He Is Sovereign

Sovereign ~ Just the sound of that word does something deep in my soul!  If I’ve learned anything about the Lord through the journey of these past three years, it is this… He is sovereign.  And with every day that passes without a phone call to announce that a new heart has been found for Rachel, I am forced to step in a little closer and embrace this truth a little tighter.  He is sovereign. 

God, in that perfect sovereignty, has chosen to teach me these things through what appears to be an unlikely teacher.  That teacher is a nine year old girl, that until 2 and ½ years ago, had never even heard the name of Jesus, or of a God that would go to the ends of the earth to redeem her life and give her HOPE! 

Embracing His sovereignty seems to come naturally for her…. And yet, because I know that such truths are only given through super-natural means, I can only conclude that the biggest miracle of Rachel’s life is this one!  This single truth directs everything about the way she faces life and the predicted death she has been told about since before she was even old enough to understand.  It literally defines who she is...

If you met Rachel today, you would be struck immediately that there is something incredibly different and special about her.  Her eyes literally twinkle and she embraces HOPE like no one you’ve ever met before.  I don’t know why it continually surprises us and causes us to marvel, but I can honestly say that I’ve never met anyone young or old that seemed to approach life and death quite like Rachel does…  It’s taken me a really long time, but I know now what that something special is! 

Through God’s immeasurable grace, He has revealed His sovereignty to Rachel.  It’s not anymore complicated than that, and if I can learn anything through Rachel’s life, I want it to be this…  God is sovereign.  That realization alone brings PEACE.  It brings HOPE.  It brings JOY.  And those very same words perfectly describe Rachel Hope McCary.

 While listening to the song “Sovereign” ( by Chris Tomlin) as we drove to the hospital together last week, I wondered if Rachel understood the definition to this concept by which she lives her life!  Did she even know the meaning of this word that she obviously understands in the depths of her soul?  So I asked… “Rachel, do you know what ‘sovereign’ means?”  She didn’t!  I took a deep breath and tried to explain this almost unexplainable concept in words my nine year old child, still only two years into the English language, could understand.  I was proud of my eloquent explanation until I saw the look she was giving me in the rear view mirror that I have become all too familiar with!  Most people spend their lives trying to wrap their arms around this truth.  Not Rachel.  He is sovereign!  Her answer…“Duh!!!!”

Needless to say, there’s been a lot of talk in our house lately about God’s sovereignty…  Because the truth is that the journey we presently find ourselves on is a very difficult one.  If we did not fully believe that this course was chosen for us by a completely sovereign God, then I think I would have packed up and run for the hills a long time ago!  But as I learn to wrap my arms fully around the perfect, all wise, sovereign God that I love, trust grows!  And with trust, fear melts away.  If God is in control of everything and nothing slips past his gaze… what have I to fear?  I will either believe that the GRACE and HOPE He has promised within that sovereignty will be available at the moment I need it or everything else I believe is meaningless! 

 Reports have been coming home from school that Abby is struggling… especially when life feels out of her control.  She likes routine.  She likes life to be predictable.  She likes to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it.  And while Abby’s chromosomal makeup might predispose her to some of these likes and dislikes and a greater need to feel that she is in control, I am beginning to understand that I too, like to be in charge of my days and to constantly be reassured that I, too, am somehow in control!   What Abby hasn’t figured out yet (and what I am still learning!) is that even a life seemingly under her control is a facade! 

How little we are to think that our weak hands can control even the smallest of circumstances.  I must laugh as people try to comfort me these days with the well-known phrase and shallow promise that “God will never give you more than you can handle”!  Since in my weakness I can handle very little, my life rings out as perfect proof that this saying, while well intended, is garbage!  The truth is that I cannot handle anymore than you can!  Nor can anyone else!  The thought that some people have a greater capacity to handle pain or loss or even disappointment is a weak cop out for those of us that refuse to push ourselves to do more than we KNOW we could possibly handle! 

I remember years ago, while writing one of our very first ministry newsletters, including this quote as a small explanation as to why we were making what appeared to be “crazy” choices with our lives… Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. ~ T. S. Eliot     It is only when we let go of what we think is “control” and allow ourselves to be swept away in something bigger than ourselves that we discover that God’s intentions were never to give us those things we can personally handle!  Instead, He is committed to putting things in our path that are far too difficult for us to carry alone, and will cause us to cry out for more of Him instead!  If this has ever been true in my life, it is true now!

