Thursday, September 22, 2011

the land between

Yesterday my status update on fb was " Today I choose joy". Okay, so that lasted all of about 15 minutes. Seriously. I'm amazed at how little resolve I have.

So as I said, it lasted for a whole 15 minutes, until I got frustrated at the disarray of our home. Now I know that this seems like a silly thing, but what I'm learning more and more about myself, is that when I'm stressed about something (like our adoption, for example), I pretty much freak out about EVERYTHING.

Of course, this doesn't help the whole "joy" theme that I was trying to engage in yesterday morning. All the kids worked with me to clean up pencils, markers, toys, crayons, papers, books, paperclips, more toys, more pencils, erasers, more paper scraps off the floor and the discarded honey nut cheerios that were now covered in ants... (yes, that's just in our school room, I'm not even going to mention the rest of the house), and then I apologized for being a cranky mom... again.

We got back on track with the whole joy thing. I mean it does say in the Bible, in Psalm 98:4 Shout for joy to the lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;

and also Phillipians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

But honestly, lately my theme has been more like Lamentations 5:15 which says, Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.

I decided it was time to pick up the amazing book The Land Between, Finding God in Difficult Transitions by Jeff Manion. This is NOT the first time I've read this. I just forget easily and need to read things again and again.

This is what the summary on the back of the book says, Life is full of unwanted transitions. It is our response to the land between that will determine whether our journey through the desert will result in deep, lasting growth or prove destructive to the soul.

This book is all about the Israelites and their 40 year journey through the wilderness from the land of slavery to the Promised Land.  Manion brings to life this amazing story and beautifully retells of Israel's continued cries to the Lord for deliverance, the eventual freedom from slavery including several miracles:

the plagues that rained down on the Egyptians as the Iraelites were spared, including the killing of all of the firstborn, (yet again the Hebrews were spared if they poured the blood of a spotless lamb on their doorpost), the Exodus from Egypt with Moses as their leader, the fire that separated the Hebrews from the angry Egyptian solidiers when they decided they didn't want their slaves to leave after all, the parting of the Red Sea so that all of the Hebrew people were able to cross through (would've LOVED to see that!), then how the Lord closed the Sea on top of the Egyptian solidiers to their demise, the cloud that led them by day, and the pillar of fire that led them by night.

Yet, even with all of these AMAZING miracles, that clearly only the Lord could do, they still were quick to forget His faithfulness to them. 

In Exodus 16: 1-3 on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.3 The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."

If they only knew that they were only into the second month of a 40 year journey, maybe they wouldn't have started complaining just yet.

As I read this though, I see such similarities in my own life. I'm sooo quick to jump up and down when the Lord comes to my rescue, and oh so quick to forget His faithfulness during the difficult times.

One of the sections early on in the book is labeled: I'm Sick of This! Manion talks about how the Israelites complained about EVERYTHING... they begged God for deliverance, so He delivered them. They begged for food and water, so He blessed them with Manna and water from the rock. Yet, they soon began to complain about the food in which He provided. They didn't like it. The complained and grumbled and were just plain ridiculous.

Manion says, "We may think that nothing grows in the desert. But make no mistake: the Land Between is fertile ground for complaint." He goes on to say that," God takes complaining very seriously, that complaining is really a rejection of God himself." In essence, The Hebrews got to a point where they were saying, "we would've been better off in Egypt. We were better off without you, God".

Now when I first saw this I was soo critical of the Hebrews thinking, "how dare you complain. God SAVED you from a life of misery. He's doing miracles before your very eyes, etc."

But oh so quickly, the Lord whispered in my ear, "Oh Katie, aren't you doing the same thing in regards to your adoption of Bedilu and Meron? I've blessed you over and over... providing every cent needed for this journey, blessing you with these 2 precious children, providing a court date soo much sooner than anticipated, protected you on your journey to Ethiopia, blessed your time with them, allowed you to pass court when no one said it would happen before the courts closed for the rainy season, and on and on and on"

So quickly I forget His faithfulness.

This is His deal, not mine. He led us to this crazy journey, why do I doubt that He'll finish this amazing story in our lives. He promised that He'd never leave us, or forsake us. Why do I doubt this.

So often I feel like Peter, only able to walk on the water for but a moment before I'm looking down... doubting.

I want an unwavering faith. I want to believe with my whole heart that none of these paperwork set backs take Him by surprise. But just like exercising a new muscle, it takes time and lots of practice.

Manion says that as we walk through the Land Between, our souls are very vunerable. This journey may provide our greatest opportunity for transformational growth, but it also provides an enormous opportunity for bitter resentments to flourish - for faith to shrivel.

Of course, I surely don't want that to happen, lest God decide that I need to be in the desert for 40 years. I'm finding that the best way to avoid my faith from shriveling is to keep God's faithfulness at the forefront of my mind. Posting our prayer requests and the dates that they were answered on our refrigerator. Singing praise songs to Him. Reading His love letter to us, His Word. And also "Shouting for Joy to the Lord, all the earth".

So, if you see me getting bogged down by the delays in Embassy, please call me to account, remind me of His faithfulness and just flat out tell me to stop complaining. Hopefully I'll be wise and take it as helpful instruction in my life. (haha)

Even though this has been a painful road at times, I am so very thankful to be on this journey. My relationship with Jesus is growing in ways I never thought possible. I am excited to see this amazing tapestry that He is creating before our very eyes.

I appreciate each and every one of you who have sent me encouraging emails through this season. Adoption can be messy. It's not always a walk in the park and I'm soo very thankful for those of you who have stood by our side, both encouraging us and lifting Jeff and I, and all of our 6 kids up in prayer.

I will continue seeking the Lord and learning all that He is trying to teach us on this road to our kids.

My hope is found In Christ Alone.


  1. I feel your pain! I remember having to CONSTANTLY check my joy meter. It is like I had to ask to get it refilled every 5 minutes while waiting for our little man to come home. I knew God's faithfulness and trusted him, but only when I wanted to! 9.5 long months after referral, our boy entered our home, and believe it or not, I still needed your reminder of finding joy! Thank you!!

  2. Great post! I love the reminder ... and should go get that book. ;-) I love your transparency ... and your desire to be complete with the Joy that comes only from KNOWING you can rest in these things ... because you KNOW HIM!

  3. Can relate Katie! Especially about the scraps of paper, toys, crayons etc ;)(And I only have one little guy making creations!) Seems like in this time of waiting and anticipation and not knowing WHEN, the normal mess is amplified and my heart is even more discombobulated. :) We are all in this together!HE is faithful and the weaver of all these details that He is working out for our children's good and ours as well. Love, Tracy :)

  4. I read this today and thought of you. Not yet, but soon. Praying for you.