Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'm Not Doing It......

For real...I'm really not. This post has been rolling around in my head (& my heart) for awhile now. Not sure how it will all come out, but hopefully I can somehow share where I'm at in a way that will make sense.

When I look back over the last several years, I am amazed & overwhelmed at what God has done in my life. Now that's not some "cutesy" statement meant to drum up a pretty picture in your head about my life. It's a statement about how God has used this mess of a woman in ways that I am not capable of on my own. He has extended much grace, mercy, patience, loving-kindness & forgiveness my way, seen past my doubts, fears, questions, lack of trust (well, you get the idea b/c the list is too long) and He has used my life. Blessed my life. All I had to do was surrender it. Not an easy task for someone who wants to feel in control of EVERYTHING. And yet, being out of control has been the most wonderful place to be. I have witnessed the hand of God at work in ways I could not have conjured up in my most creative moment.

So, this was my "ah-ha" moment: I cannot, will not, no I won't make any New Year's resolutions. Know why? Because they are based in me, in my own power, taking control of stuff. Whether it's about my weight, my exercise habits, my commitments to reading the bible, my patience with the kids, my finances, my not yelling at expressing my frustration with the basketball officials for being less than perfect when my baby is out there being hacked on, etc., etc., it's all about me "fixing" something. Nope, not doing it. I'm setting myself up for failure which leads to guilt, frustration, disappointment...basically all the crap that the enemy wants me to buy into.

"Whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith." ~1 John 5:4

I am so thankful that God has not left me "where I am". He has convicted me of many things & is continually transforming me. If He knows me better than I know myself, then why in the world would I try to take over my transformation?

Growth in depth and strength and consistency and fruitfulness and ultimately in Christlikeness is only possible when the winds of life are contrary to personal comfort.
~ Anne Graham Lotz

To say that the winds of my life have blown contrary to personal comfort seems an understatement sometimes, but I KNOW that God knew then what I continue to discover now & He knows what is to come. Instead of resolutions, I offer the Lord a prayer of surrender:

Dear Lord, I thank you for the blessings & growth this past year has brought. I pray that you continue to lead me. Take my faith that seems the size of a mustard seed sometimes & increase it. Take my life...continue to transform my mind & my heart so that I can be your servant in my marriage, in my family, in my community & in this world. When life gets hard, convict me to re-focus on You...that I can fully trust that You go before me in all things. As I step into a New Year, I look forward with much hope and anticipation to the plans that you have. May I live my life in such a way that I'm always ready to "step out of the boat".
In Jesus' Name ~ Amen

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cookies & Elves

Today was the first day off of school, so we decided to trash the kitchen make cutout cookies for Christmas. We do this every year, and Kaya was totally into it this year!

Then, the "elves" came!! You see, every year, these same elves do something very similar to ding-dong-ditching, but much nicer! Out of nowhere, there will be a loud knocking on the door, & when we answer, there is no one there! However, there will be a special goody bag on our front step with a note & instructions for whatever is inside. This year, the bag was full of cardboard snowflake ornaments ready to be decorated with snow from the North Pole. The note was, once again, so special & a beautiful reminder of what this season is all about. It's too good not to share, so here you go:
Dear Friends,
Christmas is a time of miracles! Just imagine--God sent us His son to be born in a stable! What a precious gift!
At the North Pole, we are getting ready to help the world celebrate that special gift! each year, we have our "Snowflake Party" at the beginning of December. Snow is ever-present here. It blankets our world just as God's love gently covers our sins with His grace. each snowfall is a shower of blessings sent from heaven. Each flake is so intricate and individual--so special, just like you!
We hope that you will use this symbol of the season to make your own distinct snowflake for Santa to see. He will be happy to see that you remember how much God loves you! Be good and share that precious love!
This has become such an anticipated event--God bless those elves for surprising the kids every year (10+ years!) with a beautiful gift to remind them what it's all about!!
I had to laugh, though, b/c after our cleanup from the initial sprinkle-fest, I got out more wax paper for round 2! Kaya discovered that these sprinkles didn't taste nearly as good, but they sure are pretty!

And to top off all this fun stuff, we found out that our dossier is on its way to Ethiopia!! One step closer to bringing our blessing home!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Signs & Wonders

Okay, seriously, I was originally going to do this post & title it "Sort of a Rant" because I have been really annoyed a few times recently at some reactions we have received when people find out we are expecting our 7th child through adoption. However, I took a breather, switched around a load of laundry, & decided a rant would not make me feel better right now, but focusing on God's truth would. (Disclosure: There may be a day for a rant, so don't blast me if it comes one of these days! A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, ya know?)

