Friday, August 19, 2011

Gideon and I.

There is a story in the Bible  {in the book of Judges} about a man named Gideon. He had a pretty extensive army of about 20,000 men that was all set to go fight the Lord's enemies. His battle plans were probably all drawn out and their bags were probably packed. Everything was working out great and it all made sense. They were on the track to victory and success.

Until God told them to cut down their army to 300 men. He told them to check their plans at the door and trust His plans instead.

Umm..come again? From 22,000 down to 300. {Picture the intensity of Lord of the Rings here, just for a minute. Terrifying, right?}

Gideon was being called away from having everything making sense and lining up,  and being called into what seemed to be straight up madness. WHY? Because God had a greater purpose. Because he wanted His people to trust Him with the battle and not put their hope in their circumstances.

In our minds, we think that God ought to prove everything is going to work out great and then we'll step out and trust Him. When He calls us out on the water, we'd like to know that it's only 3ft. deep and the temperature of a jacuzzi. That way, you know, just in case we fall will be safe and comfy and we can still touch.

Newsflash of my summer. God doesn't work this way. He works in ways that don't make sense to us because His ways are so much greater than ours. His ways seem backwards to us more often then not. Gideon had to trust that God's seemingly backwards plan was going to work. This was exactly how God was going to show Gideon that the strength of his army isn't what determined the result of the battle, but the power of God. The wisdom of man, is not the same as the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians chapter 1)

God doesn't promise that trusting Him will be easy, but he does promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He does promise that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Does that mean that everything that happens in this world will always be good? No. But He will weave a tapestry of grace in our lives if we trust Him with the story that He has given us. He will work even the confusing things out for good if we allow Him to. The ugly things, the hurtful things... the ashes. He can make them into beauty if we let Him.

Life is like a cake. or a box of chocolates. but for now it's like a cake.

When making a cake {the good ol' fashioned way} you add flour, eggs, sugar, salt, baking soda, etc.

I don't know about you, but I sure wouldn't eat any one of those things in their beginning state. Flour is nasty stuff to eat. But without flour, what would a cake be? Mush. Without sugar it would be bitter and with out the other things in between, it just wouldn't come out with the baker's desired result. We ought not to stop and doubt the result of the cake when we taste the individual items that are going into the process. Instead, we must trust that the baker does have a plan for the things that don't make sense. This is the part of the story where God works everything TOGETHER for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The bitter and the dry has a purpose in this story of ours and this story has a tasty end if we can trust the One who is in control. These things that we have been entrusted with have been entrusted to us by a faithful God. A God who is faithful to complete the good work that He has begun. A God who is conforming us into the image of His Son. (Romans 8:28-30)

I am labeling the past 6 months of my life, The Gideon Era. Everything that I thought was going to happen, didn't and everything I thought would never happen, did. I'm so thankful for God's faithfulness in Gideon's story so that I can trust God with mine. Guess who won the battle in the end? Gideon and the 300. The battle was the Lord's way back then. The battle IS the Lord's today. The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous {made righteous by the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ alone}  runs to it and is safe.

 I know that I am beneath the tapestry being woven and the threads that seem tangled to me now, will one day be revealed as a beautiful masterpiece that bring glory to the Designer. I know that one day, my Jesus will return and set all things right. Until then, may my days bring glory to the Maker, Keeper and Ruler of all things. He knows what is good.

Even in the midst of confusion, there is no better place to be than in the fellowship of Jesus Christ, my Strength and my Redeemer. Peace that surpasses all understanding is the real deal in Christ.
His ways are higher than our ways. Sometimes so much higher that I cannot see how they are ever going to work out. However, we walk by faith, and not by sight! I am learning through this journey that my "300" surrendered wholeheartedly to the Lord is more powerful than any number of well thought out, man made, man centered, man executed plans that are not lead by the Lord. He doesn't need our ducks in a row to be able to use us for His glory. {Hello. He makes ducks. He can certainly line them up better than me.} Praise Him for allowing us to be instruments in the story He is writing.

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!  For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To HIM be the glory forever. Amen."- Romans 11:33-36

Where in your life might God be asking you to trust His plan above your own?

"If we are devoted to Jesus Christ we have nothing to do with what we meet, whether it is just or unjust. Jesus says - Go steadily on with what I have told you to do and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance. The most devout among us become atheistic in this connection; we do not believe God, we enthrone common sense and tack the name of God on to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts." - My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

P.S. I graduated! More on that to come...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

8 years of abundant life.

It has been nearly 9 years since my family adopted my sweet baby brothers as special needs preemies. The journey to get them was more than adding members to my family. The Lord used that journey to bring me to a true understanding of what the Gospel is.