I don’t remember ever thinking to myself when looking at Rachel’s file for the first time… “Sure, I can “handle” losing a child to death.  I’m strong enough for that!”  It would be foolish to look at a child considered “terminal” and think that you had some special capacity to handle such things and then embark on a journey almost guaranteed to be laced with pain.  Nor do I remember contemplating what parenting a child with Down Syndrome would look like and thinking that I was the kind of mom that could handle that with ease.  In both circumstances I knew only three things~  
    * God was asking me to do it. 
     * I could NOT handle it apart from Him. 
     * I COULD handle it as He empowered me to do what He was              calling me to do. 

Newsflash:  I CAN’T handle my life!  I CAN’T handle the heavy burdens God has called me to carry and I’m finding that even the lightest ones need His attention!     Even the smallest details of my life will be mishandled if left solely up to me!  But as I have begun to see myself as the slave of a perfectly sovereign Master, I understand that my only job is to do as He commands.  His job is to supply everything I need to accomplish them!  Whether the job is big or small, above my personal capacity to handle or below it, is not my concern… Obedience is my only concern.  May I never forget that walking in disobedience will always reap consequences far graver than I ones could ever handle alone as well!  Either way- the road will lead me straight to the foot of the cross, where I admit my lack of strength to handle the Christ honoring life He has called me to live and I find His strength alone to be sufficient!

 “I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize the Lord is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult, His grace is sufficient.” ― J. Hudson Taylor

 Living in the center of God’s will, under His perfect sovereignty, is the most joy-filled, beautiful way to make this journey, or any journey you presently find yourself on.  Rachel understands this…  I see it in the way she chooses to live every single day, God in His sovereignty gives her!  I see it in the way she embraces life and yet is not afraid of death!  And I see it in the way her eyes sparkle when she talks about meeting Jesus when she gets to heaven!  She told Doug and I a few weeks ago that whatever God’s sovereign plan is, it will be a Win-Win for her.  How right she is!  But how quickly we seem to forget!  Isn’t this what Paul meant over two thousand years ago, when he said…    For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  Philippians 1:21    Sounds like a Win-Win to me too!

I am humbled by the awe-inspiring faith of a nine year old girl who had never even heard the name of Jesus until she was adopted two and a half years ago and has known more pain and suffering and promised death than most of us will ever know!  What has taken me so long?   It’s high time I start living my own Win-Win for Him!

These have not been easy times for us!  There are pressures on every side, but the most difficult part of our journey is the one we are walking along side Rachel over recent days.  Can we handle it?  No way!  But with Him… absolutely!  And we can even handle it with great JOY! His immeasurable grace is almost overwhelming these days.  There is great contentment in knowing this... He is sovereign.

We have been waiting for a new heart for over 25 months now.  Our Sovereign God could bring that heart tonight, and we pray He does… But we are being forced to face the reality that if He chooses not to, we will likely lose Rachel soon.  People often ask us if the doctors can tell us how much time Rachel might have left…  I always have to refrain from laughing at such questions, since the truth is that doctors can’t figure out how she is still with us today!!!  Only a miracle brought Rachel home from China in her fragile condition when she was seven years old and only a miracle sustains that same life day after day, two and a half years later!  Our sovereign God alone knows the plans He has for her.  She feels safe there.  We do too.  It is not for us to know the time and the date of that plan…  only to walk in joyful obedience with each day as it comes! 

Rachel has made it plain and clear since the beginning of this transplant journey that she wanted to LIVE waiting and refused to wait to LIVE.  She knows that there is not a promised heart at the end of the wait, but there IS the HOPE that Jesus promises!  Because she has fully embraced the perfect sovereignty of God, she doesn’t live in fear.  She will live fully with whatever time He gives.  If He brings a heart in time… “Great!” she says!  If He doesn’t… “That’s great too, because I will be with Him!” 

That is why I have fought every step of the way that Rachel be allowed to stay at home and with the family she loves while she waits.  To sit entangled with wires and machines sustaining her body is not “living” in her book, and she wants none of that!  She proves in that living that she trusts in the sovereignty of God more than most mature believers I have met in my lifetime! 

