Because I feel a little "stuck" in my brain and words aren't really coming well in any form or fashion I thought I might try to write because more often than not my fingers seem to function better than my mouth. I've pulled out this book— link that ...

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"Not by Might" - 5 new articles

  1. A Desk Personified
  2. Loss
  3. Not My Job, But Yours Be Done
  4. Pericope No. 18 Winter to Summer 2017
  5. And the Story Goes On.... {Adoption. No Fear.}
  6. More Recent Articles

A Desk Personified

Because I feel a little "stuck" in my brain and words aren't really coming well in any form or fashion I thought I might try to write because more often than not my fingers seem to function better than my mouth.  I've pulled out this book— link that explains that here and I've allowed the book to fall open to a page and out of three choices, the least awkward one is, believe it or not, "What Your Desk Thinks About at Night".

I actually really like my desk.  I have one in the laundry room that I try to do all the yucky stuff like paperwork.  That word covers a lot of jobs.  Some is actual paper and some is virtual paper via the amazing world wide web.  Even though I like the convenience of filling out forms and just clicking to send them where they need to go, I really don't like signing my name using a mouse.  That may be more tedious than getting out the envelope and stamps.

And then I have my happy desk.  It used to to be the schoolroom desk/table but now it's mine.  All mine.  It's still in what we call the schoolroom/guest room —thanks to Jeff's handy skills in making a Murphy Bed— and here is where I get to do things I really love.

So what in the world would my desk think at night?

If she really wants to accomplish something tomorrow, she needs to leave her phone somewhere else.

I go to sleep looking forward to the best part of her sitting down with me which is usually her bringing in a good smelling cup of coffee.  I also like that it's warm.  And I am grateful she wipes up whatever she may spill.  I'm white and I show mess. I like to be clean.

The weight of the books she leaves on me at night is unnecessary.  She could take off at least five and I'd rest much better.  I think she just likes the way they look— or maybe she thinks they make her look smart— or maybe the books remind her of something.  Actually, they do slide around up there a good bit.  Maybe she does look at them.

The sounds at night are different right now.  It's quiet earlier.  Their schedule has changed because I hear her kids in the early morning hours.

And now my nights are shorter because she gets in here earlier than she has in a few months.  Not EVERY morning and the weekends are sporadic but a lot of mornings she's slipping into the chair while it's still dark.  And some mornings after she's disturbed my peace she has the nerve to put her head down and doze.  And I know she's sleeping because her head is extremely heavy.

At night, I'm glad to have a break from her elbows and forearms that never seem to leave me.  If she's not writing with her pen or typing, she's leaning over a book.  To me, she seems to waste a lot of time in here— especially when she brings in her phone.

I need my rest at night because after the early morning hours, she leaves and comes back and so many days, she puts her feet under me — and her arms on me— and loads me down with all sorts of books, papers, and folders.  She leans on me more than usual— shuffling around the books— leaning over to see them-- putting more of a strain on me.  However, if it's a particularly long day for her, I'll get a whiff of that coffee once more.  Later, I can rest my tired self.

As I rested last night, I thought about today and how little typing and writing she did.  She sat a lot.  I know I am just a desk but things have been different lately.  She moves slower-like drags a little- even at moving her things around.  She drinks more coffee than normal.  She remains still for longer period of times.  And she's been in here a lot more regularly and for longer periods of time.

I have a drawer that was giving me some problems as I began to rest last night.  That one has never bothered me before but then I realized it's because she's been using it a lot lately. I thought and remembered, she keeps Kleenex in there.  I've been a desk long enough to know, she could be either sick or sad.  If she were sick, I don't think she'd be up so early.  If she were sick, I don't think she'd be sitting here with me but in the bed.  If she just had a cold, I don't think these books, that big heavy one in particular, would be so important to her.

I know I am just a desk, but yes, I think she is sad.


If it seems weird to you for me to post this-- maybe it is but I want a record for my family in this one place. There is so much I want to say but the words aren't coming yet.  However, I am grateful these words came quickly the morning after.  And for now, this is still all I have.

