My Journey to Joy

June 20, 2013

A Letter from Dad

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Bg6Mmoer3rk

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April 4, 2013

Mercy

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he had been taken.  And He drove out the man. And He placed cherubs at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”  Genesis 3:23-24

This has always seemed like such a sad verse to me.  Getting “kicked out” of the Garden of Eden seemed a severe punishment.  But read verse 22:

” And the LORD God said, Behold, the man has become as one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…”

Now imagine…you had been created with a perfect body, and lived your entire life in a perfect place.  Because of your choice to disobey, all of that perfection has changed.  Do you really want to stay around and watch the decay?  Do you want to live forever, seeing the far-reaching consequences of your sin?  Was this expulsion truly a mercy, from a protective Father?  Things are not always as they seem…*

“God never witholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful — “severe mercies” at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better.”― Elisabeth Elliot

When we were told we were infertile, I was utterly devastated.  I struggled for months (years?), crying and asking God “why?”.  If someone had told me that our infertility was a blessing or a mercy, I’m sure I would have been grossly offended.  It was so very hard.  So very painful.  It seemed so “unfair.”  I couldn’t imagine the plan that God had for our family.  In the midst of my hurt, I couldn’t see the work that God was doing- changing my heart…teaching me to rely on Him…forging stronger bonds in my marriage…showing me the great love and support of dear friends…and preparing our family for our son at just the right time.  It was His mercy to me.

“Who would ever know the greater graces of comfort and perserverance, mercy and forgiveness, patience and courage, if no shadows fell over a life?”  Ann Voskamp

A friend of mine is a quadriplegic.  He’s been in a wheelchair since he was 17 years old; he’s now in his late 50’s.  We were talking about how God works in our lives, and he said that his accident is what God used to get his attention.  He said God knew that is what it would take, and that he was grateful.  He found Jesus in a rehab hospital… and it was God’s mercy.

“This paralysis is my greatest mercy.” ―Joni Eareckson Tada

God is changing my vision.  Trials take on a different hue when I truly believe “…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28  I don’t often have the answers or know the reasons, but I’m looking.  And trusting.  And clinging to what I know to be true of God’s character, when things don’t make sense to me.

Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great;  2 Samuel 24:14

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
Laura Story, “Blessings”
*I’d love to give credit, but I can’t remember where I read this idea!

August 8, 2012

Forgiveness

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“You can’t love with unforgiveness in your heart…Who do you need to forgive?  Other people, yourself…and this may sound strange, but God. You’d be surprised how many people are mad at God. They’d never admit it, because you don’t want to say, “Well, I’m mad at God.” Well, maybe a few would, but…That’s a really dangerous thing to be mad at the only one that can help you.

And why do we get mad at God? Because we had a plan for our life, and we prayed, and we believed, and we were good, and we tithed, and we went to church, and we did good works, and we didn’t get what we wanted. And not only that, somebody else we know that is a lot less spiritual than us got what we wanted. Now there you have it: the religious, Pharisee, self-righteous spirit that God despises.

So you’d better forgive God if you’re mad at Him, because He’s smarter than you are, and He’s got a good plan for you life, and man’s mind plans his way, but God directs his steps. And excuse me, but it’s just dumb to be mad at God. Because God is good no matter what happens to us in our lives, God is good. And, yes, we get disappointed when we don’t get things our way and there are things that don’t seem right and there are things that don’t seem fair but I am telling you, if you will keep your eyes on God and keep wanting His will and His way, He will make wrong things right, and God will reward you…” ~Joyce Meyer

May 3, 2012

Glimpse

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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I like to plan ahead. It makes me feel “in control,” I feel that I can do a better job, unexpected problems can be solved…  I don’t always do it, but I like it.  🙂 

When we decided to adopt, we told people in a certain order.  We painted and set up a nursery (with items I’d been collecting for over ten years!).  I made a file box with colorful folders for our adoption paperwork.  I read and thought and shopped and put together a gift for our birthmother.  I made a list of last-minute items to purchase, people to call, and stuff to take to the hospital (if necessary).  I read books about adoption and parenting.  Still, I feel so unprepared…

We’ve put a lot of prayer, thought, time, and resources into preparing for our child/children.  But we also want to prepare for the future.  We’ve talked about college funds and weddings.  We’ve spent a lot of time talking and praying about whom we should put in our will as guardians, if something should happen to both of us. 

Today, I was again mentally going through a list of our friends and family, who happen to be some of the finest people on earth.  And none of them were what I wanted!  “They’re so loving, but a little lenient… They raised wonderful children, but they’re all little older now… They love Jesus so much, but could they financially handle another child?… Would they love my child as much as theirs?… Would they ensure my child gets the education and special services he/she might need?” 