Of all the miracles God has wrought in and through Rachel’s life, I believe this to be the most beautiful!  I have learned more about the comfort and HOPE in the Sovereignty of God through Rachel than I could have learned any other way!  I refuse to let those with less faith and fearful hearts to steal that from her or to deny me the beautiful, transforming experience of embracing that amazing truth with her! 

So as you witness our journey, know this…  Our home is not “holy ground” and we are far from perfect or strong enough to handle what lies ahead.  But we have never known the PEACE that Jesus spoke of until the circumstances of Rachel’s broken heart have caused us to come nearer and nearer to Him and to the beautiful realities of eternity. 

Never before have we known more JOY!  There is absolute joy when resting in the sovereignty of God.  This is possible even though the journey ahead is likely laced with more pain than we have known before.  But we would choose no other path than this one, because we know that God, in His sovereignty, will ALWAYS accomplish that which brings Him the greatest glory and through that, our ultimate good!   

We covet your prayers for Rachel and for our family.  But as you lift our names before the Lord and seek to walk beside us, we pray above all that you would know this one beautiful Truth that carries us along and which we place every single ounce of our faith in… 

He is sovereign!

(These special photos were taken by an adoptive mom who heard about Rachel and wanted to capture this beautiful time in her life for our family...  They are, and will always be, some of my greatest treasures!  Please consider hitting "play" on the song below and then scroll through the precious images captured, displaying her boundless HOPE and JOY!)

I will not sacrifice...

…that which costs me nothing.”

Exactly one year ago this weekend, I stood behind a microphone at a women’s retreat and proclaimed with my own lips that I wanted more than anything else to be used up completely for God!  My desire was to one day stand before Him and be completely empty- with nothing left to give!  I spoke of my life as my offering and I intended to live it as a sacrificial gift to the God I love! 

As I survey the past year, it appears that the Lord has taken me up on my offer!  I am not the same woman that stood on that stage last April.  My life is hardly recognizable.  Or maybe it is the lens that I suddenly see the world through that has changed! 

I am happier than I have ever been!  But I am more tired… no, more weary than I ever remember being before!  Jesus’ words call to me… “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest”.  I long for the rest that only He can give!  But it’s the kind of rest that only comes when one has been busy doing the hard work their Master sets before them, and they are content that they have given their very best! 

I can also say that I have never in my life experienced such absolute JOY!  This seems impossible in light of the circumstances that surround me, but it is true nonetheless!  As Jesus increases in my life and in my choices, I decrease!  More of Jesus, less of me = more JOY!  How can anything be seen as sacrifice when the reward is JOY?  I know nothing of sacrifice!

Yet, if I am to be completely honest with you, I will have to admit that it seems these days that to walk in obedience to God is indeed costly.  More costly than I ever imagined when proclaiming my intentions to sacrifice all for Him just a year ago!  I’m not talking about the kind of costly that just skims the top of your savings account, or even the kind that costs more than you think you are able to pay, because you won’t have enough left for yourself when you’re through.  Instead, it appears that to follow closely after Jesus and to live a life of sacrificial love in His name will cost you everything!   It drains every single account dry and demands more than you will ever have to give in your own strength…  This goes against every inclination of my stubborn, controlling, self-centered heart.  And yet, everything inside of me knows more than I’ve ever known before, that these are exactly the sacrifices God desires from His people!  

When our sacrifices strip us of self and cost us everything we have to give, God is most glorified!  Our offering is pleasing to Him!  I want that more than I want anything else.  That’s why I said “yes” to Abby before even counting the actual cost of such a yes.  If it was for the Lord, the cost did not matter…

Adopting Abby was a step of faith unlike any God had asked me to take before!  I had zero experience with anyone that was born with Down Syndrome, and went into it all rather blindly, only doing so because I was certain to the core of my being that it was God’s plan for us.  Abby was our daughter, and we were to bring her home and love her for the rest of our lives.  This is where “Yes Lord!” will be my only answer, and I’ll deal with each sacrifice required as it comes….  

Doug says often that the Christian life is very little about planning, and almost all about responding.  I think he’s exactly right!  I knew that to adopt Abby would change just about everything about my life as I had known it, yet I did not hesitate.  I learned long ago that a life planned by God, no matter how difficult or costly, is filled with far greater JOY and reward than any of my personal, best-laid plans!  Still, I tried to enjoy the few months before leaving for China, knowing that a massive life change awaited me starting bright and early on Abby’s Gotcha Day. 

