When you wish you could see Him face to face…or back


A few weeks ago, on a whim, I decided to join the Tuesday morning Bible study at our church. The bratty teenager in me had been battling this decision for some time, because somehow I still feel like I’m young enough to say that the only people who attend Tuesday morning Bible studies are women who are older. And then I looked in the mirror, tallied up the wrinkles, remembered that I have three elementary age children and swallowed the pill of reality.

But I was apprehensive.

We are going through Beth Moore’s The Patriarch’s, and you guys we are three weeks in and it is completely wrecking my already tender heart. I feel like it was written just for me to experience at just this time. Had I done this study a year ago, I wouldn’t have been nearly as moved as I am today.

Last week’s lessons were particularly challenging, especially given the fact that last week was when I finally, fully laid down the adoption and said so out loud. Oh how my heart ached through the week. My soul was weary and weepy.

Then I read the story of Hagar and for a few days my spirit grew restless and anxious.

For those who may not know, Hagar was an Egyptian slave who lived in the house of Abram, serving as his wife, Sarai’s maid. Though Abram had been promised an heir by God, he and Sarai had yet to have a child and Sarai, in her grief and impatience, commanded Abram to take her maid as his wife.

“Since the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps I can have children by her,” Sarai told her husband, and Abram agreed. (Genesis 16:2)


It’s so easy to pick apart this passage and point out the blatant and glaring errors in this plot, but it’s good to remember a few things. First, as wrong and ugly as that practice sounds, it was not uncommon in those days. A female servant becoming a second wife for the purposes of bearing children was not considered wrong then, and though not a designed or desired practice by God, to Abram it could have seemed like a practical solution to what seemed to be a real problem.

Second, God uses flawed people who struggle in their faith to carry out His plans and promises and thank goodness He does, amen?

IMG_0119So Hagar  and Abram conceived a child and Sarai, naturally, writhed in jealousy and bitterness because she got what she wanted but did not consider the outcome of such an ill conceived plan. Things got so uncomfortable that Hagar fled the house, escaping her mistress’s cruelty and this is where the story took the breath straight from my lungs.

As she rested in the wilderness, an Angel of the Lord found her and comforted her in her emotional suffering. He told her to return to Abram’s house and that the child she carried, who was to be named Ishmael, would receive a promise of many offspring.

There, in that wilderness place, Hagar became the only person, male or female, in the Old Testament to give God a name. The God who Sees.


“I have now seen the One who sees me,” Hagar said when the mist of the moment faded away. (Genesis 16:13)

God saw her pain and her distress and He met with her. It is generally believed that the Angel of the Lord referred to in Genesis 16:7 was God Himself and, as Beth Moore so beautifully explains, the literal Hebrew translation of Hagar’s words is “Have I really seen the back of Him who sees me?”

In Exodus 33:20, God allows Moses to see Him, but He had to do so from inside the cleft of a rock and he could only catch a glimpse of God’s back as He passed by because God’s glory is too great for our feeble human eyes. “You cannot see my face,” God spoke. “For no one can see me and live.”  

I was so struck by this lesson. First, just the reminder that God sees us in our distress, when the wilderness closes in, was something I desperately needed because I have felt so terribly lost and alone this year. But He sees and He knows and the comfort that brings is difficult to describe.

But I had another emotion, one so great that I almost felt a panic well up inside me – I wished I could see Him. I longed so desperately to see His back, to have a physical, real and tangible glimpse of Him. I wished that He still revealed Himself to us today the way He did in Old Testament times. I wished I didn’t have to listen so hard for that still small voice because what I wouldn’t give for a burning bush right now.

IMG_0583It took me a few days to work past that before I could embrace the Truth of today: We have the revealed God available to us in scripture, and His power ignites from the pages of His word. We glimpse His back when we read His Words in scripture. He hasn’t need to issue in person promises anymore, because all of His promises were complete in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. And so what now?

I look up and praise the One who sees me. He has revealed Himself to me, and His glory is evident every day. I will likely never have a moment when I come face to face with Him incarnate on this earth, but that does not diminish His power or glory, and oh does it make the prospect of heaven seem so much sweeter.

If you, like me, are longing to see His face today, take comfort in the fact that He Sees yours, and rejoice in the knowledge that you are not alone. I am praying for everyone who reads these words, that they would have a fresh encounter with the God who Sees.

Happy Wednesday, sweet friends.