You see, God had put it on my heart to pray for a baby brother or sister (preferably both and in the form of twins...) constantly since I was about 3 years old. I would often cry myself to sleep begging God to bring a baby to my family. I used to go on walks in my neighborhood hoping to either find an abandoned baby or a puppy. (There were neither in my fairly conservative neighborhood... which was so disapointing to me. What the heck kind of neighborhood has no lonely puppies or babies wandering around? Most of my friends lived in the backwoods where people dropped off puppies all the time. Apparently nobody does that sort of thing in historic downtown. anyways. no longer bitter about the lack of puppies. we had dogs. i just wanted to find one! you know?)

 I was 9 years old when my parents felt God leading them to adopt a baby boy domestically. I was overjoyed. I began cranking up the twin prayers and begging God to allow us to have two babies that didn't have a family instead of just one. {Plus, i didn't want to have to fight my other siblings over who got to hold the baby. You know. Logistics and such.}

Well, 8 months later, we got a phone call that changed our world forever. We had twin baby boys waiting for us at the hospital and we had until 2pm the next day to decide if we wanted them. There was just ONE little thing. They were born at 27 weeks gestation. {as opposed to the normal 40 weeks that babies are supposed to be inside the womb.} They could possibly be blind, and deaf and have severe learning disabilities. "Baby B" had also had a Grade 2-3 {1-5 scaled, 5 being the worst.}Brain Bleed at birth which could mean he might have Cerebral Palsy. They were also supposed to have Asthma, severe lung issues, etc.

God gave us overwhelming peace about bringing them into our family and my parents went to pick them up at the NICU where they had lived the first 7 weeks of their lives.

It was exciting and lovely and amazing for me for the first few weeks. Our living room became a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and we learned to chart cc's, work apnia monitors, heart monitors, oxygen machines, etc. We learned how to remind babies to breathe as they turned blue while drinking their bottles. We grew and they grew.

However, after a few weeks of machines {that sound similar to the screeching eels in Princess Bride} beeping every two seconds because of a loose strap on a baby's foot, it started to get old for me. Really old. You see, when I prayed all those years for a baby brother or sister, I meant the kind that you could hold without having to remain within three feet of the wires that they were strapped to. I meant the kind that I could play with and not have to wonder if they would ever be able to sit up and see me play peek-a-boo with them. I thought that God had chosen a pretty rude way to answer a kid's prayer.

That's when He spoke to me.

You were helpless and I took you in.

You had nothing exciting to offer me, but I loved you anyway.

You had no hope of survival, but then I cared for you.

You were an orphan that was outside of my family. Now you are my child.

Love these babies the way that I love you.

With Agape Love.

A love that is not self-seeking. A love that hopes. A love that perseveres.

1 Cor. 13:4- 13
1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
God gave me such a deep love for them through this revelation. So much so that I wouldn't take all the healthy babies in the world for my two scrawny baby brothers. They may have been sick. They may never be able to talk or play tag or ride a bike, but they were hand picked for my family and hand delivered in answer to my prayers. Loving them didn't depend on whether or not they could play with me some day. I need only love them because they were created by God and given to me to love.

I was to love these babies that He decided I was to be a sister to. I was to trust Him with whether they would ever be able to understand anything that I would say to them or try to teach them. Those things were too big for me to deal with. God would handle them for me. All I needed to do was trust Him and trust that His plan for them would be a good one, no matter what...



God taught me who I was and who He was through two sick baby boys. I was an orphan and He was a Father who loved me past my unloveliness.

He has taught me more about His Love through this journey than anything else. Everything else will pass away but His love is what remains.

Today these sickly baby boys are running around outside with perfect health, catching lightning bugs and talking to me about going to the pool tomorrow where they will swim underwater as long as they possibly can. Holding air in the little lungs that were never supposed to function properly. With funny little goggles on their eyes that were never supposed to see properly and listening to each other laugh and say funny things with the ears that were never supposed to hear. Praise Jesus.

    James-"Baby B"- Is the family thinker.

 We call him "The Director". He analyzes situations faster than anyone and before you even know what's going on, he has three possible solutions to the crisis at hand and he's telling you about them. He thoroughly enjoys swimming, cooking, playing with his brothers in the woods, building with legos and memorizing Bible verses for AWANA.

He memorized all of Psalm 23 last month with the brain that was not supposed to function properly. If you need help with something, ask James. He's a smartypants with a servant's heart. He is also hilarious.

