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Author Archive for keeleyritter

You’ve Got This

(Disclaimer: I wrote this in January 2019)

You’ve got this. Simple. Right?

I had been working on turning that into my new daily slogan. Before I hit the ground running in the morning, that’s what I would tell myself. “You got this, Keeley.” In fact, other people even told me that several times lately! But the truth is. I don’t. But if you listen to the world—apparently, we ‘should’. Take it from me, it doesn’t work.

Most days I feel as though I’m being thrown onto a stage in front of thousands of people, attempting to do a balancing act that I haven’t practiced for. Or at least not enough. Do you ever feel like that? Or maybe it’s more so thoughts like this…there has to be another adult in charge here, right?!

But PRAISE GOD, the ONE who sees it all and knows exactly what we need before we even ask—-does have it! All of it. So for the past week, my goal has been simple. Get up early. And focus on the one who has it. Which praise God again—isn’t me! 🙂

There’s no pretty way to put it. 2018 ended rough for me. The truth is, for the better part of the year I was reverting to self reliance and a motto which whispered something along the lines of, ‘it’s no big deal, you’ve got this.’ Some days even, ‘suck it up.’ Both of which seem harmless on the surface, yet reek of LIES and a wicked trail which will only lead to disaster. Combine it with an insane amount of large life changes, some pretty intense grief, and it becomes a ticking time bomb for even the strongest of humans (which I am not claiming to be).

So as 2019 kicked off, the timing seemed appropriate to make a plan which involves simple goals. Not even ‘New Years’ goals per say…but just goals. Quit flying by the seat of my pants and make a plan that is reasonable, simple and sustainable. Not a ‘do more list’ either. NO. If anything, DO LESS and refocus on what’s important—which has got to include ME! And as I began this plan making—God interrupted and simply said, REJOICE. For He who has started a good work in you will carry it on until completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

We all have such great hope in the fact that even though we might not be able to pep talk ourselves into thinking, “I’ve got this…” We can be so incredibly joyful because HE DOES! And because He lives in those who ask and seek Him…I can be confident in His power in me. Not because I am a strong human, but in fact because He is a strong God!

I encourage you today, don’t try to ‘do this’ thing called life under your own strength. Make today the start of depending on someone by the name of Jesus. Who is so much better, stronger and able than yourself.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

The Danger in a Word.

Define ideal.

According to Google, ideal means one of three things: 1. Satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable. 2. Existing only in the imagination; desirable or perfect but not likely to become a reality. 3. A person or thing regarded as perfect; a standard of perfection or principal to be aimed at.

This is troubling. I think because I have a tendency to use the word ‘ideal’ rather flippantly. In ways that seem harmless at the surface. Like when I say, “ya, it’s not IDEAL that he can’t hear…” or “the situation isn’t my IDEAL, but….” So, what is the problem with that you ask? When I throw that word around, I am subconsciously hoping for basically MY idea of what is perfect. Rather than saying, what does God want? What does He have for me in this situation? How is He trying to do what is best for me, while bringing HIM glory—REGARDLESS of, that icky word thought—what I think is IDEAL? This word has all new meaning to me now.

This morning as I was making time to be with the Lord in a moment of quiet…I opened my devotional to what couldn’t have been more perfect for where I’m at lately. Without going into things in great detail, I have become greatly aware (yet again) of things in my life which I would consider a big fat thorn in my flesh. Things that I’m sure don’t even pale in comparison to Paul’s thorn he spoke of in 2 Corinthians. But things which make me go in one of two ways. Either away from God in frustration and anger that He would allow it to continue. Or running towards Him as fast as I can so that, in my weakness, He might show His strength. All of us have thorns. All of us have a choice to make. Towards Him, or away.

