God Sees You, Hears You, and Is Working Right Now on Your Behalf

God Sees You, Hears You, and Is Working Right Now on Your Behalf

God Sees You

Maybe you’ve prayed and agonized.

Maybe you’ve surrendered your burdens to Jesus, only to take everything back into your own hands an hour later.

Maybe you’re human.

What’s certain is that God is still God.

While you and I wait, seeing no movement, doubting His goodness, He is still faithful.

He is always working.

Whether your answer comes in minutes or years, your cry is heard, and your God is pure love.

I don’t know your whole story. But Jesus does.

My story? My husband and I prayed for nine years in the sun-scorched land of Haiti for three orphans to finally legally be ours. And all we heard for nearly a decade was silence.

We didn’t know if the answer was no or wait.

In the aftermath of the Port-au-Prince earthquake, the door seemed to close tighter than ever. Then we were given one last, almost cruel breath of hope. Dixie, the missionary managing our adoptions was appealing to the U.S. Consulate for visas. We waited and waited for the verdict of this last chance.

Here’s where I was exactly six years ago today…

(Excerpt taken from In a Sun-Scorched Land, Chapter 18)

As darkness fell and the stresses hovered over me, I wanted my little ones close. Dora and Brendan were small enough to fit into the bed with me, and I placed mattresses and blankets on the floor around us for Justin, Jaden, and Daphne. We prayed together: Prayed for the hurting in Port-au-Prince, prayed for Daddy, now in the Dominican Republic, prayed for our children’s adoptions, and prayed for protection as we slept. Fans surrounded us, as always, wicking the sweat off our faces. Brendan and Dora, oblivious to the heat, attempted to snuggle close to me. My eyes were heavy and I longed for rest, but before I yielded to my exhaustion, I pleaded for grace. Tomorrow’s news could change everything. I knew I’d need every ounce of strength God could give me.

The next thing I knew, the bed was vibrating. I forced my eyes open to the early-morning light and heat and saw Daphne’s foot on the bed frame. “Daph,” I said, keeping my voice low so as not to wake the others, “Stop shaking the bed.”

“I’m not, Mom!” And she wasn’t. It must have been another aftershock.

I let my head fall back again, and butterflies filled my stomach.

This was the day. Dixie had been sure she’d know something by the end of it.

What do I today, Lord? I asked. The possibilities filled my mind. We could continue as normal: school, chores, emails, meals. Keep the atmosphere calm. Or . . . Should I dare fill the kids in? Raise their hopes? Pack up for a walk across the Red Sea?

As my bed continued shaking, I closed my eyes. It was unsettling, but I was too focused on other things to panic. Again, I asked, What do I do?

There was no voice. No promise. But the seed of faith, that little grain of hope, seemed to gasp in a breath. What if the news was good?

I let my mind follow hope’s trail. If we received word the visas were approved, we’d need to traverse one hundred miles today. If we had to leave, we’d need to pack, find a ride, close up the house, make provisions for Wilkenson. . . . The list was long.

Pack.

It was the riskiest but most logical thing to do. And with that word on my heart, I sat up. My adrenaline pumped as I made mental lists. Jarod and I had plans for a trip soon; we were to go to the States while friends again watched Justin, Jaden, and Daphne in Haiti. I’d tell the kids we were packing early. They could each fill suitcases with clothes and toys. If our visas were approved today, we’d be ready.

But in the flurry of the morning, I was convicted. Though I ran from one end of the hall to the other, darting in and out of the kitchen, the kids’ rooms, and living room, cleaning, organizing, and packing, my mind heard the Holy Spirit’s tug. This could be the biggest day of our lives. What if the sea did part? What if we got our long-awaited answer? Where would the glory go? What would the kids remember?

If my actions were in faith, I may as well go all the way. I stopped and leaned against the cement wall. Lord, really? Should I do this? Again, no words, no answer; but there was a peace. If God’s grace was enough to sustain my own disappointed hopes at the end of the day, it would be enough for them too.

