Popular Posts

Powered by Blogger.

Total Pageviews

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Being a Pushy Parent (or not)

I often feel conflicted in my parenting. I tend to waiver between showing my children grace and pushing them on towards excellence when I know they’re capable of more.

As a Mommy, I tend to lean towards grace. Especially where Hannah and Joseph are concerned. They’ve only been home for six months. They’ve been through so many changes. They’re still getting adjusted to everything in America. English is still their second language, for crying out loud.

I’m all for showing grace when grace is due. I’m all for patience and mercy and understanding and letting children learn at their own pace and in the way that suits them best. I'm all for realistic expectations.

And yet, I never want to shower my children with grace to the extent that it handicaps them in some way. I never want to show so much grace that I’m actually holding my children back from reaching their full potential for the Lord.

One of our most blessed and important roles as parents is to encourage our children to flourish and bloom into all that God created them to be. When the world tells my children they can't do something, then I want to be the encourager and the cheerleader who tells them they can do it.

Each of my children have areas where they struggle. Some struggle more than others. But for all of them, the inability to grasp a skill can be a real source of hurt. As their Mommy, it's my job to help them rise above. It's my job to help them realize that they can be far more than the world gives them credit for.

Here’s a real life example from our home:

After mealtimes, we have our children ask to be excused before they’re allowed to get up from the table. I know. That probably sounds a little heavy handed and old fashioned… but it’s what works in our house. We eat and, especially after dinner, we like everyone sit and talk for a few minutes before running off in seven different directions. So that’s the rule.

When Hannah and Joseph arrived at the end of last year, they took to this right away. We’d eat. We’d talk. We'd talk some more.

Madeline would say “may I please be excused?” And that was fine and she was excused.

Davis would say, maybe I please be excused?” And that was fine and he was excused.

Hannah would say “Please. Be excused?” And that was fine and she was excused.

And Joseph would say “aldkjldjfla;kdsj;la Jibberish, Jibberish, Jibberish, acooze? And that was… well, I guess that’s fine. That’s close enough anyways. So he was excused.

This went on for a couple of months, until one night several weeks ago.

We did the usual dinner routine. We ate and talked. We talked some more. Madeline, Davis and Hannah asked to be excused. Joseph mumbled his usual line. And I was just about to excuse everyone when Dan stepped in.

“Madeline, Davis and Hannah, you are excused. Joseph buddy – why don’t you try asking again? Use the real words this time.” To which Joseph replied “aldkjldjfla;kdsj;la Jibberish, Jibberish, Jibberish, acooze?” But instead of just letting it go and giving up, Dan decided to believe in Joseph. And he tried again.

“Joseph, I really think you can do this. You've been doing so well with your English and using big boy words. Just give it a try buddy – do your very best.

Joseph sat thoughtfully for a minute. He smiled. He thought some more. And then he replied with this: (Turn the sound up… he’s talking very softly).

This video wasn’t taken on the actual night that this happened. But as you can see, several weeks later, we’re all still so stinkin’ proud of him. And what’s more, Joseph is so proud of himself.

If not for a Daddy who cared enough to give him a little push, this small victory might never have been claimed.

Don’t exasperate your children. Don’t set them up for failure. Don't place un-due pressure on them over things that hold no eternal value anyways.

But when it’s appropriate and the time is right, believe in them and give them a little push. Encourage them to succeed, not necessarily in the world's eyes, but to become all that God intends for them to be.
Hold the crowns above their little heads, and let them reach for them.

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
-- Proverbs 22:6
Sunday, May 22, 2011

I'd Rather Be in Uganda

God’s Word tells us this: Faith without works is dead and useless.

But don’t take my word for it… check out James 2:17, Titus 1:16, James 2:26 and countless other verses and see for yourself.

Most of us spend way too much time debating grace vs. works and faith vs. legalism. Scripture is very clear on the matter. If you’re not producing works consistent with the commands of Christ, then it’s likely that you don’t really know Him. It’s really as simple as that.

Our works are evidence of our salvation. They’re an outflow of the transforming work of the gospel in our lives. The life of an authentic Christian should consistently become more and more conformed to the likeness of Jesus and less and less conformed to the likeness of the world.

And speaking of conforming to the likeness of Christ…

Today in Uganda, Dan spent the entire day with Ernest and Catherine. If you’re not familiar with The Most Awesome People I Know, you can read about them here.