I mention this because when I start talking about ‘ideals’…my mind begins down a slippery slope of running away. I start to hope for things which seem like a pretty package on the outside. But on the inside, they’re nasty. They cause me to miss out on an intimate, fully dependent relationship with my Savior. They cause me to want to bring glory to myself/my own strength—rather than Him. Because I don’t know about you, but typically, my ideals are an easy way out of a hard situation. My ideals are an escape. A path which seems like it makes ‘more sense’. An idea which will only lead to a quick fix and not a GOD SIZED victory/display of His glory and goodness!!!

Typically, our thorns are not something we immediately would call IDEAL. The world we live in definitely tells us otherwise. I know that if I’m not careful my thorns make me want to curl up in a ball and cry. Or fight. Or be mad at God for not taking them away. BUT it is there that God gently whispers to me. “Keeley, in spite of these thorns…do you still trust me? Do you know I am good? Do you still love me? And most of all, do you know that because I entrusted these to you, it actually shows just how much I love you?”

Any of you who know me well, or even maybe just a little, know I am an eternal optimist. If there’s a silver lining hidden…I’m your girl. I’ll find it. So don’t get me wrong when I say to you, ideals suck! They will literally suck the life right out of you. Because they pull you farther away from God than you can even imagine. Find your thorns. It is there, God will bring you to life. Either by removing them, healing you fully and restoring those (or some of those) marks. Because He’s just that powerful and able!!! Or, He will do as He did for Paul. He will leave that thorn (or maybe more than one) lodged in your side, so that, you can remind this world that God’s goodness isn’t found in our ideals. It’s found when we let them go.

So today, let us choose to release out idealistic thought that life would be better without our thorns. Without our difficulties. I am so thankful because God has chosen to fully and amazingly heal SO many things in my life. Things I didn’t even know needed to be brought to the surface, let alone made new. But the more I get to know Him, the more I believe that there are some things in this life which I might not ever be fully healed from. And that’s okay. That isn’t what He promises to us in this world. Do I believe God could heal those lingering things if He chose to. Absolutely. Have I done the work to try and make that happen. You bet. Does it mean I have a right to be angry or disappointed. NO! In fact, like Paul, I am hearing God say:

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” 2 Corinthians 12, The Message

Thank you, Jesus. For healing the areas you know we need healed. And allowing difficulties to remain for our utmost good. My heart wants you…more than the healing!


God Told Us So

On Monday morning, April 2nd…I missed a phone call from our adoption agency. In most of the mornings prior to this week, I had my phone glued to my hip just waiting to hear something. Anything. But when I talked to our family coordinator the Thursday before Easter (March 29th) she said she really figured on not hearing anything for a couple of weeks yet because of our dossier being submitted right before the huge Chinese New Year celebrations/shut downs. But she also knew that we had enlisted several prayer warriors to pray specifically for our LOA to be issued by the end of March! So when I talked to her on Thursday and she said there were no updates to our file—I won’t lie, I felt a surge of disappointment run through my body.

But it was also in that disappointment I heard God say, trust me…my timing is perfect. I heard your bold prayer for an LOA by the end of March. But maybe my timing is better?! Do you still trust me? Did you hear that word, STILL? Because you see, we have to pray specifically and boldly. God actually wants us to! But when He answers—which He always does in some way—what does that do to our faith? Does it decrease it simply because it looks different than what we asked for or desired? Or is there possibility that it can catapult our faith because we know without a shadow of a doubt, He can be trusted and knows best?! That ultimately, His will IS best?


So, after that Thursday phone call…a great lunch date with a girlfriend reflecting on the goodness of Jesus…and celebrating our risen King for Easter—-I was 110% back in. Without a doubt, I STILL trust you, Lord! Stubborn faith, round 537 for our boy. There was no holding back. I took the time to think about everything God has done in my life, Justin’s life and through the course of time—and through grateful and humble tears said, Lord, you called us to this. Long ago. You also promise to never leave nor forsake us in anything we might face. I trust you and what you are doing. More than anything, I love you. Now…let’s bring our boy home already!

