Living not striving…

Random thoughts and daily adventures in my life

On Our Doorframes August 26, 2011

Filed under: Random stuff — erikaivory @ 3:47 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have a fairly new friend in town, Tracey Daniel. Her family is adopting a little boy from Korea.  I actually met her at a yard sale some friends were hosting for us as a fundraiser. We have only met face to face a couple of times but we follow each others blogs and pray for each other. And interestingly enough the Lord keeps placing people across my path that have been influenced by her.

So I am learning through other folks how neat she is 🙂 and more and more how similar our journeys have been. Cool how the Lord does that! I just read a post she shared on her blog though and it is so good that I just have to share it with you!  She talks about friends…and the kinds of friends, especially as women, it is so good to have in our lives. I hope you’ll take the time to read it, be encouraged and get to know my friend:)

On Our Doorframes

Advertisements
 

Unexpected gifts… July 10, 2011

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 11:40 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Walking through this season has already been full of surprises.  I feel like the Lord surprised us with a scavenger hunt of sorts and He gave us at the outset a big gift basket overflowing with wrapped presents and a backpack full of tools and necessary items.  We are going from clue to clue and seeing bent branches here and there, His footprints in the mud and little clues left along the way to remind us that He has definitely gone JUST ahead of us on the trail.  So we know we are on the right path and we have the assurance of His presence, we just have no idea where this crazy adventure is taking us!

I am also truly thankful that right now He is teaching me lots.  At the moment for me this is a fruitful journey.  My prayer is I can record these lessons and that they will be embedded in my heart and spirit because I am learning some good stuff!!  So I wanted to list some things that I have discovered already along the way.  Some of them may not really make a lot of sense but they are clear to me:)

1) We are immensely blessed with amazing friends!

Are you familiar with Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

By God’s grace we are blessed with so many crazy, Christ lovin’, Bible believin’, sacrificial, fun, awesome and giving friends!  We already knew this but we didn’t realize that they could love us so selflessly.  Many friends have come to us and already financially blessed us by giving us monetary gifts, bringing us meals and gift cards and offering support any way that we need it.  It is overwhelming.  These are friends that have already sacrificially given toward the adoption and friends that don’t have excess money lying around.  To give us these kinds of gifts means that they are SACRIFICING, and giving something to us means they are going without in some area of their own lives.

2) God’s provision through other people’s sacrifice and obedience also means that we learn great humility and surrender.

Accepting the fact that we are on the receiving end and not in a place to give this way ourselves is very humbling. There is no way around it.  The Lord is dealing with some big, bruised areas of pride in our hearts.  These are lessons I thought we already learned but apparently we need to be pruned more and it sounds so weird because we are SO overwhelmed at how loved we feel by these gifts and we are over the moon grateful…yet there is some bruising and pruning taking place that also stings and hurts.  This is Christ doing a work, a GOOD and necessary work in us!  This is keeping us on our faces and on our knees.  Keeping our hands open wide…it is a good place to be, but a place of rawness.

3) The Lord can make surrender and trust a place of joy.

We are truly trying to walk each day trusting and not staying in a place of anxiety.  That means a lot of prayer and speaking the truth of Scripture.  It means reminding ourselves of God’s great faithfulness in stories from His Word and also of stories from our past where He has proved Himself faithful. The amazing thing is as we awake each day with hope and focus our eyes on Him…He provides great opportunities for delight.

We have had SUCH an amazing and fun summer as a family so far.  We have been blessed with great time as a family and SO many tremendous experiences!!  We went to the mountains for a week with college friends and went rock hopping and slid down Sliding Rock and went tubing down a mountain river.  We celebrated God’s faithfulness with college friends. Several different families have opened up their homes and vacation homes to come and be with them. So we have had boat rides and gone tubing and celebrated the 4th of July with fireworks and made ice cream and fed baby deer and spied on alligators and taken golf cart rides and enjoyed time together and new experiences with wonderful, gracious friends.  Instead of sitting at home and worrying and pacing and fretting…we are doing all that we can faithfully and then trusting and enjoying the time we have together right now.

4) He has lessons to teach us each day, if we are walking with awareness.

