The Romans 12:13 Life : Pursuing the Love of Strangers
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
I thought it was going to be an adventure.
Modern science meets curiosity - albeit naive curiosity.
I'm twice adopted. Adopted on earth by wonderful parents and adopted into an eternal home by an amazing God.
The heavenly adoption is easy to navigate. Sometimes the earthly adoption surprises me with emotions and weirdness I can't easily put into words. Overwhelming gratitude, inexpressible love for my adoptive family and pure joy are the usual emotional surprises. But it's wonder that most often catches me off guard.
I know we adoptees have many ways of navigating the biological realm of our lives. I've read about ghost kingdoms and primal wounds, but the risk in experiencing rather than learning has always put my feet to pavement and made me ready to run.
So when wonder welcomed itself into my mind a few weeks ago, I made a move that was completely out of character. I ran head-long, and with purpose, straight into wonder's grill. With a DNA test.
Why do I care about my biological heritage? I feel complete and completely loved. What inside me is yearning for this?
My adoption is a love story. My biological mother loved me sacrificially in her gift, and my adoptive parents loved me in receiving her gift. Nowhere in this journey has my adoption testimony been anything but a striking, living, breathing picture of grace.
I think sometimes, though, the enemy works to place a wound where there was no earthly intention for harm. Wounds are made to steal from, kill and destroy our life-pictures of grace.
So I spit in a test tube to rip off the bandages and find where I'm not healed.
The last few days have been littered with pain and elation. After the lab received my DNA sample, a steady trickle of emails filled my inbox.
Email one : You are female and have xx as your sex chromosomes. The y chromosome is needed to discover information regarding your paternal line. No daddy details for you.
Email two : We've discovered that we may be distant cousins! But you really need to take all that adoption stuff off your profile because people will block you. Because people don't want to know about adopted kids. It's best that some secrets stay secret.
Email three : The family member you've invited to share genomes with has blocked your request. Ugh. Maybe they saw the adopted stuff.
And through it all I'm telling myself "Lady, you're crazy! This mess was SO not necessary!"
I know how deeply I'm loved - by adoptive parents who had nothing and have nothing to offer but grace - while I had nothing to offer except all the helpless abilities that come with newborn life. I was a package deal of crying, sleepless nights, bills, diaper changes, reciprocated love, hugs and, as I grew older, the occasional (and very under-said) thank you. I was costly. And they were overjoyed to receive that cost.
Yet even the awareness of the beautiful, sacrificial love of my family wasn't enough to keep me from opening myself up to brand new pain and rejection.
A wound created in an other-worldly realm can't be healed by a worldly truth. No matter how beautiful that reality is. The truth-revelation of genetic testing can't even heal it.
These kinds of wounds crave the satisfaction of belonging and love that can only be found in the arms of Christ.
I need to know, intimately know - deep down in the DNA of my soul, that I'm loved. Twice loved just as I am twice adopted. Loved on earth. And loved with an eternal, other-worldly extravagant Love - Whose balm for my wounds is a continual flow. Flowing for wounds that don't make sense. Flowing for wounds that may still seek to cause pain until the return of my Savior.
How true that rings with each whisper of rejection and shame.
But the Gospel - the GOOD NEWS - is that my imperfect life is hidden in the Only Perfect Life.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3
The Good News is that despite the bumps and bruises, the cross of Jesus Christ has made me flawless.
Once again, my adoption story brings me to grace.
Even if you woke up this morning feeling like you're the 40 year old family secret.
The cross has made you flawless.
No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
Take a breath, smile and say
Right here right now I’m ok
Because the cross was enough
I'm grateful for the grout and glue of Grace.
...I wrapped it all in the rags of my life
And laid it at the cross...
Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion He understood
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But he made something beautiful of my life.
I've been pinning posts on Scripture journaling for a while now - some pins are of #writetheword participants who are writing God's Word by hand to more intently mediate on it, and some pins highlight journaling Bibles (where Scripture is illuminated by sketches and art in the margins of the pages). Although I lack the artistic talent of those who inspire me, I've been ::impatiently:: waiting to begin a journal myself.
I tend to be a sprinter. And (without surprise) I occasionally embark on a new creative adventure without the 'long haul' commitment needed to justify the purchase of, say, a new journaling Bible. :)
So I met myself in the middle of the road today and began taking Scripture journaling for a test drive. My plan is to write the book of John by hand, making notes for further study and highlighting promises that touch my heart in a special way. I purchased an inexpensive journal and am using washi and colored pencils already in my craft stash to get the party started. If I am diligent and find that this practice enriches my quiet times, a Journible or new Legacy Bible might be on my Christmas list in a few months. (And new washi and smash items from Etsy for my stocking, of course.)
I am using the right-side pages for Scripture writing, and the left for word studies and reflections. I'd love to hear your experiences with handwriting Scripture or journaling in your Bible margins. I've written notes in my Bible for years, but have never been intentionally moving through specific books and passages solely for that purpose.
I'll update on my progress soon! Let's eat some Bread of Life, y'all!
Yesterday Butterbean enlisted the help of her kid brother and spent a solid hour prepping a surprise-for-no-reason party.
Just for me.