So, all that to say. Monday, April 2nd (THREE days later), I missed a call from our agency and literally gasped when I saw their number on our phone. I couldn’t dial it back quick enough and had to actually sit down as I listened to our family coordinator say, “I’m calling with really good news.” She was calling to tell us that just that morning she received electronic notice that our LOA was issued! Ecstatic. Relieved. Overjoyed. Amazed. Grateful. These are just a few of the words to describe my feelings in that moment. Complete awe.

Now, while a part of me wishes the LOA would have had the actual date of March 31st—I also just chuckle and am grateful for the date of April 2nd because that is SO God and will forever be a reminder to us of His faithfulness despite whether we see Him working. Someone clearly made the decision to say yes to us before the end of March! So in all actuality—He did answer our bold prayer for it to be a yes by the end of March—but I really think He wanted to increase our faith BEFORE we knew that it was answered! In fact, I had resolved that because we didn’t hear before the weekend, it was a no to that specific prayer request. And by Friday, March 30th, I was totally OK with that! But it was in that thinking that it actually catapulted our faith into remembering the truth of who God is and that He can be trusted!

So today as I reflect on the timing of all of this, I see God everywhere. All throughout history, God has this profound tendency to work mightily in the last minute. That eleventh hour. Abraham & Isaac. Moses standing before the Red Sea. Jesus rising from the dead. The list goes on and on. Maybe to us it seems like the eleventh hour and to God, really, it’s His first minute. Either way, it’s awesome. Because what a faith filled and radical trust He asks us to have! And in that faith and trust…He blesses us beyond our wildest imaginations.

Introducing….our son, Arie Chang Ritter.

Arie means Lion of God, and Chang means an unhindered spirit. Which in all honesty and bold assurance—we know are true of this little man. Why? Because God told us so. And the last time He told us something, He delivered.

On a jet plane…

Can I just say one thing right now?! HALLELUJAH!!! Our stack of paperwork for our adoption(otherwise known as a dossier) is officially on a jet plane on it’s way to China! This means that all of the paperwork, appointments, authentications and certifications for this portion of this journey is COMPLETE!!! Done. Hear the sound of us (especially me, as I was primarily the one doing the paperwork portion of things) taking a HUGE sigh of relief. For those not familiar with international adoption process, this is a giant step in the journey and is something that deserves a celebration and little dance party. Both of which, I have done! Can you say ice cream and Zach Williams Old Church Choir?!

By Monday, the CCCWA (China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption) should have our paperwork, hopefully logging us in quickly to begin the process of translating and reviewing our documents to issue us the real big one. The LOA (letter of approval). While we have already been given what is considered a pre-approval for our little guy, what we really need now to move forward and bring him home is this LOA. Please be praying with us that God continues to work swiftly and in His mighty ways to bring this little boy home soon. We know that God has already moved mountains out of the way for us to adopt this precious little man and we are trusting Him fully in each part of this process—timing and all. So with that said, perhaps prayers for us to continue to rest in that peace of God is more needed than anything! 🙂

In fact, it’s quite crazy how much this reminds me of when I was pregnant and getting down to those final weeks/months. I was SO excited to meet our newest family member, but yet LOVED being pregnant and didn’t want it to end at times. I knew that so many things needed to be prepared and happen before each of our babies could be born, even though I didn’t always know exactly what those things were. And this is no different—except this time, our son is already born and we know God is preparing his heart, our hearts, and doing things for this adoption and joining of lives that we don’t even know need to happen, but do! And believe it or not…I have loved this process much like I loved being pregnant—and not because it’s all rainbows and roses, but because amidst the challenges and pain, the feats and the fears, the ups and the downs—God has shown Himself faithful, every. single. time. It has strengthened and grown each of us in ways we didn’t even know we needed to grow.

