Thursday, July 30, 2015

What I Learned in Guatemala

“O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past — stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.”

I answered some questions last week about our mission trip to Guatemala. After I had that post drafted, my friend Kayse messaged me. Among the catch up was this: “I’d love to hear more about Guatemala! What did you learn?” Well, now that’s a question!

The whole trip was a step out of my comfort zone. With travel and logistics, I ended up being away from Ben for nine days – the longest I’d ever been away from either of the kids. I spent the week in a country whose language I didn’t speak. So, of course, I learned some things. I saw new things and experienced moments unique to that time and place.

But one thing that surprised me and taught me was the way our team served each other.

There were 13 of us from five different churches Murray area and four others who live there and work for Bethel Ministries International. Very few of us had relationships before preparing for this trip. Sure, our local group had meetings since January, when we all committed to go. And we did some fundraisers together.

But seeing God work within our group – in our conversations, prayers, laughter and service – was something I want to hold onto. Before Guatemala, God had been showing me how relationships come – and sometimes go, unfortunately – with seasons. My natural instinct is to huddle all my people together – around the table or in my Facebook newsfeed – and never let go.

Serving together for a week will build connections – and those connections won’t look like other friendships. {Tweet that.} While building houses, we had conversations that mattered about our lives back home. We talked about what God’s doing in our jobs and with our families. We trusted each other with pieces of our stories.

One of my favorite moments from the week came in the hotel parking lot. The whole team had just gotten back from eating together when one of the guys shared with Greg and me about a hard conversation he and his fiancée were having across the miles that separated them. They’re farther apart than Greg and I ever were, but we remember how hard distance can be on a relationship. We shared some things from our own 17 years of knowing each other. Like a dose of reality mixed with hope, we told him how building a relationship that lasts is hard work but how it’s worth it. And then Greg got a chance to pray with him.

Those are the moments that bond people and build a foundation for what God wants to do.

I had other encouraging conversations throughout the week. I shared about our current adoption plan and pieces of my faith testimony. I heard about other people’s dreams of new jobs, ministry opportunities, and schooling decisions. {Read more about how we spent the week in Guatemala.}

One night when we were reflecting on our day, one of the guys said, “We were listening to all these worship songs that make you want to do something. And here we are doing something.” It’s true – together we worked and worshipped. God was there and he moved throughout the week with us. And I believe he’s going to do more because of that week together in Guatemala.

I was reminded how service can happen wherever you are. {Tweet that.}

Sure, it's easy to serve in Guatemala, where the needs are so obvious. People don't have enough food and clothing. One family we had met had never heard about Jesus. Another family had but gave their lives to Christ for the first time.

But needs still exist wherever we are – in a hotel parking lot with a new friend, while we’re sharing a meal with friends we’ve known for years, when I pick up our daughter’s birth mom for a prenatal doctor’s appointment, when we work in our ordinary lives, and down the street from our home that lacks for nothing. God wants to use us – and our stories – to meet those needs. 

I don’t want to unsee what God showed me in Guatemala so I can be sure to see what he has for me here.

In other another moment in Guatemala earlier this month, I also learned Cate wants to be baptized. This was such a sweet surprise to end our week in Guatemala. And it’s happening SUNDAY! {Obviously, there will be more to come on that!}

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman for my favorite monthly recaps. Read other Things I Learned posts :: {From 2013} June. July. August. September. October. November. {From 2014} January. February. March. April. May. June. July. August. September. October. November. December. {From 2015} January. February. March. April. May. June.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: The Purple Backpack

While packing for Guatemala, I pulled out my trusty, purple L.L. Bean backpack. There were still beads, a couple washers, and a tiny yellow duck attached to the zippers. And the worn butterfly patch remained where other kids’ had their backpacks embroidered with their initials or name.

I can explain the butterfly.

Butterflies symbolize transformation. Caterpillars begin as one thing and are transformed into a new thing. It’s a beautiful picture of our faith journey and how God makes us new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

(Also, you can read about my own Chrysalis experience and my daughter’s more recent understanding of accepting Christ.)

