Invited to walk on water

Invited to walk on water
sisters and brothers waiting on one more

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mohale's first Easter home! And, Easter is our ADOPTION FINALIZATIONDAY!

Mohale's First Easter HOME!

Last Easter was nearly perfect.
But at the end of my journaled post, I stated
"...hoping painfully with all my heart that treasured Mohale is celebrating with us next Easter."

We keep a "Celebration Tree" just inside our front door.
During Easter week, nests filled with chocolate eggs remind us of
new beginnings
and feelings of celebration.
Easter morning the kids find "Peeps" sitting on chocolate eggs.
Easter bag presentation:

The EGG Hunt is ON!

Sweet Sierra

Mom!  LOOK!

Miracle boys.  Happy happy happy happy happy....mama.
Seriously no words can describe a mother's love.
It's impossible to comprehend, but, there is an Adoptive FATHER in Heaven
Who's love is even greater:

"It is finished."

Easter is

Easter is a time to remember.

For most of my childhood, Dad worked for an oil company in the Middle East.
I grew up in a country where Christians die for their faith.  
The king had given foreigners permission to keep their faith-
with strict guidelines to keep it hidden.
People of any faith, besides the government mandated faith of the land, 
often must choose between 
denial of their faith and
horrific abuse and even death.  

At the age of 8, alone and afraid one dark early morning in my tiny bedroom, I could hear the muslim prayer call singing out across the town, signaling that it was time to get up for prayer.  Beautiful followers of Allah would dutifully, passionately get out of bed, lay out their prayer rugs and lower to their knees in prayer.  Those I knew who followed their hearts in this way were kind and sincere.  Calls to prayer sang out over the town five times each day.  The familiar song was somehow comforting.
Yet, this time, when the song poured in through open windows to my room, 
fear clenched my heart deeply- 
like a dog capturing prey in his teeth and shanking it violently.   
My parents had been forced to witness a public execution the day before.
They had been shopping when police with machine guns ushered surrounding public towards the center of the small city.  Never before had Mom and Dad seen such vast amounts of blood.
 My family had seen streets stained with blood and bodies mutilated as examples of what happens to those who dare to walk outside the religious lines within the beautiful country we loved.
We did not live in fear, yet that incident caused fear to rush in like crashing waves from a broken dam.

Realization of what love for Jesus can cost, shook my heart.   
The land and culture I loved demanded devotion I could not sincerely give. 

Jesus was real to me.

Tormented often by cruel, violent dreams,
I awoke shaken in the dark of night- too afraid to run or call for my parents.

"Fear not, for I will comfort you."
Words of peace whispered into my mind, gently filling my heart- dispelling fear with awareness that Jesus was always with me.
I turned over and slept again- the most peaceful sleep ever.
Morning came quickly.

As the call to pray continued flowing with the warm morning breeze into my tiny bedroom, I whispered a passionate prayer with the rising sun; "Jesus, I am afraid to be tortured and die for you.  But if they come, I want to be strong.  Please make me strong enough."  
Through that surrender, peace came- He'd always be there. 

Perfect love casts out fear.

As a child, learning to read was not easy for me, but daily, I would eagerly open my precious, treasured, illegal, little Bible and read about Jesus.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were favorite books to read in my cherished and worn little Bible.  Those four books were written by ordinary men who knew Jesus deeply when He walked this earth.  Stories of Jesus, who had lived and loved so near to my childhood home, captivated my heart.  Because I lived within a similar Middle Eastern culture, the stories and pictures felt real.  His love for the "least of these" within that culture- the poor, broken, sick and fallen, the children and women- drew my heart in to him.  I could smell exotic perfumes and spices and feel their middle eastern ways- it felt beautifully normal- yet full of Jesus' poured out love my heart craved.  Towards the end of each account, Jesus lays his life down and his body is executed in public- out of love for me.  Our family knew what spilled blood and torn flesh looked like- these images were 3D to me- grotesque, terrorizing, bloody and real.  The accounts of EASTER- the morning Jesus walked out of the grave, finalizing our adoption as HIs children- changed my heart 
and chased fear away. 

The descriptions of torture He endured are rarely shown on Easter movies-
the amount of blood that flowed is difficult to describe.
Did you know He was totally naked on that cross? 
(He had no discrete loin cloth to hide his total nakedness)
Sexually exploited and on display
Did you know He was so disfigured, that he was described as unrecognizable as a human?
I was forever smitten by the love of Jesus-
the pain, suffering and shame He chose to endure for me so that I could be 
ADOPTED into His family-

I knew He'd given his life for me-  
He'd endured shame, grief, punishment, rejection for me-
long before I even knew of His existence.
"There is no greater love than to give his life for his friends." John 15:13 

Friends in our currently free culture,
as our days grow darker within the beautiful free cultures of our world, I'd like to say "fear not." But, we are human and of course we fear for ourselves and especially for our beloved children.  Our hearts cringe each time the news exploits images of grieving, homeless parents and newly orphaned children who's lives are mercilessly, grotesquely shattered due to ravaging religious and racial injustice.
However, I can say, that Perfect Love truly does cast out all fear.
HE CHOSE TO DIE so that we could be ADOPTED as HIs very own children.
That is our 

Jesus came to die. 
How did He handle knowledge of His future at the cross?

