Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Unspecials

I woke up this morning wanting to tell you a story, but more importantly wanting to expose a pattern that not only has happened in my own life, but I believe perhaps your life as well. My hope is that after you read this, your eyes and mind would be open to some truths and that you would walk in more freedom than you do even now. Because Jesus Christ died, that we might be free.

I wanted to talk to you about the misery of feeling unspecial, about the price you pay for believing this lie. In a world saturated with social media its like everyone's in a universal competition. Comparing gifts and beauty and in this game their is always a winner and a loser. How many times have you exited out of your app with this foggy since of, wow.... and somehow our souls have picked up a funny interpretation of believing we are perhaps not as special as someone else. These devices have become both a tool and a weapon. But more often I believe they slowly erode us of truth about ourselves. Luckily I was born in the 80's, before smart phones and apps. But even then the enemy was on the move to deceive us, those who would call themselves children of God. If he couldn't rob us from our families, or from our sincere love for God, then another plan would need to be executed. One where we would be free to love God and enter his kingdom, but the concept of reaching our full potential or believing we had a purpose and irrevocable gifts would need to be aborted. I call that plan, "the un-specials."

Now the seed of believing you are unspecial or not important can come from anywhere and anyone but its important to remember that it isn't really them, or that thing as much as it was an opportunity for the devil to lie to you. Mine didn't come from facebook or Instagram but actually from moments and conversations with my parents, whom love me and also serve the Lord. I'll share with you one of my earliest memories of this.

I may have been about 12 when my family was leaving a Walmart about 25 miles from where we lived. My mom, dad, older brother and younger sister were all walking out to our car bags in tow and I remember feeling tense from the chilly air as we made the long walk to where we had parked. The mood was light and playful and it wasn't often this happened or that we were all together. My dad worked 40-60 hrs a week as a school bus driver and in the evenings was working on his degree to give us a better life. At some point one of us kids asked, "tell us about when you decided to have kids!" All 3 of us slightly giddy to hear the mystery of our parents life before us. My mom said "Well, when we got married I was already in my 30's and we had tried a few years without becoming pregnant, when an evangelist came to our church and said I would have a son, a few weeks later we were pregnant. Now your sister (who's younger than me by 3 years) your father and I had decided to give it another shot, we wanted just one more child and this would be it. He was so set and sure of having another boy that when you were born, and a girl, he still gave you the name Timothie. (that's right people, my younger sisters first name is Timothie, but we called her by her middle name Daniel or Danni most times.) My story was next, and although she giggled when she told it, little did she know that the devil would take these words and often retell me this story for most of my life and remind me of my place in the world and how I had got here. She said " and you, you were the result of your father being cheap.  I told him we needed protection but he didn't buy any, and then you were born." I played that statement over in my head the whole drive home.And although I knew I was a person who was enjoyed, I took on the identity of being unimportant. My brother was basically prophesied into existence and my sister was so ordained to be a woman that although they thought she would be a boy she is in fact female and would make our family "complete" But me, I wasn't that. And I started to see the beauty in other peoples lives and not in the potential of my own.

Another time I was about 16. My dad was out back in our yard working and we'd had the summer Olympics' playing in our house most evenings. It really got me dreaming. Could I be a swimmer? A gymnast? I loved movies with ice-skater's in it. Could I become a beautiful dancer or figure skater one day? I went out to the yard to ask my dad what was possible. And to each of my hopes of the future he replied with a no. I grew up in one of the poorest counties in the whole Midwest. Our town had 197 people in it and I graduated with maybe 40 people in my class, most of which I grew up with since kindergarten. The closest real town was 8-12 miles away, the nearest city was almost 2 hours and hope was not something that grew here. As an adult I know this wasn't said with the intention to take away dreams. It just wasn't realistic or doable, but unfortunately nothing else took its place. I don't believe you should tell someone they can become and do anything, but I do believe in telling someone to be the best at what they are naturally good at and to excel at their gifts. But I simply stopped asking and hoping about my future. I accepted my situation. I once again took on the identity of having an unimportant future. That is until one day I sat on my front porch and I listened to God. I truly lived in the middle of nowhere. No resources, no potential I knew of, very little hope of a life any more than maybe becoming a teacher. My only other options were selling drugs, farming or to shack up with someone, get pregnant, live in a trailer someplace and receive assistance from the government. Seriously! So I decided teacher. And as I was telling God my sad story feeling truly hopeless he began to tell me a different story. About a future full of hope. About a life of adventure, without limits. That I was his daughter, he was a rich King and how I would never lack any good thing. "I will show you some of the most beautiful places in the world!" He said. I had never even left my state before. It was unimaginable. How God? What do I need to do to live like this? And the same reply Jesus gave his disciples still remains for me and for you. He said, "Follow me."