Realizing that I really need to depend on the Lord because automatic draft is not going to make money appear in my bank account…has heightened my awareness and honed my listening skills.  I am hungry to hear what God has to say these days.  Yes, I always want to know what God has in mind but when I really need His input and movement in my life like now…suddenly I hear and see Him A LOT!  And I love it!!  We need His direction and we need Him to move on our behalf…but what I am realizing is He ALWAYS is!!  I just really don’t pay attention a lot.  This is making me hungry for communication with Him.  So as I see His fingerprints throughout my day it is oh so sweet!  Like I was having a really hard morning waking up with a hopeful attitude a few weeks ago. I went on a run and just wasn’t feelin’ it…I was crying out to Him and asking Him to help me keep my chin up and put on that garment of praise…well the last song that shuffled on my silly ipod was my absolute favorite praise song right now!! The one that I can never get the silly thing to play when I run without skipping…but it played JUST when I needed it!!  See, that is one of His fingerprints!  Or when my devotion was randomly enough in the book of Numbers and dealing with the Israelites complaining about manna…it spoke directly to me about how manna fulfilled the Israelite’s needs but not their desires and cravings because He wanted them to learn to turn that craving toward Him.  Kelly Minter says, “God uses scarcity in our lives (it can be in any area, not just financial) to draw us to dependency on Him self.”  God’s got my number!

5) God reads my mail!

He knows every need we have. He answers us in lots of different ways, but I am learning slowly, that He wants us to take every need to Him and let Him decide how to fill it.  It doesn’t hurt to ask!  I was really sick last week with strep.  Our insurance just ended and we are working on getting some “in-between” insurance but of course this week we don’t have any.  I hated to do it but I was tore up sick so I went to Urgent Care and paid more than a pretty penny for it.  I am truly thankful because I was so wanting to get better, but I gotta admit I was feeling awfully guilty for spending that much money on a strep test and a Z-pack! Today I received an anonymous letter in the mail with a Scripture verse and cash totaling, almost to the dollar, the exact amount I paid at the doctor’s office.  What is that?????? God’s amazing provision and tender reminder that He is enough and He knows my need.  I told maybe one family member how much the doctor visit cost.  God used someone’s blind and complete obedience to not only meet our need but remind us that He is ahead of us on this path, therefore we do NOT need to fear.

Now do I expect people to be paying our mortgage for the next six months if Mark hasn’t found a job by then? No…but I can simply wake up tomorrow confident that God has a plan and whatever tomorrow holds, it is going to be okay.  Not only okay, but good because I serve a God who is faithful and good.  And God is not pulling out the stops for us because it is US.  We are not super hero Christians or amazingly faithful Christ followers.  We are sinners that mess up and make mistakes and don’t deserve our friends to sacrifice for us and certainly don’t deserve the Lord to rescue us.  But that’s grace and it is beautiful.

I warned you that some of this might not make sense but I first of all need to record this journey because it is significant to us personally and as a family.  But we also want to proclaim God’s faithfulness and how He provides and how He is SO, SO faithful!!

 

Wearin’ my Hat Bible… July 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — erikaivory @ 3:27 am
Tags: , , , ,

This is where I’m at:

Yes, that is a Bible on my head. A big, honkin’ Bible.  I’m considering the best way to pass this idea on to Beth Moore for a Hat Bible.  I need His Word to be a constant IV drip into my system. I need to soak it in and fill me up!

You may have never been in a similar season in your life but right now I am hanging onto the Lord and His grace and strength and mercy for dear life.  I wake up talking to Him and grab my phone and pull up YouVersion (the Bible) and start reading. Because I am so holy…NO, SO I DON’T FREAK OUT!!!

Certainly I can be overdramatic and do not in any way feel sorry for me, but I’m just keepin’ it real…I need some Jesus right about now:)  And He has been showing up BIG time…through friends and family, circumstances, notes and particular Scripture verses right when I need it most.

Sigh…the drug Mark was a rep for went generic rather unexpectedly and about two weeks ago Mark’s entire sales force was laid off.  We’ve been down this road before but the last time his company provided two months severance but not this time.  So he is diligently job hunting.  We are on our faces seeking the Lord’s direction. We know He will provide and He already has been SO faithful!

