Thursday, August 28, 2014

tonight's the night...

(eek!)  Tonight's the night!

I know, I know.  After doing this for 14 years, you'd think we wouldn't still get nervous.

But tonight's the first RUF large group meeting of the fall semester!  And it's the first-EVER on Liberty's campus!  Get excited- we're making history, people!

 We've met a ton of students through student orientation fairs and Liberty's block party last weekend.
RUF has just reached a "club" status on campus, so that gives us greater access to and a greater presence in the university.
 Last weekend, students we'd never met before enjoyed our game of "giant Jenga"... well as some Spike Ball and Kan Jam.  (it's okay, I'd never heard of those games, either!...)
The pancake breakfast last weekend was also a success.  New faces connected with old faces.

(Funny tidbit-- We actually wondered why attendance was a bit lower than we had expected, and come to find out, the night before the breakfast had been Liberty's all-night-of-prayer event!  Yep.  You heard that right.  Most college students might miss a breakfast because they were out all night partying.   Ours miss it because they were out all night PRAYING...ha!  More power to ya, guys... I enjoyed my sleep!)

Nevertheless, it was still a success and we had the BEST pancake makers ever.
I mean, the BEST of the BEST.
Until now, everything has been leading up to tonight's first meeting, where Marc will begin a sermon series on Thursdays through Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

Liberty students hear ALOT of sermons, y'all.  Pray that this one from Jesus Himself (recorded in the Bible, not Marc, ha ha) would truly be life-changing.

People wonder why we would have RUF at a Christian university like Liberty.  And the answer is easy:

We seek for RUF to be both a rest stop for tired Christians and a safe place for skeptics.

At Liberty University, there's a whole lot of tired Christians.  They're burned out from all the rah-rah, if you know what I mean.  And believe it or not, there's a lot of skeptics, too.  (though many would be too scared to verbalize that)

The Gospel isn't just an invitation for non-Christians.  It's for the believer and skeptic alike.  

I need the Gospel everyday, just as much as an unbeliever.

I need to hear it every Sunday at church, not just when we're having some kind of special "outreach" service.

The Gospel is for the tired Christian like me, who needs to be reminded that it's not my righteousness that saves me or my continual struggle with sin that keeps condemning me, but as I trust in Him, Christ's righteousness has been freely and lavishly poured out upon this undeserving wretch, once and for all.

It's in truly grasping this Gospel of grace that I am freed to go forth to serve and love others, offering them the same grace and forgiveness that has been shown to me.

How can that message not be needed at a Christian university that prides itself on its strict code of student conduct and busy activity schedule?

Pray that RUF might truly be that rest stop tonight.

Pray that the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the Gospel, would stop students from the rat race of Christian behavior-ism, and instead capture their hearts in such a way that grace and mercy would naturally ooze out into their relationships.

Pray that skeptics would feel safe to come and consider the words of Jesus without worry of manipulation.

Pray that deep, rich, and true community would begin to be built among our group even tonight.

Pray that RUF will continue to be a place where students don't have to pretend to have it all together or be "super-Christians."

Tonight's the night, you guys.


Monday, August 25, 2014

words from the heart...

1st grade, folks.  1st grade.

We're in the big leagues now...

 While Jameson's busy with his batting practice, my Caroline is almost always busy writing, drawing, and reading.  (Is it any surprise that language is her thing?)

As you read in her first two blog posts, this little gal looooves to express herself through words.   (wonder where she gets that from...)  As a mom, I feel like I grow to understand her more as I can see her heart expressed in her writing.

Typing out messages and stories is what Caroline does best, and I've collected a few of the most recent to share with you.
Nothing beats this one.  Nothing.

(you can click on the picture to make it larger)

I think I like the "thank you for paying like 900,00 dollars for Jameson" part the best.  (ha ha!)

 I love her heart as a big sister in this one.
 I found this particular card in her room the day after we prayed for the situation in Iraq.
Doesn't it sound like a psalm, crying out for mercy and justice to the Lord?
These were on my nightstand after her first day of school last week.  I get the feeling she likes first grade.

 (by the way, Mamie, she loved the beautiful backpack with her initials on it.  Thank you!!)
There are hardly enough words to say how much I love this gal.  

I'm so thankful I paid like 900,00 dollars for her, too.  ;)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

swing batter batter swing!...

Last week I told you guys how this kid is into baseball.

And since then, it's not slowed down one bit.

