living on pb & j

Ordinary moms living on Prayer, the Bible, and Jesus!

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Keeping Your Family Strong on the Journey

“[God] gave us six kids, not so we could raise them.

[He gave us six kids] so they would help finish the process of God raising us.”

– Dennis Rainey


At the beginning of this month, my husband and I had the immense privilege of attending a conference for Christians involved in adoption, foster care, and/or orphan care. Representatives from across the country and the world were present, exchanging information, giving testimonies, and praising a God who redeems. At the end of each day, Calvin and I were utterly spent with the overwhelming amount of information we had processed. At the same time, we were renewed with excitement and energy for this oh-so-important cause of Christ.

One session we enjoyed together was one taught by Dennis Rainey, the president of FamilyLife. He spoke about building and maintaining strength as an adoptive family in particular. However, the wise principles he taught were ones that could be applied to any Christian home. My rough outline does not do justice to the depth of his Biblical counsel, but we’re all moms here. You only have a couple minutes, anyway, before someone will be tugging on your shirt or screaming for your attention.

1. Proactively protect and invest heavily in your marriage.

The time to prepare for a storm is not when the storm hits. The wise man’s story in Matthew 7:24 instructs us to prepare, build, and strengthen our home long before the storm rages. We must lay a firm foundation, strengthen our perimeters, and watch diligently for any cracks or flaws in need of repair. Here are a few practical ways to do this:    

  • Pray together every day as a couple.
    “When two people bend their wills, God can show up.”
  • Plan a date night.
  • Agree on your core values as you raise your children.
    Oneness is imperative. You and your spouse must have a game plan for each child. Love reality. Deal with it. Do not sweep it under the rug.” At you will find an excellent resource to use as you and your husband discuss these important topics.

2. Anticipate trials, challenges, and storms. They will come.

  •   A crisis demands a shift in focus.
    “Turn to God together. Do not turn away from one another.”
  •   Do not stay centered around the crisis.
  •   Surround yourself with wise, godly friends.

3. Protect your family by creating positive family memories.

Be intentional about this. Make your home one full of laughter and positive interaction.

4. Remember that it is all about redemption.

In the midst of the chaos, no matter what happens to your family and marriage, it is a picture of God’s redemption.

  • Know the truth about God and life.
    “The most important thing about you is what you think about God.” – A.W. Tozer
  •  Know the boundaries of love.
    You cannot be the rescuer or the enabler in your family (e.g., with a wayward child). Love sometimes allows pain.
  •  Courage is doing your duty in the face of fear.
  •  Continue to love in the face of rejection.
  •   Know the brokenness of man.

The final conclusion given by Rainey was this: “Adoption is a high, holy privilege. It brings us close to the heart of God.”

This is so very true, but it would be just as true to replace the word adoption with the words marriage or motherhood. We are instruments of God, with the purpose of bringing glory to Him through our imperfect families. Though the storms rage, and at times, the heavy winds seem endless, we are not to focus on the sin or the storm.

May we daily see our role of wife and mother as a God-given privilege. And may we continue to embrace the heart of God, keeping our eyes upon His coming redemption.

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Walking through Waves

Someone once told me that God will provide for every step along His journey for us. Under one condition.

He only provides as we first take the step.


This idea reminds me of Peter when he desired to walk on the water with Jesus. First, Peter’s desire became action. Only then, Christ met him with the full ability. It would have been one thing for Peter to privately, sheepishly request water-walking lessons from Jesus. Maybe at a time when they were alone, when the guys couldn’t see him struggle in the waves. Maybe at a more appropriate time, maybe when the waves weren’t so high. But instead, Peter swung his leg over the edge and jumped out the boat, in front of those nearest and dearest to his heart. He cast himself and his reputation into the sea of surrender, straight into the arms of Jesus.

Of course, I can’t leave out a crucial part of this story: Peter’s faith did falter, and he sank in fear. But Christ’s hand was close, and His footing was sure. The point is this: Peter could have never known the full extent of God’s provision or his own ability to be used… if he hadn’t jumped out of the boat. In front of others. I believe Jesus planted that desire in Peter’s heart to show ALL the disciples what could be done with a recklessly surrendered heart. It was for His glory. Christ was magnified.

That’s what our desire is for our family. That Christ would be showcased in all that we do. This is the story of our family and the story of God’s family, overlapping into one.

After our foster son was reunified with his parents, we sure missed his raspy giggle, silly personality, and slobbery kisses. But the ache was eased by the assurance that we had obeyed the Lord. We remained licensed in our county; however, because we sought to foster children who were younger than our two-year-old son, we rarely received calls from our local children’s services. Or we would miss the calls. Or the situations presented were impossible for our family to accept.

