Hands and house

Hands and house

Sunday, December 27, 2015

What If We Did?

        I'm sitting here in a coffee shop going through pictures from our trip to Zeke, There is SO much that I want to write and many things that I pray God etches on my heart...but I want to begin with just one.

   On our last night in China, we were walking back from dinner in a drizzling rain, and Doug turned to me and said, "I really want to say thank you...thank you for listening to the Lord, thank you for risking and talking to me. I cannot imagine our life without this little guy now."

   Honestly, my response was, "No...I was such a coward. I had told God I couldn't share with you. I told him that he had to do it."

   Honestly, the reason my days are filled with the smiles and giggles of this amazing little boy are because of what Doug said that night back in March when I told him about Zeke...

He said, "What if we did???"

and it changed everything...

"What if we did?" opened that door a crack...

...instead of letting fear, the unknowns, the worries slam the door shut, my husband said we should pray...

and for the six days that we prayed, asking God if this was our son, Doug kept coming back with the same answer...

His answer was, "Why wouldn't we?"

"The Bible is so clear about God's heart for the widows and the orphans...why wouldn't we?"

and so we stepped, into a great adventure....

Where we have been challenged, grown and are beyond blessed.

...and the thing is

We aren't the only ones taking that step. This was our travel group, each family stepping out and saying "what if we did?"

I still can hardly look at this picture through the tears...these people, they are the real deal and we got a front row seat to seeing them be the arms of God to 15 children who are no longer orphans.

and the thing is....

there are families doing this ever.single.week.

So....that last night, in the drizzling rain, we started talking.

What if we lived our lives that way?

Asking first,
"What if we did?"
"Why wouldn't we?"

Using God's word as our guide for where to step.

What if we first let God open each opportunity first.

What if we thought first about the possibility instead of the impossibility or the discomfort, or what it was going to cost us?

"What if we did???"

"Why wouldn't we?"

Today our pastor spoke on being the salt of the earth and the light of the world...

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" Matthew 5:13-16

He talked about how salt is most useful when it is rubbed into meat....preserving it, saving it...asking how we can be rubbed into this world...

 ...all the while, Zeke sat on my lap happily swinging his feet and leaning into me for kisses on his head...a son, preserved, becoming whole.

...and those words echoed again,

"What if we did???"

We are daily living out the reality of saying one tiny yes...

it is honestly one of the best things that has ever happened to us.

What would happen in our lives and in this world if our response to God's promptings was....

"What if we did?"
"Why wouldn't we?"

Sunday, October 18, 2015

We Get Too.....

We are getting so very close to our sweet boy...

      I watch the leaves swirling down from the sky and feel my emotions just as numerous dancing through my heart.

      Some moments feel like it is almost Christmas...anticipation leaping with joy, some akin to being clipped into a roller coaster climbing slowly to the top, and yet others want to grasp like the last days of summer to the life that is, the life about to change. As each day unfolds beautifully closer, I find myself reflecting on the journey so far.

      One thing keeps resounding in my heart, a treasure glowing that I never want to forget.... 

              We get to do this.

      This wait, this agony, this surrender...we get to this. It is Holy ground. Each adoption, each wait to open a gift so undeserved looks very different. This has been a journey of being laid bare. If I look backwards, even examine today, the picture I see is one of laying prostrate before the Lord. Bare heart begging surrender. Waiting undoes me, I try to control, try to predict, get angry with God when he provides something different than what I ask...and find myself so humbled by my frail humanity, how poorly I wait...

      But when I look again, I see something wholly different. Yes there is surrender but right there so close that is almost hidden there is a breaking. Breaking away of my plans, breaking away of how I think things should go, breaking of the fear of the unknown, breaking that addiction to control....

      What surfaces is the treasure...the stillness. Hands open easily after seeing the depth of my darkness, beautiful surrender. Lord break my heart for what breaks yours. Lord you truly know what is best. No matter what, no matter the depth of the chasm of unknowns we are about to face...Lord you are the author of it. This is Your story to unfold and it is nothing but a gift to us. Lord, let me be undone, re-write my very soul because out of this humility Your beauty is the only thing that shines.

      We get to do this. We get to have our hearts laid open, irreparably changed by the Creator. How many times in life do we get that honor, to stand in a place with so little control amidst a society addicted to it? To willingly step into a journey that we have no power to write? A journey that will change the very fabric of who we are, how we live, our entire family life. A step where we absolutely must allow ourselves to be carried by God and those around us? 

