Secret Identity

Have I mentioned this adoption thing is hard? Other than living with the terminal cancer diagnosis, this is the hardest season of our lives. There are a lot of great things about it, and Teddy is amazing, but that doesn’t make it easier.

Every morning I am aware of my need for new mercies and strength. By the time I drop the girls off at school and race toward whatever obligation awaits, I’ve forgotten my own weaknesses and blamed everyone but myself for the plethora of hardships that have mounted.

Before we started the process of adoption I was imperfect, but there was so much less evidence of it! Other than last weekend when I slept nonstop so wasn’t around people, there hasn’t been one conversation where I don’t regret at least one thing I said…or at least thought.

I hate being a sinner! I hate the reality that no matter how hard I try, I don’t get any better! I hate that I backslide into a deeper mudput than the one I finally got out of, and I hate the hopelessness of recognizing how deep I’m in it! Most of all, I hate that true Love introduced us to the most precious little boy to complete our family, and I’m spending time being frustrated about his whining rather than understanding what he’s asking for.

But with all this reality, this isn’t a bad news kind of day. This is a new morning! I’ve read two books on identity lately, and they were great but still left me missing it. Today’s devotional in “Morning and Evening” by Spurgeon (revised by Begg) explained it all:

”Yes, we are indeed the conquered captives of His omnipotent love. As those chosen, who have been purchased and subdued, we know that the rights of our divine possessor are inalienable: we rejoice that we can never be our own; and we desire, day by day, to do his will and to declare His glory.”

We do? WE DO! That’s me! That is my heart’s desire, I just am not living it out. I’m living like a cast off, trying to scramble to the inner circle. But I’m already in! Deuteronomy 32:9 assures is, “But the Lord’s portion is His people”. I’m not the gum on the bottom of His shoe, I’m His portion. And if you choose to follow Him, so are you! Let’s live in that dignity.

On this new morning instead of asking for just forgiveness and strength, I praise the Lord for making me important to Him. He made me royalty and invited me to raise others with the same birth rights, so that is the reality I’ll pass on to them today. I’ll still be a sinner saved by grace, but maybe the gratitude from that will consume me more than my flesh today.

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All the Hard Things

This adoption thing is SO hard. We know the Lord called us to it, we know Teddy is a perfect addition to our family, and we love him dearly. We know the Lord chose to adopt us and make us part of His perfect family forever, and because we are a family of sinners bringing in a sinner, our adopting Teddy requires much less sacrifice than the Lord bringing us sinners into His sinless presence.

That much we know. And it doesn’t make it any easier. It’s so hard. Even though our family is in it together, and our church family is really supportive, I haven’t felt this lonely since my terminal cancer diagnosis. But the Lord reminded me this morning that “no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must have account” (Hebrews 4:13). It doesn’t matter if I feel alone, I am not. And neither are you. The Comforter is always aware and available.

From the first day we had Teddy, we felt like we wandered into a war zone. In less than a month each of us have been sick once, and for Naomi and I it’s been twice (I literally got strep throat TWICE). We have had tons of interpersonal stress and disagreements, and so much confusion about how to love Teddy properly. On top of that, Yaacov had to take three business trips, my mom came down with shingles AND diverticulitis, we had a major hurricane, 4 different groups came out for home visits in one week, had three trips to Jacksonville, one trip to the ER and one minor surgery. Oh, and THREE doorknobs in our home broke. Three over the course of a few days. Sometimes small things like broken door knobs can put me over the edge.

We have prayerfully isolated ourselves recently, to focus on learning to love this little guy. That means we dropped important things off our schedules to do the more important thing. It’s an honor to raise him, and to have the chance to be faithful with little. But for my part there has been some mourning. One day while struggling with it, a song I once posted about, Oceans (Where Feet May Fall), came on. I was helping Teddy eat some breakfast and feeling sad that I’d had to pass up the offer to spiritually mentor a new believer, when the reality of those words struck me. I caught it on video. 

The lyrics of that song are things we have prayed through the years:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Click here to hear the whole song and get pumped up, like I did. When I’ve prayed for things like this in the past, I wasn’t asking to raise another child, I expected something more glamorous. But the Lord knew better. He will use this to teach us to trust, to grow much deeper in faith, and to know and recognize our savior better. Hallelujah!

 

Cancer and Crawling

I’ve been thinking about blogging all day because of the new direction our family’s life is taking. We have Teddy with us for a visit, and then hopefully we’ll get to keep him for good after next week. Bringing “someone else’s” toddler into your home is pretty weird–getting to know and parent him at the same time is different than I thought. But already we’ve started understanding what he wants and needs, and I think the bond we have with him is actually better than I would expect after this amount of time.

