Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Ugly Side of Me

I slammed my fist on the table and shouted words from my mouth as quickly as they entered my mind. My hands shook with anger and I stomped out of the room feeling justified in my reaction, considering her offense. 

“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Anger. That is what I found to be abundant in that moment of unrestraint. 

Truth be told, this was nearly five years in but that was not the first time this had happened. I remember vividly those early days feeling out of control of my emotions. So full of anger and frustration that I could hardly see straight. And while time has certainly taught me self-control, there are still moments when my humanity gets the best of me. And in turn, her.

The reality is we were unprepared when we boldly chose adoption. We were naive and innocent and oh so sincere. But also very keenly unaware of the trials that lay before us. 

I wrote once not long after bringing in our adopted daughter about the ugly side of adoption. We found ourselves in the turbulent waves of bringing in a child from a traumatic background. We were all alone in the middle of the Amazon with no communication and certainly no training in regards to caring for children with special emotional and psychological needs. 

It was trial by fire. And we were being consumed. 

But in as much as we were made aware of hersinful nature, ours came glaring back with even greater force as the days progressed.

For every action, there seemed to be an unequal and more forceful reaction on my part. 

The more I came face to face with my own depravity, the more fearful I became. I could feel it when it would creep up, stealthily threatening to overtake me, and often succeeding. 

Fear of the future. Fear of what she would do next. Fear of my own reactions.

In the same way I was never told of the hardships of adoption, no one told me this part either. No one told me that adoption would reveal in me my greatest need: to be changed by Christ. 

I guess on some level I figured I had already been changed. After all, I had spent days crying, praying, begging for God to make her our own. I wept thinking of what she was experiencing on the days leading up to her arrival at our door with that tiny backpack full of ill-fitting and stained clothing, her only earthly possessions at the time. Was this compassion not evidence of a change only Christ can bring?

We wanted to rescue her from that life of pain and suffering. A noble desire. 

I didn’t know that I also needed to be rescued from my self.

 “I can’t even look at her,” I said through tears sitting in the office of the counselor. We had just unexpectedly moved
back to the States and I had, in desperation, searched and found a counselor who specialized in cultural reintegration and family conflict. “When she walks in the room, my whole body tenses up. And I hate myself for it.”

For two and a half years she had bore my last name and yet there I was, sitting on a couch still battling my self. 

She listened. She didn’t judge me like I was judging myself. Instead she said three simple words: 

“You are human.”

It gave me pause. 

No, it wasn’t an excuse to continue down the path of bitterness on which I found myself. It wasn’t meant to let me off easy or defend my off-kilter actions.

It was actually a proclamation of hope, an offer to forgive myself and start over.  It was a call to surrender my self-given title of “savior” and realize that I was trying to play a role that didn’t belong to me. 

I needed to let the true Savior take that role instead.

From that point there began to be slow progress. There were deep conversations and tears together and we began to learn one another. 

And then the next cycle would hit and I would find us spinning out of control again. 

Deep breath. Forgive. Repeat. Sometimes this feels like a second by second routine.

Honestly, I didn’t know this part of me existed before she was mine. I was the one pinning the cutesy adoption quotes on Pinterest and daydreaming about a muli-ethnic family. But as painful a realization as it is, I am forever grateful that it has been revealed to me. Otherwise, how could it ever change?

Let one thing be clear, I have not “arrived”. The battle rages on in my flesh and the trials come in waves that threaten to overwhelm me regularly. I still have to ask forgiveness and I still have to forgive myself. 

But there is freedom in the release of control. There is freedom when I realize that her future does not depend on me doing it “right”. I cannot control the outcome of her life, her choices, her actions, nor was I called to do so.

I can do one thing and that is this: I can love her well. 

I can teach her truth and consequence. I can forgive. I can listen. I can instruct. I can try my hardest to understand, though I’ll never fully be able to do that. I can take deep breaths and seek wisdom from God and the community He has given me, even though it is far from where I am physically. I can take care of my own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual self. 

I can love her as Christ loves me. 

There is space for you, too. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the weight of caring for a child from hard circumstances and you are discovering that it brings out the ugly in you, let me tell you something: you are human.

You are not called to be God. You cannot change your child.

Repeat after me: I am not called to change my child. 