Now after saying all that, I was in no way an insecure person. I never have been. Its not that I think I'm better than anyone else although some might accuse me of that. I've just always enjoyed myself. I like me. I like my personality. I like my humor. I like how I think, and I like the way I look. Now this may seem strange. I think it might be more typical for people to love their gifts and talents but not love themselves. My feelings were opposite. I love myself but have a hard time acknowledging that I have a purpose and that my gifts are of any value. So you can see how much potential can be wasted, should a believer continue to believe the lies that what God has given them is not good, is not valuable, is not important. How many gifts have died along with a person I wonder? How many children of God have lived a "happy" typical life and died only to read in heaven the story of their lives and the potential God had placed inside of them. How many cemeteries are full of the wisdom the world needed, the books for shaping our children or the leadership that went completely untapped. How many pictures went unpainted,business's and buildings undeveloped and children were never adopted not because of bad events or evil things, but because you couldn't accept that you were capable, that your gift was needed, that you were important. So as followers of Christ we believed a lie from hell over Gods truth. Because as a man thinks, so he is.  I don't know about you but when I die, I want to die empty. Not full of all my untouched potential.

You need to know God does not make mistakes. You are here for a reason, to know Gods Crazy love for you, accept it and his Word as absolute truth for your life and to use the gift he's given you. Many people are afraid to die, but a true believer does not fear death for to be absent from this earth means we are with the one we love finally, face to face. But for every believer reading this you should be afraid of living a typical life, being wasted never knowing who God is, who you are, and what he created you to accomplish. For each of us has a work to finish. Life is not determined to be complete or full simply because of your age, particularly being of old age. It is determined by its fullness. Jesus finished his work and was only 33. Remember him saying to the Father as he died "It is finished." what was finished? The work the father sent him to do. But then you have Abraham, whos work didn't even begin until he was of old age. So then what is our work? I believe it is to represent and establish the Kingdom of God on earth by using your gift. Now what is your gift? well... what is that thing you're good at that no one needed to teach you how to do? Take a fish for instance. No other fish teaches a fish how to swim. It just does. No horse attends a seminar on how to run, they just can. No one has ever taught me how to write or tell stories, and yet I started journaling when I was in the second grade. No one taught me to do that. It was just natural. Its my gift. In my home growing up we never had people over, never had anyone stay with us, never had company for dinner, EVER! And yet I am excellent at hosting and being hospitable. It is very natural. It is a gift. I use these two gifts particularly for the kingdom by being available to lend and host really whenever and I am using my gift to write now by sharing with you what God is revealing to me. So what is your gift? Not your plan to be good at or desire to do well but your gift? The bible says "many are the plans of man, but it is His purposes that will prevail." Your gift has purpose. So you can choose to pick a career and waste tones of time and money on something that is not your gift, but your gift will give you meaning. It will give you life and your job most likely will not. By all means work, but don't neglect your gift, Because when you use your gift you activate a part of God inside of you that will be life giving. I've never been paid to write, yet i've been working on this happily since about 8am this morning and when I step away to warm up a drink my spirit is alive, because I have activated my gift. Is this making any sense? Now is the time, for Christ followers to reject the lies of the enemy, to stop being entangled in his traps and call yourself and your gifts good! When people would tell me I had a gift to write I would reject that. "No, not me. I'm not that special, my brother is special and my husband is certainly special but no, not be." and this would work because I thought I was being "humble" but it was really deception once again. It is possible to be humble, like Christ was, and yet totally own your identity, your calling, your purpose, your position as sons and daughters of a king! As heirs to a kingdom!

Stop comparing your gifts to others.God gave each child a gift that pleased him and said to us do what you wish with this gift, but I promise i'll never take it away from you. And most of us not only never use our gift, but when someone else is using theirs and blessed in doing so we actually despise them! Were so jealous! In our wicked hearts we hope they fail but really why we feel that way is because we know we want to do the same and succeed, but have lacked the courage to try. We comfort ourselves and our flesh when others don't succeed, because now their is no higher standard to call ourselves too.

So now what can you do? Start to think about what you're thinking about. Are you unhappy? Do you find your mind comparing your life to others or when you have a good idea your mind starts to list 100 reasons why it'll never work? Begin daily renewing your mind with the Word of God. You don't even have to understand everything and it'll still begin to change your way of thinking. Also i'd encourage you to present yourself to God and ask him, has their been a place in my life where I have accepted things about myself that are not true? If yes please show me. Then shut up and wait. He WILL bring to your mind moments and memories where a bad seed was sown. Say Father I reject this untruth about myself or about what I thought you were like. Heal this place in me that I might move forward in your truth. He will then give you the correct thought about who you are and who he is. If you've been reading his Word the Spirit inside you will find the truth you've read and present it to you. Believe that what he says about you is true! It so important that you change your mind about yourself. That was truly the only change that took place in my life. You can change jobs, relationships, houses and yet feel no real change in your life because your mind is no different. That's why the Egyptians wandered around for 40 years. The were set free from slavery but in their minds they were still slaves. Moses had a huge task. Not just the moment of deliverance but the commitment to helping these people begin to start thinking as free people and as Gods children. That's why we have the Holy Spirit. Because although in a moment Christ died and we went from death to life in him, our Father new the process would take time and be messy. Our helper, our counselor Holy Spirit is with us for that job, and, duh.... he left a book. "The owners manual" I like to call it. If you're serious about real change and real renewal you've got to read your bible. Bottom line. He is the creature, I am his product, who I am and how I'm meant to function is in that book and my job is to agree, let him fix me and then operate and see what happens.

