Adoption: My Story

Adoption. . .my story of how God made my family. If adoption has touched you — perhaps you’re a birth mom, an adoptive mom, of a woman who was adopted — I pray my story helps you understand how God makes some families.

You won’t find “three quick steps to a successful adoption” here. Just a story of pain and beauty and God everywhere. If you’re touched by adoption, why not send me a short message? I’d love to encourage you.

Adoption: Not Second Best 

Some say adoption is second best, an afterthought, the backup plan. May I say, It’s not “second best”?

Yes, my husband and I tried the usual way. When it didn’t happen — the it of morning sickness and ultrasounds, prenatal vitamins and expanding waistlines — we adopted a baby then another and another. Two girls and a boy. Now they’re grown up: one married, one in college, one in high school.

Yes, I asked God, “Women strung out on drugs are getting pregnant and having babies, so why infertility for us?” No booming voice from a burning bush in Charlton Heston’s Ten Commandments. I found comfort in the Bible that God is love and he loves orphans and had a child for us (James 1:27).

I concluded that my family isn’t second best because God designed it. Isn’t God’s design the best design? Didn’t he know before my birth and my husband’s — and the births of our great-great-great grandparents — that we’d make a family by adoption? Of course he did. The all-knowing God knew.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16, NIV

Hello, Doctor

Infertility is usually the woman’s problem, right? Ah, no. According to WebMD, statistics suggest that 35 to 40 percent of the problems are caused by male problems, another 35 to 40 percent by female problems, and the last 20 to 30 percent a combination of the two, plus a small percentage of unknown causes.

When I didn’t get pregnant after trying for a year, I figured my doctor would prescribe me Clomid, and I’d soon be painting the nursery with a baby bump. Instead she followed protocol and wrote orders for my husband to have a test first. We thought, “Whatever. No problem.”

A bunch of tests and three months later, another doctor sat us down and gave us the news. No baby. Ever.

I felt numb, sad, even relieved because the findings were fast and crystal. I did not want to walk the infertility treadmill I had heard about. Awful, just awful. In you’re on this treadmill, my heart aches for you, sister. Know God is with you in your hurt.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:17-18

Baby in Arms

Steve and I jumped into adoption, eyes wide open, knowing it may take a long time before we’d hold the little one God had planned for us.

Typically when a couple decides to adopt a child, the labor of paper work lasts many years. Laura came along nine months later. Poetic justice, yes?

Our next two adoptions averaged 18 months each. We adoptive couples have love-hate relationships with social workers employed by adoptions agencies, which is the route we chose. (Some couples prefer adopting children by arrangement through attorneys.) Steve and I answered the social workers’ invasive questions. We jumped through their hoops.

With our last adoption, even the cat needed a physical!

I felt like I had to impress them, these gatekeepers. They opened and closed our chances to adding to our little family, didn’t they?

Then I’d remember that God is in control. He designs my family–and yours. I didn’t have to worry or be a people-pleaser. I just had to be me. . .

because God is God, right?

If you have experienced infertility or adoption (as an adoptive mom or a birth mother who placed her child for adoption), I’d love to here from you.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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CPR for the Soul!

cpr-for-the-soul

Feel down, lonely, or overwhelmed? Then you need the CPR solution: Care, Prayer, Repair.

Marianne felt lonely.

On the outside she seemed fine. She had the good looks of Jennifer Aniston, a caring husband, three busy and healthy school-aged daughters, and a Master’s in education. But inside she hurt badly and didn’t know who to tell or how to express her emotional pain.

What Marianne needed was CPR for the soul. She needed someone to CARE. She needed PRAYER. And her heart needed REPAIR.

But first someone needed to notice her and take the time to help. Have you wanted someone to notice your hurt or difficult situation, but no one helped you? How did you feel? What did you think? Did you feel forgotten? Do you want help now?

Stop and Look

If you and I stop and look, we would see hurting women in our churches and neighborhoods. They’re as plentiful as dandelions in late Spring. In the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, two passersby passed by the bleeding guy on the roadside. The Good Samaritan noticed and did something.