      I will say it again, We get to do this.

      This is not a rescue mission, not a way to pat ourselves on the back, not something hip or a way to please others. It is a step built on faith and surrender taken with shaky legged faith. From here, facing the fears of our son's health, his attachment, personality, leaving our other kids and so much more...facing a chasm on unknowns, I can tell you He is worthy.

      It is a beautiful place, this surrender. There is pain, there is peace, there is such freedom in, "Abba carry me." Because He does...each and every time so closely whispering "courage dear heart, look at Me"

 We Get to Do This....

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
Isaiah 42:16

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Like Manna From Heaven

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
Isaiah 58:9

I sit here  today with aching feet, a sore back and a heart so very full that it threatens to spill out at any moment.

     These last three weeks we have been walking a miracle, one that sprung on us from out of the blue....like a gift far too grand that the Giver cannot wait to give. Why us? We are so not worthy for the blessings that have been poured out again and again all for the sake of one little boy and to bring glory to one really huge God.
     From the very first moment, this adoption has been a step of faith, not just in bringing another child into our lives but in saying 'yes' to an invitation that seems to go against so much of the thinking of this world. To step out and say yes to one little boy with a broken heart, to take the leap knowing full well that we did not have the means to complete it...to say 'yes' to that whisper and plant our feet on the promise that what God calls us to He will complete.

   Oh how I have had such little faith...

  I am here to tell you, God is far bigger than any box that we make and if He whispers, He will make a way.... and sometimes that provision is there simply to build and fortify our faith for what is to come.

    This miracle started in a hot sweaty church doorway, VBS music blaring as hundreds of children waited for their parents to pick them up. There I stood in an oversized "Thailand Trek" shirt worn for 4 days straight catching kids as they tried to run out the doorways without their parents!

   In walked one of my best friends, arms full of flats of blueberries. Her parents are pear orchardists and have a few fields of blueberries that she was selling. As she unloaded her goods to people she turned to me and said, "You should totally sell blueberries for Zeke's adoption..."

    Little did I know what the Lord had just begun. She went her way and I chased kids. Later that night we figured out the details and I of little faith texted some family and friends to see if they wanted a few blueberries.

   I totally assumed we would sell a few hundred pounds of berries. This would be a fun way to get some blueberries to friends and make a little money towards Zeke because who doesn't love blueberries?

    Word started to get out on facebook, email and by phone and we started to get some orders, first selling 150 lbs. I was so thrilled! The deal we had made was that we would sell the berries for $2 a lb. They were no spray and local so people loved the deal they were getting. The workers picking the berries were getting $1 a pound so they were happy too...

    The next day was a 'picking' day and at 7am my friend's dad backed into our driveway...
                  with 1,200 pounds of berries.

    My heart dropped and I whispered a prayer "Oh Lord, there is no way I can sell that many berries...what have we gotten ourselves into?...Lord, I know I cannot sell that many berries but You can."

     That entire day our kitchen was transformed into a packing plant. We bagged bucket after bucket of berries, weighing them on our tiny kitchen scale. 1,200 lbs of berries bagged 4 lbs at a time. The whole time in my mind I kept thinking, "There is no way we can do this all in one day...Lord who is going to buy all of these?" I envisioned buckets of molding berries sitting in our house days later. You see, they were completely not sprayed so they had to be bagged and sold with 48 hours. 

    Oh how small my faith can be...

          ...orders came in, 20lbs here, 100 lbs there facebook lit up with people sharing about our berries for Zeke. Neighborhood kids went door to door filling jogging strollers and small toddler cars with berries for sale.

   Then people started coming, entering our house to get their berries. We got to hug and talk with people we dearly love, people we had never met and even pray with a few. People also started to share..."We have been considering adoption, could we meet with you?" All within the walls of our little house...we were so blessed, how could we have ever imagined?

     That night I sat in our livingroom, Bible in hand just stunned at our empty house. Every berry was sold, how could that possibly have just happened? It was like the loaves and fishes in reverse...God had done the impossible!

  That next day my friend called me saying she had run around the berry fields. The bushes were more loaded than she had ever seen them....she had to stop because she was crying so hard over God's provision.

   Two days later, they picked again...

   As 1,300 lbs of berries backed into our driveway loading the entire truck and every spot in the cab again in my heart I thought, "There is just no way...but Lord you can."