His life verses are James 1:22 " Do not just be hearers of the word, but do what it says." and 1:27 "Pure and faultless religion in the sight of God our Father is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself unpolluted from the world."
 He shared his testimony of how God healed him with a Sunday School class a few months ago and asked that they all pray for orphans... Then He shared about how He ran into the wall and got a brain bleed and had to have stitches on his forehead...that was a little bit of blending of events but the kids seemed to get the point. Haha.

                                                  Jeremiah -"Baby A" is compassionate. 

He is funny and so sweet and He has a smile that brightens up your entire day. He loves to read, go to the creek, swim, slide down the water slide and play Monopoly. He has a heart for the Congo and we've never even been there. {He got to meet a Congolese man at Disney and He was so excited.}

He loves to build and create things.

He loves serving others. He has a quilt that I made as a youngin'  that has a pocket on the back for books.{ you know, for late night emergencies when you can't sleep but you're supposed to sleep.} He can often be found with a flashlight and a book far too late at night.
{Ok, so maybe I used to hide him in the pocket too. tiny man. haha.}

He told me a few weeks ago that he read the entire children's Bible to James the night before and then He showed me the page where there was a picture of Jesus on the cross. "We both cried when we got to this part." Their hearts for the Lord as so precious and I am so grateful for the gift they are to our family. I can't wait to see what the Lord does in and through their lives that were predicted to be so very different than the life that God had in mind for them. Jeremiah's Life Verse is Jeremiah 29:11-13 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

These verses were what God used to lead my parents to adopt. They were going to name one baby boy "Jeremiah James"...but then my faith filled prayers sabotaged their name and we got two babies! Jeremiah and James.

Had they not been sick, I might not truly know the Lord.
Had they not been sick, they would not have the story that God has given them.
Had they not been sick, the three littlest kids would never have been adopted. The Lord used a special needs tax credit from Jeremiah and James' adoption to provide for the other three Littles to come home 4 years later.

God worked the hard things together for good.
God is a God of miracles. He is Jehovah-Rapha. The God who heals.

But, even if they were still sick...God would still be good. He does not make mistakes. He IS trustworthy. If Jeremiah and James were never able to communicate or do the things that they are able to do today, God would still be mighty and His plan for them would still be good. I know that with all my heart. God's love is not based on what we offer Him. He chose to love us and that is what makes us lovely. That is what gives us the ability to love others. The season of sick babies gave me a bigger glimpse into God's glorious Love than any other season of my life so far. If they had remained sick, God would have been just as faithful.

This week, 8 years ago, these precious Boys were born. I can't wait to see the next eight years, and the next, and the next. My Boys, may the Lord bless you, and keep you, and make His face shine upon you. I pray that He uses you for His glory in the nations and that He blesses you with a long life of service to Him. I know that He holds every day in His hands and He has a good plan for you. I'm so thankful I get to know you and be your big sister. I love you so stinkin' much.

In the words of Meshach Shadrach and Abednego as they faced the fiery furnace for refusing to worship anything but the One true God...(Read full story in Daniel 3)

Daniel 3:17-18
17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

They were thrown into the furnace and the men who threw them in were even killed by the flames, but Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego were seen within the furnace, walking around with one who appeared to be 'of the gods'. They came out without even a hair on their heads singed. This is the response of the King who sentenced them to the furnace...

Daniel 3:28-30
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” 

When we obey the Lord and trust Him to carry us, even through the fire, He works in ways we could never imagine. Disobedience results in consequences as well as missing the blessings that God has in store for those who wait for Him. When we choose to worship Him instead of ourselves {or any other thing that we may put first,} we get to see His faithfulness to us come out in ways that we could never expect or even imagine.

Be encouraged if you are facing the furnace today. Seek the face of God and follow Him. He is the only one worth following and He will see you safely through. Trust Him and He will be glorified. It might take a while to see any fruit, but obedience to the Lord's calling, even when it's hard, always results in blessing. Maybe it won't be the blessing you were hoping for, but always blessing. Just you wait and see. God's ways are so much higher than our ways. We don't have to understand His ways, we just have to trust and obey. He will show us His good will in His good timing.

Beyond thankful for 8 years of incredible life with these treasures. I'm so glad that God knew better than I did.

"God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption..." 1 Corinthians 1:28-30

Jesus is with the lowly and the brokenhearted, the sick and the orphan. The "things despised by the world" are the things that God loves and uses for His glory.

May He grant us all His eyes to see what is truly precious. May He give us the grace to love with Agape.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Baby Rapunzels

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jesus LIVES!

 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. {1 Peter 1:3-7}

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Walking by Faith.

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

So, guys...I'm a Senior.

Do you know what that means?

