Finding Ava. . .part 3 of 3- back to the beginning

Our entire adoption process with Ava took about four years and seven months.  Although it seemed sudden, it actually was a very long journey.  It was 2012 when Phil and I felt a very strong desire to add to our family through adoption.

For every meal, car ride, vacation, or family activity, we all had something similar to say. . .”someone is missing.”  I would do a head count because it just seemed like we had left someone behind or were missing someone.

“Someone is missing”

As both an adoptive and biological mother, I can tell you that all of my children were conceived within me.  God placed my biological children in my belly and He placed my adopted children in my heart.  All long before they made their appearance in our arms.

The desire to have another child and the love I felt for her long before I even knew she was a girl who had blond hair and blue eyes grew beyond measure.  I fell madly and deeply in love with her.

That love for the unknown fuels a passionate drive in an adoptive parent.  When you are pregnant- you have a time frame.  You know your child will come to you as a newborn.  You don’t know their hair color or eye color or facial features, but you know some of their genetic make up and therefore can imagine a little bit of what you will see upon their birth.  You know that you have approximately 40 weeks to prepare and can plan on meals, clothing, furniture, diapers, etc.  You know you won’t be pregnant for 2 or 3 or 4 or more years.  You have a few certainties amongst many uncertain moments when pregnant.

When you are expecting a child through adoption– you do not have a time line.  You do not know if you will bring home a child in two weeks, two months, or two years.  You do not know the gender, eye, hair or even skin color.  You do not even know the genetic make up that may lend certain characteristics to your child.  You may not even know the age of your next child.  Buying clothes, furniture and diapers are many times gathered together in a last minute basket of details that will take place after your child comes home.  You can take on the task of preparing and freezing meals ahead of time- but then after six months you start to defrost and eat them so they don’t waste to freezer burn.

The “paper pregnancy” is hard.  Worse than any hyperemesis I’ve ever experienced with my biological pregnancies.

The adoption process is emotional, exciting, heart breaking, exhilarating, and exhausting all at the same time.  Yes, it is exactly like that rollercoaster ride you hear about.  So why do we do it?  Why?

“So why do we do it? ” Why did we want to adopt?

Because we have a child. . . in our hearts. . .that we must find.  And we will search, and run, and fight, and sweat, and bleed, and cry, and scream, and work until we find them.

That is the only way I could describe it to my friends.  I had a child out there somewhere.  I didn’t know if they had even been conceived.  But I knew they were placed in my heart and the love is NO different from that of the children that grew in my belly.

Phil and I made a habit of having family prayer each night no matter the circumstances.  We would grab hands with our children and stand in a circle and pray.  We would plead with God to hold on to our child’s birth mom and keep her safe.  We would pray for our child.  We would pray for our children standing with us and very graciously joining us on this incredible journey.  We would pray and ask God to clear our debt and bring the money to bring our child home to us.  We would pray that God would fill the empty chair at the table.  We would pray for strength to endure the process.

Our adoption journey began to open our eyes to our own adoption by God.  His sacrifice and love to bring us home to Him is overwhelming.  And with each step, both joyous and painful, we were brought to that moment of saying YES all over again.  How much did we love this child unknown?  How much suffering would we endure to find her?  How much would we lose to gain her presence into our lives?  How much would we endure to answer God’s call to drop our lives for another?

We could say all of those same things about God’s adoption of His children.  He said Yes when he put his child on the cross to suffer and take away our sins.   He endured to bring us home.  His love is that great.  Sometimes almost seeming foolish, yes.  We cannot fathom His love and mercy and grace.  And our tiny little journey to bringing home Ava began to mirror our savior’s story of adopting us into His family.  His great story gave us HOPE for our little story.  And our HOPE in his story was our strength to continue each step by step.

But answering the call and following Christ comes at a cost.  Sometimes a great cost.  And for our family- we learned we would suffer greatly as payment for answering the call to adoption.

It started with the death of a neighbor.  Followed by the death of one of our breeding dogs.  The rolling sorrow of death and loss began to pick up momentum the closer we got to finding Ava.   At each new “yes” in the form of a signature, sacrifice of a vacation or giving up cable or going out to eat.  Each time we made a small step towards our goal- we endured suffering.

I recall breaking down when our close neighbor, who was like a grandpa to the kids, suddenly passed away.  It just felt like our world was beginning to crumble in upon us.

“Were we nuts?”  “Were we following Christ in obedience or were we simply infatuated with the idea of adoption?”

We began to wonder if we were simply pushing something God wasn’t asking of us.  After losing cattle, dogs, puppies, a horse, money, our health. . .we were breaking down.

Just a few months into our journey, I learned I had diabetes.  I remember breaking down and crying- knowing this would most likely end our ability to adopt.  I had read about people being denied due to health issues.  But in the end- it was a stumbling block- not a concrete wall.  After getting my blood sugar under control- I knew we would continue the journey.  Just a little more work. . .that’s all.  Always a little more. . .

Next, Phil required knee surgery.  The medical costs were daunting and we wondered if we would ever regain the funds to adopt.  Our child we were so desperately searching for seemed to be slipping from our finger tips.

We decided we needed to work harder.  I don’t ever want Ava to read about her story and think that we endured and suffered and harbored regret.  On the contrary…we want her to read her story and read about the suffering and hard work and see just how much we love her and wanted her and chased after her to bring her home to us!

Instead of focusing on every challenge we faced- I want to bring to light how God brought us through discouragement, sorrow, loss and suffering to a point of rejoicing, being renewed to walk the hard path of adoption.

We took on more puppy litters for a year to bring in the funds to prepare for Ava to come home.  Each morning seemed like a monstrous challenge.  I would enter the puppy nursery that was wall to wall- floor to ceiling puppy poo and cry out to God.  Let me tell you- we worked HARD to find Ava.  We physically worked our fingers to the bone.  We worked until it hurt and then we would push past the pain until we didn’t feel anything.  We were exhausted as we put in extra hours to bring in the funds.  And when I wanted to throw in the towel- God would send me a song.  I would turn up the radio and every time. . .He would speak to me in song.

Music has always been a huge way for me to worship and cry out to God as well as be refreshened, nourished and encouraged.

God always knew the perfect song to play at just the right moment.  My list that sometimes still plays can bring on a flood of tears and joy all at the same time.  We had a theme song to our adoption for Ava. “Thrive” by Casting Crowns.  My mind would be fuming in anger for the suffering we were enduring.   My heart would be breaking for the child I was missing and when I felt my soul was about to give out. . .that song. . .”Thrive” would start to play and I would sing through the tears until I was shouting and praising God.  Poopy gloves lifted high in the sky- my smile would return and God would give me every bit of endurance needed to finish the task at hand.

