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I Wanna Love Like That {Why I Need His Strength to Really Love}

Thanksgiving is getting ready to rear the corner. Followed by Christmas. Which means–we will all be busier than normal. We will also be invited or not invited to different things. We will get together with people who we love dearly—the turkey and tinsel–what’s not to love about the most wonderful time of the year;)! And mixed in among the turkey and tinsel whether it’s family or friends–you might even find yourself gathering among people that aren’t the easiest for our hearts to be around. It might just be clashing personalities or it could be relationships that the longer the miscommunication or misunderstanding has gone on…there is hurt there–maybe even deeper than we ever dreamed until we find ourselves dreading these different encounters during the holidays. We may even be around family who WE have hurt but are completely clueless to the way we make them feel–and we need to love outside of our own flesh to show them that we love them.

Or maybe you are juggling a family who pulls you or pulls him. So you have to have this with them–then stretch yourself to do that with them–and oh my…your heart just longs for TOGETHER…why can’t we all just make it easy and be TOGETHER. This time of year is my favorite–but it’s also the time of year that can be very hard for a lot of people because something went wrong with the word LOVE and everything that it is supposed to stand for.

I’ve been thinking about that big “L” word a lot lately.

How I’m really not good at it. I’m really good at loving people who love me. I’m good at loving people who are lovable. I’m good at loving people who serve me back or appreciate me, respect my time and family or who think about my feelings as much as I think about theirs. That kind of love–that’s just easy.

What I’m not good at…I hate to type–is HIS kind of LOVE.

When you read 1 Corinthians 13–“the love chapter”–many of us have read at our weddings or refer to when we are talking about love–isn’t talking about those in our lives that are easy to love. There’d really be no need to write a chapter on love if it was that easy would it? There would be no instructions because it’d be natural. But loving people who hurt your heart is anything but natural.

I want to run. Avoid. Smile and get through it. Jump in my van with my kids who love me back and say under my breath, “Whew. That’s over. Now let’s race back to our farm and rest and be surrounded by comfortable.” But His kind of love is anything but comfortable. And I’m really not good at it–but I want to be. This kind of love takes dying to self, humility–A LOT of humility, effort, confidence in who we are in Him (believing and knowing that this is all that matters) and forgiveness.

You might find yourself in a relationship or situation where you find yourself saying, “I’m done. I’m tired of being the only one trying. I’m serving. I’m giving. And nothing back. Just done.” Okay. So that’s good. You are getting some where. You are officially done loving in your own strength. And now–you are ready.

Think about someone in your life–right now–where there is a struggle…a lack of love…a broken relationship. Someone who your heart has just said, “I’m done” too. Just done trying. Done with your own strength. Because–you have done it over and over and it just doesn’t work. Deep breath…

The Message especially challenges my socks off on how to love now that you are ready to say you are done…

1 Corinthians 13:3-7

“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”

Wow.

Now go back and read it again–thinking specifically about that person that was brought to mind earlier as you read.

Line by line…sentence by sentence…in 1 Corinthians–go back and read and stop after each one as you think about this person remembering this first…LOVE NEVER GIVES UP.

And remember–that love puts up with anything and it keeps going to the end.

I wanna love like THAT.

To not bring up wrongs–not keeping score. Even in friendships when you have served and served and served…it’s okay to draw boundaries and say no–but it’s not okay to carry a grudge of frustration that you don’t feel appreciated or valued. Love let’s it go and ALWAYS looks for the best in that person instead.

And it keeps going. Even when you feel done. When you feel done–LOVE says, “What can I do tomorrow to show him/him that he/she is loved?” It just keeps going and going and going—and the one who loves like He does–trusts the Lord to provide strength for each day.

Running this race with you. Know you are deeply LOVED. And you are not alone:)

andrea:)

 

His personality {Zeke makes my side hurt!}

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Meet my 3 year old. Zeke.