Think about your thoughts. Ask God what your gifts are. Use them.Stop being jealous of others and own your own life! As an 18 year old on that front porch I could have never dreamed of the life Gods given me. Not just the opportunities and the earthly blessings but the continuous renewal of life and potential,but the vast freedom I live in. What joy and life would have been lost had I never listened. Had I never accepted and agreed.What potential would have wasted away in the "American dream" if I hadn't chose to believe you God.
Father I love you. I give you this gift you've given me and I ask that your truth would come into our hearts setting us free from all lies.

Be free in Jesus name.
Sharon

Photo by the always amazing www.rivkahfineart.com


Friday, December 1, 2017

God Gave Us Wisdom

Daniel 6:23
....."and when they had lifted Daniel from the den, they found no wound on him, for he had trusted the Lord"

Its been 5 weeks since our "interrupted adoption." That's what the paper work says when a placement is not completed or was unsuccessful. The weeks to follow consisted of a lot of quietness. My soul was wounded and even when I thought I was fine, displaced hurt and pain would slowly begin to leak from my heart and before its poison could escape my lips I would run. To my car, to Ferrill's office, to my house and I would pour out my sorrow at his feet. Laying down the "why", waiting, waiting, waiting... letting his peace wash over me. "I trust you Lord" was all I could ever say, and then start another day.

A night or two after the call about our "interrupted adoption" Finley climbed into our bed and laid on me like a tired child who had finally given up. "Mom, I just want to be a sister so bad." Her disappointed voice shattering my heart into a galaxy. With tears oozing from my eyes but with a steady sure voice I said "I know Finley, and you will be the best big sister ever one day." I said it because I knew it was the truth, but what I didn't know was when that would happen. When we started She wasn't even 2 yet, and here she laid fully stretched out no longer our baby at all and I just didn't have any answers. What I thought I knew had shifted and we'd decided after the holidays, after we closed the book to this year, we would find the courage to start again.  I carried her sad heart to bed and ached inside for many things and many reasons. I placed tiny boy things inside a rubber tub and slid them under our bed. I needed it out of immediate sight and yet not far away. My flesh was always ready to call it quits and yet my spirit remained pregnant with expectancy. Clean laundry now filled the crib in our bedroom and every morning in my closet when I dressed I'd see our packed diaper bag lifeless on the top shelf. "We're ready Lord. Whenever the time is right, we're ready." 

We'd made last minute changes to go to NC for Thanksgiving and It was just what our hearts needed. Family, joy and rest. I guess I could have done without the 11 hour drive back from all the holiday travelers. Finley learned how to signal truckers to honk on the interstate and the laughter it brought us unloaded much of our heaviness.

The next day at lunch time I missed a call from our agent here in town. 12:47 to be exact. Then a text to please call when I could. My heart dropped into my stomach having a flash back from these same sequence of events just a few short weeks before. I walked out onto the front  lawn to return her call. " Are you and Ferrill together?" Ugh- another flashback. "No-Its Monday. Why?" I cant even begin to explain just how unprepared I was for this next part. "I'm calling because I have a baby girl, in my arms now, who is ready for placement."

I held my breath as I listened to all the information. Premature, born at 25 weeks, survived and released after 2 months, skin like Finley's etc. etc. etc....you can come now and meet her if you want." I called Ferrill in the offices just like I had 4 years ago, "Lets go met our daughter!" And off we went. Our future was only 8 miles away, and with every minute that passed it was like weights were being unloaded from our hearts. Today was THE day and their wasn't a fear or a worry anywhere in sight.

When we met her, it felt like shed been ours forever. It was this instant feeling of "this is right" In a moment I knew I now had 2 daughters and my mind could never go back to seeing things before this. Before her.  If joy could have fueled a rocket we could have ridden one to the moon and back.  As a legal precaution we didn't take her home with us right then but that day, Monday November 27th was the day we peeked behind the vail and Gods perfect plan was made known to us. Even now it doesn't feel real. Our case worker said "I don't know anyone else who has ever had 2 babies come suddenly like yours have." I cant believe it. Even now as I write this I cant comprehend what has happened. Consider our hearts and our minds blown into pieces. A million beautiful, perfect, redeeming pieces.

Finley came home from school the following day. I could hear her voice asking grandma "what is the surprise?" the sound of her soft gasp as she walked into our room and saw me holding her. "Mom... is this my sister?' and finally, after 22 months I muttered to her one of the greatest words a heart could ever hear, and the sweetest gift God could ever give. Yes.

Paper work has been signed but we do have a few loose ends.  Unfortunately some funds were lost in the previous "interrupted adoption" We have a short grace period to recover about $5,000. But seriously, the waiting is over and we know that money is the least of these things in the kingdom. For those who has sown may your cup overflow! And for those who are looking for the right place to give, I have no shame in saying let it be in us.

I leave with you the same words my dad left with me a few weeks ago. Don't give up. Don't give up. Don't give up. This is who we are.

