Don't wait for miracles...


One of my readers reminded me recently that I am long overdue to post an update on Rachel.  I think she's right!  I've honestly been avoiding it, hoping that I could post happy news of a perfectly matched heart having finally been found...  Sadly though, that perfect match has not been found and after 16 months on the heart transplant list, we are STILL waiting!  Rachel is considered "Fragile but Stable"...  a miracle!!

Recently a precious little friend got her call... a heart had been found!  But after many complications and the rejection of her new heart, Teresa slipped from this life into the next.  Many friends reached out to us with encouragement.  I knew what they were thinking, and I knew what they thought I was thinking... but praise God, I wasn't thinking what they were thinking or even thinking what I would have expected myself to be thinking!  :-)  ...a grace-filled miracle!!

Everything in me exploded with joy when I heard a heart had finally come for Teresa!  I prayed with everything in me that this heart would be the magical match we had all been praying for.  As she struggled and then finally lost the battle with her broken heart, I grieved...  Teresa was a precious little girl, so filled with life and joy!  It just didn't seem right that she was suddenly gone.  My heart ached for her mother, now my friend.  The whole ordeal played as if in slow motion... days seemed like months... would the struggle ever end for this sweet princess?

I watched as if from the outside, looking in, and even sometimes felt like a fly on the wall of what could become my own reality with Rachel.  But God was so gracious and good to me.  Fear of what lies ahead for us did not enter my consciousness... not once!   I worried, though, about telling Rachel.  How would she respond?  Would this instill fear in her heart when her perfect match is found?  Doug convinced me that we had always been completely honest with Rachel about her condition and that she deserved to know the truth.  We were on vacation in Texas, sitting outside on the porch, while the kids ran around playing their nightly game of hide and seek in the dark.  Rachel joined us when she decided that keeping up with everyone else was a losing battle!  "Rachel," I said, "I have something to tell you....  I know that you've been praying for Teresa, but I wanted you to know that she died today and went to be with Jesus in Heaven."  She looked at me as if she already knew.  "I knew she was going to die, Mommy." she said in a quiet voice.  "How did you know?" I asked her.  "I just did", was the only explanation she could offer.  I asked her if she thought Teresa's death was a good thing or a bad thing?  Her eyes lit up as she answered..."Oh, it's a very good thing for Teresa, but not good for her Mommy!"  How right you are sweet girl!  May you never lose sight of the wonderful LIFE that awaits you on the other side of death's door.  Better than any life we could ever offer you here!... a beautiful miracle!

I spent quite a bit of time pondering the wait we find ourselves in, realizing that for Teresa and her family, the months of waiting would be the last months they had together.  How then, would God have us wait?  And while I am reminded of the precious gift this time is to teach Rachel about the Savior that will meet her when she arrives at heaven's door, I am also reminded to make every moment we have, here and now, count!  This beautiful truth does not apply to Rachel alone, but to everyone we love and hold dear!

I watched as thousands and thousands of people cried out to God for Teresa's miracle and I was more aware than ever that our Rachel needs a miracle of the same proportions!  But then it hit me as with a baseball bat across the head...  Rachel is a walking miracle!  Neither Rachel or Teresa should have lived past their first or second birthdays!

OK...It's not the best picture!
But I love it because it shows the way Rachel's eye glisten when she smiles!

Rachel turned NINE this summer!  Every single day... a miracle!  And to think that God went to such measures to get our precious girl all the way home from China... a miracle!  And the way He opened up her broken heart to the Truth about Himself and His love for her through Jesus... a miracle! The way she is filled with such love, life, and joy after such horrendous years in an institution with no hope... a miracle!  The way she continues to laugh and play and enjoy life in spite of her failing heart... a miracle!  

A miracle is what I seek...  but a million miracles have already been granted!

Life is looking differently these days.  I thank God for the way He used Teresa's story to bring beautiful perspective once again!  The craziest thing of all, is that Rachel seems to have a better grasp on this beautiful perspective than we do!  She always has!  How is this even possible for a little girl her age?  It's not!.. It's a miracle!!