That purple backpack once packed textbooks, dreams of becoming a writer, and pieces of relationships I didn’t realize were shaping me. As a teenager, I carried it around the hallways of Oldham County High School while I searched for myself. It hung on the back of my desk in freshman English class the same year Kurt Cobain died. It was with me when I chose being the editor "The Clarion Colonel" over enrolling in AP Calculus the year my school switched to block scheduling and my class selection was more limited.

I’m not the same person I was then. Sure, some things are the same, but my perspective and convictions have changed. Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, life is a process. Transformation comes in seasons. {Tweet that.}

That purple backpack was with me throughout our week in Guatemala. It carried coloring books and bubble gum for the kids, hand sanitizer and wipes for us, my journal, my camera, a rain jacket, and my diabetes supplies. It sat on dirt floors people called home, got wet the one afternoon rain came, and offered a piece of familiarity in the unknown. But it also helped carry my faith that God grew as I stepped out of my comfort zone and the memories of seeing a world so different from my own.

I’ve spent the last dozen years creating a grown-up life that looks nothing like I imagined but is better than I ever expected. This place I call home is smaller than where I walked the high school hallways I couldn’t wait to leave, yet I’ve traveled and experienced and lived in such a way that I can see a bigger picture of the world. I’ve gotten to know God more intimately through the adventures. 

And the purple backpack has been along for much of the journey.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, July 27, 2015

When song lyrics bring something beautiful

“In your ocean I'm ankle deep
I feel the waves crashin' on my feet
It's like I know where I need to be
But I can't figure out, yeah I can't figure out
Just how much air I’m will need to breathe
When you tide rushes over me …”

{From “Something Beautiful” by Needtobreathe}

After day of riding amusement park rides in the July heat in St. Louis, we took our kids to their first real concert. Four hours of music, courtesy Colony House, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, Switchfoot, and Needtobreathe.

We were sweaty and dirty when we plopped down in the lawn of the amphitheater. The sun was still high. My kids were tired. And then my wise husband realized the other side of the lawn was already shaded. So we moved – and found relief and a better view.

Greg brought the kids some pizza during Switchfoot. As Jon Foreman roamed the crowd and sang from his heart, Cate and I recognized more songs than we thought we would. And now I want to watch “Fading West,” because, really, who knew Switchfoot had made a surfing movie? Y’all I have no desire to surf, but, goodness, Greg and I have soft spot for inspiration surf movies.

And then the Needtobreathe took the stage and my heart rejoiced. Their music is so good for my soul. And the fact Greg loves the songs like I do makes the whole thing even better. We saw NTB together in Nashville last fall. The band’s song “Brother” inspired the name for our new lake house.

A Needtobreathe concert isn’t billed as a worship service, but with the band’s lyrics and heart, that’s what it became for me. Scripture is sprinkled throughout the songs along with questions we’ve all asked in our faith journey.

We had been standing, clapping and singing. And then during “Keep Your Eyes Open,” I ended up sitting down because I still had a view of the stage and needed to process life.

“… Just past the circumstance
The first light, a second chance
No child could ever dance the way you do
Tear down the prison walls
Don’t start the curtain call
Your chains will never fall until you do

Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown till you
Keep your eyes open, my love
So show me your fire, show me your heart
You know I’ll never let you fall apart if you
Keep your eyes open, my love …”

{From “Keep Your Eyes Open” by Needtobreathe}

Of course, Ben had to use the bathroom just as the song started, so Greg took him. Cate sat down close to me and I told her how the song is linked to Guatemala for me. I’ve loved that song for a while, but lately it’s been reminding me of Guatemala and how I don’t want to unsee what we experienced there. {I even used it as the song to go with my pictures in a video I’ve shared with people who supported our trip.}

I reflected on what God had done in our lives and hearts since we boarded a plane for Guatemala early on Independence Day. There was something ironic about leaving the country on such a patriotic day, but I quickly learned God wanted to use stepping out of my comfort zone to free my heart more.