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

The Good Samaritan saw the half-dead man he and cared for him. The parable doesn’t say whether he prayed. You and I know that prayer is Jesus’ love language. It doesn’t say if the man was repaired, or made as good as new. Making things new is God’s specialty, isn’t it?

Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

A new heart is given by God at salvation. Only he can change the human heart. The heart is the immaterial part of a person that includes our motivations and desires. From out heart flows are thoughts, emotions, and actions.

When you have a hurting heart like Marianne’s, you need spiritual CPR too.

Step One: Care 

What does spiritual care in CPR look like? As the parable revealed, it’s a combination of seeing the hurting, listening, and being empathetic. It may include meeting immediate needs. The Good Samaritan needed medical care.

What are your immediate needs? A ride to a doctor’s appointment? Groceries? A night out without the kids?

Do you need someone to to listen? As someone listens to your pain, your healing begins. Listening is only the beginning.

Step Two: Prayer

Tell Jesus your needs, your hopes, and your fears. The prayer in CPR will increase your connection to him. Ask him for wisdom concerning your next steps. The Holy Spirit will guide you. He wants you to experience his peace.

I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid (John 14:27 NLT).

Step Three: Repair

Now identify your real pain in order to have the repair of CPR. Often you need someone to help you do this. For example, when I asked Marianne why she felt sad, she said she missed being in the workplace. Her real pain was much deeper; her heart issue was unbelief. Though a Christian, she has trouble believing God would accepted her.

Do you have unresolved pain too? Do you struggle with worry or unforgiveness? Any of these can contribute to ungodly thoughts flowing from your hurting heart. Your thoughts impact your emotions and actions.

Have you ever made the connection between stress eating, for instance, and the lies you believe? These hellish lies infiltrate your thoughts. The good news: the Bible lets you know how to change your thinking.

CPR in Action

When Marianne and I shared iced tea as her children played, she talked and I listened — a lot. I learned she had two major life transitions: she was newer to our community and she had left a job she loved. We talked many more times. Once she realized that these transitions — and her fear of rejection — had led to her mild depression she stopped fretting. She joined a moms’ group at church and contributed her gifts of leadership.

God had not abandoned her as she feared. He brought her a friend who listened and cared. He provided direction through the Bible. Most of all, he gave her Jesus.

OFFER: Want to know more about biblical counseling? Find out more here. I offer a complimentary consultation by phone. Send me a message.

OPPORTUNITY: Are you a biblical counselor who’d like to be listed in the Counselors’ Directory on my website, please contact me. Thank you.

Sharing hope for your heart,

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Got a Problem? What to Do Next!


Got a problem? God wants your attention. Will you listen to him? 

Hurrying to answer the ring, Cheri accidentally slammed her toe into a Little People garage toy and lost her balance as she reached her cell and — wham! — she fell flat on her back. Literally.

I was the caller. . .

. . .and thought it odd that she didn’t say “Hello.”

“Cheri, are you there?”

Still no sound.

“Cheri?”

She caught her breath. Finally. The fall had knocked the wind out of her.

What would have been our usual give-and-take on God’s answers to her problem of life-long anxiety turned into my helping her figure out the extent of her back injury and get immediate first aid.

First, Care!

Cheri and I talked as a calmed her and was able to move safely and very slowly. She fetched a bag of frozen vegetables as an quickie ice pack and downed a pain reliever. As worry thoughts intruded, I helped her think straight using simple and clear instructions.

A few days later, when she messaged me through Facebook, she said her back pain continued and kept her from sleeping, I suggested strongly that she see a doctor pronto. She made an appointment for that afternoon. X-rays revealed a spinal compression fracture. Her doctor referred her to specialist, prescribed pain pills, and told her to rest and to NOT twist, bend, or lift.

While she waits to see the specialist, she suffers back pain as well as. . .

the pain of losing her health. . .

along with the inability to complete simple things like wash dishes, sweep floors, even shower. . .

as well as a desire to isolate and to pray.