From morning 'til night, he's engaged in batting practice.

Anything and everything becomes a bat.

Like a vacuum attachment.

(and I'd say his stance is pretty good, too, eh?  We've never shown him a thing about it- he just studied the ball players at the baseball game that intensely.)

And swiiiinnnnnggg!
This is the scene in our house.  Like all. the. time.

Jameson asks us to pitch.  "Baahh!" he says super loud to let us know he wants to play ball.

Caroline tinkers away on the piano.  That girl has an amazing ear for melodies.

Batting with a wooden spatula at bedtime.
Batting with a toy violin, why, of course.

And here's one minute of "batting practice" with a... ruler, I think?

Sign this guy up for tee-ball now!  :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

ministry in the mundane...

It's that crazy time of year again when thousands upon thousands of college students return to our small town.  When you're in campus ministry, that means things are very exciting but also very stressful around your world!

There's always alot of "hype" this time of year, alot of anticipation for the new year ahead.  Freshmen are seeking to find their way around a new, scary place, away from their families for the first time.  Returning students are reuniting with one another, meeting new folks, and wondering how they'll balance their school load with their social calendar.

Liberty University, where our campus ministry (R.U.F. Lynchburg) will be meeting this year, prides themselves in being "the world's most exciting university."  I mean, they offer a year-round ski slope, miles of bike trails, and umpteen million events, Christian concerts, and things to do that would keep any homesick freshman distracted with all the busy-ness!  There's always a fresh, new excitement around campus about the next latest and greatest thing around the corner!

As a campus ministry, we, too, feel the excitement, and it's in these first few weeks of the semester that we seek the hardest to make connections with students.  We attend Freshmen Welcome Fairs, we pass out RUF stadium cups, we have a pancake breakfast, we meet new students one-on-one and have them to our house.  Students are in the business of figuring out where they'll "belong," and we certainly want RUF to be a community for them.

But what's funny to me is that around RUF, we aren't necessarily seeking to be the "world's most exciting campus ministry."  We'll probably stand in quite a sharp contrast to what the students are experiencing at LU.  There will be no stage, no amplified band, no fog machines, no high-powered speaker to the thousands.  No one will manipulate them to walk down an aisle, or raise a hand.  (There's obviously nothing inherently wrong with those things, and God uses all types of formats to bring His children to Himself!)

But a new freshman might feasibly come to RUF for the first time next week and think we look a little too, well.... normal.

What students will find in RUF may not be exciting, but it'll certainly be refreshing.  They'll find simplicity, and honesty.  A relatively small group (50-100 people) that will only impress you with our realness and our desire to glorify God and love others.  We'll be belting out hymns and praise choruses to the Lord with a couple of acoustic guitars, and we'll be led through the Sermon on the Mount each week by Marc.  We'll turn around in our chairs and discuss implications of the Scriptures for our lives in small groups.  We'll be pointed to Christ, and challenged to consider His claims.

Nothing flashy.  But radical, nonetheless.

It's not just in the hype and the "mountaintop experiences" when our hearts and lives are transformed, is it?

It's in those everyday, mundane places in life that our hearts need to hear from the refreshment of God's word.

It's when the music stops, and the lights go out, and we're stuck in a tiny dorm room with a person that we cannot STAND(!) that we need to see how the Gospel applies to every square inch of our lives.

It's when we're caught in the middle of addictions, or under the weight of unrelenting depression and anxiety, or feel so lonely in a huge crowd of people that we need to know we're not alone.

It's when the world feels as though it's falling apart and we're burned out with a superficial Christianity we see all around us that we want a safe place to rest and consider what Jesus truly had to say.

That's where RUF really kicks in.  In the very real, NORMAL places where our theology and our lives intersect every day.

Last weekend, we enjoyed a downtown retreat with our RUF student ministry team, where we planned and prayed for the upcoming semester.  And we'd like to ask for your prayers.

 Would you pray for this team of students, and for Marc and Callie as they serve alongside them?

Pray that they would be genuinely welcoming to new students.

Pray that they would find time to invest into others and be intentional doing so.  Pray that God would use each of them in relationships to mature, teach, encourage, lovingly rebuke, and serve.

Pray that God will use their time on RUF's ministry team to grow them personally and equip them to serve wherever God calls them in their future.

Pray for the upcoming semester.  That God would use something as mundane as a pancake breakfast this Saturday, for instance, to bring His sons or daughters into our ministry.