I walked down the stairs as her honored guest only to find two elves happily creating party goods with items from my craft stash - my UNTOUCHABLE craft stash.
I quickly went from guest mode to mom mode and began my indictment on 'not asking for my permission.' The party planner's face fell. And her emotions went haywire.
Today I realized I was looking into a mirror when looking into her face.
The dreamer. The rule-breaker. The party-maker.
She knew full well she had broken a rule, long before I arrived on the scene and way before I uttered a word. But the dream was worth it. She knew in her heart that what she was creating was beyond the rule - and if she could just get me to the party - I would celebrate the dream with her.
I missed the party.
And instead I held in my arms a broken, crumpled mess of a girl who could only whimper, "but you didn't even open your present."
Tonight John gave me one of the sweetest gifts - a funny commercial that cuts to the core of a dreamer's heart.
Dreamers will wreck your life. They'll steal from your craft stash and use all your favorite washi tape. But please show up for the party. The gift inside the crinkled paper is a little piece of their heart.
My house. Smells divine. And it's ALDI's fault. Thank you, ALDI!
We do the bulk of our grocery shopping at ALDI. I love the simplicity of the store (a minimalist's dream) and their whole and organic foods options are great. We save time and money there, and I don't feel a bit guilty when I pick up one of their tasty seasonal offerings as an off-the-shopping-list splurge.
Last week I treated myself to a fall indulgence - a jar of their Pumpkin Chipotle Pasta Sauce. I dreamt of how I was going to enjoy it until a clear vision of soup floated through my mind.
Oh, what a vision it turned out to be. Behold...
ALDI Pumpkin Chipotle Chicken Chowder.
The possibilities are endless with this recipe - you could add frozen sweet corn, Casa Mamita diced tomatoes and green chiles, canned beans, shredded pork, grilled chicken strips, you name it.
For the less adventurous, here's what what happened in my kitchen:
1 Sweet Onion
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Red Fresno Pepper
1 Large Zucchini
3 Large Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2-3 Cups of Chef's Cupboard Chicken Broth
1 24 oz Jar Aldi Specially Selected Pumpkin Chipotle Pasta Sauce
1 15 oz Can Dakota's Pride Black Beans, Drained and Rinsed Well
3 Cups Shredded Chicken
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Mince garlic and dice onion, carrot, peppers and zucchini. (I diced the zucchini a little larger than the other vegetables.) Saute the garlic, onion, carrot, and peppers in olive oil over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften. Add two cups of chicken broth, and gently stir to deglaze pan. Add the full jar of Pumpkin Chipotle Pasta Sauce, stir to combine. Return to a simmer over low heat. Add zucchini and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Add shredded chicken, stir to combine, and add additional chicken broth to desired consistency. Add drained and rinsed black beans and simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve!
We had seconds. And I'm headed to warm up another bowl for my late night snack.
Please let there be more sauce on the shelf on my next shopping trip.
Tonight is proof that budgets aren't bland. Enjoy, friends! Happy fall, y'all!
First attempt at vlogging friends... let's just say there's plenty of room for improvement. :)
PDF links for my homemade printables can be found below.
No one can deny the fact that meal planning helps limit waste and saves families cash.
I've tried [too many] meal planning systems, including a few stints where I paid for a meal planning subscription service. No matter the system du jour, I usually found myself with wasted ingredients and a sense of failure.
Because the only thing predictable about my life is, well, it's unpredictability.
I need a meal planning system that is f l e x i b l e.
We have two little ones who mostly eat like birds and occasionally eat like nature's most feared predators. And we have a lifestyle that includes emergency evening visits to hospitals, travel, random chaos, and plain old exhaustion.
Here's what I've found gives us greater grocery budget success:
1 - I only plan five meals at a time. And they aren't attached to days. Any of those meals are fair game, depending on our mood and how much time I have to prep. I work from the groceries already in the fridge and pantry, and use up what we have before I buy more.
2 - In addition to those five meals, I make sure I have an emergency meal on hand. I store one pound portions of ground beef in our freezer - frozen flat. I smoosh (technical term) the meat in the freezer bag until flat and about a half inch or so in thickness. (Basically a giant beef patty. Or pancake.) I make sure I have a meat pancake in the freezer at all times. I also make sure I have canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans and chili seasonings in the pantry.
When the world goes haywire (I'm exhausted, I forgot to thaw something, all of us have the flu...you get the idea) I pull out the meat pancake and throw it in a big hot skillet. It's flat, so it easily browns despite being frozen. I just spend some time flipping it around and chunking it up with a wooden spoon. Dump in the tomatoes, sauce, and spice...and voila! Cuppa chili anyone? My hero, handy emergency meal, has kept us from abandoning our meal plan altogether, and we still keep our habit of eating at home. The next day we'll happily return to our regularly scheduled program.
Leftovers, breakfast for dinner, and sandwiches are also great standbys for 'life happens' nights. Even so, the thought of a nice warm bowl of chili waiting for me at a moment's notice is quite the comfort food.
I was inspired by oceans of meal planning printables on Pinterest this week, and created my own little diddy. Just click the image for the printable PDF. Hope you find it handy! What are your tips for flexible meal planning? Please share!
Because Salvationists abstain from whine.