We knew that there were millions of children worldwide in need of families to care for them. We also knew that God had given us a strong desire to grow our family through adoption. A wise preacher once counseled my husband, “God isn’t talking to just everyone about <insert your burden here>. He’s not wasting his time. More than likely, if God is talking to you about <insert your burden here>, you’re the one who’s called to do it.” Cut and dry. Plain and simple. After much research, discussion, and prayer, we decided to pursue an adoption internationally.

Yes, we knew it was expensive. Yes, we knew it could be risky. Yes, we knew it wasn’t for everyone. But God was asking us to trust Him. This was as much about His glory as it was about our family or our future child. We stuck our toes into the sea of faith, tested the waters, and completed an international home study. God placed His seal of approval upon this “faith-step” by reimbursing the cost – to the dollar amount.

Shortly thereafter, we found out we were expecting Adeline! We were ecstatic about the gift of our girl. But we never forgot about our child to come. Our child from across the world. I truly felt as if I were expecting two – one in my womb, but both in my heart. Both of them eagerly anticipated. Both of them just as much a part of who we are as Blaine was at that time.

So there we were. Perched on the edge of the boat, ready to jump, in front of everyone. We made our “faith-step” public so that Christ might be glorified. And you know what? We expected calm waves and smooth sailing. However, this was not God’s plan. Over the course of many months, we were met with torrential delays and crashing disappointments. I will give more details in my next post.

But one thing is for certain. Our journey on the stormy sea of faith has made us much more acquainted with the hands of Jesus. He has held us above water. He has faithfully provided. He has gathered us close. He has truly made the impossible possible in our lives. And because of His special closeness, I’ll take a deep breath, look to Him, and continue pressing forward through the waves.

Romans 5:3-5 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”


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Father to the Fatherless

Her hand clung tightly to my back, and her tiny frame snuggled closely against mine. She breathed deeply in slumber, eyelids fluttering. Meanwhile, hot tears streamed down my cheeks, and I shook with muffled sobs. You see, this three-year-old in my arms is my daughter. But with many months of waiting and thousands of miles behind me, this was the first night that I held her close to my heart.

2013-09-03 14.10.20

Psalm 68:6 promises that, “God setteth the solitary in families…” Soon after the birth of our first child, the Lord began to press our hearts with the idea of adoption and the care of vulnerable children. Setting out to present our “religion” as “pure… and undefiled before God and the Father (James 1:27),” we quickly agreed to grow our family by welcoming the fatherless into our home. Slipping our hands into the hands of the Savior, we prayed that He would guide our steps and use us to touch lives as He saw fit.

We began with a need close to home and became licensed foster parents in our county. We realized that state care is imperfect, often flawed, sometimes unjust. But the grim reality is that there are thousands of children lost and insecure within this system. They need loving, secure families to care for them. After the hours of training and the home study process, we received a call about a toddler in need of a temporary home. Admittedly, we were hesitant to welcome a child into our hearts who would soon leave us. We weren’t sure if we could bear the pain of loving, only to suffer loss.

However, I was reminded of the powerful image of Christ in Matthew 19, little ones clustered around Him and perched onto His lap. I imagine that He was smiling and holding them close. Maybe He was recounting a parable, using colorful character voices. Maybe He was teaching them a peppy psalm of praise. The Bible doesn’t go into such detail, but we can infer one thing:

Christ was purposefully placing His tender fingerprint of influence upon their lives.foster-children

The disciples rebuked these children for wasting Jesus’ time. But the Savior responded with, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven (v. 14).” My imagination took it further as I imagined Jesus scooping up one of those precious children and holding him out toward my husband and me. How could we say no? At this point in his life, this child couldn’t get much closer to Christ than to be in the loving home of Christ-believers.

Matthew 6:34 resonated in my mind. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself…” If I were too worried about tomorrow’s emotions to love a child today, this would reveal a complete lack of faith in God.

A few days later, the social worker carried a blonde-haired boy with wide eyes to our front door. I remember watching through the front window, quickly wiping away tears and struggling to gain composure. I was overwhelmed by the innocence of this baby and the frailty of this situation. If it weren’t for God’s grace and His saving power, that could have been my son uprooted and placed into the home of strangers. My heart ached for this boy’s bewilderment and loss. We loved and delighted in him for the six months that he was with us. Then he was gone, reunified with his parents.

I am confident that during those six months, Jesus was placing His tender fingerprint of influence upon that little boy’s life.

And upon mine.

(Our story doesn’t end there. To be continued in February…)