Pray that the teaching through God's word would be life-changing.  Pray that many would get ahold of the Gospel (yes, even at a Christian university) for the first time and experience the freedom that comes with that.  Pray that they wouldn't lean upon their own righteousness, but that of Christ's alone.

Pray for Marc and Callie, that they would be able to raise the funds they both need to sustain this ministry in Lynchburg and stay on campus.  (think of us as missionaries to our own culture...we have to raise all of the money for our salary, insurance, and ministry expenses each year, so we are always in need of more folks to join our support team!)

Pray for our family, that we would balance family time with ministry time (and figure out what that even means to begin with!).

But above all things, pray first that we would LOVE as He loved us.   
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.... John 13:35

Here's to a new semester!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ending the silence...

Okay.  Enough.  I have to write.

So much has been written far more eloquently than anything I could ever say, but I guess that doesn't mean I should stay silent.

Are you watching the events unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri, after an 18-year old black kid was gunned down by police ten days ago?

Is your heart breaking along with mine at the sad, sad state of our country?  Police in army tanks and riot gear, pointing rifles and shooting tear gas?

It's so hard to form words.  It's hard to watch.

It's so broken.  It's so messed up.   There is so much injustice, and I even get the feeling that alot of  people don't even care.

As awful as it is that Mike Brown is dead, it's not why people in Ferguson and all over the country are so angry.  Mike Brown is not the reason moms of black boys everywhere are afraid and heavy-hearted.

Mike Brown is yet another death, another name, in a long string of unjust deaths of black men at the hands of white fear.  EVEN IF the killing of Mike Brown somehow turns out to be justified upon investigation, just go with me for a minute.

Because it's the Trayvon Martin's we hear about, and it's the thousands of other stories we don't.  Just two days after Mike Brown was killed, a man named Ezell Ford was shot by Los Angeles police and in Ohio, John Crawford was killed in Walmart WHILE HOLDING A TOY RIFLE.

Did you catch that?  He was holding a TOY RIFLE in a toy aisle.  What about that deserved DEATH?  

Ferguson isn't an isolated event.  It's a tipping point.  It's a people who, for decades, have daily experienced a world VASTLY different from mine.  It's a group of people that, not too long ago, were enslaved, owned, and not considered to be HUMANS.  It's a group of people that are currently arrested and incarcerated, beaten and murdered by those who are supposed to "serve and protect" them at staggering proportions.  It's a people who are tired of enduring this oppression with no sign of justice in sight.  

And I honestly can't say that I blame them.

(Now, obviously, I'm not advocating or excusing lawlessness as a response, and neither is most of the black community in Ferguson, for that matter.  The civil rights movement was advanced the most when the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. taught blacks to be nonviolent, to turn the other cheek as Christ did, and to fight injustice with love.)

But there is reason to be angry.  There is a time for crying out and lamenting injustice.  May I be so bold to suggest that those who can't empathize with the reactions of anger in Ferguson have little to no understanding of life from the African-American experience.  

White mothers don't have clerks follow their sons in stores.  White mothers don't have to prepare their sons for the day they are frisked by the police because they look suspicious.  Women will not clutch their purses more tightly in fear when they see white sons.   (A Mother's White Privilege was a well-written post about this.)

Y'all.  I can't even IMAGINE a cop pulling up behind me and yelling, "Get the %*@# off the street!"  Umm, are you kidding me?  He'd never get away with that in a white neighborhood.   He knows he'd be reported and disciplined, and that the powers-that-be would likely believe me and take action.  Why do they think they can get away with that treatment in a black neighborhood?  Even from the initial encounter with Mike Brown, life was devalued by the one who was supposedly there to protect it.  

(That's the reality of white privilege, which sadly, many in our country refuse to acknowledge.  But whether or not you acknowledge it doesn't mean it's not there.  In our country, it simply is what it is.   If you're white, you have advantages that you don't even see or realize, because you've never had to see or realize them.  The Christian knows we are all beautifully made in the image of God.  Diversity was His glorious idea to begin with.  So the one who loves what He loves also loves those He made and loves as well.  And since I can't do much to change my country's history of white privilege on a grand scale, the question to those of us with this privilege becomes, how might we use our privilege, as unfair as it may be, to love and benefit those who don't have it?)

I was taught that cops are good.  They go after the bad guys.  They protect us.  They help us.  In black America, cops are the ones who mistreat us and fear us.  They're the ones who come and take away our daddies in their cars.  They're the ones who shoot us if we're not careful. 