“Kids.” I walked toward the girls’ room, where the volume was the loudest. Sure enough, toys and clothes were flying. Everyone was there. “I have something important to tell you.”

I sat on Daphne’s twin bed, facing the built-in wooden wardrobe housing the girls’ clothes. Brendan pulled his head out of the narrow drawer space at the bottom. The drawer had long ago broken, and now stray socks and toy trains made their home in the vacancy. “Everyone come here,” I said. Brendan and Dora fought for space on my lap. Justin pelted me with questions. Daphne somersaulted on the bed and Jaden flung a jump rope back and forth across the floor.

“I told you all we need pack for our trip, right?” They nodded. “Well, I need to tell you why we’re packing today.” They listened in awe as I shared the possibility. This was the stuff their dreams were made of. My eight year-old daughter, my eleven year-old sons had passed their entire lives thus far praying for this miracle. This miracle that wasn’t yet realized. I needed to anchor them to reality.

“We are going to pray, kids.” I looked deep into their sparkling eyes. “We’re going to ask the Lord for this miracle. And if He says yes, we’re going to give Him all the glory. We’ll look back and remember this day and know it was all God.” They nodded eagerly.

“But, I need you to listen carefully,” I said. “We just don’t know yet how it’s going to turn out. Even if we don’t get the visas to leave Haiti, we are going to know that God is good. He always knows what He’s doing, okay?” I was preaching to myself.

We bowed our heads and poured out our hearts to Jesus again. My prayers had been incessant for the past two days—it wasn’t like God didn’t know already what I wanted, but I knew we needed to come before Him together. My kids needed this for their faith. I longed for them to seek Him, to ask, to trust, and to give Him glory in the end.

The second we uttered our amens, their chatter began. They were eager to help, finally motivated to focus—completing any chore that might speed them to an answer. All I could do was hope and pray I hadn’t done the wrong thing. I couldn’t imagine the sorrow of that night should our visas be denied.

A ride. How to get to Port-au-Prince was my next problem. It was unthinkable to drive myself—especially considering my recent anxiety and stress levels. Besides, I couldn’t just leave our Land Cruiser in Port. A bus. I ran downstairs to find our tenants. They’d know about Haitian buses.

Five minutes later I was shaking my head in disbelief. What were the chances? My friends downstairs had just chartered a bus to transport supplies to Port that very night. If this was to be our exodus, I’d be traveling with friends, in a functional vehicle, with armed guards. Peace blanketed my needy soul. God saw me.

Back upstairs, I clicked my way into email. I knew I needed to keep abreast of supply-chain progress. I scanned through the newest messages. Dixie’s assistant had written. Is this about the passport photos? My eyes skimmed for a split second before I found myself trembling. And soon I was in that world I’d entered only a few times, that “other” world no one can enter at whim, the land of surreal, where something is so good or so bad, time is suspended. I’d been there the day I married my husband, the night thieves violated our security, the day Jarod slumped to the hospital floor as I labored to birth Dora. I blinked. I read and reread. My heart hammered.

We finally had our answer.

“Dixie just called from the Embassy. All visas have been issued. We are making arrangements for a flight that will leave tomorrow and go to Fort Lauderdale. I don’t have specific details yet. But if you want the kids to be leaving Haiti, you’ll need to get down here ASAP!”

I crumpled to the floor. How were there even words for this? For the answer to nine years of prayer? Where were the words of repentance for my cynicism? My doubt? My tantrums? How could I even do this moment justice? How should I share this miracle with my kids?

I knelt on the cool tile in quiet tears. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I have cried out to you day after day. From this very room you have seen my heart, watched me cry, heard my prayers, known my fear. And now this. I covered my face. Thank you!

I could have worshiped indefinitely. But this holy moment had to be shared. I pushed myself up and called out, hardly recognizing my own voice in my delirious fog. “Kids, come here, come here!” They came helter-skelter from their various rooms, joining me in the long narrow hall. “We’re going!” They stared blankly. “We’re going to the U.S.!” I cried. “We have visas for you! God has answered our prayers!”

