Would you take a slot to pray for our E?

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.

Where Does the Hope Come From?

Where Does the Hope Come From?

Oil shimmers in the bottom of my Le Creuset, the gleam hinting to the heat at work. I pour in the risotto and hear that familiar hiss and pop like Rice Krispies hitting cold milk.

Early this morning I couldn’t go back to sleep and I scoured the internet researching the drought in Ethiopia and learning about the nannies who work at our orphanage. It’s the worst drought in Ethiopia since 1984. The year jolts me. It’s the year I was born. I start reading short snippets of stories from the nannies at our orphanage. Many are single and care for children not from their womb–siblings, nieces, nephews, children from the streets. One of the nannies says her prayer request is for the drought. When the sky seems empty and the dirt is bone dry, where does the hope come from?

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. (Psalm 37:3-6 ESV)

Noonday. When the sun is high in the sky, when the cotton mouth dry of drought must be the harshest. I look up the Hebrew for “noonday.” It comes from the root word “tsahar,” a word that means to press out oil, to glisten.  I think of this as I stir the risotto and watch the kernels soak up the oil shimmering in the bottom of the dutch oven.

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. (Isaiah 58:10 ESV)

Pour. Pour yourself out for the hungry. Like when Jesus took the Passover meal with his disciples before going to the cross, when He took the cup and gave thanks, when He gave the cup to them, when He gave them a tangible picture of the grace He would soon give them, the pouring out of His blood that would redeem them.

And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:27-28 ESV, emphasis mine)

Satisfy. Satisfy the desire of the afflicted. Like the time Jesus fed a crowd of hungry people in a desolate place, fed them not just enough to quiet their growling stomachs, but enough to satisfy them, to fill them.

And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. (Mark 8:4-8 ESV, emphasis mine) 

When the sky seems empty and the dirt is bone dry, where does the hope come from?

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11 ESV)

Hope comes from the Word of God. The Word that does not return empty. The Word that brings death to life. The very Word that broke and poured out for me with a crown of thorns upon His head. The Word that put flesh upon dry bones.

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.” (Ezekiel 37:1-14 ESV)

I keep stirring the risotto, wooden spoon breaking down the starches in the risotto, dry kernels transforming into creamy perfection. The people cried out that their bones were dried up, and their hope was lost. But God showed them the eternal Hope, “I have spoken, and I will do it” (Ezekiel 37:14). Our hope is His Word. The Word that spoke creation into existence. The Word that broke and poured out. The Word that breathes life into dry bones. The Word that calls me to action. The Word that brings forth justice as the noonday–that glistening reminder that He is always enough and we can always have as much of Him as we desire.

 

What You Can’t See

What You Can’t See

The news doesn’t look great from Ethiopia–word of political instability, government staff changes, training of the new government staff causing delays in paperwork. What do you do when you know you’ve been called to do something but things just seem bleak? You remember what you can’t see. 

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17

Elisha knew. He know those with him were more than those with them because he had a host of angels with him, an army of God. And then Elisha did something to help the servant’s faith. He asked God to open the servant’s eyes and show him what Elisha could see–God’s hand at work.

And when God opened the servant’s eyes, he saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

The word fire is translated from the Hebrew word esh. This is the same word for fire used in Genesis 15:17 when the Lord makes the covenant with Abraham. And in Genesis 22:6 when Abraham and Isaac ascend Mt. Moriah. Over and over again in Scripture we see God’s presence in the form of fire. When God opened the eyes of the servant, He could see God’s presence. God’s army had been there all along, but he couldn’t see.

Abraham, a childless man, couldn’t see how God would make him the father of nations. He had to wait 25 years after God’s promise for a son. And then he had to trust when God asked Him to sacrifice that son.

I wonder what it would have been like on that dark night when the smoking fire pot moved among the sacrifices. I wonder what Abraham and Isaac felt as they climbed the mountain with wood and fire but no lamb. I wonder if that servant’s jaw dropped when he saw a mountain teeming with angels and chariots ablaze at the command of God Almighty.