While we know this journey is actually just beginning as we get so much closer to meeting our son…we just had to take a minute to rejoice, praise, and share our excitement in what a huge step has been accomplished! All glory to God, truly, because this is 100% His story. We hope in next month and a half or so to share the wonderful news of our LOA, as well as our son’s name, photo and perhaps even a video which we have been given by his orphanage. Stay tuned!!!


What If?

Sometimes I spring awake at night with thoughts…good ones, bad ones, indifferent ones. I’m not really sure why, but I know I’m not alone in this. Most recently it happened a few nights ago. God had put something on my heart earlier that day…I had somewhat shoved it aside and went about my business…and I believe that night he brought it right to my attention again. And while I’m not fully sure why He wants me to hear this so loudly, point is, He does. So with that, here’s today’s challenge:

What IF…we called on God as much as we called on ourselves, our friends, Facebook or Google? What IF…we became as dependent on him as we depend on ourselves?

I heard something recently that was quite intriguing to me. There have apparently been studies done that show when we have our cell phones in the room with us, we are actually dumber. How ironic is that?! When we have our ‘smart phones’ in our back pocket, we’re actually less intelligent?? Go figure. We have endless amounts of information and knowledge and our fingertips—and yet it’s actually becoming a detriment to our society. I believe there are so many reasons for this—but the one I think the one that is hurting us the most is exactly what God put in front of me the other day.

What if for every time you check your Facebook feed, you follow it up with a moment in prayer? For every text you send, memorize a scripture. Every new pin on Pinterest, reach out to a neighbor. For every thing you ask Google—what if we asked God what He thinks instead? Can I tell you right now, we would be a much wiser and spirit filled world. I think God is asking us to immerse ourselves in as much of Him as we are in the ‘things’ of today’s world. In particular, screens and technology.

Now while I know many would argue that screens and the internet has changed our world for the better—and provided us with a faster, easier and all around more efficient way to work…I would say this…you’re right. In and of itself, the internet and screens are not a bad thing. Just like ice cream. An occasional dish of it isn’t a bad thing either. But I guarantee you if you eat it all day, everyday, you’re going to have a problem. But our problem *could just call it addiction for lack of better terminology* with screens, in my opinion, is becoming much worse than an overindulgence of a delectable dairy delight.

Not only are they making us actually less intelligent—but I believe they are killing our relationships. Not only with God, but with others. I am as guilty as most when it comes to this…texting. It’s quick. Easy. And a total time suck. Not to mention impersonal. We are losing the ability to healthily communicate with other humans because most people resort to doing it through texting. We think it’s ‘the same’ but I am here to tell you IT ISN’T. Or how about the one’s we’re with day-to-day who don’t get all of us because we’re too busy “quickly” texting ten people, staring at our phones. For me, it’s my children and my spouse. I don’t think most of us realize how often we are staring at our screens, neglecting our most valuable relationships.

While I don’t want to make this entire post about screens and the idols which we have made them into—I do just want to say this. I believe God pressed that question and challenge upon my heart not just for me…but for others as well. We have so many ways to be self sufficient and smart that it’s actually hindering us. It is hindering us because we are becoming so dependent on technology and ourselves that it is taking us so far away from the One who we actually need the most. And just like being unable to notice right away how often we’re staring on our screens—it’s a slippery slope when it comes to sliding away from God as well. Not because He takes a step away from us either—but because we allow ourselves to slip away from HIM.

So I will end by saying this. While yes, we can Google anything and find an answer…….I wonder what knowing that answer is really going to do for us? Are we going to use it for some greater good—or to glorify God? Or are we going to use it to glorify ourselves? Our texts and Snapchats (I think that’s what its called) we’re sending…are they one’s you would be okay with your spouse seeing? Your parents? As we become more dependent on technology and the ‘benefits’ of it—I think we need to be made aware very often of the dangers that also come with it. That is all I’m saying.