2 Corinthians 1:20 "All his promises are yes and amen."

All our love
Ferrill, Sharon, Finley & Quinn (which means wisdom)

To Give:
www.nlcf.org Click "giving" sign in and specify "adoption fund" OR find us under Gallaway adoption on www.gofundme.com

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Shipwrecked

On Friday morning I got a text from our agent. "When you and Ferrill are together, please give me a call" Ferrill was on a day trip hunting, no doubt out until after dark and most likely without reception.  I decided to call her myself, too eager to hear the news that it was time! She had delivered and we were now only awaiting our invitation to move forward with all our arrangement's. Months of visits, emails, deep heart to heart conversations about the future and hundreds of pieces of paperwork had led us to this point. I was so ready. Not an ounce of fear resided in my heart, hope and joy had fully disarmed me. So you can only imagine how I felt as she apologized over and over as she expressed that nothing quit to this extreme had every happened to them before, not since the establishment of their agency, or in her "63 years of life or career as a social worker" for some reason that phrase stuck with me, but so much of the rest is now a blur. I hung up the phone sitting in my bedroom floor, my back leaning up against the crib we'd set up only a week or so ago. I felt completely numb and my body began to lightly tremble as shock began coursing through my veins. This was my greatest concern, this moment happening to me now. I started to worry for my husband, knowing this bomb was about to hit him next. "Lord don't leave me" was all I could muster as I began to cry. I cant believe this is happening again, and I feel that familiar presence of grief and sorrow lay its heavy coat on my back.

Ferrill did have reception and rushed home, texting me often, "I'm 30 minutes away... I'm on Hodges now.... 10 minutes from you...." and I stood in the kitchen starring out our back window slowly sipping a glass of something. I think it was water. He walked through the front door and we met each others eyes as if to say "Ahhh, I remember you, my friend. The one I did this with almost 5 years ago." These are the moments known by God when you repeat for better or for worse. It felt familiar and sad, as we held each other close and cried, and said I'm sorry, accepting our loses together. I'm thankful Finley was in school, we'd have about 45 min now to put our brave faces on. I had such an urgency to be with her, as if suddenly someone was trying to hurt us and I needed only for us all to be together. I needed to feel safe and comforted. I needed to be with my family. I needed to hear the joy of her voice and all the innocence she possesses. I needed something familiar since our futures had now shifted.

The rest of the day was so simple. Hours in sunshine park playing, building a teepee out of sticks, Smash Burger and then the fatigue from it all came over us. Ferrill fell asleep on our bed and I sat on the back porch writing. I wanted to remember this moment, because I know it wont be forever and I want to be able to look back and be encouraged at all God has done when he redeems us once again. I don't remember how Finley got to bed that night. Did I taker her? Did she dress herself? Where had I been. I honestly don't even know, I just remember seeing the clock say 3:48am when grief came into my room again and I started to weep uncontrollably. It was the same kind of sorrow as when my mom had her stroke almost 2 years ago. That realization that your identity is changing, things will never be again as they once were and the dread of dealing with it all. Ferrill rolled over putting his hands on my side. We never said a word. We just waited for it to pass. We waited for it to let me go. I guess around 7am I fell back to sleep.

I spent most of day 2 hearing all the voices speak, trying to cast their wicked seeds of pain and destruction. "Give up. You aren't meant to be a mom. If you were a good mom why would God make it so hard for you? Why do you try so hard to stay devoted to God when this keeps happening. Why does he skip you over and over again? You may have come back from the loss once before, but you'll never come back from this one. Be joyful in hope... what a sick joke. What a cruel God to deliver you from caution and wisdom and hand you over to disappointment like this. You cant really hear him you know. I wonder what you did wrong. Don't trust. Be angry. Look at all the hurt you've caused your friends and family to feel and deal with now." But with each stone thrown at me, a rock greater was thrown back. Since June I have faithfully been reading an hour a day in the Word and 1-3 hours of teaching. I was ready to cast off this heavy burden, and so I returned fire, "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at just the right time we will reap a reward if we do not give up! No one who's hope is in the Lord will be put to shame! To the faithful He is faithful!" And it wasn't just phrases I had memorized... it was absolute truth I felt at the core of who I am. Suddenly a great harvest was taking over and I labored most of the day until my own contractions had subsided and perfect peace became mine. Not only did I feel peace, I actually started to feel joy. Not a "I'm unstable and having an emotional break down" kind of thing, but a real joy and true stability. "This isn't real" The voices made one last hurdle. "Deep prolonged Sorrow is inevitable. The road will be treacherous and awful!" But I only needed to say one last thing. "Even though my sorrow may last for a night, joy comes in the morning." And with that one last push it was finished. I will deal with the practical stuff as it comes, but I will not deal with this or tolerate being lied too. I am loved. I will never give up on this or turn my affections from him. My faith will not be shipwrecked. I choose to trust him, and I choose joy.

So last night I took a 2 hour bath washing away the pain, ate chocolate cake and I laughed a lot before sleeping like a baby.The only dread I face now is sharing all this with you, your own sadness for us, your own process, and keeping at bay your questions and pity. I'm not trying to be tough here, I'm not denying myself of the real loss or trying to be some fake hero, but I am choosing something greater. May we all learn to tighten our belts of truth a little tighter and not grow weary. Let us lift up our eyes to the One who is greater and make this declaration. Onward.

His peace I leave with you
Sharon


Friday, September 22, 2017

Waiting On Baby

I'm sorry to say I have fallen way way behind on my updates. So much began to happen, so much suspense that I almost couldn't figure out where or how to even begin. If you follow us on Facebook you already know, but in case you missed it, about 6 weeks ago Ferrill and I were matched with an expectant birth-mother! A little boy, due in October.

