Would you take a slot to pray for our E?


Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetI was looking through some old stuff in my prayer notebook the other day, and I found notes from a Women’s Conference this spring. Tucked into the bottom corner, I have these words from teacher Dana James, “We’re all brave until we realize the cockroach has wings.”

That’s exactly what I’m feeling right now. The cockroach has wings. My faith is being tested in ways it never has before. I feel more desperate than brave. If you’re in a similar place, meditate on these words from Psalm 71.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again. (Psalm 71:17-21 ESV, emphasis mine)

Until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come–that’s my anthem. There have been so many days recently that I wanted to give up. But this journey isn’t just about me and Matt. It’s about proclaiming His might to another generation, His power to all those to come. And it’s preparation for the journey to come, for the hard, grueling work of turning over tender, vulnerable parts of our daughter’s story (and our own brokenness) to the Redeemer so He can do His healing work.

This was my prayer to God this morning after reading this psalm, “You showed us her face. You gave us her name. You did that. Now you bring her home.” I’m believing the tribe praying for our E is impacting far more than just our one beautiful daughter. I believe they are impacting an orphanage, a city, an entire country to proclaim your might to another generation. 

With everything going on in Ethiopia right now, I would like to get a prayer list going where E’s tribe takes different times of the day to pray for her and for Ethiopia–a relentless call for our God to do what only He can do. You would have one time slot per week. The time slot will be an hour long, but you can set an alarm for your time slot, and you can take a few minutes during that hour to pray for E and for Ethiopia. Would you be willing to help carry our girl home through prayer? You can leave a comment on the blog or FB or IG if you’d like a prayer slot.


Is Jesus Enough?

Leave a reply

I gave my key away–the one I wore around my neck, the one my Mamaw jokingly thought was my house key, the one with the word dwell engraved into its aged brass. This isn’t a story of my generosity. If you knew my initial reluctance, you would see a glimpse of my selfish brokenness.

But I was in the shower a few weeks ago (read: a mom’s semi-quiet space to think) when I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to give away my key to a friend. Matt gave me the key last Christmas because he knew my word for the new year was dwell. In the shower I thought, “Sure, I’ll give it to her at Christmas. That’s a great idea, Holy Spirit.” But I felt Him say to me, “No, now. Give it to her now.” I love this friend so much, but the giving away of the key was more than giving a necklace. It was a surrender, a declaration to a trusted friend that even if my desires don’t come to fruition, Jesus is enough. I wrote her a letter to go with it, and it went something like this . . .

Dear friend,

I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to give this to you. As you know my word for this year was dwell. At the beginning of the year, I hoped this might be the year we got to put down roots in a new home, to spread out a bit and create a new space for our family to dwell. But then we got the call and knew we needed to stay in this house for home study reasons so as not to mess anything up with our dossier in Ethiopia. And so I thought the word dwell would represent our Ethiopian daughter coming to dwell with us, united with her forever family. And while I still pray and hope God does the impossible, I recognize that unless God intervenes in a supernatural way she won’t be here before the end of the year.

While God might not have answered my prayers as I originally desired and on the timetable I had in mind, He gave me something even greater. He has shown me that in the midst of much uncertainty and right in the middle of the pain of waiting His presence dwells within me as a child of God. He has shown me that the opportunity to dwell in His presence is always there and always enough. I’ve prayed many prayers and sung many songs to my God with my hand wrapped around this key. Now, it’s yours to grip while you pray the prayers He has placed on your heart and sing the song He’s given you, while you dwell in His presence as He writes your next chapter.

With all my love,


Sometimes, for reasons He knows and I don’t have to, He moves in ways different than I prayed for. Sometimes, the loved one isn’t healed and the job isn’t saved, the pregnancy isn’t rescued and the timeline isn’t quickened. But the gift of this year has been finding His presence is always there. I can always dwell under His wings, and He is always enough. My raw, broken heart can be honest with Him, and He is always a safe place for my weary heart to find rest.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Psalm 90:1-2 ESV)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2 ESV)

Thus says the Lord GOD: “I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the LORD; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.” (Ezekiel 17:22-24 ESV)



Tearing and Weaving. How we grow.

