees the one time I said “yes”. And He loves it. In His grace, He loves my one “yes”. And when I get even just the slightest taste of the life that comes from that one “yes”… well, it’s just that much easier to say yes the next time. In a way it’s addicting.

His plans slowly become my plans. His way begins to be illuminated — as if I’m staring at two paths and I can’t help but be drawn to the one that’s His. And the crazy thing is that I want it. Duty fades. Desire begins to take root. And this is as an invitation for Him further into the minutiae of my life, making His way into even the small movements of my mind and heart.

He wants it all. Not just the big “should I move?”, “is this job for me?”, “do I marry him?” decisions. He wants His way into the minors, ultimately, because that’s where the real foundation of our lives is built. Its hard not to seek God when you’re faced with something you seemingly can’t come up with on your own… but what about when it’s something about which you “know” the answer? What about when it’s a path you’ve always taken?

Although I take stabs, daily, at who I think I am and make regular efforts to fufill the role I think I’m meant to fulfill on this earth, there’s always a lingering sense of emptiness. (Yes, even when those things are good things and that role is a meaningful role.) My very best guess at who I really am and my purpose falls short of His purpose. In those rare moments when He pulls back the curtain and lets me catch a glimpse of how He sees my life unfolding, its undeniably better.

Sure, there’s a cost to getting there. But the moments of connection with HIS wavelength are well-beyond-worth the “bags” I’ve had to drop along the way of my pursuit.

Ever since Nate and I started praying the prayer “God, we want more of you” the list of challenging things in our life has only grown. (Granted, I have a low tolerance for pain — so our growing list may still pale in comparison to most 🙂 ) I’d be lying to say I don’t–at times–grumble to God like “oh, man, isn’t this enough already?” But again and again I’m surprised by how any sense of loss is overshadowed by the reward of Him. So much so that the prayer that keeps popping up as Nate and I pray is “remove anything else that stands in the way of You.”

It’s what got us here on this path of adoption — derailed from our plans for our family. Not insignificant is the reality that this will forever change family dynamics and relationships with any biological children we have, likely put strains on our marriage, impact our long hours alone in prayer and studying scripture that we so love, disrupt our plans for moving to Kansas City when we’d hoped, and alter any sense of “financial security” (whatever that is) we may have had.

But He promised His path for us was one of life. I’m convinced it’s best. And any so-called “sacrifice” in this seems to be fading in my rear view mirror as I look to what’s ahead.

You see, there’s a crisis in Ethiopia right now that’s catching the attention of international media. The drought has caused forced power outages and is leading to a famine — one that–if not addressed in the next 30 days–could take the lives of upwards of 120,000 children. I can’t even put those words down in front of me without crying. God’s heart inside of me is breaking for the depravity that so many call their everyday life. My prayers are focused on the orphans.

He’s letting me know His heart. He’s sharing with me His burdens.

And I’ll confess something: this heart-stance never would have happened without some degree of personal loss. Sure, there are probably others who can get to that place of openness to God without pain and struggle. Just not this stubborn little mule (me). I needed Someone or something to usher me there. So, then, I wonder — in light of the glory of God pouring into my heart and home these days– could it be that our “sacrifice” in this adoption and in other arenas isn’t really all that much of a sacrifice compared to what is gained?

It makes me want to lay down more. Give up more. Surrender more. I guess I’m selfish that way. I want all I can possibly have of this God.

The new phrase bouncing around in our conversations lately has been “we’re goin’ for broke” (in reference to many things). I guess now that it’s in writing its real.