When I think about E & C, it almost makes me laugh out loud to think that Dan and I call ourselves “crazy.” Because these people literally put my faith to shame.

If God calls them to do something, they do it. If He puts a need in front of them, they meet it. If His work requires them to give something up or to go without, they sacrifice.

They don’t do any of this because they’re trapped in legalism. Or because they’re counting their rewards in Heaven. Or because they get to go home at the end of the day and write about their adventures on a popular and widely read blog. They do it all, without earthly reward or recognition, because that’s just what God’s people do.

Thanks so much to all of you who gave so generously in support of Catherine and Ernest last month. All told, we took in nearly $10,000 in support of the work these amazing people are doing in Jesus' name.

The new Sunday school building is completed and E & C are set to move into the new home on June 1. Dan met with the landlord today and the painting and pre-move-in renovations are well under way. YOU made this happen. Well, actually Jesus made it happen. But He worked through you.

At the moment, my pastor here in Atlanta, Curt Benham, is in Uganda with Dan. Today he actually preached at Ernest and Catherine's church. What a day. As us SixtyFeet-ers like to say... "I'd rather be in Uganda."

Recently, Curt reminded me of this truth: A healthy orange tree doesn’t have to try and strain to produce oranges. It just happens.

May the same be so with us. May we produce fruit in keeping with repentance and may we love, give and work for the kingdom without ceasing. Not because our salvation depends on our works. Not because it will make God love us more. But because that's just what God's people do.
Thursday, May 19, 2011

He Made It!

He made it! Dan and team are safely on the ground in Uganda – let the fun begin!

All week, Dan will be in Africa leading a trip for SixtyFeet .If you’re a regular around the Crazy Blog, you know that this is not unusual. Most nights, Dan is somewhere or doing something for SixtyFeet. People ask me sometimes if this bothers me.

Before I go any further, let me just say that Dan is a serious family man. He arranges his schedule so he can eat both breakfast and dinner with us every day. He’s very intentional about making time for the kids and me. He always prioritizes recitals, soccer games, swim meets and date nights. And, unlike a lot of men, he knows when it’s time to put down the iphone.

And yet, SixtyFeet keeps him crazy busy. Sometimes we want more of him that he’s able to give. So does it bother me that Dan has to take so much time away from our family to help run this beast of a ministry?

The honest answer is this: Sometimes, yes.

SixtyFeet is not Dan’s “real” job. In real life, he manages multiple software development teams. This is a job he is very good at and one that requires a great deal of his time, energy and focus. And then there’s SixtyFeet. It’s like having two full-time jobs.

Sometimes it also bugs me because it seems like Dan gets to do a lot of the “fun” stuff related to SixtyFeet. He travels to Africa, to speaking events, to film showings and so forth… and I usually am stuck at home with have the privilege of staying home with five young children.
But I’ll say this, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart… I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I’d so much rather have a man that cares about orphan causes and puts his faith into action than one who is complacent and hides behind his family and his career as an excuse not to get involved.

I’d rather be occasionally inconvenienced and to sometimes have our conversations and plans halted or put on hold in order for my husband to serve where he’s been called.

Truly, I’m blessed to follow Dan in this work. And I’m blessed that it’s not the other way around. Because ultimately, our homes and our ministries are only as strong as our men.

One of my favorite aspects of SixtyFeet is that it’s a ministry run by the men. Us wives sell our cupcakes, write some blog posts, schedule the film showings and so forth. But it’s the men who run the show. They call the shots. They do the heavy lifting. And that’s not a hugely common thing in the orphan care ministry world.

So this week while I’m “stuck” at home, I’ll be counting my blessings and rejoicing that I have a husband who leads, who serves and who’s not afraid to somtimes leave his family, his cushy life and his comfort zone to "man up" and get his hands dirty.
Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted on the latest in Uganda throughout the week. Also, check the SixtyFeet blog for more updates.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Will Not Leave You As Orphans

Tonight we packed Dan up and tomorrow we’ll send him off to Uganda.

It’s funny to think what a commonplace thing it’s become for our family to send someone to Africa. Some people may think it’s weird or extreme but for us and for the other SixtyFeet families, hopping on a plane to Uganda is just everyday stuff.

And yet, this particular trip is very special for our family. This is the first time Dan will be back in Uganda since we completed our adoptions last winter. This will be his first time in the country not just as an orphan ministry leader but as an adoptive father visiting the birthplace of his children. And that’s pretty cool.