My play list:

  • Thrive, by Casting Crowns
  • Amos Story, by Aaron Ivy / Austin Stone Worship
  • You Make Me Brave, by Bethel Music and Amanda Cook
  • It is Well, by Bethel Music and Kristene DiMarco
  • God of The Impossible, by Everfound
  • While I’m Waiting, by John Waller
  • Orphan, by John Waller
  • Breathe,  by Jonny Diaz
  • Farther Along, Josh Garrels
  • Soar, by Meredith Andrews
  • Worn, by Tenth Avenue North
  • Good Fight, by Unspoken
  • How He Loves, by David Crowder Band
  • God Is On The Move, by 7eventh Time Down
  • Promises, by 7eventh Time Down

Adoption is not just a journey.  It is a fight, a war.  When you put your yes on the line and your heart is poured out on the alter before God, you are fighting against a very powerful force that would love to devour you before you can carry out God’s plan and purpose in your life.  Adoption is God’s calling.  And Satan would love to destroy you and this calling.  So how does one even begin to fight in such a battle.

First, armor up.  The Bible tells us to put on the FULL armor of God.  Not just the helmet or the breastplate.  No, ALL parts of the armor.  Keep truth next to your heart.  Memorize verses, have a theme song to inspire you to keep going.  Write verses and quotes and place them throughout your house.  Never stop praying.  Never stop talking to God.  Never stop praising God and thanking Him for the miracle around the corner.  Speak biblical truths to yourself so it becomes louder than the discouragement in your head.

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

And just when you think all is lost. . .just when you want to lay your head down and never get back up. . .THAT is when God shows up and He shows up big.  God does not always move when you ask.  But when He does. . .He moves quickly!

Today we celebrated Ava’s second birthday.  It’s been 2 years since I received that phone call on a Wednesday afternoon telling us of a baby girl born and needing a family.  “Are you interested?  Do you want her?”

Do we want her?  We’ve never wanted anything more.



Why We Talk About the Death of our Child. . .

Today is February 1st, which means we are going into a month surrounded by everything “Heart.”

Valentine’s Day is upon us and along with the pink and red, we bring awareness to other things heart such as Women’s Heart Health, heart attack prevention, signs and symptoms of a failing heart.  We see the celebrities and political pleas to learn more about the heart as a woman.

But this month, I’d like to bring awareness to CHD’s, or Congenital Heart Defects which is actually something very close to my own heart.  

A Congenital Heart Defect is an abnormally formed and functioning heart.  Many CHD’s are now detected prior to birth through routine sonograms, however, many are not detected allowing babies to go home with life threatening defects.

In 1997, our son William was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) which went undiagnosed until it was too late.  As a result, William suffocated and died.  If only his echocardiogram was performed, we would have had options.  

We have learned so much about HLHS over the past twenty years, but not enough to prevent it or in many cases successfully treat it.  Raising awareness means getting a dialog going about demanding prenatal fetal echocardiograms and neonatal echocardiograms as routine testing prior to any discharge from the hospital.  Early detection means a greater chance of success in treating and beating CHD’s.

We know this first hand as our youngest son, Nathan received an echocardiogram prior to having stomach surgery at one month old.  His testing revealed a heart defect known as Fenestrated Atrial Septal Defect, which is basically multiple small holes in the heart.  He is doing great right now and is just 2 weeks away from his next echocardiogram to see how he is progressing.

After the death of William, each of our children received routine echo’s to rule out any CHD’s.  Unfortunately, many babies are still being sent home with dangerous and life threatening CHD’s.

We talk about our son’s death not to scare parents, but to make you aware that CHD’s are more common than you think and prevention can save lives.  Please take our experience and tragedy as an opportunity to start a dialog about bringing testing to light and making sure that each parent makes it their own priority to insist on these tests prior to leaving the hospital with that beautiful brand new baby.

Let’s keep February a heart month by having a heart for those living with, fighting and overcoming Congenital Heart Defects!



finding Ava. . .part 2 of 3

The first few days in the critical pod in the NICU were really a blur.  Since Phil was still suffering from a sinus infection- I was the only one allowed in to see her.  2016-03-03 13.50.55

I remember holding Ava for the first time when time literally just melted into nothingness.  I could have stared at her all day and it would have seemed like only a few seconds.  There was an instant bond with her.  From the moment I saw her little face through all of the tubes- she was mine.  I was shocked by how that maternal momma bear kicked into overdrive immediately.

Ava’s birth mom loved her dearly.  I know she still holds her in her heart.  She never held her, but watched as they whisked her away to get her breathing and check her out.  They later asked if she wanted to hold Ava.  She said it was already too hard to watch her leave that room. . .she couldn’t bear to say goodbye again.

That is love folks.  She watched a part of her own heart be ripped away and for the sake and love for this little girl- she chose a family who would wrap her in their family as their own.  She chose love and life over comfort and solace.  She chose us.

We never met.  She was going through withdrawal from the drugs that held her captive and meeting us was just too much.  She endured and suffered and waited the required 48 hours of counseling so she could sign the adoption papers allowing us to become Ava’s parents.  She truly wanted the best for that little girl.  And I will spend the rest of my life trying to live up to that trust.

Those 48 hours were a tilt a whirl of peace, sorrow, joy, and fear.

It was during all of those 48 hrs of waiting when we lost four other babies we were to adopt.  So the fear started creeping in the closer the signing time approached.


That was the time the adoption agency was meeting with Ava’s Birth mom to sign the termination papers.  9:00am.  We’ve had times set before and 10, 20, 30 minutes pass and no answer.  Only to find out later that we would not be taking home a little one.  So knowing I would most likely throw up around 9:01am. . .I decided to go to our puppy nursery and socialize our newborns to keep busy.  I had my phone and texted Phil as our agency texted saying she was heading up the elevator.  To put our minds at ease- she let us know the birth mom was expecting her.  We were crying.

Crying because we were anxious, scared, happy, hopeful. . .just pure raw emotions.

Phil was at work feeding cows and I was walking into the puppy room when the momma dog, Cupcake, our chocolate lab greeted me at the door.  I let her out and as I approached the whelping box I started counting.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5. . .”where is 6?”  I saw little legs and he was on his tummy.  He wasn’t moving and was warm.  I saw Cupcake had been laying in the corner where I found him.  She had laid on him.  That big momma body was too much.

“No! No! No!!!!!!” I started crying out. . .”God help!  Help me! Help me!!!” ” No God, No!!!!”

At the exact moment Ava’s Birth mom was signing her papers. . .I was giving CPR to a puppy.

“Breathe little one, Breathe!!!!!”

Nothing.  He was gone and I broke down sobbing.  I held Cupcake while she licked him and said, “I’m so sorry. . .I’m just so sorry. . .I tried my best.”

My phone lit up with a text.

9:11am. . .so simple. . .so profound. . .it simply said. . .”DONE.”


Ava’s Birth mom had signed.  We were now her parents.  It actually happened.

I called Phil and he answered immediately.  “She signed!  She signed!!!!!”  We both wailed and hollered and cried and praised Jesus together!

I then spouted out. . .”But one thing. . . one of Cupcake’s puppies died.”  I’ll never forget this as long as I live.  Phil wasn’t surprised at all.  His reply?  ” I didn’t expect today to happen without loss.”

Loss.  Oh too true.  From the moment we announced we were embarking on the adoption journey- we suffered incredible loss.  Animals, puppies, friends, neighbors.  The incredible way God used each of those moments allowed us to feel the breadth of the sacrifice of adoption.  Adoption is beautiful and love and loss.  People forget. . .or want to forget the loss.  Jesus endured loss, God endured loss to adopt us as His children.  We too must endure loss when adopting.  The birth parents endure loss.