You can’t. I can’t. But God can and it is completely up to Him when and how He does that. 

You are called to parent your child as though you are doing it for Him.

You are called to love your child well. 

And it is quite possible the hardest thing you will ever have to do.  

So I hope we let the fire refine us and not destroy us. I hope we don’t resent the process but rather learn to lean in. I hope we learn to let go of our selfish ambition, our egos, our pride. 

And most of all I hope we learn to love well. 

At the very end, may there be a beauty revealed that we could never stake claim to. 

Because only God Himself could create beauty from ashes.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

When Light Breaks Through

“Ugh. Firnsdhip. (Yes. Apparently that is how you type friendship after an EXHAUSTING week of preparing mentally for a conversation with a friend that you just don’t see eye to eye with. But you want to. But you just can’t.) 

I’ve been prepping all day to say it well. To cover it with grace and mercy. But in that moment it comes out all raw and uneven and not at all like I wanted. 

And now I feel emotionally like one might feel physically after a marathon.

And still nothing is resolved. It’s all hard and messy and hard to explain. And then those raw emotions, unfiltered, come out in a way that shadows over the truth.” 



That was a journal entry after a conversation gone awry a few months ago as I sat slumped over my computer, exhausted. 

Sadly it was only downhill from there. In fact, the whole thing spiraled out of control leading to the unresolved and somewhat confusing end to a friendship. 

And I suppose the enemy was pleased since his goal is destruction and death.

I learned a lot about myself and about God’s character in the weeks leading up to that and the weeks following. But the loss was still very real.  

So, as I sat on the cool concrete floor next to a dear friend last week while she was wrestling with the aftermath of a broken relationship, I determined to do one thing and to do it well: listen. I wanted to hear her story and what she felt. Right or wrong, I was there to hear and understand. By God's grace this story would end differently.

I was privy to the other side of the story from our mutual friend with whom she had the conflict. Now I wanted to see her angle. Where was the light not getting into the confusing shadows of her experience? Where had this whole thing gone wrong?

Because every story has multiple angles, not just two sides.

The more she talked and the harder I listened, the more I understood.

Turns out it was the same trio at play here that had wound its way into my situation a few months prior. 

Miscommunication. Misunderstanding. Assumptions. 

The ultimate trifecta to destroy all things relationship. 

As she shared, I prayed and asked for wisdom. When the time came, I gently nudged her towards truth and asked permission to share her side with our mutual friend, the other side of the conflict. 

“No,” she said. “Don’t tell her. It will only be more confusing. It’s over now. Everything is fine.”

Ah. There it was. The lie. The ultimate lie was that if the truth came out then there would be confusion. That it should just be swept under the rug and everyone would move on just fine.

But the truth sets us free (John 8.32). Truth makes a way for forgiveness and that is when light breaks in and dispels the darkness. It is in the silence that the confusion takes root, where the truth is buried, and the darkness prevails. 

I assured her I would not tell her story. Instead we would sit down, the three of us, and we would create a space to hear and be heard. Only then could freedom be found and relationship be restored. She agreed to this and I assured her I would be back. 

The next morning, as the Amazon sun peeked through the cotton clouds that promised rain for the afternoon, I walked back to her house with the other friend. I prayed for wisdom and healing as we walked into her home. 

We found her fiddling with the stereo system, trying to get a station to come in clearly, to no avail. She welcomed us in, though not making eye contact as we settled in on the sofas. With one friend directly across from me and her by my side, I took a deep breath. 

There was part of me that held on to the faith that understanding was possible. That when we sit down, face to face, with pure and humble hearts, there can in fact be restoration. Maybe it will take time take. Maybe it will hurt. But it can happen. 

The other part of me doubted after what I have experienced. We humans are messy. 

“Jesus, lead us.”

I began the conversation by reminding us all that we were there to hear. To listen and understand. “Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger...” James tells us. A lesson hard learned.

As the discussion progressed, I saw it happening. Slowly but surely (and with some nudging still), the truth began to surface as the stories began to collide. 

This was understood one way, when it was intended that way. 

This was communicated that way, but it actually meant this. 

This was assumed based off of one thing, but that was never true to begin with. 

Light breaking through to reveal the truth that had been buried. 