At the same time Mark’s sister just found out that she has breast cancer.  So there is a lot going on in our lives.  We are really doing well.  We are thoroughly enjoying time together as a family and truly making the most of it.  At the same time there is a TON of uncertainty (that’s an understatement) and some big giants we are staring down…I’m honestly not a fan of giant slaying.  Oh yeah and you throw in that whole waiting on the adoption thing…which, by the way Mark does need a job in order to be able to bring our baby/babies home.  Plus he needs to make a certain amount, as well, to stay approved to adopt.

HOWEVER, none of this is a surprise to God and He truly has a plan, we know this.  Our biggest prayer is that He will be glorified through our lives during this season and He will get all the glory as He reveals His plan. We desire nothing less than our lives be a monument of His goodness and glory.  He will make a way and we want to be faithful as we wait.  We don’t want this season to be wasted.  We want to learn and grow and be transformed through this process and prepared for whatever is next.

It isn’t easy though and some days I find it hard to find my Pollyanna positive attitude.  People have so graciously and lovingly helped us already…and I am finding it SO hard to accept help.  I LOVE helping other people, but doggone it, it is not as much fun to be on the receiving end!  Just being honest here.  This is truly revealing to me so many areas where I am unbroken and full of pride and I need to be stripped.  It is not pretty.  It is draining…and exhausting…and just plain old hard.  I am SO, SO thankful. And that’s another thing…the Lord keeps reminding me that I am supposed to be TRULY thankful for this season…and that’s just hard too!!

I’m learning a ton…about who He IS and who He ISN’T…about my idols that need to be torn down…about dark corners of my heart that need to cleaned out…about how amazing my husband is…about how truly selfless and grace-filled and compassionate my friends are…about how rich I am in the friends department (like Donald Trump rich!!)…about how much I depend on my circumstances to determine my peace instead of Jesus’ promises and presence…

Is it becoming more clear why I need the aforementioned Hat Bible?  If you’ve seen one marketed anywhere-hook me up!  If not maybe I can go on the Shark Tank and present my idea…whatcha think?

So if you see me in Wal-mart wearing my Hat Bible holler out a reference for me or simply look away:)  But certainly stay tuned because I just KNOW my amazing Father has a really cool something up His sleeve:)  And I am believing that the other end of this story is going to be just incredible and I also am convinced that what He is doing in us through this…is just as significant.  He’s writing a really cool story in us…we certainly would love your prayers!

Maybe I should call it Bible Hat instead?…

 

 

 

Taking care of what matters… April 19, 2011

Filed under: Deep thoughts,Family Life — erikaivory @ 2:05 am
Tags: , , ,

I’ve sent you to visit her before.  She has remarkable insight.  I’ve been really struggling with being more consistent in my time with Jesus….because these days I need it even more desperately than normal.

Here’s a tidbit:

“I can pass on a legacy of intimacy or leave them, shirts pressed and shoes tied, to deal with the broken areas they’ve inherited from me.

So I am sending you to her neck of the woods again because she put to words so well what I need to remember.  What all of us need to remember, especially as we parent, our little ones.  Enjoy!

 

Unloading… April 8, 2011

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 3:39 am
Tags: , ,

Sometimes I just have to unload my brain. It may not make much sense to anyone else but this is a way to process what is going on inside. When I look at families that have adopted internationally, particularly families that are now trans-racial, I am amazed.  I think, “Wow, they are really brave and selfless and she must be a supermom!  How do they do it?”.  I have always thought it is just super-neat to see a family that took a risk and embraced life enough to adopt.

However, I am now in the process of adopting internationally and I am NOT…

-brave

-selfless

-super-mom

I AM…

-scared

-excited

-overwhelmed

-vacillating between freaking out and over the top anxious to get to my little ones

I know it sounds a little crazy, because IT IS!!  We do NOT know what we are doing and I cannot tell you the number of times a day that I hear that little voice in my ear saying, “Just what do you think you are doing?  Do you really think you can pull this off? You can barely keep your head above water with the three boys you have, how are you going to take care of 1 or 2 more?  You must be crazy!!”