I have to share something with you that I'm honestly surprised I have not written about before now! When Rachel turned 8 years old (our first birthday to celebrate together) Doug purchased an ITouch from a mom on Craig's List.  This was the only thing Rachel really wanted, and she was absolutely thrilled!!!  I kept promising Rachel that we would allow her to pick out some music and add it to her ITouch.  She insisted that hers already had music on it.  How was this possible?  We had erased everything from the ITouch the day we purchased it!  But one song remained and it had become her "favorite".  She sang along every time it played.
     "We pray for blessings.  We pray for peace, comfort for family, protection while we sleep.  We pray for healing, for prosperity.  We pray for Your mighty hand to heal our suffering.  All the while, you hear each spoken need, yet love us way too much to give us lesser things. 
     What if Your blessings come through raindrops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?  What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?"

Could Rachel even begin to understand what those words meant?  And yet, her confidence in the face of death reveals that she must!  Had God not obviously left this song just for her?  A few months ago, Rachel's voice piped up from the back of the van...  "This is not our home!"  This announcement took me by surprise, the way it seemed to come out of the blue.  She went on..."This is not our home!  Heaven is!  This is just our temporary home!"  She obviously understood this concept in a way even adults do not!  I marveled at the work of God!  What had she been thinking of that day?  And then I heard that song of hers again as I rode in my van alone, a few days later...  This time I purposed to really listen to each and every word that God had so beautifully used to speak to Rachel's heart.  And there it was!!!

     "...When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win, we know... the pain reminds this heart... that this is not, this is not our home!  It's not our home!
     Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?  What if Your healing comes through tears? And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?   
     What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life, is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy....and what if trials of this life- the rain, the storms, the hardest nights, are Your mercies in disguise?"

I cry even as I type these beautiful words, and from down the hall I can hear this song playing for Rachel as she drifts off to sleep.  It is among her other favorite songs that are played each night, reminding her of God's love and unchanging promises.  What are the chances that single song was left on Rachel's ITouch?  Not very good!  ...a miracle!  And the fact that she understands that the pain of this life was designed by God to reveal His love and goodness, and to give us a longing for heaven?  ...a miracle indeed!!

What are you doing with your one and only life?

"He is no fool who gives what he can not keep, 
          to gain that which he can not lose"

Those were the words of Jim Elliot.  But they were more than words...  He died living those words!

Several times in just the past few weeks my almost 10 year old daughter has shared her thoughts out loud about deep things of the Lord I'm pretty certain I didn't think about when I was her age. I'm embarrassed to admit that maybe I didn't think about the things she sorting through in her heart until only a few years ago, and the funny thing is that God used her adoption to plant these very seeds in me!

She can't seem to get over how long eternity is...  and how short this life is in comparison!  And she's concluded, after much thought, that since this life is so brief and will ultimately determine the outcome of our forever eternity, we should live this life differently!  "We should take more risks," she told me, "and do the things that really matter for eternity!"  How right she is!!!!  But are we?

Right now, the big debate in our family is centered around a decision regarding what exactly God wants from us.  How far does He want us to go?  How much is enough?  How many are enough? Which way should we walk?  Will He tell us when we've finally "arrived" and should stay?  They are the hard questions that we're afraid to ask.  Because sometimes the answers mean that God will ask us for more than we ever wanted to give.  I've found lately that God will often push us way outside our comfort zones when we're brave enough to ask those questions.  Losing this life I hold dear is almost always His plan.  But He knows what I continue to forget and what Jim Elliot obviously had his arms wrapped around.  In giving what I can not keep, I gain what can not be lost!!!

I'm beginning to think that I already know the answers to the questions I keep bringing before the Lord.  In fact, maybe it's time I start asking some new questions all together.  But these questions are directed at me, and they are the ones God has been asking all along.

Here's one....  "What can I do for you, Lord, to die to myself more and more?"  And, "Is there a need I can meet that would honor you, Lord?.... that would push me past my own limitations and demand that you show up and glorify Yourself through me?"  "Do I have an ounce of energy left to give, that I could give to glorify You?"  "Do you need someone to stand up and act in Your name?  Could it be me?"

