Courtney S. Barr

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Join me, the Princess, on my Royal Adventures in the Land of Writing!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We regret to inform you...you were not chosen...

There are just not enough words…

We had our name in a hat again…there is a beautiful baby boy that will meet his forever family soon. 

It isn’t us.

We know that this exactly what should be. We trust that this child, perfect as he is, is not the child for us.

He is loved.

We ache, yet we never met him. He joins a list in my heart. There are names peppered there with his, of other boys, girls and birthmothers... this memory of mine can be self-inflicting…it beats me up sometimes. I remember too much, think about them too much. But I love that I have heard their names and I love that my faith reminds me that they now have forever homes, that they have forever families that love them so very much.

We will be marking 2 years off next month. I am trying to process that in advance, to guard my heart for the day the visits start over and the year begins again. It isn’t easy. It will never be easy.

I ache today. I cry today. I will pray so very much today for peace and guidance and comfort. 

He cries with me. 

I will celebrate today – a child being placed with their family is a reason to celebrate.

I will pray for the other couples who were in the hat too, the ones reacting as I am, the ones who feel lost again…they need our prayers too.

I will pray for social workers today – the ones who have to break the news, to share the news and then sigh, as they begin watching and waiting – they are like Sentinels on the wall, watching the names come in, guarding us and those on the outs, taking the information and preparing how it should be presented all the while risking their own hearts to a system so jaded.



Pray for us today. Pray that we don't let our hearts be jaded by minutes ticking by, by a timeline well beyond our control. Pray for all that I have listed above and please whisper a prayer for peace, comfort, and that when we lay our heads down tonight, we add the name to the list, we don’t dwell on it, but we don’t forget it, for it is another name to cherish in this journey, another name to send prayers to and another name that my Savior created, my Savior loves and my Savior knows that one day we will be celebrating, tears of joy and elation as the name on the list becomes ours..

May he bind us up again….

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds… psalm 147:3

Monday, June 27, 2016

Update: He is evident in all things

Hey guys. 

We haven’t disappeared.

We haven’t faltered on our journey.

We have been waiting – continually.

We have been moving forward.

Our God is amazing. 


We have known that truth – constantly reminding ourselves of it, yet each encounter still sweeps me up in His glory. As the months have been passing, the hours fleeting, we’ve been waiting. We continue to wait. Yet with every post I share with each of you, with every update or non-update that I give I feel Him closer. He has this.

As far as the children we are praying for, He still has them, out there, in the world around us or in Heaven preparing to meet us. We don’t know their names yet, their eye color, their laugh or their favorite treat. We know that they are precious; we know that they are chosen, loved and cherished. He has so much going on around us right now. Windows and doors have been flung open to us and we are stepping, taking His hand and moving along a winding but beautiful road.

I have so much to share, so much to be excited about. He is laying foundations; showing us new things that in the future, with those children, our lives will be able to continue to flourish, to grow and to provide.

He has begun something in our life, He has opened a window, thrown back the shutters and leaned out...arms outstretched showing me the landscape and whisking me off my feet with the possibilities that can only happen with His blessing & guidance. We are grateful, leaning in, listening and stepping out…

I lay all that is broken within me at His feet and I look to the heavens as I look to home, knowing that my God has all of this. He has seen our children, my company, our journey, our dreams…He knows them, He crafted their goodness and He is here for the bumps along the way. We have a saying in our house “He saw us first.” We believe that. In fact we stake our lives on it. So today I update you: no further movement in the adoption that we can see. Yet our hope grows stronger, our faith deeper and our desires more encompassing. He is evident in all things in our lives even when we fail to stop and seek Him out – He never fails to have us first & always.