We believed we were the most unlikely choice in the world for her to make, and yet we were chosen. We were somewhere between Atlanta and Memphis headed to my grandpas funeral, when I took the call from our agency. We were getting pretty used to phone calls and emails of let downs, that when they called and I offered to put it on speaker phone Ferrill said not to even bother. So the look of shock and awe on his face was priceless when I covered the bottom on my phone while she spoke and mumbled quietly to Ferrill, "She picked us!" We hung up the phone and cried tears of joy, and relief that something was finally happening. Although it had been 18 months since we started the process again, the past 9 had been totally quiet, but then suddenly. The story of our lives.

At first I felt very hesitant in sharing our news. We had made arrangement's to meet the birth-mother in person the Tuesday we returned back to town, since it was a local Jacksonville agency that had matched us. One thing I can 100% tell you was the Lord was putting a supernatural love for the woman in my heart just as much as he had for a new child. My friend Brittany and I were driving over the inter-coastal when she told me that she was expecting her second. And when we pulled into town center later that evening for a surprise party I remember standing in the parking lot telling her that God was doing something unique in my heart. I knew this time I wouldn't just be adopting a baby but a family.(remember that Britt?)  So it was no surprise to us when Tuesday she expressed her hope to have a very open adoption with her son. Our hearts were already totally on board.

So that brings us to now. Six weeks ago we were still in need of $13,000 for funding and now we only need about $3,000! We moved into a new house only about 4 weeks ago, and of course hurricane IRMA also made a flashy appearance. Other than a few trees and some shingles we're fine, but the weeks to follow we have been focused on meeting the needs of dear friends and our community. The birth-mother and I email weekly, we visit bi-weekly and we feel very strongly she is utilizing the resources provided to her by the agency. It is a VERY VERY good situation and both she and her child are healthy and doing well as we begin our countdown to D-day. During the past few weeks I've had to process many emotions, mostly stemming from old hurts, fears and disappointments. I listen to her express her sureness of her decision to place, I look at ultrasounds of this baby, and I'm asked so often if we'll be having a baby shower, what his name will be and a voice in my mind always says to me "I've been here before, with a boy, and she did not place. I've looked at ultrasounds, fallen in love and not received him. I've had a room full of blue baby things that I gave away when it didn't happen." And you know what.... I've just had to accept the reality that yes that could happen again.But how can I possibly remember the bad without also remembering the good! Yes, over 4 years ago my heart was broken, but it was also one of the most beautiful times I've ever experienced with the Lord. I would not have my daughter now if that loss never took place.And as nervous as I rightfully am I'm also wildly reminded of Gods faithfulness and his perfect timing! His care and kindness for me remains unmatched and I have decided to try my hardest to move forward, joyful in hope! God says whoever puts their trust in him will not be disappointed. God has never once disappointed us when our hope has remained in him, that he sees and knows, and will make things work out for our good. So we hope and trust in his plans, and his goodness! Amen!



My dad a few weeks ago said something so beautiful to me that really impacted my heart. He said "You know I've had a lot of disappointments in my life over the years, but some of the things I regret the most was not hoping for things, when their was good reason to hope.That time meant for joy and expectation was lost to worry or fear. Parenting isn't just about receiving your child, its also in the anticipation of the unknown. Sharon I know you're nervous. We've all lost things hoped for. I'm not saying you should share all the details of whats going on, but cling to every word of God, that he will do everything he has shared with you he will do. If you believe in your heart this is from him, that this is it, guard that hope at all cost, and trust in him." 

So that's were I'm at.  Nothing in adoption is done until 24-48 hours after birth and she signs paperwork transferring his custody and care over. But I'm doing my best to not be afraid. I'm choosing to have hope that this boy will become our son and in a few short weeks, maybe sooner, we will all know.

Thank you to everyone who has given to make this possible! What a joy it is to work through many details of this process without also needing to dwell too much on money. You all have continued to love our growing family so well, and we are forever in debt to your love. We just got a notification from go fund me that they have turned away some giving due to some errors on our end. We apologize for this and ask that should you still wish to bless us, that you try again.

Well everyone- I believe this is it. When you hear from us again, we hope to be a family of 4. (Oh did I mention our son would be interracial? Your welcome for that little sneak peek of information. Please excuse me while I squeal. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!) Oh Jesus, you're just the best! Lets do this crazy thing.

Love
Sharon

https://www.gofundme.com/gallaway-adoption

Monday, August 14, 2017

It came -It Passed

June 26th 2017 I had this dream.

In the dream I was crying. A family member had passed away, hope was still being deferred and I was at such a point of despair and discouragement. And an angel of the Lord whom I could not see but only heard said to me " And then it came to pass. It came-and it passed. Just as all things will, but their is a greater thing to learn and receive than what you hope for now. Set your heart and your faith on the giver of these things, that in whatever may come to pass, you know truth."

This dream would become the center of my focus even until right now. I thought so much about that phrase "come to pass" how wonderful and yet, disappointing that the "thing" whatever it may be at the time placed in my heart, how it will come, so that it can also pass. This phrase is mentioned 396 times in the bible, and 453 times if you remove the word AND. I think back at so many moments when my heart was fixed on the anticipation and hope of moments, and the joy of their delivery, and the strangeness of there passing, just to have another new "thing" come along. Like even now. The hope I had for my daughter, the great joy at her arrival, and now the new season of life that has changed and begun. Today is her first day of Pre-K. Lord their must be more to life than just moments. And their is.

