Reaching Forward.

“…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”- Philippians 3:13

Here we are.

It’s the week I have been thinking about for years now.

The week where our little family dynamic is going to change forever; the one week that includes so many pivotal, unknown changes.

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“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”- Hebrews 13:8

This time last year, we were preparing to go on the girls’ Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. We had absolutely no idea our son existed, much less that a year later we would be traveling to bring him home. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor my ways your ways, declares the Lord.”- Isaiah 55:8-9

4 days.

In 4 days, Hugh and I will get on a plane in Birmingham, Alabama and head to China to meet our son for the first time and bring him home forever.

15 days.

15 days away from my girls.

If you would have told me even a year ago that I was going to do this, I would’ve told you absolutely not.

I would’ve said it wasn’t possible, wasn’t wise even.

But God. Always but God.

Almost three years ago, I wrote a post entitled, “By Any Means Possible”. It’s words were inspired by the verse in Philippians 3 in which Paul says that, essentially, He is determined to know Christ- regardless of what it takes or what that looks like.

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From the moment we are entrusted with our children, each of us begins this dance of holding on and letting go. In the world of special needs, the grips of control can often become even tighter simply because our children don’t necessarily grow in independence. For five years and almost seven months- over 2,000 days of my life have been spent meeting the needs of Ally and Bailey Grace on an almost moment by moment basis.

Starting Friday, 15 of those days will be completely out of my control.

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”- Hebrews 13:21-21

Here’s the thing.

I would tell you that caring for my girls is something I could never do on my own- that it’s God’s Spirit equipping me to do so. Yet, if I really believe this is true- then why do I think that I have to be present in order for them to receive the care they need?

“God is our refuge and strength, a very-present help in trouble.”- Psalm 46:1

A Very-Present Help.

He will be in China as we meet our son and begin to walk the very same dance of letting go and holding on. He will be in Alabama as the Cheek tribe- who are showing up joyfully and more fervently than ever before- cares for the girls. He is with you in these moments as you walk through whatever season of life you are in as well.

This is our God.

I need you to know that I have not spent the week trusting this and embracing it with open arms. I cried so hard at small group last Thursday that the tears just wouldn’t stop as we drove home. I tear up each and every time I think about Friday morning and our departure from Ally and Bailey Grace. I am not fully practicing what I am preaching…yet, as Paul says, one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil.3:13-14).

Friends, I am determined to show you my weakness in all this so that God’s strength can be all the more obvious.

As our girls are sick and my heart tension is high, I have found so much hope in the reality that God goes both before and behind and that He has promised He is getting the glory.

In the midst of a story that continues to play out in ways I would’ve never written or planned, I smile at the very-real, very-living truth that He both wrote it and has seen it all.

“In Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”- Psalm 139:16

For our family and for you.

To Him be all the glory.

Press on, brothers and sisters.

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Heart Shift.

Behold, a king will reign in righteousness and princes will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.- Isaiah 32:1-2

We call them little things- guilty pleasures if you will.

We normalize them, and even celebrate them.

Sometimes, we define them as “self-care” or even hobbies.

At first glance, we wouldn’t be wrong about this defining.

Yet, “the Lord sees not as man see: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”- 1 Samuel 16:7

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 Recently, we had a faucet that had a broken part. It took us forever to finally call and get it fixed because it was such a subtle problem. There was no huge stream of water pouring out, only a small drip, drip, drip that eventually annoyed us enough to do something about it.

“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water“- Jeremiah 2:13, emphasis mine

I couldn’t tell you how long I have felt this way. From the outside looking in, nothing has changed. It’s tricky, this internal heart stuff. I have coined it “dry” or “weary”, and many close to me would chalk it up to the recent circumstances of our life and some of the new hard that we have had with our Bailey Grace.

But if I’m honest, I’ve known it must be more.

“For I, the Lord, do not change.”- Malachi 3:6a

He doesn’t change. He doesn’t change and I know this. I have seen Him provide strength and endurance and even joy in the midst of what the world would say was despairing.

It is because I know this to be true that even I haven’t been buying my own excuses of, “it must be circumstantial”.