Wordless Wednesday: Out of the Mouths of Babes

No words from me today. I’ll let the kids do the talking. I’d love for you to come back tomorrow when I talk about why I think Short Term Mission trips are a GOOD idea. Short term missions have gotten a lot of flak lately, but there are good things happening all over the world as a result of short term mission groups.

But first…today. The kids have shared their thoughts on what they learned and what stood out to them on our trip last week. Prepare yourselves for a little bit of heart melting.

Photos of a blessed week



The boys handing out bags to the kids coming to the fun day we had planned for them. From crafts to snacks to music and dentistry, these kids had the opportunity to receive trinkets that will likely become treasured possessions.


Kids lined up to receive their food. They are fed a hot, solid meal three times a week inside this dirt floored church – the Body in action meeting needs.



We lost count at how many teeth were pulled this day. A combination of poor nutrition, lack of hygiene and zero flouride means most of these children had a mouth full of painful, rotting teeth. Education and prevention are some of the things Servant’s Heart is working to provide for these precious kids.



My son talked the pastor of the local church into taking him on a motorcycle ride. Huge highlight of the trip for this boy.


Kyna – our rock star dentist.


Gorgeous countryside.

photo-3 copy

Who found Dominican Nutella? THIS GIRL!!!


My 5-year-old painting flouride on teeth. Who says good things can't come in small packages?

My 5-year-old painting flouride on teeth. Who says good things can’t come in small packages?

We are exhausted and my head is a jumbled mess as I try to process everything we saw and experienced this past week. There were so many beautiful things that happened and so many difficult things to see. The impact of this week will settle on all of us in different ways.

Today however, instead of trying to articulate some of the scrambled pictures in my head, I just wanted to share some of the real pictures. I have thoughts to mull over and ideas to share, but today I want to say thanks for the emails and the tweets and the Facebook messages that so many of you sent. It is good to know you’re covered in prayer and it’s a wonderful feeling to know you’re loved so much. You guys are the best.

Happy Monday!

The Land After God’s Own Heart

The things I see…






Lizard Catchin’…


Got him! (And later released him. Dear PETA…please don’t come after me.)


I think Jesus loves palm trees more than all the other trees.

I don’t know if that’s theologically accurate but I feel like it might be based in some pretty solid Truth.

(And it’s probably best if you don’t mention this to the other trees. I don’t want to offend…)

We’re at the beach for the next couple of days basking in the glow of God’s beloved land.

White sands and rippling waves beckon as summer settles down and who are we not to answer her blessed call? 

If you need me, I’ll have my toes buried in the sand and my nose buried in a book. Something about the beach seems to unbraid the knots in my neck and the pangs in my shoulders.

God speaks to me here. 

Probably because He loves the beach. It’s a land after His own heart.

Again, feel free to question my theology.

(But before you do, think about how often Jesus seemed to be walking along the shores. A LOT. Jesus loves sand between His toes, I’m certain of it.)

(Just kidding Kansas and Nebraska. Jesus loves you, too. *wink, wink*)

Summer Rules. Amen?

And we all said amen…

What is Obvious is This: I Stink at Waiting

My sweet, sweet online friends. I am not in a happy, happy, joy, joy mood these days. I’m lost in introspection and I am, once again, fighting a wave of emotion that follows this path of shattered dreams. I convince myself that it’s not worth this amount of emotional energy – that compared to the problems people are facing all over the world, mine is small and miniscule and hardly worth the river of tears I seem prone to spill.

And yet…

I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking to God over this one. With the statistics rolling through my brain of the millions of orphaned children worldwide that are breathing the toxic air of feeling unwanted, unloved, unneeded and unseen, I question why this road has been so hard for us.

I’ve tried to wrap my mind around this situation from a theological standpoint. I know God to be Omniscient and Omnipotent. The Past and the Future all belong to His Present Now. He is not swayed or affected by time, nor is he a magician who must consult the cracked glass of a crystal ball to understand what will come tomorrow.

So when we began this process, He already knew. He knew we would not finish what we started – at least not in the manner in which we started it. As a balm, I’ve tried to convince myself that this means we were never supposed to have a child from Russia.


I tell myself that God didn’t want us to bring a Russian orphan home, because if He did, we would have been able to do so.


That’s a really nice way to try and weasel my way out of this predicament of heartache, but I must confess I am not doing a very good job at convincing myself of its truth. Because in the back of my mind I wonder What if?

What if we were supposed to and the sin of this world prevented it?

Ah, but that negates God’s Omniscience.

