Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mothers with Different Abilities - Intro

I'm excited to introduce a new series I will be running on my blog!  I will occasionally be sharing posts by guest bloggers about what it is like to parent with a disability.  The idea of these posts is twofold:  one, to show realistically what it is like to be a parent when one has a disability.  And two, to show that it is possible to parent well even though one has a disability.  The situations you will read about will vary greatly from one to another, but I think they are all worth sharing and I am looking forward to learning from them!

I already have some posts lined up ready to go, but if you are a parent with a disability, and you are interested in answering a bunch of questions I've compiled in order to help you write your story, and have it shared here, then please let me know in the comments and leave your email address.  (It does not have to be a major disability; it can be anything that adds extra challenges for you as a parent.)  Thanks!

Please come back soon to read Kara's story!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rough Day

Today was a rough day.  There seemed to be preggo bellies and adorable children everywhere.  (Usually I can stay home and ignore it but today I had to go run errands.)  In the doctor's waiting room there was a lady (I'm assuming the mom) reading stories with a little girl.  Part way through storytime, she put her on her lap, they exchanged sweet smooches, and went back to reading.  The craving inside of me was so strong I thought I was going to dissolve into sobs right there in the waiting room.  (It doesn't help that I'm in pms and everything seems worse.)  The annoying thing is I can't tell the difference between coveting and this engulfing pain that overwhelms when I imagine my life without a child.  Ah well.  Life has been super-super-stressful lately (for the last month, to be precise).  I guess the good thing that comes out of hard times is that God hears from me a lot as I seek answers from Him and cry out to Him.  And yet other times (did I mention pms?) He feels somewhat distant.  Anyway.  I just wanted to share - it was a rough day.  Thanks for listening.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

I am excited today to have a guest blogger and I am very excited to share what he has written for you all!  The following was written by my brother, Vic Reimer, who blogs over at What Path?.  He and his wife adopted their daughter (my precious niece!) from China just over 8 years ago, when she was almost 2.

The Love of God

What is the greatest love story ever told? No doubt you will tell of some love-stricken young couple who fell in love with each other! Yet, is that really all that great, considering that their love was reciprocal? Let me tell you of someone who loved their enemies with a self-sacrificial love...

Oh, some folks want to write off the account of Adam and Eve as a mere fairytale, but let me assure you, it's no fairytale – it is historical fact verified by science. So then, let us find out where the HEART OF GOD IS REALLY AT.

So going back to the beginning, let us explore those first critical puzzle pieces. Those that explain why things are the way they are in the world.

Now, the Word of God says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:1, 31) Further to this we read, “And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2:8) Later God would also bring Eve into this paradise we still mention today when referring to something exceptionally beautiful.

So we see that God is very interested in giving people all that they need and then so much more! God even took care of their emotional needs by creating companionship! God surrounded Adam and Eve with a PERFECT creation. There was no death, sorrow, crime, heartache, or anything bad – it was perfect. So what happened? What happened that things are the way they are today? Is there any remedy for this “run amuck” world?

The sad truth of the matter is that Eve believed the serpent – Satan, and Adam went along with the whole thing. This couple turned their back on their God who had done nothing but good for them. God had warned them, “You may surely eat of EVERY tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall surely DIE.” (Genesis 2:17) Quite plainly, Adam and Eve CHOSE to break off the relationship with God, though it was without cause.

God didn't want anyone to love Him with a robotic kind of love. He wanted a genuine love from the heart. Being an all-knowing God, this act of treason didn't take Him off guard, but it will have hurt God very deeply nonetheless. Now if this were a strictly human relationship, I think we know what would happen – God would come and “rip a strip off" of Adam and Eve! He would call them a bunch of nasty names, tell them how incredibly much He had done for them, and why would they go and believe some complete strangers ridiculous story anyway! Then He would storm out of the relationship! In fact, considering God's warning, they deserved so much more; they DESERVED DEATH! So how would God actually react to their defiant act?

This is the amazing part! God said, “I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he [the promised deliverer] shall bruise your head, and you [Satan] shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) In plain language, God was saying that someone would be born from Eve's lineage that would take the penalty of DEATH for THEIR sin, in order that the relationship could be RESTORED! How often, I ask, do you hear of the offended party initiating the reconciliation process? Much less, at strictly their own cost? Yet, that is just what God was doing! That, I have to say, is love like only the one true God could ever express!

Now, before we carry on and go into detail about this deliverer God promised, let us consider what is quite possibly the most striking picture given in our Bibles as to what this would look like. We will examine the account of Abraham, and His only son Isaac – God's promised child.