It occurred to us this week that Hannah and Joseph may want to send something over to Uganda with Dan. We asked them this week… “guys, would you like Daddy to take anything over to Uganda for your friends? He could take a gift to Mama Catherine or Pastor Ernest or your friends.”

Hannah and Joseph were DELIGHTED with this prospect and immediately set about identifying their most prized possessions for Dan to carry to Africa. Their little hearts were in the right place but unfortunately, most of these possessions were far too big for Dan’s suitcase. And so the negotiations began.

In the end, we settled on several small but meaningful items. Hannah is sending a stuffed kitty for a very special friend who lives with Mama Catherine. My daughter literally sleeps hugging this thing every night. And she BEGGED us to pack it and give it away to her friend. Joseph is sending some of his favorite books for his old pals. Both children scoured their closets and dressers and selected some beloved clothing items that they want their friends to have. And there are many lovingly hand-made pictures for Pastor Ernest and their other dear friends in Uganda.

After all of this sacrificial giving and excitement over their old friends you might ask me… do Hannah and Joseph miss Uganda? Do they miss their friends, their culture, their native language, their former way of life?

And I would say definitely. Yes. I know they miss it.

But with all my heart, I believe that having a real, forever family is worth the loss of those things. That's just my opinion -- and feel free to disagree with me. But that's my heart.

Time and again people have approached Dan and me with concerns about removing a child from their God-given culture and bringing them to live in America, as Americans.

But try as I might (and I have tried)… I cannot find anything in God’s Word about leaving a child as an orphan in order to protect their national pride or preserve their cultural heritage. I do not believe that view is biblical.

Regarding orphans, God’s word just says this: LOVE THEM.

For Dan and me, adoption was never about offering Hannah and Joseph a “better life.” For us, it was never about being able to give them more stuff, a better education, summer vacations at the beach and the like. It was never about turning them into Americans, because Americans “know better.”

But it was all about giving them a family. And this family happens to live in America.

Sure, we could have sent money across the ocean and provided for Hannah and Joseph’s physical needs. From a distance, we could have ensured that they had water, food, clothing and school fees for each month. And yet we knew the Lord was calling us to step up and to surrender more than just our wallets.

Sometimes I watch out the window when my boys play baseball together in the backyard. Sometimes I listen quietly in the hallway while my girls giggle at night and read their dolls a bedtime story. Sometimes I’ll peek around the corner just in time to see Joseph break his piece of candy in half and share it with Baby Charlotte. And then I know we’ve got something that money can’t buy.

It’s not all roses and rainbows around here. It’s not ever easy and sometimes it’s not fun. But we’re a real family. Hannah and Joseph have a Mommy to love them, a Daddy to protect them and brothers and sisters to share their lives with. And at the end of the day, I think that’s about the best any of us have to offer.

“God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:6, emphasis mine
Sunday, May 15, 2011

We've Been on the Move!

Last week, Laura and I spent a few days in Louisville, KY. Not at the Kentucky Derby. We're not nearly that cool. At the annual Summit for the Christian Alliance for Orphans.

Here we are, sporting the infamous SixtyFeet tees.

We were torn trying to decide if we were being cheesy by wearing our own shirts - in the end, we decided we didn't care. And we were so glad -- we met and made so many new friends because of these shirts and the way they connected us to SixtyFeet.

This week we heard some awesome speakers, we met some new friends and we reconnected with old friends. But I have to say that my favorite Summit experience had nothing to do with Summit at all. At this point, I can't give any details. But I will say that I'm beyond grateful that God allowed me to be in the right place at the right time and to participate in something that was truly breathtaking. This is not really my story to tell -- but I'm hopeful that my friend will give me permission to write about it one day soon. I do so love a good God story.

The day after we returned from Summit, we loaded the kids in the car and headed to Tennssee for a family wedding. Here are the flower girls with the beautiful bride:

Here are the ring bearers. Tell me this is not a montley looking crew:

And in three days, Dan leaves for Africa. This will be his first time back in Uganda since we brought Hannah and Joseph home. Please pray for him. And in your prayers, please don't forget the home team. This will be my first extended time by myself with all five children.

Check back with me throughout the week as I'll be posting details about Dan's trip, including an update on the famous Ernest and Catherine.

I'll say that after my time at Summit, I feel refreshed and encouraged. For some reason, it helps to know that anyone who is involved in orphan care ministry is facing the same trials and daily challenges that Dan and I face each day. It's just hard stuff. Adoption, orphan ministry, orphan care... it's not for the faint of heart.

"Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." -- I Peter 5:9

This is not to say that I rejoice over the challenges and hard times of my brothers and sisters in Christ, but it does help to know that what we're experiencing is normal. Dan and I might face trials and struggles every day -- but many brothers and sisters around the world stand with us. And for that, I do rejoice. Orphans are dear and precious to the heart of God and each of them is worth fighting for. It blesses me to know that we're all in this fight together.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Going On The Offensive

I have talked with and exchanged messages with so many people this week who feel like they are under intense spiritual attack. If you’re in that boat (and I’m in it too) this post was written in your honor…

Hannah and Joseph’s new favorite book is the Billy Goats Gruff. I think I’ve read it approximately 1,523 times in the past week.

Their favorite part is when Billy Goat #3 tromps over the bridge and the mean, ugly troll roars “How DARE you walk over my bridge… I’m coming to eat you up!!!” And the Billy Goat says with great confidence, “Well, bring it dude. You think I’m scared of you??”

Of course I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist.

How I wish I had Billy Goat #3 confidence to face the mean, ugly troll in my life. His name is Satan and he threatens to eat me up all the time. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour.” -- 1 Peter 5:8

We've had a rough couple of weeks around here. I have literally felt pounded from every side lately.

On the home front, we’re facing some significant challenges. Perhaps more on that in another post… but for now, suffice it to say that some days I start to grow weary. We’re facing some mountains so big that some days I think we will never, ever climb to the top. And frankly, that exhausts me.

And lately instead of standing up to Satan and yelling “bring it, dude!” I feel more like cowering in a corner and waving a white flag.

On the ministry front with SixtyFeet, things are no less exciting. Even if I told y’all all of the goings-on of the last few weeks, you’d never believe me. So I won’t bother. But suffice it to say… just when we think a situation cannot possibly get any crazier or any more challenging, it gets completely nuts.

I know, I know… who wants to be part of a ministry that Satan’s not interested in messing with? I suppose we should take it all as a compliment. But it’s still exhausting and, after a while, we start getting worn down. And sometimes we’re tempted to whip out the white flag.

On facing such intense spiritual warfare, I’ve been spending time in Ephesians 6 and reminding myself to put on the full armor of God… the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and, the one and only OFFENSIVE weapon on the list: the sword of the spirit. God’s Word. The Bible.

I don’t know about y’all but for the rest of this week, I’m going on the offense. I’m filling myself to the brim with scripture and I’m spending as much time as possible in the Word. I'm praying scripture over my family and my ministry and I'll pray for you too if you'll send me your prayer requests. Because I’m sick of cowering in the corner.

I know what God has called me and my family to do. And we fully trust in Him to equip us for every good work. Because the One who is in me is greater than the one who is in the world.

I’m throwing my white flag in the trash and I’m taking up the sword instead. Satan wants a fight? Then bring it, dude.
Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mama Bear on Mother's Day

When I’m out with all five of the kiddos, it’s hard for us to be inconspicuous. Even if everyone is calm, fairly quiet and well-behaved (which happens sometimes, but not always), our crew still attracts attention. We’re a multi-racial family with five children, ages 7 and under – and when we’re out in public, we just stand out.

Being the recipient of tons of attention in public is far less glamorous than it sounds. In fact, it can be very hard and even hurtful. Because along with the attention, comes the comments. OH, the comments. The unsolicited, uninvited words that, for some reason, people feel perfectly comfortable sharing with me. Often, right in front of my children.

These comments mostly come from well-intentioned but curious and confused people who have never before seen a family like Team Owens.

The comments also come from people who do know us but often, just don’t know what to say. I guess you could say that our craziness makes them uncomfortable.

And sometimes, these comments come from people who are truly offended by our family in some way… people who think it’s inappropriate to have a “mixed race” family or that our “real children" have suffered some injustice because we've grown our family through adoption.
But it’s not just adoptive families that bear this burden. Any family that steps outside of the boundaries of the nice, neat, typical American family mold will be criticized at some point or another.

So in honor of Mother's Day, I'm posting a list of The Top Ten Things You Should Never Say to Me or Any Momma. Ever. I Don't Care What the Circumstances Are. These were pulled, with permission, from the Storing Up Treasures blog. Which is awesome.

1. Never ask an adoptive family which ones are their "real kids". All children are real.

2. Never ask an adoptive family if the children are "real brothers and sisters". Siblings are siblings no matter how they became that way.