I sat there in St. Louis on Saturday night with my favorite people by my side as one of my favorite bands played. In some sense, so much has changed this month. Yet I knew I was exactly where God wanted me.

Other songs stirred gratefulness in my heart. Some melodies reminded me of moments I’ve shared with my family and friends. Needtobreathe is part of the playlist of my life.

Ben had been restless in his tiredness. During “Something Beautiful,” he sat on my lap, stretched out his legs, leaned his head back … and gave into rest. The boy is always going and moving and doing.

In all honesty, parenting him has been hard since I’ve been home from Guatemala. Like any relationship, it takes two – so some of the parenting struggle has been all me. Life is filtered differently the past few weeks. It’s not Ben’s fault he hasn’t experienced what I did. Plus he’s only 5 and I can’t expect him to fully grasp what God is doing,

Even so, I believe we’ll move past this hard part and be better people for it. Those moments of having him cuddled in were sweet. Something beautiful, indeed. I felt his body give into sleep and was reminded how many times I push against God, knowing full well he knows best.

And then I wanted to stand up again. So I laid down Ben gently on the ground and he slept for the last half of the Needtobreathe concert while I let God continue his work in my heart.

“God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these hallelujahs be multiplied”

{From “Multiplied” by Needtobreathe}

I'm linking up with the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

{Guatemala} What, why, how?

Since we’ve been back, we’ve shared many Guatemala stories with our friends. I’ve sat around the table eating chips and queso with my two best friends and told them what I saw and experienced. Greg shared with his Bible study friends on a Tuesday morning. Cate has offered her own perspective – and told people in the grocery store and at the public pool about her decision to get baptized. We’ve shared pictures and stories … and answered all kinds of questions.

So, let’s gather around this virtual table that is my blog, and let me answer some questions for you …

How did you choose Guatemala?

We knew our neighbors Kim and Stephen Crouch had led trips there so we had them over for dinner in November to learn more. Personally, I was drawn to the fact kids could go and the time change was only an hour.

I also liked the relational element. The Crouches have been going to serve with Bethel Ministries International for seven years and know the missionaries well. BMI serves all throughout the country, hosting teams in different towns. Even though I had just met the Crouches, we have a slew of mutual local and college friends. I had also seen the way people who had traveled with them to Guatemala before stayed involved with the fundraising and planning for future trips.

What did you all do there?

Throughout the week, our team of 13 people plus the four missionaries who live there divided up most days to serve. We also worked with a local pastor and volunteers who knew how to speak the Quechí dialect many of the local people with Mayan roots spoke.

Collectively, we built three houses on concrete slabs, visited 16 families, and distributed 35 wheelchairs. When we visited families, we gave them clothes, shoes, toiletries, and school supplies. We prayed with people and figured out how Bethel could meet other needs, like build a bathroom or secure education and food sponsorships. I may not have understood every word, but I know it was the same Spirit leading people’s hearts. {You can see all my photos here.}

You took your kid to a third-world country?

I did. And, honestly, she's a huge reason Greg and I believed we were supposed to go. After initially talking to the Crouches, I thought we would wait until Ben could go too. But neither Greg nor I could shake the feeling we were supposed to go. I talked to other friends about family mission trips and, although I was intrigued, I kept coming back to this one.

We committed to go in January and in the months after we participated in various fundraisers, which paid for the projects and materials. We paid our own way for the travel and food costs.

Before we left, I talked to Cate about things – like how she may see a woman nursing a child older than a toddler because food options are limited and how she doesn't know the language so walking away from us was never allowed.

I never worried about taking her and didn't regret our decision once we were there. I did have to explain what a man drinking himself to death means. And I thought I was going to have to explain what Rahab did before she was used by God, but she clung to another detail of that morning's devotional.