Joyce Ivey Dennard, 74, passed from this earth to her home in heaven on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in Treutlen County.  Her quiet battle with cancer since 2008 has come to an end.
Joyce was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on October 20, 1942, to Thomas Wright Ivey and Julia Sue Potts Ivey.  She married Richard Marion Dennard on August 9, 1964, at First Baptist Church, Conyers, Georgia.  They would celebrate fifty-three years on August 9th.  Two children were born to this marriage.  They and their families survive Joyce:  Blakely Sutton Dennard, his wife, Adele, and children, Richard Jackson (R.J.) Dennard, his wife, Megan of Pooler, Georgia, and Hunter Nicole Dennard of Suwanee, Georgia; Krista Dennard Sanders, her husband, Jeff, and children, Julia Karis Sanders and Jeffrey Brighton Sanders of Fort Worth, Texas. She is also survived by her younger brother, George Thomas Ivey and his wife, Patsy, of Brinkley, Arkansas.

Joyce was a graduate of Tift College and earned a double major in Chemistry and Biology. Joyce worked as a biologist at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta (specifically dissecting mosquitoes) before moving to Soperton in December of 1971 to help her husband establish Dennard Drugs.  Not only was Joyce the administration behind the scenes but also the one who added beauty and class to the front of the store in the way of gifts, jewelry and china.  She was also a homemaker, creating meals and traditions for her family to enjoy and to remember and cherish for years to come.  Joyce's main desire was to be with her family and friends and to quietly love them as best as she knew how.

A very close second to this would be her love of travel, experiencing new places and new adventures. We've always said, "Momma is always sitting on GO!"  Just say the word and she would pack a bag whether it was a ski trip with the Pournelles, a spring break adventure with her college-aged kids, a trip to Texas, a church youth group trip as a chaperone, a random baseball stadium, or a flight across the world or a weekend of fishing with her husband and their friends. A close third would be watching her children, and later her grandchildren, participate in all their activities.   We can all attest she's sat through her share and many other's share of baseball games— throwing in plenty of baton performances, football games, cheer competitions, ballet recitals, soccer games, softball games, and piano recitals. She taught the Mixed Adults Sunday School class at First Baptist Church Soperton for fifteen years with much help from her friend, Brenda Brown, who filled in many times.

Joyce with her kind heart and bright smile taught us many things— too many to name here.  To be married to her, raised by her, friended by her, loved by her were gifts. Her cancer didn't slow her down until the last month or two and even then we all thought she'd "bounce back".  She taught us how to face difficulty with faith, not fear, and with courage, not complaint.   She was beloved by her family and friends, who will miss her every day.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21).

The celebration of her life will be held in the First Baptist Church, Soperton, Georgia, at 2 p.m., Sunday, July 30, with Pastor Jeff Sanders officiating. Burial will be in Westview Cemetery with Sammons Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
Pallbearers will be R.J. Dennard, Brighton Sanders, Jeff Watts, Hugh Gillis, Jr., Wade Clark, and Mark Bowers.


Not My Job, But Yours Be Done

I'm beginning to realize why my older friends didn't talk much about raising teenagers. {And you may remember when I said the same thing about middle schoolers….} There are times when I've been like, "Why didn't so and so TELL ME?"  "Why didn't they sit me down and fill me in on the best ways to handle these little budding adults that have shown up on the second floor of my home?" "Why didn't they tell me that I would feel so ill-equipped and confused much of the time?"  Here's the reason they didn't tell me— because they knew I really wouldn't be able to understand it until I got there.  Here.  Wherever. They knew they could tell me, warn me, encourage me in some specific areas but that I really wouldn't— couldn't— take it to heart because I had no way of knowing what raising teenagers would be like.

Until I was actually doing it.