So just in case you're not familiar with Abraham and Sarah, let me give you a very brief overview. Abram (as he was called at the first) left his homeland to go to a place God had called him to along with his wife Sarai (as she was called at the first). As time progressed, it became very clear this couple could not have children. Now Abram was not exactly young by the time God promised him a child; he was 75 years old! Yet, Abram took God at His word and began to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait! Yes, 25 long years went by! Finally, at the age of 100 years, his promised son arrived! Oh what joy there was in this tent! Against all human possibility, God had granted them a son in their old age! God had kept His word – He always does.

However, God would put a seeming wrinkle in this, His promised child. (For God had promised that it would be through this child that all the nations of the Earth would be blessed.) God said, “Take your son, your ONLY SON Isaac, whom you LOVE, and go to the land of Moriah, and OFFER HIM THERE AS A BURNT OFFERING.” (Genesis 22:2) How could God ask such an awful thing! Why would He say such a cruel thing to an elderly gentleman? Why would He demand that Abraham give up his ONLY SON?

So just how would Abraham react to this request from God? Would he question God? Would he say, “Why would you be so merciless to me? Don't you know what this will do to my wife and I?” No, there would be no such murmurings from Abraham, but why not? Abraham had seen through some 100 years of his life that God was a God of infinite love. God had always been faithful. God had even proven Himself able to give them a child in their old age. The truth of the matter is, we don't even have to guess what he was thinking. For it is written, “He considered that God was able even to raise the dead.” (Hebrews 11:19) Wow! Never had such ever occurred! Yet, such was Abraham's faith in God!

So up went Abraham with Isaac his son to the mountain God had instructed them to go to. By now Isaac was no small boy. Yet there is no account of a struggle as he was bound, knowing full well what would happen to him. For he was all too familiar with animal sacrifices. He knew that he would DIE at his father's own hands. Yet, he had also heard his father say to the young men who had made the journey to the foot of the mountain, “I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” As well, his dad reassured him, “God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:5, 8) So surely, Isaac placed his trust in his dad, whom he knew to be a God-fearing man and trustworthy. No doubt, Isaac also believed, like his dad, that God could raise him back to life.

There on the mount, father and son were all alone. The dreaded moment had come. Abraham raised the instrument of DEATH into the air and tried to prepare his mind for the DEATH-dealing plunge. As he was just on the verge of sinking that knife into the very heart of his ONLY SON, a voice from heaven commanded him to stop. Father and son's hearts must have been beating hard, sweat of anxiety pouring down their faces. What now? God spoke, “Because you have done this and have not withheld your ONLY SON, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of the heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore...and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:16-18) “So Abraham returned to his young men.” (Genesis 22:19)

So, yes, God was true to His word. Abraham knew that God was trustworthy! Indeed, it is written, “He considered that God was able even to raise the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” (Hebrews 11:19)

Yet, there was a sacrifice on that altar. God had given a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. Therefore it was a perfect, unblemished sacrifice as spelled out in the law of God. However, it was not the “lamb” Abraham had mentioned.

So what do these things remind us of? They remind us of the Lord Jesus Christ who DIED upon the “altar” of the cross. So what does this all have to do about God's love, you ask? Ah, you see, just as Adam and Eve didn't deserve God's love, because they had offended God by their sin, so we have offended God by our sin. Because we belong to Adam's lineage, we are ALL born SINNERS. We are unable to save ourselves. For can a criminal pardon a criminal? Not a chance! Never mind a criminal attempting to pardon themselves! How utterly ridiculous a notion that is! So neither can a SINNER pardon another, much less themselves. Besides, God said, “The wages of sin is DEATH.” That means I would have to DIE for my own sins. Interesting, that is just what God says, “The soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20) Then too, “Without shedding of blood [death] there is no forgiveness [pardon] of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22) Indeed, the SINNER is left HELPLESS to save themselves – they are LOST. God says the SINNER will be PERMANENTLY separated from Him in the Lake of Fire – a place of unending torment.

You see, God spared both Abraham and Isaac the grief and horror of that sacrifice. Yet God the Father did not spare Himself the grief – neither His Son. For they too, and very likely on the same mount, had a sacrifice to offer. “For God so LOVED THE WORLD, that HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON...” (John 3:16) Yes, God the Father did not spare Himself the grief, but He gave up His ONLY SON to the altar of the cross – to DIE. Neither did God the Son resist, but willingly went, knowing all things that would occur to Him. He willingly laid down His life. Yet, He too, had full confidence in His Father that He would be raised back to life, and He was!