Cate is 8 but has common sense and is a deep thinker. As a family, we can talk all day long about generosity and continue to serve here in our local community like we do, but Greg and I believed showing her actual poverty would be life-changing.

Was it hot there?

No, actually. Another group from our area went in June – to the coast, where it was hot. We ended up with nearly perfect weather in the mountains.

It was in the 70s most days and got into the 50s in the evenings. We had layers and jackets. It was the rainy season, but we managed to only get rained on one afternoon ... and the guys had just finished putting on the new roof at a house.

It was hotter when we moved south to the beach for our last day in Guatemala. But even then the temperature was pleasant and some clouds kept us from being drenched in sweat.

So, basically, the weather was better on our mission trip than it apparently was at home that week.

Had you been in a mission trip before?

No, I’d never been on a mission trip. Greg had been to the Bahamas with his college campus ministry. To serve together was definitely an aspect of this I looked forward to.

What was your favorite part?

Um, all of it.

Really, though, Cate deciding to get baptized wins for obvious reasons. But the day spent building the second house and exchanging friendship bracelets with Maria, Brenda and Angelica may go down as my favorite.

Do you speak Spanish?

No, not really. I can understand some, but I don't speak it. Please don't tell my high school Spanish teacher. She'll be disappointed those four years didn't amount to more.

Will you go back?

I hope so – and so do Greg and Cate. Honestly, the fact I hope to go back surprises me. Before we went, I figured the trip would meet the need I felt inside to go. And it did. But it also opened doors I didn't know were there. I love what Bethel Ministries does and I loved hearing about a new ministry happening in another part of Guatemala to serve orphans and single moms. Landon Divido, who is working with Bethel as an intern this summer, is preparing to marry his fiancée Amy and then help the ministry his dad started open a rescue center in Poptun, Guatemala. This will help orphans as well as single moms who need childcare so they can work to provide for their families.

These are the kind of ministries I want to be a part of, even from a distance and hopefully one day on the ground again.

What can we do to help?

We spent the week serving in Chichicastenango, Guatemala alongside Bethel Ministries. We saw up close the poverty cycle that paralyzes families. Families often choose between food and education. Many suffer continuously because of the dirt and dust that builds up in their houses, that is, if they have roofs to cover them.

Bethel works with families all over Guatemala to help meet their needs while sharing the gospel. Some of that happens through food and education sponsorships. A monthly $50 food sponsorship feeds a family of 4 for a month. Education sponsorships are $25 for children in primary grades and $50 for those in secondary grades.

We would love for you to join us in serving this part of the world through sponsorships for some of the families and children we've met this week. Through Bethel, 100% of the sponsorship money goes directly to the family. If you're willing to commit to this let us know and we'll get you more information about a specific family or child as well as how you can make your monthly contributions.

You can also read more about what Light of the World Ministries is doing in Poptun and join in those efforts.

And if you have more questions, feel free to ask me. We're all friends around a table here.

Other Guatemala-related posts ... 


Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

{Guatemala} God makes us new

We spent our last day in Guatemala on the black sand beach at Puerto San Jose. The Pacific Ocean waves were mighty, but the men and kids found their way in and out of the white caps. The women snapped many pictures. After a week of serving, we rested in each other and God’s beauty.

That afternoon, Cate came to me from where she had been digging in the sand and said, “Mom, can I talk to you?”

I leaned toward her, thinking she was going to tell me about all the sand that had piled up in her bathing suit or ask another question about just how the volcanic ash created a black sand beach. “No, over there,” she urged wanting me to step away from our friends.

We walked a few steps away and she says, “I want to be baptized in a few weeks.”

My heart melted in that moment. This had been brewing. We’d have conversations many Sundays for months when the communion elements were passed through the congregation. She asked about what accepting Christ and baptism meant. Greg and I have shared our stories over time with her. But, really, it had been awhile since we talked about it, even though I’d been praying for her faith journey.

