Ballroom Dance, Bible Study, faith, kingdom living, sacred romance, spiritual warfare

What Is Being Revealed?

I firmly believe that every trial, struggle, and difficulty has lessons to teach us if we will only choose to find them. No matter the size of them in reality or the size they appear to be in our mind, there is a message in them.

We’ve been ballroom dancing students for 10 months now and we’ve learned a lot.  We can competently dance steps to about seven different dances – Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Rumba, East Coast Swing and are learning steps to two more.  But competency isn’t what makes anyone want to watch someone else dance, nor is it the end goal of our lessons.  The goal and what makes dance grab your attention is the beauty and grace of the dancers.

In order for a dance to be beautiful and graceful, the dancers must create that picture on the floor.  Our instructors remind us that the gentleman creates the frame, but the lady creates the picture and this spring our studio began to offer “Guys Night” and “Ladies Night” classes to help us do just that.  I’ll be honest, I HATED most of those Ladies Night classes.  It was irrational how much I hated them, and after several of them, I literally drove home in tears. For several weeks, I couldn’t even explain why I hated them so much, but something made me keep going back.

At the same time, I had been studying Brent Curtis’s and John Eldredge’s book, The Sacred Romance, with a friend.  We were in chapter ten, when I found this:

“In the day-to-day pattern of things, our journey is shaped more often by dragons and nits–crises that shake us to the core and persistent troubles that threaten to nag us to death. Dragons and nits: Are they tragic events and random inconveniences, or are they part of the plot through which God redeems our heart in very personal ways?” (p. 150)

They go on to tell the story of Mary, a woman who lost her permanent teeth in an accident and had trouble replacing them for years with a permanent solution.

“Her teeth were a source of shameful arrows lodged deep.  A seemingly irrelevant nit that God refused to take away became an opportunity to face a fundamental question the heart of every woman asks: Am I lovely? Without the nit, the deeper issue of her heart would never have come up. Once it did, the real battle began.”

Why were these classes so difficult for me?  It was because the whole point of them was to help me create a picture of beauty and grace which ran counter to a core lie that I had believed for most of my life – I am not beautiful, I am not graceful, I am less than.

There are a few times that I could point to in the last 40 years where I felt beautiful. They were fleeting and usually tied to some sort of event, but day to day, more often than not, I believed that lie. Even now, looking at pictures of those events, that lie colors my recollection of those events. I nitpick every picture and find fault with myself in nearly every one.

“Both dragons and nits take us into the deep places of the soul, uncovering the sentences we have long lived by.” (Curtis and Eldredge, The Sacred Romance, p. 154)

My nit, Ladies Night, revealed the “sentence” that I had “long lived by”, and I began to want to believe something different.

I don’t remember where I found this verse, but it’s been helping me counter that lie every time it pops into my head.  Psalm 45:10-11 NIV says:

“Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”

God doesn’t see me the way I see myself.  He sees me as his creation, “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  He is enthralled by the beauty of whom he created me to be.  As I repeat this verse over and over, I am beginning to see myself through his eyes.  And this last Ladies Night?  Well, I danced to enthrall my King, because he finds me beautiful.

 

What long-held belief might your “dragons and nits” be attempting to reveal?

 

 

 

faith, kingdom living, sacred romance, spiritual warfare, worshipping

Building Muscle

I have this great trainer, Linda, who has been helping me rebuild my body after my weight loss surgery.  We were working out yesterday on some specific areas that I’d really like to see improve.  But while we were doing it, she pointed out that while I might not see improvement, she is seeing definition that wasn’t there before.  That was encouraging.  It will be especially encouraging tomorrow when the after-effects of a tough workout will be very obvious!

