Expecting: When you don’t get what you expect, but still expect to get

We didn’t get what we expected.

But now we wait in expectation for what we will get

We will get

Strength when we have none.
Faith to ride the storms.
God moving, moving in our children, when I’m rendered too weary for the job.
Order when I can’t be the one to enforce it
Joyful trust when we don’t understand the plan

I really should have known this would happened. Many  life experiences show, that as soon as we have a plan, a course of action we are following, Jesus moves us down a different path to remind us that he told us , “Come follow ME” not “come follow the plans you think I led you into”.

So, the very week we finish our adoption homestudy paperwork, we find out where our newest family member is.

He or she is growing…

in my womb.

And shock sets in, and grief over the seemingly shut door to adoption*, questions concerning all that had transpired this fall that seemed to make it so clear this was our season to adopt, but then also excitement over the newest little Iverson growing and the wonder of who this little person will be and become, and then the sudden realization and reminder that pregnancy.is.not.fun.

At least its not fun when you have five other little kids to keep up with and care for and naps are no longer an option in your life except at the extreme cost of finding plastic toys in your oven, every room in the house tornadoed through, and an inability to find your keys because the 1 year old was playing with them while you dozed during the supposed reading time that didn’t last long for mommy.  (cough, cough, its not like I’m speaking from experience…from this week)

Pregnancy is a cross to bear.  A giving up of one’s own life so that another might have it.  It is the gospel worked out, into every nitty gritty too-fatigued-and-nauseous-to-keep-up-with-the-housework-much-less-the-blog-i-wanted-to-be-more-faithful-about moment, in which I exchange my “right” to pursue my own passions and desires, my”right” to my body, my “right” to my own energy, my “right” to have a certain figure (let me tell you, when you are on your seventh pregnancy*, your body wastes NO time stretching right back out to the way it looked for 47 months of its previous existence). You give up your “right” to keep up with the New Years Resolutions, and you give up the “right” to have enough strength to keep your kids in line and do everything you need to keep things running.

But with all the suffering involved, even if its nine long months of it, it is worth every moment to impart life, a body formed around a soul entrusted, right there in your own womb.  Its worth it for who that child will be, how that child will bring laughter and joy and sanctification to his or her awaiting family members.  It is worth it for the sake of every life that child will impact throughout its life.  And most of all, its worth it to provide a place in which that little body can grow, grow eyes and ears and a heart and mind and a body to experience all the wonders of his or her Creator on this miraculous planet called earth. It’s worth it to bring a child into the world in which he or she will come to know God’s incredible redemption story. This child will come to know that although, he or she is born with a sin-cripped heart that will never need to be cultivated, only exposed, he or she will also find that this sin-cripped heart has been dealt with by the Sin-Crippler, Jesus Christ, the One with a pure heart. This child, I pray will gaze upon the cross that Jesus died upon, and come to realize this is his or her means to  a new heart, the very Heart of God, come to dwell in us. This message is what cripples sin within us, that only His heart can live abundant.

This is the greatest of all miracles, all mysteries, and it takes the miracle and mystery of pregnancy to invite a soul into such wonder.

So in the meantime, as cells reproduce rapidly, and God works miracles within, I will have to wait in expectation.  Not getting what I expected, but still expecting to get.

Expecting to get…

Strength when I have none.
Faith to ride the storms.
God moving in our children, when I’m rendered too weary for the job**
Order when I can’t be the one to enforce it.
Joyful trust when we don’t understand the plan.

For His promises declare it…that the waves of nausea and tiredness and aches and pains will not sweep over me, but rather the same Lord that created me and now forms this child, has commanded me to not be afraid but rather trust in the fact that I, and this child, and my family, who will all be affected by this pregnancy, have been called by name. And we are His.

So my three year old is HIS, when I really should be doing a better job of discipling him but can’t keep up with everything. And my 6 year old is His when I’m going to have to ask her to prepare lunch for her siblings. And my 8 year old is His when he’s just going to have to figure out a way to get his homework done without me. And my four year old is HIS when she’s going to have to settle for staccato-style reading of her older siblings rather than mommy always reading that book to her. And my 1 year old is HIS when he’s dressed in mismatched clothes because his four year old sister dressed him and that was the only way we could get out the door in time. And my husband is HIS when he comes home to dishes begging to be done and a wife fallen asleep at 9pm.

And my faith will be built, and there’s will too, as we all depend on the Mighty One, Jesus, together.

But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Isaiah 43:1-3

And the battle cry these past few weeks, as morning sickness has set in, has been the calling out into the water that the Lord does.  And the expectation that He will meet us IN the waves, and IN the fire, For HE is the Lord our God, the Holy One of Isreal.

My Savior. from my sin. from my fear. in my weakness. in my need.

