Saturday, March 31, 2012

Updates

Adoption. The waiting is starting but thankfully in short doses. Next week we learn if we have been approved by our agency followed by a contract and paper chasing for our homestudy. We'll keep updating as things progress.




Half Marathon. Three months of training ended in 2 1/2 hours of running today. Starting with six runners we ended with five as one girl had not been able to train because of her leading role in our school's Spring musical. All was well with the remaining five until an uphill, almost puke inducing twelfth mile. But now we can all say we've run a half marathon. Our thoughts can best be summed up at the finish line. 
  
Caroline and Nickie going strong
Jason, me and Becca pushing for the finish
India. Thirty-two days! With immunizations to get, the last 10% of our money to raise and activities to plan, we're busy and very excited. Check out our latest blogpost at swuindia.blogspot.com.






Levi. Our very grown up, almost two year old has a birthday coming up Wednesday and a new haircut for the occasion. He's expressing himself with lots of words. Many of which need decoding. Like ya-ya (Levi), Bah (Bear) and ya-yo (love you). We'll share pictures from his party this week and a fun video of his latest milestones. 


Playing at the sand volleyball court
Hope you're enjoying a great weekend! See you back here soon.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Walking by Faith: Why not?



I've waited three years, two months and a few days to say this. 


Friday, March 23rd (my birthday), I received the most unexpected, extravagant birthday gift from God. 


Together, with God's peace, Jason and I began the process of adopting the little girl from India who has been appearing to me in dreams.


To any Western mind we are crazy. And for the last two nights even I've had trouble sleeping for the excitement and the weight of this decision. No form of crunching numbers shows we can afford this. We simply cannot. But we are crazy enough to believe that the God who comes in dreams, who keeps whispering India, who changed India's age requirement and who molded the hearts of our parents to a place of openness to adoption CAN afford to bring this little girl to us. We are in a MAJOR walk of faith. 




But since you always hear from me, I want you to hear more of the story from my husband's perspective. Jason writes:
A theme God has challenged me with off and on for years is the idea of how often I require him to kick me in the proverbial pants before I actually do anything sacrificial, unreasonable or unnatural in response to his leading. It amazes me how quickly my willingness and availability vanish when the implications of a decision include any of the three descriptors mentioned above. 
On the most basic level I'm describing the daily battle of whose my life is. Paul probably said it most concisely in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ so I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in this body I live by faith in the son God who loved me and gave himself for me." I verbally confess that I want the same thing yet my actions often yield toward control, comfort, ease and convenience, i.e. my life remaining my own. 
On Friday night we were celebrating Kelley's 32nd birthday over a Panera Bread chipotle chicken panini with a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup. Our conversation found its way to where we stand in the process of starting the paperwork, which will officially begin the process of adopting our daughter from India. I expressed again how sometimes I feel incredibly peaceful, ready and in 'go-mode'...only to find myself indecisive and hesitant other times. (In case you're already thinking it: Yes, I realize I just magnificently defined emotions).  
I told Kelley that I never want to plow forward without God (which, as a side note, is a tendency of mine), but that I am tired of bending toward calculated or emotion-driven living. I want my actions and not just my words to shout: "My life is not my own because I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." 
So we walked out to the car and as we traveled down I-85 prayed out loud about where we stand before God in regard to this adoption. As I spoke many of these same thoughts to him, I felt overwhelmed with the whisper, "why not?". Why not? Why not start this process? God's written word says it clearly enough:  
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless. Isaiah 1:17 
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep yourself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 
Why not move on these words alone? Yes, for those who are thinking it, I understand that there is a lot that needs to happen between reading these words and starting an adoption process. :)  But the point is, instead of asking so many 'why' questions, I want to live my life asking 'why not?' in regard to practical ways I can give my life away and lose control so that God might have it more fully. How could we not respond to God's great love by extending it practically through running toward an adoption, in this specific case? Why on earth not? 
Most times God whispers to us. Questions of safety, comfort, logic, ease of life and the unknown often shout in comparison. But the word reminds me that "my life is not my own. The life I live in this body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." 
So, having been reminded of God's perspective, we finished the drive home and submitted the 13 page, $300 online application which officially starts the process of bringing our daughter home to us! Hitting the 'submit' button we prayed for God to keep us from getting ahead and to keep us from ever grieving his spirit by lagging behind. 
On March 23rd the miraculous and logical met bringing us to the decision of starting this journey. Such exciting yet huge steps we are taking.


While there is so much more to say, I have exhausted my midnight oil once again. We will be certain to update this week with a few more details.


Thanks for reading. :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Week of Four Posts: Part 3

Keeping Priorities

I've noticed in my hobby of blog perusing that some people spend a ton of time on the little empire that is their blog. Admittedly a wonderful outlet for creativity, writing and even business, blogs have incredible potential. But like all things, excess and misuse can swing the pendulum in the opposite direction.


In an effort to remember and stay focused in the blog land of Utopia, I wanted to set a few guidelines to better keep our priorities straight here at Tegen Central. In no particular order they are:

  • Be genuine. No post should ever be written trying to be someone we are not. This was the sole purpose of the two previous posts...to reset with honest, real talk about God's good lessons to us and to convey our absolute dependence on Him.
  • Keep real life first. Never should writing a blog post come before face-to-face conversations or life's demands. 
  • Keep the horse before the cart. We won't do things just to have a funny story to blog about or set out to do things just for the purpose of blogging. We won't constantly wear a camera trying to catch every moment for a blog or even books. We will live, and captured moments will be icing on the cake.
  • Refuse to blog God out. Our life source is our maker. But in our humanness, it is easy to let so-and-so's latest story or our latest blog post hold our attention instead of the keeper of all eternity. We will have quality time spent talking to God and learning truth from His word before wandering online.
  • Speak Truth. We will unashamedly point all who read here to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  
  • Share our story. With pictures, stories and, when appropriate, transparency, we will share the comings and goings of our family. 
  • Be mindful of others. We will share stories always mindful of others' privacy and feelings.
  • Get rest. By looking at the time stamp you will see this is my weakest link.
So glad to get these parameters up and to use them in the future. As a rule follower, I appreciate a good boundary marker and these will be ours from here on out. 

