Finding Our Way

Madelyn’s homecoming day . . . finding our way together.

I’ve been re-reading Tricia’s words describing the  first twenty-four hours of life with Madelyn.  I’m changed and challenged, as I look back and see how this short segment of time propelled Tricia, Troy, and Madelyn into a new beginning.  I’m caught in the memory of the first moment I held Tricia, feeling inadequate and ecstatic all at the same time.  I’m humbled by the thought of my daughter loving her daughter.  I’m in awe that Tricia and Troy are the ones chosen to help Madelyn find her way, not only from the grief of leaving everything she had known, but through all of life.

It’s one of the greatest tasks a parent has . . . the task to help our children to find their way . . . even when the way seems uncertain and downright difficult.

The thing is . . . we’re often at a loss to know how to help our children find their way . . . when we’re continually discovering our own way.  While Tricia and Troy were ready, they could not stop and process the way to begin with Madelyn. They had to trust, even when they weren’t sure how to do to it.

God’s Plan For Madelyn, Tricia, and Troy Is A Miracle

And.

The rest of us needed to cheer them on, believing the details of their new life would come together for good along the way.  It’s what we do when faith and family collide.

But.

It’s important to remember finding our way is a process.

In those first few hours and days, baby-Madelyn could not have possibly understood Tricia and Troy were her parents.  In her limited perception, they were strangers who did not speak the same language, act, or look like anyone from her place in the world.  I’m sure she missed her orphanage family and the way she had lived. Sadness, loneliness, and fear had to have gripped her when life changed.  There was no way for her to comprehend the plans God had for her, which included parents and a family with a bunch of love.  She would have to be shown the way.

It’s A Day by Day Process

In the hard places of life, when everything seems to be falling apart, when there seems to be no way through any of it, when it all feels hopeless, it’s incomprehensible that God is loving us and has something good planned. Eventually, we will collapse under the pressure of it all, if, we don’t turn towards God.   So.  My go-to word from God, Jeremiah 29:11, while often misused by many,  is a supernatural, powerful, guiding truth:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope (NLT).

The words of Jeremiah need to be sifted and sorted, placed at the center of each day.

I know the plans.

There’s not just a plan and purpose for life, but supernatural God-designed plans.  So.  When I only see the messiness of life, I need to readjust my view, remembering with God there’s always something more.   I’ve reminded my kids and many people:  “God’s got this. It’s under divine control.”   When I’m worried, anxious, or stressed,  I’ve lost the momentum to convince anyone, including myself, that the plans of God supersede the power and pressures of any and all circumstances. When you get down to it, everyone, including our kids, learn more from our response to God than any other format of teaching faith.

Over the course of several years, I’ve learned I need to stop, to take a breath, and step into a place of quietness to recognize God’s presence,  to recommit  myself to believing God will make a way, and then to intentionally walk in the truth of it.   Once I’ve focused on God’s plans rather than on the stuff, I’ve positioned myself to live in the realm of belief that God knows the plans and will make a way to bring it all together.  Then, I can whisper in their ear and shout it from the roof tops: “It will be okay.”

Funny, but two-year old Madelyn has already picked up on this life truth and often, when something breaks or doesn’t go the way it’s planned, will  say, “It’s okay.”  Because in the way she has been shown, it ends up being okay.

The simple words, “it will be okay,” help to turn us away from thinking it’s all going to end up in disaster to the belief God has good plans.

It’s Okay

Plans for good and not for disaster. 

No one wants disaster, but media thrives on it, the powerful gain more power from it, and history reports on it.  There are times when disaster just makes sense.  But.  God has something more, which is always good.  James 1:17 confirms it:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (NIV).

I’m encouraged that good has come from the sadness of one family in China, letting go of their precious daughter, and an orphanage staff who willingly loved and cared for a little girl, knowing she would not stay.  Our faith is strengthened when we tell the story of how God works good out of our pain.

The Perfect Good Gift

And.

There’s more to come.

. . . To give you a future and a hope.

