Thursday, April 28, 2011


It’s honestly how I’ve felt the last two months. I read a devotional about a month ago that posed the question: When life squeezes you, what comes out?

Never before in my life have I truly felt so squeezed… at least not that I can remember. I thought the roller coaster of the long adoption process was hard, but the real challenges began the week we brought our 2 year old son and 11mos. old daughter home from Ethiopia. I’ve had a lot of experience parenting with 4 biological children between the ages of 6 up to 17, read so many ages and stages parenting books over the years, developed good “parenting skills”, and even taught on parenting over the course of years in ministry…. I used to think I was a good mom, but we weren’t even a month into this new venture when I lost all confidence in myself and knew I was totally out of my league without the Lord.

The verse that I meditated on continually was 2 Cor. 12:9...
“My GRACE is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in your weakness.”

You can’t parent your adopted children the same because they come from loss and abandonment…you don’t know them and they don’t know you… there is no trust yet… no history or connection to you… you are just one of the many care-givers they have encountered…and you’ve taken them away from everything familiar (tastes, sounds, smells, etc), and so while our teething 1 year old has been sheer delight with the normal work it takes to care for a baby her age, our 2 year old has been a wonderful, but really big challenge and constant learning curve for me.

So along with the sleep issues, food issues, communication issues, behavioral issues, health issues (parasites and unending amounts of diarrhea, and sickness passing from one kid to the next and then back again in our home), finding out Nana had breast cancer and had surgery coming up, and really just the adjustment of having our family go from 6 to 8, all the while, trying to obey the adoption books recommendation of “Cocooning” (not taking them out for the first several weeks) was making me feel so stir crazy!!

When we finally got a warmer day after having the kids home a few weeks, Clint and I put on the Ergo baby carriers and took the babies out for their first power walk around the neighborhood!! Woo hoo!! I can’t even express the thrill of being outside of my house in the fresh air… (I’m not one who likes “cocooning” that’s for sure), and then it happened… less than a mile into our glorious power walk, on March 11th at age 42, I broke my first bone (the fibula where it connects at the ankle) by missing the curb and falling down THE DAY BEFORE Clint was leaving town for a conference…I couldn’t believe it…did I really just do this????, what timing!!! And I thought taking care of my 2 babies was challenging when I had both of my legs!!!!!!! Will His grace be enough??

Romans 5:3-5 NCV “We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out His love to fill our hearts.”

Well, the heat just got turned up! The refiner’s fire had me in the heat at a much higher temp than I ever remember. Now a broken leg to a person who loves to relax and watch movies and move at a slow pace would not be considered HEAT at all, but I’m an independent, task-loving “do-er” personality… so to be immobilized… unable to drive (broke my right leg) myself or my 6 kids anywhere, unable to carry my new babies, and unable to catch my 2 year old when he’s testing me continually, and unable to care for my family the way I like to…. This was MAJOR HEAT to me!!

My literal cry every day to the Lord was “help!” Please teach me YOUR way Lord… YOUR way of adopting… Your way of LOVING… Your way of patience and compassion…. Because my way is not enough, my love is so conditional...I felt so frustrated and helpless at times… and then I would feel so angry at myself for feeling so frustrated and couldn’t stand being with myself at times when I knew what I needed was an attitude adjustment…Argh!!!!

Heat is a good thing you know… it can be used as a refining tool… when the heat is turned up… the dross emerges… even though we hate to see it. When we are in the heat we experience more tangibly our desperate NEED for God and we have constant opportunity to allow Him to work on our character. Pressures and troubles squeeze you, and the squeezing brings out what is inside you…. And that my friend is actually a good thing… because that’s when we allow Him to bring forth more growth in our lives.

I had to recognize my need daily… even my unwillingness at times…and to deal with my emotions and not be led by them. Sometimes our flesh cries, “I can’t” or even worse yet… “I really don’t want to”… and that’s when I can stop and choose to cry out, “Change my heart oh God!” You see, Justus can be a stinker…he’s 2 years old and been through a lot and he hasn’t been redeemed yet, but this old momma of his has chosen to follow Jesus…His way of being and doing… so when she’s feeling like a stinker it’s time to face the facts, stop walking in my own strength, and RECIEVE the grace of God.

