Dear Daughter, With a begging, believing heart.

Dear Daughter, With a begging, believing heart.

“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.

 

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How to Make a Prayer Journal ~ Part 4

How to Make a Prayer Journal ~ Part 4

Today, we are wrapping up this series where I’ve shared what others have taught me about praying Scripture and how to make a prayer journal. You can also read part 1, part 2, or part 3. Today is maybe my favorite day because I’m a visual person, and I love things that help me remember special moments.

We can certainly pray Scripture without a prayer journal. So, what does the physical binder help us do? It’s two things. First, it helps us stay focused. I don’t know about you, but I get distracted easily. One day I was praying for my girls while I looked out the window at the fall leaves swirling. Then I was thinking how I needed to get the girls’ fall clothes out which made me think I needed to look for fall shoes for them. Soon, I was thinking of pumpkin bread and white chicken chili. Having the verses before me keeps me focused on why I’m there. (Putting my phone in a different room does too.) The second thing the prayer journal helps me do is to remember.

And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” Joshua 4:20-24

There are seven stone memorials described in the book of Joshua. These served to help the people remember God’s faithfulness, the truth of His Word, His second chances and restoration, His grace, and His covenant with them. We are prone to forget how faithful God is just like the Israelites. But just like the stones Joshua set up, our prayer journals can be a testimony to God’s dwelling with us, with our families, within our walls, and in our mission field. Sometime last year, Lottie started picking up stones she found at the park, in the parking lot, anywhere really. And she called them her “American robins.” She has a strong imagination, and I have piles of stones all over the place. They are in the console of my minivan, in my makeup bag, even in the silverware drawer. I still don’t understand the connection with American robins, but I love seeing those stones because it reminds me of the stones Joshua collected.

What are stones in a prayer journal? It’s anything that reminds you of God’s faithfulness. I like to write dates because God is a God of details, and He never ceases to astound me with His timing. I’ve got pictures of important events that show me God’s provision–Matt and I on our wedding day and my girls right after they were born. I’ve got a purple feather from the day I heard Charlotte screaming hysterically that there was a purple spider in her room that was going to eat her. Finally, my fearless girl had found something she was afraid of. It’s in my binder to remind me that while Lottie might push me to the edge (and some days straight over it), God gave her this feisty spirit for a reason. It’s why we pray Esther 4:14 over her. There’s a family picture Lydia drew of all of us with EEOO, and I get teary when I think about it. I can see how God has gifted each of our daughters to love and connect with EEOO in a special way. There are cards in there from friends who have encouraged me to write the hard things, and there’s a coaster from Pappasito’s in Ft. Worth. I remember two things vividly about that trip–the warm tortillas that come with the fajitas from Pappasito’s and the passion I had speaking to those women about what God was teaching me. It was the first opportunity I had ever had to speak to a group like that, and it was at the invitation of one of my favorite people. I had asked God to give me new opportunities to use my words for His glory, and He was faithful.

And my favorite section of my prayer journal is the one called “My Ministry.” I once heard someone say your greatest pain can become your greatest ministry. I know this firsthand. In this section, I have a list of names of women who are waiting for a baby, for a pregnancy, for an adoption, to hold life in their arms. I know their pain, and that is why I pray fervently for them by name every morning. And beside the list, I have the ultrasounds of our babies in heaven. I beg God for them because there is an army who begged God for me and because I know God is faithful. His plans and His timing often don’t look like ours, but His faithfulness never wavers. Everyone has a ministry, someone to lift up in prayer, and usually you don’t have to look any further than your greatest pain.

Thank you for letting me write these last four blogs, and thank you for the encouragement in your response to them. I’m grateful for the women who fed into me and nudged me to do this, and I’m grateful to share what they taught me with you.

Do you remember in Part 2 where we talked about the tabernacle being the way God chose to dwell with His people after He brought them out of Egypt and slavery? I couldn’t sleep one night, and I found this verse. It’s what I want to leave you with today.

From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

Psalm 61:2-4