Hands and house

Hands and house

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

And Then They Wanted To Name Him...

    After we prayed trusting our new son to God's arms until he could be in ours Doug said, "Well, should we tell the kids?"

    We went in and said we had something to show them. On the laptop we pulled up bright eyed pictures that we had come to know by heart.

Through the "Ohhs" and "How cute!" Parker with eyes wide said, "Are we adopting him?"
Then he began to cry.

      "I wanted to adopt a brother my age, I wanted to adopt Carter (his best friend who has a loving family already)!"
...but what happened next is something I want to etch on my heart forever.
 He looked again at the picture and said, "Tell me his story."
 We read together the sparse story filled with grief and hope,
 baby left and then miraculously found,
 failing heart safe just in time all in the mountains deep in winter.
 Brave hearted baby boy.
        I looked at Parker.
As our eyes met, his filled with tears again and he earnestly said,
 "Mama I want to adopt him. I want him to be my brother."

       A motion caught my eye and I looked over to see Ravenna, pencil in hand, list half made saying, "Well....we need to name him then! and we need a bed and a carseat and clothes!"

   Georgia looked up, brown eyes beaming,
 "You mean I could have a baby brother? Can he sleep with me?
 Mama I want to hold his hand and sing him to sleep cause he might be a little bit scared."

  These children with hearts so beautiful, witnessing grief, embracing possibilities...
so ready to love.
How can I ever be thankful enough?
 I get to be their Mama, I get to follow the way their hearts say "yes."
 I get a front row seat to hearts unfolding with a love for God and for others in a way that is far beyond anything I could imagine.

   As Doug and I took a moment to revel in the glory of it all, the kids frantically whispered over Ravenna's list.
Then, as a group they confronted us and exclaimed,

   "We know what to name him....His name is Vomit! Vomit Allyn Miller!" 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Doors Thrown Open So Wide

      This adoption has been so different, like a glorious sunny day after a storm.
 We talked and prayed for a few days and just felt an overwhelming peace about bringing this little boy into our family
. Everything changed with seeing his picture and yet it just felt so calm and so right.
    On a blustery March day, Doug and I took a hike far above the Columbia River.
Standing there, raindrops beginning to fall I was looking out in the distance and praying
. Doug turned, asking, "What's on your mind?"
  "Well, what are we going to do about this little guy?"
  We chatted down the trail to the car, about diapers, preschool and toddler joys.
 "It just feels so right" crossed our lips with such ease.
 The normal list of fears, about another mouth to feed, another child to fit in, how old we would be...they just were not there.
 Only peace radiated deep, sweet.
 We parked back at home rain soaking down, Doug faced me,
 "I just keep thinking, 'why wouldn't we?' God is so clear about caring for orphans and he has placed him right in our path...why wouldn't we?"
     With tears on our cheeks we agreed, this little boy was our son.
 God had thrown the doors open so wide.
Foreheads together we wept and prayed for our son, our son, our little boy....

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Oh There You Are...

Oh how life can change in an instant!

A marker of before and after....never to be the same again.

There I was at the pool, jeans hiked up to my knees, feet in the water 'watching' Georgia in the kiddie pool...

A cacophony of splashes and shouts ricocheted off the walls...

liquid joy bespeckled with the grins of dripping children.

There I was, biding my time, soaking it in...

flipping through my phone.

Often I see them,

little faces of children waiting sent out with pleas for a family.

Each time my heart whispers to the Lord,

"Lord, I'm willing...bless them."

Each time, I send them on their way...

 praying for the arms of a family to surround them.

But this time....

everything stopped.

There you were staring back at me,

a part of my heart that I instantly knew I had been missing...

and I just couldn't look away.

Little boy,

eyes so wide.

Somehow everything about you was familiar,

the curve of your chin,
your button nose...

it was as if my soul said,

"Oh there you are! I've been waiting for you!"

and I just couldn't look away.

My soul whispered that everything had changed.

My fear said,

"Oh Lord, I'm willing but I can't face Doug...I just know he will say 'no' and I can't take it"

There, in the midst of the splashes, whistles and squeals...

a quiet voice spoke,

"I can do the impossible."

"Yes Lord, I know you can, but I am too weak...you will have to do the impossible without me."

weakness seeping in,

yet your face filling the very crevices of my soul.

Later that night...

There we sat,

wood lined restaurant,

all alone,

date night.