3. Never say to a big family, "Your house must be huge". Usually our homes are not.

4. Never say to a big family, "You must be rich!" We usually are not.

5. Never ask a homeschooling Mom how she manages to teach all of her children. Teachers have 25-35 students each day they have to teach and they aren't even their own kids.

6. Never make an Angelina Jolie reference to an adoptive family. Almost none of us have nannies, personal trainers, housekeepers, errand runners, life coaches or personal assistants.

7. Never say things to the older children of a big family like "You must have to work so hard." Or "It must be really hard to have all of those siblings."

8. Never ask an adoptive Mom about her children's birth parents, especially in front of the child. Things like "Why didn't they want him?" Or "Why was she given up?" are hurtful to the child and often times the adoptive parent prefers to keep the details on birth parents private.

9. Never say "Wow! You sure have your hands full!" Moms of big families don’t see it that way and this comment is hurtful to our kids.

10. Never ask an adoptive Mother "What about his real mom? Or "Where is his mom?" Or "How old is his mom?" I AM HIS REAL MOM!

To this list, I’d also add my own personal notes:

Hannah and Joseph don’t want special treatment or extra attention because they used to be orphans – they just want to be treated like normal kids.

Hannah and Joseph don’t want you to laugh at jokes that aren’t really funny or praise them for things that you wouldn’t praise your own children for – believe me, they can see right through that stuff.

Hannah and Joseph don’t want you to point out, over and over, how beautiful their skin is – because you’re only drawing attention to the fact that their skin is different from mine, Dan's and most of the people around them.

Sometimes you can’t help what you feel in your heart… but you can always control what comes out of your mouth. I pray we’d all strive to think before we speak and to build one another up in love.

I’m not saying that people cannot ask me questions. Heck, I’m not even saying you can’t criticize me if you’d like. If you have something to say, then bring it. I can take it. Just don’t mess with my kids.

And those are the thoughts of a true Mama Bear on Mother’s Day. Love y’all!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dropping the Ball

One morning last week, I sat down at my computer and discovered the following note left on my keyboard by my 7 year old:

That would be my first grader actually writing a note reminding me to pick her up from school. As if I could ever forget her. I would never do such a thing!

Wait. Would I???

When I first read this little note, I laughed out loud. As you can see, I even took a picture of it for posterity. But as the day wore on, it started to bug me. Seriously… WHY did Madeline leave me this note? Have I really been that scatterbrained recently?

I am learning that one of the greatest challenges of having a large family is coordinating everyone’s schedules. My children are young, Madeline is the only one in school, we keep the outside activities to a bare minimum...but it’s always a three ring circus around here.

All of the coordination we do -- carpools, birthday parties, swim lessons, one-on-one time with each child – it’s like putting a puzzle together. A really complicated, 1,000 + piece puzzle.

The busier we get, the more reality hits: I just can’t do it all. I can’t be five places at once. In fact, I can’t even be two places at once. I cannot have two sincere conversations at the same time. I can’t solve two multi-piece problems at the same time. I can’t be completely present with two children at once.

I might as well face it – sometimes I’m going to let people down.

Sometimes I intentionally let the ball drop – in the sense that I make a conscious decision NOT to do something. Not to be somewhere. Not to return an email. Not to answer the phone. Because I need to guard my time in order to be somewhere else or to be with some ONE else.

And then there are times that I just drop the ball. Life gets crazy. Details are left off of my calendar, an unread email is marked as “read,” or a voicemail is deleted before I've even listend to it. It is amazing how one little, forgotten detail can completely wreak havoc on a well-planned day.

And when I mess up, sometimes it hurts feelings. Somtimes tears are shed. Sometimes I feel like a really rotten mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter and so on.

But I’m human – I’m flawed and I’m sinful and sometimes that's life. I break promises, I make commitments I cannot keep and fairly often, I just forget things.

But I rest in this: "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" -- Numbers 23:19

People will fail us. But our God will never let us down. He'll never make a promise He can't keep. He'll never bite off more than He can chew. He can be an infinite number of places at once and He can talk to all of us and deal with all our problems and bear all our burdens at the same time. Because He's God. How grateful I am for that.

I also rest in this... when I do mess up, there is grace. There is forgiveness. And every morning we get to start a new day and try it all over again.