So I've been doing some soul searching lately and a small voice whispers to me each time I get quiet enough to hear it...  What are you doing with your one and only life, Lori?   Kate is right, you know?  Life is short and what I do with this one and only life God has given me matters!  What am I doing with it?  If you look around my home, in my closets, and in my over-stuffed garage, you might find some answers.  My debit card statement would reveal even more!  Where exactly is my treasure?  What am I living for? 

Jesus said this in Matthew 13:44- “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”   

Would I willingly sell everything I have to possess that treasure?  Hmmmm....  I don't know.   Maybe I've lost sight of the absolute treasure Jesus is if I'm still clinging to my earthly "wares"!!!  I'm pretty certain that if I fully understood His value, I would see the worthlessness of all I hold dear.  I need new eyes to see, don't you?  I want to see what that man who found the treasure in the field saw!  I want to see what Jim Elliot saw!  

But somewhere along the way I began to believe that the greatest treasures in life were found in the fairytale world I'd created in my dreams.  You know.... the one that includes Jesus and all the promises of God, but gives me a good husband, healthy kids who embrace my values, a comfy van, and a nice home too!  I'd bet that if I went and flipped my TV on right now, I might even find a preacher there to tell me that those self satisfying dreams were exactly what God intends for me to have and the only thing standing in my way is my lack of faith....

Why then did Jesus tell the story about that incomparable treasure that was worth selling everything else for?  I'm convinced that Jesus knew we'd never find the satisfaction we long for in the things we're hanging on to for dear life!  He knows that the very things we avoid are worth so much more!!!  Letting go of something we can not keep, to take hold of that which we can not lose!!!!  Our lives for HIMSELF!  What a life-changing exchange!  

If I REALLY believed that God was all He says He is, wouldn’t I willingly lay down the life I cling to, in order to have ALL of Him?  If I believed all He has said about eternity and how to live my life for that day instead of this day, wouldn't I willingly lay down the temporary for the promises of forever?  

I have a decision to make…. Because living the life Christ died for is so much bigger than the one I'm clinging to right now!  I was not called to live life for the here and now, anymore than the saints of old were!  What has changed?  Maybe we have, but God's call has not.   

In the Bible, people who lived for eternity instead of the temporary were called HEROES!  Hebrews 11 is packed from beginning to end with people who regarded the treasure of Christ to be far more valuable than anything this world offered them.  Many of them gave their lives, much like Jim Elliot did, in light of the promises to come.  They gave up the temporary rewards to reach for more eternal ones...  Here's what the Bible says about God's brand of heroes...

  Hebrews 11:13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 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 a city for them.
...39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us...

These were God’s heroes!!!  And He describes perfectly what a hero should look like!  The true heroes (the ones the world isn’t even worthy of) are the followers of Jesus that are willing to lose everything for the cause of Christ…  the ones that have their eyes fixed on Jesus and all that is promised for eternity.  How the world needs more heroes.  How I long to be one of them!

So hang on to your seats, Friends…. cause you’re gonna love this!  Keep reading and you'll find yourself in Hebrews 12, where God clearly tells us how we, too, can be a hero in His eyes....

Hebrews 12:1- Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

God doesn’t tell us to look at these heroes and try to be just like them!  He puts the cherry on top of the sundae and says… “Now, keep your eyes on Jesus” and you, too can be a hero!  And HOW did HE do it?  He did it for the JOY set before Him!... just like you and I can!

Jesus said if we want to follow Him, we would have to “Take up our cross” to do it!  “Give up our lives in order to gain them”; “Lose our lives to find them” in Him!!!!  That is radical!  “Self” is out the window!!!!

What would it look like if we really lived for Jesus, instead of for ourselves?  Do you know how few people I have even come in contact with that live that way for the sake of Christ?   WHY?  What is wrong with us??? 

One of my all time favorite missionaries was Hudson Taylor.  A book was written about his life entitled, "It Is Not Death To Die".  Hudson Taylor found true life in dying to himself to make Jesus known among the lost people of China.  It reminds me of the beautiful song "The Wondrous Cross"...  "Oh the wonderful cross, oh the wonderful cross, bids me come and die and find that I may truly live!"  
It's all right there for us, if we'll only embrace it!  We have obviously come to think that we are the exception to this eternal Truth…..  But ARE we???  How many of us are really willing to die for the faith we claim as ours?  

