Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Tell if He's the One

"You need to blog that. For single girls.", she tells me. 
So, I am. I will.

We had been talking about boys...men...husbands 
Of how to be found by one and how to wait patiently for one and how to decipher the codes
of knowing which one is The One. 

When I was young my Mother told me:
"The man you marry will treat you like a jewel."
At the time I probably believed that all Mothers told their daughters things like this.
I did not know then my Mother is Queen of Believing in Her Children
and I, her daughter am She Who Can Do No Wrong Virtually 100% of the Time
and that this is not always normal.
Actually, it's rarely the case.
At any rate, I am a blessed girl with the charmed gift of being raised by a Mother who
drilled into me:
"He'll be the One who treats you like a jewel. That's him."

Andrew showed up when I was 19.
He treated me like a jewel.
He still does.
We have a lovefest and we're best friends and I adore him and he still makes me drooly
and butterfly-filled and giddy with his killer wink and cockeyed smirk. (*swoon*)
I married him.
Ages ago.

Now. 
(big breath
Sometimes he annoys the. fire. out. of. me. 
Lest you believe I am exaggerating and accuse me of being a MakeBeliefLifeBlogger 
 I will share the raw truth: the Husband is a slob. 
I mean, a roaring and unbelievable slob which 
for a girl whose father spent Saturday mornings walking her through the finer points of making a bed with hospital corners, 
this is a really huge deal.
He doesn't rinse his dirty dishes when he puts them into an empty kitchen sink, people.
They just sit there.
I mean: REALLY.
I normally can count 25 empty Gatorade bottles rolling around on the floorboards of his Honda Civic
where he's dropped them after swigging them down in one gulp.
He's an impossibly picky eater and I complain to him with plenty of eye-rolling
that he has the irritable stomach of a colicky newborn.
Furthermore, he never throws anything away. 
He simply cannot part with papers which have no value in our lives anymore: 
deeds to vehicles we no longer own and textbooks for subjects passed millenia ago in college.
Also, he has what I consider to be fairly lame taste in music most of the time. 
I pretty much want to nap when his playlist rotates through.
And since his Biggest Pet Peeve Ever is hearing someone elses's dreams I am forbidden from
sharing what I dreamed the night before even if it was epic.
For me? With all the words? This can be surreally difficult.
As you can see we have Our Issues.
I ought to point out that the Husband may have a couple gazillion points of contention with moi, too.
But God is gracious and in His grace He gave me a man who thinks I'm beautiful.
And he made men blind to flaws if a girl is beautiful enough.
So at least in my husband's eyes I get off the hook a whole lot of the time. 
{whew}
And vice versa.
We are plenty different, the Husband and I to be sure. 
The man warrants his own FONT  for goodness sake.

But the two of us being completely opposite doesn't mean that he treats me any less like a jewel.


What I told her? What I said that she thought was bloggable was this:

A real man - the One...he is secure in his own ministry, 
neither resisting your advancement in the destiny God has for you 
nor competing with you.
(Here I mentioned a few names of men married to Powerhouse Women,
no Shrinking Violets or Mild-Mannered Sissys as examples.)
The One to keep your eyes peeled for is the Guy who enjoys watching 
his jewel SPARKLE and SHINE.

His words of praise are for you.

His defense is of you.
His preference is for you.
His delight is in seeing you bloom.
He won't hold you back from potential
rather he loves seeing you offered opportunities to be showcased.
He is proud of you.
The One will find such contentment in just the knowledge that you, precious woman of the Lord
are a prize that he intentionally delights in holding you up to the Light
and admires how radiant the Lord makes you.
And his satisfaction lies in being the Guy whose arm you leave on.
That's enough.
He doesn't have to prove it, doesn't have to brag about it - he's the Guy.
Period.
Probably he doesn't very often even talk about it.
But YOU are enough jewel for him and he works hard every day to prove it.

The One who should capture your heart and win your hand should be the Guy who 
is dazzled
without being rattled or threatened.

You are his jewel, that Guy who is the One.

Just the way you would gratefully beam at the most precious diamond on your left hand,
THAT is how the One will look at you.
He will treat you like a jewel.




Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Birthday Wish

Yesterday I turned 35 years old. 
And as it approached lately, something dawned on me:
what better time to put my money where my big, ol mouth is?

I mean, I really shouldn't ask people in my life to support endevours I think are worthy unless I'm willing to potentially crash and burn in my own support of them.
Otherwise it's a cheap love I offer. 