Standing in our bathing suits on the edge of Guatemala, I asked my girl some questions and then called Greg over to join our conversation. (And, yes, our team leader and friend Kim snapped the photo of us huddled together, not knowing what we were discussing but noticing the moment seemed important.)

Cate repeated to Greg what she had told me. We talked more about sin and separation from God and how Jesus makes eternal life possible. Knowing her personality is so much like mine, I reminded her that even when we choose to live for Jesus, we’ll still make mistakes. This life is a process of becoming more like Jesus. {Tweet that.} But it won’t be until we’re in heaven that we’re made complete and perfect. I hope she grasps this earlier than I did.

God makes us new – and seeing my daughter accept this truth was such a sweet moment, especially after everything we’d seen and experienced together that week. We had a front row seat to joy and poverty like never before. Really, the whole mission trip reminded me of “Inside Out” and how sadness and joy co-exist.

Earlier in the week, Cate said, “I should trust God more. These people trust God even though they don’t have much.” To hear her deeper understanding of needing Jesus will forever be a favorite moment in mothering her. Sure, it actually has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God. But I’m grateful that’s the kind of God we get to serve together.

While I wasn’t expecting this conversation that day, God knew it was coming. God told us to go to Guatemala, and I’m so glad we got to see another piece of his plan for our family. Cate’s revelation was the perfect ending to a week that stretched my faith and gave me a refreshed perspective as we served others.

This is the second in my reflections from our mission trip to Guatemala last week. More stories are coming, but until then you can see all my pictures here. Other Guatemala posts :: On hearing God say GO. On building foundations & threading love

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Blogging With Kids

People have asked me how I make time for blogging while mothering.

Honestly, it changes depending on the day and week and season, but I do know I’m a better mom because I write. Writing is my therapy that gives me a chance to process life while documenting what I want to remember. I’ve written longer than I’ve mothered, so, honestly, the combination is all I’ve ever known.

I started blogging not long after I graduated college with a print journalism degree in 2001 after a friend nudged me to join this new technology craze. I figured I’d have an online journal for a while and then move on. Obviously, that didn’t happen. As I started blogging, I was also beginning my journalism career, so I was writing publicly for both work and play.

When my daughter was 4 months old, I left the newsroom, thus quitting the professional writing gig. That was almost eight years ago – and I haven’t stopped writing. I’ve picked up some freelance assignments and earned a little money, but, mostly, I’ve been blogging while living, stringing words together as I make sense of my thoughts, and documenting what life with kids looks like.

I was trained to ask questions, tell stories, and write informative pieces. Many days, I know how to write far better than I know how to mother! But writing helps me process what I’m learning in mothering – which has been the greatest adventure of my life.

{Join me at Circles of Faith for more of my writing while mothering story ...}

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Slugs & Bugs is singing more of the Bible!

While in Guatemala, someone from our team read Matthew 6:19-21 during an evening devotional:

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

As soon as the verse started, Cate leaned over to me and said, “That’s a song too.”

Honestly, my favorite kind of music speaks truth into our lives. And that’s why I love Slugs & Bugs’ Sing the Bible. The first album has helped my kids learn scriptures – includes those words from Matthew 6 – as the songs are straight from the Bible. You can see a list of verses being considered for the album here.

I’m obviously excited Randall Goodgame has a Kickstarter campaign underway for Sing the Bible Vol. 2 and was happy to throw in my support. Once this project is funded, there will be more good music that speaks truth right into my kids’ lives. Oh, who am I kidding, I like listening too.

The Kickstarter campaign aims to raise $40,000 by Aug. 17. Take a look at the Kickstarter rewards – there are some fabulous deals! You could stock up on Slugs & Bugs goodies. Hello, early Christmas shopping! Plus have plenty of good music for your own house … or minivan, because, hey, let’s be honest, that’s where most of my Slugs & Bugs listening occurs.

