Dec 29, 2011

Untitled Reflections

The year started with so much joy and happy expectation. In January we became parents! In that sense 2011 was such a beautiful year! A year of getting to know our son and experience life with him. I enjoyed the immense blessing of being able to work part-time from home. Being home with our son, watching him continue grow and develop is a gift that I will always cherish - even during teething days.  In the beginning, I would often get the question, "So, how do you like being a mom?" I always stumbled with an answer - how do you put words to such a profound gift and blessing? It is hard to explain that when I became a mom I finally felt like "myself." During years of longing, waiting, praying, I had started to wonder if God had a different plan for my life. Maybe I wasn't supposed to be a mom like I'd always thought.  At the end of 2010 and in the beginning of 2011, God gave us the most beautiful gift of our son, through the sacrifice of his biological mom, and he confirmed the desires of my heart. As we are at the end of 2011 and my little baby boy is nearing his first birthday, I stand in awe of just how sovereign my God is and how richly he chose to bless us this year.

2011 was also a tragic year. In another sense, it is ending so much differently than I imagined. So much daily happiness found in parenting our son and yet so much sadness and pain in losing babies I loved before I knew them. I believe life begins at conception; this year our family has lost 5 little lives I was not able to meet outside their mothers' wombs. My nephew, William, and his twin among those lost. In the midst of this grieving there have been broken and intensely wounded hearts, sickness and physical pain attack those I hold dear in my hearts.

I remember at the end of 2010 I thought that I had enough of the sadness and disappointment contained in that year, I was looking forward to the fresh start of 2011. The anticipated joy of meeting our child and experiencing our life as a family of three instead of two - it was enough excitement to fool me into forgetting that this world is full of trouble. I was reminded of this truth not long into the year and since then I have been struggling to answer the question of how I can feel so happy and so incredibly sad at the exact same time.

Many times throughout the days/weeks/months I find myself thinking, "Life shouldn't be like this. There shouldn't be this much sorrow and death." I'm not blaming God, it just feels like an inward tug on my heart. As I prayed through these thoughts one day, the phrase I've emphasized in Ecclesiastes 3:11 came to mind:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (ESV)
I was so struck with the notion of having eternity in my heart. My heart knows that sin has ruined a perfect creation and it knows that there is somewhere far better and more perfect than I could ever imagine. My heart groans, knowing that indeed life shouldn't be like this, but in fact with sin, life is full of sorrow, sickness and pain. In the midst of these troubles there is hope. Some days it feels as though it is buried very far down and others it is overflowing the surface.

This hope, as my Pastor Stan Gale says, is not a "hope so" type of hope. It is firmly rooted in Jesus Christ and a saving relationship with him. It is through this relationship that I am able to face the heartache I am bound to face every year until Jesus returns. It is because of my knowledge that nothing good comes from my own work, I am able to rejoice knowing that "every good and every perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17 ESV).

It is tempting to approach 2012 with an attitude that surely, it must be better than 2011. I think it is natural for me to look ahead at this new year and hope that the ups will out number the downs. However, I've become so aware that each and every year holds beautiful blessings along side deep sorrow. A new year may be a new start, one that I am looking forward to, but this year I can't help but feeling like there will be more of the same. There will be trials and troubles, and there will be joy and blessings, all of which will be gifts from above.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-4 MSG)
It is important for me to remember that the year 2012 does not hold the answer to the frustration I feel in 2011. Hoping in the new start will leave me disappointed in the end. Having my hope firmly rooted in Jesus Christ gives me Joy that nothing can take away and the strength to look forward to all that God has planned for my life, year after year.

Oct 26, 2011

Version Upgrade

I have a couple times of my day that are more conducive to just letting my mind wander and mull things over. Sometimes it's while Micah is napping, sometimes while I'm showering. Today, that time was after Micah fell back to sleep at 6:45 a.m. and I had a chance to prepare some pears for him to eat. For me, there's something so soothing about pealing and chopping food, it just frees me up to let my thoughts run free.

This morning my mind started wandering back to high school and that version of myself. Immediately, the embarrassment, self-consciousness and fears all flooded back into my mind and heart. Am I the only one that has such a hard time letting go of a particular version of myself? I doubt it, but it sure feels like it sometimes. This morning I found that I was able to sort of take a step back and consider things on a deeper level.  These days, when I think back to my high school self, the embarrassment I feel is more about the state of my heart and how easy it was to act like everything was fine. I realized that I had such a judgmental attitude. I was a painfully shy person in HS but looking back, I have come to a realization that my heart contained the sin of judging others and jumping to wrong conclusions from my vantage point on the outside of things.