Anyway, we were discussing miracles & signs last week in our small group. Do we think God still gives us signs today? Are there still miracles happening? I believe so! I believe as we are walking on the path that God has made for us, we encounter stumbling blocks, confusion, fear, negative reactions (hang on...not going on a rant, just giving some examples!). However, just when I think I must be headed in the wrong direction, or that I'm completely NUTS for going in the direction I am pointed in, time & time again God has given me "signs". They've come in various forms, but ALWAYS undeniably from Him. Here's an example that I was recently sharing with a friend:

With it being Christmas, I think about a journal entry from several years back when I was in a women's group & we were really digging in to our relationship with God in our daily lives. I wrote something like, "I want to be a child on Christmas again; waiting in anticipation & being surprised." I think I had gotten into a feeling of being in a "rut"--predictable, boring-type living. Mind you, this was WAY before adoption entered into the picture. Last year at Christmas, we heard a wonderful sermon that was pretty much about this very thing. I was so excited about it b/c it made me remember that journal entry & to see how God had truly surprised me in my life. I wanted to come home & journal it, but I could not find my journal anywhere. I pulled out the old one that I had used for that women's group figuring I could at least get it written down. When I opened it, I went to my last entry. Get this: the date was 8-6-05...that was EXACTLY two years before Kaya was born. My entry simply stated, "I want to surrender and trust in You."

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Praising God for His gifts, wrapped in all His beauty & glory, surprising us in ways we wouldn't have guessed ~ Dardi

I guess this was brought to mind again during our sermon yesterday. Our pastor was speaking of the times that life is uncomfortable, but we must "hang on", because the story continues...the moments, however brief (a few discouraging words/reactions) or long, are all part of the story. But the good news is that He is ALWAYS here, in EVERYTHING, & He does provide "signs & wonders" to keep us moving on our way. Notice that the above story takes place last Christmas, & the journal entry was from 2005...4 years ago! Sometimes, the encouragement is not instantaneous, but it does come & how marvelous it is when you can see how God began writing your story before you were even aware of what was to come.

I am a work in progress, folks. But one thing I'm trying to do more is see God's hand in every detail of my life, even the tough ones, because I know that He is not leaving me in one spot. I confess that I have struggled a lot over the years chasing the "American Dream"...I'm praying every day to not be enslaved to my flesh so that I can fully live amidst the story that is unfolding in me that is "God's Dream" for my life.

My desire back in 2005 was to be like a child on Christmas, waiting in anticipation & being surprised by God. I am still there...How can I not be? Life can be hard, but God is so good, so I continue on the path set before me 'cause I don't want to miss a thing!

Be Blessed ~ Dardi

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Honestly, I almost blew off my "Thankful Thursday" it is, 7 minutes to Friday, & I couldn't do it. I had to post. Why? Maybe because it's good to see things to be thankful for; to praise God, even in the storms. We have been in a very unexpected storm since last Thursday. We are grieving an unexpected, tragic death in the family, and it's been hard. But here goes....
I am thankful that today our completed home study arrived. This is such wonderful news because it enabled me to send in ALL the paperwork (dossier, I-600A), so we are taking steps in the right direction to bring our son home from Ethiopia.
I am thankful that some very sweet adoptive parents that just got home from Ethiopia shared some new photos of our beautiful little boy (can't wait 'til I can share them!).
I am thankful for the big hearts of our children. I love them so much.
I am thankful for the encouragement of family & friends during life's ups & downs.
I am thankful for the generosity of others. We took a big leap of faith this week & sent out "mission" letters to help raise funds for our adoption. It is so awesome to see other people jump into this journey with us. Just today, a dear friend stopped by the house & gave us their whole jar of saved coins! Joe had someone come into his office saying they wanted to be part of things, & they didn't even get a letter...they just heard about our adoption & wanted to be part of bringing this little boy into his forever family!! I cannot express how loving prayers & gestures make my heart want to burst........
I am thankful that God is the same yesterday as He is today as He will be tomorrow--He is Good!
Be Blessed, Friends ~ Dardi

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful that in the midst of anything & everything, God is there to provide strength and encouragement in ways that are amazing.
I am thankful that Joe continues to step in faith & obedience to encourage others working with wounded children. I am thankful that God opens doors in remarkable ways.
I am thankful that God has placed us into a church community that encourages people to live outside this world's normal. How exciting is that!?!
I am thankful for trusted friends & prayer partners.
I am thankful for this season filled with lights, excitement & anticipation for the birth of our Savior, who makes all things possible.
I have much to be thankful for, these things are but a few. Thanks for letting me share them with you. I will leave you with one final scene that I was so thankful for last evening:

This is my daughter's high school basketball team over for a team dinner. She came home late Tuesday & said, "We were trying to figure out what to do for a team dinner, & I thought it would be okay for us just to have it. Tomorrow." I love that girl...honestly, she truly is my daughter b/c I am totally about a house full of people & being spontaneous! I was so thankful to have kids everywhere & to get to feed them, too!! And thankful that my daughter knows that her momma can't resist! What a neat group of girls!! Life is good..........