The same child who left me the reminder note at the top of this page drew this picture for me yesterday:

You are my "tresher." That's "treasure" in first grade speak. Wow. I might forget what time I need to pick her up from school...but I'm still her treasure. Rejoice, for His mercies are new every morning.
Sunday, May 1, 2011

Good & Perfect Gifts

When is the last time that the Lord completely knocked your socks off? When’s the last time that you had an experience that caused you to think WOW! I cannot believe that the God of the entire Universe just did this for lil’ ol me?

I had one of those experiences a few weeks ago and I’m still floating around on Cloud Nine.

I know, of course, that He’s always with me… “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” – (Deut 31:6). But seeing the Lord’s undeniable hand move in your everyday, little life… well that will take your breath away.

I wrote recently about the friends who helped Dan and me while we were in Uganda. These are the friends who went far above and beyond the call of friendship. They purchased expensive plane tickets and flew to Africa and stood beside Dan and me in all our craziness last year.

It recently occurred to me that I’d never formally thanked these families for their sacrifices on our behalf. How does one even thank someone for such a gift? Dan and I wanted to recognize these families at Hannah and Joseph’s birthday party and to (finally) thank them formally and publically – but how?

At the moment, we don’t have thousands of dollars available to purchase extravagant gifts for our friends. And even if we did, our friends wouldn’t WANT us buy them extravagant thank you gifts. But still... we wanted to give them something very special and meaningful.

So we prayed about it. We spent an entire week praying… Lord, show us how you’d have us thank these families. And Monday came and went. And Tuesday came and went. And Wednesday came… and I started to get stressed. I began thinking that maybe this was a dumb, selfish thing to pray for anyways. Does God really care about some silly thank you gifts? With all the poverty and abuse and neglect and disease of this world... Surely the Lord has more important matters at hand.

And yet, the Word tells me to “pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.” – Eph 6:18. There really is no matter too small, too unimportant for me to bring to my Heavenly Father.

On Wednesday night, I received a number of unrelated, unsolicited messages from various friends. Some of them were people I had not talked to in years. All of the messages mentioned, in some way or another, a sweet store up in Marietta, GA (about 30 minutes from my house) called "Glory Haus" that sells beautiful, Christian art.

On Thursday morning, I told Dan… “I think the Lord was really speaking to me through all of those emails I received last night. I think He wants me to go up to Glory Haus to look for thank you gifts today. Do you think that’s weird?” And Dan says “um, yes.”

I tried to talk myself out of going. We had Cupcake Kids sales coming up on Friday and Saturday and we were hosting a huge birthday party on Sunday. I had a million things to do. I did not have time to drag myself and my five children all the way up to Marietta to shop for art that is out of my price range anyways.

But I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was His plan for me and the kids for that Thursday. So I loaded up the kids and away we went.

I knew as soon as we got out of the car that I’d made the right choice. Glory Haus has the most unique, meaningful pieces of art. That day, a lot of things were on sale so I was certain I could find something. Perhaps not the most perfect, beautiful thing in the store -- but it would be good enough.

But as y'all know, I don’t serve the God of Almost Good Enough…

About 5 minutes into my browsing, a woman approached me. I actually didn’t recognize her at first… it was Laura Kirkland, the Glory Haus artist. She’s not always at the store but she was there that day. Laura reads my blog, she knows Hannah & Joseph’s story and she and her husband have a heart for adoption. We chatted for a few minutes and I explained what I’m looking for and we parted ways and I kept browsing.

A couple of minutes later, Laura walks back over. “Shelly, why don’t you and the kids come into my office?” Well, ok. We follow her in and she hands my children some balloons and paintbrushes to play with and gives me a seat. She hands me the Glory Haus catalog and says “I want you to take your time and look through this entire catalog. I want you to choose anything you’d like as a gift for your friends. And it’s all on me. No charge.”

And I nearly fell apart. I was simply overwhelmed. Not because I was being offered amazing, perfect, free gifts for my friends… but because the God of the Universe cared enough to answer my silly little prayer. He provided the perfect gift at the perfect price… all in His timing. Truly, every good and perfect gift comes from above.

So what did I choose? This 16 x 20 canvas below.

This canvas and so, so much more is available at this little gem of a place called Glory Haus. Last year, these girls made the cover of the Neiman Marcus catalog. And yet they remain so humble and they desire nothing more than to use their gifts for His glory. Visit them in Marietta, GA or online here. You will not be disappointed.

I know this was a long post but thanks for indulging me. I love a good God story and I am truly, truly overwhelmed by His love for lil' ol me.

"Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?" -- 1 Chron 17:16