The last 6 weeks have been the richest season I have ever had with the Lord. After the dream I set my heart to know the giver. "But how God? How can I know you more?" And my personal instructions were this. "When you speak to me, do not ask me to do anything, and do not complain." Easy. I assumed. Turns out I didn't speak to God for 3 days! I had no clue just how much of my "relationship" with God consisted of me complaining, and asking. And slowly a new conversation began to take shape. With this instruction came another to commit to reading and studying the Word at least 1 hour a day, with additional time of listening to the Word through teaching. Now I love that we do not serve a religious God, but one of relationship, and so I'm not sharing this to tell you some formula, but to express that I asked and he told me what I could do differently to know him more. It didn't take much discipline to do it, rather it took a shift in my priorities. A serious pursuit to feed my very hungry soul. And in doing so I have never felt more alive. So full. I'm telling you their have been nights I have gone to bed pondering a revelation of his love that had me in tears, and when I woke up it was still their, that tangible wonder of him, his love, his plan for us as his. I say this because I hear this word "destiny" everywhere I go. Everyone is searching. Looking. Empty. Hoping for things to come-that will pass, and searching again. Your destiny is to know God. Not know of him, but to KNOW him, and to be known by him. It. Is. Possible.

When God created the universe for your pleasure he would meet with Adam and Eve in the garden. Their was no discussing the work week. No expression of lack or talk of need. God created us as human "beings" and yet we find our identity in being doers. Out of that relationship comes tasks and yes, things to be accomplishing through him, BUT it should always be from that place of overflow with him, that we do good. When I was reading that verse in Revelations (3 vs 20) that says "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." I had always thought of that verse as being the opportunity for salvation, but then the Lord showed me that this was an invitation for us all, each day. That often he visits the heart of his children giving opportunity for us to respond to him. To invite him in to partake of more. I want the more- I want the daily intimacy of him. I want to know what it means to really love him with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind (Matthew 22:37)

I have no real goal of why I'm sharing this blog post today, other than to express the opportunity that's available to have a life that feels alive, and full. Adventurous and never dull. Father provoke our hearts once again, that we may respond to your unfailing love.

Id like to just share with you briefly that our friend Stephanie has returned full time to work! (read the past 2 posts to know what happened) Her body continues to heal but it is my great joy to tell you she is well and full of the goodness of God. If you pass her in the hall ways at church, you should ask her to show you the side by side images of her eyesight before and after surgery. It is incredible to see what God did!

ALSO... both our trips to India are fully paid for! The morning we were going to be buying our tickets a woman called me and shared," I feel like this is the amount God told me to sow into your trip." It was the exact cost of our tickets. 5 others gave to me personally to fund the rest, and if you are reading this (you know who you are) please let me express how thankful I am for your generosity, and kindness. Surely the Lord has a reward for those who give to his kingdom and his servants, a principle I'm sure you know well since your hearts were so eager to give.

In the last 4-6 weeks Ferrill and I have driven almost 5,000 miles. I know this because of that cute tiny sticker they put on your windshield after an oil change. We have traveled to The Dominican Republic and Alabama for outreach. To Miami twice to meet the consulate for visas for Brazil, to Georgia and Saturday we returned home from driving 16 hours each way to Missouri for my grandfathers funeral. I was reminded of 2 things while I stood on that hilltop overlooking the cemetery, a gentle breeze soothing my soul. That ALL of Gods words, which are his promises are yes & amen. When my grandpa (who passed at 87) was in his early 20's he needed to have both kidneys removed,they had calcified after being kicked by a horse, injuring him terribly. Before surgery he told me, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said not to worry, that he would live to see his grandchildren. Turns out he was born with a 3rd kidney that would last him his lifetime, and not only would it be 30 years before that promise would be fulfilled, but the Lord would even exceed that goodness, and grant him the joy of 2 great grandchildren.

I also thought of how salvation came to my family through adoption. My grandpa, adopted as an infant, came to know Christ after his parents 10 years later accepted Christ. And I sat there by his side, hearing my own daughters laughter as she played about. Taking in the reality of an eternal life, full of Gods promises, and thankful, considering it our privilege that the Lord has called us to adopt.


I am a prisoner of hope. Trapped in a mighty fortress.
Eager to share with you again soon, a new story.

Sharon

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Present & Future (an update on Stephanie and whats to come)

It was less than 16 hours after her surgery when I got to see Stephanie. She was scheduled to be the first operation of the day and had arrived by 5am. It was around noon when they began and they finished over 2.5 hours later. The tumor with its 2 cysts inside were removed successfully and Stephanie's vision began to recover almost immediately. She sat in bed quivering from the meds, a constant activity of doctors, nurses and therapists in and out every 10 minutes or less, and I sat and watched as she mustard up all her strength to allow one more nurse to draw blood from her battered arm. She was so frail and yet so incredibly gracious. You would have never known just hours before and all through the night she had been throwing up shocking amounts of blood. That's something they didn't tell us as she prepared for the surgery. That the tumor they would remove, would mostly drain down her throat and into her stomach, and when it was all over, her body would do what it needed to do to clean itself. Gross. That being said it has not been an "easy" recovery for our friend. She was released from the hospital after 3 days as opposed to 1, and after 48 hours at home was rushed back to the ER in an ambulance with severe pain, vomiting and no vision.