We all will be accountable of our choices at one point or another. Either while we walk this earth, or when we kneel before God. I know technology isn’t going to go away—–but I’m here to tell you, neither will our need of a God who saves and desires our whole hearts devotion. My prayer for all of us is that we desire to turn to God as frequently as we turn to our technology. Replace our addiction of feed updates, new texts and pins, with hearts that long to know Him in a more real way than any answer Google can ever give us.

Reflect Him

Season of Advent. I absolutely love this time of year and felt compelled to spend more time posting over the next few weeks to bring some GLORY to the beautiful days of Advent!!! Short, sweet and to the point so everyone can ‘have time’ to read!

So today, I’m going to keep it real simple and say this: a King is coming!

Of course this time of year that’s an obvious statement. Referring to the birth of Jesus. But what about every other day and month of the year—do we stop to remember that? Imagine what could happen if we kept that type of a Kingdom focus? Because His word says He is indeed coming back again one day. This time not as a baby in a manger either. But like Matthew 24 states, like lightning and with great power and glory.

So let’s challenge ourselves to be a people who stop complaining, who remember how much we’ve been given (and not just in the material sense either) and rise up! Side note here: I know I’ve mentioned it before, but do you know how dangerous complaining is? Take it from someone who has worldly permission to complain about the things I have gone through and experienced in life. Complaint won’t do me any good—or those around me. Not to mention it is one of the greatest schemes of the enemy of our soul to try and keep us from fulfilling God’s intended purpose in our life. Experiencing grief is one thing. Complaining is something completely different.

What if there was a new golden rule that says, if you’re going to complain about something—YOU have to be the one to come up with a solution. And can I tell you something, we humans…don’t have all the solutions…but there is ONE who does!

So let’s be a people who know WHO Christ is and want our lives to be a reflection of Him. Let’s be a people who always remember, A KING IS COMING!!!

42“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. 44You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. Matthew 24:42-44

It’s a Fact

On the eve of Thanksgiving—my most favorite holiday—it seemed appropriate to have a blog post about my gratitude and also, a simple, yet great reminder for someone today…

God’s love for you is a fact!

As I was SO frustrated with one of our children’s sinful choices to be disrespectful, disobedient and downright mean because of the uncontrolled emotion of anger today—it struck me. Even in that second, my love for this kiddo doesn’t sway. Even on our worst days and in our worst moments, that’s exactly how God feels about us. His love is a fact. According to the dictionary, a fact is a thing that is indisputably the case. And as I reminded one of our children of that today after a not so hot little human moment…it was as much to me as it was to them. Even though our poor decisions make us ‘feel’ as though we aren’t loved—that feeling couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Our sin and consequences can most definitely separate us from that ‘feeling’ of love, yes—but that’s the beauty of a parent/child love and even more so—the beauty of God’s love for each of His children…the feeling might sway, but the fact never does. Which is why when our children mess up—and then fess up—they are always reminded of these seven words: this doesn’t change my love for you.

So as we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, above all else…I am grateful for the indisputable case that I am loved by a God who wants me to not only feel His love, but KNOW His love! Regardless of my past. My present. Or the future. There is nothing we have to do to earn that love either. It is the greatest gift each one of us can humbly receive. My prayer is that every one of you today remember that indisputable case for your life as well. You. Are. Loved.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

Living Surrendered

OK, so yesterday was apparently “World Adoption Day” and I’m a day late to post this…but then someone informed me it’s actually “National Adoption Month”—phew—I’m not actually late at all. 🙂


We decided to enter into the China adoption program with America World Adoption Agency (AWAA) this summer. It has been a complete answer to prayer and we know without hesitation, EXACTLY where God wants us to be! Without writing a novel, I will tell you this:

July 26th – Approval to be a part of the China program with AWAA (a miracle in and of itself…will explain at a later time)

August 1st (yes, SIX days later) – they asked us if we wanted to review the file of a little boy that they instantly thought of our family for. Of course, we immediately said yes!

August 11th – submitted what is called a letter of intent (LOI) to China—which basically says, we want to adopt this little boy!