His Word says He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Realizing in the heat of the moment that I have a choice… it’s my choice to humble myself and then RECEIVE His grace…. To yield to the hand of the potter working in my heart and life… molding me and making me into a vessel His love can pour through. God didn’t redeem me to just get by, but to walk in His peace and joy everyday regardless of trial…. And to declare the goodness of God!!

His kindness leads me to repentance
His goodness draws me to His side
His mercy calls me to be like Him
His favor is my delight
Everyday I AWAKEN my praise
and pour out a song from my heart
YOU ARE GOOD, You are good, You are good, and your mercy is forever!
Your kindness is forever, Your goodness is forever, Your mercy is forever.
-song lyrics by Kari Jobe

As you can tell, this blog post today really isn’t about adoption or a broken leg for that matter… it’s about the things in life that seem to squeeze us… loss, suffering, sickness, hardships, finances, work place challenges, marriage or relationship challenges, relatives, parenting toddlers (smile)… whatever is causing you to feel squeezed right now in life... and realizing the truth that His grace IS SUFFICIENT for us in the midst of it!

Is His GRACE enough?? (say it with me..) YES, if I CHOOSE TO RECEIVE it!! Just like a gift given… it has to be RECEIVED and used if it’s going to benefit us.” … I’ve continually felt weak (literally without a leg to stand on.. ha), but it’s good to humble myself and ask for GRACE to make it through another day. Jesus wants to help us and empower us in every area… not just the parts we call “spiritual”. (I was even asking for “poop” grace….because the constant blow outs and diarrhea were overwhelming, and even now after 2 months and 3 rounds of medications for our son, we still are not to the end of it. Yes, today more poop was delivered to the lab @ Children’s Mercy.

So thankful that His Word is true… it is a matter of if I will believe it and allow it to work mightily in me. His grace is enough and “I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens me” Phil. 4:13. As I finish typing up this post, my son is finally asleep in the porta-crib next to my bed after 2 hours of rocking and putting him down only to try again and again and again…. The crazy thing about it is that there is never any rhyme or reason to it. Some days it’s super easy and he’s out and in his crib in 20 minutes, then there are still days like tonight that still take a marathon of effort… regardless of if it’s a easier day or a harder day, God’s grace is sufficient IF I CHOOSE TO RECEIVE IT. And let me tell you, it’s a night and day difference in my attitude when I choose to receive it (smile).

What are you making bigger than God in your life?? Put the trial, challenge, or circumstance in right perspective by putting God in His rightful place… As Beth Moore says, Are you believing God? Will we allow Him be the umpire over our emotions and trust Him to call the shots in our lives everyday? That’s the daily challenge to myself personally right now… surrender to my King… and when I feel squeezed… choosing PRAISE to come out of my mouth, not complaining…. And by all means ENJOY the journey!!

“Breathe in the grace of God when life is most aggravating and know He gives new beginnings every day when you ASK.” Be encouraged today… even when you don’t know how you are going to make it tomorrow... He not only strengthens… He SUSTAINS!!!

In closing this blog post, it would not be complete without a few words of THANKS!!! Clint was my total HERO dealing with fussy babies during the night time shift of bottles and diaper changes. He’s already been over the top amazing before I broke my leg helping with blowouts, baths, and just keeping up with the daily stuff… but when I was reduced to using crutches in a house full of stairs to get anywhere… he had to shift into overdrive. I’m so blessed with an incredible man and best friend who would “talk me down” from climbing the walls being cooped up so long. My older 4 were who were stretched by not having momma do for the, and then having to do for me and the babies… and having to help with the night shift when daddy was out of town two times. Thanks also to Life Church family for prayers, meals, hand-me-downs for the kids (even a box with pjs was given at the right time for Justus… you go through a lot when you’re having poop issues)… I can’t imagine life without such an incredible church family!!! And to my friends… Janice, Alisa, Julie, Angela, Hayley and Heather who helped keep me a little sane in little ways by their friendship through it all…. even being willing to allow me to order you around while “we” re-arranged my furniture to change up the scenery…. It’s a wonderful life.

~ Mary

(Pic at the top is us celebrating Hannah Mercy turning 1 year old last month!!)

Levi is loving having a lil brother to teach his moves to:)

Mercy loves swinging

Justus Clinton Sprague... an amazing lil boy!