The truth is that not many of us are called to forsake all we know in the name of Christ. But each and every day, on almost a moment by moment basis, every one of us has the opportunity to die to ourselves!  “It is not death to die”-  And this is God’s plan!  Can you imagine how different the world would be, if every so-called Christian lived a life of constant “dying to self” for the name of Jesus??? 

And the best part?  You don’t even have to leave the comforts of home and family to do it!  Because for many of us, our primary call to death to self is through the gift of motherhood!  (Amen?)  And for me personally, the call to 'die to self' smacked me in the face through the gift of adoption. 

In recent days I have been called "noble".  I have been called "wonderful".  Just last week a woman wrote that she was in awe of my family!  PLEASE!  Do you know the bottom line reason I adopted?  I adopted to run away from ME!!!  I needed something (and God obviously knew it and included it in the Lori plan) that would strip all of the disgusting self-promoting, self-satisfying stuff out of my heart and life.  I knew EXACTLY what He was up to…. And because I want to please Him so much, I signed on anyway!  This was my opportunity (not my first, but my first to go into voluntarily maybe) to declare with my life…. I will die to myself. 

God must increase, I must decrease.  And every morning when the going got tough… I began the mantra…. “Die to self, Lori, Die to self!”  And I could feel God’s pleasure…. Maybe for the first time in my life!  And now, with each step, a call to deeper death to self.  My flesh cries out – but what about me????  “Die to self, Lori, Die to self!”

And like the man in Chariots of Fire who said…. "When I run I feel God’s pleasure", I could say that as I served the children God had sovereignly placed in my home.  I am not a hero, or a saint, or someone special that possess something that you do not.  I am simply committed to no longer live the safe life, the comfortable life, the well planned out life instead of the one that will most please God.  And the deeper I go, the deeper the joy becomes!  The deeper the sacrifice, the deeper the joy.  The deeper the pain, the deeper the joy.  In God’s pleasure is JOY!!!!   

So I press on through pain.  I press on through disappointment.  I press on through hardship.  I press on for the joy set before me in Christ Jesus!  I press in and ask what more He has for me.  I willingly let go of what I can not keep, to gain that which I can not lose!

That's what I want to do with my one and only life.... 
                  What are you doing with yours?     

~Jim Elliot's death was not the end of the story...  Several of the wives and children of the 5 missionaries killed, including Jim's wife, Elisabeth, stayed in Equador and eventually reached the savage tribe with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  They were welcomed into the tribe as "family" and they raised their children among them, even calling one of the men responsible for their father's deaths, "Grandfather".  How beautiful is the redemptive work of Christ!  The seeds sewn through the lives of 5 missionaries produced a harvest a Christ-followers!  Several years ago my husband, Doug, had the opportunity to travel on a mission trip to Equador and boarded a small airplane bound for the same village where Jim Elliot and the 4 others lost their lives.  Their plane was greeted by one of the very men responsible for the deaths of the missionaries and is pictured here on Doug's left.  He is now a mighty man of God and one of the spiritual leaders among their tribe!  Jim Elliot was no fool!

A letter to myself (Part 4)

(...and other Moms like me)  ~

I am writing today, because I know that you have struggled long and hard with all it means to be a Godly mother to the children God has entrusted to you. (continue reading Part 1...)

When all is said and done and you pack up your child’s belongings to fly from your nest, it won’t matter much what you’ve taught them, how you’ve made them feel or the sweet relationship you’ve shared, if they do not leave with the tools they need to be passionate, devoted followers of Christ.  Period.  End of story. (continue reading Part 2...)

This letter would not be complete to you, especially as an adoptive mom, if I didn't have a heart to heart with you about your emotions.  It saddens me to think that you have struggled with your emotions, or lack there of, for so many years, without discovering the real truth.  It is time to settle the matter once and for all.  (continue reading Part 3...)