There is sorrow laced in joy.

I ran back into the house and one by one, grabbed each of our children and told them the good news. . .”she signed!  she signed!!!  Ava is ours!!!”

“Really?” my Matthew asked.  “Really!”  He cried.  They all cried.  This journey was a family journey of suffering and praying and hoping and losing and hoping again.  It was a time when our family grew stronger in our walk with God and closer together.  The kids were already in love with a child they had never met.

Phil received the clearance to see Ava!!!  Finally!!!!  He had seen pictures and video and Facetimed. . .but he was finally going to see his baby girl.  He just had to finish his work load and then would go up with me later that evening.

I, on the other hand, was heading up to see my little girl and try to get her to eat!

I prayed for safety as the tears filling my eyes made it difficult to see while driving.  I-35 was never more clear as I tried to keep my speed down heading to Ft Worth’s Baylor All Saints.

The music was blaring and the angles were praising God with me as I sang through breathless tears.

Reaching the off ramp, I came to a halt at the stop light where I noticed a homeless man.  Rugged and dirty- he turned to me and smiled.  I reached my hand into the back seat and into my purse.  Now, I didn’t have any money with me because every morning on that same overpass there was always someone with a sign asking for money. Each morning I would reach my hand back and feeling the rough paper money- I would grab a few bucks. . .well a five and a few ones and hand them out the window.  It was beginning to bewilder me that even though I never refilled my purse. . .I was always grabbing the same five and few ones.

Without looking. . .My eyes met this man’s. . .I reached my hand back into my purse knowing full well I had nothing and grabbed a five and a few ones.  As soon as my hand closed a fist around them. . .the man smiled.  It was Jesus.  I know it was my Jesus.  Standing on an off ramp, rugged and dirty to the eye. . .His eyes were a beauty I could not describe.  Each morning he took on a different look. . .but that morning, I cried and smiled and rolled down the window and handed what I had.  His hand covered mine and he said, “God bless and be with you my child.”  Although I had been driving up there at least twice a day for 2 days and had seen a person on that off ramp. . . I never saw anyone again after that.

The joy!  I can’t describe the joy of Jesus to you.  Yes, I was overjoyed knowing we had our little girl.  But knowing God the almighty listened to my little prayers. . .and took joy in my joy was more than my heart could handle.  The joy bubbled over into crying and love for anyone who crossed my path.  That is God people.  His love fills our hearts so we overflow with love and kindness and compassion towards others.  I imagine meeting God face to face one day will be so overwhelming that we will fall on our faces.  The joy. . .oh the joy!!!!!

I speed scrubbed at the NICU entrance and practically ran to Ava’s new pod.  “Ava. . .Ava Beth,” I whispered in her little ear.  She opened her eyes.  She knew I was her momma.


I snapped a selfie of her and made the announcement public.

I was so excited for Phil to meet our little girl.  We scrubbed in and I saw it on his face as he saw the critical unit where Ava started out.  It was the spitting image of the same set up our son William had been before he passed away.  My hand held his and we smiled at each other.  Beauty from ashes.  We walked down the hall.

Ava was a little baby. . .but she literally disappeared in Phil’s big strong hands.  He was in love from the moment he learned about her.  What a dream come true.


We spent the next two weeks experiencing the ups and downs of the NICU.  We had good days and bad days and let downs and hope.  But after two weeks, we signed our part of the adoption papers and were walked out of those NICU doors.  This time, with a full car seat!!!!  Ava was coming home!!!!




finding Ava. . .part 1

It was a typical busy Wednesday at Lamgo Farms.  And by “typical” I mean, I was managing the household on approximately 2 hours of sleep within a 48 hr period with two litters of puppies born two nights in a row; and my run without showering was now teetering on day 4.  But it was Wednesday, Guitar lesson day. . .and we tried to never miss out on music days that also coincided with an opportunity at a drivers Ed lesson.  So I slapped on some perfume, threw the hair up in a messy bun and out the door we ran.

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My hour sitting outside of Jacob’s guitar lesson was normally dedicated to either writing or working on email.  But only eight minutes after pulling out my laptop, the phone rang. “Tina” from our adoption agency lit up the screen. My hands fumbled as I tried to answer in a Hurry.


THE call.


If you are on the journey to adoption, you have dreamt of that moment when you get “the call.” I had played it over and over again in my mind. The match, the call I would make to my husband. But no matter how much I prepared for the moment at hand, the actual call was a complete surprise and handed down from God.


“Hi Sandi, so we have a baby girl that was born this morning around 4:30am. . .the social worker called us and she is yours if you want her.”


I jotted down a few bits of information on a wadded up Burger King receipt still on the dash-board, and then I said, “ I better ask Phil. I’ll call you right back.”


A little flash back:


Friday, the week before, I received an email from Tina asking for us to update our documents for the file. She was presenting us to a birth mom who was expecting a little baby girl. My heart wanted this so bad, but over a years’ time, we endured 4 failed matches. The desire to quit was strong in our hour of sorrow. So I prayed. I asked God to please have the birth mom choose someone else if we were headed for another failed adoption. We just couldn’t endure another loss. So if we were going to lose this baby- I wanted to lose it before I could get attached. It would be a let down not to have been chosen. . .. but that was far better than opening up that heart only to be hurt again.


I then, kneeling at the corner of our unmade bed. . . begged my God. I asked Him that if He wanted us to continue this adoption journey- to simply allow a phone call with a baby already born. No waiting time involved. I then took out my stack of ‘prayer cards turned prayer papers turned prayer notebook’ and wrote down the request.  The papers take me back four years.  Check marks beside the answered and miracles. . .one request still stood.  “Lord, please bring home our baby or babies.”


According to the agency- the birth mom was going to make her decision on Wednesday. Wednesday. . .Guitar lesson day.  This very Guitar lesson day.


Seeing Tina’s name on my phone wasn’t a surprise that day because we expected to hear back either way about this birth mom. But I could have never guessed the reason she had called. I could have never guessed that the original birth mom chose another family and then once that baby was born, decided to parent. I could have never guessed that God heard my prayer that night and not only did He spare us from the loss of another failed match. . .but that He also heard the specifics of my cry. He handed us a little girl, already born. . . Check.


Dialing Phil’s phone was one of the most joyous moments of my life:


Phil answered the phone and I responded, “It’s a girl!!!!” He said, “ok.” No excitement or surprise or anything.   He thought we had been chosen by the birth mom. “No honey. . .We have a girl!!!!”




I went on to tell him the story:

A displaced young woman, painfully addicted to drugs called the paramedics as she went into labor.  Staying at a friends’ house, she left in the early morning to make a call from a nearby gas station.  She was taken to one hospital who refused to help her, and then ended up at another, better hospital. 40 minutes later, a little girl entered the world.


Her birth mother looked at her, but didn’t hold her. It was too hard. The baby was whisked away and given oxygen.


She appeared to be about 4 to 5 weeks early. Since no prenatal care was given, her gestational age was estimated.


This sweet little girl was only hours old, but tested positive for heroin and later tested positive for meth. But she was perfect in every way.