This morning, my soul literally felt nauseous as I vaguely tried to plead with the Lord to refresh me. And then, it hit me. Nausea only comes about when there is something in that needs to get out. If my soul was feeling this way, maybe it was time to do an inventory check of what I’ve been filling my soul with in the first place.

I want you to hear me loud and clear when I say that my time in the Word has stayed consistent, we have been in community regularly, there is not some huge blaring sin I can look at and say, “Well that needs to go”. It’s important that you know this because as I type these words, I’m confident this isn’t just a message for me but for you (otherwise, what are we doing here in the first place?!)

As I took a minute to flat out say to the Lord, “God, I feel internally gross and I don’t know why. Help, please”- He quickly brought to mind a handful of things that had heart shifted from good gifts to soul fillers.

“All things are lawful but not al things are helpful. All things are lawful but not all things build up.”- 1 Corinthians 10:23

We are about to talk through some theological gray areas. Can we all just agree to stay calm and look past theological differences (if they come up) for the sake of unity?

Good.

I’ve told this story several times to various groups, so forgive me if this is old news to you. Taking a longer shower, relaxing, and taking a minute to yourself are absolutely not bad things. Having a glass of wine is not a bad thing. Yet, there was a season of my life where I would abuse my “shower and get a second alone” time as a place to sulk in how hard I felt like our life was. I would turn on depressing music, pour that glass of vino, and request the Holy Spirit to stay quiet for just a few minutes while I had a short, hour long pity party. From the outside looking in, no one would’ve ever known all the ugly that was going on within during that time. But I knew, and God knew, and it was creating a barrier between the two of us.

Eventually, I hated that barrier enough to challenge my own thoughts during that time. These days, if I do take the opportunity to shower and relax, I try and make sure that I make it clear to myself and the Lord that He’s both welcomed and invited in that place.

Simple yet profound. 

So, this morning as I found myself feeling disconnected, I had an aha moment as I asked the Lord to reveal to me whatever junk I wasn’t recognizing as junk; and I want to share some things He revealed to my heart. My shifters are probably different than yours, but like a subtle leak in a faucet, they are all bound to slowly steal our joy.

Beloved, God looking at our heart means much more than giving up habits or behaving better or checking off a list of spiritual to-do’s that follow the rules of whatever church you are a part of. No. God looking at our heart means that what He’s going for is greater and more important than simply the surface. The fact He’s looking at your heart tells you the beautiful truth that He’s after your heart! He’s not pursuing your behavior or your actions. He’s pursuing YOU- the true you that by the grace of God found in Jesus doesn’t fade.

When we get to the throne of God, we won’t be worshipping our good deeds or service opportunities- we won’t be focused on other people or Christian accolades- it will be HIM that we are praising! We will be bowing down to Him- therefore the ONLY obvious satisfaction both in this life and the next must be have Him at the center.

You can fool yourself or others into thinking He’s the affection of your heart- but you can’t fool Him. And- we can’t offer a freedom that we aren’t walking in ourselves.

If your soul is feeling nauseous, might it be because you are allowing a lot of little things to pile up and shift things around in a way you were never meant to live?

God loves us too much to allow us to bring anything into our lives that carries the weight of our joy or happiness. Only He was meant to provide us that! He will always permit us to be temporarily disappointed for the sake of eternal satisfaction. ALWAYS.

Have you ever thought about the fact that some of the very things you are looking to find life in are the things that are killing you- not just physically, but your soul? (And-, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”- Luke 9:25).

Christ follower, these words are for you: If you are feeling spiritually blah, it is not because God has moved or changed. It may not even be because of some blatant sin, but I guarantee you that distraction or “lawful but not helpful” things are crowding spaces that only God Himself is meant to fill. Today, I’m taking a moment to allow God to do some soul work- a heart shift if you will.

Satisfaction is found nowhere else.

May we drink from the well that never runs dry, bringing our thirst only to Him.

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He is Here.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven…everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”- Matthew 7:21, 24

Words.

They are a mysterious thing, if you really think about it.

Those of us who are able to articulate what is on our minds and hearts through the vowels and consonants tied together on our lips have quite a responsibility to use them wisely… and most of us (pointing all fingers toward myself!) don’t do this as wisely as we should.