    Word came that the workers who were picking were absolutely thrilled. They were picking so fast they were making $60 an hour! We were thrilled and the owners were thrilled....and the people buying berries were coming back for more! Again we rolled up our sleeves and stepped into the miracle.

    This time, friends came by to help. We bagged and chatted and had time together that is so rare during the summer.Our kid's friends came and little hands all pitched in to fill up those bags...and again word began to spread. The kids made a blueberry stand on the corner orders for 100lb, 200lb and even 500 lb came in. Our dear friends who own a local brewery bought 2,000lb to make a beer with! I think I spent most of the day just stunned at all that was unfolding.

   Again our house filled with people coming to get their berries, friends, friends of friends, co-workers ladies from Bible studies, homeschool groups all there encouraging us in our journey to Zeke....many praying for us or giving far more than what was asked for the berries, again more families wanting to know about adoption....my heart rang with thanks. It was all so beyond what I could even comprehend.

   We visited the fields, met the workers helped and saw the entire operation.

 Let me tell you, this miracle came from some very hard work by some incredibly dear people. 

The owners and my friend getting up at dawn each day to help the workers in the field, buying them lunch, hours and hours of bagging berries alongside us...all the while every time I said thank you their response was, "No no you are the one doing the miracle bringing that boy home, we could not be happier to be a part of it!"

    My word, friends...if you want to see the Gospel in action, if you want to really see the Lord, step into the things He whispers no ,matter how crazy they sound...the promise and the way He catches you are far better than any safety net to which we all cling.

    So here I sit....over 8,000 pounds of berries later. Oh me of little faith, I got to be a part of something miraculous unfolding! The berry season is done and I am in awe. The story of the berries is far from over, our plan is for my friend and I to start a ministry with these amazing berries. Every year to pray, sell berries and give the proceeds away. God's berries there to bless others and I just cannot wait...

       How did I get so lucky to be apart of such an amazing unfolding miracle, I cannot even put words to the gratitude in my heart....

    all because of one little boy and one giant God.

"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

Beautiful Brokeness

     The other night there was a worship and prayer service at our church. 
We went with ragged hearts, tears streaming down.

As the music rolled and I looked up,
five rows ahead stood a young woman that I love like a sister...
in her "Bring Home Zeke" shirt...

Through the entire service,
right before my eyes,
literally spelled out on the back of her shirt,

"Bring Home Zeke"

and I was reminded of what a beautiful and broken journey we are on.

This journey to such a little boy,
is like none I have ever been on.

It is a humbling one,
marked over and over again with others coming alongside...

cheering us on,

sharing the load.

It is a friend with 4 little babes of her own taking time to create a fundraising page for him...
One willing to make t-shirst, sell nail stuff, bags, jewelry.

Another, making a way for friends to donate toys and clothes,
to help us get the things we need.

Missionaries living on mere dollars a day,
sending part of it to pave the path for him to come home.

Literally widows...

We have children, orphans themselves down in Baja writing to tell us they are praying for us and our son.

This glorious path rolling out before on tiny boy with a broken heart...

it is one of brokeness itself,

It is not a road paved by those who are wealthy, those who have it together or can give out of their plenty...

it is a road being built by those who themselves have known deep brokness...

who have known hunger, grief, unbelievable pain.

We are being held up by those with whom we have bent low,

those we have begged God with,

 wetting each others shoulders with our tears.

Around my neck is a treasure that I revere like none other,

emblazoned with the letters of all 4 of my children,

given by a friend 

who has walked hand in hand with us through our trials and her own,

who I have held weeping in ICU rooms, grieved as attachment shows it's knarly scars

and the list goes on,

a dear young couple just about to be married,

who could pour everything into their own celebration and instead

pour some into a boy they have never met.

Children, so many children cheering us on, giving us their spending money...

spending all day singing about lemonade on the side of the road...

all for the love of a little boy.

None that has been given has been out of ease.

When God prompted and we stepped out to adopt Zeke,

it was a giant leap of faith,

one done with trembling knees,

 and so many prayers for confirmation

saying, "I just need to hear you again God"

It is the first adoption where we knew we did not have all of the money,

and were not sure how we were going to cover things.


it was easy to question God on that point...

and yet we knew that we were supposed to step without seeing.

How could we know?

How could we possibly see the unspeakably beautiful story God wanted to roll out instead?

There  is so much that we do not know about Zeke or his story,

but the one that God is writing now is beyond anything I could have imagined...

this boy, this story,

we are walking on holy ground.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Even Before....