I hold tight to these truths:

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21


Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:7-12

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day Darkness and light are alike to You.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

One Thing Remains


It started out all mixed up and crazy. We were Italy bound but JFK in NYC had winds that made the arrival of our plane 15 minutes late. 15 minutes is important when it comes to aviation control. There were 24 people on our plane headed to the same destination across the ocean. The connecting plane of 280 passengers felt the 24 of us could figure out a way without them, so it left. We landed, it took off. We grumbled, they cheered. We stepped off our plane to the words: “Run. Quick. If you don’t run you’ll miss the new connector.” So we did just that - We ran. From one side to the other and as we came to a halt at the British Airways counter, a young lady smiled and said “you must be the Barrs. Welcome aboard.” We caught our breath as we boarded that plane, we smiled as we were given better seats than what we were supposed to receive and as we began the 7 hours to London Heathrow we tried to tamp down our excitement and sleep but those big, 777-300 aircrafts have a lot of toys for the passengers and we slipped into a movie induced binge across the Atlantic. I’ve always dreamed of going to London and even though it was only a few hours I blissfully took in the accents, the verbiage and the movements of the Brits flitting through the airport. I smiled every time I heard a young child speak or a couple engage in conversation. I love the UK accent more than any other. We boarded again and finally 3 hours later than planned arrived in Italy. From there on we walked, we rode, we talked, we laughed, we admired, and we dove into living and past history. 


From Milano to Firenze to Roma; there isn’t a location that didn’t take our breath away. The spires of the Duomo in Milano rose up around us and I immediately envisioned a time where every single detail of architecture reflected the greatest story ever told. (I also discovered a great appreciation for the years spent learning Italian)

I cried at the Last Supper and I sat in the apron of the Pantheon in Roma, eating gnocchi and beef carpaccio with the best husband ever and our two closest friends. By this day, our anxiousness was flowing for the following day – our friends would stand before God and declare their love for one another. In the Eternal City we rode around with photographers and videographers in tow as two people we love celebrated their union. People stopped for us, took pictures of us and called out to us as we rambled amidst monuments of Caesar, Napoleon, Mussolini, and Michelangelo. We climbed 150 steps of the Santa Maria Ara Coeli Basilica, stood on the stage/altar of a building built in the 1200’s, we prayed, we blessed and we celebrated. At one time around 200 strangers entered the church, silently and respectfully watching the service as the four of us stood below rows of chandeliers and ancient paintings grinning. They cheered as we left the building and in more than 4 languages we heard congratulations and happy wishes to the couple. It was surreal. 


Then the next day we split and two went to begin a honeymoon – first Venice then the Maldives and we, me and the best husband ever, slipped off to Paris via Switzerland celebrating 10 years of marriage (in August) and 20 years together (in March). The night we rode…an adventure we will never forget. The arrival in Paris, dreary, rainy and gray should have made the day a bust…but its Paris and even in the rain, even in the gray it glows. Everything there is beautiful, from architecture to people to food. Both countries so different, so special; Italy embraced us while Paris pulled us in, cloaking us in pinks and crisp lines. We enjoyed every day. Even though frustrations arose and sometimes the schedules allowed for so little sleep that we began to fall every time we got in a car it was worth it. 



It ended as it began, all mixed up and crazy. Long lines at Charles de Gaulle, again flights missed in JFK on the way home and the route changed, but worn out and tired we landed safely in BHAM, completely altered by so many things we saw and loved so far and different from home.

We never expected to be in Europe this year. We are grateful that we had the opportunity and that seeing the world actually brought us to cherish so much in our hearts. We know that the children God has for us may come from any part of the US and/or the rest of the world. We know that these travels on the surface seem to just be vacation beauties…but there were many moments that grounded us and in particular there was a moment, in London at Heathrow airport where a young girl with strawberry blonde hair and fair skin held the hand of her brother, a young boy with tight dark curls and cocoa skin; looked up at her mother a copper headed woman and began to ask if she could show her “new brother” the dog scarf on the rack beside them that my heart skipped a beat. The mother saw me watching and I smiled. She told her daughter yes and as we both stood at the counter to purchase our wares she sighed and said in the loveliest accent “He just came to us. She is in love with him. We adopted her at birth, you see and he, well he comes from a place that was horrible…” she stopped and teared up. I simply said. “Your children are beautiful.” The softest smile and the nicest thank you were whispered as the associate stepped up to ask which of us was next. I breathed in, held the tears at bay and let the moment wash over me. I pray that no matter what, no matter where we journey to in the world, that people who see our family in the future, the words they whisper are the ones the Holy Spirit gave me in that moment. I could have just nodded, I could have just smiled or pressed her for more information, but the words slipped like water and the transformation on her face reminded me that love is such a powerful thing, because God loved me, I got to share some love with her. The beauty of that family will remain with me forever.