Life with teenagers can be great.  On good days, we can teeter on the "friendship" side of parenting— seeing glimpses of what our adult relationship might look like, we can actually agree on a life issue, we can have some meaningful interactions on close to the heart subjects, and we can think, "Hey— I really like you."  And SOMETIMES life with teenagers can feel like a bubble blown from dollar store mix— it’s fragile and one more breath in the plastic wand and it bursts.  A good ol' "bust" just may be the better term.  And these "busts" leave you wondering if things will ever be light and normal again……if hormones will ever run on cruise control again…if anyone will ever smile in our house again…if coat hangers will ever be used for hanging clothes again.  You know- dire issues like that.  Anyone with teenagers knows what I am talking about— with the bubble— you ask a simple question, like, "Have much homework?" and there are tears followed by questions of why you don't love them anymore and life is NOT normal.  Or light.  *

And you are dumbfounded.  Homework vs. their place in your heart.  The game has changed.  The stakes are higher.  Fo sho.

Look at all of them!  If not a teenager already, look how many just a few friends have to raise!!  Love. These. Kids.
Having a few more years behind us, we think we know what's best for them—and most of the time we do, but they simply can't see it.  OR they see it fine, but wouldn't even pretend they did.  A few things fall into that category these days— things I'd love to see them doing but they just haven't owned yet.  I DO know these particular things ARE best for them so I pray.  And pray some more— praying that God will do the things that only He can do.  Remember Blackaby's Experiencing God in the 90's?  I picked it back up again after 20 years and guess what?  It's STILL amazing.  And I loved being reminded of these things— the things ONLY HE can do.  {See?  If only HE can do them, then it's struck OFF my list. I don't know about you, but I am all up for that.}

1.  Draws people to Himself
2.  Causes people to seek Him
3.  Reveals spiritual Truth
4.  Convicts the world {us, our children and everyone we know!} of guilt about sin, righteousness and judgment

How freeing is that?  Those are His jobs, not mine.  I take huge comfort in that and the really incredible thing is that He is faithful and I am counting on Him to do His part. And you can bet I will remind Him of it— respectfully.  Of course.   When will I respectfully remind Him?  Every time I try to think of a creative way to get them to read Scripture on their own.  Every time I want pure repentance— like some sackcloth and ashes action.  GRIEF over their sin.  Every time I see them struggling with a spiritual Truth after I've laid it out as clearly as I know how.  That's when I have to remind Him that drawing, revealing and convicting is HIS job.  Not mine.  I am not in control.  I have none.

Are you detecting the focus here?  Are you sensing who this parenting thing is really about?    So a few months after I began reading Experiencing God again— enter Paul David Tripp's book Parenting.  It IS about parenting but as I read it, it is so much more about the work needed in my own heart.  Just like marriage, parenting is just another degree of our sanctification, another prying off of our fingers from our own desires and agendas, another microscope on the sin that is still active in my own life.  So don't read it if you don't want to be thoroughly challenged— BUT, know this, it's not a burdensome book.  AT ALL.  It frees you— just as Henry Blackaby's principles from Scripture do.  There are just certain things we were never meant to do.  We can encourage it. We can teach it.  We can model it.  But we cannot make them choose it for themselves.  It's only by God's grace that I chose Him all those years ago.

So, these days, I am more convinced than ever that parenting is really about the work He wants to accomplish in me— letting go of my desire for control, comfort, "rightness", and even peace.  He wants me completely aware of what’s ruling my own heart, my absolute dependency on Him, my perpetual need for Him— and how that kind of dependence looks moment to moment.

And yes, I am still figuring that out.  Parenting moments are hardly EVER planned.  Friends, we've got to be at the ready.  I think His Word has a few things to say about that.  So maybe we can talk about that another time?  Until we can do that here’s some favorite verses.

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wow.  So be it.