When I went to the computer to blog about Teddy, I was confronted with one thing that has been causing me sorrow lately–cancer. I’m healthy and all that, but this is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so there are a lot of reminders of what we went through 7 years ago. What we are still going through, in many ways.

Watching Teddy crawl around reminds me of watching Naomi crawl. I had a terminal diagnosis back then. It was so hard to enjoy any moment, knowing it was one of my last. The more precious she was, the more deeply I hurt for her.

Obviously my story turned out great, but it brought me close to so many whose lives were later taken by cancer. Most recently, my friend Debora passed away. She was the only other person I got to walk through a healing with. The night she was healed, several years ago, was one of the best of my life. I experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in really unique ways. I know she really was healed. But then the cancer came back. And now she’s in heaven.

There are no more tears in heaven, so maybe it’s my story that is the real tragedy. But I have exceedingly great joy that the Lord gave me all these healthy “bonus” days to help Abi and Naomi grow up, and to see how much the Lord has done to further sanctify Yaacov through this time. And now to get to pour into little Teddy’s life, the perfect reminder that I am abundantly blessed.

To recount my healing story, click here  for a video made when I was the honoree at Cards for a Cure in Tallahassee.

Psalm 33:13-19

The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

 

 

Good, and Better

It took longer than expected, but we had our new son, Teddy, in our home from Thursday until this morning. We expect to get him for good in about a week. Despite having tons of time to prepare for the homecoming, the house is disorganized, there’s a ton of stuff we need, and emotional turmoil abounds. With all this, God is good.

There are so many small things that come with raising a toddler that you don’t think about, but that vary from family to family. He has expectations, we have expectations, and they don’t always align. But we are figuring it out and enjoying the process.

Well, most of us. One of our girls is having a really hard time sharing her life with her new brother. I can’t really blame her–everything changed on Thursday, and she isn’t the one who heard the call to bring more children into the family in the first place. Part of me feels like a traitor, choosing to love someone else who makes her feel less loved by her parents. But when I get focused back on the Lord, I know it is Good. It is Good that she learns that what feels best isn’t always what is right (walking by the flesh v. Spirit).  It is Good that she has this opportunity to grow in her understanding of how deeply the Lord knows and cares for her. And it is even better for her to recognize how hard the Christian life can be–“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (Gal 5:14). That’s what reminds us how badly we need our Savior.

So, we delight in the blessing of getting to raise Teddy, and in returning to the days where we trip over baby toys in the dark. And yes, with the help of the Lord we will relish the opportunity to struggle with and grow in love.

Adopted

We are in Jacksonville, preparing to meet Teddy for the first time. We will have a few supervised visits, then I think I get to start going to some of his medical appointments and beginning the transition to our home.

When I was pregnant with Abi and Naomi, I didn’t know if they’d be girls or boys. I loved the surprise element. Anyway, with Teddy it is different. We know what he looks like, his given name, we’ve poured through his 100 page medical history. We don’t know exactly what’s in store for us in raising him, but we know that the special needs he has could be difficult on our hearts, schedules, and overall family dynamic. This doesn’t knock out any of the excitement, though–we are counting the minutes.

Some people who are aware of the intricacies of adopting from the foster system have kindly thanked us for our willingness to do so. Every time this happens, we remember that we, too, were adopted. The Lord didn’t take us in because we are a benefit to Him. It wasn’t because we would do something so amazing on earth that He wanted us on His side. He adopted us in spite of who we were before we received the spirit of Christ. No matter how much we have sinned or will sin, we are forgiven because of the sacrifice of the Son, and it doesn’t temper HIs excitement to take us into His family.

Our gratitude for our own adoption spills over to Teddy. We aren’t taking him in because we need more Petschers running around, or because we have a thing for 2-year-olds. We feel so privileged to adopt him into our household to teach him the truth about who he is in Christ. No matter what happened to him in the past, he is a son of the king.

This morning when we lay eyes on little Teddy for the first time, it will be at least as exciting as the first time we met Abigail and Naomi. The grafting process will begin as our hearts expand to love more, and better, than ever before. We won’t be perfect parents, but will point him to his perfect heavenly One.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17

It’s a BOY!