They screamed. They jumped up and down, mouths gaping open, eyes wild. I joined them. Everyone else in the household came running. John, who’d come to visit, Leann, and finally Wilkenson. In the middle of our elation, still in the hallway, I hugged the kids close. “Let’s thank God.”

My heart held a thousand words of awe and praise, but all that came out were tears and an endless stream of thank yous. It was enough.

Know this: God sees you too.

When the time is right, your years of waiting will come to an end. And on the other side of your answer, whether that be here on earth or in eternity, your waiting period will fade into dim memory. It will.

“This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

“As for God, His way is perfect.” (Psalm 18:30)

Trust Him. Just wait and see.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Sunscorched book screen4

A place to lose my life; A place to find it

A place to lose my life; A place to find it

For the woman who’s facing a decision, asking herself if surrender to God’s will is too risky…

For the woman who wonders what will happen if she lets go of her own dreams…

For the woman who hears the call to die to self, pick up her cross daily and follow Him…

A glimpse of my own story over at EmilyWierenga.com.

A Place Where Dreams Die

A Taste of Chapter 2 (and a prayer request)

A Taste of Chapter 2 (and a prayer request)

Hi friend! I’ve been editing my memoir lately instead of blogging — thus the silence over here! Want a tiny excerpt?

Jen Writing

From In A Sun-Scorched Land by Jennifer Ebenhack

Chicago 2000

There we’d snuggled, happy newlyweds, on our hand-me-down couch several months into the new millennium, until I’d bolted straight up and looked at Jarod like I’d never seen him before.

“Wait, what did you just say?”

For the split second my question hung in the air, I heard the typical men’s dorm noises all around us — freshman bravado and senior dominance playing out in some version of football that no college kid’s mother would have allowed in her home. But apparently the guys who’d sat in Moody Bible Institute’s Greek and World Religious Systems classes all day were in need of a study break.

“I’d like to adopt.” Jarod repeated, still lounging under the afghan with our names and wedding date embroidered in a heart. “I’ve always wanted to adopt.”

“Always?” I wracked my brain for a memory of any past reference to said life-changing subject. Mission field? Check. Papua New Guinea? Definitely. A love for kids? Yep. Adoption? Nothing.

“Uhhh, I don’t think so, Hon. That definitely would have stood out to me!”

He shrugged, pulling off an understated response that would characterize our conversations for years to come. “Sorry. I thought I had.”

The third floor football game rocked the crystal candle holders on my be-doilyed coffee table, while visions of a completely unexpected future stampeded my brain.

“Are you gonna need to do something about that, Mr. Resident Director?” I asked distractedly, waving at the bedlam above us.

“I’ll give their R.A. a few minutes. He’ll put a stop to it soon.”

I pulled my feet off our apartment’s industrial grade carpet, and perched myself on the couch’s arm. “You do realize this is kind of a big thing not to mention in the whole four years we’ve known each other, right?” I hoped he saw the twinkle alongside the shock in my eyes. But still… Seriously, Jarod? “What if I hated the idea?”

“Well, do you hate it?”

I just squinted at him. “Tell me more. How did this start?”

“I guess with Dr. Badgero. So maybe that’s not quite “always.” Jarod conceded.

“Ah.” Of course it had to do with the prof that everyone raved about. The prof I’d just missed. He’d left his position as the missions department chair the year I came in. “Okay… keep going.”

“He and his wife adopted from a few continents. You knew that, right?”

I nodded.

“It was a calling to them, not just a last resort. Why not parent some of the millions of kids already out there? It’s a mission field. An unreached people group.”

I leaned my elbows onto my knees, letting these thoughts lead mine in a hundred directions. The football game upstairs had been dispersed, but the stillness of the dorm was overtaken by the wail of a fire engine. Chicago streets were never silent.

“So you agree with him?” I finally asked, “You think adoption should be viewed as a mission? A calling?”

But his answer was already clear. And as I dug down deep in my own heart, I found a surprising answer, ready-made somehow, all wrapped up in a bow waiting to be discovered.