This morning, after a particularly tough day in our family yesterday, I had planned to read a book on my Kindle and opened the app only to find that I already had a book open.  The open book was the one I really needed to read — When the Enemy Strikes: The Keys to Winning Your Spiritual Battles by Charles Stanley.  I’ll share a few key things that were particularly helpful today in hopes that you will find them helpful as well:

What is a satanic attack?  A satanic attack is a deliberate, willful, intentional, and well-designed act intended to bring harm to a person in any way–physical mental, economic, relational, or spiritual. (Stanley, p. 16) What are the objectives of a satanic attack?  He has four:
  1. Satan seeks to draw us away from God. That’s always his ultimate goal.
  2. Satan seeks to thwart us in God’s purpose and plan for our lives. He seeks to get us off track and out of the will of God for our lives.
  3. Satan seeks to deny God the glory, honor, and praise due Him as we live Godly lives of faith and trust in God.
  4. Satan seeks to destroy us–literally and eternally. (Stanley, p. 16-17)
Whenever the devil strikes us, we can take heart that God has a purpose in allowing the devil to act.  The purpose is a divine one that we may not understand but that nonetheless is for our good or the good of others.  The grief, suffering or pain is for a season only.  The end result, as we remain faithful to God, will bring glory to him. (Stanley, p. 28)
Three Things You Can Always Count On
  1. You can be certain that God will help you.  God is holy, omnipotent, omniscient, and immutable.  The Bible tells us “Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.” (Isaiah 59:1 NLT) The Lord desires to help you. He is waiting for you to ask Him!
  2. You can rest assured that the attack will come to an end. No temptation or crisis lasts forever. A temptation may come again in another form, or come again after a period of time, but every temptation has a time limit put on it.
  3. You can expect to be stronger in your spirit after you have resisted an attack of the enemy. (Stanley, p. 30)

 

I was encouraged so much after reading this this morning.  And then, about an hour later, I received a text from a friend who was very discouraged.  I called her and we talked about what was going on for both her and me and then things began to coalesce in my head to form an analogy for her and me.

Just as building muscle is painful, but results in definition and strength, so too are the spiritual battles we face.

I found this little gem as I was doing some research for this post: “For muscle breakdown and growth to occur you must force your muscles to adapt by creating stress that is different than the previous threshold your body has already adapted to.” (https://www.builtlean.com/2013/09/17/muscles-grow/)

This same principle is true in our spiritual growth.  If we are to deepen our walk with the Lord, we must be challenged beyond where we currently stand.  I’ll refer you here to John 15:1-8, 1 Corinthians 10:13 and James 1:2-5.

No one likes to face spiritual battles, but if we change our perspective, perhaps we can see them in a different light.  I don’t really enjoy lifting weights (I’d really hate it if it weren’t for Linda!), but I like the results.  Linda says my calfs are “cut” and that she is seeing the cut of my muscles in my thighs.  Personally, I see only cellulite in my thighs until she points the definition out to me.

As I face my own spiritual battles, I’ll be asking God for his perspective on them.  Which spiritual muscle group are we working on developing today, God? I want to be a vine that has great strength and bears much fruit for His glory!

 

 

adoption, spiritual warfare

If you think about it…

We would appreciate your prayers for tomorrow. We’ll be making a call to the US Embassy to find out why there is a delay in approval of our I-600.  (The I-600 is a Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative and is filed with the USCIS.)

The USCIS at the Embassy in Haiti has had our file since November 14. In August of last year, they told me that all they were waiting for was our court documents for it to be approved, so I expected that we would have approval long before the end of November.  Instead, it’s January 1 and we’re still waiting.

Thanks for praying with us!

adoption, adventure, faith, kingdom living, parenting, spiritual warfare

Latest Prayer Request

Ok, so you may have read on twitter/facebook that birth certificates had been issued with our last names on them in late August.  From there, there are just a few more steps.

1. File needs to be finished being legalized (every signature checked and verified as legal)

2. File enters MOI – another verification step and then recommendation for passport issuance with our last names.

3. Passport issuance

4. Entire dossier heads to the US Embassy for final approval of our I-600 (already have in writing, they are just waiting for paperwork to be in their hands).

5. File moves to the US Consular section at the Embassy for the Visa issuance (entails a visa interview and then the visa will be issued a few days later).