It was a blustery day in January sitting beside my Dad, so frail in his recliner.

 Home on hospice, this would be one of our last conversations.
He looked up at me and reached out for my hand.

 I leaned in close, "Dad, I have something to tell you."
"We are praying about adopting again, a little boy. I don't know when but I wanted you to know"
With strength weaning,

he sat up.

He began clapping his hands, then pressing them to his lips he said,
"Oh honey, I cannot think of a better gift or a better family! I am going to start praying for him right now."
Tears running down his face, my Dad prayed.
He prayed for this little boy, that God would keep him safe, that God would bring him to us at just the right time.
Over and over again he prayed,
"Thank you, Thank you God, Thank you."
His hand clasped in mine,
the only prayer I have ever heard him pray...
Holy beyond words.
That was January 2012.
So much of life unfolded after that.
My Dad passed away,
Georgia got sick needing heart surgery multiple times.
 We had thought that we would adopted through the foster care system but as Georgia struggled,
that dream got put on the shelf and then we began to assume it just wasn't meant to be.
Over the years,
that conversation has bubbled to the surface...
each time, I would pray for our possible boy,
thinking it probably would not ever happen.
Looking back now,
that conversation was a precursor,
it has paved the way.
It happened mere weeks before Zeke was conceived.
My Dad praying blessing over my son that I did not know...
A Grandfather's prayer,
to bless his Grandson with a joy that took my breath away.
So this Father's Day...
As I ache for my Dad,
ache for my son,
 revel in the breathtaking beauty that is my husband loving our children...
I want to share with you Zeke's full name.
Ezekiel Thomas Ming Zhe Miller
A boy that was hoped for and prayed for before we even knew...
The Lord is writing a story in this child that is like none other, so detailed, so full of blessings from person after person giving not from their wealth but from their hearts.
Little boy so celebrated.
Only God could know what a gift that prayer from my Dad would be...
He may not be here to hold him, but he was the first to bless him, to celebrate him, to pray over him.
I already stand in awe of this little one who so captured his Grandfather's heart.

Friday, May 22, 2015

China Feels So Far Away....

My Little Boy,

    Oh how I ache to hold you.

 My mind presses with questions unanswered.

 What I wouldn't give to hear your laughter fill a room, to lock eyes, hold your face in my hands.

    What I wouldn't give to watch you sleeping.

Today we heard that the orphanage took you to the hospital to run tests for us...

a hospital that could not run even the most basic cardiac test.

They will take you again next week to a different hospital,

in hopes of capturing the function of your beautiful heart.

Mine feels shattered at the idea of you going without me,

I cannot protect you,

what do you feel going back into those sterile doors?

What have you seen and experienced within hospital walls.

2 months you spent at a hospital,

pneumonia, open heart surgery.

2 months a mystery to us.

2 months of mustering courage beyond your years.

My little boy,

what I wouldn't give to be the one,

to hold you,

to whisper in your ear,

to wipe your tears.

So I will lay my empty arms before the Lord,

wet my prayers with tears

and again surrender to the One 

who was there,

who is there now,

whose arms hold you,

who whispers to us both

"Be still and know that I am God"

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bring Him Home...

Tonight China feels so very far away.
It is morning in China and my little boy has probably just woken up.
My arms ache to hold him,
to feel the weight of him in my arms,
to hear what his voice sounds like
and hold his face in my hands.
Tonight fear feels dark and lurking
 it could consume me if I turned and gave it any voice.
The 'what-ifs' feel so big...
yet at the same time out my window,
sunshine streams down through pouring rain
and I beg that the Lord would pour down over us,
over my boy,
over me....
and I remember the miracle,
this ache is a gift,
it rings of God's invitation,
His answer to my plea
to be poured out.
The gift of anticipation
 I get to cherish another soul,
 hold another life in my heart.
Even the waiting is a gift,
allowing my heart to bend and ache,
laying it before the One who will chisel it further...
one life halfway around the world
already changing mine...
a miracle.
Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift...
and I bend low
in surrender.
Lord mold me,
bend me,
chisel me,
prepare me for this...
this glorious honor of a gift.
Then I put on this song...
 given to me by a dear friend.
When we first decided to adopt Zeke
I emailed this friend.
Late that night she wrote,
she had spent time in prayer over our son.
As soon as she stopped praying this song came on

and I am reminded of just how near are the arms that are holding us both...


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