{Here's the link to what my friend wrote several months ago now regarding Tripp's book— and a bit of her parenting experience.  Don't we all learn so much from each other?  Grateful for community within the Body of Christ.}

{* Instead of “Have much homework?”--- “What did you do last night?” or “How was the party?” or “Why did you miss curfew?” or “What is this text all about?”  In these years there could be things that happen that tear holes in our hearts-- this is a burst bubble of a different caliber-- so just know those things are tumbling around in my mind as I write this.}


Pericope No. 18 Winter to Summer 2017

It’s happening again.  These picture recaps just don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.  I’ve told you before--it’s the kids’ favorite kind of post-- all pictures, no talk.  SOME talk but not my usual overload.  By this time, we had one semester of public school under our belts.  The kids seemed to have “leveled out” a bit.  Not that it was smooth sailing or anything quasi normal but in a groove of sorts.  January brought our 2 days of winter- as you can see one of them below-  and the kids had never had breakfast at Paris Coffee Shop.  It opened in 1926 and there is nothing French about it except there is French toast on the menu.  Just a FW icon.  January is also time for the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.  We don’t make it every year but almost.  BOTH of my kids own “rodeo wear” as any good Texan should, but this was the first year they chose not to don it.  Teenagers. Eye roll.  It’s also the month of Lake Weekend.  There are all sorts of “Lake Weekends” about but this one is a few good friends, favorite things, all day pj’s, yummy food and just a bunch of fun.  By God’s grace, I’ve got good women around me.  We also headed to Houston for a conference Jeff wanted to attend-- me too!  Made a family trip out of it and visited the Space Center.  It just so happened that we saw Hidden Figures our first night in Houston so touring the Space Center and the Training Facility took on new meaning for us.  The crazy thing that happened was that while we were sitting IN Houston Mission Control, our guide got word that Gene Cernan had just died and announced it to us-- with tears.  Gene Cernan was the last man living who had walked on the moon.  Our trip coincided with Em’s first MARATHON.  We got to meet up with her friends and family and watch her FINISH.  Like a boss.  Oh-- forgive me, Houston friends, but we weren’t impressed with H-town.  I am SURE we weren’t in the right areas so besides the Space Center, Arandas Bakery was the second highlight of our trip.  We walked into a grocery like place bursting with color and just had to observe to get our bearings so we figured out one needed a metal tray-- about the size of a pizza pan and tongs.  And then you loaded up.  And we LOADED UP.  So many things we wanted to try.  I was a little nervous about our bill but our MOUNDFUL was under six bucks.  B’s eyes went wide and we all just smiled.  

They look cold, right?

Of course the END of January brings Julia’s BIRTHDAY!!  Fifteen.  FIFTEEN!!  Which means NEXT year she will be SIXTEEN!!!  My how these parties have changed-- and you, sweet readers, have seen most of her parties!!  She invited a mix of old friends and new-- old school, new school, and childhood friends.  I think they mixed well and I certainly enjoyed hearing all of their words and giggles.  She got her yellow roses from Uncle Blake.  {Blake, my sweet brother, you are an AWESOME uncle.  I love you more for it.}  She wanted to try a ramen restaurant for her birthday and quickly realized she liked the 15 cent ramen better.  She was a sport to try something new though.  {We all were!!}  Her canvas with a quote was her surprise and I hope to write more on that later.

February brings Jeff’s birthday and the Conners agreed to drive the hour or so to Bluff Dale, TX to eat at this reservation only hole in the wall in the middle of nowhere-- um, excuse me, Bluff Dale-- restaurant.  These places amuse and delight me all at the same time.  It was totally worth the drive.  Maybe not if it hadn’t been the Conners....
Laundromat, schmodromat.  It was a bargain or an agreement and B didn’t hold up his end.  So to the laundromat on Vickery he went every Saturday for a month.  And to be honest-- if you are wondering-- it didn’t change anything.  Just thought you might want to know.  The best thing about it?  He had great stories to tell during our Sabbath meal on Saturday night.
D-Now with Watermark is always a highlight of their winter.  I’m so grateful for their leaders and the way they love our kids.
Julia was asked to be part of lecture demonstrations this year at her studio.  They travel to a few schools in the FWISD and demonstrate their skills for the students.  It’s a GREAT idea and the kids actually sit and watch intently.  This surprised me.  I think “live” things are fascinating to them.
I got to spend 24 hours with Julia’s friends at Therefore at Pantego Bible Church.  T{4}-- to say it cool.  It was a well done event with great Truth spoken.  
And yes, that book-- it’s deserves “EVENT” status.  Seriously.  Event in my life and heart.  I am still reviewing and taking notes asking the Lord to make it real and live in my every day.  A must read for any parent.  
Our sweet guys under this roof celebrate Valentines well.  Jeff is the master, I tell you.  I did work that night and when I got off my car wasn’t where I’d left it and HE was there in it waiting to pick me up.  He took me to a gorgeous wedding venue that our friends own and cooked me an amazing meal and we went over his list of 25 great moments- our moments- 25 years ago he asked me to marry him on Valentines.  He went to a lot of trouble to make this sweet for me.  Most of the time, I am too overwhelmed to respond appropriately.  It was a very wonderful night.
And the end of February means BASEBALL STARTS!!  This picture TJ sent to me was a sweet reminder of how our lives overlapped a little more this year.  She was at the tournament and Julia was walking back to class from lunch. 