August 18th – Pre-approval granted to complete the steps to adopt our little boy from China and to begin the home study process and our paperwork chase!

November 2nd – Home study report complete

So what’s next? We will submit our paperwork and home study for a bunch of authentications and certifications. Then we will be granted pre-approval from USCIS (United States Citizenship & Immigration Services) to bring our son into the United States. Once those steps are complete, we submit a GIANT stack of paperwork (known as a ‘dossier’) to China to receive our official approval (known as an LOA) to come and get our boy! We hope to travel in early 2018 and are trusting God for His perfect timing!

His hand has been all over this decision. Everywhere. We have seen Him move quickly and efficiently (for international adoption, our timeline has gone lightning fast!). We have witnessed miracles in the process—and in our son! Things have happened that can only be because of God. And we know, it’s totally because of prayer!

You see, before we entered AWAA’s program, we both began to pray for God to clearly show us the child He has chosen for us (along with asking our friends/family to pray that same thing)! Plant him/her in our lap, more or less. And boy, did He. Justin and I have been one hundred percent on the same page since stepping into this decision and have had such peace. Peace that transcends all understanding. Peace that allows us to say yes to very unknown possibilities. Peace that can only come from our perfect Father.

And while this process has been nothing short of incredible. Emotional. Time consuming. Exciting. Amazing. Faith building. And expensive. It’s totally and completely worth it!!! I’m not kidding you, we have seen miracles! Miracles that would make even the most skeptical of skeptics stop and ponder. But we almost missed it! Had we given up or given in when the adoption process took a huge turn of events earlier this year…we would have missed this. I honestly feel as though we would have missed His best for us!

Which, mind you, that phrase ‘best for us’ isn’t always in the way we think it is going to come. For us, it has been from our hearts being completely broken for all of the stories behind the faces of waiting children we’ve seen. It has been letting go of a little boy in Korea whom we dearly loved and were calling son and brother. It has been having conversations with our children (and each other) about how trusting God doesn’t mean we always know ‘the next step’ or the ‘why’ behind His decision. His best has meant keeping our hearts open and soft, with the complete possibility of them being broken again—all while knowing that He always works for His glory and our good. His best has meant having to be totally and shamelessly honest about my past, knowing that in that honesty, the possibility of adopting internationally could be over. It has been in the form of trust and then miracles. Small and HUGE. His best has taken us to the most beautiful little 4 year old boy, that is forever going to be a part of our family.

And while I wish I could share his precious face with you today, I can’t just yet…but know it’s coming soon! And until then, just know, God wants to bless each one of us with His best for our lives. We just have to realize that His best isn’t always ‘our way’ or our first chosen path. It might take a sharp turn to the left or the right to find it—maybe you’ve even heard it referred to as a ‘wrong’ turn. But, take it from me—do not be dismayed or discouraged when the path you could have sworn was His chosen path for you completely halts. Swerves. Or leaves you wondering, why or what on earth was that for?! Pray. Trust. And persevere.

Remembering always that Romans 5 is God’s spoken truth when it says, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” It’s impossible to fail or take a ‘wrong’ turn when you’re walking with and surrendered to God. Even the paths that end up suddenly ending or taking an abrupt turn of events are likely because He sees the bigger picture. He sees things from a Kingdom view. A perfect view. A view that always says, “I want what is best for you…which ultimately, is ME.”

So, I ask you this…is your life surrendered to a God who not only knows best, but loves you with an everlasting love and WANTS what is best for you, not just in this life…but eternity?