“With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”- James 3:9-10

These things ought not to be so, but they are.

Isn’t there a lot of that around and within us?

It is all to easy to find spaces and pieces of ourselves and of others that simply don’t line up with identity of Image Bearers that we have been given.

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“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”- Romans 8:22

We may have a lot of things we don’t agree on, but at the end of the day, I think most of us would admit that this doesn’t feel like home. Sure, we can all attempt to bandage our wounds, tie our hurts up with pretty bows, and mask the places that just don’t seem quite right (or- almost worse- pretend they aren’t there); but if we were just gut-wrenchingly honest, we know.

We see it in tragedy. In sickness. In natural disaster. In war. In politics. In relationships. In the church.

Each of us could point out more than a handful of places that we are aware of that simply don’t seem like God’s best.

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”- Hebrews 11:13-16

Let’s go back to this whole concept of words. There are human words, and then there is the Word of God.

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”- John 1:1

God’s Word is perfect because it lays out exactly who He is and who He says we are. And in the above Hebrews verses, God makes it very clear: This feeling you have that things aren’t they way they will be? You are exactly right! My plans for you may begin here but my purposes for you extend far beyond this place. What is seen is not what truly is. 

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I have been thinking about this a lot lately and about the reality that if this is what I truly believe, it should change everything. I know as Christ followers we say this- but really- I’m not just blowing smoke or giving a Sunday School pep rally cheer. If this is really true- then it’s not just true some days. It’s not meant to be lived out merely at your dying breath, or one day a week, or on certain holidays, or during what the world deems tragic. No.

The fullness of God is willing and able to meet you right here, right now.

God longs for you to trust Him with this moment, and the next, and the one after that.

I wrote this in my journal recently:

“I have come to a point where I am utterly sick of acting like the Enemy has lost the war but still has the power to win some of the battles. The truth is the only good thing about the Enemy is that he has already lost. He comes to steal. Kill. Destroy. That’s it. He’s the father of lies. And he has absolutely no control over me seeing as, “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Christian, it’s time to stop living like we are searching FOR victory and instead, live FROM victory only found in Jesus Christ”.

You know what I don’t think this means?

I don’t believe this means that heaven is here. I think that until Jesus comes back, suffering will be permitted for reasons only God Himself understands. We know this. We may pray against specifics when they head our way- and there’s nothing wrong with that. But God? His plans are greater, bigger, wider. I have many, many people who reach out very offended that I say that God allows suffering. I have no response other than that if I didn’t believe that, I would not believe in the truth and authority of the Word of God. Beyond that, I have seen in my own life and the life of most of the people whose faith I admire most that suffering is a gateway to knowing the Father more. Why? I’m not sure. Yet, I know that God’s light seems brightest when everything around me seems darkest.

What I DO think the above means is that we are able to trust in the goodness of the Father in spite of all that we see around and within. I think this tells us that the time is NOW to hold fast to His Words instead of fixating on the words of those around us. We must behold Jesus in order to see things as they truly are.

Where is God?

He is right here. 

He is Immanuel, God with us, a very-present Help that never even for a millisecond thinks about abandoning His own.

In spite of all that is around us, He is constant.

He is the ONLY One we can fix our full hope on, both in this life and the next.

And, smack dab in the midst of this broken place we live in but are not destined for, I want to make sure I don’t miss the opportunity to tell you that I believe this is absolutely true and that He is absolutely sovereignly good in all His ways. This is all that’s worth staking our entire lives and whole beings on. This is it. HE is the Answer. The time is now. Satisfaction awaits and is found in the One who will never, no never, no never forsake.

At all times.

In all things.

No matter what.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”- Francis Chan

 

Every One of Them.

It was about 4 A.M.

For the past few nights, every night, at midnight, labs would be drawn.

In the wee hours of the next day, the results would come back.

Her platelets had been dropping lower, lower, lower.

No one had to tell me what this could mean.

I knew.

In a few hours, a bone marrow biopsy would be done to “rule out” leukemia as a source of why our girl was getting sicker and sicker.

Looking back, I realize the significance wasn’t in rather or not Bailey Grace had cancer; rather, the principle of the whole thing in my eyes was that here we were, in this place.