My side hurts! If you ever need to laugh your socks off–you need to spend just a few hours alone with Zeke!! He was my side kick in Hobby Lobby tonight and in just 1 hour in that store while Laney was at ballet these things happened…

1. A lady told him he was cute and his response: “Where you go–I will go. Where you stay–I will stay. Your people will be my people!” (Oh MY! I lost it. Preach it buddy.)

2. Santa called my cell phone. Seriously. I had put in an email order today for Santa Atlanta to visit our house–and he called me back…acting like Santa–“Ho, ho, ho”ing on the other end. I wanted to tell him he didn’t have to keep that up and we could just book a visit but it didn’t feel very cheerful–so I went along with it reminiscing on the different events we had used Santa Atlanta for…Laney’s birthday one year…a playdate party…and he asked me to catch him up on the kids–so I shared we had brought home another little guy since we used them last a few years ago. I filled him in on growing again through adoption and how Zeke had been home a year. THEN he asked who the chatter bug was in the back ground. Zeke of course:)

So Santa asked if he could say hey to any of the children and give them a “Ho, ho, ho!” HILARIOUS. Santa assumes he is talking to older Laney because of how articulate Zeke is.

Do you just looooove your new baby brother from China sweet girl? Ho! Ho! Ho!”

Uh oh. I knew his response was gonna knock Santa’s socks off. Y’all. Zeke is a pistol!

“Dis is NOT Waney. Dis is ZEKE. And I’m da new baby brother from China. And I’m NOT a girl. I’m a boy. Zeke. I’m three. And I’m mad at my mom. Because she is mean ’cause she isn’t buying me anything I want while we are shopping at Hobby Lobby. HO! HO! HO!”

Oh my. My apologies Santa!

I whispered in Zeke’s other ear to please just tell Santa, “Merry Christmas” and after he did–I took the phone back, made arrangements for his visit and gave hi a Merry Christmas right back. THAT KID!!!

3. Finally–I called my dad who I knew would appreciate the story of Mr. Pistol’s talk with Santa–only to have Zeke take the phone and tell Papa, “Papa! Dis is Zeke and I’m mad at mom because she is mean. She’s not buying me any thing here at Hobby Lobby.” 

I took the phone away and told my dad how Zeke grabbed a globe ornament I found and started naming all the continents…truly amazing if you ask me for a 3 year old! I handed him the globe and the phone and tried to get him to do it for my dad–only he cut his eyes at me and recited the entire Pledge of Allegiance of the United States smirking until the very end. Y’all. I tried not to laugh…but hearing my dad laughing that I have my HANDS FULL–I lost it once again. This kid…can give it to Santa, recite the continents and the pledge–BUT he is incapable of going to the stinkin’ POTTY. Oh my…HANDS FULL.

We did end on a good note–saying our “I love you’s” and we traded our toy from Chick-fil-a for an ice cream (love how they do that!) and then…we picked up sister from ballet!

And that’s our Zeke!! So thankful 2 years ago we ran across his picture while praying for waiting children–so thankful he has been home for over a year–and so thankful he is strong and confident…and makes me laugh!

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Why I Run From Mega-Churches and Fog Machine Concert Worship

Our family lives in one of the biggest cities in the United States–so we are surrounded by mega churches and the coolest, newest things when it comes to not only fashion and the latest trends–but even when it comes to worship. The musicians that lead on Sunday morning you pass in Target with their shades on…and without thinking about it I smile and say hey just the same as I do for the random stranger I pass on the cereal aisle. I always want to encourage them when I pass them to smile back…we might have worshipped together on Sunday–remember? People to me–are people. Now–if you were Jesus…that’s something else. But if you are not Jesus–you are just people. Just like…me.

For years I thought something was wrong with me walking in or out of a mega-church–because of how I felt in the middle of so many strangers or leaving having a personal experience–with…just–well maybe me and God. That’s the way it’s supposed to be they might tell you–and you get together with a smaller community–your cell group, small group, community group or something like that later in the week. But if you leave feeling alone–do not be discouraged…you aren’t alone and there’s nothing wrong with you. You were made to be known not only by God–but by the body of Christ…to walk together day in and day out…especially at church where you worship.