36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. – Hebrews 10:36

Bridging the Gap

Today I want to enlighten you to the fact God is always working. If you have yet to make the decision to follow God, He’s at work right now to soften your heart to Him! And if you have already made the decision to be a follower of Christ, He’s at work right now within you! Refining. Forgiving. Loving. Sanctifying. Encouraging. Teaching. Comforting. But in today’s world, if you haven’t noticed, the common theme is busyness. Or perhaps better yet, distractedness! That is why if I can get one person, for one minute today, to stop and think about the condition of their soul…I rejoice! Because when we stop to think about our soul, and life beyond the here and now…we begin to have a ripple effect on the rest of the world! Therefore, I believe God is challenging me to include a simple question that can change lives. So with every blog post I am going to be adding something called the “One Minute, Forever Changed” challenge. Something that takes less than a minute to read, and is going to rock your world (and hopefully other’s)!

So today’s question/challenge is this: Where is God calling you to allow Him to build a bridge of faith?

“The Lord only builds a bridge of faith directly under the feet of a faithful traveler. He never builds the bridge a few steps ahead, for then it would not be one of faith.” -L.B. Cowman

Think about it. ANYONE can walk on a bridge that they know has an engineer’s stamp of approval. Or perhaps they have seen others walk on. We can look at master plans and make an educated decision on whether or not it is structurally sound. Then walk. But when God is increasing people’s faith—which He has been in the business of doing since the beginning of time—He asks us to simply know Him, trust His goodness, and boldly walk forward in that knowledge. Because when we do that, it is then, our bridge of faith is built!

Right now, my husband and I are walking this out regarding God’s calling to our lives in adopting a child. I was adopted as an infant, so I’ve always wanted to do the same for someone else. And my hubby, well, God gave him the desire to adopt from the time he was a young man. Then, God so graciously put us together and we’ve always known we would. We just didn’t know when. Earlier this year we both individually sought God on this topic and came together in the decision that it was time. We know we aren’t getting any younger, and simply put, God showed us, the time is now.

So we began the process not knowing whether we would go into an infant adoption here in the US, or travel abroad to bring home a toddler. We were (and still are) open to anything. But can I tell you something right now? Our faith has been tested several times throughout the past few months. It’s as though we take a step, and He firmly plants our foot on the next segment of the bridge…then something unexpected happens in a direction we weren’t ‘planning’, and we take a couple back. Only to walk forward again onto what was just built, remembering His goodness, knowing this is His calling for our life and taking another step. Remembering that this isn’t a swaying suspension bridge—but a solidly built structure on God’s promises.

You see, due to the fact I went to counseling and treatment for my struggle with alcohol, it is actually disqualifying us from several countries. We fell utterly in love with a little boy in Korea. Only to then be told no, due to the fact this healing for me came less than 5 years ago. We really believed He was meant for our family. Our faith took us into an agency for him and now our faith takes us elsewhere. Because even though we can’t see the plan, or even understand the reason why we had to go through that heartache…we know, God is good. He is all powerful. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. He could have changed minds in Korea and they could have given us an exception. But He didn’t.

So now we have a choice. We can throw our hands up in the air. Complain to God about it all. And wonder why on earth, something that was so positive—me receiving healing—is now being held against us in a sense. Do you hear the quiet tone of ‘poor me’ in that thought? Which I’m not going to sit here and act all high and mighty and tell you I didn’t do just that. I definitely had a day or two where I really struggled in this. I felt discouraged. Sad. Irritated. Even mad at times. For many reasons! Thankfully, God gifted me a spouse who in these moments when I’m wavering, reminds me of truth. Why can’t God still do something good with it? Who’s to say he hasn’t already? Which is when I hit my knees in repentance.

So now I am standing back up, forgiven and free, to move onward and ask God to give us the strength to continue to build our bridge of faith, one baby step at a time. It is not a flawless process, and PRAISE GOD he is gentle and kind. Forgiving us any time we do regrettably take a step or two backward. He has our best interest in heart. He wants to bless us and others through this process. We know it’s His deal, not ours. We know He loves that little boy in Korea more than we do. So with all that knowledge of truth, who are we to say no thank you to HOW He wants to build our bridge?