One of the things I've learned over the years both through painful personal experiences and through watching others experiences - judging hurts and it is not our job. Jumping to conclusions when we are not privy to the inner workings of another's heart kills relationships! I get so sad when I think about relationships that I've ruined or not even given the chance to develop because I was so quick to judge based on a conclusion that I'd come up with all by myself. The sadness becomes more keen when I consider the times that another has judged or jumped to the wrong conclusion about my good intentions. I feel like God lets me go through those hard times so that I am more aware of my own sin and the hurt I cause others. Sadly though, it is still a sin with which I continue to struggle.

And so, when I'm taken back to my high school version, I feel embarrassed by the sin in my heart.  This morning's musings took a turn that was so helpful and healing for my heart. I was reminded that the grace and mercy, forgiveness and love God has shown me covers all versions of myself. It is this knowledge that helped me snap out of my normally painful memories and speak the truth to myself again and again. It was so wonderful to remember that I'm forgiven for my high school version, my college version, my newly married version, and the current version I'm on. I know that when I look back in 5, 10, 15 years, I'll be keenly aware of all the mistakes I've made now.

I was also encouraged to keep the same thing in mind when relating to others in my life. God has grace, mercy, forgiveness and love for their prior versions - why wouldn't I? He also has the same grace, mercy, forgiveness and love for their current version - why wouldn't I? We live in a world that is full of sin, even Christians are not immune. We commonly refer to ourselves as "Sinners saved by Grace." It is easy to apply this name to myself and so hard to remember that it applies to others as well.

Thanks be to God that He is continually teaching me and helping me grow into a better versions of myself. A version that I can only pray would resemble Him more and me less.

"Here's a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I'm proof-Public Sinner Number One - of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off-evidence of his endless patience-to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever."
1 Timothy 1:15-16 MSG

Sep 6, 2011

An Ache In My Heart

I just feel like writing for a minute about how hard it is to watch loved ones go through faith-shaking experiences. This is not meant to undermine or diminish the trial that they are going through - it's just that I was thinking this morning: being part of a support system (family, friends, church, etc) can be rough when ultimately the only thing that is the most helpful is intangible and out of our control.

When people you love are hurting, it hurts. There are so many things that you may want to say as encouragement but it may not be the time for words. Knowing in your heart that God is Sovereign over all, that He loves stronger and deeper than you could ever love, that God is Good and his plans are Good, that he never loses control of an uncontrollable situation - knowing these things are foundational but speaking them aloud to a hurting loved one can sometimes bring pain and confusion; it may be needed but sometimes, to be honest, it hurts to hear it.

Prayer is powerful. God listens to the prayers of his people. Yet why does it feel so helpless to have nothing to do but pray? Sure, there are things to do that are helpful and beneficial: bring meals, keep company, etc., but they feel so inadequate when what I want to do is fix the situation myself.

As I've been thinking about this, there are a quite few verses that have been jumping into my mind, refuting the helpless feeling that is encroaching on my heart.

I know for a fact that I did not fully understand the gift of love from those who were supporting us while we were waiting for Micah. As I experience this heart-ache for those in my life who are hurting, I am reminded of our loved ones that felt this way for us and I am beyond grateful, I am humbled. Thank you.

We continue to wait and pray for God's will in a present situation. We know that he can do more than we could ever dream. We know that he is faithful and we are asking him to help us be a strong support for our loved ones. This ache in my heart is a constant reminder to pray - it is the best thing that I can do.

Aug 8, 2011

Live Generously

I have started reading through the Bible again for my daily devotions. For months it seemed that I just could not get it together in that department. I would think of a million excuses for not sitting down and picking up the Bible to read. My most commonly used excuse was, "My brain is too tired, I just want to veg and not think." Or another, "Wasting time on the computer is so much more fun than reading the Bible." For months these excuses worked and my spiritual-life and thought-life suffered for it (not to mention the housework).

Last month my husband began to encourage me to start again. Subtly at first and then a direct encouragement about the difference he saw in my spirit when I was having my relationship-building quiet times with God. I couldn't deny the difference I felt within myself and so I prayed for strength and started again, with the New Testament this time. I am so thankful that God has been drawing me back to a closer walk with Him. He has been faithful in encouraging my heart and giving conviction and challenges left and right.

Most recently the conviction and challenge that has been in my mind the most is from Matthew 5:41-42:
And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life.No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. [Emphasis mine]  
 And further down, in verse 48:
In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. [Emphasis mine]
This is such a huge challenge for me because I can, at times, tend to stew and mull and nit-pick and jump to invalid conclusions.  It can be so hard for me to just let things go. I don't like confrontation at all, in fact I tend to avoid it, to a fault. I would much rather just play the offense over and over in my head so that I can pick apart every detail of it.