I’d walk in and want to turn and walk right out. The energy no doubt gravitating–but the community…in order to really be community would have to meet online or at another time to really know one another but never see one another on a Sunday. I mean–we could go completely incognito for months and our absence would totally go unnoticed.

For some–I think this is really okay? I mean–for the introvert that is going to run in and out–you almost WANT this Mega-church type thing where no one will ever know your name or ask you where you’ve been the last few months…and how are things REALLY–like REALLY? But for me–(this is just my confession why you won’t see me there)–it just doesn’t feel like the body.

And it makes me worry–that we are creating the need for entertainment, more lights, more fog, more of an outrageous experience for our kids, new believers and maybe even ourselves–and all of this could cover up the beauty of the missing body of Christ.

I knew the moment my first son started crawling–we needed to leave the mega-church we were attending. Not the church as “the church” but rather the mega-church that we were going to for all the wrong reasons. Now let me confess why we went there for the few years we did…It was comfortable. And entertaining. And famous people leading worship–that’s just pretty cool. We heard the new song before anyone else did. Okay–so those are NOT the reasons we went. But that was pretty exciting and cool. If you asked me 15 years ago why we were there–I would have told you the teaching truly was good. The pastor was captivating. The skits were hilarious. The worship was amazing–like a Christian rock concert.

But…raising my babies there and my own need for the body of Christ–it made me worry.

Because I had once experienced real corporate worship…where you knew your neighbor. You know your neighbor’s raising his hands beside you and you also know the battle he was fighting–and seeing him raise his hands during that battle–did something to me…because I knew my brother. The Holy Spirit did something in me as I could look around the room and know the stories of His power in lives all around me. I would look around and in this mega-church, really knew–like deeply knew–NO ONE. Except my spouse…and maybe another family or three in the west or east wing…who even knew unless I texted where they were. This is okay–except…it didn’t feel at all like a body should feel. Where the parts all know each other. Where the parts all work together. Where when one falls–the other is there to pick it up.

What would I teach my kids about His holy church–the one He died for? How we know each other deeply. How we walk together. How we know and see who is missing–because we can look around and see and know if they are there…and check on them…and serve them…and bring them back to worship alongside us…because we are one body–and this is how the body works.

And when the music or fog or Who’s Who worship team fades…because for a time my kids would think that is pretty stinkin’ cool–and all is striped away? Would they know how to come? Come to their Savior? When they go to college or get transferred to a small town–would they know how to find the body of Christ and how it’s supposed to work together or need more entertainment and fog machines? I see the fog and the dancing and beautiful hype–really…I see the beautiful in it. But. Is it overflowing into the lives and hearts and carrying over into every faucet of our lives with the body of Christ and all it’s glory going with us as we worship together and leave together into the world?

Then–I find myself leaving these concert churches–feeling so alone. And I wonder how many leave feeling the same–and never go back. Because it’s almost impossible to be known there–and that is our hearts desire…to be known…which overflows into our walk with the Lord–leading us to be known and to know Him.

When you go through things–the body is there. You might not have experienced that yet–but the body of Christ is alive and amazing when you find it. They surround you…they know you…they walk the trial with you…they celebrate the blessings by your side. But while we attended a big…as in BIG…church—we walked often alone in and out of the church through the hard things because really–we were unseen. If this is you. Maybe someone reading this who has come and gone…and never gone back for this reason–but please don’t give up on His church. I have to tell you. There are many churches out there that feel good–that are pretty entertaining and awesome like a party–but if you left feeling more unknown and unseen…you are not crazy and you are not alone.