Talking, laughing and reveling in each other,

so thankful.

Halfway through the meal,

Doug turned to me and said,

"what has God been putting on your heart lately?"

I almost fell out of my chair!

I took a deep breath,

 pulled out the picture that I just couldn't let go...

and he said,

"Strangely, I'm very open to that!"

and we began to dream, and pray....

and watch every door open.

6 days later,

foreheads pressed together in prayer,

we said yes.

Yes to the adventure,

yes to the chaos,

yes to the unknown,

yes to the grief,

yes to the joy,

yes to our son being and orphan no more...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On Joy (or being thankful for the pressure cooker)

We snuggled up last night,
and wept and prayed and talked...
Of heartbreak,
of stress,
of worry...
and ultimately of joy.
It is a time of feeling hard pressed on every side.
Medical bills pouring in that we don't know how to cover,
relationships that we do not know how to heal,
fears of the 'what ifs' and the 'we'll just watch it for now',
scenarios of our children's health.
So many burdens
that at times make it hard to breathe,
hard to look up,
hard to see.
So we weep, and we pray,
asking God to show us through His eyes,
what we cannot see through ours....
we lift our heads.
The conversation turns.
Those bills?
Make us thankful for the very bread on our table,
the humble and worn clothes on our backs.
That brokenness?
Brings shining joy to the real, the deep, the true relationships,
where we are so, so undeservedly loved.
Those fears?
The 'what ifs'
oh the clarity they bring...
to what matters most.
The honor of kissing those sweet children goodnight,
their soft breath on my cheek,
the curl of their body next to mine,
the way their eyes shine and see the world like Jesus.

And my heart begins again to learn that peace grows 
Not from wealth or the absence of trials

But in the middle,

In the middle
When we are hard pressed on every side.
and once again I fall to my knees...
in Joy,
with thanksgiving...
...begging that God do whatever it takes,
strip my life bare,
break down and steal anything that keeps me,
from truly
seeing the gifts.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Saturday, November 1, 2014


This child just grips my heart.
Maybe it is because we have spent so many tearful nights
 begging for just one more day with her.
Maybe it is the times we have had to hand her over,
for them to fix her heart.
Everything on the line...
Or maybe it is her joy.
Her certainty of God and who He is...
that is just uncanny.
She is such a gift.
We were asked to create a video to be shared at a friend's church in Texas this weekend...
this was so fun to make!

It has been so long....

   Wow, it has been almost an entire year since I have dusted off this keyboard!
We leave for Baja once again in 19 days!
It has been a rich year,
a trying year,
a year of deep joy,
and weeping on our knees...
and I have really missed writing.
I have no idea if anyone stills checks here,
and honestly it doesn't really matter.
It just want to write,
to record for my children,
just how beautiful this life is,
pain and all.
To remind them and myself,
just how faithful God is,
even when the answers don't come.
So hopefully I can come here and recapture lost ground from this year that I desperately don't want to forget....
because I know that I need to write down
just how faithful God has been
for those times when I need reminding.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Solomente Uno

    I have been silent on here for quite awhile, just letting things simmer in my heart and mind. Each time we return from Baja, I find myself with less answers and more to chew on, less assurance that I have much to offer and more amazement in what I have seen.
    One phrase seems to keep rolling around in my mind. I find myself pulling it out, sometimes savoring it, sometimes examining it like a strange and wonderful treasure I hardly understand.
    On the day we left for Baja, a friend gave us a gift. Tons of facepaint and 1,500 glitter tattoos. I had never seen a glitter tattoo before much less applied one to another human being. After a quick tutorial, I threw the box in our burgeoning car and we headed south.

    Weeks later, sitting on the beach in Baja surrounded with supplies we packed up for an epic adventure. 6 days on 4wd roads to visit 14 different villages.

We really knew next to nothing about what we were going to experience. Every year our hearts have longed to get off the main highway in Baja and see what life was in the mountains beyond. Through a crazy series of events we stumbled upon a church last year. We showed up at the church which was held in a tiny bar.

A few days later they were heading to a boarding school to spend the night, do a weenie roast and be a part of the kid's Posada (Christmas celebration). So when they asked who was coming Doug and I looked at each other and raised our hands!