I may not have sat under Dr. Badgero’s teaching, but it seemed he’d turn out to have a lifelong influence on me anyway.

Well, there’s lots more where that came from! In a Sun-Scorched Land is all about our years in Haiti living out that call to adopt. We had no idea where that conversation on the couch would lead us, let me tell you!

While we’re talking about this book, can I ask a big favor of you? Would you pray for me to finish writing and editing it this summer? After that, my agent will help me seek publication (which can be a lengthy process).

This is a story of crazy drama, heartbreak, terror, and miracles. I sometimes marvel that I lived it all out. 🙂

But the bottom line is that it was all about God. He is AMAZING. I am dying to put this story of His sovereignty, grace, protection, and love into your hands. So would you pray that He would make it all possible?

Thank you SO much!

Love,

Jennifer

Choosing my special child

Choosing my special child

choosingmyspecialchild

I’ve blogged about my son Jaden before. Actually, I could probably write a pretty interesting story about him every day.

Oh yes… when we chose our dear boy, we had no idea how many scares we would have, nor how many scars he would someday have.

Thanks to his special needs and fearless nature, this child would eventually fall off a roof, drink gasoline, and endure a hundred (provoked) wasp stings. He would do his best to ensure I never received a “mother-of-the-year” award. (What kind of mom lets her child do those things?) Having him would mean trouble finding a babysitter, seizures in the middle of church, lots of stares in public, and far too many doctor visits.

Join me at Gillian Marchenko’s blog today for the rest of this article:

Choosing My Special Child

When we don’t know how our story will end… He is here.

When we don’t know how our story will end… He is here.

Today is nearly perfect.

I am completely comfortable: The temperature is 79 degrees. I’m sitting by a screened-in pool, listening to the rustle of palm trees, while gentle breezes kiss my face.

Best of all, I am uninterrupted.

I’m not sure I could overstate the beauty of that concept right now.

I’ve escaped the joyful (and yes, sometimes less-than-joyful) chaos of my own home, and am house-sitting for church friends.

What that really means is that I begged for the privilege of sitting in their lovely, empty home in order to string several coherent thoughts together and type them into my memoir.

As I wrote the last 6,255 words for chapters ten and eleven (I knew I could get something done if I was given a day of quiet!),

I was blown away by the goodness of God through the days that could not possibly have been more opposite of this day.

small hands

There was the day Jarod and I had to leave Haiti without our three precious kids…

The coup against President Arisitide was gathering momentum, and missionaries were being evacuated. Despite our protests, our Haitian friends insisted our unadopted Haitian children would be safest without the white faces of their parents nearby. Aristide’s police force would go into hiding as the rebel army approached, and Americans would be a target without any local law enforcement.

As I wept in the car, just hours before our departure, a song came onto the radio. Daphne, my two-year-old musical prodigy began to sing along…

God is in control.
We believe that His children will not be forsaken;
God is in control.
We will choose to remember and never be shaken;
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
Oh, God is in control, oh God is in control.

And He was. His sovereign hand held each member of our family for the entire month that we were separated from each other.

Then there was the day Jaden had his first gran mal seizure…

It lasted far too long. Jarod had just driven off our yard. Our phones weren’t working. I carried our stiff, shaking boy over my seven-month-pregnant belly down the mountain, praying that the doctor who lived at the bottom would be home and know what to do.

By divine appointment, Dr. Mark was there. His Valium injections ended the seizure, and he provided meds to prevent more of the same.

There was also the day I gave birth to Dora…

Thirty-nine hours into the labor we’d been told the baby was in distress, we’d transferred to a second hospital in Port, I was prepped for a c-section, the doctors were ignoring me, and Jarod, due to a life-long recurring nightmare, was convinced he was going to lose me in surgery.

But then…

In the fortieth hour, the delays, the transfer, the complications, and the ineptitudes worked according to God’s orchestration.

Right as I was about to be wheeled into what we feared would be a traumatic surgery, God brought our daughter into the world completely naturally.

Today, as I type in peace that is nearly surreal, I remember what God did on the days I panicked… the days when everything in the world was wrong… when I stood to lose everything I held dear.