March is awesome because it brings Spring Break and, in my opinion, it’s all downhill after that.  Don’t tell my kids I said that though.  It kind of ruins my end of school year mantra of “FINISH STRONG!”  These two teachers below started Porches at Paschal at 7 am on Friday mornings.  They invite the kids to come to their classroom and watch the talk from Watermark’s Porches ministry-- while serving up coffee and doughnuts!  It’s awesome and THEY are amazing.  Mr. Wilkey is not in this picture but he’s rounds out this trio and I couldn’t be MORE THANKFUL for them.  
I think the craziest thing that happened in March is that Julia said she wanted to try out for cheer.  Maybe I need to write about this whole thing ---- so this started a series of tumbling/cheer lessons added to 4 days a week at the ballet studio plus REHEARSAL SEASON-- getting ready for Alice in Wonderland and Ballet Americana.  I don’t care to repeat this ever.  Not at the same time.  And guess what people?! She made it!!  She started 10 years too late, but she made it!  She found a used uniform at the first official meeting and couldn’t have been happier in it.  She looks adorable in it.  A WHOLE NEW WORLD FOR THIS MOMMA.
Flowers-- the kindness of my husband all of these years.  I don’t deserve any of it-- it’s all grace.  His choice to love me-- with all my irritating things-- is his greatest gift to me.
Tarrant NET has made my life so much richer.  I’ve gotten to experience things I never would have before.  I love the churches of Fort Worth and this one pictured blew me away with their genuine hospitality.  I was BLESSED to worship and pray with these people. 
Friends-- His grace abounds to me and my family.  Relationships are what makes this life worth living and I love these people with all my heart.  Julia’s new friend, Collette-- I’ve got no words to express what she has meant to this momma this spring.  I see good things in our future because of her.    
Icky, dirty socks on the KITCHEN counter-- like where we eat and serve food and stuff.  Just keeping it very real here.
The Master’s Program kicked off this spring-- more on that later but Jeff rocks it every time.  Any man would be crazy not to want to be a part of this group and learn from what Jeff is learning himself.  Time and money WELL SPENT.  Fo sho.

Canwick-- maybe more on that later.  We are grateful Libby Manning nominated Julia.  We aren’t exactly sure what we are doing but it seems fun.  
Turner Classic Movies Film Festival-- Denise and Margaret invited me-- HOW COULD I SAY NO?!??!?!!!  It was the perfect weekend to be out of pocket and I just had the best time.  I had no idea about anything so I was wowed the whole weekend.  I could have gone to a cabin the middle of nowhere with these two and been happy as a clam but the city-- even with the weirdos, the theaters, the movies, and laughing with these two-- it was AWESOME.  Thank you so very much.
High school brings invitations and outings that we know little about the people hosting and attending so you have to make a decision and go with it.  This was a quinceanera-- once I knew this group was going and that we needed to give a ride to two of my favorite young men in her class, I was good.
Easter- I love how the kids still do this with the baskets.  We continue the Easter garden and the lighting of it and the tomb closing on Good Friday. It is always a favorite holiday with this crowd. I am so grateful for a place to celebrate His grace-- and with these special people.  I love this day and these people.  So much.  
Revive Texas started Easter night-- it truly needs a post of its own.  Nicho-- new brother in Christ.  The greatest privilege, I tell you.  The greatest.