That means 3 more months until I get to dress up like a judge with a square hat and receive a piece of paper. A paper which tells me that I may now go out into the world and become somebody. {Well, after college of course.} My mom will cry, my dad will say kind words that will make everyone else cry and I will say good-bye to a lot of my friends. It will be the closing of an amazing chapter in the story of my life, and the opening of another.

Wanna know something hilarious? I have no idea what is going end up happening in my life. But that's 100% ok. You know why? It's not my life.

If you've ever read Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lewis, you might remember the part of the story when the Pevensie children are wandering around in the forest, trying desperately to find a way to get to where Prince Caspian would be waiting for them.

Lucy sees Aslan and knows that He is beckoning to her to come, but it doesn't make sense for her to go. Nobody else saw Him, and He was across a deep gorge. Two pretty big problems. She tried to convince the others that they should follow Aslan, but their voices of reason made more sense than her words of insanity about seeing a lion beckoning to her to come follow Him off a cliff. Well, they ended up going a different way and almost getting killed and then decided to try the Aslan following deal. They went back to where Lucy saw Aslan and she ends up accidentally falling off the the cliff and onto a trail that they couldn't see from where the were standing.

This trail would take them right to where they needed to be. It was a path that couldn't be seen from their vantage point, but it was a path that Aslan was obviously leading them to the whole time. Who cares if it wasn't was THE path. 

That's basically this chapter in my life. I know that God is calling me. I also know that right now, He's not calling me to go to college. I know its not very logical in our day and age to skip out on college, but I DO know that my God is faithful to lead me on the right path. The path that is going to allow me to be used by Him, for His glory in the nations.

In the past 6 months, I have had two doors open to work in two different ministries {Working in orphan care, community development projects, etc. Try not to get too confused here in a second.}

 Last October, I was planning on moving to Bristol, TN to work with the ministry that was headquartered there.

Then a door opened for a possible internship in Nashville, TN with another ministry.

November 2010: I felt like the Lord was calling me to stay home another 6 months to care for the Littles so my mom could finish writing her book. I almost had to say no to both opportunities.
{God stepped in. Don't worry Ellie! I won't make you say no. They'll both say no to you! Ha.}

Internship #1 that I was supposed to do was postponed.
Internship #2 was also a fail.

God loved me so well and brought me to a whole nother level of trusting Him.
I wouldn't trade the months that I've had here at home with the Littles for anything. They have been such a blessing to me and the Lord has taught me so much.

December 2010: I feel like the Lord is calling me to go to Nashville to serve in ministry there ... except, there is no opportunity for me to go there. Tricky? Yes.

February 2011: Some doors started to open for Internship 2 in Nashville again. Still didn't work out.

March 2011: I hear from Internship 1 in Bristol saying that they are  back on track and launching their intern program in July...this time they are trying to do it in Nashville. WHAT? Yes.

Do I feel like God is moving the whole ministry of Safeworld Nexus to Nashville because that's where He's calling me to go right now? Sometimes, yes. ;) Sometimes the details are just so crazy that I think God might only have time to work out my life's details and no one else's. And then I remember that He is just that good and that big. He orchestrates things together so beautifully. It's astonishing to me. In fact, he was probably just preparing my heart back in December for this very thing.

So, does this mean that I am moving to Nashville? At this point, I think so!  However, if I've learned anything in the past 6 months, its that I'm not in charge of the game plan. God is. The earth and all it's inhabitants are the Lord's and He is faithful and just. All His ways are good. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. {Romans 8:28} Therefore, I know that every bump and curve and 'glitch' in my mind, are just opportunities to trust in the faithfulness of a loving God who is working all of those things out for good.

I know that wherever He calls me, wherever I am, I have that moment to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are in front of me. Whether that means the 6 children that I currently spend most of my days with, or if that means the people I will work with in TN and Uganda { Lord willing}. I am learning that life isn't about the next step. Life is about each moment and how we steward it.

I am so beyond thankful that He is teaching me to lean less and less on my own understanding. Thankful that He is teaching me how to acknowledge Him in all my ways, and to trust Him to direct my paths in the ways in which He wants them to go. {Proverbs 3:5}

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!
Until Jesus comes, no matter what, no matter where, no matter how.

I don't know where I'm gonna end up, but I know I'll be there with Jesus. He promises never to leave us, nor forsake us. And that's enough for me.

 P.S. I wouldn't trade in any of the confusion or changes of plans that have happened in the past six months. God has taught me so much about His fatherly love for me, about His sovreignty and His timing, that I am beyond grateful for those weird flip-flopping plans. They are priceless now because of the things that Jesus spoke to me as a result of these events. He's working them together for good already and I haven't even left North Carolina yet. What a Savior.

                                            I love my super cool sister.