He kept his focus beyond-

Jesus' words:
"I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and then can do no more."  Luke 12:4

When fear comes in,
Somehow, seemingly miraculous love with an eternal focus on
comes in
 and chases terror away.

He's not detached, He suffered to be close to us in our suffering:
He is closer that a sibling.

Hebrews 2:18
Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us....

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Psalm 27:10
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
    the Lord will hold me close.

When we are no longer afraid, we can be available to change the world.

What the enemy meant for evil
God meant for good. Gen. 50:20

The enemy crucified Jesus.  Yet, even in the enemy's greatest victory,
our HEAVENLY FATHER'S purposes were being fulfilled.
Victory was ultimately His. 
In that crucifixion our adoption was sealed in Heaven's court.
EASTER MORNING is our adoption finalization day.
That was His pursuit. 

Adoption Finalization
Our family story
Our three biological children each came easily- a gift we do not take lightly.
Each arrived following nine months of uncomfortable, often frightening pregnancy and a rough physical delivery.  Done.

Our four children who came to our arms though adoption, did not come easily.
Our adoption pursuits, like nothing before, brought me to my knees, stripped me down and broke me into pieces.  For the first time, clinical depression and anxiety attacks descended upon me.   With each adoption, we had to be willing to love a child as our own- and then let that child go- if the courts decided- to a place where I could not protect them.
Mohale's adoption drew out for two years- that felt like forever.  Yet, we know many who have pursued longer and those who have lost beloved children to governmental politics.

Out of desperation, for the first time I clung to a bible story I previously avoided- the story of Abraham being willing to lay his son down on the altar in complete trust.

John 3:16 became new, speaking overflowing volumes of true love into my soul
 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.
so that whoever believes in him can have eternal life.”

  I read and re-read the account of Jesus’ anxiety in the garden of Gethsemane the night before He was to be crucified.  

Minutes, hours, days, weeks and months of learning to lay our children and hearts on the altar of His hands- to trust Him with a child that we adored- resulted in a perseverance that before was weak and a peace I cannot describe. 

The road of parenthood, and for us, especially the road to parenthood through adoption, is filled with uncertainty and seems to lay in the hands of so many others.  The legal process can be cold, harsh, invasive and often unjust. The cruelty seems to go on and on for months and even years- one minute at a time.  
In that context, I read how Jesus, described as "a man of suffering, acquainted with much grief" (Isaiah 53:3 ), hung on the cross after nearly 35 years of living to give His life away for us. From the cross, He declared His last words before giving up his breath…


He came to die for our adoption- on a grotesque, bloody cross.  
After doing all that was required for our adoptions into His family,  
EASTER MORNING our adoption was finalized.
EASTER MORNING became a day to celebrate.
We have a new name and a
that no one can take away.

Each of our adoption finalizations was met after months and even years of adoring, heart breaking, mentally scorching hoops and hurdles required by our intimidating, invasive legal system.  In the end, adopting families go to court and stand before a Judge.

That Judge, slams his anvil down and declares

This adoption has been finalized.
This child is an heir of Christy and David.
This child has a new name- the sir name of Christy and David.

Did you know that the child’s original birth certificate becomes invalid and a brand new original birth certificate is issued with the new parents on it?


After every one of our four childrens' adoption finalizations by a judge in court,
our family 

Every year on their finalization day we remember and


Today is EASTER Sunday!
Celebrate with us this incredible day of new life that was bought with the highest price.
Your adoption as His beloved child is 


He offers this gift of adoption to all who accept it.
John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that
believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The story of our adoption by our Heavenly Father:

Long before we knew of Him, He was pursuing us- 
all the way to the flesh ripping, soul tearing, heart breaking bloody cross- 
to secure our adoption as His children.
Before we even knew we needed Him- 
and while we were horribly broken, victimized, betrayed, suffering, abandoned and making desperate mistakes, 
He was pursuing our adoption as His children.
We did nothing to earn His love. 
He loved and loves us perfectly- 
in our imperfection.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.[b] And because we[c] are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”[d] Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.[e] And since you are his child, God has made you his heir."
Galatians 4:5
Romans 5:6-11
Isaiah 53
John 17-21

We did not earn His love and we cannot loose his love.

Your past does not define you.