But I know with a deep-down certainty though that God called us to this journey.  Because in and of myself…I am far too comfortable and interested in my own comfort to take the risks that this involves just to suit my own fancy.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t do this unless God put a fire deep in my belly that won’t quit.  He won’t let it go.  He gave me a passion to bring some little ones into this fold that we call home.

So that voice whispering in my ear…it isn’t the voice of my gentle Shepherd.  It doesn’t bring me strength or comfort or conviction.  It is the voice of the enemy of my soul.  So I push it back and drown it out with Jesus Truth.  I quiet the anxiousness it stirs up with reminders of my Father’s past faithfulness and refocus back on the One that called me to this crazy ride.

So please do NOT ever, ever, ever think that I am brave enough, selfless enough, smart enough, creative enough to do this thing.  I can’t do it.  He is going to do it through me.  He will have the energy and time to fill out all the crazy paperwork.  He will have the patience to wait and the emotional stability to parent and live amidst all the anxiety of this process.  He will figure out how to balance all the what ifs with the have-to-get-dones. Because I can’t, and I daily realize this.  But He will equip me for what He has called me to do.

I just want people to see that this isn’t about us…it’s all about Him.  He is amazing and mighty to save.  He is saving the Chapmans and creating a “future and a hope” for US just as certainly as He is doing it for our Ugandan children, through this adoption. And I daily want to point to Him as He does a great work in us.  Oh, how I want our story to be a monument to His great faithfulness and magnificent love!

3 Lord, you are great. You are really worthy of praise.
No one can completely understand how great you are.
4 Parents will praise your works to their children.
They will tell about your mighty acts.
5 They will speak about your glorious majesty.
I will spend time thinking about your miracles.
6 They will speak about the powerful and wonderful things you do.
I will talk about the great things you have done.
7 They will celebrate your great goodness.
They will sing with joy about your holy acts.
8 The Lord is gracious. He is kind and tender.
He is slow to get angry. He is full of love.
9 The Lord is good to all.
He shows deep concern for everything he has made.

Psalm 145:3-9

 

A whole lotta NO’s… March 30, 2011

Filed under: Random stuff — erikaivory @ 3:43 am
Tags: , , , ,

You know those parenting days where you feel like you end up saying NO way more than you get to say YES?  Today was one of those days with my sweet 5 year old.  He is such an amazing bundle of energy and enthusiasm but everything he decided to do today ended with me saying an emphatic, “NO!!”

Mommy had to say no to:

-cutting branches of flowers off the neighbors azalea bushes,

-running with big, sharp kitchen scissors,

-using the same scissors to cut down vines to make lassoes to set up traps across the kitchen door for burglars,

-climbing up high in the garage to examine Daddy’s bb gun,

-using broken pieces of a chair as a mallet for making traps,

-throwing a baby snake that was found in the grass into the fan of the air conditioning unit to watch it get chopped into tiny bits,

-uncovering bricks in the pine straw where the snake was found, while barefooted to be bug killers.

They were legitimate no’s because of safety issues and time issues, but as the hours passed and the answers continued to be no I could see his little spirit wilting.

I started searching for ways to say YES to my precious little man but was having a hard time finding opportunities.  For some reason everything Eli wanted to do today was beyond the boundaries of safety and reason for a 5 year old.  Somehow that didn’t matter to his little brain and body though and he was so disappointed in the day and in Mommy.

I was really struggling.  I wanted to make him smile and lift his sweet little downcast spirit.  We made a special trip to Lucas Park to find trees he could climb, but then he had to go to the bathroom…no REALLY go to the bathroom (yes, I let him pee on the tree but then we had other issues).  So we had to leave the park after 5 minutes which added to his majorly disappointing day.

I know tomorrow will be better, but in his childlike perception and grasp of time, he doesn’t.  He is fine, but went to bed hoping for a better day tomorrow.  It is hard for him to truly see past right now though.  It still makes me sad even putting it down here.  But if I had today to do over I still would choose to tell him no to those things he wanted to do.  They were dangerous and would not have ended well!!!  Out of my great love for him I COULD NOT let those things happen.  He doesn’t understand, but my no’s were truly for his best.  In the short term, but definitely in the long-term as well.