Nobody asked me to write this post. I just wanted to because I didn't want other families to miss out on this goodness. And, really, I'd recommend all the Slugs & Bugs albums to people. Follow Slugs & Bugs on the web, Facebook and Twitter. You can read some of my previous Slugs & Bugs posts here :: 2011 concert in Murray2012 concert in MurraySing the Bible Vol. 1 review2014 concert in Murray.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, July 13, 2015

{Guatemala} Building a foundation & threading love

I cried at dinner after our first day of work in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. A mixture of emotions collided in my head. I was missing Ben, overwhelmed by the poverty I had already seen up close, feeling useless after spending the day at the site for a house build. The guys did all the hard work hand mixing concrete and pouring it as the foundation of a house we’d build the next day while Cate and I struggled to communicate with the family. Plus I was in a third-world country with my 8-year-old daughter who was trying to process emotions of her own.

Our team leader Kim gave me a pep talk when we stepped away from the table as everyone else was ordering their dinner. She reminded me God called us to this country, on this trip, and this time. Perhaps my broken Spanish, smiles, coloring books and pieces of gum really did help that momma and her two kids feel loved while the guys poured concrete. Maybe I just needed to be a mom and help my girl try to grasp this new perspective in front of us.

Two Guatemalan kids – 11-year-old Angelica and 12-year-old Sergio – had the best smiles that day. Our broken Spanish made them laugh as they kept an eye on the concrete that would become the foundation of their house. And I stood there that evening in their homeland crying.

As our team processed the day during our nightly devotional, we talked about foundations – the literal ones we were building and the spiritual one on which we build our faith. This family was going from having a dirt floor beneath their adobe house to a metal house built upon a concrete slab. Talk about security and improvement.

But sometimes security in Christ comes when we step out of our comfort zone. {Tweet that.}

That’s what I had to do in Guatemala. I eventually dried my tears and decided to let God use me – even if that didn’t look like I expected, even when that made my heart race, even when I wasn’t sure what He would do with the seeds we were planting with our service, prayers, and hugs.

With Jesus as the foundation, we can have hope and assurance there’s goodness to come. {Tweet that.}

We saw Angelica and Sergio the next afternoon when we went to build their house. And two days later Angelica was at another home we were building just down the dirt road among the cornfields from her new house.

When we walked up to build that second home, Angelica looked at me and said “Hola!” like we were friends. There was still a language barrier but we had bonded anyway. And now we had a chance to serve Maria and her four kids, including 9-year-old Brenda. I gave Angelica, Maria and Brenda a bag of embroidery thread. Cate joined them to make friendship bracelets – joining in with much more ease than that first day.

These Guatemalans made Cate, teammate Cheryl, and me beautiful bracelets far superior to our braided ones. And then Maria turned the hacky sack she was crocheting into a pouch for Cate. Yes, it was beautiful and created in love. But it was also a sacrifice because she could have sold the hacky sack at the local market for money for her family. Yet she chose to give it to my girl.

I carried supplies, used a drill, helped hold a wall, and assembled bunk beds that day. I watched a team of people come together and build a house – and relationships with each other. But my favorite moment of the day came when women and girls used thread to make gifts and tie together sweet memories.

This is the first in my reflections from our mission trip to Guatemala last week. More stories are coming, but until then you can see all my pictures here

I'm linking up with the Soli Deo Gloria Gathering and Jennifer Dukes Lee's #TellHisStory.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Gift of Rest

Please welcoming my friend Katie Reid to #ThreeWordWednesday! We connected on the internet and both are part of the God-sized Dreams website writing team. We have a shared passion for adoption and are unwinding our tightly-wound selves as we learn about letting go of perfectionism. This week I'm in the mountains of Guatemala on a mission trip, so I'm thrilled to have Katie's encouragement to share with you today.

For more than a year I have been striving, driving and running out of gas. I see the speedometer near “E” yet insist on going just a little further — pushing the limits, but running on fumes.

I often don’t get enough sleep and foggy brain sets in from having too many tabs open on the home-screen. I struggle to be present. I feel overwhelmed by the house, the hurry and the hiccups —unexpected circumstances that interfere with endless to-do lists.

