Grace

Jesus

I saw this picture and it caused me to stop and think. I think a lot about the story of Peter walking on the water. I’ve heard who-knows-how-many sermons on this passage…but I think I see it a little differently now.

{side, funny note…when Sam and I were first married, we were having a little “discussion” and he said, “I know the Bible says this, but let me tell you how I see it.” At that point, we both cracked up and the “discussion” was over  :) }

Anyway, back to Peter, Jesus and the water. (I really love Peter–he’s so real…so human). So, the disciples (including Peter) have all just been half scared to death by a storm and then REALLY scared by thinking they’ve seen a ghost. But Jesus tells them, “Hey guys–it’s just me.” Then Peter gets brave:

Then Peter called to Him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come.” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
(Matthew 14:28-29)

Can you imagine?! He’s walking ON the water. He must’ve been equally amazed and terrified. Then comes what most sermons focus on:

But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
(Matthew 14:30)

All these years, I’ve focused on this one scripture. Peter let his fear steal this amazing experience away. Maybe that’s part of it? But I think there’s a lot more here. I think Jesus shows his compassionate heart to Peter. A heart that Peter will see again and again in his earthly time with Jesus:

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith.” Jesus said, “Why did you doubt me?”
(Matthew 14:31)

Some may see a scolding in verse 31. I see an outpouring of grace. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. He didn’t let him sink far enough to “learn a lesson”. He grabbed him immediately. Grace. Undeserved. Certainly unearned. Jesus’ words to Peter are not words of disappointment. I believe His words are a heart-wrenching, passionate desire for Peter to fully grasp the kind of love and power available to him. Makes me think of when one of my kids thinks I’m going to be angry because they’ve done or not done a particular thing. And the truth is, I’m not angry with them…I’m sad that they don’t truly see my heart. But I’m not disappointed in THEIR inability to see. I’m motivated all the more to reveal my heart to them in a deeper way. Does that make sense?

I think back to when I was in Ukraine. Especially on the day I received the news that we’d be stuck in country for another 8 weeks and not be headed home 17 hours later as my plane tickets said. No, we’d be waiting an additional 8 weeks for a test result we previously knew nothing about. See, at that point, I had already been walking on this water that both terrified and amazed me. In that moment, however, I began to sink FAST. But Jesus reached out IMMEDIATELY and pulled me up.

Being pulled up from what you perceive as a “lack of faith” is quite humbling. It’s been a while now, and I can look back and see that I did, in fact, take my eyes off of Him and I got scared of everything that was going on around me. But, instead of feeling condemnation, I felt (and still feel) an overwhelming outpouring of grace. And that kind of grace is worth more than anything.

Early Christmas Shopping?

I wanted to pop in and share a cool fundraiser another family has going on right now. I guess I should back up to say that this family (though I have never met them and they have no idea who I am) has a special place in my heart.

When we first felt the tuggings to adopt, there was a little boy who I kept seeing. Such a sweet face. It was his face that allowed me to take the first step out. Obviously, our journey led us to a different face, but I always wondered what happened to the little boy in the picture. Well,  THIS SWEET FAMILY brought him home! He’s been their precious son for a little over a year now. It made my heart so very happy to see him in a loving family. I continue to follow their blog, just to watch his progress, so imagine my surprise when I saw, a few days ago, that they’re going back to the same institution in Eastern Europe to bring another son home. Wow. I’m amazed and humbled by their willingness to go.

That being said, it costs a LOT of money to step out. They’re doing their best to raise funds and one way is through t-shirt sales. If you (or anyone you know) loves a certain country… ;)   Please order a A SHIRT OR HOODIE to help support this family. It would be like a double Christmas present–one for your loved one and one HUGE gift for this family.

And, they’re pretty cool shirts too!

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A Year Ago…yesterday

In the midst of this hectic time of living life, I feel like I can’t not mention that yesterday we celebrated one full year of Olya being in America. This time last year, we arrived at the Greensboro airport exhausted but overjoyed to be home; and we began taking tentative steps toward learning to be a family. In many ways, we’re still taking those steps. Some of our steps have gained confidence and some we’re still working on, but I need to say once again, how thankful we all are to be home….together.

Yet, while being thankful for having our family all safe and sound in America, we also have heavy hearts as we pray for Olya’s 20 year old sister who’s still in Donetsk Ukraine. It’s not easy or good there now. War is going on all around and in that city. Food is scarce. Fears and tensions are high. Please join us in praying.

Busy, Busy, Dreadfully Busy…

Unless your kids (or you) grew up watching Veggie Tales, you’re probably wondering about the title for this blog post…

ANYway…suffice it to say, we’ve been busy living life so I’ve not been blogging (seems to be a theme here, huh?)