I can't close this letter before mentioning a very important tool you have at your disposal that will help you out of many a jam!  Most moms aren’t even aware of it, but it may well be the most valuable tool in your mothering chest!  The best part is that this is available for every area of your life- your friendships, your marriage, but most importantly, your calling as a mother to each and every one of your children- no matter their age! 

This miraculous tool is what we will call the “RESET” button.  If and when you feel a deep conviction from the Spirit of God that a situation is going in the wrong direction, you have absolute authority to employ a “RESET” with your children.   It will take honesty and humility to admit that your habits from the past have been hurtful or detrimental, but with a single decision and act of your will, you may “reset” and begin again.  Humble yourself…. Go to your child…  Tell them that the Lord has convicted you about the way you have handled a situation in your home… Tell them that you have made a decision to begin again and act differently…  Tell them what the new expectations will be as you begin again…  Then boldly hit that beautiful “RESET” button and “you’re off”!!!!  A new beginning!!! 

Don’t ever buy into the lie of the enemy when he whispers in your ear that it is too late for “resetting” your situation.  Your God is a God of new beginnings and nothing thrills Him more than watching His child (that would be YOU!) pick themselves up from a fall, dust themselves off, and ask for a chance to try again.  Jesus died for new beginnings!  Why not take Him up on His beautiful offer of forgiveness and new life?

In the same way- nothing will tenderize your children like a humble mom who is willing to admit fault and wrongdoing and then model what “new life” really means.  What child can protest when a tender mother comes and says “The Lord has shown me something that I have been doing as your mother that doesn’t please Him.  I want to change that, because I want to please Him more than I want my next breath.  From this moment on we are going to start over in this area.  This is what I am going to do and this is what I expect from you.”

Hold your ground against protests and dissent while the kids figure out that you mean business.  Parenting is not a democracy with your child.  Nor is it a dictatorship with you as lord over them.  Jesus is the King in your home. You are His humble servant and your goal is to raise humble servants in your footsteps!  If they know that you are not ultimately the one calling the shots, but that God is, they will be more inclined to follow.  If not, then God will see to it, with a little help from you, that the natural consequences of going astray are not in their best interest after all!

Do not fear the pain of consequences that come into your child’s life for rebellion or disobedience.  They will learn the lessons this pain is designed to teach now, under your watchful care, or they will be forced to learn them later, when you are no longer around to support them.  Which is more loving in the end?

This leads perfectly to a most important point you must consider in order to be the godly mother you long to be.  You absolutely must parent your child- no matter his/her age- in view of the LONG TERM.  Not doing so will prove most painful in the long run and there is an endless line of broken parents that will sadly attest to this truth.  One of the easiest things to do as a mother- especially one that spends 24/7 with your child- is to parent for the SHORT TERM.  You’ve done it, Lori, so you know exactly what I’m talking about... Anything to get them to be quiet; anything to keep the peace; anything to win their affection; or make them think you’re as cool as their best friend!  Short-term decision-making is rarely profitable for you, or for your child.  Giving in and giving up because you’re simply too tired to deal with an issue, will guarantee that you will deal with it again.  The issue (whatever it is!) will grow and grow and grow until you refuse to give in or give up!  You are the parent---  designed by God to be the leader.  Your children were never intended to lead your home and you will do them a great disservice if you allow them to do so!  Let them usurp your God-given role and your parenting years will not be the joy you had hoped for. 

With each and every situation as a mother, ask yourself this simple question… “Will this matter 20 years from now?”  If the answer is yes… then you must step up to the plate and lead in a way that molds them into the men and women God intends them to be.  Do not allow yourself to brush aside disrespect or laziness because you are too tired or overwhelmed to deal with it right now.  How will you feel when they are teenagers and don’t know how to properly show respect to a law enforcement officer, their school teachers, or a potential employer?  If a behavior would be unacceptable for your 16 year old, 21 year old, or 40 year old child, you’d best deal with it while they are young and impressionable.   