My husband and I have tried to be more intentional with resting on Sundays — you know, like God told us too. I try not to get online during the day but take a nap and read a book instead. And you know what? I’m starting to love Sundays — especially the ones when I actually unplug and rest. Foregoing the frantic and embracing simplicity is hard for this tightly wound woman, but it is freeing.

A few Sundays ago I declared, “I am going to read a book just for fun. I’m not going to read a how-to-improve book, but a light, make-me-feel-good fiction book.”

I grabbed a book and headed for the hammock. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing gently and peace was waiting.

As I kicked up my heels, I declared a trust in His ability to keep the world in tact — without me at the helm. I laid back and laid down my tendency of “doing.” I breathed deep.

Why had I waited so long to listen to God’s whispers of wisdom? Why had I ignored His invitation to rest?

My yoke is easy.
My burden is light.
And you will find rest for your soul (see Matthew 11:28-30). {Tweet that.}

As I breathed in His grace and breathed out His praise — finally letting God do His thing — I received a gift; the sweet gift of rest.

How foolish I have been, thinking I know better than God.

“God created the universe in 6 days; he rested on the 7th. His message? ‘If creation didn't crash when I rested, it won't crash when you do!’”
—Max Lucado

When we rest we communicate a posture of trust in the One who created the earth and holds it, and us, together. Let’s kick back a little more often and unwrap this gift from the One who knows just what we need.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  
Matthew 11:28-30 {The Message}

With Grace,

Do you struggle to rest? When was the last time you laid down your load and breathed deep? {Tweet that.}

Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life.

Connect with Katie at and on Twitter and Facebook.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, July 3, 2015

God said GO {on going to Guatemala for the week}

It’s Independence Day weekend … and in the morning we’re leaving our comfortable surroundings for a week-long mission trip in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. This time, “we” means Greg, Cate and me. Ben is splitting his week between two grandmas.

Honestly, not traveling as a family of four was my biggest hesitation in committing to this trip in January. But I kept hearing God say, “Go.”

So that’s what we’re doing. When we step out in faith, we don’t always see the whole picture. Five months ago, I wasn’t sure why God was telling us to go now. But then in his goodness, I got to see a glimpse of the master plan. We’re preparing to bring a baby home this fall. I won’t be available to go to Guatemala for the next several years.

God knew this.

I know there could be a thousand other reasons we’re supposed to go now. We may even get to see some of those reasons this week. Or we may have to wait. Regardless, we believe God has called us to do this.

I’m most looking forward to experiencing this mission trip with my husband and my 8-year-old daughter. None of us have done anything like this before, so to do it together is especially exciting. I’m eager to see Cate interact with the other kids in our group and the ones who call Guatemala home.

We’re taking 50-pound suitcases packed with clothes, school supplies, soccer balls, and toiletries to donate. We’re carrying-on our own stuff in smaller suitcases and filling our backpacks with things we think we’ll need throughout the week. But no expectations are packed.

I don’t know what to expect, but I want to be open to whatever and whoever God has for us there.

In recent months, I’ve emailed with Katie, who works for Compassion International as a donor relations manager. This trip to Guatemala isn’t a Compassion trip, which is a thing. Katie and I initially connected in December when Greg and I made a donation and she called to thank me. I emailed her again a few months ago when I was trying to make meeting our Compassion-sponsored girl Roselyn, who lives in Guatemala, happen while we’re there. Sadly, that wouldn’t work out with our mission trip schedule and Compassion’s travel guidelines.

But Katie has been praying for my family as we prepare to go to a country she loves. And she emailed earlier this week to check in. The encouragement and sincerity in her words was so good for me. To know someone I’ve never met in person has invested themselves in our trip has reminded me how God’s Kingdom works.

And then she said this:

“When we are able to approach life and the opportunities the Lord gives us with open hands rather than tight-fisted, he fills those anxious places with so much joy and peace in His presence. It is certainly not an accident that you all will be on this trip, and I know He will work in and through you.”