God illuminated a dream in my heart. 
First a spark...
then a solid flame...
now a bright reality.
I discussed with Andrew my idea to support 2 families near to my heart
who are each bringing home a child from Ug@nda soon.
I wondered: "What if I ask people to wish me a 'Happy Birthday' on Facebook
and for each wish I am granted
 I spend that wish by donating a dollar to each of these fundraising, adoptive families?"
Because my husband is made of equal parts generosity and courage he immediately said:
 "K. Sounds great."
{side note: I am so blessed to be married to a stud who loves Jesus so much he'll MAN UP
at the drop of a hat. Thank you, Baby.}

Yesterday, after shouting all over Facebook that we will donate $2 literally 
in honor of the "2 cents" people give figuratively
by wishing me a "Happy Birthday"
we watched as the Lord gathered people from all over and introduced dozens of new faces into our circle.

From the morning of August 24 till 7AM on August 25th
there were 
6 videos 
78 FB messages from friends of friends (whom I've never known)
111 comments on other people's FB Walls
114 private messages
169 Wall posts
and a few more who slid under the door....

to bring the TOTAL to (roughly) 500 WISHES!!!

{so, consequently: thank you! - I'm off to the best year of my life, assumedly!}

So yes - each of these families are receiving $500 towards the adoption of their child. 
WHY?

BECAUSE IT'S GOD'S MONEY.
I CANNOT OUT-GIVE HIM.
 HE LOVES WHEN WE CHASE HIM.
THERE IS BEAUTY IN RISK.

This is about Him.
And His love for 2 children.

Without further ado...let's meet them.

The familes are

*from Tennessee, Lisa and Aaron Tolson
who, along with their 3 lovely daughters are adopting 2 year-old Samuel

and 
*from Arizona, Jon and Lara Dinsmore
who, along with their 3 adorable kids are bringing home 8 year-old Mary.

Here are their stories, a pic or two of them and how YOU CAN DONATE, too.
My WISH was to give.
My DREAM is that you'll join me. 

If you want to see wishes come true and the beauty of redemption play out in real time, 
I encourage you to get on board.


***************************
~~~Lisa's Story~~~




Many years ago, the Lord led my parents to adopt a certain brother and sister of mine from Russia, and although I was a senior in high school, about to leave home, this had an incredible impact on my life. It was sealed. I was hooked.

Now, fast forward about 15 years….I’m married to a wonderful man (who also loves adoption, thank You, Jesus!), have three amazing daughters, and we’re ready. We’re ready for our next child. Around and around we went…biological. Adopted. Biological. Adopted. Meanwhile, I had been really praying and asking the Lord what to do with this intense feeling…a knowing…that our next child will not be from my body. We finally made the decision. We had talked various times throughout our marriage about adopting, but this time, it was different. It was happening. And on December 23 last year, we decided. It was official. We were doing this!!

So began the long process of “where, Lord? Where??” Through various conversations, beginning with a phone call to a sweet friend named Esty, He gently and clearly led us to Uganda and eventually to our sweet son, Samuel. I had watched Esty and Andrew’s journey from afar -- by way of Facebook and her blog, so I knew she would understand how we felt as we wondered where the Lord would lead. Esty and I actually lived in the same community for a while, yet I didn’t know her as well as I now wished I had! However, the Lord used that small connection to open up a conversation that helped kick-start this journey for us.

And what an incredible and life-changing journey it has been! I mean, think about it….I look at this sweet, beautiful, precious face in the pictures we have of our son, and I am blown away that the Lord has given him to us, that I get to be his mom, that we are his family. It is just humbling! What an incredible honor!

This is our story so far, but it is about to get even more exciting. In fact, we will meet our son, get to hug and kiss that precious face, and hold him in our arms two weeks from today! It’s almost overwhelming to really try to wrap my mind around this. Two weeks and we will know our son! Thank You, Jesus, for the gift of our Samuel!

We would love for you to follow along as we go! I have a blog, but it is private, so if you would like to join us on this journey, please email me at lisawtolson@gmail.com. I will email you an invitation and you’ll be in!

Thank you to all of you who supported us by wishing Esty a happy birthday! It was beautiful to look over the hundreds of wishes yesterday evening and realize that y’all were excited about supporting us, a family (most of) you don’t know, to help us get one step closer to bringing our son home and making our family complete!


Samuel is coming home soon! This family will travel to Ug@nda in less than 2 weeks!

To follow Lisa's story email lisatolson@gmail.com .
then visit their blog to follow the Tolson's journey to Samuel. 



**********************************
~~~Lara's Story~~~




We are a family of five; a mom and dad, five year old "twin" boys and a two year old girl. Our younger 5 year old, Ambrose, came to us through African adoption last year and has been such a joy to our family ever since. We are so grateful to call him our son. Through his adoption we have come to know the redemption God offers in such a very real way.

After completing our first adoption, we knew our family was not done expanding. Our children were eager for us to adopt again and even asked for an older sibling. Each night they would include this special request in their prayers; that God would let us bring home a
 "big brother or sister."  