She was very afraid and in lots of pain when one of her 6 doctors, the man in the blue scrubs, changed his shift to stay with her through the night and see to her recovery personally. She had gotten so dehydrated that even her veins in her arms were no longer usable. Needing to get her medication locally as quickly as needed they made the choice to put an IV in her neck. What should have been a 45 min process took over 2 agonizing hours. Her voice filled the hallway with painful tears as she cried out the name of Jesus and endured the procedure.

So here we are today. Stephanie is home now, finally, and trying to find a new normal for these next several weeks. She cant be alone yet so friends and family have joyfully taken their turns enjoying her company and learning how to rest by her side. She has an appointment tomorrow to follow up on things.

It hasn't been "easy" but God is so good! So faithful! We believe she is on her way to a full recovery in Jesus name! She wanted me to thank everyone for their prayers and thoughtfulness. Her recovery is such a priority, and has had a mild set back since the ER visit was unexpected that she's put away her phone for a season. Lord knows if she responded to every text or call shed be up 24/7. So if you did not or have not heard from her, please understand.

Also, if I may. She and I would both like to share some exciting news with you. She and I, have accepted a unique opportunity to travel to India this December for 10 days and share the gospel.

Last September I had this vision where I was following a woman whom I know named Audrey, through India. I wrote it down in my journal, prayed and tucked it away. 6 months later, on a Sunday she came up to my husband and said "I need to speak with your wife. I was in Haiti ministering when the Lord said I should invite your wife to travel with me. Id like to plan a special trip to India."

I was floored. As long as I've been serving the Lord and following the spirit, every time I'm in awe that this is real. That the supernatural is SO real. Then a few months ago Stephanie and I were having a Netflix day, it was actually the same day that she got the confirmation call from Mayo about the appointment she never made, and out of nowhere holy spirit starts talking to me about ducks. I literally turned to Stephanie and said "I'm gonna need you to stop talking for just a second. The holy spirit is literally talking to me about you right now. He said you're supposed to go on this trip also, and that he actually gave you a dream about it almost a year ago and that it involved ducks."

She quickly sat up, thinking. It didn't take long before Holy Spirit brought to mind a dream shed had over a year ago, where she and I were traveling some place towards the middle east and God was with us moving in great power in rural farm places when demonic spirits disguised as ducks began to deceive people away from our message and into tents. Anyways, it was an exciting and ordained moment for us as friends and a promise of the future hope to come as we walked through the next few months. When we waited in the surgeons office to meet with him that wild Thursday everything happened,we just encouraged one another. "Everything is going to be fine. God is taking us to India remember!" and when the man in the blue scrubs came in, and the whole room became full of peace, we asked him where he was from, and when he said he was from India, we began to laugh and cry.

Yesterday we were able to talk over details of the trip. We'll have the opportunity to share the gospel in rural places,go straight into the brothels to minister to about 20-40 woman and be visiting up to 60 children currently living in orphanages, all girls under 10 whom were sold by or taken from family to be trafficked and have been rescued, literally, by a handful of woman who risked their lives for them. While we met I could hear Holy spirit saying to me "Although these children may have meant nothing to someone, they mean everything to me." And that is the message I carry and hope to share.

That being said Stephanie and myself have a real financial need to get there. We have the expenses of a surgery and an adoption on our laps and so if anyone feels lead to give, so that we could move forward with one less thing, then please consider giving towards our trip. You can reach out to us directly and privately for details on how to give. Our expected cost is around $2,500. Not too shabby if you ask me.

So praise God! He is the author and finisher of our faith and no word will return back to him void! He will fulfill all that he has set to accomplish and we're ready! well.. Stephanie's not ready. I'm sure her spirit is but, she will be soon. I'll let you know in a few weeks how things are going. Please continue to pray for supernatural rest, peace and provision.

Amen,
Sharon

Friday, May 26, 2017

Fifty-Four Hours

Stephanie walked through the front door and set her things on my kitchen counter "I think that something is wrong with my eyes." What do you mean I asked  "I can't see out the sides. Everything is super blurry." We discussed it a while longer before setting the subject aside to start the binge watching process on Netflix, our new routine for when my husband (and her boss) is away on long trips. "also" She added, "I got a call today from Mayo for an appointment coming up that I never made!" We explored this mysterious occurrence and because of her eyes she decided she might as well keep the appointment coming up in a few days anyway. It was just a wellness visit, insurance would cover it and it couldn't hurt to just mention the strange and sudden blurriness she was experiencing. Little did we know this would be the first of many miraculous provisions and occurrences that God had already ordained to take care of his wonderful daughter.

