Nothing is Wasted

This song was on repeat on my iPod today….

 

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The Step off of the Platform

I went zip lining last week. For someone who has a fear of heights when I’m not comfortably contained in some sort of vehicle, zip lining was a good idea back when I thought about it with both feet on the ground. As we drove up the mountain in a former Dutch army truck that teetered on the edge of said mountain? Less of a good idea.

Actually, it was a terrifying idea.

I went anyway because everyone else went. Yes, while it didn’t involve a bridge, I “jumped” because my friends “jumped.” Also, there weren’t any refunds. So. There.

The zip line team put harnesses and safety equipment on our team and hooked us to the safety line before the first line. I saw my friends all step off the platform like it was nothing while I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest in 20 degree weather. I couldn’t decide whether to cry or embarrass myself by vomiting. Honest to goodness.

Then it was my turn.

Marisol hooked both carabiners to the cable and then I had to step off the platform, which should have been easier, but both of my feet refused to leave the platform.

Although in my head I knew I was wearing a helmet, a harness with redundant carabiners, hooked to a cable that would hold up to 6000 lbs, and I had seen a good portion of my team do the first line, as my friend Heather pointed out, you don’t feel the tension of the equipment working until you are pushed take a step off the platform.

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Don’t be fooled by my smile – I was terrified!

Much like like my life.

God puts these crazy steps in front of me. And I do everything I can to keep both feet where I feel safe. I make alternative plans. I offer other ideas to God, as if I could remotely control the events of my life. Even when I know I can’t move forward, that I can’t get off the mountain until I let go of the platform, I will try to make another way.

But platforms aren’t meant to be permanent living spaces. They are places for jumping off.

It’s been one of those themes that I’ve seen in my life over the past three and a half years: the audacity, the recklessness of faith. It challenges our commitment to this God who calls us to live a fuller, bigger life…if we’re willing to let go of our feeling of control. I remember the prayer that day walking my dog – Lord, what more can I do for You? What more can I give You? Apparently, it is my wholehearted acceptance of His will, even when it feels reckless or audacious.

We are in a transition season because we have another opportunity to trust the tension in the rope after we step off the platform. I have run out of justifications, excuses, and alternatives for God. I wrote the email that finally closed the door on my way.

There’s no going back if we want to enjoy the ride, if we want to move forward. We have to step off of the platform and trust…

I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap, then you grow wings. – William Sloan Coffin

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The view of Agua (Antigua, Guatemala, 2013)

Rewind: The Season of Waiting (aka Day 21)

This post was originally written October 17, 2009. While that season of waiting is over, I was encouraged in reading this post again. I hope it speaks to someone…

 

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I’m in a season of waiting. I knew where I was going two years ago. My family and friends thought I was crazy. But when God calls you to something that seems crazy, you are able to move despite the doubt. But when you get to the season of waiting, those doubts that you ignored get louder and louder. You feel engulfed in a darkness, as if maybe you did make the wrong decision after all.

As I’ve been going through this waiting season, I’m desperately searching for God’s voice. I fell into this Psalm:

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? […] Consider and answer me, O Lord my God…

David, Psalm 13

David’s heartbroken in this Psalm. He’s listening for direction from God, but feels forgotten. He can’t hear God’s voice and he can’t see God’s hand. He feels like he has to rely on himself, but that is bringing sorrow. When I read this chapter the first time, I imagined David screaming these words, shaking his fist at heaven. You know, with the rain pouring down his face, mud all around David. (CUE THUNDER!) In more recent readings of this chapter, however, I see him saying it more as I would say it right now; in a quiet tone, just more than a whisper, from a soul that is just defeated, deflated, and done.

When God gives us direction, we know where we’re going. We’re moving. We can hear His voice and see His hand. But we’re not supposed to move all the time. Sometimes, God wants us to wait for Him. Sometimes it is not about getting to that destination. Sometimes it is about getting to know God’s character.

Psalm 27 ends with a reminder to wait for God.

Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait on the Lord. (v. 14)

The word for “wait” in Hebrew is qâvâh (kaw-vaw). Its figurative definition is to expect, gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon). Waiting means expecting God to do something, but not rushing to do it ourselves. Waiting means that we look to God and patiently expect His voice, His hand, and His goodness to come to us again.

A good soldier waits for commands from his superior. He doesn’t rush to make the next move because he doesn’t see the Master Plan. He should wait for the directions to come from one who understands how his actions fit into everything, how what he does next will lead to the next set of actions, which all lead to a goal.

But waiting gets old after a while.

Hearing God’s silence is lonely.

Patiently expecting becomes tiring on the soul.

This is why you have to read Psalm 13 to the end. Psalm 13 concludes with an affirmation of God’s character and a reminder of why David should continue to trust in God:

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the  Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Because he can’t see God’s hand or hear God’s voice, David has to recall that this God has saved him time and time again. He chose to ignore his feelings of abandonment and focuses on what he know is true about God; He is a good God. The literal definition of qâvâh is “to bind together, by twisting.” Maybe when we get into a season of waiting, we are being bound to God. We have to rely so much on our faith of what we know of God that our faith is binding us to Him.