This is the point that smoke trickles from my ears and I sigh heavily.

I still pray for her, even though perhaps she was never meant to be. Because the fact of the matter is quite simply this: There is a little girl in an orphanage in St. Petersburg who could have had a home. She could have had a father to pick her up and tell her that she was loved and wanted and beautiful. She could have had a mother to shower her with kisses from morning until night.

She could have had two big brothers to protect her and a sister to show her the ropes.

I am praying for this little girl and I pray that she still gets those things – her and all of the others like her. I pray that someday the little girl who could have had…will have. Praying this prayer makes it easier for me, in a way. It makes the situation less ambiguous and overwhelming.

Because if I try to pray for the 750,000 orphaned children in Russia I can hardly breathe. But her – the girl that could have had? I can manage to pray for her.

And yet, I still have hope and a sense of wonder at what God is doing here in us? I read this quote by Jen Hatmaker today and it made me gasp because THIS – this is how I feel:

“When you say YES to adoption, you are saying YES to enter the suffering of the orphan, and that suffering includes WAITING FOR YOU TO GET TO THEM. I promise you, their suffering is worse than yours. We say YES to the tears, YES to the longing, YES to the maddening process, YES to the money, YES to hope, YES to the screaming frustration of it all, YES to going the distance through every unforeseen discouragement and delay. Do not imagine that something outside of “your perfect plan” means you heard God wrong. There is NO perfect adoption. EVERY adoption has snags. We Americans invented the “show me a sign” or “this is a sign” or “this must mean God is closing a door” or “God must not be in this because it is hard,” but all that is garbage. You know what’s hard? Being an orphan. They need us to be champions and heroes for them, fighting like hell to get them home. So we will. We may cry and rage and scream and wail in the process, but get them home we will.”
Jen Hatmaker

On Christmas day, when I sat alone in front of the tree, I had visions of a child dancing around it – a child whose face was not yet revealed to me. And I knew I needed to wait, but wait for what? I don’t know what I’m waiting for and I’m so tired of waiting. Were those visions merely projections of something that I just desperately want, or were they true visions of something to come?

I don’t know. I wish I could say for certain, but I just don’t know.

You know what is beautiful, though? God’s mercies in the waiting. On Monday, my newest nephew made his entrance into this world. (His Mom is Becke‘. You know Becke’, don’t you? You should know Becke’…)


Everyone, meet Asher:


I mean…how beautiful is he and how much do you want to kiss those squishy baby cheeks? And you know what? This precious baby is a picture of grace. He was prayed for and waited for and there were bumps in the road, and heartaches to be worked through but God was faithful to deliver what the heart desired.

Some days, when I’m feeling particularly dark, the only thing I can cling to is the knowledge that God is not cruel. I know that He isn’t, and so I repeat it.

But other days I find that I’m able to go a step further and say, He is so good. I look at Asher and I can say without reservation He Is So Good. 

I’m not good at the waiting, but I’m trying and I’m learning and I’m stumbling through it. That’s the best I can do right now and somehow…


I think it’s enough.

Miracles in the Pocket

Peering out the airplane window, all I could see was glaring, sear your eyes white. The morning sun stood high above miles and miles of clouds, completely obscuring the world below. With no real marker below to give away our speed, it felt as though we were floating. Were it not for the man crammed very snugly against my side, I think it would have been the most serene and peaceful I’ve felt in many months.

The bell chimed and the captain’s voice broke through the speakers. “Folks, we’re making our initial descent into New Orleans. We have a bit of weather ahead of us, so I’m going to ask that you return to your seats and put on your seatbelts as we make our way down.”

And still I watched, my forehead pressed tight against the cool glass, as we slowly drifted down, closer and closer to the white peaks below. The clouds were thick and full, a world of shapes dancing beneathe me, all waiting to be discovered. Just beyond the horizon of white stood the vibrant blue sky and a perfectly round sun beyond that. And still we dropped until…


Read the rest at Kelli Stuart.com

When your soul is not well

Necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs Necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs

I sat in the front of his tiny boat, my hands gripped to the slippery sides with all the strength I could muster. Huddled beneathe a plastic tarp, I looked at all their faces for some sign that told me it was okay to panic. We were all being brave, laughing nervously to stave off the terror as wave after wave crashed over the sides, the full wrath of the Carribbean falling upon us.