He was there.

And everything good is found in Him.

Today, I know how those stories end. I can write them, knowing they each have a happy ending.

But as I lived them, I didn’t know.

As I live today’s story, I don’t know its ending.

But God is here.

fathershand

You don’t know the end of your story today either.

But you are in His hands.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
 you discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down
 and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,
 behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before,
 and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
 it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
 Or where shall I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
 If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

If I take the wings of the morning
 and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

even there your hand shall lead me,
 and your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
 and the light about me be night,”

even the darkness is not dark to you;
 the night is bright as the day,
 for darkness is as light with you.

For you formed my inward parts;
 you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
 my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
 intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
 the days that were formed for me,
 when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
 How vast is the sum of them!

If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
 I awake, and I am still with you…
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
 Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me,
 and lead me in the way everlasting!

(From Psalm 139)

Seeing the gifts in special needs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow has a special needs child or adult

come into your life?

For most of us, it’s not by choice.

For some it’s the prenatal discovery of an extra chromosome, for others the shocking diagnosis of a child’s autism.

A few have watched a tragic accident transform their loved one, while others have encountered unexpected issues after adopting.

Some are simply trying to relate to the non-verbal child in Sunday school or the wheel-chair-bound neighbor next-door.

Whatever your situation, it’s not easy. It’s a whole new world.

Like most people, I did not walk into this world on purpose. I would never have picked myself as the right mom for a child with special needs. But God knew I needed to be that mom.

When we chose to adopt our twins from Haiti, the only knowledge we had was second-hand. We saw our normal-looking boys pictured online, learned as much as we could about them, and after bathing the decision in prayer, decided to make them a part of our family. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

It was adoption and we had a choice once we knew — yes, but even when we technically could have backed out, God confirmed in our hearts that it was in reality His choice for us.

In the dark heat, only hours after entering the country that first time in 2001, we were introduced to our sons. Justin seemed mortified to meet us. In a photo of that incredible moment, I was the picture of joy and he of abject misery. But his only issue was shyness. As for Jaden, well, Jaden gave the phrase “out of control” deep new meaning. We had known he had a lazy eye, but we hadn’t known about his crippled left arm, nor — slightly more significantly — his special needs. After he’d been in Jarod’s arms for an entire two seconds, we knew we were destined for exhaustion. If I’d ever met a child whose behavior could accurately be compared to the infamous “Taz” of the Looney Tunes world, this was he.

(From Chapter 1 of In a Sun-Scorched Land, my memoir-in-progress)

Jaden, now 14, has a degree of autism, cerebral palsy, regular seizures, and severe developmental delays, due to brain damage from a traumatic birth.

Jarod and I have had to answer a lot of questions from the rest of our kids about why God allowed Jaden to be born with all of these problems.

I don’t know why.

I do know that because of sin, our world is broken. Life isn’t what it was originally meant to be.

When I see another seizure start — when Jaden topples like a tree, scrapes his head and elbows yet again, and then returns to “normal,” to utter the same phrase he’s repeated all week, “Wagon pretty!,” my heart hurts for him.

I long for the day on the other side of eternity that his pain and limitations will be shaken off for good.Jaden

But…

But, I also am deeply grateful for the beauty that God brings out of brokenness in special needs children and friends.

I love dropping Jaden off at his middle school and being greeted by the other kids that belong in his “Exceptional Students” class.

One girl hugs me as if I’m her long-lost mother.

A tall, handsome boy, to whom I’ve never been introduced, waves and smiles like we’ve been best friends forever.

And the dark-haired boy with peach fuzz on his upper lip lights up and bellows, “Hi Jaden’s mom!”

When I leave them, I walk past all the “normal” students far too absorbed in their iPhones and friends to give me a second glance or a smile.

It is the ESE kids that leave me full of joy and life.

Their exuberance and love are gifts from God, reflections of His own nature.

They bring my attention back to what’s real; what truly matters.

Jaden forces us to slow down and enjoy the little things.