Out of all of these exceptional people, I don’t want to entrust my child to any of them!  And it hit me…how must a birthmother feel?  I know these people, I’ve seen their lives, I have faith and confidence in them.  I’ve been around them for years.  I know their quirks, how they react, and their strengths.  Birthmoms get a few pictures and some words in a little book.  (If that!)  Sometimes they get a photo and a letter.  To choose forever.  I’ve had a glimpse, but I really can’t imagine…

December 1, 2011

Letter to Birthmom

Filed under: Uncategorized — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Dear Birthmom,

I’ve thought a lot about what to write in this letter.  We don’t know you (yet!), but our lives may soon be connected forever through our mutual love of a little baby.  So, what to write?
First of all, we want you to know that we have been praying for you for a long time.  We’re assured that God knows every detail of your life, and we’re asking Him to bless you.  We realize that you may not choose us to parent your baby, but we want you to know that that doesn’t change our prayer for your life, that God will give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
God has been teaching us so many things during the past few years.  We’ve come to a new level of accepting His will for our lives, instead of choosing our own path.  God put a love for adoption in my (Holly’s) heart many years ago.  I always wondered why, since it didn’t seem likely for our family.  Daniel & I talked many times about the tug that I felt; it would be several years before he felt the same way.  God used our infertility to open Daniel’s heart to adoption.  I didn’t understand then, but God was working things out in His perfect timing to bring us to this place.
Daniel & I are far from perfect.  We’ve done everything we can to prepare our home and our hearts for whatever child God sends us.  We’ve read books, talked about parenting, and made all the plans and provisions we can think of…but we know we’ll mess up sometimes.  We can’t promise never to make any mistakes, but we would like to make a commitment to you:

We will do everything in our power to raise any children that God blesses us with to serve Him. 

We will work hard to provide for every physical, emotional, and spiritual need.
We will give our unconditional love, no matter what.

We would love to have a relationship with you, as well.  We believe that a child can’t have too many people to love him/her!  We understand if you are not comfortable with this idea, and will respect your wishes.  We don’t ever wish to invade your privacy, or hurt you in any way.  But we hope you’ll want to know us too!
We’re praying for you, as you make these difficult life-decisions.  We believe that God will be faithful to guide you as you ask for His help.
We love you,

Daniel & Holly

Please join us in praying for our birthmother.  I can hardly imagine what these women are facing.  We would love to see our birthmother saved, if she isn’t already.  Many of these women don’t have families who pray for them; let’s stand in the gap!  I have such confidence in your prayers, and the God who hears them…

September 29, 2011

Chosen

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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This is a hard thing to write.  I’ve been procrastinating for a long time.  So bear with me…

People like to be chosen.  We’re excited when we get the job.  (And thank God, I did this week!)  We like it when we’re selected for special honors, privileges, and positions.  We love verses that say we are “chosen” by God.  It doesn’t feel any better than that!

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

But God hasn’t chosen us for our own comfort, plans, or purposes.  He’s chosen us to glorify Himself through our lives.  And sometimes the way He accomplishes that is painful.

Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined you, but not like silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

Sometimes, we are chosen to suffer. 

And to show God through our suffering.

2Corinthians 4:7-10 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

Am I alone in wanting to opt out?  “No, thank you just the same, God, I’d rather not.  You just keep that ‘lil gift for someone stronger/wiser/older; I’ll pass.”  But that’s not an option.

Several years ago, I prayed a prayer that would change my life.  I didn’t know that at the time, and I don’t know if I would have made the same decision if I had.  I hope so.  I prayed for two things: 1-that God would make me real and genuine.  (I’d had it with faking it and going through the motions.)  2-that God would use me.  That’s it.  Nothing grand or complicated.  Until God took me up on itAnd He had big plans.

1Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Would I have asked to be chosen for infertility?  Nope.  Did I beg for the painful ups and downs of adoption?  You’re crazy if you think so.  I’m no masochist.  I like me, I take care of me, and I like me to feel good.  But I’m not in charge of me.

1Corinthians 6:19-20 …ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.

So, I’ll continue to pray the same prayer, and trust God to make it all work.  “God does not call the equipped…God equips those He calls.”  And I’ve been called and chosen.

