On Living in Castles and Staying Silent and Saying Yes…

On Living in Castles and Staying Silent and Saying Yes…

Several weeks ago, I was reading in Esther. My big girl and I love Esther, so she wanted me to read the story to her.

Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14

Mordecai uses strong words with Esther. I love reading this same passage in The Message.

When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: “Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.” Esther 4:12-14

There’s a strong message for me in there too. I could feel the Holy Spirit speak it to me while I read these words to Lydia. Here I am living in the king’s house. Because three bedrooms is a mansion when you look at how the vast majority of the world lives. Buying coffee from Starbucks is the stuff of kings when you look at the poverty of so many people in our world. Decorating your house is crazy talk for so many who don’t know where their next meal will come from or whether their house will keep out the rain. So, for these reasons and a thousand more we. cannot. stay. silent. God will bring help and deliverance for His people, but my family and I will miss out on seeing miracles if we stay silent. What if we were given this position, these funds, these resources, this voice for such a time as this? 

I don’t know what this looks like for you. But I know Mordecai was serious. And Esther was serious. And the Holy Spirit speaking to me seemed pretty serious too. Just a few verses later, Esther sends a message to her uncle asking him to gather people and fast and then in three days she will go before the king. And here’s the kicker in verse 16, “If I perish, I perish.” There it is. That’s the part that makes us cringe and stay closed up in our castles watching our Netflix and eating our Talenti and pretending there isn’t a broken and dying world out there that needs to know the LOVE of Jesus. (In case this hits too close to home, I took a glimpse right out of my world. So, I’m crushing my toes way more than anyone else’s.) Because it means risking everything! I’ll be honest and tell you where God is wrestling with me. Over a retirement account and college funds (or the lack thereof) and moving into a house with one more bedroom. Because all those things are taking a back seat right now to some things God has asked us to do. I’m 31 years old, but this thing called a retirement account sounds like a funny combinations of letters and numbers (401K) but feels like SECURITY. And I love security. It is warm and fuzzy like my favorite blanket, the one I curl up underneath most nights (to watch Netflix and eat Talenti). But, did you know that God talks a lot about our inheritance? Every day I pray Isaiah 61 over our adoption and our child and our birth parents. And every day, God reminds me where my inheritance comes from.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.

And then go a few verses down, and Isaiah writes…

Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

This is the kind of inheritance my God talks about. He talks about me being busy proclaiming good news to the poor and binding up the brokenhearted and proclaiming freedom to the captives. How can I speak freedom if I’m too scared to trust God in what He promises me? How can I comfort and provide for and praise if I’m locked in my castle afraid to open up my hands because I don’t want my warm, cozy blanket to go away? I don’t know what the double portion will look like, but I know I want an inheritance in heaven far more than I want one on earth. If I perish, I perish. Esther knew what it meant to risk it all for the sake of God’s people. And God keeps pressing on my heart, “Are you willing to have less so you can give more? Will you be content with your lot, whatever it might be? Will you trust me and find your security in me?”

When Charlotte was a baby, Matt started praying that she would be like Esther, that she would not let fear keep her from doing whatever it was God wanted her to do, that she would be willing to risk everything to tell God’s people about His unending love. (Side note: on days when Lottie’s particularly feisty and I think I can’t handle it another moment, I like to blame Matt because he’s prayed this for her. Just kidding, of course. Well, sort of.) But let’s be honest. That is a SCARY prayer. It makes my pulse quicken and my hands sweat. I don’t know what God’s asking you to do. I don’t know what step He wants you to take. But I know that He’s asking me if I’ll trust Him with everything. If I’ll remember that heaven is forever and earth is but a moment. If I’ll say yes with open hands and a contented heart.

Because the only thing scarier than saying yes to God is saying no. 

When Wait is Harder Than No

When Wait is Harder Than No

iphone-wallpaperSometimes hearing God say “wait” is even harder than hearing Him say “no.” At least no is closure, and I can start heading another direction. But wait means staying put. Wait is ambiguous and obscure like trying to put on makeup when the bathroom mirror is all steamy. Wait is staying where you are when you want to start chasing something new. It’s being still when you want to get up and go. It’s trusting God when you want to make it happen yourself.

I don’t know about you, but one of my daily struggles is the tug I feel to insert activity into every waking moment. While I wait at the doctor’s office or the grocery line, I check IG or Twitter which only exacerbates the problem because now I can clearly see in cropped square photos and 140 characters that everyone else is moving. They’re moving while I’m waiting. They are going and doing and creating and changing, and I’m just waiting.

And right there in the middle of that muddy place where my feet feel stuck like someone oozed superglue all over my soles, I hear God whisper, “You are waiting because I’m moving inside you. I’m showing you true gratitude comes not from getting what you want but from depending on me as your Provider. I’m teaching you contentment is found not in new, shiny stuff but in a trusting relationship with the One who made you and gave you a purpose. You say I’m your everything. I’m going to prove to you that I Am Everything.”

Be still and know that I am God. Stop your moving. Stop your doing. Stop your striving. Just be still and know that I am God. Not you.

*The beautiful image comes from Kelli and Ashley, two crazy talented women. I love what Kelli wrote in her blog about this latest work. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and I have this image as the lock screen on my iPhone so I can see it regularly. Thank you, Kelli & Ashley for sharing your work and heart with the world! 

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.”