I was right!  Abby is precious beyond words- just like I knew she would be!  She has the ability to make me smile more than anyone I’ve ever met before.  I can’t explain it, I can only tell you that it is so!  But from the moment I met Abby until this one typing a blog about her, my life and the changes she has brought into it, have been overwhelming!  Many of those changes are wonderful and I am already enjoying some of the rewards of my sacrifices to obey God’s call to adopt her.  But some of those changes are just down right hard!  Simply put… If someone tells you that sacrifice is easy, they are lying!  ;-)

Sacrifice goes against almost every inclination of our sinful hearts.  I have rarely been as keenly aware of how resistant I am to sacrifice as I was while in China without Doug’s help- adjusting to an 8 year old girl with Down Syndrome and all that her care meant to my 49 year old body!  I cried more than a few tears in my moments alone while in the bathroom or standing in the shower at night after Abby was asleep.  I was overwhelmed and felt far too small for the task. 
During those difficult first days together, God reminded me of a story from His Word again and again.  It is from 2 Samuel 24.   God had given King David plain instructions to go to the threshing floor that belonged to a man named Araunah and build an alter on which to sacrifice to Him.  David did not waste time in his obedience, as he had been suffering severe consequences for earlier lapses in obedience to God’s commands, and he hurried to the exact place God had instructed him to go.  There he offered a fair price for the piece of land on which he would offer his sacrifice to the Lord.  But Araunah didn’t want to take his money!  Instead he offered it to him for free!  “Take the land for your sacrifice to the Lord, but keep your money,” he told the King.  David’s answer was so beautiful and his words had seared themselves into my heart and were the ones God used to carry me through my difficult journey to China.  When the going got especially tough and I felt that I could hardly go on, these words came to my mind again and again….

“I will not sacrifice to the Lord that which costs me nothing!”

Sacrifice is hard!  But if it costs me nothing- it would not be a sacrifice at all, would it?  Yet when laid before the Lord as our offering… the cost seems insignificant in comparison to His great Love!  Joy would sneak into my heart with each reminder of these words and it carried me through another day!

One day toward the end of our journey was exceptionally hard.  We were all tired after almost two weeks away from home and Abby was struggling through so many life changes that appeared to be overwhelming her at times, as I tried to figure out a way to navigate China with a resistant 55 pound 8 year old!  I found it hard to even get my feet to hit the floor the morning of our all important Consulate Appointment.  I opted for noodles in the room over another breakfast at the buffet that I found left me exhausted before our days had even begun!  I got the three of us dressed and somehow made it into the waiting van by 6:30 AM for the hour-long ride to the American Consulate.  I don’t do life with lack of sleep very well and I don’t do weariness and massive adjustments alone very well either.  The combination left me with an overwhelming urge to cry!  But I was afraid that if I started, I might not be able to stop!  Instead I texted an SOS home to Doug with an urgent plea for prayer and some much needed words of encouragement.  It was late at night when Doug received that text and he was terribly ill, but His answer was like salve to my soul and straight from God to me through his texting fingers! 

Here’s what he said…  “You can do this Lori!  I know that this is hard, but God has called you to this and your obedience is a beautiful sacrifice to Him!  Remember the words of David…  ‘I will not sacrifice to the Lord that which costs me nothing!’”

How did he know?  I cried when I read his words!  Not tears of “I can’t do this!”, but tears of “I can!”.  God was reminding me that while the sacrifice was costly, it was beautiful to Him!  Those words carried me through the last few days of my trip and finally home into the arms of Doug and my waiting friends and family. 

But while the difficult road to China and back was behind me, the journey of sacrificial loving that God had called me to had just begun!  Jet lag hit hard and trying to adjust to my new “normal” was overwhelming.  Tears are my body’s pressure release valve, and I shed plenty of them in those first few days home.  And just like I had with each adoption before this one, I mourned the loss of the life I had left behind and wondered how in the world I would ever find my balance again or why I had ever signed up for this again in the first place!  Out of sheer exhaustion, with eyes swollen from so many tears, I dragged myself into and out of the shower and straight toward my waiting bed!  Surely things would appear brighter in the morning.  But just as I lifted my body into the bed, I noticed a piece of paper stuck to the bottom of my foot that I had obviously picked up from the floor on the way from the bathroom. 

