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.

Advertisements

Circumstantial Faith

Per usual I can’t share the specifics of anything in this post. (Sorry – it stinks, I know!) Suffice it to say that I got a call today that wasn’t intended to be discouraging, but somehow left me discouraged nonetheless. I hung up and immediately those thoughts trickled in. “What if…what if…what if…” Plagued by doubt, I started to question everything. Even after my lifetime of faith in Christ, I still reach for fear and doubt as my first reaction when something looks remotely challenging to a bump-free existence.

When will I move beyond a faith that is circumstantial?

Situations often sway how I feel about my faith and God. But this isn’t the way it’s meant to be. Because the very definition of faith, as found in Hebrews, is

the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith is having full confidence (assurance) in what we are hoping for. It is the firmly held belief in something that is unseen.

Faith is being in those moments where doubt is our first reaction and still choosing to believe. It’s looking at the circumstances and choosing not be swayed. Faith is having the opportunity and reason to run around like a chicken with your head cut-off and choosing to stay calm and believe. Faith is a choice. And it’s often not the first thing we wish to choose.

But if our God is even half of Who He says He is, then He deserves my faith and trust. If He is even a tad bit faithful as evidenced in the Bible and throughout history, then I want to move forward in belief.

Faith comes with a blessing. That first step of faith may be terrifying, but after that faith become self-sustaining. Belief in God continues belief in Him. It sustains us through the circumstances that would otherwise call us to doubt.

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD.
8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Gratitude

So the saying is that “It takes a village to raise a child.” With our adoption full-speed ahead, my take is that “It takes a village to make our child part of the village.” International adoption is crazy and full of ups and downs. It’s costly and bonkers. It’s a wild ride.

And it wouldn’t be possible without our friends and family.

As we start another yard sale, start selling our adoption tshirts, and other fundraising efforts to get Baby Shows home, we have learned what an awesome network of folks we have around us. We have had donations from friends, acquaintances, and strangers. We’ve had words of encouragement via Facebook, my blog, email, texts, cards, random notes, and in person. I now make “thank you” cards a regular purchase when I go to the store because we are so overwhelmed by the support we’ve received. And I know that a little card is really not enough to thank many of you for the sacrifices you are making to help us bring our child home.

Words fail to adequately describe how much this all means to us.

Thank you for having a part in our family’s story. I have come to call our supporters “Team Shows”. If you have encouraged us, prayed for us, or donated to the Baby Shows fund, you are part of Team Shows and we are so excited that our team keeps growing and growing.

God tells Moses to bless His people in Numbers 6. We want you to know that we pray this blessing for Team Shows regularly:

The LORD bless you, and keep you;
~*~
The LORD make His face shine on you,

And be gracious to you;
~*~
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,

And give you peace.

My confession

So remember the other day when I said I was struggling? Yeah, I thought I had worked through it. Until I woke up at 4 a.m. the next morning in a panic about everything. And the day just went down hill from there. I got a  message via Facebook that I had misunderstood the size of the next payment for my mission trip to Africa this winter is due November 12. I picked up another job to help pay for that. I work Monday through Friday as a grantwriter and then Wednesday and Thursday nights as an adjunct instructor at two separate colleges. (That means two separate textbooks, two separate preps, two separate requirements for teaching effectiveness, two separate requirements for everything…) The thing is, I won’t get paid in time for that November 12 date. And by that time our other payment will probably be due. We are trying to figure out a way and time to do fundraising between now and November/December, if only we had time to sit down together and plan. I would lie to say that I know that God will provide. Because Wednesday, I was trying to do crazy math and nothing was adding up. At.all.

Yes, Wednesday, I was feeling a little stressed.

So here’s my confession: I struggle with faith. I struggle to believe that my God is greater than the circumstances in which I find myself. I struggle to believe that God is able. I struggle to continue to acknowledge that my awesome Father loves and cares for me and will provide for my every need. And sometimes a want. I struggle to remember that God has provided for me in the past. It’s easier to say, Oh, I know He’ll provide. It’s much harder to live that out.

And so I find myself at 4 a.m. looking for the God who will just drop the adoption costs and work out the mission trip details in an instant so I don’t have to believe.

I have yet to find that God.

Instead, I serve a God that prompted me to read Psalm 127 before going to bed Wednesday night:

1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
3 Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,

I can imagine God laughing as I read that because I was laughing (and crying, too). [In fact, I bet He found that last half of a verse HILARIOUS. Evan did.] See, I was trying to figure out how I would make it all work out. I wanted my clear and easy plan to just make it happen. So I wouldn’t have to have faith. So I wouldn’t have to believe. I could just do it. Without Him.

That’s missing the point, right?

This whole journey – not just the mission trip or the adoption – this whole walk with God isn’t about me. I am a very small part of the equation. It’s about Him. It’s about becoming more like Christ. It’s about growing in my love for Him, my faithfulness to Him. This is the whole point. Less of me, more of Him.

So Wednesday night, after struggling and struggling on my own all day, God prompts me to read that little Psalm. His little note to His daughter that He has this under control. He is using this process to draw me closer to Him. To help my unbelief. To cause me to be more like Him.

Here is my confession that I will hold fast to:

I believe in a God who loves me.
I believe in a God who is with His children on the path He has called them.
I believe in a God who does not want me to struggle needlessly.
I believe in a God who builds the house with His children.
I believe in a God who provides. Always.

Testimony

I have felt a little panicked recently about the cost of our adoption. I woke up thinking, what if we don’t have it? What happens then? Seriously, the most intimidating part of this journey is looking at the fee schedule and thinking, Dear Lord, how are we going to be able to make that next payment? I knew going into this process, this would be my greatest challenge. Not the mountain of paperwork. Not the notarizations. Not even the wait. It really comes down to the cost: Do I have the faith to believe that my God will provide?

We’re about $2,000 shy of our next goal. Honestly, that’s incredible. If I were just to concentrate on how much He’s provided for us since we started talking about adoption, I would be in awe. Now we’re only $2,000 shy of our next goal. That should seem like a lot of money to me – and it still is, no doubt – but given that God has provided more than $9,000…it’s doesn’t feel so scary.

As I’ve been doing fundraising research (events and grants), I was encouraged when I came across a video that showed God’s provision down to the penny. It’s a testimony to God’s awesome ability to provide for His children, to fund what He has called them to.

Today, I’m dwelling on Psalm 121. God is our helper and will carry us through, down to the last penny we need for this adoption.

1 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
8 The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.