Here we were, after having her suffer for months with seizure, fever, vomiting.

Here we were, after going day after day and asking the Lord, “How long?”

Whether or not the flow came back with the dreaded C word- the fact that we were even having to go to this place felt intimately cruel to me- like a direct shot even.

Just too much.

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“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”- Job 1:20-21

He tore his robe and shaved his head in grief- and then- he worshipped.

If you ever need help with recognizing the reality that God permits suffering in the lives of His children, look no further than Job.

The man had everything taken away from him, and while he mourned and questioned and hurt deeply; He did so in a posture of worship.

So there I was, sitting with (one of) my medically fragile little girls, a five year old child who has suffered more than many in first world America will ever know, faced with very-present circumstance of even a small chance of a secondary, life-threatening diagnosis.

If you have read On Milk and Honey- I might as well have been back on that cold bathroom floor, tears streaming down and heart aching with pain.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me…my soul is in the midst of lions..be exalted, O God, above the heavens!”- Psalm 57:2,4a,5a

Be exalted, O God.

I lifted my hands, turned on some praise music as low as the phone would go, and I let the tears flow as I preached the truth to my soul that God is good in ALL things. At ALL times. No matter what.

That afternoon, as we got the news that it wasn’t leukemia, and as the night unfolded all the details of the bacteria that was hiding out in Bailey Grace’s bone marrow, I confessed my disbelief that God knew exactly what He was doing. We went home a few days later with Bailey Grace acting better than she had in months.

IMG_6417 A week later, insert back in fever, seizure, vomiting spells.

Another hospital admission, more unknowns, more prayers and decisions that aren’t concrete for even some of the smartest physicians there are.

Oh, how complex these bodies are.

“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”- Psalm 139:13-16

Every one of them.

Oh that you would not get so caught up in filling in the blanks of the medical details here that you miss the God above all the things we don’t yet know or understand.

In the midst of an unknown outcome, we serve a  Never-changing God who wrote every day of Bailey Grace’s life before yet one of them came to be.

“And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”- Genesis 1:31

We are oh so tired of the circumstantial roller coaster. I am unbelievably weary from the ups and downs- from thinking, “Oh, she’s better” to spending the afternoon watching her absolutely not present and suffering.

I am beyond wanting to understand why- I just want to know what. Is this still infection? Is this just HECW2? When is the suffering going to end for her?

But God.

“For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.”- Deuteronomy 32:3,4

There is not just power in these words, but comfort in them as well.

His work is perfect.

His ways are just.

Point blank: He knows exactly what He is doing and why He is doing it.

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What’s behind me reminds me that I can trust Him with whatever is next.

And maybe the Psalmist says it best:

I believe that I shall. (Psalm 27:13)

Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe never on this side of heaven… or maybe right around the corner? Only He knows.

God is God.

God is good.

God can be trusted.

To Him be all the glory.

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places.”- Habakkuk 3:16

 

 

 

He is Able: Adoption Update.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory.”- Ephesians 3:20-21a

Currently, I am the only one awake in the Cheek house.

It is quiet; the kind of quiet that causes your soul to breathe in a little deeper. The kind of quiet that urges you to speak to the God of the universe; and, more than that, to listen.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”- Psalm 19:1-2

Currently, we are battling a respiratory illness in our house. It’s the first true illness we have had in almost a year, which makes me feel nothing but gratitude. After giving Ally a breathing treatment around 4:30, my heart was stirred to wake up and look at the sky. He places the stars exactly where they need to be. He also, might I add, places the orphans in homes.

“…in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”- Psalm 139:16

These words. These words are much more than that; and they are seared more deeply on my heart than even the tattoo that reads it on my foot. This verse has carried our family through long days and even longer nights. God has revealed Himself to us through His promises, and we have seen His faithfulness. In light of that, we step forward into this new assignment He has given our family.

As I spoke this weekend at the Connecting Women’s conference, the Lord laid Ephesians 3:20 on my heart. I spoke of God’s abundantly more versus our abundantly more; and how His is always greater and yet mysteriously different than we could have written. I talked about Hebrews 11 and the women and men of faith whose lives were not easy or comfortable and yet whose experience of God was intimate and satisfying.