(another thought-provoking post: In Which I Have a Few Things to Tell You About #Ferguson)

Much of white culture wants to think we are colorblind, living in a post-racist society where white privilege doesn't exist.  I'd still believe that if I hadn't crossed paths with and learned from so many minorities.  What dream world are they living in?  Isn't Ferguson showing us otherwise?

Obviously, this all brings up larger, more personal issues for me.  It hits close to home.  As a mama of a son with brown skin, it gives me deep concerns about his future.  (Read The Gospel Coalition's post from a black parent's perspective: Coming (Back) to America: My One Fear.  So powerful.)

What will become of Ferguson?  What lies in the future for my son?

Heaven help this white mama.

Heaven help us all.

"To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, do not refuse to hear me...hear the voice of my supplications, as I cry to you for help.. do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who are workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors, while mischief is in their hearts.  Repay them according to their work, and according to the evil of their deeds.  Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard the sound of my pleadings.  The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.  O save your people, and bless your heritage; be their shepherd, and carry them forever."  Psalm 28


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks...

When it's normal to watch your one-year-old transform toy violin bows, fly swatters, and old curtain rods into baseball bats, you know it's about time to get yourselves to a baseball game and let him see the real deal.

 Fortunately our little town has a minor league team that makes a fun family outing possible.  (and it was free ballcap night, too!)

Now, between the six-year-old and the one-year-old, which one would you expect to entertain?

Yep.  This girl.

All the snowcones and free t-shirts in the world couldn't keep her from getting bored and ready to leave.

Meanwhile, this guy was riveted.

I mean, RIVETED.

I'm not even kidding.  The kid was motionless for innings on end. 


Like, he didn't even care to be with our family, he was that into watching the game himself.

Just look at the twinkle in this kid's eye last year (8 months old!) at the baseball game...

Hold onto your hat, Mama, because there's sure to be some sports in your future!
And who knows, it just might be this one.

Monday, August 11, 2014

hands of love #25...

It's been a year and a half since our last "Hands of Love," can you believe it?

These posts started, of course, when we were trying nutritional therapy to see if it might help Caroline's hairloss before we knew she simply had alopecia.  (which requires no special diet)  Crazy enough, that's also how we discovered Marc's sensitivities to gluten.

We're still cooking gluten free around here for Marc's sake.  After 3+ years, cooking gf has become old hat.

People sometimes think gluten free = healthy, and that's not necessarily the case.  You can eat just as much junk on a gluten free diet, and just because it doesn't have wheat in it doesn't mean it's going to help you feel better or lose weight like some fad dieters want to believe.   I think the key to feeling good and boosting your immune system is to eat and cook with as many REAL, whole foods that occur in their natural state and haven't been processed.

With our move downtown and traveling this summer, our family's eating has been less-than-stellar, to say the least.  My kids only seem to want carbs (as do I!), and I'm tired of it.  It was time to find some carb-free recipes (that didn't taste carb-free, you know?) that I could add into our rotation in order to increase the amount of vegetables we consume.

Here are a few worth sharing!

1.  Chicken enchilada stuffed zucchini boats.  Sound weird?  Maybe.  But instead of a tortilla, there's a zucchini to eat in its place. And though it wasn't my favorite meal of all time, it was pretty good!  Here's the recipe I used.  (save time by skipping the make-your-own-sauce part--- unless you're into that sort of thing--- and just buy the canned enchilada sauce)  

Caroline only ate the inside filling part (which also had zucchini in it!), and Jameson chowed down the whole thing.   This week I'm trying an italian stuffed zucchini boat- we'll see if that goes over any better...

If you're going to try any of these recipes, though, THIS is the one to make!!!

2.  Vietnamese Cauli-Fried Rice.  Get the recipe here.  (again, don't worry about making the extra sauce part, just make the fried rice dish)  Cauliflower fried rice, people.  That is where it's AT.  You won't even miss the carbs.

Of course I didn't tell the kids this was cauliflower and not rice.  I just served it and watched them pig out.  Caroline said between bites, "Mom, this rice is SO good!  Is it quinoa?"  

"No, it's not quinoa," I answered, pretty dang proud of myself.  "Do you want to know what it is?"

"Yeah, what is it?"

"It's actually cauliflower!" I was so giggly and beside myself, if only I had waited until after she had finished it.  