I love candles, and I light one in the morning while I read my Bible and pray. When circumstances seem confusing and the wait grows weary, that little flickering flame reminds me of what I can’t see. God at work–ahead, behind, all around, hemming me in.

Psalm 34:7// The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Psalm 89:8// O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lordwith your faithfulness all around you?

Psalm 139:5// You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

Pearls

Pearls

IMG_9003I entered their home weary. The girls were both sick with the same cold that seemed to be making its rounds. We sat down to open gifts with Matt’s mom and step-dad. The girls opened theirs first, then Matt and then me. I opened a small white jewelry box. Inside were pearls, freshwater pearls, my favorite. Each individual pearl slightly differing from the others. I took the necklace from the box, the strand heavy in my hand. I wound the iridescent jewels between my fingers, like someone would hold rosary beads, praying, dreaming, wondering.

Two years ago this month, Matt and I stared at a glossy piece of paper with the word, “Ethiopia” written across it and pictures of three little faces with beautiful brown eyes looking back at us. Much like you would during a pregnancy, we have talked about names for our child. From the beginning, we knew, boy or girl, we wanted our child to have Hudson as his or her middle name. Hudson being the family name, Matt’s middle name, and the origination of mine and Matt’s ever after (a fun story for another day). One day during my priority time, I stumbled across a little parable tucked away in Matthew, the parable of the Pearl of Great Price, where Jesus tells about a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had to buy it. At the time I came across this parable, we were trying to choose a name for the baby in my tummy, our little Charlotte. I remembered reading that the name Margaret meant pearl. From then on we knew… if EEOO was a girl we would name her Margaret Hudson.

In the two years since we first began this journey, my eyes have been opened. I have seen what Pearls look like. Pearls look like the fatherless, the forgotten, the left-outs, the abandoned, the unloved, the unchosen, the hungry, the weak, the lonely, the hurting. Pearls have eyes and they have souls. They have stories and they have dreams. Pearls in Ethiopia, certainly, but also Pearls dotting my every daily encounter. People hoping, needing to be loved. The grumpy man in the checkout line at Target, the server with special needs, the friend who lost a parent, the mom whose child is throwing a temper tantrum in the aisle at Kroger, the girl who has been a bridesmaid seventeen times and just wonders when her time will come, the one who looks like she has it all together but inside she’s crumbling. Pearls. Beautiful. Valuable.

Only hours after I opened those pearls from Matt’s step-dad, we received news that talk was stirring in Ethiopia. Meetings, discussions, recommendations, potentially huge changes coming to Ethiopia’s inter-country adoptions. As word started coming in through our AWAA Facebook group, I remembered the pearls I had just been given. Those pearls, a whispered promise, “I will not leave them. They have a Father. I will fight for My children.” I pulled the beads from their box letting their mineral sound click between my fingers.  I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if I’ll get the opportunity to give these pearls to a son or a daughter. But I know our family’s heart is permanently stitched to Ethiopia. In our minds, it has looked liked adoption and we pray it still might. But if it looks different, our answer will still be the same, “Yes.”

Maybe one day our Ethiopian daughter will wear them when she graduates high school like the pearls Matt gave me the day I tossed my graduation cap. Maybe our Ethiopian son will give them to his best friend, his blushing bride, the night before they say, “I do.” Or maybe I will travel to Ethiopia and take each single pearl, cup it in the hands of an orphan child and tell daughter after daughter and son after son, “You are loved and you have a Father.”

For now, I will hold these pearls tight, their luster winking at the promises of what’s to come, each one a reminder that the best things in life are formed when God takes the unexpected irritant, the unwelcome change, the unwanted pain and creates beauty from it. The promise that when our circumstances feel like 40-grit sandpaper we can hold on, believing the promises of a God who reminds us, “Fear not. Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today… the Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent.”