As the light grew brighter, the darkness fled. It all culminated in tears, hugs, apologies, and forgiveness. There was finally understanding to a situation that had lasted well over a month now. One that had threatened to ruin a friendship of many years and one that very well would have if there had not been space to listen, humility to receive. 

I felt humbled and honored to have been witness to this moment of restoration. It took a lot of self-control, in fact, for me not to fist pump the air and shout, “See! I KNEW it! I knew that it could happen. It wasn’t just in my mind. Relationships CAN be made whole again!” Because how many times has the opposite been true? I’ve seen it in my extended family. I’ve witnessed it in my own relationships and in those of close friends.

Miscommunication. Misunderstanding. Assumptions. 

A heaviness that weighs us down. 

Oh, but God is faithful. He makes a path to restoration and it is never too late. This was proof.

I took the opportunity to read 1 Corinthians 13. 4-8 aloud. It is written across the walls of Grace House where these ladies spend their days and it has echoed in my mind ever since my own conflict a few months back. 

We need frequent reminders as we humans are forgetful. 

I read it slowly, letting it seep into our hearts.

“Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not conceited, 
does not act improperly, 
is not selfish, is not provoked,

and does not keep a record of wrongs.....”

That last line. I get hung up there. “Does not keep a record of wrongs.” As I am reading this list of love’s attributes, this one stands out to me. How often do we say with our mouths we forgive someone, but our hearts say otherwise when we keep record? 

Praise God, He keeps no record!

And that was where this friend was struggling. She couldn’t understand the forgiveness and the love that she was feeling in that moment, the very things that were causing the tears to flow. She had never experienced it and she could not believe it was true. 

But it is true. Love lets it go, but even more than that, keeps no record. There is not a storage room full of dusty old books where all of our “wrongs committed” are written down to be used against us at a later date. It is as though it never happened. 

“Love finds no joy in unrighteousness 
but rejoices in truth. 
It bears ALL things, 
believes ALL things, 
hopes ALL things, 
endures ALL things. 
Love never ends.” 

The day before this conversation took place, we had gathered together with other friends at The Donut Company, something our jungle family does every Sunday evening, to re-center and re-focus. To hear from Jesus. Richard had shared John 13.35 with us all:

“By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

Love for one another.

That’s the distinguishing characteristic. Love as defined by 1 Corinthians 13. That is what sets us apart in this world. It is so simple. We make it so complicated, don't we?

It’s a love that forgives and remembers no more.  A love that endures all things. A love that is pure and patient and kind and it never, ever ends. 

It is a love that I observed shine brightly that day in that tiny home with the tin roof. 

This definition of love is my prayer for myself, my children, my husband, my family, my friends, my enemies, and total strangers who I meet in the day to day. It’s something I fail at regularly. I am often the one asking forgiveness, the one needing love extended. 

How thankful I am that God is Perfect Love (1 John 4.7-8). 

When we walked back from her house that day, it was as though a weight had been lifted from everyone’s shoulders. Restoration will do that. When a part of the Body is healed after an injury, the whole Body feels and experiences the joy of it. 

As it should. 



Pray for our jungle family. For understanding and ears to hear when conflicts arise, as they will. For endurance through the many trials that come. 

And for our love for one another to always prevail so that the world around us will know we are in fact His disciples. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Seeing the Aquarium in the Sludge





"Viste mi aquƔrio?" ("Did you see my aquarium?")

She grinned as she leaned over the side of the platform and stared at the tiny fish swimming in the sludge that filtered its way under and around their house. Enamored.

She is a glass-half-full kinda gal.



My sandal snapped and the sludge oozed between my toes as I made my way up the planks to get to the box that she was calling home. It was worse than when I had been here during dry season six months ago, to be sure. She wasn't living in it at the time but now it was where they were sleeping every night. A single mom and her daughter. I could feel my chest tighten and I held back the tears.

"My sister is living like this," was all I could think.

It is unfair to call it a house really. More appropriately called a platform with slats. Sheets are strategically but futilely placed to cover the open window holes and the larger cracks between the wall boards. Mosquitoes and flies paid no attention as they swarmed right past.

Buckets of water sat in one corner and the single, tiny fan vibrated on the uneven floor where the kids piled on the single mattress to watch the hazy cartoon playing on the small TV screen.