Yet, a very glaring question remains, WHY DID JESUS have to DIE??? Did He die for His own sins? No, Jesus was the spotless Son of God from eternity past. Why then did He DIE? He DIED to pay the wage for YOUR sin! Why would He do such a thing? God desired that you would be able to be RECONCILED to Him – to have the relationship RESTORED! Now, that is SACRIFICIAL LOVE!!!

So, even though the law revealed, like a mirror, that we were SINNERS. That it was an utter IMPOSSIBLITY for us to live up to the 100% perfection that God demanded from us. Yet, “God shows his LOVE to us in that WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, Christ DIED for US.” (Romans 5:8) And further, “While we were enemies we were RECONCILED to God by the DEATH of his Son.” (Romans 5:10)

You see, God the Father did not spare His ONLY SON, but dropped “the knife” of wrath upon Him, punishing Him for YOUR sin – all your sin – past, present, and future, in order that you wouldn't have to DIE and be eternally separated from God in the Lake of Fire for an eternity of torment! As it was said of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Now, this is the “Lamb” Abraham was talking about! No, all those Old Testament sacrifices could not take away sin, but this LAST LAMB would do just that!

So, I ask, would you do that for your “enemies”? God did. He did it for you! You didn't deserve it. Yet God LOVES YOU and extended His mercy to YOU! If that isn't love, than there isn't even such a thing as love!

So what's left for you to do? Nothing, except receive the free gift of salvation! The work's been done. Jesus said from the cross, “It is finished.” The sin-debts have been paid in full. Do you believe and acknowledge that you are a sinner? Do you believe Jesus paid YOUR sin-debt, taking all the wrath of God for all your sin – past, present, and future? Do you believe Jesus, being fully God and man, DIED INSTEAD OF YOU, so that you wouldn't have to DIE for your sins? Do you TRUST Him as YOUR own personal SAVIOR?

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever BELIEVES in him may have ETERNAL LIFE. For God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever BELIEVES in him should not perish but HAVE eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever BELIEVES in him is not condemned, but whoever does not BELIEVE is condemned already, because he has not BELIEVED in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:14-18)

“For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) Now that is the promise of God! We can count Him faithful, just like Abraham had faith in God!

The choice is yours.

Victor James Reimer

All Scripture taken from the ESV.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Motherhood Month - 14

Progress:  Today we have been waiting exactly 1 3/4 years since being approved.  It's been roughly just over 7 years since I first desired to become a mom.

How I'm Feeling:  I'm alright. 

Craving:  Food! would be good.  Yeah, I'll take pizza.

Thoughts About Our Future Child:  Praying for you.

Thoughts About Our Child's Expectant Mom:  Praying for you.

Most Recent Baby Purchase/Gift:  I bought my hubby these bibs for Christmas (he's a pilot).
Hubby bought me this bib for Christmas (I enjoy photography and have studied it).
Camera ) Bib ) Colors Available

This Month God:  Has been teaching me a lot!  The more time I spend in His Word (the Holy Bible) dwelling on truths, the more He is in my thoughts and I grow closer to Him.   

Monday, January 5, 2015

Summing up 2014...Looking Forward to 2015

To read my summing up 2012 post, click here.
To read my hopes for 2013, click here.
To read my summing up 2013 post, as well as my hopes for 2014, click here.

2014 did not have as many things happen in it as 2012 and 2013.  The biggest things that happened in our lives in 2014 were:
  1. We put our condo up for sale in March.   We looked at a few houses and made an offer on one which wasn't accepted.  Our condo was shown about 13 times with no offers.  We took our condo off the market at the end of June as it didn't seem like the right timing for us.  
  2. We reached one year of waiting.  We had not been shown at all.  We updated our adoption profile.
  3. We celebrated some big birthdays - my oldest niece's 15th, my mother-in-law's 55th, my mom's 65th, my brother's 40th, and my husband's 30th!
  4. I had a booth at a local fair getting word out about my business, Regal Gifts.
  5. Hubby & I went on an amazing camping trip from July 3-6.  Very relaxing and very beautiful scenery.
  6. I had a seizure, my seventh one but the last time I'd had one was almost 6 years ago; also my first one alone.  Caused us to rethink having children which was a very difficult time.  We prayed a lot, talked a lot, and cried a lot. We put in place some plans for babysitting in the early mornings and solidified a number of ways to keep Baby safe.  Having the seizure alone ended up showing me that it is possible to be alone during one and be okay.
  7. Hubby had 5 dentist appointments from Oct-Dec with another one coming up this month.  Ouch!
  8. We found out we had been shown 3 times in the six months since updating our profile in Spring!
  9. I had a booth at a local Christmas craft & trade show for Regal.  This one did a lot better, and it was indoors so we didn't get rained out like last time!
  10. And, Hubby's brother found and met members of his birth family! 
So, now it is 2015, which I find hard to believe!  How the time flies.  And yet how it drags, too!  Of course it's impossible to predict what will happen in 2015.  Perhaps Christ will come back and take His people home -- who knows!  But here is what I'm looking forward to in 2015 if it is His will:
  1. Celebrating more big birthdays in our families - my youngest niece just turned 10 three days ago, my oldest niece will be turning 16 soon and getting her driver's (!!!!), my sister-in-law will be having her 40th soon, and at the end of the year Hubby's brother will be having his 25th!
  2. Hubby & I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary!!
  3. We'll hit the 2-year mark of waiting and update our profile again, assuming we aren't parents by then. 
  4. We are planning for and hope to go away on a vacation for our anniversary :)  Unless we're parents by then, that is.
  5. We're planning on going back to the same wonderful campground as last year, this time with Hubby's extended family.
  6. We may or may not put our condo up for sale again.
  7. I haven't really thought beyond that!  I hope to stay seizure-free, of course, and beat my record of 5 years + 9 months.  I'm aiming for forever ;)  I hope that God answers our prayers for all the people we pray for.  I am excited to see what He will do in 2015!  His plans are always best!    
I hope you had a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Incomplete Family at Christmastime