Higher than the mountains that I face

Stronger than the power of the grave

Constant through the trial and the change

One thing…remains….

Your love never fails, never gives up

Never runs out on me

On and on and on and on it goes

It overwhelms and satisfies my soul

And I never, ever, have to be afraid

One thing remains

In death, in life, I’m confident and

Covered by the power of Your great love

My debt is paid, there’s nothing than can

Separate my heart from Your great love.


-Jesus Culture “One Thing Remains”

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Immersion

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. - Colossians 4:2

Pray continually – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6 



I have found myself surrounding my thoughts, forging my plans and discovering new things within the beauty that is prayer. My songs have become prayer, my thoughts, my visions of what is to come. It is an immersion I never expected and an adventure that is wonderfully welcome. It isn’t always easy, it isn’t always second nature; but it is a way to find peace in the chaos – every single time.

The last 7 months have been a rollercoaster ride through this adoption journey. We have already read a large number of “you have not been selected” emails and we know that there could be many more before the child God sees for us finally fills our arms. He/she is already in our hearts. The child we have not even met, even know when born, even know when we will meet already has a place in our life. He/she fills our prayers, our thoughts and our dreams. We know that the day will come when our family grows by one, then by two and then by….well…God’s plans are always interesting and we are definitely leaning in to hear what He has in store. We know that He has us, has the best for us and this desire we have comes from Him and Him alone.

For now, we are still waiting. We watch emails on Wednesday’s like hawks (Social worker R meets with the other states and their social workers on Wednesdays, so lets just say we are attune to our email more acutely on Wed/Thurs than any other day), we recently were in the mix for a child in KY but sadly we were not selected. It was on a Saturday morning that we received the news & as heart wrenching as it always is, my heart took it better than it has before. It wasn’t due to hardening or bitterness – in contrast it was because I’m believing in the power of prayer, in the comfort of prayer and in the truth of prayer. I trust that the Lord will send us the additions to our family, He will do so in His time and every time we get to hear a birthmother’s name, get to read a dossier on these women we are given the opportunity to pray…for a stranger, for a woman/girl who may be family one day, for a child we may welcome home one day, for a girl we may never meet, for a family we may never be a part of…the “mays” are many. But the important part of all this is: opportunity to pray. What an honor! We get to be intercessors for these young women, these unborn/born children, their families, their futures…What a beauty it is to pray for someone, even though the email comes that says “you have not been selected” tears at my soul, my spirit reminds me that I still must pray for them. 

I won’t forget their names, their bits of information and the hope I felt when I read their info summaries. I remember every one and each one is a piece of me, a portion of my heart that is building a memorial to the children we will one day have. I pray that someone prays for us when we are selected, that the couples that receive the emails we see now stop and pray for us, that they love us and that they hope for us. I am excited for that day, for now I will pray in all things and wait for His timing.

While we wait we are preparing for a trip, one that I have always dreamed of taking and one that we know will be a beautiful celebration of two friends getting married and an opportunity to see a part of the world much different from our own.

For now I leave you all, our wonderful Village, with some fabulous travel words that always make me smile….

Once a year, go somewhere you have never been before….- Anonymous

 “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2016, Our Heart's Desires, Praying & Living Intentionally

Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done. Luke 22:42

Every day I receive a daily devotional via email. I like that method because it allows me to read any time during the day and also to keep my favorites handy. This morning I was pleasantly surprised to see the excerpt was taken from a book I have not yet read but by an author I followed quite closely through their caringbridge website a few years back. Laura Sobiech posted religiously about her son’s battle with cancer and through her I discovered a talented musician and a faithful heart that for the world was gone way too soon. Zach Sobiech touched my heart with his unfailing faith, his love of family and his desire to leave this earth as a joyous spirit. His mother’s strength is one of the most beautiful impressions of love for her child and her Savior. 