We didn't know anyone and they certainly didn't know us but that 24 hours period at a little boarding school in the mountains of Baja sealed the deal, we wanted to go wherever these crazy people were going! So we begged to come this year on the 6 day mystery trip.
     I still struggle to wrap words around the adventure we had. We saw life, this world, people, community, nature like never before. Parts deep within all of us have been irrevocably altered and we are still exploring the new territory within our own hearts.

   At each stop the kids would jump out of the car loaded with fists full of glitter tattoos. Typically then, Georgia would flash a big old grin and show off her own glittery tattooed arm...and the swarm would begin. Some of my favorite memories of that trip were standing with Ravenna surrounded by children waiting to be tattooed. Watching her spout off, "Que quienes? Que color?" and inevitably..."Solomente Uno!"

     Solomente Uno. Only One. Because you see, I have a feeling we would still be at that first village, fingers aching and covered in glitter if we hadn't set a limit. What kid doesn't love a glittery dragon, pony, heart or crown bedazzling every inch they can find?
     Solomente Uno. It rings in my head almost constantly. The phrase glitters and sparkles making me want more.
    Solomente Uno. Only One.
   Baja radiates the exotic, the juxtaposition of limitless arid desert that gives way in the blink of an eye to lush oasis valleys that most of the world has never seen. Raw salt flats reflecting the sun's glory give way to villages of people with tenderness in their eyes. Humble buildings reveal communities content to have each other and just enough.

    There is another treasure in Baja hardly ever seen. People stepping forth to help others, one at a time. Solomente Uno.

 It comes in the form of the pastor bringing a woman two goats so she can support her family, and coming back every year to bring more goat feed and to celebrate as her grandchildren grow.

 It is a man spending months stopping at schools, playing with the children, listening to the teachers, finding out what they need. It is that same man driving hundreds of miles to get those supplies and bring them back.

It is a woman named Laura who cares so deeply for a widowed rancher that it brings him tears of joy when he see her.

It is that same rancher turning around and telling us, "I don't have much to offer but I have my land and will gladly share it with you to camp on." It is that beautiful man joining hands with us to pray in different languages to the same God.

 It is a woman who spends her spare time drive to remote villages with a trunk full of eyeglasses bringing people the ability to read for the first time in years.

It is the man who when asked, "Do you have adult diapers?" by an elderly woman who can barely walk, pulls out his notebook and writes down to remember to bring her a full supply when he drives back through.

It is a pastor who loves the children of Baja so much that he seeks out every opportunity to don a Santa suit, hug each child, look them in the eyes and tell them the real meaning of Christmas....every year for 15 years.

Solomente Uno is a couple who are giving their lives to live in a tiny room and raise 25 children all from lives that have been battered and bruised.

It is a group of retired people camping on the beach hearing about orphans in Baja then digging through their trailers and pockets to give anything they can to help out.

Choosing poverty...picking up a moving to the poorest area in a very poor town in order to reach out to those living in the trash dump and the children living nearby. Solomente Uno.

It is a man who used to drive the bus to pick up migrant children, knowing that during the holiday they would not have enough food. That same man using his own funds and asking others to help to buy and deliver food to these children who sometimes go for 2-3 days with nothing to eat.

   While driving down a dusty street to deliver food to the children with none, I asked my friend question after question about the area, the needs, other ministries and how to best help. In response he said, "The first time I heard these kids would go for days without food, I went home and I wept. I just couldn't believe it. I spoke with my pastor about what I should do in the face of so much need and he told me, do the one thing God is leading you to do. Fill that one need."
    Solomente Uno.
Solomente Uno.  I had the honor witnessing these people pouring their lives out. No big titles, no fancy websites, no matching t-shirts. Just people stepping out and doing one thing at a time to show God's love. Solomente Uno.
What they are doing is not easy. It takes moxy to sleep in tents at a goat ranch in the middle of nowhere Baja. A sleepy morning sipping coffee at home would be easier than loading a car up with reading glasses and hitting the dirt road. A car gets stinky and scratched up when loaded down with goat feed. Adult diapers are not small and take up a lots of room in a car.
 I always used to think if you were going to help or do 'ministry' it meant joining a group or having a big plan. But what if it really means saying yes to the need God is placing in front of me? What if we didn't wait for a big plan but just stepped in and started doing?
Solomente Uno.....for some of us that may look extreme like living near a trash dump, for some it may mean starting a mom's group, or a book study or befriending a group of teens. God has made us all so differently...but He has made us for a purpose, it may take some moxy, it probably should take some risk and hard work.
Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky
Philippians 2:15



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