These verses and the challenges contained in them came at a time when I really needed them. My prayer has been, "Lord, help me live generously and graciously. Help me let it go." Over and over, fighting the urge to replay the scene(s) in a continual loop. Did I win every single battle? No. But I believe God has the victory and I was able to swallow my pride and just let some things go. And you know what? After a little while, it actually felt good to do so. So often I feel like my emotions dictate the situation and that actually makes me feel out of control and locked into a pattern of "tit-for-tat" mentally. Letting it go felt like I was back under control and it was a relief.

God is so awesome! I love it when he prepares me for situations ahead of time. I love it even more when he reminds me that I am prepared for the battle and gives me his strength to face it.

Aug 6, 2011

Remember, from before?

Remember when I used to blog almost every week? That was fun. I think I'll try that again.  

It took some time (6 months) to get back into consistent devotional time. But I've just started reading through the New Testament and am already feeling the urge to get back to my brand of "journaling." It is so neat to see how God's Word applies all the time. Every new situation and season of life brings new perspective and new things to learn from a God who never changes. I am hoping to get start publishing some thoughts again in this coming week.

Mar 22, 2011


I have officially been journaling for ONE YEAR!! I feel like this is some progress in my life since I usually give up my journals within a few short weeks after starting them.  Maybe if my other journals gave me such great interaction and feedback as this one has things would have been different ;oP

Anyway, what an amazing, awesome thing to be able to look back over this year and see in writing everything God has taught me, everything he is still working out in my life, and the hope of things he will continue to unfold along this journey.  It is incredible to see how much my perspective has changed in such a short time. As I remember back to some of the hardest things I have journaled about - struggling to hold on to hope while waiting for our child, struggling to hold on while it felt like our finances were crumbling, learning how to regroup after intense conviction in my heart - those times felt like I'd never move on from them, as if my whole would stop in the midst.  However, in hindsight, they really do feel like "light momentary afflictions" just as the Bible calls them.  Don't get me wrong, the lessons haven't been forgotten, the pain needed be recovered from (some that is still slightly there) but God was faithful in being by my side and healing the pain.

How encouraging that is! Each and every hard time, frustration, confusion, was used to bring me closer to God (Philippians 2:13 ESV). I am confident that I will continue to have hard times, frustrations, confusions as well as happy times and exciting insights that will stir my heart to God - I have a lot of learning to do and God won't give up until it's done. I'm looking forward to what my God has to teach me during this next year and I'm really looking forward to journaling about it!

"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison..." 2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV

"for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Philippians 2:13 ESV

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6 ESV

Mar 19, 2011

Over-sharing or Under-sharing

As I've written before, Jeremy and I had been in the adoption process for almost two years. Our agency was/is terrific at encouraging it's prospective adoptive parents to at least consider what life will be like after the adoption. They gave us a heads-up to the types of attitudes, misconceptions, and falsities that surround the adoption event. They also helped equipped us with lots of accurate information and powerful, positive examples to the beauty of adoption so that we would be able to stand strong in the face of negativity or have grace when correcting a misunderstanding.

This equipping began almost as soon as we signed the paperwork to begin our adoption process.  At this time, we decided that we were open to adopting a child of any racial decent. We felt/feel that the love for children that God has given to us and the desire to be parents is not influenced by the color of a child's skin or their cultural background. However, we were not blind to the fact that being a family of mixed cultural backgrounds would have been noticeable.  Therefore, while we waited we started preparing ourselves to be a family that "looked different" from most other families.  We read books, articles, blogs. I researched skin and hair care information and looked into local school diversity statistics, etc. However, the biggest, most constant preparation was the almost daily development of what would be our "adoption conversation" - I guess more accurately, it woud be "adoption conversations." There is the adoption conversation that we have with our child, the one we have with family and friends and the conversation we would have with random people on the street that ask about our child. For two years we had been prepping ourselves mostly for the latter conversation. The former two are mostly dependent on the actual situation that would come our way. 

Our dilemma was this - how do we be open and positive when we talk about our adoption, but not be too open and lose all sense of family privacy? We were helped in the knowing that we were not the only ones to ever have that question, in fact we have a few close friends that are in the very same place. We knew that they would be open to helping us make the transition necessary to be a multicultural family. [Man, I feel like this part is dragging on forever, but it is important to the question I now have been struggling with.]

Ok, so I said all that to give the background for what I spent a few weeks working out in my brain ... our son looks like us! Now, don't get me wrong, I think he is the most adorable thing in the world, I know that God planned him for us and we are so in love with this little boy, there is no hesitation what-so-ever in claiming him as our son. But, I didn't plan on him looking like us! :oD I struggled with feelings of guilt that I wasn't sharing at least some of our adoption story each time someone said, "He is such a cute baby!" "He's how old? Wow, you look good (obviously assuming that I had given birth)!"  As if maybe it would appear as though I was trying to hide his adoption. It took me a while to realize that our family story was just that, our family's story. I don't have to share it with everyone I come in contact with and I can choose when and if I share it with those outside the family.