Christmas is not necessarily a happy time for all of us.  I am not saying the whole season is terrible for me.  I definitely enjoy the majority of it!  But as we go through this waiting-to-adopt time, and as God grows a sensitivity in me toward others and their individual situations, I am starting to see that there is pain involved in holidays, too.

As I go Christmas shopping and to all the gatherings and parties, and just in general interact with more people than I usually do, this year I am going to try to be more sensitive with my "Merry Christmas!"es.  I would encourage you to do the same; think and pray carefully before writing the same greeting in each Christmas card.

I also think there is some validity in what I heard somewhere recently:  it's more painful to have your painful situation ignored than acknowledged.  So maybe instead of writing "May you and your family have a happy Christmas!", write "This Christmas must be tough for you.  You're in my thoughts & prayers."  (I haven't lost any loved ones very close to me, so if you have other thoughts on this topic, please feel free to leave a comment.)

There are such a wide variety of painful or confusing situations that people may be going through this Christmas, including but not limited to:  (Please forgive me if in anyway I have not worded these sensitively.)
  • having lost a loved one, including miscarriage or stillbirth
  • divorce, separation, marriage difficulties
  • infertility
  • loved one working/living far away and can't come home for Christmas
  • empty arms while waiting to adopt
  • loved one hospitalized, or you yourself hospitalized
  • single
  • you or loved one has cancer or other disease
  • family tensions and unforgiveness
  • financial problems
  • spiritual struggles; trying to figure out what you believe
  • trying to find your birth family or have recently reconnected with them  
  • job issues
As my mother-in-law once told me, you never know what someone's going through.  That is so true.  Behind people's tough demeanor, or calm face, or cheery attitude, everybody has a story.  We don't necessarily need to know what that story is, but I think everyone does deserve our sensitivity.  Especially during the holidays when emotions can be so fragile.

It's been interesting this Christmas season for me as this topic has been on my mind and heart.  The other day I was in a grocery store and I saw a lady busily shopping whose husband had passed away a year or two ago.  Another lady who knew her and her situation came up to her, put a hand on her shoulder, and kindly said "Merry Christmas.  Have a good one."  The first lady turned to continue her shopping and I saw that her face now looked bewildered.  I was left wondering how she felt -- hurt that she was told to have a good Christmas even though her husband was gone?  -- or blessed that the lady didn't cheerfully smile a "Merry Christmas!!" as if everything was fine?  I don't know.  Maybe she didn't even know herself.

For me personally, I find that I appreciate acknowledgement of the pain we feel, in not being parents yet.  Don't get me wrong, no one wants to be felt sorry for!  But thought (like not giving us the card that says "from our family to yours!"), kindness, and acknowledgment is always nice.  Keep your words genuine, gentle - and brief.  No one wants to cry at a gathering after all, lol!

At the same grocery store, same day, we were stopped by a lady we know and asked how things were progressing with our adoption.  I always appreciate it when people ask because it shows they care.  But I was rather surprised at how down I felt afterward.  And it is because of the Christmas season.  It is another Christmas without our baby.  Christmas is a time of family.  And lots of people feel their families are incomplete -- they are still single, or a family member has passed away, or their womb is empty, or their arms are empty, or they are separated from their spouse, or they don't live near their family, or fights have separated them from their parents, or a parent has lost their memory, or they have placed their child for adoption, etc -- and at Christmastime this incomplete feeling is often very much amplified.