God produces beginnings and new life.  He never leaves us in a dead-end circumstance but moves us forward, filling us with the presence of Life.  I like how the Apostle Paul explains the way to go forward:

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14, ESV).
Paul lays out the way to trust God for a future, living in hope:
1.  Forget what lies behind.
~The past creeps up on us, gripping our thoughts and emotions, if, we allow it to have power over us.  It requires some work on our part, usually with the need to focus on forgiveness, which in the original language in the New Testament means to let go.  To forget the things we hold on to from the past and to move away from its power, we need to receive the forgiveness of God, which enables us to forgive others and ourselves for what was done. In other words, to find our way, we must let go of the past, knowing there’s something good ahead, regardless of how difficult and painful the past has been, believing life will be okay and even good through God’s plans.
I don’t know what things Madelyn will need to let go of from her past, but she will have a list. And, it’s the job of the family to show her over and over how to let go . . . of the big things as well as little things.  By the way, from experience in my own life and listening to people that have come through my office, the little things take a toll on us when we do not immediately let the stuff go.  I’ve learned forgiveness is part of our daily walk and mandatory to go in the direction God has planned for us.
Forgiveness is to be practiced over and over again with our family, asking for power and grace from God to forgive, believing it will be okay because of the supernatural plans for the future.  So. Instead of bringing up the wrongs of the past, we cheer one another on for what is ahead.  It is a necessary value in any and all healthy relationships.
My mother is a magnum cheerleader.  It doesn’t seem to matter what has happened in my past, she has always believed there’s something better around the corner.  All through my life, she’s demonstrated immediate forgiveness.  I will admit, that there’s been times along the way, I have been frustrated or down-right mad at her for not understanding the seriousness of what had happened, wanting her to hold on to the stuff with me, commiserating how hard someone or something has made life for me.  But.  Now, I see the value.   When I let go of anything and everything, I’m liberated from the stuff, freed to experience the power of God’s plans.  And.  She has taught me that regardless of where we are at in life, starting out or finishing up, we are needed by others to be a cheerleader to help encourage them to let go, to be free to experience God’s way.
With my mom and madelyn . . . cheering each other on . . . as we find our way.
2. Strain forward to what lies ahead. 
~The word, strain, depicts a strong action, an extreme work-out–requiring all of our exertion and energy–focusing on getting it done.  To go this way, is usually not comfortable but always rewarding.  It’s part of the requirement to finish our life strong.
One of my most favorite times with Madelyn occurred in the late summer of 2011.  Madelyn wanted to use our little blow-up pool to take a “swim” in.  But.  I did not know where the air pump was at.  So. I started to blow the air into the pool on my own.  Seriously, it’s designed to be used with a pump, which made it challenging for me.
I’m pretty sure I would have quit except for Madelyn’s repeated two-year-old cheer, “You can do it Nana . . . you can do it!”  I kept on blowing air into the pool with all of my strength, wanting to give her the delight of a summer afternoon swim in the back yard.
Encouragement gives courage to go the way of getting it done, completing our purpose, fulfilling the plan, even if it’s as simple  as giving a little girl the opportunity to swim in a blow-up pool.
Afternoon “swim”
3.  Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call.
Pressing on requires active strength.  A favorite story of pressing on, is when we were getting Tricia ready to leave for college.  I knew it would change our family, nothing would ever be the same with one of our children leaving us.  So.  I’m not sure what possessed me, I had never done it before, but I ironed all of Tricia’s clothing–including underwear.  Yeah.  It was a moment.  I hardly ever iron nor do I want to.  But.  I grieved her leaving.  And, ever-clumsy, I dropped the iron on the nylon cream carpet, which immediately left an impression of the shape of the iron on the floor.  It remained there to the day we moved, pressed into the fibers.
I looked at the impression every day of the first year Tricia was gone, gathering all my strength and fortitude to not get stuck in the desire to go back to what was, but to trust God for what would be in our new phase of life.  The point of the story, is to press on, pushing forward with force to the point it makes a mark along the way.  There are many adults and kids, that lack the desire to press on, they’ve been taught to take the easy, less resistant way.  But.  In the end, they don’t experience all God has planned for them.
To live in faith as a family, we press on because we have an upward call.  And.  When things change on the way, we trust God’s plans.
I never dreamed that part of letting go of Tricia’s childhood, pressing on towards what more God had for us, would bring a beautiful little girl named Madelyn into our lives.
Pressing on . . . looking forward to what’s next
Yes, we are confident God knows the plans and provides a way for all of the details to work out as we find our way together.
More later . . . Kerrie
On the way.

Also see: http://kickstartyourdaywithgod.com/ 

(written by Kerrie Carlisle Palmer © 2012 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

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