The excerpt, from her book “fly a little higher”, pulled me in before I even felt the tears collect in my eyes. She spoke of those moments where you know you have faith, you know that you are a believer, but where you are placing your hope is something to reflect on. I have never been in the situation she has, but I can relate to the version of prayer where we are placing our prayers/our hope on what we want our Father in heaven to do – how we want to pray hard enough for Him to do what we desire as we see it should be done. I’ve been praying that way for awhile now. Knowing that I am not in control, knowing that He knows best, He sees better and He desires the best for me; yet I try to conform what He has in store into what I want. The adoption process is number one on this list for me. 

Back in December when we heard again that we were not chosen, I broke down. I was mad this time. I had been praying specifically, praying for myspecific purposes rather than praying with intent, for God’s purposes. 

I ran afterwards.

We started with Dallas and the playoff game. It was a release to just enjoy the time with family and just pretend that it wasn’t meant to happen so “oh well”. Then we were blessed to get tickets to Phoenix – national championship game. Again, throwing any feelings of anger or aggravation against the wall and deciding to just enjoy the time with M the Best Husband Ever in Vegas & Phoenix for a few days. Then New York last weekend, I tossed the idea of worrying about adoption processes and threw myself into the fun birthday weekend I will forever treasure with my Duchess. Not one trip is regrettable, not one trip is something I would trade with anyone – I have had an amazing last 20 days and my birthday week was top notch. Granted I’ve been through all the time zones and to be honest my body is still not sure which one is the correct one yet and I’ve walked more airports and landscapes in those 20 days than some may ever get to do. I know all this. I know that these days were meant to happen just as I know we weren’t meant to get that Christmas child I was praying for…this past December. It may be that my Christmas child is meant for February or March or July or August or November or December of this year or the next. Time is perfect in God’s plans. It is frustrating in ours.

We tell ourselves that we are focusing on what He asks us to focus on while sometimes we are tricking ourselves, we are still holding onto what we control, what we feel should be the result/response/ending/beginning/change/consistency of how we see it to be.  We have to shift our sights, stop placing our hope on the point in the distance that we see it should be and place it on what He reminds us is the greatest point. Laura says it exactly like this: Hope is about raising our eyes from a point on the horizon to the heavens and into eternity.(Laura Sobiech, Fly a Little Higher)

She references that this prayer, these words from Luke 22:42 Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done. is the perfect prayer for those moments when we just can’t even fathom how to pray anymore, when we struggle with what to ask for, how to ask for it and what we are to do. She is right. This is where even Jesus, kneeling in agony, turned to the Heavens as he had wrestled with God’s will but KNEW that His Father’s will was greater, that His Father’s plans were perfect, that His Father was all knowing, that His Father’s timing is/was/forever will be the best timing; to that knowledge the son surrendered completely.

How on earth can I expect that I could bend God’s will to my wants? It’s laughable when I type it out on the screen; truly, hilarious. Even though in the moments of weakness where I question how things happen, the whys, laughter is the farthest from me. But I have a very compassionate and grace filled Heavenly Father. So He has given us the words in Luke and also more in Psalms.

Now, I’m approaching prayer and my day to day differently. I want to live intentionally. I want to pray intentionally. Don’t get me wrong, He asks us to speak our heart’s desires, our wants, our needs…those prayers are still there, but the life I lead around those prayers has to adjust to His purposes, how I accept what happens to those desires is to be handled differently. 

In all this I must admit that when I pray I know that in my human nature there will be times that I will still expect it to be as I see it should be and sometimes it might turn out that way, but every time His answer or non-answer will remain the perfect answer He has for me; so my hope will rest differently, my prayers will be specific to His intent and my way will need to change to be His, not mine. I will give Him my worries, my hesitations, my need for control and the view that I feel everything should be and I will receive His will, His view, His guidance…for He runs to me, wanting me to get not the good, but the BEST there ever could be. I will still ache when the hurt comes, grateful for the compassion and the love He has for me; but I plan to not dwell on the ache but use it to shift my perspective, to move closer to Him and to lean into Him.