Trying to figure out what to wear to Canwick?!?  Just mark it down-- I should have gone out and let her buy something new.  I had no idea it would be the latest spring fashions on display before the weather was ready!!  Momma got it wrong this time.
SKIN FICTION!!  Automatic filters.  Nice. 
More wonderful fiction.
B celebrating her making cheer.  Loved these pictures.
Trying on the uniform. : )

I just wish I had taken a picture of the bathroom counter.  Thousands of dollars of product and primping tools.  
These two-- first picture was in car seats when Julia was 2 days old.  They don’t have a choice but to be friends.  Two introverts {SOCIAL introverts} so there isn’t a chance for much else except a great friendship and that’s what I am counting on.  {Hud- HOW can you watch over her from SCS?!?!?}

Oh, y’all May-- almost done.  Lives are full, right? Sometimes the things that make us think are going to burst from the crazy are the biggest blessings.  Revive TX continued, cheer practice, ballet class AND rehearsals, piano, school work, company-- and helping Kelly celebrate the teachers at ML Phillips elementary.  Company was my favorite this spring-- my parents coming being the highlight.  They saw Julia’s ballet AND were here for Mother’s Day-- a privilege to have my mom here for sure.  We had a good time-- pedicures, massages, and a yummy lunch at Grace.
My favorite Sunday of the year at Watermark-- Baptism Sunday.  
Piano recital-- bittersweet. More on that later.
Jeff had the privilege of marrying Zachary and Skye. Zach grew up down the street from us and attended our house church.  We remember the day Ceil and Mike brought him home as we all awaited his return from Mexico as an adoption addition to their family.  We have a lot of history with this sweet family and were honored to be asked to be a part of this special day.

I just have to post it.  It’s so typical of me.  I am doing this right before this next picture.  

And that’s a wrap.  That took forever.  Kids-- I hope you appreciate this toil and sweat one day!!  I love making memories with the three of you.  We don’t take pictures of the bad days-- the ones where we argue and say things we regret.  But we have them, right?  All of it is part of what makes this life we are learning to live together.  God’s grace is sufficient for ALL of our sin, right?  Praise be to Him.  Let’s keep doing this thing TOGETHER.  

And the Story Goes On.... {Adoption. No Fear.}

Gosh.  I feel like I need to say SOMETHING before I just up and post on this neglected blog.  I went to save something I wanted to write about and noticed I didn't even have a "2017" folder!!  I miss writing.  I feel I miss out on the savoring of good things, hard things— finding the significance in them when I don't write.  For me, sometimes, that means living on a different level— one that's more shallow, not as rich.  Writing makes me stop — and think through things.  God has been faithful to push me out in the deep end to discover some treasure, but I know I've missed some things.  I so enjoyed teaching at church a few times out of Acts which prepared me for what's going on now— Revive TX, which hopefully I can write about later.  Any writing time was spent studying.  However, this morning, the house is quiet.  I am actually a little shaky because Jeff is usually the one who presses the coffee and he's out of town…..  so I must have been off on the proportions— and there is SO MUCH left over!  And I feel obligated not to waste it.  So between my jittery self and this texting stream among a few friends who got a SPRAY TAN last night, I may not be able to put two sensible thoughts together!!  {Spray tan— yes— a girl came to my friend's house and sprayed us all down with a caffeine and stain laden concoction and the comparative notes— and pictures— this morning are hilarious.  Oh the joys of being a girl and having GIRLFRIENDS!} Well, there's my little "hi!" Here is what I wanted to tell you…..

When we chose to pursue adoption, we were just so excited about starting a family.  Sure, we thought through a few things — mainly A BABY— but really, who thinks past the first few months even when having a baby?!  There are a few special select of you who have wedding budgets already in place after the positive pregnancy test but you are just……well, …special.  Most of us focus on all the NEWNESS and keeping baby alive and getting a little sleep.  Your brain catches up later, right?   So, of course, we have two sweet, God-filled adoption stories that have been chronicled in detail on this aging blog. {Just click on “adopting” in the side margin if you need more detail.}  Those stories are no different in that they aren't over after the first few months. Chapters are always being written.  Then, I had NO IDEA how God would continue His story year after year building on the things He had shown us, dazzled us and blessed us with during those processes.  Julia's fifteenth birthday was no exception.  {I did not write an official 15th birthday letter to post here this year.  They seem so personal now that she's older.  Maybe I can post them later one day?  But this will represent that this year because I feel the Lord has something for Julia in this story.}

Random picture but NOT a random friend.  These long time friends at their first Quinceanera.
So 15, right?