6. Visas issued

7. We go and get the boys.

Seven small steps, but each one seems to take forever.  Would you please pray with us that we would move into MOI this week?

adoption, faith, kingdom living, parenting, spiritual warfare

Adoption Update

We finally got the phone call!!!

Tuesday morning, Brian and I will be on a flight to Haiti to finalize our adoption in a Haitian courtroom.  We are so excited!! Thank you for partnering with us in prayer for this day to happen!

Interestingly, our call came exactly 2 days before our file had been in IBESR for exactly a year. 363 days of learning patience…

We don’t expect to be bringing them home with us on this trip, but God could certainly surprise us with that blessing.

We would appreciate your prayers in the following areas:

  • That we would be able to fit in all of the appointments we need to take care of between Tues and Fri.  Two court appearances and then passports to be issued.
  • That we would be able to get all documents translated back into English quickly so that we can deliver the entire dossier to the US Embassy on Monday morning or even earlier 😉 .
  • Pray that once the dossier is in the hand of the Embassy that they will review everything quickly and approve our I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. We previously had a roadblock at the embassy and we need it to fall down.  The boys cannot get visas to come to the USA if our I-600 is not approved.  Please pray that God will remove all the barriers and to direct us to the right people in our government to facilitate that removal.
  • Pray that our boys will be home on or before 8/8/12.  It’s my birthday and that would be a very cool birthday present!

Again thanks to all of you who have supported our family in prayer throughout this process.  We’re not there yet, but we are into the final sprint!!

adoption, Bible Study, faith, kingdom living, spiritual warfare, Uncategorized

Answered Prayer

I was doing a study this morning as part of facilitator training for our church’s women’s ministry called Friend 2 Friend.  We’re going through a book called “Growing in Christ” by the Navpress. I’ll be willing to confess that I wasn’t all that thrilled to be asked to go through it.  I mean, I’ve been a Christian since I was 19 (wow, is it really almost 30 years). This is pretty basic stuff, I thought. I was reminded that even the most basic stuff is what we need sometimes.

We’re still anxiously awaiting news from Haiti. We know that four or five dossiers from our orphanage have received presidential dispensation in the last two weeks.  We still do not know which dossiers. Why? Because as soon as this news was received, Haiti began to erupt in political violence. A prominent police officer was killed prompting riots throughout Port au Prince. In addition, seven kidnappings took place. A group of 50 ex-military men stormed parliament demanding back pay. A prominent governmental official was accused of killing a store owner. The list just goes on and on…..

As I went through this study this morning, I was reminded again of the battle that is taking place in the spiritual realm in Haiti.  There is active opposition to children coming home both spiritually and in the natural world. As much as I have written about this spiritual battle, you would think that I would have been girded and praying and engaging in that battle. Instead, I heard these were signed and have been fretting and pestering the director of the orphanage trying to get any information at all, to no avail.

Lessons from today:

1. Don’t stop asking in Jesus’s name

John 16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

2. Ask according to His will – I John 5:14-15

3. Abide in Jesus, trusting in Him, reading and applying His words. – John 15:7

4. God’s answers to my prayers will be great and mighty, beyond what I ask – Jeremiah 33:3 and Ephesians 3:20

5. The wrong reaction to this uncertainty is for me to become anxious; the right reaction is to keep asking God with thanksgiving. – Philippians 4:7

6. When I do, He will give me peace and guard my heart and mind. Philippians 4:7

I’m thanking God today for the reminder.

Prayer Requests for the adoption this week:

  • Those with dispensation will be told this week.
  • Dispensations will be published in Le Moniteur even this week.
  • Files will exit IBESR by Friday next week.
adoption, adventure, faith, parenting, spiritual warfare

Honestly…

I have truly felt at peace the latter half of this week. When it became clear that March 25 was not the day we were bringing them home, I have truly left the boys in God’s hands. However, honestly I quit asking for God to move as well.