Before I got married, I lived in China for a year. It was a sweet year doing crazy things for the gospel with other believers. I experienced the church in deep, real ways in a country where the church couldn’t legally exist and moved to Atlanta. I walked in to the church where every single in my area said I had to go–to come home to fog-machine worship that really threw me off and took awhile to get used to–until I realized I didn’t have to get used to it…because maybe I wasn’t supposed to. Sure you can worship with fog–you can worship with bubbles and kites and anything for that matter;)–but don’t be discouraged if the concert and who’s who leading worship isn’t for your heart. Because–it wasn’t for mine either. I want to be able to know the one worshipping beside me–or to be able to tell the one leading worship what the Lord did in my heart during that song they chose to sing…without needing a VIP pass or feeling silly because Elvis left the building before I could get there. I just love knowing my people and being known by them–and for me…my heart and family need to know the parts of the body and work together in smallness to do big things with them.

It takes awhile some times to know what your heart needs. My heart longs to just worship beside brothers and sisters who love Jesus…who are surrendered to Him…and who know my name and whose name I know because I believe that’s how we were made to worship and made to do life. Together. To hear and know one another’s needs–and consider how the Lord might want to use US to meet them. Together. To know your loss and know how He has been faithful to you–to see your hands rise during the trial and to go stand with you in worship. Together.

And to bring my children with me. And to allow this to overflow into their lives. To teach them you don’t need that guy on the radio leading worship with a fog machine and lights…that’s pretty cool and I’ll take you to a concert if you think that’s cool…but really–you just need a heart surrendered to Him–and if you have other brothers and sisters you love beside you…well, that’s golden and a blessing–and the body of Christ in one of it’s sweetest forms. To be comfortable without the fog and the lights–and just with that song you have practiced over and over with your guitar teacher to lead us in the living room as we sing together…and see what the body of Christ is. With no separation on Sunday or a special need to gather again just to know your name–because we know and see each other on Sunday or throughout the week when you have a need or you know I might or just to be together doing life together. I want my children to not need the all the noise and amazing entertainment to worship…but to just need a few brothers and sisters in Christ beside them–or even to be alone with just as much awe in the quiet.

Thankful how the Lord has led us from the big…to the small, sweet community where I have met the body of Christ in a real way. May you find Him where ever He leads and experience Him deeply through the body of Christ beside you.

Andrea

 

 

I’m thankful {how love makes our family}

To be a fly on our wall. This is a typical day after nap time for these two. You don’t have to say anything AT ALL. You just have to sit and watch–and get ready to laugh. I love how these two just “go together”…almost feed off each other I’d guess you’d say. And if you step back and take in that these brothers from Africa and China–were just meant to be brothers–and I’m so thankful…that love makes our family.

AND I have to just add–I love when they make up their own phrases from their feelings. Currently “huggie” is a feeling in our home. How do you feel? Huggie! So funny these two!

I’m so thankful how God has grown our family. So much laughter here…and seeing His faithfulness in our home makes me want to just keep my hands open and continue to say be the God of YOUR story for my life!! It’s not my story at all–but His.

May your home be filled with lots of laughter this season.

xoxo!

Andrea

Just a Day {Live each day to the fullest…}

I imagine one day I’ll wake up and wonder. What did a day look like back then when they were little? Today was a sweet one…fully of joys and a moment or two of wanting to pull my hair out–so this–even this I want to remember.

When you homeschool, you have some flexibility. Here’s a confession. Every morning–I roll out of bed at…(drum roll)…8am. Richard and the children are early risers–and they rise and read…or play…or let the goats and chickens out of their coop and kennel. The goats are just 4 months old so they are still too young to sleep in the pasture, so they sleep in a kennel in the pool house.

8am – She rises to drink coffee.

8:30 – She melts. Because she realizes the 8 year old daughter has dressed and prepped the younger boys for preschool. Sweaters. Jeans. Socks and shoes. I take a picture to remember. Then I make the 3 and 5 year old lunches.

8:45 – Out the door. Only we realize the goats need grain–so we run back in and deliver grain to those sweet goats. Then off we go to preschool.

9:05 am – We arrive to preschool carpool early. So for 10 glorious minutes we all sing praise and worship songs in the van together. Oh my…this sets the pace of our whole day. Coffee and worship. I’m ready to roll!

9:15 am – We say our good-byes and off we go!

9:30 am – Arrive to Target. Buyings snacks to contribute to preschool, cupcake sprinkles for fall fun and a treat for a friend.