I went on to give him The basics: Birth mom was white and although there was no knowing who the birth father was, it appeared that he was white as well. This little girl was a tiny blond with blue eyes.


Before I even finished the statistics. . .”YES! Ok, YES! Call Tina back now!”


Our decision to adopt this little girl took approximately 15 seconds. A baby girl. . .already born.


I called and texted Tina, hung up the phone and cried.


I’m crying now just writing this. I’m sitting beach side while Phil is holding our sleeping daughter.  Our daughter.

If there was one thing I’ve learned during this adoption journey. . .it was that nothing…and I mean absolutely NOTHING goes according to plan.

Our adoption journey has been hard.  And I just want to stop and interject here for those either just starting the journey or traveling rough roads.  IT IS WORTH IT! DON’T QUIT!  Stay the course!  Cling to God!  Stand and be strong.  Have courage.  Have Faith!  God has overcome and He will see you through this journey.

Key word: Journey

Adoption is NOT a destination.  It is a journey.  It does not end with the baby or child in your arms.  Adoption is ongoing.

I imagined the call, the match, being at the delivery.  Holding my child while Phil holds me.  Bringing the baby home with the kiddos cheering at the door.  Sharing pictures with the birth mom.  I had it all planned out. (and God laughs)

Nothing went according to plan.  But it was all planned out by God and that is all that mattered.

It wasn’t long before Jacob was done with his lesson and back in the car.  It was 1pm and we were going to head straight to the hospital to meet our little girl.  I didn’t dare tell Jacob and holding my excitement was agony so I spilled.  “Listen, there may be a baby available so daddy and I are going to run to the hospital to check it out.”  We had so many disappointments and a total of 4 failed adoptions that it started wearing on the kiddos- I couldn’t be completely open.  But I couldn’t hide it either.

The phone rang again as I was driving.  “Tina” it said.  “So, there’s been a development. . .” My heart sank.  We’ve had these let downs so many times and I held my breath for a moment.  We couldn’t come up to the hospital right away because the baby was in the critical part of the NICU and another baby was being taken off of life support.  They were going to close that section to visitors and other parents while the parents of that sweet baby grieved and said goodbye.

“Oh my heart.  You know I know what that’s like.”  So we agreed to wait until dinner time to head up.  I was elated to meet our girl.  But I was dying inside as all of our sorrow seemed to surface in that one sentence given.


William was our second child.  Born and given as a complete surprise to us, his life on this earth was short.  Being infertile and finally conceiving with the help of fertility drugs, I had no idea I could conceive on my own.  Well, welcome to the story of William.

William was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  The condition went undiagnosed so when we finally learned of his illness, he had lost his major organs and we eventually decided to take him off of life support.  The very thing this poor family was enduring had already been on our doorstep.  How horrible that one of my greatest days was their worst.  My heart broke for them.

The clock was closing in on 6 pm when we finally arrived at the hospital.  Our experience with our failed adoptions at the hospital did not go well. . .so we were nervous.  Telling ourselves not to get excited our stomachs were in knots.

Poor Phil was suffering from a nasty sinus infection and had just started antibiotics.  So we decided he would not enter the NICU.  That was hard for me.  Not only did we miss the birth, the birth mom, etc. . .we would also not meet our daughter together.  Phil wouldn’t even see her for 2 days.

We had no idea what being in another NICU since William would do to us.  But much like we imagined upon the security doors opening. . .the stench of the sterile environment hit hard.

Tina, the hospital’s Social worker and I entered.

As I was rolling up my sleeves, a stranger approached with tears in her eyes.  She worked at the adoption agency and had heard about our heartbreaking journey.  Emotions overcame her as she hugged me and offered her congratulations.  Was this really happening?

Soap, lather, scrub. . .all while singing “Happy Birthday to you” in my head. . .I washed my hands, my arms and back down to my hands again.  It was time.

I stopped at the nurses station for a moment for them to get my signature and drivers license, and then a nurse led me to a little ohio bed.

There she was.  We found her!  We finally found her!  We found Ava!

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avahand2“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. . .”

Jeremiah 29:11



being ALIVE means dying to self. . .

We are coming upon the anniversary of our “Best worst Day.” My husband, Phil became a child of God at a young age.  But it wasn’t until just a handful of years ago that God raised him from the dead and put true life in it’s place.

What do I mean? Well, Phil had a rough start in life.  His mom battled cancer until it took her when he was just 16 years old.  They were close and her death has forever marked his life.  Just as he began to finally grieve her death, we endured the horrible tragedy of the death of our son, William.

For years, we merely survived.  Waking, breathing, eating, walking, working. . .and more working. . .and then some MORE working.  Work slipped in as a protective mode.  Strongholds of old grabbed on and somewhere along the line, although Phil and I had a heartbeat and were raising our five children. . .we were never really living.  God was at a distance. . .something we kept chasing, but could never catch.


There was always a sorrow about us.  Something telling us that we could not really be happy or grasp joy because of our past; because of our strongholds; our habits; our sin; our suffering.  It was like we were already dead.

Just what kind of life is that?

We lived for our children and our work.  I cringe to admit that.  Phil dove into work and I dove into our children.  Yes, we did the private school thing, the soccer, basketball, ballet, sleep overs, birthday parties, play dates, we even “did” church and potlucks, family gatherings and vacations.  But Fun?  What’s that?

Watching people gather and laugh was like we were watching an odd movie. . .just sitting together eating popcorn and whispering. . .”what are they doing now?”  We were from another planet.  Well, planet earth. . .and living for earth.  Oh yes, we’d laugh.  We weren’t crying all the time.  But our laughter was NOT joy.  Don’t mistake peoples humor or in the moment smile as joy.  We laughed and smiled and joked all the time-but it all lacked joy.  True joy.

The thought of Heaven was scary and distant.  We were living for this life and losing it. . .well, was a complete tragedy to us.  But not for long.  My great God did not let us suffer at length.  Chosen to be His children, God came in to rescue us.  But he required us to die to ourselves first.  And this to us was intense suffering.

Over the past five years, the Lord has graciously held us and opened our eyes to His promises for a forever future, His love, His joy, His comfort and Grace.


But to open our eyes to His vision meant to close them to our strongholds. Our addictive behaviors, our comforts on earth, our love of money, our addiction to work and control and to food and beyond.  We had to die to this part of ourselves.  And while it hurt. . .it was joyous.

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.- devotional based on Kay Warren’s new book, “Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough.

Joy is more than mere Happiness.  Happiness is based on “Happenings” therefore, it comes and goes based on what is happening in your life.  While JOY is a constant.  Our joy is in the Lord and He never changes.  Our Joy is a constant no matter our circumstances, the good, bad. . .even the ugly.  Our Joy in Christ brings more than just a happy feeling.  There is peace and exhilaration that is almost unexplainable.  To help with that explanation, I’ve put together a slideshow featuring Phil- hoping to define “joy.”

I cannot express my thankfulness to my great God for bringing us Life after the death in our lives.  We not only came to a new life in Him, but we were able to learn to live through great tragedy and death.  We are no longer enslaved. . .we have embraced the joy in our lives and have learned to truly LIVE!!!