Oh, I’ve prayed for protection at the orphanage, the workers at the orphanage, peace for adoptive families and  I’ve prayed for all my kids here and in the states, but what I wasn’t praying for was for God to continue to breakdown the stronghold that is keeping adoptions from Haiti from moving forward.

I have to ask myself why I have not. Do I have faith that He can break that stronghold? Absolutely! I believe Him to be all powerful and capable of all things! Do I believe that He wants orphans cared for in forever families? Yes, absolutely! His word commands that we do so and He cared enough about us to adopt us into His. Do I believe that He specifically cares about our adoption of Lowenski and Daveson? Absolutely! He numbers the hairs on their heads and has written down all the days of their lives before even one came to pass.

I guess it’s really that I resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t going to happen and for a bit of time kind of gave up hope. It’s silly and shameful now that I’ve spent time pondering it. How easily I have forgotten the same chapter of Daniel which I posted earlier this week.

Please pray for me, that when I begin to grow weary and faint and begin to lose heart, that I will be reminded of this truth:

Isaiah 40:30-31

New International Version (NIV)

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
My hope is in you, Lord!!!
Thank you once again for faithfully praying for our family! Please continue to do so as this stronghold must come down!
adoption, faith, kingdom living, parenting, spiritual warfare

I Feel Great and a Thank You

For those of you are closely following my blog, you know that I was hospitalized last weekend through last Tuesday.

I just wanted to say, “Thank You” for faithfully praying that my health would be of no concern on this trip. I am feeling great.  I still wouldn’t say I am 100%, but probably 95%.

The meeting at the embassy went well, even though I didn’t have everything they wanted. Praise God, I have been able to gather it all and by tomorrow afternoon, I will have a clear process in place for all other families adopting privately from our orphanage and our I600 will be filed.

The boys are great. it has been wonderful to see them. Their English is so much better!

Keep praying. God is still on the throne and we know he hears.

adoption, Bible Study, faith, kingdom living, leadership, parenting, spiritual warfare, worshipping

Remember I Said, “Not My Will, But Only Yours, Lord”

Our lawyer essentially said tonight there was no way we’d be taking our boys home on Sunday.

We do not know anything beyond that, but nevertheless I am here, we’re making some important contacts and I will be eagerly waiting for God’s will.

Please keep praying. This is God’s fight to win, not ours, but we can keep praying.

Daniel 10:1-19 is a great picture of continuing to pray when prayers are not answered in time. Often we do not understand why there are not immediate answers to our prayers. This may be why:

Daniel 10

Daniel’s Vision of a Man

1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war.[a] The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.

2 At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.

4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, 5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.

7 I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. 8 So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. 9 Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.

10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

15 While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16Then one who looked like a man[b] touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. 17 How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”

18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. 19 “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”

When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”

While I’m waiting, I’m going to be reading some books to pass the time.

  • A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
  • Norman Grubb, Rees Howell Intercessor
  • John Eldredge, Epic: The Story God is Telling

Your continued prayers for yesterday’s list is coveted, especially for my youngest son in the US.

adoption, faith, kingdom living, parenting, spiritual warfare

So, I’m Here

The hotel is nice and I have a meeting with the lawyer in about an hour.  I’ve been asked by our government friend to push the lawyer into moving more quickly.  So, if you know me at all, you know I’ll be pushing.

We’ve had a bit of a hiccup unfortunately in the embassy processes.  Somehow, I managed to only email one of the birth certificates for translation into English.  In addition, the hotel’s business center is 1998 style.  So printing is a big issue.  I’ll try again tonight, but the computer I was working on didn’t have acrobat reader on it and it wasn’t downloading easy.  Oh for a travel printer right about now…. It looks like filing the I600 might have to wait until next Monday or maybe on Thursday when Brian comes down.  Who knows.  We’ll see what happens at the appointment tomorrow morning ’cause I’m still going.  At least I can get some questions answered.

On the upside, we are working on a better communication method between our lawyer and the adopting families.  I’ll post more on that in the OLTCH Adopting Families private group. So if you’re one of them, be looking for a post soon.