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.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Slave Set Free

I hopped off the back of the mototaxi and peeked my head in the door of Grace House to surprise her. She hugged me tight and kissed my neck, smiling that wide open smile that I remember from three years ago when I first met her. I hugged her right back and told her how good it was to see her.

And it really was so good. I watched her as she prepared the food for the kids that day and she worked ever so diligently. She thanked me over and over for the opportunity to be here, in this place, working. “The smiles of these kids keep me going every day. Thank you. Really, thank you.”

Monday, January 23, 2017

Life Off the Bandwagon

 As I watch from a distance the United States becoming a huge mess, I have very conflicting emotions. On the one hand, I long for God to open eyes so that we remain the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

But on the other hand, I simply wait and pray.  After all, it’s hard to see the Light when all seems day. 

So instead I pray for God’s true Church to come down as the darkness closes in. No more cheap grace and Gospel show. No more divide and conquer. 

The Spirit is far from our pretty buildings and well-coordinated programs and our endless checklists of do’s and don’ts.

We hop from bandwagon to bandwagon as they pass by with their Scripture-laden banners flying high, announcing what is right and wrong. All the while our feet never even touch the ground.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Father for the Fatherless

I'll never forget the look on his face. It is a memory that has come to mind many times since that day over three years ago now. I watched as a man staggered around, finally collapsing to the ground in a heap of drunkeness and I glanced over to see the stare on Rafael's face. It wasn't what you might imagine to see on the face of a ten-year-old boy who just saw his father pass out right in front of the crowd of kids who had gathered together for a friend's birthday party.

It was a sort of blank stare with an odd grin. It wasn't a happy grin, though. (Is there a happy grin to be had when you witness this... again?) It was an embarrassed grin. He continued to watch as Rosa calmly called to her boys to carefully drag him from the road and place him in the grass where at least the risk of getting hit by a mototaxi was lessened.

I pulled Rafael in close and hugged his rigid body tight.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

On Being a Difference Maker

I remember as a kid I used to dream of making a difference in people’s lives. I wanted to go on big adventures and heal wounds and preach truth and love hard.

As I got older that desire only grew more and more as I would read the stories of our missionary forefathers. I craved that same resolve that they had to stand in front of the trials with that unshakable faith and face the enemy with boldness. I was one daydream away from skipping through fields of daisies with my Bible in hand and a whole slew of new converts hot on my heals.


The hard looked so much easier back then when I could close the pages and roll over in my nice warm bed, clinging to the triumphant ending and dismissing the trials that led up to it.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pray for Grace House

I sat across the living room from her and I felt like with each word coming out of her mouth, someone was placing another brick on my shoulders.

God brought her here and this journey has been devastating to all that I have ever known. For three years now, our life has been turned upside down.

She told the stories and I just kept thinking, “They’re still out there. All of the other littles are still out there.”

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