Y’all, that is my prayer and hope. If you think about us this week, please join us in prayers for our family, for Ben and his time with grandmas, for the people we’ll meet and serve, for the missionaries who live there full time and have given their lives to this, and for traveling mercies.

People have asked what we’ll be doing. We’re going to build three houses, distribute clothes and food, and help with the ministry’s wheelchair distribution program. If you want to join us in specific prayers, below is information about the families for whom we’ll build houses.

I’m looking forward to bringing home stories to share with you. Thanks for being on this journey with us.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Generosity in Adoption

Photo from Nov. 23, 2009.

She told me my husband and I are generous. Yet she is the one carrying the life of our daughter.

We’d been to two ultrasound appointments and the attorney’s office together. I’d taken her to another unrelated appointment and the pharmacy. And this day we were returning from her meeting with the social worker.

With my 5-year-old boy and her 1-year-old boy strapped in their seats behind us, Stacy and I sat in my mini van outside her apartment and talked about this adoption. She was 26 weeks pregnant and relieved to have a plan. We talked about postpartum counseling and resources to help her mother well the two children she already has.

Since May 5, I’ve been getting to know this woman who will make a me momma for third time. She’s carrying the baby girl we’re going to name Rachel Elizabeth, the third-born child who will make my son a sandwich between two sisters. (Ironically, his initials are BLT.)

“You all are so generous to me,” she said. I keep thinking about her words.

I’m not new to adoption, but Stacy’s simple comment shed new light on my relationship with her as a birth mom. I’ve been blessed to have relationships with two other birth moms, but all of their stories have been different. They were each in different places in life and our connections were unique.

That’s the beauty of adoption. It’s relational in the truest sense. {Tweet that.}

So, sure, we’re helping her. We’re adopting this child for whom she doesn’t believe she can care given her circumstances. We’ve got medical and legal expenses covered and we’ve put some minutes on her cell phone. I’ve picked her up for appointments.

But in terms of money, that’s not really very much. I know Stacy wasn’t measuring our generosity in dollars and cents.

Still, I’ve been realizing lately in a new way that adoption works because of how it blesses everyone involved. Yes, this is emotional for Stacy. Grief comes with making an adoption plan. But she’s also relieved and adoption brings purpose to her situation.

For us, we’ve believed for years we were supposed to be a family of five. And even before that, I thought Ben had a middle-child personality. We’re ready to expand our family.

Relationships with birth moms are different than any other relationships I’ve experienced. In 2007, 2009, and now 2015, I’ve bonded quickly with these women I wouldn’t otherwise know. That’s what happens when everyone is invested in the same growing life and gathers in exam rooms. We’ve gotten to know each other on a level that makes us proud to tell our children about their beginnings and given these women peace about their plans for adoption.

Then after the birth, the relationship changes – at least that’s been our experiences. Our adoptions are open in the sense that the birth moms know our names and have our contact information. We send updates about the kids. Cate has even gotten a chance to meet her birth mom a couple of times. But after the baby is born and final papers signed, we all settle back into our lives. The conversations between us are fewer and we aren’t making plans to show up at appointments together.

I’m the kind of girl who wants every relationship I’ve ever had to remain. I want to be friends forever with everyone. As I’m growing up, I realize that isn’t how every relationship should be. Adoption magnifies that with its unique relationships, but it also opens the door to a ministry of being able to help someone in a way not otherwise possible.

Obviously, all adoptions are different. Another family’s story may not look like ours. But in our experiences, I’m especially grateful for these women and the relationships in which we experience generosity together.

#ThreeWordWednesday note :: I'm going to be in Guatemala next week on a mission trip to serve with Bethel Ministries, so I'm going to have a guest hosting the linkup here. I won't be here to visit all the posts, so be sure to encourage each other. And, yes, I'm sure I'll be bringing home stories to share with y'all in the coming weeks. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."