When we set off from Spanish Wells, Bahamas, the sea had been calm. The day was bright, perfect for a short three hour cruise to Nassau. I can’t remember our exact number, but there were a lot of us to pile onto the small boat that day. We were at the tail end of a week long family reunion. This was our Bon Voyage.

The storm came up quickly, as they tend to do over the ocean. Before we knew it, we were hunkered down in a rocking boat with only a few life jackets to go around and though I am almost always game for a grand adventure, on this particular day I wanted nothing more than to get off that boat.

Terrified and sick, I couldn’t see for the wind and the rain. The salty ocean water stung my eyes. And yet every time a wave hit our boat, I felt an odd sense of peace thanks to the man who stood at the helm of the ship, steering us through the storm.

As the boat rocked, he smiled broadly. When the waves crashed hard, he let out a roar of delighted laughter. He did not delight in our fear, but rather in the joy of the ride.

He knew where we were headed and he knew what stood on the other side of the storm.


Read more at Kelli Stuart.com

Please Watch This!

Tia has the flu, Lee is out of town and I haven’t done one single thing to prepare for Christmas or Landon’s birthday (which is this Sunday). So my brain is scattered right now. too scattered to write coherent thoughts, but not so scattered that I couldn’t stop for a minute and marvel at this amazing family.

This, my friends. This is why we’re adopting. This is the perfect picture of what God has done for us, of our redemption.

He sought me.

He rescued me.

He gave me a name and an inheritance and a place to call home.

He took me from the pit where I was without hope and He gave me the title “daughter.” All I have is His and it’s all from Him.

This is adoption. This family is the face of adoption. Grab a Kleenex before watching this and prepare yourself. The tears will probably start to fall around the 3:20 mark.

(PS- I don’t know why the video is laid out so wonky. I can’t figure out how to fix it. Sorry!)

(PPS- If the video doesn’t appear here for you, then please, please, pretty please click here and watch it. I really want everyone to see this.)

I also had the privilege of sharing some of my thoughts on adoption yesterday over at 5 Minutes for Mom. It’s not a lot different from what I shared here yesterday, though I do include some tips for ways we can all encourage adoptive parents. Please feel free to pass the article on.

As always, thank you for taking this journey with us. We are honored to have you here.

I’m a model, you know what I mean?

Before I left for Tanzania, I reached out to several bloggers who had travelled with Compassion in the past. I needed to talk with someone who knew what I was about to walk into, who could tell me it was all going to be okay.

I was scared.

I wasn’t scared for the noble reasons you may think, of course. The travel part thrilled me. There’s nothing I love more than a good adventure. Remember, I was raised by a woman who was placed on a small airplane with strangers when she was ten so she could fly back to the States for boarding school. Neither one of my parents have ever shied away from traveling adventures and they have always encouraged me to explore the world.

That part didn’t scare me.

No, my fears in going on this trip were laced with insecurity – what if I failed? What if I let Compassion down? What if nobody sponsored a child through my blog? What if I was just too small, too insignificant, to make any kind of impact on this ministry?

We all know how that turned out, don’t we?

So I reached out to several past bloggers and they reached back with prayers, scriptures, encouragement and grace. They told me not to worry, not to fear, that God was going to write a story bigger than anything I could imagine. Do you know how true that is? I went back to my posts from Tanzania the other day and I honestly don’t even remember writing some of them. It’s all such a blur.

One of the bloggers who reached out to me was Kristen from We are THAT Family. I have long admired her, I appreciated her words of encouragement and now, after watching the following video, I am in awe of her. Not because of what she’s done, but what she has been willing to allow God to do through her. If you haven’t seen the recent video on the organization Kristen and her husband started called The Mercy House, you should watch it.

It’s the very first lines of that video that have clanged through my head, reverberating off the inner walls of my heart the last couple of days. “I asked God, ‘How can you allow so muh suffering?’ And I really felt like He said to me, “How can you allow it? What are you doing?”

Last night, as we made our way to church, Lee and I began to discuss heaven. “Do you think we’ll be free of the constraints of procrastination in heaven?” I asked Lee. “Because we’ll no longer be bound by time, will we finally be able to accomplish all the tasks before us without dropping the ball?”

Because I feel like I am always one step behind in life. There are one or five tasks that I cannot seem to keep up with on this Earth. Part of that is my fault – I put things off until they build to the point of being too much, then I lose sleep for a week and finally spend an entire day trying to catch up only to fall behind on something else.