When dirty dishes line the kitchen counter and there are about thirty-seven things left on my to-do list in the two hours before bedtime, Jaden asks me to ride bike with him. Watching the sunset as we pedal along reminds me that a quality life is not defined by a completed list.

When he gleefully hands his plastic piggy bank to the cashier at Walgreens to pay for his baby toy, I see her heart melt a little, and I know the people standing in line behind us are forced to think about life a little differently.

Of course one of the most beautiful things Jaden does is help the rest of us to become less selfish, more Christ-like.

We’re called on countless times each day to pause our “important task” and give Jaden yet another high-five or fist pound. We are learning to build him up by cheering him on each night when he sings his bedtime song. We let him pull us by the hand to see the prized toy displayed on his unmade bed and act like it’s the most incredible thing we ever saw, even though he showed it to us five minutes ago.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve rolled our eyes, groaned, and giggled plenty over the years at his obsessions and demands. How deeply I regret my frustrated sighs that he has taken to mimicking!

But as Jaden himself has matured, and become quite a bit less chaotic than the “Taz” he used to be, we too have been shaped and refined by him.

Jaden is a gift.

Boys

Special needs are not easy to deal with. But they are a gift.

Receive God’s gift to you, in whatever form, with an open heart and be ready for the blessings to pour out.

_____

I’d like to dedicate this blog to my precious neighbors who are raising their three autistic children with the grace and joy of Jesus. You are a blessing to all who know you.

_____

*If you are on the sidelines, watching a friend raise a special needs child, here is a great article by Gillian Marchenko: 10 Special Needs of Special Needs Parents
For further encouragement, visit Gillian Marchenko’s website: gillianmarchenko.com

 

Interested in International Adoption?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I recently wrote an article for an international adoption website. Whether you are just a little curious about adoption, seriously considering it, or already into the heart of the process, this website may be helpful to you.

My article offers encouragement for those in the waiting stage:

International Adoption and Waiting: The Hardest Part of Adopting

My Brokenness: A Billboard of His Grace — Part 1

Part 1

Part of me would love for the billboard of my life to dazzle you. There would be a beautiful (airbrushed) picture of me in the background and then tasteful, humble summaries of my wisdom, endurance, brilliance, strength, talent, and godliness.

Such a billboard of me, however, would only disgust you, and rightly so.

The truth is, I am nothing, absolutely nothing, except by the grace — the undeserved favorof God.

If my life is a billboard, it is a billboard of God’s grace. He is dazzling.

—–

But he said to me,

 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

 

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,

 

so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

—–

I was a pretty strong person. A pretty good Type A missionary… by God’s grace.

I lived in Haiti for eight years, in a constant state of smelly, humid drippy-ness, where there is no air-conditioning, electricity is sporadic, and food has to be bought in the open market and made by scratch.

I became the mother of five children in three years:

One child talked non-stop.

One had special needs and asked for water every five minutes, needed help going to the bathroom every fifteen minutes, and wanted a toy re-tied to a rope every three minutes.

One enjoyed emptying lotion and soap bottles.

One dipped her lollipops in the dog’s parasite-ridden water bowl.

And the last one wailed whenever I set him down.

I home schooled for a while.

I hosted interns, groups, and American, Canadian, Venezuelan, Dominican, and Haitian friends anywhere from days to years.

I was involved in children’s ministries and a Bible study with deportee families. I did lots of extra things that took on lives of their own.

Due to an adoption process that stretched into its ninth year, “furloughs” or extended breaks in the U.S. were not an option.

God called me to most of those ministries and circumstances, and He gave me the strength and grace I needed to serve.

When I became too “Martha-like” and crossed the line from being called (doing what God wanted me to do in His strength) to being driven (doing what I wanted to do in my own strength), life was even more difficult.

Too often I sacrificed the well-being of myself and my family for the sake of my Type A pride.

Through the good and the bad though, God poured out His grace. The truth was, I couldn’t have done any of it, were it not for the power of His Spirit. He enabled me to be strong.

—–

Until He allowed me to become weak.

His grace remained, but the way He manifested it changed completely.