He makes ALL things NEW!!!!

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – 2 Cor 5:17

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” -Revelation 21:5

in Pursuit of. . .YOU. . .

     My phone rang as I held open the door to the pediatrician’s office for my two little girls.  Annual check up’s and flu shots were on the docket.  The girls sat down in the waiting room while I stood in a corner in complete disbelief.  After learning that our birth mom had disappeared and after a few days of finally settling into the idea that it was over- we suddenly found the miracle we had waited for !  A little baby girl was already born and signing would take place the next day in a town about eight hours away.  The agency owner hopped on a plane while Phil and I rushed home to pack.  We put children, puppies, dogs and chickens to bed- entrusted the kiddos to a sitter and off we went. . .continuing on the adventure of a lifetime.

Were we crazy? What if we got all the way down there only to lose another baby.  But the agency owner’s information proved to be a 100% sure thing.  It was real. . .we were bringing home our baby.

An hour into the drive, we stopped to grab some BBQ.  At first we were planning to simply drive through to gain momentum on the road. . .but then Phil made a sobering remark.  “This is the last time we’ll be going out alone for a long time.”  We took about 20 minutes to stop and really soak in the moment.

In reality, we started our journey three years ago with the God-given revelation that we wanted to add to our family through adoption.  As of those two half eaten plates of sliced chicken and brisket, we had already endured three failed matches.  Of the three, two of those, we held.  We held those precious babies and fell in love, only to leave the hospitals and never see them again.  One boy and one girl.

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The pain and suffering we’ve endured over the years since saying yes to adoption. . .the hard work with little rest to save up the funds and get our home ready for a little one. . .and the spiritual and physical warfare on our family and friends had been unmeasurably great.


But for some reason, God paved the way and gave our hearts the peace to continue down this road- no matter what.  And here we were. . .about 500 miles away from what we thought was the end of this incredible journey.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

– Jeremiah 29:11

God knows our plans and He allows our scheduling and planning and calculating and re-calculating; but ultimately, He is in control.  And for many of us “planners,” this is a hard lesson to learn.  When walking through life with God, He moves and allows so that we may travel light with open hands.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Our jobs, our finances, our marriages, and yes, our children are His.  I wish I was one to just travel with a life of open hands as to avoid my Lord constantly prying them open.  But as many of you have noticed. . .I’m a slow learner.  I know where I want “my” life to go.  I just struggle when the Lord leans over and whispers, ” I know that’s where you wanted to go. . .but here is where we’re gonna go. . .together.”

Trying to make it to a little town near the Texas/Mexico border, we slowed down on our intake of fluids so we wouldn’t have to stop so much.  But approaching just 27 miles to destination. . .We were both barely holding on.  Passing by a rest stop, Phil asked. . .going 75 mph. . .”would you like to stop?”  (And here it is. . .the biggest regret EVER) “NO! it’s just 27 miles. . .let’s go for it!”  

Go for it?  What was I thinking?  We’re 42 years old.  Our bladders are well beyond “go for it” behavior.  But it was so late, and we knew we just wanted to get there.  So, the rest stop came and went and well. . .we didn’t.  We decided to “Thelma and Louise” it.

Seventy-five miles per hour suddenly came to a screeching halt when out of no where in the middle of the night, red lights began lighting up in front of us.


To make a long story even longer. . .we managed to come across a little “conflict” between the police, state troopers, border patrol and two fine young gentlemen.

No, I was just kidding. . .I’ll shorten this part for you. . .

So, just at the time I was crawling over the back seat to retrieve our two “Dickies BBQ” cups to assist in my “let’s go for it” dilemma. . .the three rows of trucks in front of us released their air breaks and the bright reds began to let up.  Praise the Lord. . .we were moving again!!!

Now, since every patrol car was behind us. . .we may or may not have exceeded the speed recommendation for the remaining 20 miles.  Yes, I say 20 miles, because just 7 miles into our escape, we saw a gas station.  But hey, we already sat through 2 hrs of standoff with full bladders. . .what’s just another 20 miles?  Right?

Yeah, if you’re shaking your head, I’m right along with you.  But when you’ve lost feeling to your lower extremities and just praised God you survived a standoff. . .you pretty much admit you’ve lost all ability to reason.

Nearly convulsing, the GPS finally led us to our hotel. . .”turn right onto South ‘P’ street.”  We wanted to laugh.  We kind of did. . .I mean, the corners of our lips turned upward.  But an actual laugh at this time would have surely been fatal.

We made it!  Yes, we made it!  And we were exhausted as we fell into the bed at 5:30am.  We just had to hold on until 9 am to go to the hospital and sign for our daughter.  We were suppose to be back on the roads by noon.  What a miracle!

. . .who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

– 2 Corinthians 1:4

9am, 9:30am, 10am. . .10:23am. . .

Finally, a phone call from the agency.  “So, um, here’s the problem. . .”  Phil came around the corner and I just shook my head while trying to take in everything coming my way.  We had just finished crying out to God on our knees to please allow this little girl to come home to us.  The missed 9am deadline sparked our awareness that something was wrong.  We asked God to move quickly as we were literally losing patience.  And then the call.  The birth mother was wavering and feeling pressured to sign.  Something you don’t want to happen since being pressured can be means to over turn an adoption in the future.  Our birth mother was in custody and gave birth to an audience of Federal Marshals.  Not our place to judge.  Just our child to adopt and rescue.  With the birth mother soon to be discharged back into prison, she had to make a choice.  Allow us to adopt her baby or let Child Protective Services take custody and place the baby into a group home about 1 hour away since there weren’t any foster homes in the area.  Basically, an American Orphanage.

CPS was in talking with the birth mother so we hung up the phone to wait.  Only three minutes had passed when the call came.  “It’s over, CPS has taken the baby. . .the birth mother is hoping to gain custody once released from prison.”

We began to pack and quickly.  We didn’t even cry at this point.  Just silence.

The drive home was unbelievable.  Especially since there was a search stop to make sure we weren’t smuggling anything into the USA- and we had to explain the empty car seat.

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But the drug sniffing dogs smiled and let us pass and we started the long journey back. . .once again. . .with that !@&* empty car seat.  Yes, the anger phase.  I do believe we experienced all stages of grief approximately every 10 minutes.

We stopped to gas up and began to sob. . .then we began to experience Tourette syndrome moments where we’d just suddenly burst into profane song and then back to pure silence again.

There was a time when we both decided we just had to turn off the Christian music station.  It had become irritating.  No, we were not running from God. . .but in that moment of grief, we had lost our footing and just couldn’t stand up or even look up to see God’s sweet, sweet grace and love for us.  We were hurt.

 “In him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.””

We face-timed the kids and with every bit of the power of God inside us, we smiled and told them very causally that the baby just wasn’t going to work out and we would be home with pizza very soon.  Even though we were sure this was a sure thing, before we left the kids, we explained that this may not work, so we were gonna just check it out an then be home the next day.  Thankfully- their little hearts were protected and a nice family/pizza night at home with mom and dad holding them and smiling made all the difference.  We had agreed to keep the emotions to our bedroom or alone in the car.