Why God Wants Your Attention

As God providentially orchestrates your life, he wants your attention to make you listen to his voice, to seek him first, before possessions, prestige, even comfort.

He wants you to listen to his voice so you may enjoy his fellowship, receive guidance, and know him better.  God can and will use a supernatural event to get your attention. He used a burning bush to get a hold of Moses and deliver the Hebrews out of Egypt. He used a talking donkey shake up Balaam. He supernaturally heals people from addictions, cancer, and other monstrous problems.

More often God uses ordinary things to still you and speak to you.

Ordinary things like life’s ordinary problems.

When author and speaker Virelle Kidder asks hers audience to name their “donkey” (i.e., problems) the women yell out every thing from the outrageous to the mundane to the wild and crazy:

“My donkey’s name is Ron and I’m married to him.”

“My boss.”

“Anxiety attacks.”

“Perfectionism,”

Even sadder, “I hate who I am.”

What’s Your Problem?

What difficulty is God using to get your attention?

God may send you a trial or permit one. Remember, he is sovereign and thus is in control of your life always. This biblical truth may anger or comfort you. Either way God uses life’s problems because he cares. If you face something hard now, he may seem uncaring, even cruel. But the Bible says:

God is love. 1 John 4:16

And God never lies. Lying is Satan’s specialty for he is the father of lies. Listen to God’s voice.

How Will You Respond?

Here are three ways to help you hear from God.

1. Use a journal — an ordinary composition book works! — and write down what God is impressing on your heart as you read your Bible. This written record will help get you through the hard.

2. Spend time in nature. Talk a walk or sit on your deck or hike in the mountains, and prayerfully ask God to show you his handiwork and his care for you. Look at the wildflowers. Observe the birds. If God cares for these, does he not care for you, who are made in his image?

3. In your journal, jot those problems that seem impossible to solve and tell God about them, asking him to give you what you need. As he answers, note his answer next to the your “impossible problem prayer” and date it.

May I pray for you?

Heavenly Father,

You know the problems my friend faces and you care. Please help her hear your voice. Comfort her. Help her to listen deep and obey you. You are good. We praise you. In Jesus’ name.

 Counseling Hope to Your Heart!

 

How to P.R.A.Y. in Your War Room

war-room
As the spunky, elderly Miss Clara narrates at the start of War Room: “We fight for power. We fight for riches. We fight for rights. We fight for freedom. There always seems to be something to fight about.” Yet. . .

“Very few of us know how to fight the right way.”

Miss Clara recognizes our true spiritual enemy: Satan.

She identifies the strategy to stop his evil schemes: pray.

In this post, I’ll outline a simple, Spirit-inspired strategy to pray. Miss Clara prayed in her closet she calls her “war room” and taught Elizabeth, played by Priscilla Shirer, to speak fervently with God about her crumbling marriage.

Is your marriage in trouble? Are your emotions out of control? Is your teen making poor choices? Are you ill? In financial duress? Brokenhearted?

[tweetthis]God has a peace plan for the war you’re in. Prayer is your battle cry![/tweetthis]

God’s Peace Plan

It’s a four-letter word: P.R.A.Y.

“Do not be anxious ABOUT ANYTHING

but in EVERYTHING, by PRAYER and petition,

with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.”

Phil. 4:6

Read this familiar verse again and again. Then think on it. Now do what it says: P.R.A.Y.

P: Praise

Begin with praise. Praising God puts your mind where it need to be: focused on God. He is the One who not only created to universe, but also knows your hurts and deeply cares.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16, NIV

R: Repent

To repent is to change your mind and line up your thoughts with God’s thoughts. Repentance is a gift from God, and I’ve noticed in counseling, those who repent make lasting, positive, godly changes the quickest.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

A: Ask

The Lord invites you to approach him confidently and share what’s on your heart. This is part of deepening your relationship with him. He promises to give you all that is good.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20

Y: Yield

As you pray, believing that God can handle your problems, your faith will increase, and you’ll become calm and confident.