Fortunately it wasn't raining because the water nearly flooded the wooden platform each time it did, lifting mosquitoes and raw sewage to closer proximity.

"When it rains, I don't sleep," she told us. "I'm too scared it will flood." It's rainy season. Little sleep.

No locks.
No screen to cover the windows.
No bathroom.
No kitchen.

Not ok.

"Jesus. She is one of our own. Help us help her."

Pricila sat at the plastic table and I could tell she was a little more calloused now. She has been with us for nearly three years at The Donut Company and in that time she has been on quite the roller coaster ride of housing needs and custody battles for her older daughter. To say that women like her are taken advantage of by landlords and the social system would be quite the understatement. So while her living conditions are now far below safe or ideal, after much conversation and council, she felt it better for her to live in a box with no bathroom or running water than to continue to spend half her paycheck paying rent for a puny room with a verbally abusive landlord. That should tell us something.

But if she ever hopes to get custody of her older daughter back from her abusive ex-husband, who is now under a restraining order, she couldn't possibly do so in these conditions.

Stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. Again.

Bea and Sam specifically have walked with her through some deep valleys and while she has grown in many ways, there is a certain hardening that takes place when life's injustices keep showing up at your dilapidated from step.

For as determined as she is, she is equally tired.

We helped her purchase this piece of property almost a year ago, though she has only lived in it for about a month, and more confusion ensued when the previous owner tried to take it away. She won that battle but the war is far from over.



Richard walked the perimeter of the house. This was his first time seeing the house in person and he echoed the thoughts of us all: this is not good.

The house is old and built where raw sewage and rain run off from the adjoining neighborhoods, a breeding ground for disease and mosquitoes. We repressed our American savior mode as quickly as it crept its sneaky way to the front of our minds. The initial thoughts of "she can't live here" and "we will find her a better place" were settled and replaced with "what can we do now with what's been given?"

The reality is, the vast majority of the world lives in similar or worse circumstances and as much as our instinct would tell us to leave this and find better, we realize that is not sustainable. It's not a long term solution. It's a knee-jerk reaction of the privileged (us) that most often does more harm than good. (Sound strange? Tell me about it. But if there is one thing experience has taught us it's there is not always an easy, quick fix to poverty's very real battles and most of the time Jesus is found right in the sludge and slime if we swallow our pride long enough to find Him.)

Now we see potential in the midst of problem. Fish in the midst of sludge. Just like little K.

So Richard grabbed the sketch pad and started doing what he does best: trouble-shooting and creating a plan of attack.

We now have a plan in place to rebuild Pricila's house. To give it new life. To give her new hope after years of struggle. It's a multi-step process that will no doubt be delayed by the rainy season upon us, but it's doable.

Jhon and a few guys were already able to build her a walkway to her door so that she no longer has to carry K through the sludge when she takes her to school, goes to work, or gets water. First immediate need met.





The neighbor has graciously allowed her to use their bathroom for the time being, but we have team arriving next week that plans to build her a bathroom before heading to Benjamin to help build Joice's house. Second need tentatively met (pray for no rain that day).

Our ultimate goal it disassemble the house entirely, keep the structural pieces that are still sound, lift the foundation of the house, create a gutter system that will help drain the standing water, and rebuild the home to be secure and enclosed.

We project the cost of this project from start to finish at $5,000US.

We are already praying for the Lord to bring us a team.

"Aren't there locals to do the work?" you ask. Great question. The simple answer is no. We asked. We've searched. We've had five years of experience to tell us that in this situation, it is more cost effective and timely to get a team to come down and do the work. Of course, our family on the ground will help, too. But we also value the Body coming together to serve in this way.

Will you pray about giving to this need? Would you be interested in coming down to help physically make this happen? We are thinking March/April 2019 after rainy season tapers off.

If you would like to give, here is the link: www.theamazonnetwork.com/give

Let's put action to our words and love our sister well.

We believe this will do more than provide a safe, clean home (though that's incredibly important). This will also open the door for Pricila to finally get custody of her older daughter, who is in a very vulnerable situation with the father.

Pray. Give. Join us.