Backing up a few hundred exits. . .in the midst of our anger, sorrow and deep, deep hurt came a prayer.  A moment of thankfulness offered by our friend in the Bible, Job.  Job talks about while losing everything. . .his children, wife, money and health. . .he learned to cope by dropping to his knees and offering thanks and gratitude to God.  “The Lord giveth and the Lord Taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

During those final hours of travel, we had absolutely no idea how to carry on with our daily lives.  We were clearly heading into a sorrowful depression and the very thought of even trying for another child was completely out of the question.  We had actually quit this time.  We couldn’t drag our children through this, and we ourselves were struggling to make sense of our “foolish” actions.  2015-10-07 13.11.25

Did God indeed want us to adopt?  If so, why in the world would he allow this to happen.  And in such a horrible way?  How would we get up the next day and the day after that and say yes to another child only for it to be ripped away.

The answer came to us during the final forty-five minutes before pizza.  Because God did not give up on pursuing us as His children –  THAT is why we would NOT give up.  THAT is why we would grieve, and with thankfulness, stand back up and strap on our armor once again in this battle of fathering the fatherless and FIGHT for not just “our” child, but “His” child.  This is HIS child that He created.  He thought up this child’s personality, soul, looks, and just who would deliver and raise this child.  Every child is created with a purpose by God.  Every single one is special and loved beyond measure.  And every single being is pursued by a passionate God who loves so much, that in order to save. . .he sent His son to rescue so we could be adopted.

“The Gospels record how Jesus himself spent the night before his crucifixion in unspeakable agony, allowing the anguish of his soul to spill to the ground through his tears and blood.  He pleaded with his Father, “”If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”” (Matt. 26:39)- Clayton King, Stronger

What if Christ had given up in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He asked for a way out, but asked for God’s will to be done.  His love for his children was so great, nothing could stop his sacrifices.  I am so thankful for this sacrifice.  For without it, there is no reason to live. . .and no reason to die.

And there you have the heart of the adoptive parent.  Adoption is hard.  Our adoption in Christ was hard.  It was costly.  Adopting a child is the mirror image of God’s love for us and how He calls us “His own.”  We hold His hand while walking this journey and because we are not alone. . .because He goes before us, we can trust in His care and guidance to ultimately arrive home.  This is His story.  We are just a chapter.

Our love for this child is great.  It knows no boundaries.  It is the same love we have for our other children both here and in Heaven.  We thank those who pray with and for us, who grieve our grief and who share our love for the Orphan.  Please continue to pray: Please pray for the babies that have not come home with us.  Pray the Lord grabs their hearts and protects them every single day of their lives.  Please continue to pray for our adoption journey.  Please pray for the birth parents of our children.  Pray God’s peace and comfort.  We know the Lord has our child or children and in His perfect timing. . .we will find them.

angels among us and the stranger holding a sign

I can’t do it. . .I just can’t.  No matter how early I awake on a Sunday morning, the Lamgo clan is always late to church.  Our pastor talks to the congregation about waking up just twenty minutes early so we can be on time.  Not us. . .twenty minutes early for us simply means more time to get the bull out of the front yard, look under the hood of the car to clear out twenty kittens or take the time to drive down our country driveway without someone hitting their head on the ceiling or snorting their drink up the nose.

Once the left turn out of the bumpy driveway is halfway completed, we fly.

fly like the wind

The Lord made our street’s speed limit 55 miles per hour to accommodate our Sunday travels.  Not a soul on the road until we make our way up Mt. Peak hill where we meet our pace car.

And that is when our Christianity’s limits are tested and many times our not so finest hours are made.  “Come on!” I’ve even resorted to rolling the eyes.  Which seldom works.

“For He will command his angels concerning you, to guide you in all your ways.” – Psalm 91:11

It has taken me almost one year of huffs and puffs, and eye rolling, and “COME ON BUDDY’s” to realize that perhaps my “pace car” on the occasional Sunday morning is just that.  An Angel sent by God to keep me from speeding, getting into trouble, a car accident or arriving at a time different from what God had intended.  Do we ever think of the inconveniences in life as God planned and God created.

Angles are among us.  The Bible tells us so, even if we do not believe we have encountered one today. . .they are here, they are of God, sent by God and guess what. . .you’ve encountered one today, you just don’t always know it.


Angel #1- the airport

Bev. . .a good friend of my mom and a sister in Christ is now in her late 80’s numerically; but about 20 yrs old in spirit and will.  I fell in love with this child of God the first night she came to visit us in Texas.  Her stories were hilarious, heart felt, emotional, exciting, suspenseful, and at moments heart breaking.  She told a good story.

But the one story I’d like to pull you into is one that will remind you that each and every encounter should be thought of as God sent.

The word Angel from the greek word, “Aggelos” meaning, “a messenger.”

Messenger sent of God, by God and for the Glory of God.

The free-spirited and completely dependent on God, Bev, traveled back to her roots in Chicago.  Navigating the busy airport during the holiday season seemed somewhat overwhelming until she asked God to help her.  I love her worry free life.  Bev is not perfect.  But after speaking with her twice this past week, I can say that she has this joy in God that gives more than enough room for faith and thanksgiving that the majority of us set aside for worry and insecurity.

Walking through O’hare she found out that her flight had a last-minute gate change.  From behind her a gentle hand touched her elbow and a the voice of a man referencing her flight number said, “let me help you to your gate.”  She, walking side by side with this man could not actually see his face.  She never turned her neck, but her peripheral vision caught an old gentleman with a gentle touch guiding her to her gate so she didn’t miss her flight.  As soon as she saw the flight number on the board of her new departure gate, she turned to thank the man holding her arm.  There was nothing.

 Bev smiled.  Because she had no doubt that the gentle man who guided her was an angel.  A messenger, sent by God to Bev to help her as she asked Him for help to find her gate.  She never doubted.  And God didn’t fail.

Oh the security of a daddy that knows our needs, hears our cries and runs…not walks, but runs to our rescue even before we ask.  How do we get that.  I want THAT.

I want that kind of faith that does not need to see the face of the angel leading me.

Angel #2- the cafeteria

Are all Angels angelic?  I don’t think so.  They walk among us as to not be noticed.

Hebrews 13:2- Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

  I’ve been spending some time in a hospital cafeteria while a loved one has been a patient.  I usually find a quiet corner where I can prop up my feet and pull out the laptop.  That is when Wanda walked up to me.  A housekeeper in the orthopedic department sat at the table next to me and said hello.  She then asked me why I was there and who I was visiting.  I shared my story and she began sharing hers.  She asked me how many children I had.  I answered “5 and one on the way through adoption.”  She spoke of her family who was on the mission field, her adopted grandchildren, her struggles and I answered with mine.  We spoke for an hour while gagging down a very poorly seasoned vegetarian cream of “we have no idea what” soup.

The next day, feeling a bit lonely and discouraged heading through the cafeteria doors, there she was. . .”how are you today?”  We hugged and sat in separate areas.  She was my angel for the day.  Her face was rough.  Her frame was thick and her voice was harsh.  And the spirit of the Lord surrounded her in every way.  “God Bless you,” she said as she passed by one last time.