She set her fork down.  "Ewww, it's gross.  I can't eat that."  (ha ha ha!!)

 Another carb-free option we made were lettuce-wrap tacos.  I've never tried a lettuce wrap, nor have I had the desire to try one.  Gluten free people, this is where I have felt so sorry for you as I watch you roll up your hamburger patties in LETTUCE.  In my book, lettuce is NEVER to be a substitute for bread...

Maybe that was why I gave the kids the option of the lettuce wrap.  (aaaaand they opted for tortillas, of course)

But surprisingly, it wasn't too bad!, especially with a big ol' heaping of homemade guacamole dumped on top.  :)

Of course the easiest, quintessential carb-free meal is to make spaghetti and substitute the noodles for spaghetti squash noodles.  In all of these options (except for the cauliflower rice), I'd say you've gotta be pretty committed to eating healthy, because we all know there is just no comparison between the taste of a squash vs. real pasta.

An oven-baked frittata (aka crustless quiche) was a super easy carb-free lunch one day.   Here's an easy recipe that you can adapt for whatever's left in your fridge.  (I think I used chopped spinach, leftover sausage and cheese)  Serve it with a small side salad, bacon, fruit, whatever!

There you go.  Made for my sweet family with hands of love, in hopes that a few more veggies will be consumed...  hope you enjoy!

Friday, August 8, 2014

big talker...

Jameson's doing alot of serious "talking" these days... maybe one day we'll actually understand what he's saying!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

six year old guest blogger #2...

Well, I don't know what could possibly top Caroline's first blog post, but she's back in the blogging saddle again, ready to tell you all about one of our little city's most beautiful and historical gems, Old City Cemetery.

We took the kids there last night for a mini photo shoot, and I wasn't the only one busy snapping pictures.  :)

This girl is my CONSTANT reader and writer.  Language is (and has always been) her thing.  She's now beginning chapter books by herself (!!) and there's nothing she likes more than typing out (or writing down) her thoughts.  For instance, instead of acting things out with dolls, she'll go to markers & paper and draw out the scene she's thinking about and write what the characters are saying.  She's amazing.

I'll share my pics with you soon, but without further ado...

here's Caroline, the six-year old guest blogger.

Hi, Everyone!  I went to the Cemetery place and I loved it. One time, me and my Dad were taking the car to the car fixing shop and when we were walking back Dad saw the Cemetery and he said "Caroline, do you want to see the Old City Cemetery?" and i said "Yes! I would love to see the Old City Cemetery!" and there is dead people there too, Yucky! Well, you couldn't see the dead people.   
The Cemetery center is not just a place where dead people are. The Cemetery is a place where you learn about stuff about the Civil war.  I really liked seeing the Cemetery.

I took this picture of this bullfrog and whenever it croaked Jameson my little brother ran over to me and clinged onto my leg's and was SO scared of it's noise.  And there were 4 bullfrog's but 1 jumped into the water and we never saw him again. The other 3 stayed right where they stood and never moved a inch or a foot. 

it's noise scared me a little bit too. I heard this fidgeting and jumping underwater and i was SO SO SO scared, i didn't even figure out what that Crazy thingy was.
Maybe that fidgeting and jumping thingy was ANOTHER bullfrog, so then that would be 5 bullfrog's. Except that 1 jumped in the water and never came up. i think it died when it jumped in the water.

This picture is cloudy but you can see 1 yellowy thing and 1 orangey thing. Those things are fish. They are almost everywhere in the pond. they are called Goldfish. They're not EVERYWHERE in the pond. i was just trying to explain what the fish were. 

And i found the King fish. This photo NEED'S to get you ready and set for more pictures. Am I Crazy? I don't really think so. HaHa! Maybe the King fish was a Queen fish.  Mommy sometimes say's "i think you should start thinking about posting a new blog now." And when it's time to post another one I am SO happy to tell you guy's about my adventure's I've had.

This is the telegraph place. The telegraph place was a long time ago building.   Look very closely near the sun that's really bright.  Can you see something black? Near the gate  or you could call it a fence? that's a long time ago built wagon. and you can barely see the sign that say's: "Stapleton".  