So, as I wait on God, as I wait for the next set of directions, I am going to recall the goodness of God in my life. He has never failed me. He has never forsaken me. Though I can’t see His hand nor hear His voice, I know that He has a plan for my life and a reason for this waiting season. I am going to allow Him to bind me closer to Him.

This one thing

Sorry for the silence, folks. I’m still trying to adjust to this world with bottles, baby food, diapers, nap time, pterodactyl happy or unhappy screaming….and now work as I return intermittently for the remainder of my FMLA leave.

I’ve been seeking God about new directions, the desires of my heart, and His timing. These types of seasons are so hard. Though I plead with God for what I want, I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know how things will work out. I simply continue to sit and wait, hoping that He will answer me, that He will continue to be faithful to my requests.

I’m sure this post is vague and you might be thinking, what is she asking for? Without sharing too much publicly, I’m asking God to continue to fill the desires of my heart. Although I have specifically asked for two things, I am praying this one thing:

That God would give me His will.

This point was underscored during the message at church on Sunday about prayer. I am making my request of what I do want and hope will be His will, but ultimately I want to have His perfect will accomplished in my life. What that looks like, I’m not sure right now. Until I hear otherwise, I think it means continuing to be where we are.

I never thought the words of the “Lord’s Prayer” to be painful, until I realized what those words require of me: humility, faith, forgiveness, repentance, and an understanding that I do not, in fact, know what’s best for me. Those words are not merely words any longer. They are a reminder to live for a God who is holy, sovereign, provision, forgiving, and faithful.

Whatever I think I want I for my life, He clearly knows better. He is a Father who gives good gifts. The Creator of the world who, in His goodness, created all things, will certainly guide us in the very best path for our lives as the Shows family.

Yes, Lord, “Thy will be done.”
Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 6:9-13

That last mile

I know I don’t look like it, but I used to run. It was back in grad school when I (amazingly) had more time for stuff like that than I do now. I remember that I could give myself a pep talk about running for the first mile and it would feel good. But the last mile? I h a t e d  it. That dreaded last mile is so very painful and you just want it to end as quickly as possible. But of course, you don’t have the energy to make it end more quickly. Instead it drags out. It took every ounce of strength to be motivated just to make it back to my apartment.

The last mile is always the hardest. In all reality, you know you have the strength to do it, but in the moment, when you’re dealing with cramps, muscle fatigue, and sweat, you don’t think that you actually do. You want to quit.

I’m there right now. We are on the last mile. Don’t get me wrong – I know we can do this. I know we will do this. But sometimes I start to feel doubt creeping in. Like, as hard as we try, we’ll never actually make it. If I could fast-forward through all the painful steps, the figurative cramps and fatigue, I would. I know that’s not the positive “We can do this!” that I should be putting out into cyberspace. But this is where I am.
On the last mile.

I know we haven’t had to endure the wait that most families have. That’s a blessing and a curse. Because I’m so excited that I can barely contain myself. I can’t wait to hold Baby Shows in my arms. And I know that will be very soon.

Until then, we will push through. We will get this done. It will take perseverance. Endurance. It will take willpower that I didn’t know we had.

And then Baby Shows will be home. Forever.

So here is my last mile pep talk:

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.” Walter Elliot

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“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run withendurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” – The Author of Hebrews

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“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” – Paul to the believers in Rome

~*~

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” – John Quincy Adams

~*~

“If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.”-Samuel Johnson

~*~

“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Reprove the ruthless. Defend the orphan. Plead for the widow.” – Isaiah

~*~

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” – James

Let Go

 

God, I don’t want to pray this, but I will.

I would rather be in control.

But I can’t be.

I would rather exert my will.

But it’s not best.

So here’s my prayer.

Not my will, but Yours.

Yours over all.

Yours everyday.

Yours in this moment.

And in the moment to come.

I will let go.

To be still*.

And know that You are God.

 

(and You don’t need my help)

 

*cease striving

 

The God who is bigger than my belief

Right now I’m a little scared.

I’m not sure how we get from Point A to Point B.

But I know my God does.

And even if my faith is little,

My God isn’t.

And that’s what I will choose to believe.

 

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:8-11

Like a Lion…

I’ve been doing a lot of driving recently, which means a lot of time in my car. This also means a lot of music. And I’ve been obsessed with a few songs, one of which is “Like a Lion” by David Crowder*Band. (If you see me driving around and I’m having a little dance party, I’m probably listening to this song.) I think it’s the chorus that really gets me…

My God is not dead
He’s surely alive
He’s living on the inside
Roaring like a lion

Listening to this for the first time, I remember thinking, Of course God isn’t dead. But then I thought, does my life really reflect that? Do I really live like I serve the one true, living God? What would change if my life really reflected a living God?