So for 2016, a year already historical in our house, I’m making steps to living intentionally. I’m placing my hope heavenward not on the horizon. He has that Christmas child out there chosen for us, perhaps we need to adjust our view of the how/when to it will be as it is supposed to be in the perfect time, the perfect manner and the most perfect precious journey. 

As always, thank you Village for loving us, for supporting us, for praying with and for us…please don’t stop, our journey already has had many twists and turns, thanks to each of you we weather each obstacle with higher hopes, better views and the love of a family that spans all walks of all realms. Be safe and have a happy 2016.

For those that need Psalm 37…. 

Do not worry because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;

2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:

Rest before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

19 In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

23 If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm;

24 though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

28 For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;

31 The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.

34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace.

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

40 The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas, News and the Bravery of His Enduring Love...

 Dear Sweet Village,

We wish you the Merriest of Christmas seasons and the best into this Happy New Year. 

We pray that each of you weathered and continue to weather this season of storms. It has been one crazy Christmas in the South, temperatures in the upper 70s, low 80s; tornados, flash floods and blustery winds. The sorcerers…er…Meteorologist…suggest that cold weather is to come behind all this and for the first time in years I’m excited for the chill, for the much needed comfort found in hot tea, warm blankets and the chill that comes when you step outside in the mornings. 

Our family was able to spend 3 lovely Christmases with our families. Each home is such a delight to visit and we truly love the traditions that have been created over the past years and the excitement for new ones to come.

Most of you were not aware that over the Christmas weekend Marcus and I were watching our email like hawks, awaiting an update on the possibility of being chosen as parents to a beautiful baby girl. However, again we are not here to proclaim the news that we are parents…instead I’m typing through tears and yet I’m still smiling with every word. It isn’t getting easier and I pray it doesn’t – that would infer a hardened heart. Through all of this I’ve remained the sensitive, heart on sleeve person that I have always been. I cried sitting in the Target parking lot as I read the words, then I spoke out loud to my Heavenly Father…letting my cries be heard in the heavenly realm as the heavenly chorus comforted me with His word and the lyrics that played through my radio. I listen to the Message on Sirius XM, today I was reminded why I do. Tom Carter’s voice spoke “The end is a new beginning, the end is a new beginning…sometimes we just don’t see it just yet.” I cried again but this time with a little chuckle through my snotty nose. I hadn’t even called M yet to tell him…I just couldn’t say it again just yet. 

It is the oddest sensation every time I read the words that deliver the hardest news as we wait patiently for our Heavenly Father’s plan to be seen. It’s as though I’ve lost something I never had, never knew yet there is a connection that is undeniable.  I also get the boomerang of happiness for a child and a family that is now complete – it is a war in my heart and thankfully the promise that we will one day have the family He has chosen for us does give me great comfort. Of course when I called M he began to speak the life giving words that my spirit already proclaims but my heart turns away, wanting to mourn a loss that is indescribable and yet seemingly without reason. His words came through the phone, uplifting, reminding me of God’s perfect promises and His perfect plan for us. I heard him and I thanked him. He could hear the catch in my voice and when he apologized the tears fell again. He apologizes to me because I am the one who sees the emails first, because he loves me and he hates for me to hurt; yet I know that he hurts as well, that he mourns a loss unknown and a possibility that passes without reason or explanation. He truly is the most amazing husband, partner and friend God could have seen for me. My heart aches each time for him and for the child that he will not know. 

Then I have to stop. To pull myself up and realize that other couples were waiting too, other couples are hurting now, and that though the process starts again, we are hopeful, full of faith and love for our Savior’s promises.

For now, this moment, the tears shake tenderly behind my eyelids aching to roll down my cheeks, but instead I will close my eyes and play one of my favorite songs; allowing the melody and lyrics to cover me with His love.

I stand before You now
The greatness of your renown
I have heard of the majesty and wonder of you
King of Heaven, in humility, I bow

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
Your grace

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made
You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made…

-Bethel Music “you make me brave”

Proverbs 3:5 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.