While on a missions trip this summer, Lara met a sweet 8 year old girl named Mary who was an orphan. Lara knew she was meant to be their daughter. You see, we had always
hoped to name one of our daughters Mary. The more we learned about her
story, we knew she would be our daughter! We are now prayerfully
anticipating her arrival.

Two adoptions a year apart is a pretty substantial financial challenge, but they believe that God will be faithful and provide everything they need to bring her home. You can help by watching their video, sharing this link, and giving to Marys Project Hopeful FIG account. All donations are tax deductible and held in a specific fund for Mary and can only be used toward specific adoption-related expenses.


Mary will be coming home soon and there's still time to donate.
Visit  this site to donate.
And visit Lara's blog to follow the Dinsmore's journey to Mary.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Should everyone adopt?

I have yet to come up with a good response to this conversation I continually have with people:
"You probably think 'X-Y-Z' about me since I haven't adopted, 
you probably think we have it really easy 'only' having (____ ) number of kids,
you are such a 'good Christian', I could never be as
 (choose one:) blissful/calm/supermom
a mother as you, etc, etc, etc......."

My answer ranges from flustered...to exasperated...to dismissive
depending on the number of times I have crushed one of my kids' hearts that day
and how many emails,voicemails, and appointments I have missed (around 30 on average.)

Sometimes I can't even find an answer. 

Sometimes I think: "Well, that's because you should adopt, too."
Adoptive parents pretty much believe everyone should adopt. 
We lie and say that's not true but yeah,  I'm judgemental to a fault and yeah, I naturally think this most of the time. (Just keeping it real, folks. It's ain't pretty.)
When I'm being really honest though, I recall the wise words of a woman I ADORE
(and quote often) who says:
"The need is great (for adoptive families) but the need alone is not enough to warrant an adoption. 
You. Must. Be. Called. To. Adopt. Or. It. Won't. Work."
(She is Susan Hillis and she is remarkable.)

I know fully well that not everyone should adopt. More people ought to, no doubt about it and I could soapbox about it ad infinitum but I do NOT start meeting with a friend thinking:
"Why haven't YOU adopted? Hmmmm? Defend yourself to me immediately."
Most of the time I'm thinking: "I want coffee" or "She looks skinny, I need to lose weight" 
or "Please don't let my phone go off for like, 30 minutes so I can focus on this conversation."

What I think I can't stand most about this conversation is how it automatically puts me in the position of alleviating this pressure for someone else's family. How God builds families is not in any way my business anymore than someone else's reproductive health is my business, for crying out loud. 
Mostly I don't like that it creates an invisible barrier between me 
and people I could potentially be doing life with.
Someone else's calling should not look identical to mine. 
That would be very Single White Female


Not healthy.

Alot of the time I have really lame-o answers to this "What do you think about me not adopting" conversation with people.
I say dumb things like: "Oh - you ARE serving orphans by...um...carrying this bag for me"
which makes me sound superior.
Or "Oh - if all my friends had 4 or more kids I'd never have a chance to get Starbucks with anyone"
which sounds conceited.
Or "Oh - I've got my own hands full and that's really what I'm focused on"
which sounds very Mean Girls.


"On Tuesdays we wear pink."

The truth is all parents want what's "BEST" for our families.
The hard part of this truth is waiting for the Lord to reveal WHAT "BEST" LOOKS LIKE
in each family.
What's hard is pursuing His "BEST" for our families at all costs.
What's hard is clinging faithfully to His strength to obey.
What's hard is letting Him define it.
What's hard is holding fast when people doubt your choices and criticize your stances.
What's hard is refusing to compare with people who believe "BEST" is something else for them.
What's hard is finding the balance between giving our kids all the "BEST"
and living missionally.

We all need to define what's "BEST" for our families.

It's what we all must wrestle through with The Lord and His Word as Believers.

Does "BEST" for our family look like vacationing on the French Riviera annually?
Does "BEST" look like giving our child an iPod Touch for his birthday?
Does "BEST" look like giving all our kids' toys away but 3 each?
Does "BEST" mean homeschooling?
Does it mean public schooling?
Does it mean church attendance?
Does it mean hunkering down and cocooning?
Does it mean adopting?
Does it mean adopting a gajillion times?
Does it mean waiting?
Does it mean dying to that dream to submit to your husband who says 'no'?

I can guarantee for each of those scenarios there is a family who can answer: "YES, it is BEST."

"...aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and work with your own hands."

Otherwise I think God is up there thinking: 
"What's your damage, Heather?"


In the meantime, if anyone can illuminate me with your much-more-gracious-than-my-own response to
this confounding conversation...comment away.