If a respectful attitude, good work ethic and honesty are to be taught… you are God’s chosen vessel to teach it!  You can stand at the kitchen sink alone, while the kids relax and play, if you choose.  You can resent it and feel used, but decide that the short-term hassles are just not worth it.  But for the long term, you are producing lazy, and selfish individuals who are happy to let another carry the loads of life.  Suddenly the nightly dishes, viewed through a long-term lens, become an incredibly important parenting tool to teach your children the value of hard work and a God honoring work ethic….

You can berate yourself that you’ve blown it and decide that it’s too late to make a change, or you can take my advice and hit the “RESET” button and try again!!!   Your teenager is rolling her eyes at you and boiling over with attitude!  Life would be so much easier to let her hide behind her bedroom door and allow the moment to pass.  Yes, easier for the short term, but never so for the long term!  “Pick your battles”- is what they say!  And they are right!  You would do well to pick the battles that will reap long-term benefits, and realize that the short-term ones will most often take care of themselves!  Remembering the key word “short” will help you carry on… 

You weren’t called to be a mother to create a peaceful home or to cultivate a beautiful friendship with your child.  God called you, instead, to love the children He placed in your care, nurture them, and model for them what it means to be a passionate, fully devoted follower of Christ.  If you do that, with His help, the long term looks bright indeed!  You will discover immense joy in this most holy calling of motherhood! 

Maybe right now would be the perfect time to hit that “RESET” button I was telling you about!  God loves new beginnings, don’t you?

I know that this letter has been difficult to read.  You’ve blown it more times than you can count and you struggle thinking that you might not ever get this mothering thing right.  But if you can step back from yourself every now and then and take an honest look, you’ll find that you ARE growing…. Your ARE changing…  You ARE becoming more like Jesus… and there is hope for even Mom’s like you!!! 
But now that you have heard these things (and hopefully they are grounded in the Word of God!) and have decided that they are indeed areas you need to address between you and the Lord…  GO DO IT!  What are you waiting for?  Because if you blink more than once before taking your first step…. Those treasures of yours (and His!) will be gone! 

Before I send you off on your way, though…  I need to tell you one last thing!  You won’t be able to do it!  Not one suggestion I have written to you within this letter is a change you will be able to achieve in your lifetime.  You could give it everything you’ve got until your dying breath and it will never happen!  None of it!!!

Unless, that is, you do it with the strength and empowerment of Christ.  Then, and only then, will you be able to lead your children in the godly way you desire.  Remember the words of Christ with each and every step… “Without Me you can do NOTHING!”  And as you go proclaim boldly with the apostle Paul…  “I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

So what are you waiting for, Servant of God?  He’s left some treasures for you to tend to and I think I can hear them calling you now… 

In His Great JOY,

A Letter to Myself (Part 3)

(...and other Moms like me)  ~

I am writing today, because I know that you have struggled long and hard with all it means to be a Godly mother to the children God has entrusted to you. (continue reading Part 1...)

When all is said and done and you pack up your child’s belongings to fly from your nest, it won’t matter much what you’ve taught them, how you’ve made them feel or the sweet relationship you’ve shared, if they do not leave with the tools they need to be passionate, devoted followers of Christ.  Period.  End of story. (continue reading Part 2...)

This letter would not be complete to you, especially as an adoptive mom, if I didn't have a heart to heart with you about your emotions.  It saddens me to think that you have struggled with your emotions, or lack there of, for so many years, without discovering the real truth.  It is time to settle the matter once and for all.

Nowhere in scripture are you instructed to control your emotions.  But you should not mistakenly believe that because it does not, that you have zero control over them and are a victim to the havoc they wreak on your life as a mother.  Can you even count the times you've uttered the words, "I can't change how I feel!"?  You were wrong!  You can change how you feel!  And God tells you how in His Word!  If you read it you will find that He tells us again and again that we are to take full control over our thoughts.  "Take every thought captive", it says.  Don't miss the most important word in that passage.... "every"!  More detailed information on the subject is available if we spend the time to take a deeper look... Philippians 4:8 says, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--- think about such things."