 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Advent, Adoption and the Village with a Heart Like David…


I took a moment in the bustle of this past weekend to be still. To think about the current season, the past one and the upcoming one. Only 120 hours prior to this moment I had trolled Facebook before heading to a weekend FREEDOM conference with my lovely church. It is my second visit to this conference – the first I was a participant – this time I was a servant to the participants, a volunteer, a spectator and an intercessor on their behalf. I knew that for at least 24-36 hours my social media moments would truly be stolen, quick ones – more focused on posting the success of the conference and open hearts than on the typical daily troll of other people’s updates. So I was trolling slowly, soaking in the social aspect of IG and FB. I noticed a trend on the posts coming from our “root Village”. Camden was having a week. One of those weeks where knees humbly grace the floor while heads bowed lay softly upon the Savior’s knee. He was with them last week, as He always is, from every home, every business, an outpouring of lament and love for two very sweet young men. One struggling in a hospital searching for answers and another returning home to our precious village with an answer   heartbreaking in its discovery; he now faces leukemia, treatments and more questions to follow the answers. But in all this, in these two stories of heartache for young men, family, and friends…I saw it again…that outpouring, far reaching, all-encompassing love that moves mountains, destroys disease, mends a heart, lifts a spirit, shines light into the darkness and warms the soul. My “root Village” is a Miracle Mount in South Alabama. It is a place where community isn’t just a public grouping of people; it is a place alive with hope, compassion and light. The kind that breaks through the darkest FB posts, where the simple word “praying” on a comment line is truly a representative of the person whose name it accompanies. Yes, these two young men are facing trials, giants even in their lives, but they come from a town with a heart like David.  Be strong. Have faith, lay your hope and your love on our Savior.


In this same spirit as I read the stories of praying for these boys I stumbled upon ADVENT. Our church, for the first time, is doing an ADVENT post each day. When I was young my parents had this tree, faux branches, about 13 inches tall that had little drawers all over the base; actual drawers, with knobs and numbers. Each drawer held a tiny ornament that would be placed on the tree as the days counted down.  I used to love to pull out each ornament, watching the calendar as each day came. I got excited anticipating what little treasure I’d discover. No matter that the ornaments were the same every year, just reorganized to be in different drawers – there was something about the waiting, the expectancy, the excitement that captivated me; even when a bad day wanted to weigh me down I looked forward to that tiny ritual. For me the anticipation of something can be where I really enjoy the moments coming. It spans so many themes personally: vacations, birthday week, parties, football games – the categories can be endless. This year my thoughts are occupied with many of those things yet there is more. Advent is more than just numbers on a calendar leading to the presents and celebration of the holiday. It is waiting, anticipating, expectancy; yearning…it is where I am this season. I love Christmas. I love the feelings it inspires and the kindness it evokes. I love the presents –giving & receiving. But ADVENT is different. I read recently “Advent is the question, the pleading, and Christmas is the answer to that question…advent gives us another option beyond false Christmas cheer or Scrooge. Advent says the Baby is coming, but He isn’t here yet, that Hope is on its way, but the yearning is still very real. Advent allows us to tell the truth about what we’re grieving, without giving up on the gorgeous and extravagant promise of Christmas, the Baby on His way.” (Savor by Shauna Niequist) For us, personally, the words ‘the Baby is coming’ struck me so hard, so fiercely that I burst into tears. He never lets me forget that He is ALWAYS planning for us, that He WILL fulfill His promises and that we need to slow down, reflect on the waiting and remember to trust Him always.  As right now two specific families in our root village await information day in and day out as to how their sweet sons are progressing, we wait to hear any and every update on the child(ren) we are praying for (still no update or change in the process by the way). 


