We packed up the Subaru and headed out to meet up with friends in the dry hills of southern Oregon . I tried hard to keep my mind focused on what was happening around me, the knock-knock jokes and the endless questions of a 3 and 5 year old. The sun blazed on the river as we pulled into our spot and the kids scampered away to dig mud holes with their friends. I could feel my mind conscious of even each breath as we made small talk and set things up. I craved quiet, if I could only get away then maybe I could wrap my brain around what was happening and find a spot in my heart where I could nestle and make it through all of this.
Truthfully, during the weekend, I sought and sought that spot. I watched the kids play and tried to savor the sweetness of the sunshine on their faces, the golden trill of their laughter, the delicious tenderness of their sleeping breath in the next sleeping bag. I poured myself in to the conversations with our friends, reveled in the comfort of a friendship rich with aging over the years. Even with all of this beauty surrounding me, the pain and fear continued to spin. It was not until I sat all alone in the stifling tent, tears pouring down, that I finally faced the Lord with my worry. Doug had taken the kids hiking and for the hours that he was gone I cried and prayed...cried out to God, telling Him my fears, the unknowns, the pain of holding the truth about Georgia struggling in my heart. Slowly, gently and oh so tenderly, I began to hear the Lord speak. I could feel His compassion wash over me, the truth of His character welling up in my soul as He whispered, “place your eyes on me my child...I will lead you through.” Then, and only then did peace begin to flow. You see, on my own strength, I had been trying to carry and shoulder this impossible burden, to somehow come to terms with it in my mind. Nothing that I could conger would staunch the fear. As I turned my heart and soul to the Lord, He began to bring what I needed. His supernatural peace began to buoy me. Nothing in the situation changed, every ounce of information remained the same. Amongst the chaos, even God stayed the same and I was reminded that He was the same yesterday, today and forever. I found anew His compassion. He spoke to my heart, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
Nothing had changed and yet everything had. You see, as I released each and very detail and worry to Him, I remembered that He held the outcome. As I once again placed my life in His hands, I remembered that He knew every hair on my head. As I looked at His character, I remembered anew that my life is not about my comfort but about His glory, His loving, tender, beautiful glory. And then, and only then did I know that I would somehow make it through this wilderness.
As we drove home with two filthy and happily sleeping kids in the backseat, Doug slipped a sermon from our old pastor into the cd player. As we listened, God once again spoke...the sermon was on a passage of Scripture so familiar to me. Again, tears flowed. 13 years earlier, I was a very frightened college student about to head off to spend the summer at an all boys orphanage in Romania. I was part of a program called 'World Deputation.' In this program, college students signed up, not knowing where they were going to go. We met with the leadership team, they asked us questions and they prayed and created teams to go all over the world. I had heard a rumor that a team would probably go to Romania. Night after night I asked God to send me anywhere but there. The year before a girlfriend had gone on Deputation to Romania and came back heartbroken over what she had seen. I was sure that I was not strong enough to go and live with orphans, to see them starving, to watch them beaten, to try to fill them with love enough for their little lives. There was just no way. And there I was, in my team of four, meeting with the pastor so that he could pray and 'send us off' to our summer in a Romanian orphanage. He gave each of our team a Scripture on a piece of paper that he felt we were supposed to have. Ours was Joshua 1:9. I kept that little piece of paper with me in my Bible the whole time, wrinkled, faded and precious.
So there, in our car, the tears poured fourth as I heard, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9). I had spent the weekend cowering at the feet of worry and fear, paralyzed by what had so quickly become our reality. Here, even here, in our little car with our sleeping babes, the Lord spoke right to my soul. Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. I will be with you wherever you go.
I will never forget sitting on a rusty old train in Busteni, Romania. As I looked out the open window at the crowd of little boys who had become my life, my joy. We were waving our last goodbyes and my heart was ripping in two. What I had thought I could never face, God had used to teach me about His heart. He had daily showed me how precious and priceless each one of these boys was to Him. Yes, we saw abuse, had even physically placed our bodies between children and the nannies as they raised the thick dowling to beat them. Yes, we had watched as the cook scooped dirt from the very 'backyard' (where they relieved themselves) and poured it into the bread dough as filler when they ran out of flour. We also watched the boys, eyes wide with hunger, devour every bite. We bandaged wounds far too complicated for our collegiate years because the medical community claimed that orphans were 'mere dogs, not human'. I wept and prayed myself to sleep. Yet, in the midst of that time, something happened. I learned first hand the heart of God. My heart lept with unexpected joy when I heard the boys giggle, I savored each sweaty, grimy little boy hug, each strange gypsy phrase that dooubled them over with laughter when we tried to say it. I found myself pressing my cheek to theirs and lingering to run my fingers through their hair. I protected them as if they were my own child. Somehow God filled me with a love unimaginable, the depth unfathomable and soon that love produced a courage to walk through anything for the God who loved even these forgotten little boys with such abandon.
That dusty day in Romania, I was able to leave those precious boys only because I knew that there was One who loved them even more than I and He would never leave them. Now, as we drove through thick pine trees in the setting sun, God spoke reminding me that He loved me and our sweet Georgia with that same depth and passion. He would not leave her, not one hair would fall from her head, not one tear from her eye that He did not know about. He would be with us every step of the way.
Miss Georgia Mei in her new It's Poppy Dip Dress!
The Lord gave a promise at the beginning of one trip that I was afraid to take and planted again on the cusp of a journey I did not think that I could walk!
He knew just what I needed that day...
He DID lead us every step of the way...
I did fear, did worry, but when I would place my eyes back on Him, I would find courage to take the next step...
In my Memorial Box? I slip of paper with Joshua 1:9 on it with two pictures attached. One of the Cross on the hillside above Casa de Copii no.9 (the orphanage in Romania) and one of our sweet Georgia on Gotcha day.