Ro 8:14-39 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 sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing 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.  I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.  Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.  And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.  And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.  What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, “For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

July 16, 2011

Andree Seu on God’s Plan

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 7:45 PM
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I need to get away from the habit of being dejected every time prayers are not answered precisely my way.  One thing I have learned by this autumn of my life- that when God does not implement my plan it is because He has an even better one.  ~Andree Seu

February 24, 2011

Assurance

Filed under: Adoption 101,Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 9:14 PM
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On Monday we met with our social worker.  Everything was fine, but it was a pretty unpleasant experience.  In the information portion, the social worker told us lots of scary possibilities of birth fathers, husbands of birth mothers, and potential legal battles.  She mentioned thousands of dollars that “might” be added to our fees if things went a certain way.

Then the questions… 

Here is a perfect stranger asking the most intimate things!  Something inside me wanted to draw back and say, “How dare you?!  What right do you have to ask me that?!”  I realize, of course, that we’ve given them that right.  Adoption means signing over a large amount of privacy.  But still, it stung.

And it brought up those old feelings.  Why do I have to go through all of this?  Why do some people “accidentally get pregnant at a party,” but I have to pay huge sums of money, have my private life dissected, and go through reams of paperwork?

When I came home, I felt like I had been pummeled emotionally.  I started to think, “We can’t do this!  We’re not rich.  What were we thinking?  How did we think this was possible?”

Tuesday morning, my devotions were over Deuteronomy 1:19-31

“The Lord had commanded us to leave Mount Sinai and go to the hill country that belonged to the Amorites, so we started out into the huge desert.  You remember how frightening it was, but soon we were at Kadesh-Barnea, and I told you, ‘We have reached the hill country.  It belongs to the Amorites now, but the Lord our God is giving it to us.  He is the same God our ancestors worshiped, and he has told us to go in and take this land, so don’t hesitate and be afraid….Don’t worry!  The Lord our God will lead the way.  He will fight on our side…you know that the Lord has taken care of us the whole time we’ve been in the desert, just as you might carry one of your children.'”

The prayer at the end of the devotional was this:

Thank you, Lord for all the wonderful things You have done for me in the past, that You are doing for me today, and that You will do for me in the future.  Keep me from fear and discouragement as I look at the challenges ahead.  Thank You that You go before me with a plan for battle.  I look to you for guidance so I may possess all You have for me. 

Tuesday night, I was reading another devotional book about the names of God.  The name I was studying was El Elyon, God Most High.  The prayer at the end was this:

El Elyon, thank You that there is no problem in my life too large for You to handle.

Overwhelmed by grace.  That God would arrange those assurances for me.  I’m behind in my devotions, as usual, but those were the ones I read on Tuesday.  I know you have been praying for me, and I thank you.  God has helped us through another step, another challenge, past another fear.  It will happen again, but I hope that each time I learn to turn to Him more and more quickly, and worry less.

He is in charge of this adoption.  And I’m pretty sure He can handle it!

December 11, 2010

Dream

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 9:07 AM
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So many things have changed.  My dream for my life what shattered by our infertility.  I was lost.  I did not know what to do.  I had followed “the plan,” the “rules,” now what?  So many things to consider, aspects that I never dreamed would be part of the equation.  I felt so ill-equipped.

In the midst of such hurt and confusion, I did the only thing I knew to do:

I cried out to God.

Again, and again, and again.  Why is this happening?  What should I do?  When will this end?  How can you be glorified in this?  What are you doing with our lives?

He knew the answers.  And He has shown me some of them, as I’ve been ready.

The Dream Never Dies

Be sure to read the lyrics of this song.  It’s sung from the perspective of Elizabeth, another barren, heartbroken woman.  God gave her a son.  And I believe He’ll give me children, too.

Last year, Christmas was terrifically hard.  In December we got final confirmation that our chances for a natural pregnancy were virtually none.  Through some sort of paperwork error, the specialist’s office called about five times, with the same bad news.  This was about the time that we learned about Madelyn Rose.  We were so happy for Krista & Leonard, but it amplified our emptiness somehow.  The night the church went Christmas caroling was the lowest I can ever remember.  I had tried as hard as I knew how to “pull it together,” but I simply couldn’t.  When I should have been loading into a car to spread “Christmas cheer,” I was curled into a ball on my kitchen floor, keening.  That was the night I started writing.  Pages and pages of feelings, frustrations, questions, anger, and pain.  It’s not light reading.  I don’t go back and read it.  But it gave me a sense of relief.  Since then I’ve even learned to share some of those thoughts, with you, dear friends.

This year feels so different.  We are still infertile.  I will most likely never bear children.  But this year, I have hope.  We’ve decided to adopt.  We plan to start the paperwork after Christmas.  And probably not next year, but maybe the next, I’ll be sharing Christmas with my own little ones.

Praise the Lord!

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