10 am – School can wait…we have a dear friend to see! Seven and a half years ago when we just had 2 toddlers–my phone rang. On the other end was Mama Judy…I should say a lady…but she is now Mama Judy to us. Never underestimate what the Lord might do in a phone call. Because with that one 7 1/2 years ago a sweet friendship was born. I captured the last days of her beau–and many emails later–our hearts were connected as friends and sisters in Christ for the long haul. So thankful. Every season and holiday we see Mama Judy–so today we met to celebrate this season over doughnuts. And as always lots and lots of love from Mama J.

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11:30 am – Race right back to homeschool at the farm. Only some times homeschool on the farm looks a bit like this…(okay–with added trinkets and Fall fun from Mama Judy of course!)

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I looooove that these kiddos loving READING so much. I run a pretty tight homeschool ship–but some days you need to just breath and focus on the basics like reading, writing and arithmetic–and call it a day! We spent much of our day reading RIGHT here.

12:30 – Who needs lunch when you are filled up on doughnuts. We picked and had a snack instead!

1:15 pm – Carpool pick up for the preschoolers!

1:30 pm – Stopped for an hour at a horse farm to talk to the farmer about donkeys and horses. Laney is in the market for horse riding lessons–and Momma is in the market for a donkey to protect her goats. JUST FYI–many farms use donkeys to protect their herds and livestock from coyotes. Most animals will run–but a donkey stands their ground and even approaches the coyote chasing him away. If you want to keep your herd–you get a donkey…or a llama. But we are thinking long term kiddie donkey rides and nativity fun;)…so we are holding out for a livestock/kid friendly donkey:)

2:30 pm – An hour at the horse farm flew by! We’ll sing some songs about multiplication today instead of drilling. Nap time for Zeke. Outside time—and reading together about the Middle Ages in Australia. The children are big enough to read it themselves now so some days they read ahead of me!

LONG STRETCH OF JUST RESTING…READING AND BEING TOGETHER. This is what farm life has given us…some sweet un-rushed time!

5pm – Delivering one to soccer.

5:30pm – Another delivery to ballet. And 2 more to boys tumbling (they are learning how to run up a wall and back flip…crazy 5 year olds;)

5:40 – 6:15 – HOBBY LOBBY with Zeke. BLISS:)

6:30 – Pick up babies from ballet and tumbling

6:45 – Pick up love from soccer.

Call Richard in New York and check in on Bob Gates dinner…don’t love when he is traveling…but so thankful for how the Lord provides through his travels!!

7pm – I convince the kids instead of momma’s cooking–we can go grab dinner.

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Laney squealed when I got this in my fortune cookie at dinner today. “Momma! You are going with the Created for Care team on a retreat this weekend! Indeed this is true! You will be in cheerful company and have a merry time!” Oh how I love that girl of mine!

8 pm – MUCH to late to take 5 children to Home Depot. BUT…I braved it any way. I need a CRAFT INTERVENTION!! Gathering supplies for a fun craft for our team of 10 to do this weekend at a little retreat as we pray and plan for the 1,000 adoption and foster mommas who come to Created for Care in 2015.

OH NO. All was well until Parker tried to close Home Depot gate thing…and there went Zeke’s fingers. And the melt down to crazy begins! NOW…just remember although the farm might look like BLISS…there is still crazy just like in any family…and it all happened here. We got a cold spray from the nice employee–who knew there was such a thing and it made his fingers feel better fast! Oh my…quickly spiraling–get kids home FAST!!!

8:30pm – Put the goats and chickens up. Bring the books, pillows and blankets off hammock in. Babes ready for bed. Call the beau and hear about his day. Excited he returns soon.

9 pm – Zulily. I shouldn’t get on…but I do…and I found adorable boots for one of my besties baby girls–so I buy them. And can’t wait to see if they fit!

And that my friends is a day…a crazy normal day—that I want to remember:)

 

Hope you each have a blessed weekend ahead!

xoxo!

 

Andrea

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