What I am about to share with you was on my heart and mind the entire time.

One day, we might give more details.

One day, there will be room for sharing all the ways that God made His paths abundantly clear to both Hugh and myself.

Yet today, I simply want to tell you this:

“Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!”- Romans 11:33

Inscrutable.

Impossible to understand or interpret.

Unexplainable even. These are His ways- not our ways, not our thoughts.

Yet perfect.

“As for God, His way is perfect.”- Psalm 18:30

And here is a promise for us to cling to:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”- James 1:5

He told us to ask, so we did.

He made His intentions abundantly clear to us; so much so that there was nothing we could do but step forward in faith.

God places the orphans in families, and, by the grace and God and the will of the Lord, as of yesterday it is official:

Hugh and I have a six year old son who currently lives in China.

Ally and Bailey Grace are not going to be big sisters; they are going to be little sisters.

A few months from now, we will travel to bring home the little boy who God has known was ours since before the beginning of time.

His paths untraceable.

His plans and purpose so very good.

We are overjoyed, excited, and yes, in our flesh, nervous.

We will spend approximately two weeks in China while Ally and Bailey Grace patiently wait for us to come home with their brother.

Have we ever left the girls for more than two nights? No.

But God?

He is faithful.

So we trust Him and cling tightly to Immanuel, the God who is ever and always with us.

He knows the way we take; and even when we are thrown off-guard, His heart is set and the journey is sure.

We do not know much, but one thing we do: He can be trusted.

At all times.

In all things.

To Him be the glory.

He Would Have Loved You If.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise You with joyful lips, when I remember you…- Psalm 63:5,6a

Stillness without rest.

This is the way I would describe the last week of my life.

If our souls were present on the external, you would have seen mine restless and all kinds of worked up.

Yesterday morning, when I finally felt like I was able to be ‘mom’ a little more, I found myself breathe a sigh of relief; and, simultaneously, I found myself feeling a bit charred inside.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the roads and look; ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, then walk in it and you will find rest for your souls.”- Jeremiah 6:16

I think it has been in the works for a while.

God doesn’t miss anything; yet, He patiently waits for the right moment to open our eyes to what’s really going on around and inside of us.

 

What is rest?

Google defines it as this:

to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.

This sounds good and well- but how do any of us find rest if that is the true definition?

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the roads and look, ask for ancient paths, where the good way is; then you will find rest for your souls.” – Jeremiah 6:16

Soul rest.

Could it be that this is not only what we need but something that’s attainable?

For the first four years or so of the girls’ lives, I can honestly tell you that my soul felt at rest.

It’s unexplainable really.

With Hugh working 80 plus hours a week in residency, myself in the midst of no family in town and- at the time- no nursing care, I literally found myself feeling at peace on more days than not. God’s grace, for sure.

For the past few months, Hugh now working “normal” hours, all of us now getting (usually)  more sleep than before and having (somewhat) less of constant chaos- my soul has been restless. I have pushed through, assuming it was a test or trial of faith to deepen it all the more; and then, last week happened.

In the midst of not being able to do anything for my family for a few days, I heard the Lord whisper a simple yet profound truth that has changed everything.

“I would have loved you if”.

This phrase played and replayed in my head for quite some time, and then the answers came flooding in.

I will spare you the details of all my, “if’s”, but there’s a question I want to pose to you today.

Christ-follower: do you know at the depths of your soul- with every ounce of your being- that God would have loved you- does love you- will continue to love you- solely on the basis of who He is and whose you are?

He would love you if you didn’t write that book.

He would love you if you hadn’t gone to that seminary.

He would love you if you weren’t involved at that church or in that ministry.

He would love you if that struggle never goes away.

Beloved: God loves you.

 

Don’t misunderstand me: Jesus changes people. His love produces change in people.

His love.

And, if we find ourselves in a season where our work seems more important than His unconditional love, it’s time to take a step back and let the Lord remind us.

It’s time to let our souls find rest in His love again.

I stood over Ally as I watched her have a seizure last night- five minutes after having the pulse ox on Bailey Grace as she seized as well. I felt weary.