You can check in on some people and find them doing life in much the same way, and with the same people, in any given decade. I’ve been known to long for such a steadfast lifestyle, even though that’s not one the Lord has called Yaacov and me to. Right now I have no regrets though. It’s been six years since the Lord healed me of my “terminal” breast cancer. Then He led me to hold hands with others who were going through similar diagnoses. After that we helped start a little school before spending a couple years homeschooling. Last year we moved across Tallahassee to prepare for a church plant, Yaacov became an elder, and the girls started private school. It was a huge blessing that I could the last year as a stay at home mom while the kids were in school, because I really needed that rest: It’s finally time for our next adventure!

God willing, we expect our sweet little family to grow in the next few months.

We’ll call him Teddy.

TEDDY!!!

The Lord first put adoption on Yaacov’s heart a year ago, and I was an easy sell from there. It is such an honor that the Lord adopted us into His family, and He’s faithful to provide all we need to care for His other children. Of course, we tried to set rules for the Lord to abide by, including that we wouldn’t take babies or boys, and it took awhile for Him to remind us that we are the ones who do the abiding. So He refocused our hearts and are thrilled by the opportunity to welcome this tiny two-year-old boy into our lives.

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” Romans 8:14-15

There are a lot of things to be nervous about. Many things could go wrong between now and the actual adoption, so we’d love prayer for that, and for the Abi and Naomi, who are struggling with the reality of beginning to share a room in order to make way for their new little brother. And how are we going to find the energy and patience to raise another baby? We are trying to stay focused on the Lord while frantically gathering all the things we need for this little guy. We couldn’t be more excited to bring him home, and can’t wait to share more details and pictures of him when it’s official.

 

Walking on Water

Well, I’m back. The Lord keeps prompting me to start blogging again, but I’ve been very hesitant. Even though the reasons seem shallow, in reality I think they are founded in fear. And I didn’t go through all the terrifying aspects of terminal cancer (and an almost-as-terrifying recovery from all that) to cower in fear now!

The Lord has been so good to me that I *try* not to complain so much. Who am I to moan and groan about the problems I have now that the Lord chose to heal me? But the reality is that He also chose to use trials to continue to refine me while I’m on earth, and it’s kind of disgusting to overlook that. No matter how hard things get, it’s an honor to behold our God, who chooses to make me more like Him.

I do struggle with a lot of health issues now, and I know countless others are in the same boat. My metabolism was already in limbo before cancer, but adding that to thyroid issues and surgical menopause, I gained approximately 1 zillion pounds, and it seemed like only a miracle could get it off. In fact, I struggle with it so much that I’ve spent tons of time in prayer trying to figure out if the Lord even wanted me to lose some of it. He showed me how having more fat on my body increases my chances of growing more breast cancer. How cancer cells feed on sugar. How my joint pain can decrease with less pressure pounding on them.

So for me, being more physically fit was definitely a goal, with vanity being a lower priority. But most importantly, the whole trial has helped me understand how each pound keeps me farther from Him. Layer by layer, He has revealed many sins in my heart that were maintaining the problem. There’s the pride of wanting to be in control, rather than trusting in Him. The self-righteousness to think I should be able to set my own standards for all this and get what I want. The fear of man that convinces me to follow other people’s plans instead of Him. The love of comfort that sends me to snack in front of the tv instead of working out. These might sound simple to repent of, but they reveal my very dingy heart, and represent my ongoing sin struggles.

But God…He has shown me how He uses my weaknesses for His glory. He is helping me to trust Him, and to persevere. Patience has been a huge one, too. When I focus on Him and on stewarding my body well, He gets me healthier. As soon as my eyes wander to the scale, or I start envying how easy it is for other people, I sink into despair.

Sound familiar? In Matthew 14:28-33, Jesus was walking on the water, and Peter begged Him to call him to walk toward him in the same fashion. “So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid”. As soon as Peter saw that wind, he wigged out then started to sink.

When I get scared, I often grasp for control and comfort. In this case, I was afraid of never succeeding, and at some point I would run toward my idolatrous comforts, perpetuating the cycle.

But the Lord is slow to anger, quick to forgive. No matter how many times I sink, and slink, away from what He has called me to do, He is patient. It is my flawed, human mind that assumes He is sick of my issues. Like Peter, the sinking isn’t the end of the story. When Peter cried out, “Lord, save me,” Jesus immediately rescued him. He does that for the rest of us also.

Jesus asked Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”. That doesn’t mean He was angry, or that Jesus kind of wanted to toss Peter back out of the boat. It’s a legitimate question–why do we doubt? When we get off track but return to Him, He will help. He always has. And one day, we will doubt that a little less.