Thursday, August 30, 2018

On Scrapes and Bruises and Other Life Lessons

This child. We’re trying REALLY hard to get past this stage of shouting, “I BROKE MY [insert body part here]!!!!” with every tumble and scrape. 

Bless it. 

Besides teaching basics skills like: “Deep breaths, my dear dramatic boy child. You will survive after all.” I am asking the Lord every day to help me teach other lessons. Life lessons like how we interact, forgive, love, and take in the world around us and those in it with the same grace and mercy extended to us. 

Here is a short list of life skills I pray my kids at least start to grasp, whether through my own floundering and fumbling example of what NOT to do (most likely scenario) or simply by God’s good grace,  before they stumble out on their own.

1- People are never the enemy. No matter how much it feels like it, people are never the target of what we are up against. Selfishness, pride, and limited worldview—to name a few—are the enemies. Once we can grasp that in our OWN hearts, we can start to perceive where the true target lies. Which leads me to the next skill....

2- Never assume. Oswald Chambers said, “Stop having a measuring rod for other people. There is always one fact more in every man’s case about which we know nothing.” Assuming is probably the worst thing we can do in any given situation. It does nothing productive. But if you must assume, assume love. Assume everyone is trying their hardest. And assume the role of helper, not judge. 

3) If someone says you’re doing it all wrong, listen. Maybe they’re right. You’re human and you’re one of billions who’ve trapsed through this thing called life. It’s possible you are, in fact, doing it wrong and you need to lift your eyes and humbly see that. And if you find they are wrong, only then boldly keep doing what you’re doing and do it with all your might. Let your actions prove them otherwise. But never be above criticism.

4) Never be more aware of some else’s insufficiencies than your own. Humans are messy and selfish and entitled. And you are one of them. Welcome to the fold. Oswald Chambers said, “I have never met the man I could despair of after discerning what lies in ME apart from the Grace of God.” Everyone sins differently. Maybe someone else’s sin is uglier or more apparent. Maybe yours is culturally condoned or hidden deep inside. Either way, the moment you point to someone else as worse than you apart from God’s grace, you have set foot on a dangerous path of pride and I promise that leads to nowhere good. 

5) Admit when you are wrong. Just do it. Even if it wasn’t intentional and even if no one else is taking responsibility for their own actions, be willing to say, “I messed up. I was wrong.” No one—and I mean NO ONE—wants to be around that person who can’t just say, “I was wrong.” So resolve to not be that guy. 

6) Give all the grace. Give grace to yourself when you mess up. Give grace to others when they mess up. Because er’body gonna mess up round here. It’s the literal story of humanity. That doesn’t mean you will always see relationships restored or even be forgiven by those you’ve hurt. It doesn’t mean you won’t continue to get hurt. But you can forgive and you can extend grace. And there is peace in that place. 

And finally...

7) Life’s not fair. I know, [insert eye roll here]. My mom used to say it when I was a kid, too. Turns out, it’s true. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. We can work our butts off towards a goal, only to watch it blow up in our faces. We can give and serve and love and get stabbed in the back. So my only advice is this: live for an Audience of One. Live in such a way that circumstances and people don’t so much as make you bat an eye because you are so focused on one thing: Jesus. His mercies are new every day. His grace is sufficient. He looks at the heart. 

And in light of all that, I’m so glad that life isn’t fair because a “fair life” wouldn’t afford us any of those good gifts after all. 


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

In the Ceasing: Letting Go of All the Striving

“Cease from striving.” 

‘I’m not striving, I’m working.’ 

“Cease from striving.” 

‘These are good things!’ 

“Cease from striving.”

‘What does that even mean? How do I cease from striving when I have so much on my plate?’ 

“Cease from striving.” 

This has been my dialogue with God over the last two years. A simple whisper. Almost audible. Three words: Cease from striving. 

And I’ve fought it with every ounce of my being. I have held tightly to my plans in such a clinched-fist way that my spiritual muscles cramp and yet still I have refused to admit: this is the life that God has given me and it is His to plan, not my own.

Two years ago when we made the cross-country, cross cultural trek to where we are now, no one told me how to go from the high-energy, high-need, triage of life in the Amazon to homeschool mom in the aisles of Walmart. 

My proverbial tool bag was full of machetes and stitches and tourniquets for the many crises of life overseas and now I found those completely useless in the decision making tasks of grocery shopping and picking homeschool curriculum. 