Jer and I are very firm with keeping some of Micah's story just for him and letting him learn how to decide when and if he shares it. I think it's kinda funny/neat that God had me experience just what I'm sure Micah will go through once he learns all about himself.  I hope that as I learn I will remember to share with him in his joy, excitement, confusion, frustration...whatever he may feel at that moment he decides to take ownership of his adoption story.

Feb 28, 2011

Yes, It's True...

I am a mom. 

I had hoped and dreamed of the day that I would get to say (type) those words. After 7 years of waiting for God to bless us with a child and 20 months of being an approved, waiting, adoptive mother - my dream has come true.  That feels like an understatement. God totally blew us out of the water with the amazing orchestration of our lives meeting up with our son's life. 
A couple Christmases ago a friend had given me this plaque. I hung it on our nursery door as a reminder that God is able to do so much more than we could ever think to dream. This Christmas, God gave us the gift of knowing that we would certainly be parents. We had the joy of meeting with our son's birthmother the week of Christmas.  She was so great to talk to and we felt so comfortable with her. We shared funny stories and just got to know each other a little bit - such a wonderful memory for us and one that we will be happy to share with our little guy as he grows up.

It was late at night on a Thursday when we got the call - our son was on his way - his birthmother was in labor.  Even with all of our careful planning and lists, it took us a half hour to get out the door and drive an hour to the hospital.
Catching a few long blinks while waiting.
After a long night of waiting and worrying and hoping and praying, our son Micah Benjamin was born at 6:32 the next morning! We were ecstatic! By 6:45 a.m. we were taken back to the nursery to see our son for the first time. Up until then, I had envisioned myself weeping at the sight but as we walked up to his bassinet, there was nothing but extreme joy and excitement in my heart - all I could do was SMILE. He was just the most precious thing in the world! The nurses were still doing their work, so we just talked to him and got to hold his hands as he showed off his exceptional lung capacity.
That day felt like an amazing dream and it only got better as time went on.  Since I wasn't recovering from delivery, I had the joy of giving Micah his first bath, Jeremy helped the nurse capture Micah's footprints and we both got to comfort him after the unpleasant experience of getting his heel pricked a few times. The hospital stay was another gift from God. We actually got to stay in our own room in the hospital AND Micah roomed-in with us! Such a gift that we could only wish and dream about before.  Those two days felt nice and long - we got to get to know our little baby boy while surrounded with such an awesome nursing staff, such a luxury.

Then it was time to leave. We were so excited and yet of course scared to leave the security of the hospital. The drive home felt so surreal, it was an hour drive that seemed to hurry past and then, we were home: Daddy, Mommy and Micah, the family that God created long before any of us were born.
The past six weeks have been such an amazing gift from God. We are parents, complete with the sheer joy of seeing your baby smile (even if it isn't at us yet) or happily kick his legs off in the bath or when the doctor says, "he's a very healthy baby," the sheer exhaustion of multiple wake-ups in the middle of the night,  the frustration when he wakes up as we put him down, the deep satisfaction when he calms down as we pick him up.

We have been standing here watching God take care of every detail that we were worried about as well as new details that came up along the way. We have seen him give us way more than we ever thought possible. We know that as Micah grows up and we grow as parents our God will continue to orchestrate our lives to bring about all the glory due His awesome name.

We praise God for His awesome love for us! For being faithful in all His promises!

He gives childless couples a family, gives them joy as the parents of children. 


Jan 20, 2011

Journal? What Journal?

There has been a lot going on this past month. So much that I haven't had the time or the mental capacity to sit and write a journal entry.  They only reason I'm doing it now is because I already know that it will be short and sweet and that I'll fill in some details at a later date.
So, here's what's been going on in my life this past month:

12/19: We received "the call" and were told that our adoption profile had been selected by a birthmother for her baby to be born mid-January.

12/21: We had our "match meeting" with the birthmother and had a wonderful time. We were able to laugh and share stories and felt like we really connected with her (as much as is possible in a 2 hour meeting).

1/14/11: Our son, Micah Benjamin Verrillo was born at 6:32am. The Lord blessed us with the ability to be with him from 10 minutes after he was born, only leaving our side for about 2.5 hours in total so far. What an answer to prayer! He is just the cutest little baby and it is such a joy for us! 

That's all for now, I promise to write more later. For now though, I feel kind of like a funnel - there's so much emotion, thoughts, etc on one end and only a few are making it to the surface for now. 

God Bless! Hope to be back soon!