Child of God
Hope and Freedom come from the Perfect One who chose to be shattered and destroyed, despised and cast out so that we could be healed and redeemed, held close and adopted 
as His own cherished children.
Isaiah 53:3-5

He pursued you with His life. 
He gave all to adopt you into His arms- as you are.
You are defined by the ONE who treasures you
and breathes purposeful BEAUTY into your cracks.
You can NOT change his adoring love for you as His child.
2 Cor. 5:17
Psalm 139

His redeeming, unconditional, cherishing, treasuring, healing love also gives the strength to set boundaries that prevent abuse and destruction of our hearts and the hearts of our children.
You are His treasure.  
True love sets boundaries:
Tolerating unfaithfulness or abuse of yourself or your children is permitting abuse of God's beloved children 
Proverbs 22:6
Isaiah 58:6-13
Psalm 17:8
Zech 2:8

HE longs to hear the sound of your voice.
You can be naked, guilty, scarred, broken, victimized, exposed and transparent before Him-
He is your beloved, unconditionally loving and redeeming you, always adoring you from the top of your head to the tips of your toes- inside and out, scars and all, desiring you, gentle with you and Whose love you cannot quench.
(Romans 8:38)
(Psalm 139)
(Isaiah 54:4-6)

Grasping this kind of freedom and forever focus on His GREAT love for us gives us natural ability to lay down our fears.
Without fear we can be imperfect, secure, transparent, real and a giver of 
real love with no strings attached and less fear of the future.

we can walk away from fear and legalism.

Without fear,
we can be available to lay our lives down and change the world.

No greater love...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ianna is at it again...Owwie pets have returned for spring.

Spring is here!

We were honored to finalized our precious youngest daughters' adoptions in 2011.
Out of love for them, our oldest three began to pray and plead that we could adopt again-

Liam prayed for two little boys.

Aware of adoption costs,
Ianna created "Owwie Pet's" from antique sugar sacks she found in her grandmother's attic.

Our two newest little miracle boys are finally 

Joseph and Mohale 
have us over the moon with gratefulness.

Ianna is at it again...


Return of Ianna's Owwie Pet's 

under a new name:

Bulrushes Animals
Crafted by Ianna out of antique sugar sacks.

Follow her pics on Instagram

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hell Hole Canyon to Mountain Tops and back again. Gratefulness andremembering when back in the trenches.

“He makes me as sure footed as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights."
Psalm 18:33

Sierra and Buttercup at the rim of Hell Hole Canyon
Savoring Mountain Tops. 

Our home overlooks Hell Hole Canyon- the rim is about 1/2 mile from our home.
It is the great divide between our refuge and the beautiful mountains our kids have longed to climb.

Finally, two weekends ago, we all went to the rim of the canyon.

From there, the youngest four, Buttercup and I waved good by.
David hiked with the big kids down into beautiful Hell Hole Canyon-
From the deepest part of the valley, in wilderness behind our home, they began their climb up in painful, strenuous, overwhelming endurance-  one step at a time- 
out of the valley- out of Hell Hole Canyon- until they reached the mountain tops. 

In triumph and victorious exhaustion, they looked out breathless over valley below-
and beyond.

Glorious pain of victory delivers a special quenching sweetness to pure mountain top air.

 Together they forged new memories. 

And someday, back down in life's valleys, they will remember.

Can you find Liam in the tree?

A mountain top to remember.
And a dog to remember too.

Unexpected 4-legged Treasures in Hell Hole:
Some of life's most precious treasures and memories of God's provision are found in the valleys.
Leora had been afraid of seeing mountain lions on their hike and asked to bring Buttercup.
Concerned about our old dog's endurance, David left her behind with me and the littles.

But, Leora's Father in Heaven notices detail and at the bottom of Hell Hole Canyon, two friendly, energetic dogs showed up with Leora and playfully followed her
to the top of the mountain-
And back down again- wagging, playing and chasing along the way.
Then they stayed near her side until they all were back up to the start of the trail-
a six hour hike.

She rewarded them with lots of water along the way
and shared her lunch at the top.

When Leora finally reached the end of their hike, the dogs happily ran ahead- back to wherever they had originally come.

She missed them- 
but she will never forget the gift of their presence.

When life get's hard and scary, she has another treasure in her memory to glean strength from.

Hardships are guaranteed. 

Looking over the landscape of our life, from this glorious mountain top season, my heart is filled with amazement at beauty below- beauty that shines out of soul ripping valleys from which we have climbed.
Provision has happened and impossible obstacles overcome.
Remembering those miracles and gifts boosts our strength in the next valley.