Leave a reply

There is a spider outside the window. She is probably three inches across with a beautiful yellow and black design. Of course, we named her Charlotte. Every morning we stumble (I stumble, the younger girls bounce) into the kitchen to start the day. Sippy cup of milk for Peach, OJ for Lottie, coffee for me. And we make our way over to the window to check on our spider. This morning I watched her go around and around tearing up her old web and weaving a new one. She does this often. We’ve watched her make several iterations now because we’ve been watching her for weeks. It is mesmerizing.

This morning as I watched her tear down her old work and start again, I felt solidarity. It feels a lot like sanctification. The daily taking away of what doesn’t work or edify or bring beauty. The examination of my heart and uncovering ugly places that need to be reworked. The consideration of this particular season and my particular disciples, dismantling formulas and weaving growth and grace for this new day.

Our spider does this often and never knowing she has an audience. She spins and weaves and creates masterpiece after masterpiece, so that she can capture food and protect herself certainly, but also because she made to create. She doesn’t lament the demolition, and she doesn’t begrudge the construction. But with each gossamer thread she spells out glory.

I watched her spin and thought back over my last couple weeks, the plans that had to be ditched, the messes that had to be cleaned (so. much. throw. up.), the sour attitudes (mine the sourest), all the un-glorious of it. A lot of ugly came to the surface, and I had to hand to God some things that needed to be torn down. And now I have to be patient in the rebuilding.

It isn’t ever fun to feel like God’s forgotten you, but I’m guessing we’ve all felt that from time to time or maybe for a very long season. I think it’s okay to honestly tell Him how we feel. He might not change any of our circumstances, but that honest confession might be the gateway to weaving something new. And through it all–the surrendered undoing and the merciful creation–He’ll show us His glory in woven splendor.



Dear Daughter, what do you do in the middle of the story? 

1 comment

It’s late and my phone battery is almost gone, but I keep staring at your picture. Baby girl, we got word early this week that because of things outside our control it may be next October to December before we get to come to you. I sobbed. So much that I decided to forgo the standard wad of toilet paper and just grabbed the yellow duck towel that was on the kitchen floor thanks to your big sisters playing in the water out back. I could fit my whole face in there at one time, but only after did I realize there were bits of grass on the towel too. Maybe it was the crying or maybe it was rubbing grass all over my face, but I woke up Tuesday with swollen eyes and a weary heart. 

What does a person do with the middle of her story? When the newness of the adventure has tarnished but the sweet union of the end is still far off? When you’re white-knuckling promises with bloody knees? What does a person do then? 

We got word Monday about a probable delay with travel to Ethiopia. Today I took Peach to the doctor to find out she has pneumonia. Again. Second time in three months. I had to call my niece and tell her we wouldn’t be at her birthday party. She was crying. I was crying. My Lydi was in the backseat crying. The poor pharmacist at Walgreen’s probably thinks I’m a mess. 

I am a mess. These past eight years of our journey to each of our girls, to your sisters and you, have revealed that in great display. I so desperately want the happy ending, the beautiful resolve. But He wants the glory. He wants my praise in despair. He wants my trust in hopeless days. He wants my rest in the wait. 

Sweet girl, I don’t understand why the long, long wait. But I know He is never late. Emily Freeman said in her book Simply Tuesday when she was talking about Abraham and Sarah and their 25-year wait, “Our part is not making the promise come true. Our part is to count the stars.” To count and remember the One who flung jewels into a velvet sky and sprinkled sand along the shore. To remember the One who made the Promise. 

I just snuck out of bed and looked out the window to a full moon and a smattering of stars peeking through cloudy striations. And I heard a gentle whisper, “Look to your crashing-wave circumstances and you’ll fear and doubt and drown. Lose yourself in comparison, and you’ll want to throw yourself a sugar-laden pity party. But look to your Promise Maker. Keep your eyes locked on Me, and no matter what the storm your Anchor holds. No matter what may come, you, my daughter, can press on.” 
There’s a card hanging on your wall written in Hebrew by the hand of my friend Emily. It says Jehovah Shammah. The Lord is there. This great star-flinger is holding you, and He’s holding me–all at the same time. Because of that, we press on. 

All my love,



Friday Favorites

Leave a reply

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetHi! It’s been a while since I did a FF. Let’s just say very few “routine” things happened from June through August. Oh, summer, you were a wild one. But here we are in September. My velvet pumpkins are on the mantel. I baked pumpkin bread last weekend, and football has started back. (RTR.) Now, if only the forecast could get the hint.