And a mom is allowed a favorite picture. {A month before she turned 15}

So her birthday.  On the way to school- the quick less than 10 minute trip-  we typically read a devotional I have in the car or our church's The Journey on one of our phones.  Two days after her birthday, January 26th, I was telling her that this day was almost as special to me as her actual birthday because this was the day we took her home. {Well, to the La Quinta in Bossier City, Louisiana until all paperwork was complete.}  God was faithful to encourage me through His Word throughout the whole process— He chose to use Streams in the Desert and the Scriptures chosen for those days. I was blown away often and the 26th of 2002 was no exception.  So this January, I briefly mentioned it on the way to school that morning.  Well, after she read the entry in Jesus Calling, she looked up the verses on the phone and read them aloud.  And she read this verse, "He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord." Psalm 112:7  Unfortunately, I had gotten distracted and was halfway listening but it was enough.  I was like, "Wait!  Read that again!"  She did and I was— blown away, again, by the kindness of the Lord.  I had to remind her that it was the same Scripture that God had given me the day BEFORE we got the call from her birthmother that she was going into labor when I was about to go CRAZY because we hadn't heard from her in weeks.  And the SAME Scripture He so graciously gave me AGAIN 2 days later on the longest day of my life, waiting to take Julia home with us- the day things could have dashed all our hopes and dreams.  He gave it to me in His Word that first day- 1/22- and then it was a featured verse in Streams in the Desert -1/25— reminding me that I didn't need to worry about "bad news"— a changed mind.  Adoption thwarted. Back to square one. It gave me confidence to BE Julia's momma from the second I met her- minutes after she was born.  To give her my WHOLE heart and not be worried that that was too risky until I knew for sure her birthmother would sign the papers.  {And sweet birthmom, S, I know you visit here around Mother's Day each year— Hi, by the way and I love you. Bless you, sweet one. I hope you find this so incredibly encouraging to your heart.  Let Him bolster your heart and faith with stories like this.  God wants YOU to know that YOU did His will.  YOU did the brave thing and sacrificed part of yourself for our daughter's greater good.  You set that story, her story- that goodness- in motion for Julia and all of us will forever be grateful and always remember you for that.  You are loved here in our home and never forgotten.  God is faithful to us both, yes?  May He continue to bless you and your family, S.}

And so He kept using His Word and just then on her 15th birthday, He decided we both needed a reminder of His Sovereign hand in the story.  It is only by His grace that she's ours.  I had no control, but I decided to trust Him like never before and He drew me along every LONG and HOPEFUL day with His Word.  Fine, if one wants to say it's a coincidence or that I am reading too much into it.  I believe He is in charge of coincidences and, on good days, my thought patterns.  So there, you skeptics. ; )

So I told Julia, like it or not, that verse was hers now.  It's just come up too many times around her story for her to ignore.  It's mine too, but at 15, I believe He wanted her to have it as well.

"[She] will have no fear of bad news; [her] heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord." Psalm 112:7

Sweet Julia, I have a feeling you will receive bad news in your life— we all do.  It's inevitable in our sinful world where we, sinful people, make choices every moment.  Bad news is a part of our fallen world, but you don't have to LIVE in fear of it.  You can trust that even in hard news, He is trustworthy and WITH Him, you need not fear.  His faithfulness is an anchor— something that reaches to the depths of who we are and tethers our soul deep in His care.  I pray you, Julia, can bask and delight in that comfort and security.
I'm counting on that for me and I am counting on that for you.

May our hearts be steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  So be it.

I love you.  With my whole heart.


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