I peeled it off and turned it over to read these words in my own handwriting from many, many months ago…  “I will not sacrifice that which costs me nothing!”

I am obviously slow to learn, so God must shout over my voices of doubt and the temptations I often have to run away from costly sacrifices when I’d rather curl up with comfort and ease!  I could hear Him loud and clear!  My sacrifice was beautiful to Him!  

It’s been over four months since that night of struggle and finally surrender.  I am often tempted to turn back on my promise and give less than my best when this new life demands more and more of me…  more and more cost… more and more sacrifice… 
But then I remind my soul these precious words of Truth that lead to my greatest JOY and I find the strength to press on…  “I will not sacrifice to the Lord, that which costs me nothing!”

Caring for Abby is one of the sweetest joys of my life!  These photos snapped in just a few seconds can only give you a glimpse into the beautiful ways this "costly" decision has changed our lives in beautiful ways!  A sacrifice in the name of Jesus brings more JOY than the human soul can contain!  My life is my offering... I will sacrifice all for Him!



    "I'm invisible...
     When I put dinner on the table, everyone acts like it just appeared from nowehre.  The four of us can sit down with a full meal in front of us, and Jake will say, "I didn't want milk," as if he's talking to the air.  It's the same air that my husband talks to when he surveys the table laden with food and says, "There's no butter."  I have come to understand that this means, "I can't see you;  I'm not even addressing you.  But when I say there is no butter, the butter lady will get up and get it."
     And he's right.  Presto, the butter appears like magic; the milk gets swapped for juice; and we go on with dinner.  No one says thank you, because no one sees that anyone did anything.
     My family has no clue how their socks get back in their drawers, how their favorite treats end up in that mysterious brown bag that sits by the door waiting to be picked up on their way out, who comes to pick them up after school, or why the dog doesn't wet on the rug anymore.
     Tim, my teenager, takes everyone else's advice but mine.  My husband Michael talks to other people like he's interested in the minute details of their lives, yet he doesn't even ask me about my day... 
     Is this what comes from seventeen years of marriage and two children?...
     At first I didn't care about being invisible.  I thought maybe it was just a temporary condition, but the longer it persisted, the harder it became to deal with, because the more I poured myself into my family, the more invisible I became.  It was the complete opposite effect of what I was used to.  In college or in the workplace, the harder I tried and the more I gave, the more I had to show for it.  I became more visible, not less.  But in my house the more I do, the more it gets taken for granted.  
     I mean, is this what I signed on for?  What did I really expect?"  

(From "The Invisible Woman" by Nicole Johnson)

 Feeling invisible to those around you hurts.  Especially when it seems that the very people you pour yourself out for the most, seem to not notice you or care.  

In reading this book, “The Invisible Woman- When Only God Sees”, I was reminded, that though I may be invisible to the world around me, I am never invisible to God!  Invisibility can ultimately bring real significance and meaning to my life, that I might miss otherwise!  Nicole Johnson demonstrated this beautiful truth through the stories of the builders of cathedrals in Europe more than a thousand years ago….

I was fascinated and started to research the lives of men and women who worked tirelessly to build incredible Cathedrals for the gathering and worship of God’s people.  I think as a woman who works tirelessly at home- far from the applause of the world, you, too might find new perspective from their lives….
*Cathedrals required over 100 million pounds of stone and often consumed the labor of entire towns with only hand tools and stone!  Not only were they architectural wonders that literally defied gravity, they were also filled with sculptures that were considered Bible stories etched in stone.  These intricate statues are staples of gothic cathedrals and took dozens of carvers decades to complete.

*“Some of the architects and bishops behind a few of these great building are known, and much credit is given to them for their work, but the vast majority of the labor, the masonry, the carpentry, the stained glass was all done by people whose names history will never reveal.”

*Many of these cathedrals took over a hundred years to complete.  One hundred years was far more than one working man’s entire lifetime, which meant that many builders devoted their whole lives to a work they would never see finished!