 Learning all this in the past few days changed ADVENT in my heart, it has me thanking God for the season that understands heart’s desires, loneliness, uncertainty, long nights and desperate prayers…we must remember to open ourselves to ADVENT, to the anticipation and belief that what is broken will be beautiful, what is lost will be found, what is empty will be filled, what is desired will be fulfilled…trust Him. This season is often our reminder of happy days but it also is a time where we miss our loved ones already gone, where we fear the year looming ahead and the answers to questions we never really wanted to ask. But thankfully in all the glitter and glitz there is the simplest beauty to be found, the fact that its okay to tell the truth about our grievances and still be excited for Christmas. Our disappointments, our worries, our heartaches are very real, but a very real Hope and Promise is on the way and He fulfills His promises. 


 

 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Update: Category 5 - Rejection Rips you to the Core....

Psalm 34:17-20 “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.”

John 15:18 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

Lamentations 3:31-33 ”For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men”

So this is the pain of rejection, of words on a page that bring you to your knees. I thought I knew what it felt like. I’ve been that girl that wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or too curvy or too short or the girl who is being punished because of things shes done – the world’s accusations beat and batter against you like the tide to the shore, slowly eroding layer after layer. I know that for some these simple phrases do not cut but for years I held onto them, never letting my eyes see myself as God sees me. Then for a brief moment of time I lived surrounded by the most diverse set of people and they all saw me differently but I am so very grateful that for the most part they saw me as this Southern, sweet, caring soul and they embraced my ‘flaws’ , lifted me with their words and actions, became my  friends and family. God placed them in my life, strangers, who knew nothing of where I was from or where I was going and I became different, stronger in my weaknesses and happier in my sorrows. It was the Spirit leading them to my life and I to theirs.

Then life phase 3 came at me headstrong and wanting to tear my layers apart. The enemy really knows how to break us down. He chips away at each insecurity trying to get us to forget that God can do anything and we can do anything when we have God. This morning, at 9:50 a.m., the first of what I now classify as Category 5 rejection (on a 5 being the worst) I saw in my inbox the name of a birthmother. It was an update from our Social Worker “R”. “Good morning! I wanted to let you know as soon as I heard that ‘birthmother’ has chosen a couple and you were not the one she chose.” Yep, instantaneous pressure on my chest, shifting pain from my eyes to my toes, a tension that wasn’t there seconds before rolled down my back and I couldn’t stop the tears. They came, rushing, silent and painful. I never expected it to cut so deep. After all these years of just believing that no was forever the answer and just recently truly believing the yes possibilities…like vapor one of our options is gone. Flitted away as a whisper and mourned now because of its impact. I will not apologize for the tears, for succumbing today to the sadness that we are not part of that child’s plan. We know and believe that God has the best laid plans for us…but to tell you that I handled rejection with ease, that the words on the page were merely dusted off my heart would be the biggest lie I have ever told. It hurts. It rips me up knowing that we are no longer an option in that race. We have been removed for whatever reason. I won’t lie and say I don’t now think about our profile “Is there something we left out or shouldn’t have put in? Would she have liked us better if we had this or that or a picture of this or a story about that?” In my weakest moments these questions will be on repeat and I will need to let God be my strength so that it does not eat me alive. I focused on some tasks at home this evening and began to stand up a little straighter when the second email pinged on my phone. Category 5 continued to spin out of control: Birthmother number two has also decided to select another couple. The next 2 hours I found my personal bottom for the day. It lies somewhere between Pizza Hut thin crust cheese pizza and a large Mountain Dew. Yes, I ate a little bit of my feelings, but M made me laugh. He mourned a loss that in some ways makes no sense but it is there nonetheless. He doesn’t know how to comfort me during these moments; he is saddened but he doesn’t want both of us to be sad so he played some great songs, hugged me until I blew snot, let me stand  motionless and sad in the kitchen then he reminded me of God’s timing, of His plans, of His grace and of who I am in Christ. My mind races and to calm it I am searching the scriptures, searching my heart and leaning with all the breath I have on God and M. Please pray for the birthmothers who just made the biggest decision of their lives, pray for us as we move forward, pray for our peace in these things when we do not understand and pray that tonight when I lay my head on the pillow that my tears slow, my heart softens and my dreams are full of His words of great plans for all who believe in Him.

As always, thank you for being our village.

Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.