The Ocean, Snorkeling and Adoption

Kayla at the ocean.

Kayla at the ocean.

To me, the ocean feels like paradox.  It is beauty and it is terror.  It excites me and causes me intense anxiety simultaneously.  It beckons me to come and it warns me to stay away.

My husband Doug, on the other hand, has a love affair with the ocean.  Once, when he came home from a day of body-surfing in the Pacific, he told me he had felt that he had been in the womb of God.  Perhaps it excites and terrifies him too, but he seems more comfortable with mystery than I am.

For our 10th Anniversary (in 2007), Doug’s parents sent us on a trip to Hawaii with his sister and her husband.  His beautiful sister, Danna, was pregnant with her second baby, and we were getting close to completing the paperwork to adopt our second baby.  We had no idea what was to come that year, but God gave me an incredible experience in the ocean that I feel compelled to share with you today.

In fact, at the time I penned this journal entry, our Kayla Joy was in the womb of her birth mother.  God was at work, knitting her together, even as I pondered when I would have the joy of bringing our long-awaited second child home to my arms, to my heart, where she belonged.

So here it is, taken from my journal in January, 2007:

“I snorkeled today.  I ventured out into that wild ocean, and with Doug’s help and instruction and presence, I was able to experience an incredible view of creation, something I would have missed if I had refused to face my fear.

I saw reef in shades of blue, green, coral.  I saw fish that were bright yellow, deep blue, and black with “glow in the dark” stripes.  Words can’t do it justice.  I felt myself floating on the water, heard my deep mouth breathing.  The water felt warm and soothing.  It was peaceful and clear and absolutely beautiful.  I saw a part of the earth that I’d never seen before and, once again, I am in awe of the works my Creator.

I had gotten a bit overconfident out there in the ocean, and at one point, I decided to head back toward the beach on my own. When I poked my head up out of the water, I had lost my bearings.  I couldn’t see Doug anywhere.  The beach seemed an eternity away.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I started to panic, fearful of how I could make it back.  I cried out for Doug and he seemed to appear instantly to rescue me.  He came to me out of nowhere and gently told me what to do.  “Take deeper breaths–your short, quick ones are making you feel light-headed.  Just relax and breathe.  Rest on the reef.”

As soon as he was there, I was okay again. I felt secure, safe, sane (because for a few moments my mind was playing tricks on me.)

Doug took me back to the beach.  He held my hand, firmly and tenderly, the whole journey back to land.  His words soothed my fears.  His presence dispelled all my panic.  He was there with me, so I knew all would be well.

This was such an intense experiential metaphor of my life with Jesus as He is calling me into the uncharted territory of adoption, waters where I’ve never swam.  It is beautiful and it is terrifying, both of which I wouldn’t experience if I stay “on the beach” where my feet touch the ground.

When I was panicking and didn’t know what to do, Doug’s presence, his voice, his touch felt like the presence of God.  And He was saying, “Christy, you can trust me.  As long as you hold onto my hand and stay close to me, and listen to my voice, you will be able to deal with anything.”

I felt protected.  I was so aware of my need.  It was incredible that God revealed this to me through my husband’s body-his eyes, his touch, his words.  What a gift.  The confidence, the tenderness, the courage, the firm physical hold on me…all ways he was leading me.

And I surrendered. 

I didn’t fight it or suggest another way.  In that moment, I knew better.  I just followed, knowing that I could trust him.

And I know I can trust God.

Sometimes I do feel a sense of panic in my soul when I think about this adoption journey–“Do I really have what it takes?” I wonder.

God answered so tenderly as He spoke to my spirit, “Of course you have what it takes because I am in you.  You have Me and all the limitless resources that are at My fingertips.”

As I look back on this, five years later, with my little five-year old (not ten!) “dream come true” Kayla Joy in our backyard jumping happily on our trampoline, I have one of those “kairos” moments, where chronological time slips away and what matters most is so clear.

Is there something God is calling you to?  You feel terrified and excited, all at the same time?  Is it time to step out in faith, knowing that He is with you?  All the great stuff in life is risky.  You can’t have joy without the possibility of pain.  They are two sides of the same coin.

You are not alone.   God is with you, tenderly and firmly leading you, one breath at a time.  Grab onto him and go where is leads.  You will never regret saying yes to Him.

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!”  Romans 8:15-17, The Message

Love, Christy

Note: I originally wrote and posted this in July of 2012, but wanted to re-post in honor of National Adoption Awareness Month.

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The Touch of Love

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When was the last time you heard God speak to you?  From the deepest part of my being, I believe He is always communicating.  He longs for connection with His beloved ones.  “Oh that my people would listen to me…” He says (Psalm 81:13).  Lately I’ve become aware of one of the main ways God speaks to me…

My love language is touch.*  I feel most loved by the people closest to me when they express their affection hands-on.  When my husband wraps his arms around me, when my baby girl crawls up into my lap for a lingering snuggle, when my mama gives me a back rub, when my first born hugs me as if she’ll never let go…these are the moments when I feel that I belong…these are the moments I feel most emotionally connected and loved by my people.   I’ve even been known to cry during a pedicure (given by a complete stranger), simply because the touch is so nurturing, so healing, so grounding. 