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! Hebrews 12:9

Go ahead, PRAY. I will too. Tell me how it goes.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses are comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7

Counseling Hope to Your Heart, 

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The Answer to STRESS!

The Answer to STRESS!

When stress gets the best of you, you can experience joy.

Have you ever had a week or a month or a year when one stress after another slammed you like a hurricane over and over and over?

Are you in the midst of S-T-R-E-S-S now?

Me too.

The good news, stress points you to your ultimate joy. Do you know what it is?

When the Shoe Dropped

Awful stress began as many bad things do–no warning. Several years ago, just before Christmas, I skipped working out at the gym. Feeling guilty for eating too many Christmas cookies and nixing my workout, I decided to exercise for ten minutes at home.

Sounded like a reasonable compromise, right? Better than nothing, right?

First I stretched.

Then sit-ups.

Rather than performing my usual crunches — which, in retrospect, I SHOULD HAVE DONE — I tucked my feet under the couch, laid on my back, tucked my fingertips under my head, and began to roll all the up to sitting and back down. On sit-up numero ocho, something in my back didn’t feel right. I pressed on and completed two more sit-ups, far short of my goal. I rubbed my back and called it a day — and didn’t think much of my situps

  until the next morning

when I awoke to an intense clenching in the muscles in my lower back and numbness in my legs. I elbowed my snoozing husband.

Steve, something’s wrong. I need your help. Steve, wake up. I need you.

Most guys awakened by their wife saying “I need you” might think, “Baby, early morning marital fun!” but my Steve — God,  bless him –– heard fear in my voice. He listened to my story of super-tight back muscles and mild leg numbness, massaged my back, and got me a pain reliever. He assured me, “You should be better in a few days. Just rest. We’ll take care of the house stuff. Don’t worry.”

I worried. For me. (Yes, I know worrying is a sin.)

And Another Shoe Dropped

I made a doctor’s appointment for the day after Christmas. My family cooked, laundered, and swept while I was laid up and my kitty curled next to me. I began to feel a bit better, but then a close family member got the news that he needed daylong medical tests which led to a diagnosis that meant daily injections. Nothing life threatening, but important and another thing to deal with

while my back continued to spasm and the numbness in my legs lingered.

I remember thinking and praying, “God, the doctor said I should be better in four to eight weeks. I’m not. Walking and standing hurts, and my legs and feet feel bubble-wrapped, and now a family member is hurting. Help us.”

Running Out of Shoes

First my back, then a dear family member needs daily injections. Next health difficulties slammed two more family members. I prayed again.

And again.

More intensely.

Louder.

Desperately.

You may have heard this quote by C.S. Lewis: “God whispers to us in our pleasures. He speaks to us in our conscience, but He shouts to us in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

God had my attention. I had to work hard to NOT invite a pity-party with party “girls” named Anger, Depression, and Me Me.

Fear accompanied the pain. I don’t know the others’ thoughts. Here are a few of mine:

Will I ever get better?

Will the doctors have an answer and a treatment that works?

Has God forgotten me? Is He punishing me? What is He doing?

What About You?

You and I each have dealt with major stresses of all sorts. Until we see Jesus face to face, more stress will knock us off our feet. More pain will come like a storm surge.

As I’ve pondered these things and sought God’s counsel, the answer to stress came to me in three waves.

Wave 1. God wants to meet with me. In other words, He wants me to speak to him and listen to him prayerfully. Psalm 10 is great example.

Wave 2. God wants to bless me. How do I know? When God gets my attention and I seek him, I will find him. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Wave 3. Whatever happens with my back or anyone’s difficulty, and God knows what He is doing, and I’m learning to accept his plan although now I admit I’m like the bleeding woman in search of healing.

Through it all, God holds me. Being held brings me best joy.

Question: How has stress hit you this month? What has helped? Leave a comment to encourage others. 🙂

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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