We discussed our ideas and thoughts and dreams for all that heaven will be and they are, of course, nothing more than suppositions made on the very little information we have but it left me wishing and hoping for the day when there will be no more strain – no more stress – no more unattainable tasks.

We continued the conversation this morning as I shared with Lee the above video. The idea that heaven will also be free of the horrors of human suffering is hard to wrap my mind around. I believe it and I long for it, but I am here, on this Earth, bound by time and suffering.

And what am I doing about any of it?

“What kind of Christianity are we modeling for the kids?” Lee asked me this morning as we navigated our way through the rainy streets of Tampa to grab some breakfast. “When they’re grown, what will faith look like to them? What are they learning from us that’s going to free them to impact the world?”

It’s overwhelming and frightening if you think about it. Who do they think God is?

Who do I think God is?

Are we modeling a faith based on fear? A faith that says do enough for others to feel good, but not so much that it makes life uncomfortable?

There are things to be done, needs to be met, lives to change – and none of it comes without a price. How much am I willing to sacrifice? What am I doing? What am I teaching my kids, because rest assured, they are watching, they are learning and they will live out the faith that was modeled to them in some way or another.

There will never be enough time to do everything here on Earth. So where do I choose to focus my time and my efforts and what sacrifices am I willing to make to meet the important needs around me?

Someday I will be free from the constraints of this world, but until that time there are tasks to accomplish if I have the courage and the will to go after them. Today, I just want to keep up…


I’m not sure if you heard or not, but I went to Africa a couple of weeks ago. I may have mentioned it a time or 500. Honestly, I’m a little embarrassed to bring it up again but just know that everything swirling inside of me has been filtered through that one experience.

See the thing is, I feel like I have a million things to write, but I can’t seem to get them out because I’m a bit scared. Petrified, really. Because who am I that anyone should care what I say? I like to hide behind the light, humorous posts in some regard because they’re safe. I spent a lot of time as a youth taking myself too seriously and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m a blogger who actually doesn’t really like to talk about herself.


But there are other things than just the humorous that I want to share and I’m just so…scared. I’m scared because I don’t want it to all be about me. The fact of the matter is I don’t believe myself to be a great writer of spiritual things. I’m not a super critical thinker, I don’t have the beauty and eloquence of words that so many others hold when unpacking the mysteries of faith. I’m a good writer, yes – but writing about the God of the Universe scares the crap out of me.

See what I mean? I just used the words God and crap in the same sentence…twice. How eloquent am I?!

I mentioned these fears of mine to Shaun one evening in Tanzania and he encouraged me to read 1 Corinthians. I’ve pretty much camped out there since we returned, particularly in Chapter 2.

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come to you with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (emphasis mine)

Friends, this is how I feel. I fear writing too in depth about my faith not because I worry about offending (though I certainly do desire this to be a place of comfort for everyone from all faiths and backgrounds and walks of life), but more because I so badly do not want to misrepresent the God I love. Does anyone else feel this way? How do you overcome it?  

There are so many words to say – so many songs to sing – so much praise to give. The Earth itself cries out to Him – why wouldn’t I?! Of course, the humorous posts are where I’ll spend more of my time because I strongly believe that one of the greatest gifts He gave us was laughter and my goodness isn’t there so much joy to be had on this Earth?

For example, Lee and I sat in bed the other night and laughed until we cried at this old gem of an Al Denson video that we found after both sporadically belting out a rousing rendition of “Be the One,” which only solidifies how terrifically dorky we are, but I fell asleep with a smile on my face and a prayer in my heart.

Lord, thank you for laughter. And thank you for cheesy ’90’s Christian music videos.

I love laughing with you guys. I love it so, so much. But I don’t want to hide behind the laughter because I’m scared. Just know that when I speak of my God, I do so with much trembling and not with persuasive words of wisdom. We will still laugh…a lot. But there are also words stirring that I will need to write at some point – all to His glory.

I just need some time to let them develop and the courage to hit publish.

PS – I don’t say any of this as a means of fishing for compliments. In fact, I feel kind of weird and I will probably sit on this post for a bit before hitting publish because I do NOT want to look like I’m asking for people to say nice things about me.

PPS – Thanks for taking the time to read this and for being a community that loves to learn and grow and laugh. I don’t really think of myself as having anything to say worth reading, but my goodness I’m glad to have you guys around. Makes this life journey a little less intimidating and a lot more fun!

PPPS – I don’t like to use emoticons in posts, but I feel like this one is begging for a smiley face – 🙂 .