Jesus knows this about me (since He’s the one who created me this way) and, just the other day, I had an epiphany, realizing that He often communicates with me in images that involve His touch.  I am so deeply moved by this.

I was reading one of my favorite passages, and these words jumped off of the page and dove right into my soul: 

“You place your hand of blessing on my head…”

Psalm 139:5, NLT

I’ve read this countless times, and yet, in this moment, it was a fresh revelation. God had brought his rhema, his divine utterance, to me.  Rhema are the words of God spoken through Scripture that come alive to us personally by the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  I love when The Great Counselor illuminates the Bible in a new way and I am undone because it as if Jesus has pulled up a chair next to me, and personally spoken His words of life over me.

In this moment I was struck with the image of God’s hand on my head, imparting blessing to me from the richness, the fullness of His being.  With His touch on my head, He imparted hope, peace, purpose, freedom, strength, faith, joy, contentment, power and authority.  These are the words I sensed flowing into me from His hand on my head.

At the same time that I saw His hand on my head, I also saw the grabby hand of the enemy, seeking to reach into my soul to steal, kill and destroy the very things that God was imparting to me.   And I saw the other hand of God simply shutting the mouth of the enemy, squeezing his lying lips together with His fingers, while He continued to impart His blessing to me with his right hand.

As I sat there and received all that God was giving to me, I thought about the way He revealed Himself as “I Am” in his encounter with Moses on the mountain.  Once again, He is saying,  “I am your hope.  I am your purpose.  I am your peace.  I am your joy.” 

Everything that I need flows from Him.  Everything that you need is being offered to you right now.

What do you need, beloved one of God?  Tell the great I Am and let yourself imagine and even sense His hand of blessing bestowing that exact thing upon you in this very moment.

Overflowing,

Christy

*If your are curious to learn more about love languages, click on this link:  http://www.5lovelanguages.com/  This concept has been one of the most powerful tools of connection in my marriage and in my mothering…

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The Look of Love

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When you picture Jesus, what do you see?  What is His posture toward you?  What is the look on His face?  What do you see in His eyes?  I believe these to be some of the most fundamental questions for those who follow Jesus.

For a variety of reasons, I think we often have it wrong.  We picture His arms crossed, or Him shaking His head. We see disappointment in His eyes.  But I don’t think that when we see those things, we are actually seeing Him.  We’ve built a picture of Him based on our own brokenness, and not based on His Beauty, the truth of who He is.

As a mama, I have a few practices that I have put into place in my life to cultivate the type of environment I want for my children. (Stick with me here…) One of my most life-giving of these “mothering practices” is to seek that in every first encounter with my children each day, they would be met by me with a look of love and affection.  This was inspired by an interview on The Oprah Show with Toni Morrison years ago.  She asks (referring to when your children walk into the room), "Does your face light up?" She explained, "When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. . . . You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you're caring for them. It's not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What's wrong now?" She said, "Let your face speak what's in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I'm glad to see them. It's just as small as that, you see?"

This penetrated my heart and has shaped me as a mama.  When my children get out of bed in the morning, it is my heart’s desire to greet them with my warmth, a smile that’s reflected not only on my mouth but through my eyes.  They awaken to open arms ready to embrace them with affection as their first experience of the day.  I seek to do this when they arrive home from school or work or piano lesson or a play date.  I want them to picture a countenance of love and affection toward them when they picture me.  I want this to form their identity as my beloved children.

It’s amazing to me how God so often reveals Himself in the most unexpected, seemingly small, mundane moments of life.  Just the other day, I was simply feeding Isaac his lunch. I walked over to talk with him and I smiled really big, my heart filling with love and affection for him.  And the way he looked at me just absolutely took my breath away.  He literally radiated my love, reflecting it right back to me.  His eyes sparkled and his body leaned in and his face lit up, with his round-and-rosy-cheeked smile.  It felt supernatural. 

Immediately I sensed in my spirit, “Christy, this is the way I look at you.  With utter love and kindness and celebration…And the way Isaac looks.  This is how I see you. Radiant with my love, reflecting in the center of your being my very self… I look at you, ever and always, with lavish love.”

The words from Psalm 34:5 immediately came to mind….Those who look to Him are radiant;  their faces are never covered with shame.

Shame.  This insidious part of being human that the enemy loves to trigger with his lies about our worth, our purpose, our belonging.  There is so much shame everywhere.  I see it so often on people’s faces, in their eyes.  And I experience it too, just like every human being does.

But…

"Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces."  (New Living Translation)

If I could really see the way Jesus is looking at me, radiance would stream from my soul and shame would have to run the other away.

Oh my precious Jesus.  Thank you for this picture. How kind you are to come to me through my baby boy and show me, once again, how your look of love changes everything.  Please help me to fix my eyes on you, ever an always, and to always know in the depth of my being that I am your Beloved Daughter whom you delight in and sing over and rejoice in…and please touch every one who is reading these words with a fresh revelation of your life-changing, soul-altering love.

Christy

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