Don't be too quick to move on from here!  You'll miss the answers that have alluded you for so long!  When you take authority over the thoughts you allow to take up space in your mind, you will take authority over your emotions!  Look deeply into almost every important relationship in your life and see if it isn't so.  This is, of course, true for almost every aspect of life- like the emotions of worry; fear; bitterness; etc... but here's an up close and personal example that applies to the people we love and want to feel the emotion of "love" for!  Decide tonight, in your thoughts, that you no longer "love" your husband.  Entertain every single thought about his personality that drives you crazy.  Make a note to notice the habits you hate when he comes home from work tonight.  Allow yourself to replay some of his offenses toward you from the past.  Remind yourself that you could have done so much better and should have never married him to begin with.  Now tell me how you are feeling "emotionally" toward him right now!  Not oozing with those loving feelings, huh?

Now let's try it again!  But this time, let's think about all the reasons you fell in love with him in the first place; how he pursued you and made you feel so special!  Remember the first time you kissed and how you got butterflies!  Think about the ways he works so hard to take care of you and the kids and how he faithfully gets up every single morning to read his Bible and seeks to live a life that honors the Lord. When he walks through that door tonight- look at him and notice the things about him that you've always loved.  Maybe even that gray hair in his sideburns will remind you how he's been faithfully by your side for so many years and thank God for giving you those years together.  How are you feeling now?  You're ready to "jump his bones", aren't you?  ;-)  That's what I thought!

Now it's time to apply this somewhat simple truth to motherhood and finally figure out how to get that "loving feeling" for those kids God has given you!  But, I have to warn you...  this will take a LOT of practice and you will need to do this for the rest of your Mommy years or until all your emotions are completely under control!  Might be a while, huh?  Better get started....

Child #1 walks in the room.  You're irritated already.  You notice in your thoughts that they are so rude and can't even say "good morning" properly.  You notice their unbrushed hair and can see the entire section they took a pair of scissors to.  Again your thoughts go wild.  Why does every one else have little girls with beautiful, long hair that will keep their bows in?  Before she walks out the door to school, you have told your thoughts a million times already that she is driving you crazy and you've even entertained the thoughts that are telling your emotions that you wished you had never adopted her.  Maybe if you hadn't, you'd still be "happy"!  Now your thoughts begin to condemn you!  What kind of mother would even think such things???  You are evil!  You could never admit to anyone that you feel absolutely zero emotion for this child you are suppose to love!  You can't help but calculate in your mind how many more years until this emotional wreck of a relationship will be over.  And homeschool????   Never!  You're not "good" enough for that!!!!  Only mothers that "love" their children do that!  Feelings of depression and helplessness creep in.  The thoughts you allow to take over your mind every time you think of that child throughout the day, drive you even deeper into feelings of despair.  You are convinced that there is something terribly wrong with YOU and there is nothing you can do about it!  To make yourself feel better, you decide that maybe there is just something terribly wrong with this child that MAKES you feel the way you do!  If they could straighten up and behave; get a new attitude and learn to show some respect and gratefulness, then MAYBE you could have a positive emotion toward them.  That's not gonna happen!  Everything seems lost.....

You, my friend, have been caught in a vicious, downward spiral of emotions as a direct result of your independent, strong-willed thought life!!!!  Put a leash on your thoughts and your emotions might start following too!  It's time to rewind and start over.  Better yet- let's just erase those awful thoughts and begin with a brand new recording....

Child #1 wakes up and stumbles to the breakfast table.  You remember all those years you sat alone at this table and are grateful to have a child to share it with.  You decide that you like the way her short hair frames her big eyes - the same ones you fell in love with in her referral photo.  You start to feel irritated by the way she is shoving food in her mouth- but then you remind your thoughts that she went without food for so long, that she's afraid there won't be enough.  You feel compassion instead of irritation and you remind her to slow down- there will always be enough here!  She says she wants to stay home with you today- she doesn't like school anymore.  You panic because you had a lot planned today.  Selfish thoughts start boiling to the surface of your brain.  But you catch your "self" and put it back in it's place.  You are a mother- your child feels insecure and God has called you to nurture her and help her to feel safe.  You are willing to let go of your day if you need to.  You calmly and lovingly tell her that she needs to go to school, but you'll be here for her the minute she gets off that bus this afternoon.  Maybe then you could do something special together.  She agrees and you walk her to the bus.  The day has only begun and you feel weary.  You instruct your thoughts to remember that you signed up for the long haul and in the end, you wouldn't want it any other way.  You smile and wave as the bus pulls away.  You are not perfect.  Neither is she.  But you love her and you love being a mom.  Your emotions are following your thoughts in the right direction.  Maybe the two of you will make it after all!

