Friday, January 25, 2013

Our Journey Continues...

When I was a senior in high school, I encountered the most devastating time in my young life. My best friend had dumped me and a cherished boyfriend dumped me. I had been ousted from my place on the basketball team by three freshman. And then, the only college that I wanted to attend, wait-listed me.

I was devastated. 

I had no other plan. 

And then someone suggested I apply to Calvin. "They accept anyone with money." Yeah, that felt great. Long story short: I was accepted, but they didn't have a program I liked. And then, there was the added complication of this guy who went to school there. But I didn't want to choose that school just because of a guy. 

I was in utter turmoil. The whole world was against me. What in the world did God want for me? What was his will? Where was I supposed to go to college? If I went to Calvin, what would I major in? And what about that guy? Could I screw this whole thing up somehow? 

Needless to say, I didn't handle that time in my life very well. My angst was well-fitted to my teenage life. 

Fast forward a few years. 

This is a pivotal time for our family. I could very easily look at my life as I did in high school, uncertain, insecure, questioning, doubting, not sure of what God was doing.

On February 15th, there is a scheduled matching meeting in Lesotho. At this meeting, our dossier will be presented and, Lord willing, matched with waiting orphans. This is easily a more tenuous time than back when I was 18. But, I have noticed something, I am not nearly so unsure of God's plan for my life. 

Do I know how it turns out? No.

Am I worried? Not really. Don't worry, there are plenty of scenarios where things go could 'wrong' (i.e. not according to my plan)

Why am I not worried? 

God has this entire thing squarely in the palm of his hand. He knows everything: how long we've waited, what our desires are, where are hearts are, the journey we've travelled to get to this point. And because of this, I have great confidence in his plan--not that it is easy or what I want, but that it is GOOD, all the time. 

With that in mind, however, I know that God listens to the prayers of his people. We can all approach his throne with confidence, knowing that his Spirit intercedes on our behalf. 

Eric and I would ask you to join us in three weeks of concentrated prayer regarding our adoption. Will you join us by praying? We have very specific requests:
  • That this meeting happen as scheduled, that all waiting families will be matched with waiting orphans. 
  •  It is our deepest heart's desire to bring home a brother/sister sibling set. Will you pray boldly that God provide this for our family?
  • There are details and timing issues relevant to our specific case that only God can work out. Will you pray that God works out every detail--from trip timing to paperwork to embassy meetings?
  • Finally, we are starting to prepare for a 3-4 week trip to Africa. Although there are many, many details to work out to travel as 5 and return as 7, our biggest concern is financial. Pray that God provide abundantly for our plane tickets, three week stay in Africa, our expenses to maintain our home while we are gone, and our homecoming. 
  • Finally (for real) that God is honored and glorified through this whole process: our waiting, our kids, our homecoming. Although we have these requests, these desires of our hearts, truly, we want His will to be done in our lives and in our family. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Walking away from a Dream

I have always wondered what those prayers/songs/promises of mine have meant:

"I give myself away, so you can use me."

"Here I am Lord, send me"

I always wanted it to mean to pack everything and move to Africa. But I never thought it would mean walking away from a life-long dream.

When I was a kid, I had three goals/ dreams for my growing up: 1) I would become a high-profile editor, 2) I would publish a book, and 3) I would win a Pulitzer Prize for said book (i have now amended that to one of any number of awards--just keeping my options open!)

How's it going? Well, it's evident that #1 is not who I am. I have chosen a life as a stay-at-home homeschooling mom. I cherish the opportunity to teach math and reading and spelling and writing, to read books and make cookies, to stay in pajamas all day (if I wanted to).

#2? Well, that's what this post is all about. I have successfully written a book. It's 93,000 words. It is a complete novel with a complete story arc. It's not perfect, but it's a good base story. Last week, I submitted it to an editor who requested it. On Monday, his company offered me a contract. And this afternoon, I politely declined.

This is something I have wanted for my entire life. To write words and stories that move people, that make them think, that cause them to talk. I haven't ever really cared if my name was in print, but I have always wanted to tell a good story. I have that opportunity, right in front of me, with an editor who is excited for my book to enter the marketplace which is a fierce place for a first-time author.

And I am going to walk away.

Right now, as I type these words, it makes me so sad. I may never again have this chance. My book, as proud as I am of it, as much as I want others to read it, may simply become a neglected file on my computer or a space-claiming pile of dusty papers.


Well, there are a myriad of reasons, but there are one or two big ones waiting for me in Africa. After waiting all this time for them to come home, to be able to love them, to provide them with stability, a place to heal and a family to call theirs, I want to give them all of me, not the part of me that is preoccupied with deadlines, not the part of me that has to spend inordinate amounts of time on the computer marketing myself, not the part of me that tells them to calm their own fears, not the part of me that won't read them one more story.