I’ve been mulling this thought over and over and over (see previous comment about driving a lot). My God is alive. And, yet, sometimes I act as if I’m already defeated. Like two weeks ago. I just sat in my office reading the email about the adoption and thinking…there’s no way that this adoption will ever be completed. There’s simply no way.

But that’s not the truth.

In fact, that’s not the truth at all.

Because my God’s not dead. He’s definitely alive. And He’s engaged in our story.

Romans 8 puts it this way (emphasis added),

31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36Just as it is written,

“FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”

37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Reading that description, I see a God who is ALIVE, who INTERCEDES for us, who will not let ANYTHING separate us from Him, and who makes us overwhelmingly conquerors. I love that phrase “overwhelmingly conquer” because it means that we don’t just get around whatever we face, we defeat it until we are incontestable winners. We serve a God who is actively, undeniably involved and engaged in our story. He is on our side.

This adoption hasn’t been easy in the sense that God has made our path smooth. It’s been easy in the sense that He has held our hands through every step, through every challenge, through every seemingly impassable obstacle.

And here’s my testimony to that.

As we got our amazing news about Baby Shows, I thought, there’s no way that we can make this happen in such a short amount of time. How are we going to bring Baby Shows home with this giant financial obstacle in our way? And I doubted my living God.

But then, over the last two weeks, we’ve had more than $2,500 come in for our adoption between individual donations and a grant from the Fatherless Foundation. That’s right. We cannot believe our God’s faithfulness to us.

Because our God makes us more than conquerors. He knows that there’s a child over in Africa with the last name of Shows. And He’s making a way where there is no way.

He is alive.

A memorial stone for faith

It’s almost been one year since we started really pursuing our adoption. It’s crazy to think where we were last year. We had so little money to put toward this adoption. We weren’t really in a place where expanding our family was logical. But the calling was clear. Pursue it this year.

So we started on the path of adoption.

And we had doors we thought we were supposed to go through that closed.

Then we had to seek God again – “We did hear You, right? This is the path You called us to walk…right?”

When I think about the particular moment – the moment when Ethiopia didn’t work out for us – my heart still breaks. I was so certain that Baby Shows was in Ethiopia. I was prepared for the long wait (it was more logical for us anyway). It didn’t make sense to me. And I wanted to be a momma so desperately.

But if we had tried to force our idea of what God wanted for us, we would have missed Baby Shows. Because Baby Shows was in an entirely different African nation. One that we weren’t expecting, honestly. And I can’t tell you (yet) all the things that happened since we submitted our application, but I can tell you October was the reason we were supposed to walk the path that He placed us on. October 4 will remain one of those days that we will never forget. His plan was there all along. Hidden from us until that moment.

Now we are in 2012. God has amazing things for us this year. This is the year we hope to become a family of three.

Yet a mountain stands between us and that point. Last Friday, I was defeated. I couldn’t see how it was possible. I wavered in my faith.

What does it look like to have faith?

Although my husband is someone of great faith, I am not. I tend to timidity and fear (and a lot of “What ifs?!”). So this whole journey has been a long exercise of faith. And what I’ve learned is this.

Faith is a choice. It’s not a feeling.

There have been many moments where I don’t feel like I should believe. There have been many moments that when I look at the evidence, I shouldn’t believe. Because it is impossible by all earthly means.

But faith is a choice. It’s a choice to see what’s there and believe what isn’t. It’s a choice to believe despite all evidence to the contrary. The adoption is the first time in my entire life I have truly lived Hebrews 11:1 (The Amplified Version):

NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

Faith is something that only grows when challenged. Like a muscle, faith develops from a weight that tears the fibers apart so they can heal and become stronger. “Our faith grows the strongest on the sides of steep slopes where there’s less to cling to.”

 tree on the edge(Photo courtesy of craigcloutier on Flickr)

 

We ended up on a completely different timeline, one that has been incredibly quick. Even in this, God has been faithful in every step. Every single step. He has taught me what is meant by our “daily bread.” It seems that every need has been bigger than the funds we have personally. But we haven’t had a cost go unpaid. The funds we need are there exactly when we need them. Our friends have given sacrificially to help us bring Baby Shows home.

I cannot adequately express my gratitude that so many people have been faithful in the love of our heavenly Father, whose heart is for the Fatherless. And all of you have a beautiful part in our child’s story. We are so blessed by you.

So, to 2011 was a year of learning to have faith. It was my year to exercise belief.

I’m not sure what 2012 holds, what little gems God has prepared for me. But I know that if God is preparing our steps, whatever 2012 has, it will be ultimately good.

Today I’m grateful for….

Today I felt discouraged.

But it didn’t last long.

Because there were so many people to hold me up.

So I’m grateful today for friends who have faith when you’re just too tired to believe for yourself.

Who can hold your arms up high for you.

Who stand in the gap and pray with you.

And y’all are right.

God is faithful.

And He’s going to blow our minds in how He will provide.