It was time for me to hang on His every word beside Martha’s sister, Mary.

—–

January 1st, 2010, after an ordinary phone conversation with my family in the U.S., I felt a bizarre feeling flood my entire body.

Panic.

I sank onto my bed.

I had been acquainted with heart-pounding, stomach-knotting fear of real danger, but this was my first encounter with irrational fear.

I had no choice but to let the feelings wash over me. After several minutes I was left in a cold sweat, breathless, and weak.

I begged God to lift the lingering feeling of doom, but minutes and hours turned into days, and the heaviness remained, the “attacks” continued. I felt like I’d been abducted and placed in a strange new world, where something horrible was lurking behind every corner.

Despite my prayers, my heart continued to pound. My anxiety began to debilitate me. Driving scared me. Being home without my husband worried me. Music in a minor key filled me with dread. Nighttime overwhelmed me.

I was helpless. All I could do was sit at the feet of Jesus.

His words were life.

He was the Solid Rock.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;

Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

(Psalm 139: 7-12)

I didn’t know that my darkness would grow heavier before it lifted.

I didn’t know that it would last for over two years.

I didn’t know that the Port-au-Prince earthquake was only days away.

I didn’t know that everything in my life was about to change.

—–

But I did know that His right hand was holding me.

I did know that darkness and light were both alike to God.

I would learn that His grace was sufficient.

Your Grace Still Amazes Me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNClAJO2tnQ

Jealousy

I am writing a book about our years in Haiti. In the process of writing, I am also reading. Today I started reading Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis, who is a single missionary and adoptive mom of thirteen in Uganda. I have to admit I am almost completely jealous. As I read about the land of Uganda – the hardships and beauty, and the people – those so desperate for God’s love, I feel I’m back in Haiti.  Or I guess I wish I was back in Haiti.  Katie’s story is incredible. She is sold out to God and is full of His joy in the midst of a place most of us would be miserable in. I remember those contradictory feelings. I remember the heat and the way life was just so hard.  But I also remember feeling so fully alive… quite different from being so comfortable that I am almost numb.

I am jealous of Katie because she’s in the thick of that hard, abandoned-to-God life.  I am back in the comforts of the U.S.  I am jealous because anyone who reads her story can’t help but be in awe.  I am living such a bland life right now that if I told you about it, you couldn’t help but yawn. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m jealous of Katie because her story is in a book and thousands will read it and marvel.  And I’m ashamed to admit that I want thousands to read my story and marvel. Maybe someday they will. But I am asking myself if they will marvel for the right reasons… marvel at the right Person.

“The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked…”  My primary motivation for writing has always been to give God the glory for what He has done for us.  A nine-year long adoption process, culminating in a dramatic miracle…  It’s all about Him and giving Him glory.  Then there’s the nine years in between the beginning and the end of the story.  God kept us in the palm of His hand all that time. He deserves the glory for that too. So where do things get messed up? With my deceitful heart. When I begin to tell our stories, how quickly my mind can shift from how awesome God is to how I managed to survive such challenges. I think about how obvious my courage and perseverance will be.  Well, I don’t actually think such things – I wouldn’t dare.  I just feel such things deep underneath my more spiritual thoughts.

When I read Katie’s book, I’m convicted on so many levels.  First of all, I fight the sinful jealousy.  Then I am taken back to Haiti and the hurting people that I am no longer of any help to – do I still care? Do I pray? I am convicted about my current passions – am I really sold out to Jesus? Would I do anything He asked me to do?

And so I ask myself, What do you want from me, Lord Jesus? Show me. I really want to be used by Him. Have you ever heard someone say what a privilege it is to be used by God? How they consider it an honor to be His servant? I think it’s actually a longing that He gives us. What if part of my jealousy is actually a holy jealousy given to me by the Holy Spirit? What if, after I ask Jesus to rid my heart of the self-centered desire for attention and the praise of others, there remains a jealousy that I’m supposed to have? What if jealousy is exactly what God intends for me upon seeing the joy that is possible when I do what God wants me to do?