*stay tuned for what this means for our adoption process

**we lost one baby, in between our first and second children, thus making this our seventh pregnancy

***I already saw this happen, as last Tuesday I felt like death incarnate, and could not function.  Daniel Josiah and Trinity (first and second born, ages 8 and 6) “sent me to bed” and said, “Don’t worry, Mom, you go lie down. We will clean up the kitchen.  AND THEY DID. AND THEY DID IT WELL: cleaned dinner dishes, loaded dishwasher, started dishwasher, emptied trash, swept, wiped down counters and table and pushed in chairs.  I was amazed. (NOW if they would just do that EVERY night 🙂

 

Mouths of Babes Mondays….Literary Analysis

His hair is a sign of what's going on in his little brain. It's crazy and uncontrollable, but its beautiful.

His hair is a sign of what’s going on in his little brain. It’s crazy and uncontrollable, but its beautiful.

In leu of the 2014 New Years Resolutions we have only-one-week-in failures (this is getting posted on Tuesday, not Monday) and victories, I have read to my kids every single day.

And with the reading we have a wide range of attention spans and literary analysis.

For instance, we all huddle in the girls room and we read through the American Girl Doll series, Meet Cecile and Meet Marie-Grace (at this point, you would think these fictional characters were family members)

Benjamin plays with the other books in the series, while I read, and I’m just happy he’s being quiet.

We finish up the chapter, and start putting books away, and he starts giving me his literary interpretation of princess-like, wealthy, and lace and silk garbed Cecile who just finished having tea and pralines and going to a children’s ball in the book.

He points to Cecile and says in all solemness,

“Dis girl, she fight monsters. She beat monsters. She eat ‘dem all up.”

I went to a very liberal school, and sat in many an interesting English class, but never laughed as hard as I did to this very broad and liberal literary interpretation.

“Oh Really?” I ask.

“Yesssss. She did.” all low-voiced like it was a serious, secret thing.

And even if he doesn’t have the attentions span yet to listen to chapter books, I’m thankful for the vibrant imagination.

And its always better than the TV.

or iPad

or iPhone

or video games.

I’m  a purist when it comes to these mind-numbing, imagination-stunting gadgets. (Except when its a really hard day and the choice is either spend the afternoon yelling at them or plunk them in front of a movie…for the sake of their tender little spirits, in leu of mommy’s short temper, we will accepts some mind numbing)

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My Libyan Christmas Wish….

**Editor’s note: Posting this a bit late, but needed to get my Libyan friends’ clearance before posting.

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Ronnie Smith was called Libya’s friend. He loved the people.

And so do I.

My children actually have Libyan grandparents, you know. I have Libyan brothers and sisters and mother and pop and dear dear friends.

Not by blood or descent, but by the Mighty Hand of God bringing some of the dearest people I know, into our lives, into our family.

It all started with Adnan, the quiet solemn man struggling to learn English so he could go on to earn his Chemistry Masters at a university in Florida. We needed a sublet for our home, he needed an English speaking family.

I was nervous. quite nervous. But as that quiet man entered into our home and family, he and eventually his people would win my heart. I watched him delight in our children and have the patience of a saint as they delighted in him. He shared his food, and his time, and his thoughts with us. We shared our knowledge of navigating health insurance, car insurance, visa applications with him. He walked through the death of his father, and the shocking grief of it all, plus an engagement, and the struggles to survive in the English world. We shared a messy chaotic home, as fatigued and sick Mamma struggled through pregnancy with #5, then we shared the joy of bringing a new babe home from the hospital, we shared our home with his other international friends. And it bound us all together.

Then it was time for Adnan to go back to Libya to marry his bride, Amna, and from afar we shared in the joy of them preparing to have their own little one.

Meanwhile, we began praying that God would bring us the right “next” housemate for us. Nadar, came to visit our home to see if it was suitable to rent. It was an act of God that blinded his eye to what he was really getting in to. (IVERSON CHAOS!-I’m pretty sure that a naked 3 year old Katy-Grace streaked the top of the stairs while he was there because he stopped by right during a boisterous bath time.) After he left I told Danny, “There is no way he’s going to want to live here.” But yet the very next day, we got a text message.

“I would like to take the room. I will be ready to move in in August”

I had no idea how those words would change our lives and change our hearts forever.

Nader, who was excellent at English moved in, and got right to work. Work on the house and work on our hearts. We hadn’t quite gotten his room ready and Danny was in the middle of installing a new air conditioning unit. Nader, the engineer helped him.

Nader, our Libyan housemate

Nader, our Libyan housemate

What proceeded in the following months was a sweet and beautiful friendship as we shared meals, shared our nightly family devotions with him, shared differing beliefs about God and salvation, politics, home and family life, and culture. We shared laughs and struggles and late night discussion. We shared cars and rides and friends. We discussed Libyan ways and American ways and Islam and Christianity. We gained a window into a whole country and culture we had never travelled to. Our children had gained an older brother. Danny and I, a dear friend.