We have endured deep, jagged valleys- valleys that seemed impossible to endure- where every breath seemed to be an accomplishment. He called us- and trembling with fear, exhaustion and sorrow, we continued to stumble out of valleys- one trembling step at a time. 
Each dark valley of grief, loss, failure, mistakes, disappointments or cruelty that life has delivered, resulted in rich brokenness scattered over the landscape below- rocky crevices spilling out rivers of hope- pouring out-filled up ragged trenches, flowing into crevices.

 The most beautiful treasures by far, have been found far below- in those darkest places.

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness-- secret riches.  I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. 

God became beautifully real in those valleys.
Friendships deepened into life-long treasures-
friendships new and old.

Each one of our seven children came during or as a result of, a Hell Hole Canyon experience.

As we savor our seven treasures- pondering the valleys from which we have come, 
my weary, broken, thirsty heart fills up with life giving hope-

Special beauty springs up out of our most difficult places.

Before the Hike, David had been sick.
I asked him afterwards how he made the climb when he was already weak.
 He replied-
I focused on one step at a time.

Isn't that another way we climb out of life's valleys?
One step at a time?

This is the way, walk ye in it. Isaiah 30:21

We are guaranteed more valleys. But today, with Mohale home and thriving with the rest, I remember and savor, breathing fresh air that can only be experienced from the mountain top- a mountain top reached after an impossible climb.
We catch our breath and rest in abundant gratefulness-
 gaining strength for the next valley. 

Memory from a mountain peak in Lesotho where we met our son, Mohale.

Along with numerous others, friends of ours have recently brought their treasured,
long and passionately pursued sons and daughters home from the D.R. Congo!

We met their treasures this week and OH MELT MY HEART!  They are incredible children!!!

Now they each face storms of adjustment.
Their isolating climb out of Hell Hole has begun.

To those who have recently adopted,
You are normal to feel overwhelmed and even depressed.
Connecting with our traumatized, unattached children is crazy hard!
The long hike from "strangers to "family" is often excruciating

In time, and sometimes it's a long time,
you will reach those beautiful mountain tops-
far more beautiful than you can currently imagine!

Even when we expect hard, the actual climb is excruciating. 
Although you know that cold, early morning swimming pool will be initially uncomfortable,
the shock still takes your breath away when you actually jump in.

How do we breathe in the valley?

By reaching up-
By finding something to be grateful for in the midst-
By being real, transparent, and reaching out to others who can encourage you,
His faithfulness in the last valley

1 I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
    Oh, that God would listen to me!

2 When I was in deep trouble,
    I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
    but my soul was not comforted.

3 I think of God, and I moan,
    overwhelmed with longing for his help.

11 But then I remembered all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.

12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

19 Your road led through the sea,
    your pathway through the mighty waters—
    a pathway no one knew was there!

Oh how difficult it is, when in the valleys, to remember.
Yet, in grateful remembrance, strength is renewed.

Life isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t exactly where you are supposed to be.
In fact- hard is a promise. 

An overwhelmed perspective can be a thief. Slipping into negative, discouraged focus causes me to miss rich blessings that surround us.
Gratefulness is the channel by which He commands his strength upon us in our weakness. 

And joy?  There is abundant joy.
The joy of the lord is our strength.

Isaiah 40:28-31
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

A current little valley:

Precious Joseph continues to struggle from challenges he's endured since birth. 
Daily I hold him through episodes-
He has grown large and remarkably strong so barely do I have the physical strength to endure holding him through his episodes.

We recently signed up for 10 hours per week of in-home therapy for him. 
I pray that one comes who is wise and skilled in ways to best coach us in managing our treasure's symptoms.

Focusing on the hard, takes the wind out of our sails before daylight even breaks through. 
Facing a day with gratefulness is a channel by which he lifts us up like a breeze under eagles wings.  
Because life is hard, we need to be grateful- sometimes even for the strength to breathe-
Gratefulness is like a power-bar and a quenching drink of water on this climb.
Remembering provision in past valleys strengthens my heart. 

This morning, I strained to hold our beloved son through another ear-ringing, one hour episode. In weariness, my heart filled with gratefulness and renewed strength.  I get to hold him through this. It's an honor to hold our beloved treasure through his struggles. We are crazy in love with him and my tears flow often along with his.
My heart bursts with grateful admiration as our five older ones daily ask to support me. They are learning to let HARD push them closer to His heart.
They are growing in character through this season into friends more than dependents.
David and I have the honor of being their life-coaches.

As we daily parent sweet, gentle, adored Mohale and our strong, precious beloved Joseph,
laughter and giggles flow- we deeply treasure and enjoy our adorable boys.
I'm humbled beyond words that we get to be their family.
Friends, I am incredibly grateful for strength that comes often through prayerful, wise, encouraging, unconditional, transparent, real, friends who surround our family.

I thank God daily for you.
There are not words adequate to describe my gratefulness for you.