 I have a story that's called: "Happy Birthday, Addy!" and Addy grew up in the Civil War.  And one time I read something that a MEAN white person said and he said this: "EVERY BLACK PERSON GET OFF, NOW! OR I'LL THROW YOU DOWN TOO!" I don't know if he said "OR I'LL THROW YOU DOWN TOO!" Addy's BEST friend Sarah was with her when that MEAN guy said "EVERY BLACK PERSON GET OFF, NOW! OR I'LL THROW YOU DOWN TOO!" And I didn't tell you they (Addy and Sarah) were on a street-car. And when they rode back that's what happened. Well, they were finished with that (good drug store) and the guy that owned it answered a white lady before Addy and Sarah. and when it was their turn the guy said "what do you want?" in a stern voice. that's what happened when Addy and Sarah were alive.

 This photo say's "JEREMIAH CORBETT" and he was a Civil War soldier who died in the Civil War. Was he related to our family, mom? Cause' i don't know yet.
I wish I could of gotten to see Jeremiah Corbett. He even lived in North Carolina, which is where our family is from. (my parent's say that.) (probably still would!)

There is a pest house that tells you the story of some of the Civil War stuff. And there's another pest house that is a hospital that helped people in the Civil War, and why they closed it is because it stinked in there SO bad and it probably smelled like Blood, gross!  And there were mice and rats and i'm so glad that they definitely closed down that hospital when it stinked. i do not know why it put's a red line on stinked. Ughhhhhh! Tired of it.
This is the picture of the HUGE tree swing.   I can't take a whole picture of it, it's SO big.
Under this, guys, is a picture of me on the tree swing.
I am swinging on our... Old Cemetery Center swing.
Mom just said something Crazy Crazy CRAZY! Am I
CrAzY? i don't think so.  Do you like me in my:
New Sun-Hat,
Pink and Green dress,
Pink shoes,
And Wig?
I've had so much fun and I cannot WAIT to talk to you again!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

when plan B becomes plan A...

Our local adoption agency asked us again to speak on transracial adoption at their adoption training weekend for prospective couples.  This morning, we had the great privilege to share our story and advice with 12 prospective adoptive couples.

It's still so surreal to think of myself speaking on transracial adoption!  I mean, when I was sitting in their place as a trainee just 2 1/2 years ago, I never dreamed I'd be the mother of a half-Haitian, half-African American son.

It's incredible to look back at the journey, both in adopting Jameson and Caroline.

To see how powerfully God has moved in our family.

And how ultimately, it was His plan that was better than ours.

It's in remembering our stories our faith is strengthened.  We need to share them again and again.  It's in hearing the stories of others who have gone before us and seen God's hand at work that give us hope for the future, too.

My heart simultaneously breaks and hopes for these couples.   Many of them never thought they'd be sitting in an adoption training.  Adoption wasn't necessarily their Plan "A."

And signing up to adopt is certainly NO cake walk, either.

Do these couples know they're perhaps getting on a bigger rollercoaster than the infertility one?  With higher highs and plunging lows, more twists and turns?  Who knows what lies ahead for them, and what child God might bring to their family.  The waiting and the uncertainty is undeniably difficult and emotionally draining.

We began to share our own rollercoaster story with adoption this morning, and I saw tears fall upon the cheeks of several women.

They know.  They've been there, too.

But their "happy ending" hasn't yet happened.

Their Caroline and Jameson have not yet come, and they cry out to God Himself and plead with Him for a child.  All weekend they listen to others' stories, wondering if He has a happily-ever-after in store for them someday, too.

I hope for them.  Though their journeys have already included pain, many of their lives are about to be rocked in a beautiful way.  They are on their way to experiencing one of life's greatest joys and simultaneously one of life's greatest hardships.  Many of them are childless, and they have NO idea what they're signing up for!  Oh, if only adoption was the hardest part of the process!  But alas... a lifetime of PARENTING will be waiting for them around the corner.  :)

I can't help but look at them and think about how meanwhile, there will be another group of young ladies who will find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy situation.  They won't be experiencing their own plan "A's" for their lives, either.  They, too, will cry out to the Lord for wisdom, for strength, for mercy.  They will wonder what God is doing in these dark chapters of their own story.

And then, in some crazy miracle of providence, these lives will intersect.  Birthmother and adoptive couple will unite around a child.  Redemption will be brought forth from tragedy.  Hope will be born from despair.  Family will become more about love, about commitment, than about shared blood or DNA.

One day, these couples in training will hold another's baby as their own.  They'll forever be thankful to the woman who chose life so they could receive the honor of being called Mom and Dad.

I hope for these couples, and I'm eager for the day they'll soon be telling their own stories of God's amazing hand.