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And then we got to know his bright and spunky sister, Maryam, studying in the States. And then his brother, Geith who came to visit for New Years, and then Geith’s fiancé Maymuna. And eventually his precious and caring new wife. And then when his graduation and wedding were approaching his entire family would be coming to the States to celebrate. And could they stay with us? . And God worked out the timing perfectly for our friend from Korea would be moving out just in time for them to move in. And we gradually became outnumbered by Libyans in that Iverson household.

And it was a family reunion, and it was as if we were reunited with a family we never realized we had.

His father, sweet and gentle Offman, would cry, “Malachi! Malako! Malaka!” throughout the house and would scoop him up and hug him tight, Malachi gained a grandpa.

And his mother, passionate, fun-loving and hard working Wafa, and I would work away in the kitchen, somehow unbound by the language barrier, but bound by similar mothers’ hearts.

I helped (a little) and I learned a lot about Libyan cooking.  Wafa is a most gracious, joyful, and kind woman.

I helped (a little) and I learned a lot about Libyan cooking. Wafa is a most gracious, joyful, and kind woman.

And his sister painted nails and made drawings and was a big sister to my girls. And his brothers played and wrestled with my boys.

And I fell in love with an entire family, and I fell in love with a people (for their friends and family gathered from far and wide during that time. And we sat up late at night and talked of what life was like oppressed by Gaddafi‘s dictatorship. And they somehow laughed over the ridiculous and dangerous things they had to endure. And I learned of a family who had a courage unspeakable who stood up peacefully in a revolution against this cruel tyrant knowing full well that their fight for freedom, may cost them their lives. And I looked at old photos of beach vacations, and Boy Scout events, and kids being silly.

And they reminded me so much of my own family growing up and I realized that we were two similar families. One in free America, one in oppressed Libya and walking through the joys and trials of family life. And we were two devoutly “religious” families, one worshipping Christ Jesus in a culture of Christians (at least in my sheltered little life, not in America as a whole), and one worshipping Allah in a culture of Muslims, both striving to grow in commitment and devotion.

And then the weddings and the graduation occurred and they absolutely owned us as family throughout the whole ordeal. And my girls delighted in Nader’s brother’s (Geith) wedding in Orlando, and the chance to see a beautiful bride and the fun of dancing to Arab music and dining upon couscous and curry and all kinds of fun new foods. And we camped out at the UCF graduation and cheered Nader with pride over his accomplishments, like he was our own brother.

And then Danny and I travelled to Dallas to take part of a joyous wedding celebration so different from American style, but so incredibly fun. I’ve never had more fun dancing, than I did with my new found family.

[No pictures shown out of respect for bride and female’s privacy]

I remember, being dropped off by them, Nader’s new sister in law, Maymuna, fully clothed in hijab (head scarf) and conservative outfit got out of the car to walk me to the hotel entrance.

“Bye! Thanks so much for the ride. I had so much fun dancing with you all tonight!” I call as I wave them goodbye.

A man and woman puffed at cigarettes on the bench nearby and heard our goodbye partings…”Wait a second” he said, “you danced with them?”

“Yes! We had so much fun together!”

and I skipped inside, leaving him to puzzle over the fact that the conservative looking Muslims women he sees with headresses, just dropped me off from a dance party.

(in Libyan weddings, the men and women have separated celebrations so all the women unveil themselves and have a BLAST on the dance floor…I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun at a wedding)

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Anyways, these people and their ways, they won my heart.

So when I read of Ronnie Smith being called a “lover of the Libyan people”,

I knew exactly why.

And I knew why he had been willing to move to a dangerous place to invest in the youth of a people who have actually been strengthed through their years of oppression. They may not be unified quite yet, but they have been formed into people of vigor and strength and a people who delight in the little joys of life, for at times, that is all they had. Libya, although war-torn, is a place of incredible possibility, untapped beauty. Ronnie showed up in the midst of the mess because of HOPE. Hope for a brighter future for those Libyan youth, and hope in the One Who is the Light of World.

And now, as we reel from the death of this Christian brother, I think of all the people my friends knew that also died from corrupt regimes, and unleashed manipulation by violence in that country. People whisked away from the land of the living by evil, not so much evil-in-the-form-of-a-cruel-dictator, but evil, open rebellion of God, within the human heart, manifested in violence and cruel slaughter.

And how do we fight back? With more guns, and more attacks and trying to gain control by who can generate the most fear by their random acts of brutality.