Angel #3- the beggar

On my way home before pulling onto the street of my hotel, there he was.  A rugged man dressed in his best slacks and slightly wrinkled periwinkle button down shirt and worn navy blue slip on shoes.  He held a sign that said, “This is the true story. . .I am a Dad who is swallowing his pride.  Anything will help.”  My first thought was “sad.”  My second thought was much harsher.  If he has time to hold a sign why not apply for a job at McDonald’s?  My third thought: this is a scam.  And then finally. . .”but what if this is an Angel.”

What if angels wear periwinkle button down shirts and hold signs to test your softness, your faith and your thankfulness.  What if God wanted me to give to this?  What if God sent him to me to remind me to simply “ask” for what I need.  These thoughts passed quickly as suddenly the light changed and I went on my way without giving.  “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”  Did I miss out on a blessing?  Yes, but I hope to grow through the lesson.  Because you just don’t know until you face the fact that nothing is without God.  No encounter at the airport, the cafeteria or the side of the rugged road.

Let’s work on our understanding of the Sovereignty of God, His good, good gifts and not let another angel go un-noticed. Let’s run to our Lord and ask for the kind of faith that allows us to be led without seeing the face of the one that leads us, to embrace the pace car and practice patience, to listen to the words of God through a perfect stranger and to embrace the signs we refuse to read.

Psalm 103:19-22 “The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.”

riding the wave to, “it IS WELL”

It’s here.

 Today is William’s birthday.  Today he would have been 18 years old.  18 years!  A milestone.

The would, should and could have’s are great this year.


It has been a particularly difficult year for us dealing with the ups and downs of adoption, the heart ache of family illness and tragedy of much loss.  This year, I have struggled in the waves the Lord has set me upon as He refines me, loves me and rescues me over and over and over again.

I have my Peter moments when I am all faith and float to a leisurely walk brimming the water as I shuffle my feet in the tides.  And then I am human. . .I am frail; and when the connection to my saviors eyes is broken. . .I not only sink. . .I nearly drown.

Tomorrow we celebrate William’s graduation from this life into the next.

We will grieve the loss of our precious son.  And we will start our day begging the Lord Jesus to keep us above the tidal wave.  Eighteen years is but a second for a bereaved parent.  He is thought of daily.  He is missed.  Our oldest son misses his little brother.  The constant void he faces throughout life is not unnoticed by us.  William’s siblings younger than him that never met him talk as though they know him.  “Let’s make a birthday cake, mom!”  They can’t wait to meet him in Heaven.


HEAVEN. . .is a very real place for our children.  We talk a lot about what it will be like, what the Bible tells us about it. . .we talk about the people we will see again or meet for the very first time.  Our children talk about Heaven as though it is their Home, their birthplace they once knew.  They are not scared to go there.  They long to see Jesus.  And I am jealous at times of their strong faith and love for Christ.

It is by the great grace of God that my children love their savior and long to serve him.  In my many years of parenting and failings. . .God has held them tight.  We pray nightly that the Lord will hold their hearts and keep them close.  And He answers.


Was it really well with my soul when I sat grave side and sang the words through tears?

The big question this year. . .just where is my “It is Well with my soul.”  We sang this at William’s funeral.  Was it really well with my soul that I watched my little boy suffocate and fall limp in my arms?  Was it really well with my soul that we had to remove him from life support?  Was it really well with my soul that we had to choose a casket instead of a crib?  Was it really well with my soul when I sat grave side and sang the words through tears?

I came across “It is Well” by Bethel music this week.  And it became very clear that the little meaningless speed bumps I was enduring throughout the day were NOT well with my soul.  And I had to examine why losing my son seemed well with my soul, but my daily tragedies were not.  What was the difference?

The difference is that I sang “It is Well” at the funeral.  I sang it in the shower.  I sang it in the car.  I hummed it at night as I cried to sleep.  I sang it as a prayer to God to help me believe it.  Our tragedies become God’s triumph when we hand it to Him and beg for trust, faith in our unbelief, and the peace that passes ALL understanding that leads us to actually ride the waves to our “it is Well” and mean it.

To sing those words and actually thank the Lord for a life given and taken is only of God.  I am not a strong woman. I am not a supernatural human being.  I am a broken sinner that was saved and rescued by Jesus’ blood; and when I am drowning in the waves. . .He reaches down and pulls me to safety.  He looks me in the eyes and says. . .It IS well. . .It IS good. . .It IS my will and it is my perfect plan for you.

Then and ONLY then can I say, “It is Well” for me.

Take a moment and listen to this. . .it is repetitive. . .pray to God to make your tragedies well with your soul so that God receives every bit of Glory he deserves.  Fall at the feet of Jesus and sing this out loud, in your head. . .hum the tune.

“Through it all, through it all. . .my eyes are on you. . .and it is well. . .with me. . .”

Happy Birthday sweet William. . .I see your eyes. . .I smell your curly red hair. . .I hear your sweet soft voice. . .

“lead me to the ROCK that is higher than I”. . .The season of ALONE

“If we lose the house. . .then Billy loses all sense of security and later, never have a relationship. . .so he’ll just spend his whole life just alone.

There he’ll be, just alone, nobody with him, just like a bum.”

   One of my kids’ favorite movies, “Fun with Dick and Jane” outlines an upper middle income suburban family who suffers the wave of events caused by a corporate implode and instant loss of income.  My kids like it because it makes us laugh even when we ourselves have suffered through that particular season of “alone” in losing everything.  Granted. . .my husband and I picked ourselves up, dusted off and started all over again without resulting to thievery.

We laugh at the scenes because we finally found a moment when someone, even if they were fictional, realized our past struggle.  Which was very real. . .very hard. . .and YES very, very lonely.

a   l   o   n   e

Being alone- isn’t that what we fear the most?  Being alone, lonely, excluded, set apart, rejected, misunderstood, disliked, invisible.

Why? God said from the beginning in Genesis that is was not good for man to be alone.  He Himself sets the lonely within our hearts by creating us to be in constant search of . . .HIM.

So let’s just skip over the causes of lonely, the outcome and the struggle and hop right into being satisfied with the company of the one and only. . .the creator. . .our Lord and Savior. . .the Great I AM!

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.  The short version (and we all say. . .yay!).  Every single one of us will one day or another go through a season of ALONE.  A season where we are either all alone or have fallen into circumstances which set us apart from the average, the herd- so to speak.  Sometimes this is by our own doing and sometimes God leads us beside those still waters just He and I.  Time alone. . .together.

God who whispers in my ear. . .”let’s take a walk. . .just you and I. . .for I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you. . .YOU are my child.”

The question is. . .in those times. . .is God enough?  Is it satisfying to say, take the entire world, my belongings, my life Lord and give me just Jesus.  Well. . .is it?  For you and I most of the time the answer is a sobering NO.

The addict, the depressed, the OCD, the busy “I don’t even have time to sleep.” For those of us who are human- we fill the empty, the “alone” to fill the God given void that can only be filled by HIM.