I don't have much of a conclusion.  Perhaps, I hope you come away from reading this with a new awareness of what others might be going through, and a new sensitivity towards others when you interact with them this holiday season.  I also hope you feel your personal pain has been acknowledged.  Christmas is tough.  And I honestly think that's okay sometimes.  Not that it's okay to feel sorry for yourself, but neither do you need to be tough and ignore the pain and put on a false cheeriness.  If someone is kind enough to say to you "This Christmas must be tough for you" there is nothing wrong with simply saying "Thank-you, yes it is.  I appreciate your thinking of me."

I also hope that whether we are the comforter or the one in pain, or most likely both, that we deliberately take the time to be thankful for -- to use a cliche -- the Reason for the season.  Have you ever stopped to think about it that Jesus' earthly father was not His birth father?  And that when Jesus was crucified, His Father rejected Him?  (He rejected Him because all our sin was on Him.  The wages of sin is death and Jesus paid for our sin so we would not have to.)  Jesus understands pain.

He is also our comforter.  When nobody else understands how I feel, He does.  And that is already a big comfort to me just by itself.  

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."  2 Corinthians 1:3-4    

Monday, December 15, 2014

Doubts and Truth

Every five weeks, for roughly a ten day stretch, I am an emotional, mental, and physical wreck.  Most women are, to a greater or lesser extent.  I fall into the "greater extent" category!  During this time, I doubt everything.  I doubt that my husband loves me.  I doubt that we will ever get matched, and assume that no expectant parents would ever like us.  I doubt that I am saved, or at the least I question what I believe.  I doubt that I will ever feel "normal" again, and assume that something is wrong with me.  Amongst many other things, during this time my brain is filled with fog, I do not like myself, everybody makes me irritable, and problems seem insurmountable.

Of course, once a certain "Aunt" shows up to visit, my whole world settles itself back on it's axis.  I regain my equilibrium and everything calms down again.  My husband loves me (he did all along).  Odds are we'll get matched one day, if it's God's will, and I'm content with that (usually).  I am saved (I was all along) and I know what I believe (usually).  I feel normal (my own unique version of normal, anyway!) and know that nothing was seriously wrong.  I realize I'm not ugly (whodda thunk?!), people are enjoyable (most of them), and I feel able to tackle problems (which were never that huge).

But time passes and I know that after a certain length of time I will once again be a trainwreck.  I have learned various ways of coping.  (No, medication is not one of them.  I have been down that long, dark road before and will never step foot onto it again.)  One is simply being aware of what day I am on so I can be prepared, knowing what to expect when.  Letting Hubby know where I'm at is helpful, too, so he can be prepared!  Another is fewer commitments during that time, and planning simpler meals - in advance.

But one of the things that has helped very much is facts.  Logic.  Thinking like a man, lol.  A man has a very hard time comprehending that, to a woman, what she is feeling feels like it IS factual!  That her feelings are incredibly REAL.  That these feelings do not seem "illogical" as many men like to state.  A wise man will comfort his wife when she is feeling all sorts of tumultuous feelings that are very real to her, without correcting her and telling her "that's not the way it really is".  A wise woman will accept his comfort, lol!  But as I was saying, I have found that when doubts assail me, telling myself facts is the way to go.

I like logic.  Facts.  Truth.  Solid things that don't change.  The more unsteady my life is, the more I like stability!  Christ's love for me doesn't change.  His salvation of me is secure - nothing I do or don't do will change that.  Usually I am not the hugest advocate for Scripture memorization because I have a very poor memory, but knowing some pertinent Bible verses that I can tell myself in times of doubt really does help.  And God's Word is solid truth that doesn't change!  Very reassuring when everything feels unsteady.

The other day I read Psalm chapter 3.  I read it along with John MacArthur's notes (he has very good notes as long as one ignores the Calvinism).  Here is the psalm, written by David when he fled, fearing for his life:

O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God.
But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and He answered me from His holy hill.
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For You strike all my enemies on the cheek;
You break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
Your blessing be on Your people!   

For me, my enemies are my doubts.  During rough times, they are many, rising against me, and saying to my soul: "there is no salvation for you in God".  BUT God, praise His name, is a shield about me, protecting me, not allowing those doubts to be true.  I cry aloud to Him, and He answers me.  Usually doubts assail me the worst at night.  But here Scripture says I can lie down and sleep and wake again and do not need to be afraid because the Lord sustains me!  He saves me, fighting for me against my enemies - those wicked doubts.  Salvation belongs to God and He has blessed me!  Praise His holy name!