*A worker would need a special vision of what he was creating to inspire him for the work ahead.  Especially since all he saw was rubble and dust and an endless amount of work to be done.  (sound familiar?)

*While many of these builders and workers were townspeople, there were also a large number of monks.  But unlike earlier monks, who were preoccupied with intellectual life, these monks regarded manual work as a form of prayer. 

*Even along the roof lines of these magnificent cathedrals are carvings that can not be seen from the floor stories below.   Why was such craftsmanship expended on them, and such planning given to their content and narrative? One sculptor wrote- "The most lofty work is as carefully carved and skillfully finished as any at a lower level.” (where man could see)
*A story is told of a very prominent man who went to visit a cathedral that was being built.  He stopped to watch one of the workers, perhaps a monk.  He saw the worker carving a tiny bird inside of a beam that would eventually be covered over by the stone roof.  The man asked the worker why he was spending so much time and giving so much attention to something no one would ever see.  The builder never looked up.  He never stopped carving as he replied, “Because God sees.” 

Years later, Martin Luther urged ordinary people- not just the clergy – to find the same perspective.  He told the world that it was not the nature of work that made it holy.  Milking a cow was no less holy than giving an offering.  Luther believed that a housewife had as great a calling as a high priest, and that both should perform his or her work as though God alone were watching.  Holiness comes from God and from the heart of the person doing the work, not from the work itself. 

And now, centuries later, we read of exquisitely carved statues hidden behind walls visible only by reaching in with a mirror through holes in the plaster.  It seems the artists walled up some of their best work because they believed God himself saw it, and they left it for God’s eyes only.  Their work was not hidden by some one else,; they hid their own work.  They weren’t afraid that no one would find out what they’d done.  The one who mattered most had already seen it!

 As mothers to young children, we need to understand the heart of the cathedral builders who were motivated to dedicate their lives to a work that they would often not see to completion and would likely never bring them the recognition of men.  When we do, and we embrace it for ourselves, we will discover real JOY in being the women God has called us to be….

Titus 2 says that the older women are to teach the younger to be “workers at home”. (some versions say “busy at home”, “keepers at home” or “homemakers”)  This career choice is not a popular one in our culture.  Through the eyes of the world, there is no significance in forgoing a “real” job and being keepers of the home who raise their own children.  But when God’s Word was put to pen, He listed it as one of the most important, significant roles we would have as a woman. 

In “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence, he said this…   

“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”

“Let us think often that our only business in this life is to please God. Perhaps all besides is but folly and vanity.”

Last week I had the opportunity to clean a home in our area for $250.00.  Say no more!  Count me in!  I clean a home every single day of my life and have a wealth of experience in my 30 years of homemaking, but not once has anyone handed me a check for $250.00 to do it!  I would gladly set aside my own house work to do this one and already had a few ideas in mind with how to spend that $250.00!!!!  I gathered my supplies, packed them in the back of my car, and was on my way!  This job opportunity had me excited!  Not, of course, because the work would be fun or self-fulfilling… but because for once someone would appreciate it enough to fork over the big bucks for it!  I had a spring in my step when I arrived at the home to discover a TON of work that needed to be done.  It didn’t appear this would be done by the time the kids got off the bus at 3PM.  That’s OK… Even if I had to come back that night, I was looking at way more per hour than I had seen in 30 years!  Should I go clothes shopping or maybe look for a new piece of furniture I had been wishing for…..  it was fun to dream about what to do with the fruit of my labor!

Within the first hour I had worked up a nice sweat and looked the part of “frumpy maid”.  I kept the prize in mind as I got on my hands and knees and worked my way around the commode it appeared the construction crew had been using.  Suddenly a voice interrupted my thoughts on the job I had only hours before found to be so appealing.  It was a beautiful, well dressed, hose and high-heeled wearing realtor stopping by to see if the house would be ready for showing the next day.  I got up from my hands and knees, of course, and introduced myself.  I was suddenly humiliated by what I sensed was a very “low” position in comparison to hers!  I felt the urge to somehow explain that I was important… I was significant too… even if you couldn’t tell by the aroma of bleach and sweat colliding with your designer perfume.  Did she know how much experience I had?  I was a bona fide professional… But at WHAT?  Cleaning houses?  I decided to just smile and return to work.