“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances”- Elisabeth Elliot

I know this to be true. I have seen God make this true in our lives time and time again. But right now? My soul is tired. And so, to love the people in front of me well- I’m going to need to take a step back for a bit.

For a season that only God can determine the length of, I will not be posting weekly Facebook live videos.

I might be sharing a little bit less of what God is doing in my heart (but do not fear- God is God and He will continue to do His great work!)

I plan on continuing to share as He leads.

This season may only last a few months, weeks, days.

Only He knows.

Yet, the posture of my heart is shifting to be one that says, yet again, as it should have always, ‘Lord, I need you to be my rest’.

I am breathing deeper this morning as I look forward expectantly to finding my rest in Him again.

There is so much beauty around us- there is so much God around us- and I plan on savoring and seeking and seeing all that he places in front of me.

Friends, the subtitle of His Hands, His Feet, His Heart is, “Learning to See God in All Things and Longing For You to Do the Same”- and oh, how I long for this for all of us.

How lavish His love for us.

How true are His promises.

How perfect His ways.

He would have love you if.

To Him be the glory forever.

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The Part of Adoption No One Talks About.

View More: http://trishiaralstonphotography.pass.us/cheek-family-session

“Is the adoption thing still happening? “

This is a question I have gotten several times in the past few months; and it kind of makes my stomach churn.

The question itself is totally intentional and reasonable; my response is what stings.

“Yes, it’s still happening. Just waiting on the Lord’s timing”, I usually spit out.

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Seven.

That’s the number of times we have said, “Yes” to a child– only to be told, “No” by the birth mother.

Seven days, weeks, months of praying for and envisioning what it would look like to have that baby in our home- only to find out that wasn’t our baby after all.

The most recent one happened on Wednesday, and I would be lying if I said that I was feeling anything but wearied in the process.

Adoption is not for the faint of heart; domestic adoption is a whole other beast.

Yep, I said it. The process we are in that will ultimately be the means to add to our family is in fact, a beast. A beast because, ultimately, in a not-so-fallen world, it would not exist to begin with.

Adoption is messy.

Adoption is broken.

Adoption is each of our stories.

“Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”- John 1:12-13

This is adoption in its greatest magnitude.

When we began this process (it will be two years in January), we knew that waiting would be involved- and we were great with that. We had been learning how to wait- waiting on answers, waiting on a diagnosis, waiting on God to change and transform our hearts to see the life He had given our family through His eyes- waiting was normal for us. What I don’t think we realized was how hard each and every, “No” would be.

I have never had a miscarriage.

I do not know the pain of biological loss.

But, as a future adoptive mama, I do know the grief of imagining life with a child only to be told this life was not going to ever make it to my hands.

Like we all do, so many have desired for us to take matters into our own hands–to  try different agencies, to attempt to have another biological child, to change to international adoption. None of these wrong within themselves; yet none of them settling well within our spirits. At this time, God’s plan for the Cheek family is just to wait- and it’s just not easy.

View More: http://trishiaralstonphotography.pass.us/cheek-family-session

“He does not grow weary.”- Isaiah 40:28

A simple phrase with profound meaning that has caused me to fall more in love with the Lord as I have meditated on it.

I am weary.

I am run down in the wait. I am burnt out, spent, drained- reluctant to experience any more of the path of obedience the Lord has us on. I am ready to take matters into my own hands or, at the very least, shake my fist at God and ask Him why we seem to continue to get these thorny paths. But God?

He never grows weary.

His strength is not dependent on mine. His plans cannot be thwarted by anything my flesh falls into or my mind concocts. What He says, He shall do (Isaiah 34:17)- and this I know (regardless of how things may seem or how I can sometimes feel):

God is for me (Psalm 56:9).

God is for me- so we wait.

God is for me- so we rest.

God is for me- so we trust in His grace to carry us to Himself- come what may.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?”- Romans 8:31-32

Friends, I don’t know how long it will be. I don’t know why God is making this path that we call our life so full of twists and turns. But what I do know trumps that which I do not know.

He is working.

At all times.

In all things.

And He is not weary.

To Him be the glory forever and ever Amen.

View More: http://trishiaralstonphotography.pass.us/cheek-family-session

(continued thanks to Trisha Ralston photography for these special pictures)