And no one understood me. Including me. 

There, our home was full of people day in and day out, friends and strangers, like-minded and nearly hostile. But we sat and we talked and we shared and we lived and it was hard but good. A rich life of relationships. 

Here, we lived an entire six months at an apartment where I never once so much as saw my immediate neighbors. (Though I know they existed because we once received a noise complaint.)

It’s taken me two whole years to decide that maybe God was not telling me to cease from working (how I had been interpreting it) but to really cease from... striving.

(Imagine that. God meaning what He said.)

But still I am left with the resounding question of, “What DOES that look like?”
I’m learning it looks like this:

If that relationship is meant to be reconciled, He will reconcile it. 

If that goal is to be attained, He will bring it to pass. 

If I am to do anything at all, He will guide me... one painstaking step at a time. 

My role is that of obedience in the humdrum, not-a-soul-knocking-at-my-door day to day. 

My role is a step of faith across the street last night to my neighbor’s house. The one I’ve chatted with across the fence line a handful of times since moving to this house a year and a half ago but never truly engaged with because I was so unsure in this culture of closed doors and busyness of how I could relate to her. 

Imagine my surprise when she pulled up a chair for me and we sat for an hour and a half in the light of the flood lamp her husband used to diligently repair his truck. The fire ants bit my leg as I strained to hear her share her story over the sound of the train in the background and the airplanes overhead. Perhaps for the very first time it felt like a taste of home in this desert land. 

And my heart nearly skipped a beat when she said she’d lived on this street for many years and still didn’t know her neighbors because it seems as though here in this culture people simply come home and shut their doors. 

“And the saddest part,” she said with earnest, “is that no one seems the least bit bothered by what they’re missing.” 

It took great restraint not to leap up and hug her in that very instant. Instead I simply stated, “YES! I’ve been saying this, too!” 

She shared of her father leaving her when she was six along with her mother and younger siblings. How she took on a mothering role and worked hard, but relationships were always of utmost importance. When they moved here to the US hoping for a better future, she discovered that there was a lot of.... striving here. But little in the realm of genuine relationships among neighbors. 

Be still my soul. 

We talked and we laughed until 10pm. 

And this beautiful conversation came hot on the heels of a day of striving. Dear Jesus, I strove that day with every ounce of human effort I could muster. And to no avail. And I’m convinced that Jesus meant for exactly that to happen. For me to strive, fail.... and then find Him in the simple obedience of one foot in front of the other across the street. No expectations or goals. Just obedience. 

I had still been rummaging through this old tool bag, the one I had lugged back with me from a life overseas, convincing myself that these tools were indeed useful for this season of life.  How could they not be? But it turns out that a tourniquet for a scraped knee was a bit excessive. And this machete was of little value in this desert terrain. 

No, I would need to trade these more primitive (though once appropriate) tools in for more suitable ones. Like maybe a pencil and a notebook to process the journey thus far. Maybe band-aids and long walks behind my kids riding freely on their bicycles. Perhaps quiet moments with Jesus without the world falling in around us. All tools that were not readily available before, in the hostile and demanding terrain of jungle life. 

I can stop all the striving now and live here. I can be present and it doesn’t negate the past. My life can not look like I ever thought it would and yet I can find Jesus here, too, patiently speaking to me. 

Two years of Him whispering. 

Not long after we moved here, He gave me a verse

I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me.” (Colossians 1.29)

I didn’t pay much attention to it, honestly. I read it and read it and knew it meant something for me, but I wasn’t ready yet to cease my striving so I wrote it on a chalk board and put it above the kitchen sink. I think only now it’s sinking in: 

It’s by His strength in me that anything is ever accomplished through me. 

How basic is that? (And how hardheaded must I be for it to take this long?) 

Oh, He’s a patient God. And from here on I choose to imperfectly cease from striving. To “let it be” as the Beatles so wisely admonished us. To take a step when I should and wait when I shouldn’t. Because one day I’ll need to trade out these tools for new ones as well. And He'll equip me anew. 

But for now, these are just the ones I need. 


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Behind the Picket Fence

She stood there, cautiously baring her heart to me. Her words said to me that she thought I had it together. She thinks I know what the heck I’m doing every day when I wake up and all the things from near and far are calling my name. 