When she asked me to go with her to her appointment yesterday it was just to hear "the results." I remember thinking if her appointment is at 8am and the next at 8:45am I'll certainly be home by 9:30am. I didn't know her doctor had sent her to an optometrist for eye testing, and that he had sent her to get an MRI the night before. Now that I think back I don't know what I was doing there, and I'm not sure Stephanie did either. It was all kind of a blur. We sat in the waiting area talking, full of faith, full of hope that this was nothing. That's the last clear thing I remember hearing her say as I looked at her talking with her dark messy top knot on her head. "I'm sure this is nothing."

The Optometrist walked us to his office and Stephanie took a seat in the patient chair as he sat at his desk facing her. They discussed the progression of her vision problems, the eye testing and what has brought them to this point. He very graciously clicked on the MRI scans on his desk top. "Do you see this spot here?" he asked as he circled the grape size spot on the screen with his mouse. Stephanie nodded her head, "This should not be here." Of all the doctors we'd see that day, although each very kind and warm, he was the most thoughtful with his words. Perhaps even he realized he was out of his field of expertise on this one. "This is a tumor pressing on your optical nerves, its on your pituitary gland. This is why your vision has changed." I didn't want to look at her. This was what we were so sure it wasn't, and yet here we were and there it was on a 26' inch screen in black and white. It's so difficult to find words to express such profound moments, like the look on her face as he spoke. I guess it was the look of grief. Of realizing your plans are about to change, whether you want them too or not. Afterwards she looked at me as if I also had a say in the matter. Her eyes almost searching for the good news we needed to hear instead of this. "It's all going to be okay." I said. "Now we know what it is. We just need to keep going and get this dealt with." She nodded her head speechless as we made our way down another hallway to our next appointment.

Next was the endocrinologist, a retired Army soldier. "Tell me Stephanie what do you understand as of this point."  "I can't see, because I have a tumor." This appointment felt a little more heavy. Turns out the pituitary gland is quite a big deal for being so small. This visit had lots of words like, substantial, urgent, risks, neurosurgeon and so many others that for peace sake I wont even bother repeating.One thing huge he did do though, was make a call upstairs to his buddies. He requested more blood work to be done in 10 minutes and said he'd make a call to see about us being seen by a neurosurgeon today if we could wait. We sat in another lobby, Stephanie's arms already bruised up from yesterdays appointments and waiting for her to give more blood. She was in shock. Maybe we both were. We got a call while we waited and we'd be meeting a neurosurgeon at 4pm. We were thankful, and also scared. The weather today was dark and cloudy just like we were as we made the long walk to the parking lot. We picked up Chinese food and my daughter, headed to my house to pass by the next 4 hours.

We actually waited 1hr and 40 minutes before being seen. The surgeon had an emergency and we'd need to wait. Earlier we'd passed a man in the hallway in light blue scrubs. "If he's my surgeon I know I'll be fine." Stephanie says as they take us back.After waiting what felt like forever, in walks our guy, the man in the light blue scrubs. He exuded such peace and gentleness, exactly what we needed at this point. Maybe it was because of that, that Stephanie cried for the first time. He was so kind and safe as he explained the procedure to remove the tumor. "You'll be asleep, and we'll go up through your nose." He showed us that in the tumor was actually 2 small cysts full of fluid. "We need to drain and carefully remove these as quickly as possible. If they were to burst, you could go blind." and I thought in amazement, how many people on this earth could share such difficult news without causing any fear, and he did. "I'm scheduling the surgery for Tuesday."

Stephanie's mind totally checked out at that point. Next came consent forms to proceed with the surgery, pre-operation instructions and a waiver to release "remains", we actually laughed really hard when she read that part, shock is such a strange thing. It was 6:30 pm at this point and I wasn't sure how much more she could take. She couldn't even speak when it was all finished. We walked towards the elevator, feeling like the only ones left in the building, sounds of someone playing a piano somewhere floated through the air. She pressed the down button and leaned into the wall, as heavy as I've ever seen another human being. She looked at me eyes full of tears. "I just need to weep." were the words that fell from her lips. But she didn't, not yet, we kept going. "We just have to keep going." would be the mantra for another 24hrs.

So this brings me to today. Right now. After 6 doctor consults, 2 MRI's, 1 CAT scan, and 6 different veins giving blood she is done with appointments and having her procedure Tuesday May 30th at 7:30am. It'll take a few hours, with an overnight stay and 4 weeks of recovery, but she's as ready as she could possibly be. Thinking over the last 48 hours its quite incredible how difficult the situations have been, and yet so miraculous the peace and grace to endure them and call him faithful over and over again as he so clearly made a way for her at every turn. Before our last appointment today we sat outside the building having lunch discussing how surreal and wild this whole thing seems. "What is the Lord saying to you Stephanie? What has he been saying?" She pulls out her phone and reads the notes she had quickly jotted down last Saturday, before all of this. She reads off to me the encouraging words of a heavenly father who sees it all "I've got you Stephanie. I've totally got you."

Please pray for continued peace over her and her family as they wait, that the tumor is easily removed with no remains and for her recovery time that she would truly find rest and every financial need would be met. Everyone who knows Stephanie knows just how exceptional she is. It was truly an honor from God to be with her during this time, and I now pass that baton over to you to each play your role as the Lord leads. With that being said prayer is the best gift you could give, and she asks that you be very gracious during this time. Allow her to process, make this about what she's going through not you, and please send only encouraging words.

I'll be updating again following her procedure. Until then grace, grace.
Sharon