 I had plenty of time for some introspection as I wrapped my body back around the base of the commode and finished up the first bathroom out of four that needed to be done before I could go home to do the two that were begging for attention in my own home!  It became painfully obvious that I had agreed to this job (and actually had been excited about it), solely because it held for me the promise of reward!   Had I lost sight of the “reward” in cleaning my own home… in being the “keeper of the home” God had designed me to be?  I obviously had!  The truth was, I didn’t need new clothing or another piece of furniture, and I suddenly wondered if the time I had taken away from the care of my own home (and would have to do later!) was worth it after all!  The lure of the money melted away… I wished I hadn’t taken the job. 

It was obvious that God was teaching me something through this experience and I didn’t want to miss it (and chance having to repeat it again!).  I had heard just a few days earlier of a missionary family in great need in China.  They had once given money to pay for Abby’s open heart surgery when complications arose.  Now the orphan they were caring for and hope to adopt was terribly ill, lying in ICU, clinging to life.  Hospital bills would need to be paid or care would not be provided.  They were desperate for God to send help…  My $250.00 would be just a drop in the bucket in comparison to what they had done for my own daughter.  But God had provided a way for me to give it, and what had begun as a way to line my own pockets for more “stuff”, became a way for me to serve the Lord through my cleaning “skills”! 

Now suddenly- the job that had quickly become drudgery, became a JOY!  And I realized as I cleaned my heart out until late into the night… that there seems only to be JOY when done as “onto the Lord” when only He sees!  And just as suddenly, I realized that the quality of that work was equally as important.  I wasn’t cleaning that house for construction workers or for a realtor!  I was cleaning it for the Lord and I didn’t intend to skimp on my offering!

Shouldn’t this apply to the keeping of my own home too?  He has entrusted that to me… asked me to care for it.  Should I not give my whole heart to making it a beautiful offering to the God I love so much?  It’s perfectly fine when “He alone sees”… because He is the only One that matters!


 About a year ago, God began to do a radical work in my heart.  While I had been a homemaker (by choice) for 30 years and a stay at home mom (by choice) for almost 26 of those, I had somehow missed the beautiful significance in doing a job for no measurable earthly gain.  I settled it in my heart that I had done so out of love for my husband and the children God had given us…  This is what I believed was best for them, and it was a sacrifice I was willing to make and enjoyed most of the time.  It didn’t matter much that the world disagreed with my choices.  I felt that it was what God had designed for me to do, and I wanted to do it with JOY.  Sadly, though, my life was characterized more by resentment and drudgery, than it was with JOY! 

While surrounded by young children and piles of dirty laundry, I had begun to feel as if a life of “ministry” was on hold, at least until those children started to go to school from 8-3, 5 days a week!  THEN I would be free to get back to the “ministries” I loved and ones that made me feel more valuable in God’s eyes… and when that day finally came, I did!  I began to speak for MOPS Intl’ and enjoyed wonderful, “ease-filled” lunches with my husband while they were all in school.  THIS was the life I had been waiting for and I had earned it!!!!  Life was GOOD! 

But 10 years ago, right in the middle of the wonderful, ministry-filled life I was enjoying, I completely missed my monthly period!  This had always meant only ONE thing and I was, of course, convinced that I was pregnant!  God had “overridden” our decision to have no more children biologically and He was obviously calling me back to a life without the ease I had come to love.  I decided then, that if this were true, then I would finally follow my dreams of adoption from China and bring a little girl home too!

I wasn’t pregnant.  But I could clearly hear God’s whispering to my heart…  “Lori, I won’t force you back home, but would you return willingly?”  10 years, and 4 children from China later (soon to be FIVE… and YES, that was an announcement, in case you missed it!), it would be safe to say that I willingly returned to His call of full-time mothering and housekeeping once again!  One of those little girls (and soon to be two) was born with an extra “JOY” chromosome- commonly known as Down Syndrome.  In adopting Abby, and now little Rebekah, I am CHOOSING to embrace this role of full time mom and homemaker, likely for the rest of my life!

 This is not the life of “ease” I had planned or looked forward to!  But thankfully, (through what I call my “do over”!) God has used the adoption of those precious girls to completely change my understanding of my role as a mother and as a homemaker.  His call back home was not a call AWAY from ministry!  Nor was it a call to put my ministry on “hold”!  Instead, it was a call back to the GREATEST ministry He HAS, or ever WILL give me… right inside the four walls of my own home! Yes… where only He sees!