A few favorites for the beginning of fall…

Tortellini soup- This recipe comes from my friend Amber’s mom. I remembered her making it for a pumpkin carving party years ago, so I texted her for the recipe last weekend. I substituted one pound of ground Italian sausage for the chicken. (Brown and drain the sausage before adding.) So yummy for last week’s date night. (And tonight’s!)img_6960

This coffee table- So, this was a pre-referral purchase because now all our pennies are being saved for plane tickets, but we ordered this coffee table when it was on sale with free shipping for Memorial Day. I had found a similar one at West Elm that I loved, but I did not love the price. Then, I found this nearly identical one at World Market for so much less. Sold. Our favorite part is that the top lifts up, so it’s perfect for couch dates. And we can store our games underneath the top.

Uno- Speaking of games, we’ve played Uno every single night since summer started. It’s fast and easy for young kids to play. Plus, Lottie is learning her numbers! Lydia keeps track of the scoreboard and somehow has way more points than the rest of us.

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist– Oh, Shauna. You outdid yourself. I loved, loved, loved this one. Several years ago Lindsay Letters made a print from a blog post Shauna wrote with the same title, and I have it hanging in my dining room most of the year. Right now, though, it’s hanging above the mantel. (With my velvet pumpkins.)

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

From Depths We Rise by Sarah Rodriguez– This one releases October 1st, but you can pre-order now. I got to read an advanced copy, and I read it in one sitting. (When my girls asked two hours into rest time if it was time to come out, I might have lied and said no so I could finish the last few pages.) Sarah’s story is captivating with an outcome that’s still hard to believe.

Falling Free by Shannan Martin– This one is still pre-order too, but it releases September 20th so not long to wait. This one smashed my toes a bit (and by a bit I mean a lot) and left me really exploring some areas of my life. This past week I read a quote that reminds me of the theme of this book, “When you have more than you need, build a bigger table-not a higher fence.” I’ll be thinking about (and acting on) this one for a long time.
Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Tonight I’m baking the Maple Buttermilk Custard Pie in The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book because I’m missing Quebec and all things maple flavored. (Most of all the boozy salted maple caramel milkshakes from Le Chic Shack.)

Happy weekend!


Letting Them Go. Fear and our children.


Taken August 31, 2012. After 8 months of work, our dossier was ready to go to Ethiopia. The guy at FedEx took this (blurry) picture of us right before we mailed it off. Lydia had turned two that summer, and I was pregnant with Charlotte. 

When we first started this adoption journey, Lydia was 18 months old. She pronounced Ethiopia E-E-O-O, and her favorite thing to say was, “Mo, mo babies!” while she attempted to carry a half-dozen baby dolls in her arms. Fast forward four-and-a-half years and that adorable toddler is now a beautiful, compassionate first-grader. Her dream of “mo, mo babies” surrounds her in the swirl of little sisters God has given her. Granted, they don’t always do just what she wants like the baby dolls she used to play with, but they love her and look up to her and want to be just like her.

When we switched agencies this summer, we learned that our new agency highly recommends we only make one trip to Ethiopia. Instead of doing the two one-week trips that are usually 4-6 weeks apart, they recommend one trip that is usually around three weeks long. The main reason they recommend this is because our Ethiopian daughter becomes legally “ours” upon our successful court hearing which happens in the first trip. So, if we do one trip and stay in-country she is able to stay with us, and we can begin bonding with her in her home country, in the city and culture she knows and loves. After a lot of prayer, Matt and I decided one trip was the best option for our family. It wasn’t long after we received confirmation of that decision that the question started circling in my heart, “Should we bring Lydia?” In my typical fashion, I mentally made a pros and cons list. After making the list over and over for several weeks, I realized all my cons were born out of fear–fear for safety and disease, fear of the additional cost, fear of a looooooong flight with a child (and two children coming back). But I’ve made decisions in the past out of fear, and I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to bring the fear to God and move forward in faith.

I pray all these big prayers for my girls, but I can’t pray those prayers and then bubble wrap them and lock them in their rooms. I have to give them back to God, much like Hannah did with her beloved Samuel. I have to see the purposes God has for them and encourage those even if they might scare me. The Holy Spirit is showing me a corner of the tapestry. He has lifted back a small piece for my eyes to take in, to see how He is knitting us together, our gifts and weaknesses woven together for the beauty of His Story.