This is not what the Man, or more-than-man, who changed the course of history did. He fought evil with good. He fought corruption with love. He fought the people who desired to take his life, with a willing sacrifice….of Himself

For He knew that He was bigger than all the evil schemes of sinful man. He was bigger, but he became lesser. He was Almighty, but he was humbled. He deserved to judge, but He became the judged one.

It is knowing, and worshipping and being filled by this type of Spirit, that we combat the evil of this world. This was Ronnie’s battle plan.

And this is what Ronnie’s widowed wife has chosen to do. Although, she doesn’t actually have much of a choice, because when we’ve given ourselves to not just a man, or a cause, or an idea, but given ourselves to a God who comes and fills His people, we can’t help but act out with His Spirit,

WATCH HER INCREDIBLE INTERVIEW ON CNN

and thats same love, and mercy and “battle strategy of peace” that propelled the God-man, Jesus, or Isa, will fill our hearts too.

For God did not just create us. He did not just give us laws to follow. He did not just set up standards that we must attain in order to enter his paradise. He entered in to our inability to keep those standards and laws. He came down as a human. As a Babe, which we celebrate this Christmas day. He came to do the impossible, the inconceivablee. He came to keep the law, that we fall hopelessly short to keep, that He might fully please the One Almighty God. He came to obey the Father, and obediently go to receive the Judgement Day’s verdict – that we fall short, and don’t (and can’t) pray enough, give enough, memorize enough, do enough. The verdict that was declared by his gruesome death penalty on a cross. Isa, or Yesu, has endured what every human being who should have loved, obeyed, followed Gold perfectly should receive. Judgement. That the real murderers, theives, selfish, and proud might go free.

But when we go free, we don’t continue to freely do evil.

There is something so humbling by seeing Perfection Himself outpour a love and grace you do not deserve. A humbling, and Truth that makes us free.

We are free, free to love God back for the incredible love He has poured out.

We are free, free to love people with a love we cannot generate on our own.

Free to move to a dangerous place, to love a youth, and pour your heart out teaching Chemistry, because Love Himself propels you.

Free to forgive and desire forgiveness for the men who pulled up in a Black SUV to your jogging husband, only to gun him down, splattering your baby’s father’s blood on the streets of a place you didn’t really have to be, in the first place

That is a freedom and a forgiveness that is unnatural.

For it is Supernatural.

And a proof that there is One God, who has sent Isa, whose very name means “Annointed One” or “Messiah”. This Isa, was also called Prince of Peace in the books of Prophecy following the Torah, and confirmed in the Injeel. He came to BE Peace, and to bring peace, so that “Salaam-Alaikum” can be true in the lives of Muslims worldwide.

It is the Story of Ronnie Smith, and his forgiving widow.

It is the story of Christmas.

And my prayer, this Christmas, is that it would be yours as well.

A Public New Year’s Resolution Confession

If it’s up here, I won’t find a crumpled piece of paper next October, only to say “Oh, I completely forgot about this!”

If it’s up here, its easy for me to access (and be reminded!)

If it’s up here, there is some public accountability.

If it’s up here, its been thought through, prayed over, typed out and committed to the Lord.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

Psalm 37:5-6

Not that I believe there is a  magic formula in New Year’s Resolutions, but I do agree with Zig Ziglar’s quote

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time”

So here I am, aiming at something, and even if I don’t accomplish all of it, I know I will have at least moved towards these goals. And the joyous thing is, that despite a day of failure or a string of days of failure, my ultimate hope is not in my steadfastness, but in His. Not in my power and strength to accomplish, but in His, made available to be lived out through my life because of the death and resurrection of His.

(Jesus) Christ in me, hope of glory, hope for 2014.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:23-24

 Daily

1. Read through the entire Bible in 2014

2. Daily be discipled by Ian Thomas through his book, The Indwelling Life of Christ

3. Pray like Daniel did. Three set times a day. (What prayer leads a person into is unknowable. But what IS knowable is it will be a great adventure of availability to the King)

4. Get back to the managers of their homes schedule.  A schedule doesn’t mean fitting more in, but carving more out, time out for reading, playing with, teaching, and cuddling small people.

5. Find creative ways EVERY DAY to build my husband up with my words

6. Read to my children every.single.day.

7. Resume our family Scripture Memory Plan, that had to be trashed (literally) during our mold crisis.

8. Let this age old diet dictate our family’s eating habits, that we might eat to live.

9. Continue oil pulling, use of essential oils, and Juice Plus to keep healthy.

10.  Exercise three times a week

Year

1. Bring a new child into our home and family.

2. Finish the book, I’m co-authoring with a friend, and (at least) self publish.

3. Blog weekly about the adventures of family life and ministry the Lord leads us into.

4. Listen long enough (with my husband) to know where and how God is leading us to start a whole new type of church planting movement in the inner city Atlanta area.

5. Move into this calling.

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The crew that I get to bring the new year in with…

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