I am turning away from my dream for the promise of putting hands on my children. It's what I've been called to do: open my arms and my home, to show one or two or more children the Jesus who rescues them from their despair.

I am giving my book and my dreams into the hands of a God who is bigger than any publishing contract, any life-long dream. Even now, as I write this, it doesn't make sense. Why would God allow such great things if I truly just needed to turn away from it? Why can't I do everything? How am I supposed to use this gift, if not in this way? Maybe this is just for right now and I still get to publish it later?

Right now I trust and I have peace.

The God who demands great things from us rewards richly. If you are someone who doesn't believe in God, the Lord, the Author and Perfecter of our Faith, this makes no sense. Maybe even to someone who does believe, this doesn't make sense.

But this is my call: to follow him with my whole life means to give up my deepest desires to have them be replaced by His. For now that means that I walk away from my dream.

And I wait for my kids.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Year in Review: 2012

Well, it's more like: all-the-books-that-Sammy-read-this-past-year. 

It's never been a secret: I'm a reader. 

For the first time ever, I wrote down every book that I read this year. 

And now I'm going list the books that I read this year. Putting this down in writing is a bit vulnerable because you get to see the great and the not-so-great books that I read this year. Some are embarrassing, some make me proud, all of them made me think (at least a little) this year (even if it is to say "that was a terrible piece of writing"). 

I know more at the end of 2012 because of the books I read. I wish I could tell you about the books that I loved or reviled the most or explain why I read the ones that I did. Some were simply easy to read or guilty pleasures. Others were comforts. Some were suggestions or book club books. Some had very hard/big words that I had to write down to look up later. 

(Because I can't tell you everything about every book, I am highlighting my favorites. If you like books and have some time: read them.) 

Leota's Garden--Francine Rivers
Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini
Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan
     -The Lightening Thief
     -Sea of Monsters
     -The Titan's Curse
     -The Last Olympian
Body Ecology--Donna Gates
No Riding your Bicycle in the House without a Helmet by Melissa Faye Green
The Aedyn Chronicles by Alister McGrath
     -Chosen Ones
     -Flight of the Outcasts
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxes
Bossypants by Tina Fey
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Unbroken by Laura Hillebrand
Born to Run 
20 & Counting by JimBob and Michelle Dagger
A Different Sky by Miera Chand
Celebration of Disciplines by Richard J Foster
In the Garden of Beasts by Eric Larson
A Searing Wind (#3 in Coming to America) by the Gears
Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah
Cinderella Ate my Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
Outlander by Diane Gabaldon (Okay, so I re-read this one It's a bit of a guilty pleasure)
Game of Thrones and Clash of Kings by George RR Martin
Winter of the World by Ken Follet
Power of Nine
The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner
     -Maze Runner
     -The Scorch Trials
     -The Death Cure

The books that I read with the kids that were not related to school:
Little Pilgrims Progress by Helen Taylor
The Secret Garden by Francess Burnett Hodges
Wonderstruck by Selznick

The Books I started with every great intention but totally dropped were:
  John Adams by McCullough
  Courage Undaunted by Ambrose
  Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Totals: 32 read, 3 more with the kids, 3 dropped.  23 Fiction, 9 Non-fiction. Not too shabby.

 I'm compiling my list for 2013. And I'd gladly take your suggestions! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Now what?

Today, I crossed another item off my non-existent bucket list: I submitted a completed (93,500 word) fiction manuscript. I feel like I've been working at this for the past few months. And in reality, since October 15, when the editor first asked for a sample, this manuscript is where every extra bit of effort, imagination, and time has gone.

This afternoon I sent in my manuscript.

I smiled widely and then took a minute to congratulate myself.

But what am I going to do now?

My Top 10 list of things to do now:
10) Pinterest: maybe now I'll have time to actually make a crafty thing (maybe not!)
9) Laundry.
8) Write more blog posts.
7) Read a good book--haven't read a good one in months. I need to read a good story.
6) Spend quality time with my kids, as in not say to them "figure it out yourself" or "you're hungry? I'm sorry"
5) Beuker school is back in session.
4) Check my email every twenty minutes waiting for a word from the editor or our adoption social worker.
3) I'm sure there some new website that I can waste more and more hours on...
2) Sleep. I am going to sleep because I won't be dwelling on the scenes I have to edit or the characters I have to develop or the description I have to add.

Yep, I'm going for nothing.

Maybe next week I'll start on my second book. ;)