Again, the Lord has been using parenting to teach me some deeper truths.  Not always, but sometimes I get it:)  Have you ever been through, or maybe right now…you are in a season where you are hearing the Lord say a lot of big, fat NO’s.  Sometimes we get a run of “nuh-uhs”, “not nows” and “ain’t no ways” from the Lord.  It isn’t that hard hearing one of those answers to a request every now and again but when you hit a season of consistent no’s ….it just plain old stinks!!

Because what happens to me is I start to pout and internalize the rejection to my request and make it about ME.  The enemy has a lot of fun with this.  Instead of hearing the Lord say NO to what I was asking… I hear Him saying NO to me and the negativity seeps into the way I view Him and how I think He views me.  Just because He said “NO you can’t go on that vacation” that doesn’t mean He loves me any less.  Or just because He didn’t answer my prayer with a YES when I asked that my friends marriage be healed that doesn’t mean He is saying I have powerless prayers.

Does that make sense?  Cause it really hit me that my NO’s to Eli were spoken out of my great LOVE for him, and nothing less.

If I loved him less…I would have said YES!!  But he didn’t FEEL loved necessarily when I said NO.  This was big for me.  Just because God says no doesn’t mean I am out of his will …or that He doesn’t love me…or that He doesn’t hear me…or that I am wrong to ask…or he prefers someone else’s prayers over mine…

Those are all lies and untruths from the enemy.  My Father tells me NO when it is for my best and for His glory. And that’s what I want right?  I want Him to be glorified through my life.  And I want to learn to smile up at Him and say “yes, sir” whether He tells me NO or YES because I trust His heart and I trust His great love for me.  And really when I look at Scripture and take a step back to examine the bigger picture, my circumstances may in that season resound with some major NO’s but spiritually and eternally the YES’s are overwhelming. When I put my focus on that…I can only be filled with delight! And I’m not making this business up…look what I found:

2 Corinthians 1:20-22

Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.

Now that right there is some good news!! We are  “a sure thing in Christ” with “his Yes within us.” “A sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.”  I can handle some NO’s when I have that YES to hold onto:)  How about you?

 

Trusting… March 25, 2011

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 2:46 am
Tags: , ,

I like to plan ahead…at least consider the future.  Apparently my boys can be the same way.  We often have conversations that are entirely centered on themes for their next birthday parties.  One week after their birthday they are already planning for next year.  While fixing dinner tonight Eli and Haig were having a very “heated” conversation about their upcoming birthday plans…in December and January.  I tried to assure them that they have always had fun birthday celebrations so they can calm down and not worry about their next birthday parties.  I tried to help them realize that there are many, many days between now and their birthdays and that they can trust that their mommy loves them and I will make sure that they have a terrific party.  Yes, we will have an amazing cake. Yes, we will invite their friends.  Yes, they can pick the theme and yes, they can even have it at a special place if possible. I will make sure all of the details work together for their best and their delight.

Will I let Haig have a pool party in January if he wants?  No….because it would be too cold and he would be miserable…even though he thinks he would LOVE that.  Will I buy Eli a pirate pinata today for his party in December?  No…because I know that in two more months he will not be “into” pirates anymore:)  I kinda giggled as we were having this conversation, and then the Lord whispered to me..

“You know you do that, too.”

“You worry about things that are beyond your control instead of trusting that I am in control.  You fret and try to figure things out that are way out in the future.  You waste time and energy planning and concocting scenarios instead of resting and trusting in my love.  Have I ever failed you?”

No, of course not Lord!

“So why don’t you trust me instead of worrying?  Rest in my faithfulness and the truth that I give good gifts and I want what is best for you.  Trust my heart. The same way that you will indeed do what is best for your boys and find ways to please and delight them…understand that I feel the same way about you.  I know what you need in this hour just as much as I know what you will need this summer, next winter and every season for the rest of your life.  I know what makes you smile, what will cause growth in you and what you will need as you face each new circumstance.  Please try to stop figuring it all out and simply trust my heart for you. I’ve got this.  Really.”

Yeah, You’ve got this. Point taken.

Philippians 4:6-8

6-7Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

8-9Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.