The most significant change was that I began to see that those children are not “mine” (as I had often viewed my biological children to be), but HIS- entrusted to me for a short time and intended to be offered back to Him when I am through.  My home belongs to Him too, just like everything else I “possess”!  My call as a mother and a “keeper” of that home is a sacred trust!  I work for HIM!  Not for my children and not for my husband!

 Colossians 3:23-24
       Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

If you look at all of Paul’s writings throughout the New Testament, you find this theme woven into each and every one!  So, it would only be natural to read the words of Titus with the same idea in mind…  For us, as women, our place of service is the HOME, and we are to do it with all of our hearts, as unto the Lord!

We too, can be like Paul, and become what he called a “drink offering” before the Lord!  Our lives, poured out, in service to Him!

I remember a time in my life when I cried out to God- “I want more of you!”  I was not satisfied…  And I didn’t know how to be.  Everything I had looked to left me empty!  I knew that true joy would only be found in Him, but I didn’t know how to get more of Him!

What I really wanted was all of me PLUS more of Him…  I did not yet understand that to get more of Him (more JOY!), I would have to pour out some of me!  But as I poured out more and more of me, I discovered a JOY I had never known before!     

Now I finally see it!  The more of me that I pour out- the more space there is, for more of HIM!  He can only come in and fill up emptiness.  When I am full of self there is no room for Him!  Give away me- make room for Him-  Give away His gifts- make room for more gifts!

“Lord- give me more so that I have more to give!!!!”  Joy, Joy, JOY!!!!  That’s why we were created…. To glorify Him!  I become less- He becomes more- I overflow with His JOY and He is more and more glorified in that JOY!!!!  A beautiful cycle of JOY!!!!  And that is His design!  YES…  even in your God ordained role as the “keeper of your home”… When only He sees!  

 Recently I read this quote from another weary mom of many children…  “Ease is the enemy of the mother who really wants to fall in love with God!”   Really?  Ease is my enemy?  What a scary thought when I realize how often I dream of more hours and days filled with ease… and sometimes allow my desire for ease to neglect the very responsibilities God has laid before me in His Word! 

The life of a mom and homemaker is far from a life of ease (contrary to what the world would have us believe!), but it gives us the perfect opportunity to pour ourselves out for the good of others and look to Him for the significance and value we long for as women!  

Just a few weeks ago, while wiping bottoms and bathing little ones, I felt especially inpatient and irritable.  My friends were all enjoying their empty nests these days.  Probably sitting in front of the TV watching HGTV or out on a date with their husbands.  My best friend happened to be in the Florida Keyes for a long week away… alone…. with her husband… with no children…. I was terribly jealous!!!!  There would be no empty nest for us, and likely not much HGTV, date nights, or weekends away, for a long time to come.  Why had I signed up for this? But then God swept into my consciousness in an instant and brought His words back to my mind… “Do everything as onto the Lord… It is the Lord Christ you are serving!” 

I had forgotten and my role became drudgery.  But as I let that sweet reminder sink in and I looked down at the child waiting for my help, I remembered…  This is HIS child and He’s asked me to serve HIM in this way.  With what kind of heart would I serve Him?  Irritability and impatience were replaced instantly with JOY!

HGTV is a great friend to spend the evening with, and my husband even better!  But relaxing in front of a TV screen or in the Florida Keys alone with my husband won’t bring the kind of JOY serving Him does!

The greatest JOY I will ever know is found in those places… those sacrifices that “only God sees”!  What I do may be invisible to the world around me… maybe even to the very people I am doing them for.  But my offering is never invisible to God and the reward is so much more than a mere $250.00 I’d earn for cleaning up after construction workers. 

My life, and the way I choose to live it, is all I have to give back to God… and I only have one chance to do it!  You will be a mother of young children and the intense homemaking that comes along with them for such a short time and as much as you’d like to sometimes, you cannot turn back the hands of time… They will fly from the nest before you know it, and this particular carving in the cathedral of your life will be complete.  Will you give yourself fully to that, knowing that though the world might not notice.. God does, and your offering is beautiful to Him!?   What will you do with this ONE sacred opportunity He has given you?...