What changed?  Same child, same mom, same circumstances.... The only thing that has changed is the thoughts that you allowed to occupy your mind.  Do you want to feel irritated?  Good- then think about everything that irritates you about your child!  You want to feel angry?  Then make a note in your thinking about everything wrong your child does from the moment their head lifts off their pillow until they put it back down!  But if you'd rather feel loving emotions, then think loving thoughts!  You want to feel compassion?  Then think compassionate thoughts!  Remind yourself moment to moment... breath to breath... to "take every thought captive"! Doing so will literally change your life and it has the power to change the lives of the children in your home too!

One of the greatest gifts you could give your children as a mother is to model exactly how we are to control our thoughts as laid out in Philippians 4:8.  It's easier than you might imagine, but it must begin in your thought life and then be spilled out through your lips for all to hear!  This benefits everyone, as you get to hear thoughts that honor the Lord, as you speak them; your child is allowed to hear beautiful words of affirmation as they leave your lips; and your other children are filled with positive thoughts for their siblings at the same time!  That is what I would call a WIN-WIN-WIN, wouldn't you?   This simple practice will do wonders for your soul, especially as you sense your emotions beginning to move in the right direction!  

In case you are tempted to believe that this idea of captivating your thoughts is encouraging you to think falsehoods to fool your emotions, you are wrong!  Every single human being has immeasurable value to offer the world around them.  Look deep enough and allow yourself to see...  Look for the positive- direct your thoughts to "think" about them- then open your mouth and say them out loud!  I mean, really Lori,... how hard is it to look at your child, notice the way her eyes sparkle when she smiles, and then tell her how much you love that about her?  Does she have a tender heart that you are tempted to find irritating?  Tell her that God loves the tender heart she has and that you have a feeling He will use her in a very special way in the lives of many... Maybe her bossy ways are getting the best of you and driving you mad.  Force your thoughts to remember that she has never had any control over the smallest details of her life and this is her way to take charge.  Tell her that there is a great leader inside of her that God will use for great things one day!  Your thoughts will find their way past the irritating, to the beauty, and will ultimately encourage her to be all God made her to be.  You might need some practice to get the hang of this godly form of mind control, but it will change your own heart as you master it, and it has the power to change the hearts of the little ones close enough to hear it too!

Do NOT "Follow Your Heart" as you are so foolishly directed to do on plaques and bumper stickers around this great country of ours.  The truth is that your heart will lead you to places you absolutely do NOT want to go.  The Bible actually says that your heart is incredibly deceitful and prone to wander!  I'd advise you to steer clear of following your heart unless you know it's direction is headed straight into the will of God and to places that will honor Him!  Instead, you would do well to mold your thoughts into God's way of thinking as laid out in His Word, and let them direct your emotions based upon that Truth.  Jesus called out to everyone who would listen... "Follow Me", He said.  No where is it recorded that He encouraged His followers to "follow their hearts" instead.  Do yourself a life-time favor and tell your emotions to get in line! They are going with you in your pursuit of Christ!

You have another "Gotcha Day" coming up, Lori, and for you this will make #4!  Make a decision before you even get on that plane...  Will your emotions be dictated by her response to you; by her response to leaving the only home she's known; by her behavior and attitudes; by her disabilities and delays?  If she's not everything you expect, will your emotions plummet as they have before?  They don't have to! You can choose, instead, to be responsible for your thoughts and where you allow them to go.  If the future is at all like the past, I think you'll find that your emotions might just follow along!!!  You can walk in victory when you follow God's way and take every thought captive for the glory of Christ!!!!  You can hardly contain the love you feel, can you?  That a' girl!!!!