I learned something interesting recently…many years ago, there were actually automatic gates used on some country roads. These gates would open only if the oncoming vehicle continued to drive right towards it. The weight would compress the springs below the roadway and allow him to pass through. If the vehicle stopped moving too soon, it wouldn’t open! In my mind, I want to think that is the most ridiculous design ever. When in all actuality, it is the most creative. Just like those old country gates, God wants us to keep moving onward and upward toward these paths of service to Him. Even when barriers present themselves, drive right towards it and know that the most loving gatekeeper is going to fling that thing open so far and wide it will make your (and other’s) head spin!

So today, God is calling each of us to a place of service. Where is God calling you to allow Him to build a bridge of faith? Maybe it’s in simply saying yes to Him being your Lord and Savior. Maybe it’s in taking the step to recommit your life to Him. Or maybe, it’s to something which seems impossible to our limited human minds—but He’s just waiting for a yes from you so He can move mountains. Whatever it is, my prayer is ultimately for you to spend time with God today. Get to know Him in a way you haven’t before. And what better way to get to know Him than taking a step in faith and seeing how He responds? Knowing all well that faith is the bridge between where we are and the place He’s taking us!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1


The Edge of the Promised Land

So this morning as I was reading scripture, I found myself looking in the appendix for something pertaining to ‘contemplation’ or ‘wrestling’…and while there wasn’t something on either of those topics, my eye did scan across the words FOCUS. Then right underneath that title was the subtitle asking, “do you focus more on the negative than the positive”….followed by a page number and verse. Side note here–while I do not find myself to be a glass half empty type of person at all…sometimes, when you’re in the middle of big decisions and giant leaps of faith, my fear (which often times translates to negativity) wants to rear its ugly head and win the battle! So while I was hoping the scripture I was being led to was going to be printed in red and straight from the lips of Jesus, what I found was even better!!!

Numbers 13:25-30

25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land. 26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country;and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.” 30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

So here is a time where God told the Israelites that the promised land was rich and fertile. And that this land would be theirs! GOD HIMSELF had spoken to Moses to send a group of Israelite men to first hand explore the land of Canaan (the promised land) and to then enter it. Now remember, up until this point, God had miraculously led them out of slavery, through the desert, protected them, fed them and fulfilled every single one of his promises. Yet how interesting that even then, these men were so quick to stop trusting God in the face of something scary. They even can see that this land is exactly what God said it would be…….but they became fearful and voiced their opinion loudly:

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anakcome from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

So now we have a small group of men who were feeling defeat before even entering the battle. They saw things that scared them and made it seem to be an impossible undertaking. Oh how quick they were to forget what God had already done for them. They became so focused on their fears rather than their faith that it actually led to their demise. Their negative opinion and humanistic view of a GIANT AND NEVER CHANGING GOD caused not only their death but that of many others. These ten men caused such a great rebellion among the people that they lost perspective. It caused all of them (except two) to focus on someone’s opinion rather than on the fact and truth of WHO God is. Their defeat spread like wildfire and caused so many to feel discouraged as well! In fact, Caleb was the only one willing to take the unpopular stand and go against the crowd! In case you missed it previously, here is the profoundness in this verse:

30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

Caleb had seen the land himself, he had the right attitude because of His trust in God and he proclaimed exactly what the truth translates to…’for we can certainly do it.’ He knew this wasn’t something they could do alone–but he knew with God, anything was possible.

So today I urge you, use caution when you grumble. Make sure you have prayerfully considered voicing a negative/fearful opinion. As the ramifications for it can be much larger than you realize. And if you find yourself in a situation where there seems to be a chorus of despair and everyone is joining in. Be like Caleb. Know God’s truth and stand firm in it. Remember the fact that God will never leave nor forsake you. It is only when we lose perspective and begin to focus on ourselves and our problems when we feel what we might call distance from God. He will not bring you to the edge of the promised land to then not let you in. Trust and wait in great expectancy of His promises to be fulfilled!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6