Instantly my mind went back to a few days ago when I found myself weeping uncontrollably under the covers and pillows on my bed, my bedroom door locked to the demands of my kids, and my heart physically aching in my chest because I miss my jungle family so much and the loneliness is sometimes too much for me to stand under, so I cave. 

Turns out, I’m human like the rest of ‘em.

My house has a white picket fence. It’s quintessential irony calls to me every day when I check the mail or take out the trash or mow the lawn in the monotonous day to day. 


I gave this all up once, you know. Willingly. Joyfully. I turned it all in for a life overseas. All that I had been called to became my reality. 

And then Jesus said, suddenly and unexpectedly, it was time to sacrifice a different way. 

It was the harder to say yes that time. 

Now I find myself at Walmart and still, two years back on this side of the border, I fight another anxiety attack because the aisles seem so long and toilet paper options seem like a task of decision making prowess that I’m just not equipped for. 

But those are not the photos we put on social media are they? Of our struggle to reconcile broken dreams with the beautiful life given. Of not being able to relate or not being understood because suddenly you are thousands of miles from everyone who knows you best. 

I never post an instastory of me losing it with my daughter because the lies seem insurmountable and never ending and five years into this confusing and refining role of adoptive mom to a child with a hurtful past, I still feel as lost as ever many (most?) days. And there are harsh words and apologies and lies followed by truth revealed and lessons learned for both of us. Tears and hugs and another step forward after two steps back. 

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do to face myself in this mirror of adoption. And it’s a lonely road when others just don’t get it. 

And I have never snapped a selfie when I’m crying on the bathroom floor, shoulders slumped because I feel so inadequate and useless under the weight of raising awareness for the many tangible needs of our jungle family. I struggle to find the balance of here-meets-there, where kids are being abused on every corner and we need funds to reach them but also laundry is piling up and my own kids need me to teach them math and reading and how to tie their shoes.

These just scratch the surface of the social-media “non-worthy” items. 

All the while Jesus whispers to me every day, “Cease from striving.” I can almost hear it as though it were an audible voice calling to me. 

And I don’t know yet what it looks like to live that out. 

So I wake up early and lean in hard. I physically open my hands, achy heart and shaky knees, and ask Jesus to show me He is real here, too, in what feels like lonely loss. He wasn’t only real back when I thought I knew His plans for my life. My preconceived and naive ideas of who He is and what He has called me to isn’t enough. He is bigger and better and His ways are true and good. 

My calling is not to know all the things. It is to trust Him. To look to Him alone.

Even when I feel lost and inadequate. Even when I see another Facebook post that reminds me I’m here and not there or this way and not that. 

I shut out the voices that can't see my heart and I trust the One who can.

It still leaves me breathless in tears many days. It’s ok to grieve what was lost (or perhaps just reassigned). 

Most days, I choose to run back into hope and gratefulness. And you see it. 

Other days, I collapse in sadness, fear, doubt. And you don’t. 

So when I post a photo on Instagram and it appears that I’m living a perfect life, remember it’s my highlight reel. There is a behind the scenes, too.

But instead of focusing on all that feels taken, I focus on what is given. 

Rather than honing in on what makes my heart ache inside my chest, I hone in on what makes my soul glad. 

In place of what appears to have been lost, I look for what I know to be found. 

Because wouldn’t you know it, that adorable white picket fence doesn’t close properly. You have to lift it up and pull it ever so particularly for it to shut all the way. Life’s like that, too. No matter what it may look like on the outside, it’s always harder and more finicky than you think it should be. 

Don’t believe the lie that says anyone has it all together. They don’t. You don’t. I don’t. We are all just humans with struggles. 

And really, if you think about it, that’s good news... because it is precisely why we all need Jesus.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

These Demons are Pretty

“Go watch Elliott,” Richard said to me very seriously.

I stepped into the kitchen in our tiny wooden jungle home and looked out onto the back patio where Elliott liked to play in the big water basin. He was three and a half and full of imagination and wonder at all the things the world had to offer. I watched as he played contently, then glanced up into the virgin jungle behind our home. Then a smiled spread across his face as he waved enthusiastically. That’s when my own smile faded.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...