The Lord is threading Lydia’s compassionate, sensitive spirit to a baby sister she has yet to meet. Her ability to see when people are hurting despite a happy facade will allow her to know when her baby sister is struggling but doesn’t want to say. Her gentle, nurturing hands will make her baby sister feel safe when they don’t speak the same language. And her sharp memory will capture her baby sister’s homeland in exquisite detail so she can tell the story over and over to reassure her baby sister of her roots.

And there’s just the full circle quality of it all. Lyd was our only child when we started this journey. Now, she is the oldest of four sisters, the servant leader. I believe God made her “for such a time as this.” And there’s her name from Acts 16–Lydia, the woman who had her heart opened by God and then led her family to know the God she worshiped. Never could I have imagined when I sat on the couch pregnant with this child I had begged God for and my Bible open to Acts that the name He would give me would carry forth to this day and this journey and this adventure.

Today, we go to renew her passport–her first step in this journey to bring her baby sister home. There will be vaccines and malaria meds and plane tickets and Dramamine. But above all I pray she tastes for herself the goodness of the Lord and the greatness of His adventure. This morning, I read these verses from Luke speaking of John the Baptist and wrote them on a sticky note for her page.

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:76-79). 

Processed with VSCO with b5 preset

For Bible this week, Lydia’s lesson said to write ways she “spies” God at work. Her faith spurs me on. 



Dear Daughter, With a begging, believing heart.

Leave a reply

“O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” Psalm 22:2

Maybe it’s because I don’t have paperwork to do right now, maybe somehow that mountain of black and white typing made me feel closer to you, but today I feel every one of the 7,913 miles between Memphis and Addis. “Father, can you spin thread that far?” I asked Him this morning. Who am I kidding? He’s the Creator of the silkworm, this tiny worm which spins a cocoon of thread a few thousand feet long. Of course He can stitch me to her and her to me. Of course He can.

“Ah Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstanding arm! Nothing is too hard for you!” Jeremiah 32:17

I woke up with puffy eyes. The girls didn’t sleep well, and I didn’t either. But You are my Rest. Forevermore, You are my Rest.

“Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).

The praises in the waiting, the songs in the dark, the lyrics written with longing seem the most true.

“In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them” (Psalm 22:4)

Back to the stones, the stones to remember how He delivered them. Here I raise mine Ebenezer. I will remember your faithfulness. I will turn my eyes from my circumstances and look upon my Sustainer.

“Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you was I cast from birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help” (Psalm 22:9-11)

Sweet daughter, your salvation story doesn’t begin with us, and we aren’t your saviors. How could people desperate for their own salvation save anyone else? And we–your daddy, your sisters, and me–we are daily dependent on the grace of Jesus for our every breath. No, daughter, your salvation began before the beginning of time. From your mother’s womb, He has been your God. Before your cells divided or your tiny fingernails grew, He was your Father.

I remember the first time I stared the word orphan in the face. I was filling out our very first I-171, Petition for Orphan Processing written across the top. My stomach dropped, and I was faced with the reality of the way your story would begin. There are some people in the adoption community who don’t like the word orphan and don’t want it used. Without Jesus, that word is scary, separating, lonely, a scarlet letter of sorts. But with Jesus everything changes. Not for one day of your life have you been without your Father. He has been with you, watching over you, breathing life into you, ushering you an invitation to be his daughter. The same invitation He whispered to me, a fellow orphan, not by birth certificate but by way of birth into this sin-sick world. We all share the same salvation story. I was lost, and He found me. I was dead, and He made me alive. I was an orphan, and He called me His child. Thanks to the fall, orphan might be the name tag we all start off wearing, but Satan didn’t get the last word. His pen doesn’t get to write the last chapter.

We are nearing honeycrisp season, although the weather here in Memphis begs to differ. I’ve been praying (along with your village) for God to pave a way for us to bring you home faster than logic and timelines predict. But this morning a more fervent prayer ran scared from my lips. “God, beat down the bush, hack through the sky-high grasses, so we can run/wrestle/grapple to her, bloody knees and thorn-scraped arms. She is yours. Please also make her ours.”

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:14-15).

“All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it” (Psalm 22:29-31).

Since long before you were born to a woman in a country 7000 miles away, I’ve had a verse written in my prayer journal. “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

A proclamation of His righteousness to a baby girl yet unborn, that He has done it.


*Read our adoption journey from the beginning.