I’m popping in to give an update of what we’ve been up to…sorry, no pictures, I’m “busy”. ;)

  • The girls are currently in their second and final week of the classroom portion of Drivers Education. Oy… They’re “slightly” excited. 
  • I’ve been frantically trying to get finished with lesson planning because we start school on August 25th! Where did summer go??
  • We just recently had Family Camp (I’ll try and do a post at some point and include some pictures); it was a good time for our family.
  • Soccer and dance start up at the end of this month & we’re still continuing strong with piano.
  • Our summer garden’s pretty much done but our fall garden is getting started.

That’s about it. Time to get back to lesson planning…as much as I’ve enjoyed summer, I look forward to the daily routine of fall. Guess that’s my inner nerd coming out. I still love school.

Please Pray!

Sometimes, in America, important news stories can get lost in the shuffle of the latest Hollywood happenings. Right now in Ukraine, there is STILL major unrest. Now, the kids are right in the middle of it. Below is a link to a news story specifically about Olya’s orphanage. Separatists showed up and tried to send many of the children to Russia for “better” care.  They’ve currently been stopped from doing that but the unrest is huge. Please read the article and pray for these kids who are surely terrified.

Donetsk Orphans

“Mom”

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The other day I found a treasure on my bed.

It was a sweet gift from Abby and her tender heart. The simple “Mom” written on the front of the card took me back to the first time I earned that title. I knew SO little back then. (I know only slightly more now–mainly from making mistakes. But having kids seems to shine the light much brighter on God’s grace, doesn’t it?)

I still remember those days before “Mom”…when I wasn’t called anything—-there was just this little infant who cried when she was hungry or tired or wet. And we tried to figure out which of these things it was and fix it.

Then, I remember when her face would light up when she saw me. Still, I wasn’t called anything, but she knew I was special. And that made my heart swell.

Then came toddlerhood and all the new words that seemed to appear overnight. In those days, I was called  “mommy”.

Suddenly, time’s flown by at light speed and I’ve got this teenager who calls me “mom” and leaves gifts for me and prays for me when I’m weak. Instead of looking up at me, she now pretty much looks me eye-to-eye. Now…she calls me “mom”. I’m amazed at this gift from God. I’m overwhelmed as I watch her relationship with Jesus unfold. And I’m having mixed feelings about the fact that she’ll one day go off and make a life of her own.

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Adoption Myths Debunked

Myth #1:  “Your family looks so happy & well-adjusted. Things must be going wonderfully at home!”

Please understand…the way things look on the outside (a.k.a. “in public”) may not the best indicator of what’s really happening on the inside (a.k.a. “at home”).Things seem great in public because it’s easier/safer there. What I mean is, “public” relationships are surface level. This means the child feels safe and secure (no one’s getting too close). That translates to a happy, well-behaved child. And, let’s be realistic here…even a non-adoptive family doesn’t air all their dirty laundry in public, right? ;)

At Linville Falls

At Linville Falls

Myth #2: “Adoption is HARD and only certain people should do it.”
Yes. Adoption IS hard. But those who adopt aren’t special. If I’ve learned anything through this process, it’s how weak my weakness really is. And how MUCH I need Jesus. Without Him, nothing is possible. Before this (I’m ashamed to admit) I felt like I sort of had this Christian walk thing down. Now, I see I’ve got NOTHING without Him.

This is real. Yes, we're tired. ;)

This is real. Yes, we’re tired. But happy! ;)

Myth #3: “I have other kids. Adopting will be too hard on them/ruin their lives.” 
We knew going into the adoption process that this was a family decision. It was going to effect all of us. And, though it’s been hard, it has grown our family in ways we never would have imagined possible. For that, we are eternally grateful.

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I’m sure there are many other myths true for other families. I can only speak for mine. My main reason for writing this post is to provide some food for thought…

If you know an adoptive family and they seem to have fallen off the face of the earth or pulled back majorly, maybe it’s because they’re going through some major adjustments as a family. Don’t write them off as MIA. Just understand they’re working on building this new version of their family. And they can use all the friends they can get. (And, in our case, being at home is just currently a whole lot easier still than committing to a lot of outside activities).

I have a sweet friend (Patty ) who’s the mom of 4 boys and personally understands adoption because she’s walked that road a few times herself. I value her so much because she knows we’re still friends–even if we don’t see each other NEARLY as much as we did before. ;)  She completely understands what it’s like to pull back and focus on family. Thanks for that, Patty.

Anyway, hope this helps answer some general questions. But, to be honest, Sam and I pretty much don’t know anything (and we’re well aware of that!) ;)  We’re just trusting God to give us what we need when we need it.