“O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.  My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes- it also has gone from me.  My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off…But for you O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. ”

Psalm 38:9-11,15

I live in the country, have five homeschooling children and am in the process of adopting.  I guess you could say I stand in the season of Alone frequently.  I have found that I tend to grab my masonry tools and erect walls of solitude when I feel the world doesn’t see as I see, or understand what I’m going through.  Those are the moments I’m brought back to God who whispers in my ear. . .”let’s take a walk. . .just you and I. . .for I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you. . .YOU are my child.”

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4

we can stand in the alone without being lonely.

The Valley of the shadow of death.  Yes, been there.  The sorrow over a failed adoption. . .yes.  The loss of a job. . .oh yeah.  The perils of family who doesn’t understand. . .um yep.  Disease, illness, loss, torn relationships. . .been there. . .done that. . .and yes, it felt alone.  But God. . .oh, yes. . .I’m throwing that back in all of our faces again and again.  But God!  Yes, we need relationships as God intended.  Yes, the Lord wants and gives the desires of our hearts.  But this broken world leaves us empty always wanting to fill and we can stand in the alone without being lonely.

Sometimes God sets you apart, or gives the season of alone to free you up to be with Him.  To seek His Face. . .to turn to Him and be filled with him and him alone.

When drifting in the bog of lonely or suffering a season of ALONE. . .cry out to the only one that can fill you.  The only one who understands what it is like to truly be alone and be forsaken.


“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.  Let me dwell in your tent forever!  Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!  Selah

-Psalm 61:1-4 

forgiving when they won’t say, “sorry”

I am emerging from a challenging season in my life.   I’ve been engulfed in waves of hurt inflicted by other Christian brothers and sisters.  For me, it seems easier to forgive the lost or unintentional inflictions over the stabs gathered by those who are suppose to be my family in Christ.  My community. . .my church. . .my friends. . .my loved ones.

One thing I know is true about being in a church community. . .if you have not yet been hurt. . .you most likely have not opened up your heart, exposed your true self and invited those around you to jump fully into your life.

The church is a hospital for the spiritually, emotionally, and physically injured or broken.  It is a safe haven of hope in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is where we can feel safe to open up, expose our broken and pray for healing.  It is also a group of sinners, just like me, clinging to God’s great grace and mercy.

I am broken. . .I am messed up. . .I am a sinner. . .I am a Child of God!

If I am a sinner and I am in fellowship with other sinners. . .just what do I expect?  Why am I surprised when others just like me sin against me?

I have spent many hours weary and wondering just why this kind of thing happens and what next?  I think relationships in the family of Christ become strained when one loses focus on God and projects that gaze on the lives of others and self.  The horizontal view overtakes the vertical view.  And when we take our focus off of God. . .we sink, we fall.

It’s funny, when I see those pictures that depict Peter who had been walking on the water with Jesus and then begins to slowly sink ankle deep as he loses his gaze on and trust in Christ- it looks so peaceful.  I don’t think this is entirely accurate.

I believe when we take our gaze, our focus, our eyes off of Jesus, we plunge furiously into the sea with waves crashing over us.  Head under water. . .we sink.  We gasp for air only to find water filling the lungs.  We thrash around violently as we panic in fear.  We fight to get head above water and we choke and cough as the storm throws us around in between swells of fear and doubt.

There is no peaceful slow sinking when we take our eyes off of the Lord.  No God. . .no peace. . .no life. . .no air.  Life is a struggle without our God.  When we try to make it on our own or fix life the way we see fit. . .we are simply gulping more and more sea water and suffocating.  The horizontal view bouncing back and forth between self and others is exhausting and a losing battle.

The fix? Look to Christ.

When we take our eyes off of our situation, the people sinning around us;  When we put down the cake at our self- prepared pity party. . .we can once again see God.  We can fix our eyes on His and guess what happens?  We rise.

We find air to breathe, we no longer struggle as we reach up to hold the hand that holds us.  And we can once again walk on the water with Jesus.  We have peace as the waters are calmed in the light of His great presence.

But what about the hurt?  What about those darts that hit so hard?

While many do not sin when sinned against- we often get caught in the sink hole of sin that is caused by our reactions to the hurt.  I have a tendency to put up my guard.  “You hurt me, so I’m boarding myself up in my little castle surrounded with my own alligator-filled mote.  Don’t even try to cross over to knock on my door.”  This hard exterior is the build up of hurt turned calloused.

We lash out at others and offer our view without care or concern.  I am more guilty here than I’d like to admit.  I could barely go a day without complaining to my husband or mom about what this person did or that person said to me.  If someone asked if I was ok, I was more than willing to share my hurt and  without care of those involved.  The hurt had now morphed into a full grown grudge and I wasn’t afraid to share that grudge like a well spawned virus.

For literally almost a year, my hurt and anger flowed like poison through my veins.   And it has been killing me.  I went under and the waves nearly carried me away.


What do you do when others have hurt you and simply won’t say “sorry?”

1. Cry out to God!  Who better to tell your secrets, your dreams, your wants, your hurt, your sorrow to?  God knows me more than any other.  He created me.  He dreamt me into existence.  He knows my thoughts before I do.  So, instead of griping to my husband or gossiping to my mom, I can talk to God anytime and unleash my entire heart.  He knows all about hurt, about betrayal, about those who turn their backs.

God has been right where I am.

2. Look UP to God!  Wounds often turn self-inflicted when our gaze turns from Vertical towards God to a horizontal view of those around us.  Our self-centered take on the situation keeps us busy bouncing back and forth between you and them.  There really isn’t time to look up and spend time with God.  This is where the Grace of God hits hard.  No matter how many times we have sinned, fallen, quit and taken our eyes off of the Lord, he is always there for his Children.  Opened arms, his grace is greater than my deepest sin and He will always extend his forgiving grace to me and rescue me from myself.  His hand reaches towards ours and if we take His hand. . .we once again rise to the water’s surface.

3. Trade in your Fear of Man into a Reflection of God’s great light.  Hanging on a cross. . .bruised. . .beaten. . .battered. . .tired. . .betrayed, Jesus kept his focus on his father and his purpose on earth.  His perfect life and precious death is our cheat sheet in times of betrayal and hurt.  As children of God, we are to reflect the light that was sent to suffer in our place.  That perfect pure light named Jesus Christ.  He is the perfect “Adam” that paid for our sin; and our goal is to strive to reflect His light.  Knowing this. . .knowing our great God and his love for us, we can offer forgiveness to those who have injured us so badly.  We have done so much worse to our Lord than any man can possibly do to us.  We are not without fault.  Because Jesus took on our sin in the flesh and put our sins to death- because of his great grace extended to us. . .we can now offer as reflection to the light- our own forgiveness to others.

This life. . .THIS life is not about us at all.  It is about a Great creator and God that sent His beloved son to right the wrong that sin caused.  The great rescue to the perishing.  The great forgiver who forgives.  We serve our purpose in life when we give glory to God in all that we do.  And forgiving those who hurt us in this great big family of God gives glory to God.

I can forgive because God has forgiven me.  I am free to let go of the hurt because my savior died on the cross so that I do not have to hurt.  My hope and joy are in Him.  My gaze on the light of His face blinds me from all others.

In Him I live, in Him I rejoice, in Him and only in Him. . .I forgive.