In the next day or so it will be our joy to share something that is almost too precious for words. Check back tomorrow evening, way before the time it is now, and we will hope to share something VERY good...in whatever words we can muster.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Week of Four Posts: Part 2

Today someone said a very significant statement to me, "You have great worth in God's kingdom."


Really? 


This heart that resists dying to herself? This girl who has to have spiritual lessons repeated a kazillion times to finally apply them?


The subject of worth has definitely been one of those kazillion times lessons for me. But God keeps speaking it and speaking it "in love-tones, lifting me up" as my new Jesus Calling book puts it [March 19]. So beautifully stated for what Scripture tells us and what I have experienced recently.

A college girl sat on our couch three weeks ago around midnight telling me her deep, deep insecurities.  She wanted to feel beautiful.  To have confidence.  To quit hearing a voice in her head telling her she was terribly ugly and totally worthless.  The more she talked, the more I related.  She was longing for significance and very unsure about Christianity.  So I tried to talk to her from some perspective other than a God-centered one.  But I couldn’t.  Every word that came out of my mouth about coming to the place of self-acceptance seemed empty and flat.  And while it is true that all of us need to learn to accept ourselves, the true beauty, confidence and worth she sought could only come from one place:  God.  Because when He gives them, they are unshakable.  I have learned that through my own life lessons.  
About a year ago I was driving to Charlotte to meet Lisa Holbrook about Caroline’s Promise.  I was having an exceptionally bad day because I woke up with one voice overwhelming my thinking and emotions.  The voice said I was a worthless failure and I would never be anything better.  I drove by myself and cried so hard I could barely see the road.  As I prayed and battled with God about my worthlessness I felt a prompting to turn on my radio to a local Christian station. The story that started was all about a treasure once found inside an old wooden box and the challenge that God is the treasure hidden inside believers that gives them worth.  As I drove and prayed feeling exhausted from the internal struggle, I realized in a new, deeper way.  God alone gives lasting, unshakable worth.  He is the good in me.  Period.

I had turned to Caroline’s Promise in hopes that I could finally be good at something.  And in the year directing it I only felt stressed and more inadequate.  So, after some really rich times of God telling His opinion of me, I stopped striving and resigned as Caroline’s Promise director.  While it did come with initial feelings of terrible defeat, I knew my worth did not come from directing an organization.  Instead, I have been finding deep fulfillment in daily listening to God’s promptings (which currently is leading me and seven other girls to India!!!) and being faithful to what He has given to me:  Jason, Levi, and a dorm full of girls starving to find the true, significant worth that God has been allowing me to know.  

Have you struggled, like me, believing that you have great worth in God's kingdom? I challenge you to ask God to "let the Holy Spirit take charge of your mind and comb out the tangles of deception"* so He can "transform you by the truth"* of what He thinks of you. 

Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL things happen when you and I do!  We actually begin to live like we are made in the image of God and have great kingdom worth.






*Quote taken from Sarah Young's Jesus Calling

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Week of Four Posts: Part 1

This week is one of those weeks when my mind is still trying to catch up with the rat race of the last two and my words struggle to come together coherently. So begins four days of posts to share a few important things. 

I've thought many times of stopping this blog because it often feels very self-centered sharing all things us and at the same time often feels discouraging realizing how uncultured I truly am and how hungry I am to learn from God and others. Countless women bless and encourage me to be a better wife and mom through their blogs. If this space might be a conduit of genuineness and encouragement, then I will continue to pour out lessons and blessings that have been given to us here at Tegen Central. In these posts I hope to better define why this blog exists...just to clarify for ourselves and for you.

Back in February Jason woke me up at 5 a.m. and rushed me out the door to a surprise. The blog top picture is from the sunrise we witnessed on a North Carolina mountain. It was beautiful and cold and a very memorable Valentine's present. But the view as we were leaving, this view, convicted me deeply. It spoke to me of how I live. I RARELY choose the hard road. Rarely love unconditionally when others are hard to love. Rarely choose to sacrifice to the point that I don't still get what I want. 


I so often choose the cross of beauty not the cross of suffering. 

I resist suffering like any other human being. But at some point I had hoped my spirit would overtake my flesh. After FIFTEEN years of walking earnestly with God, my flesh often still prevails and the fleeting, radiant glimpses I get of God's love only get reflected onto others as sprinkles of glitter instead of the full mirror I believe God intends. How is it I forget His unending love so quickly and turn it around so completely to judge others? That I offer lip service to suffering and resist when given the opportunity to suffer for His glory? When will the wooing of His love be stronger than the weakness of my flesh? It absolutely breaks my heart.

As we drove away I wrestled with mental pictures of daily dying to myself. I breathed deep the reality that all crosses are not crowned on the mountain top with the beauty of a sunrise. Many are in the valley where it's dark and lonely and excruciatingly painful. I stared down the reality and I gulped. Could it be that only God Himself, living in me, could produce such a change of character?

...Continued tomorrow.