More Than I Could Imagine

Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think(imagine NIV)...Ephesians 3:20 KJV

Never did I imagine that as we set out to bring Luke home that the path would involve the turn that it took.

Just as I never would have imagined that the home Luke was going to was my Father's House, I could never have imagined that the Lord was leading us not only to Luke but also to another little boy.

Emma saw him first.  And fell in love.

Then she "introduced" me with, "Isn't he cute?"
Me: Of course he is!
Emma:  So what do you think?
Me:  What do you mean, 'what do I think?'"
Emma:  Can we adopt him?

Honestly, it was just too soon for me.  I told her to talk to her father.  

She did...to both her earthly and heavenly.

None of us could forget him.  

Finally, Kevin...uncharacteristically, admitted he kept thinking about "Jake."

I discovered he was with an agency that was not our own...on their Individual List.  Which usually means: switch agencies or forget about it.

God intervened.

And, through a series of God-incidences, this adorable little boy will...Lord willing...be coming home in either July or August. 

Just as the paths to Lily and Luke are God-stories, the path to this little one is every bit as much His story.

Some of that story and our newest one's name... next time!

In Him,


Unexpected Treasure

I had not stopped wiping my tears, when the Lord lifted my head and pointed in the distance.

At that point, I think I was too overwhelmed or consumed or just wrestling to hold onto all those flowers(!) to comprehend He was leading me to somewhere...to someone.

Even as He showed me, I wanted to avert my gaze and keep looking for my flowers.  Not think too far down the road.

But as that loving Father, Shepherd, and Friend, He kept lifting my chin to see.

He'd already whispered to me...don't pitch a tent and dwell here in the Valley.  You may still cry, but you must keep moving through.  He had tasks and gifts for me that could only be reached by going through the Valley.

Even though I had tried to avert my gaze from where He was taking me...the glimpse, what I saw, burned in my mind and heart.

The face would not go away.

Looking at the sweet little face only brought more tears, so I would try not to look or think about it, but still his face was there.

No, Lord, You were supposed to be bringing me to Luke!  

I still am, my child...you just need to wait a little longer.  But this one is here and he needs you to be Me to him now.  Will you risk hurting again to go where I am leading you?  You know I walk with you through every valley and the journey there is always with purpose.  Will you go to this new place?  This sweet boy?

Yes, Lord.

ps....Tomorrow, I will make things more clear...


No Dead Ends

Another enduring lesson that was learned in the Valley has been that there are no dead ends when walking with God .

Psalm 23:  says, "Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death..."


The dictionary says through means "in at one end, side or surface...and out at the other."

I am walking through the Valley...not staying.  He promises I won't get stuck there!

I was abruptly plunged into it, and the Good Shepherd in His wisdom is leading me through it.  I won't dwell here forever, but I will forever be changed by it.

There is hope in knowing I am moving through.

It also means that I can look forward to where He is leading me to.

When I was first dropped into this Valley, I couldn't even begin to grasp all that He would teach me or that the path would lead to where it has.

I have written of some of the flowers He drew my attention to in the Valley (believe me there are many more) and how precious they have been and always will be.  What I didn't see as my eyes were searching the ground for His flowers was that all the while He had been leading me to new ground and new territory.

Had He not led me there by way of the Valley...for it was the only way to get there...I would have missed it's treasure.

What is the treasure?

I will tell you...tomorrow.

In Him,


Flowers in the Valley, Part 3

The next lesson the Lord wanted to teach came in the hospital and was reinforced over and over again in the Word over the next few months.

It was this...there are certain things that the Bible says should be hallmarks...identifying characteristics, if you will...of believers in Christ.  Most of us eagerly desire certain hallmarks...like joy and peace.  But the Lord spoke directly to my heart that there is another that we as [Western] believers do everything in our power to avoid...suffering.  I know I do.

As I sat in my hospital bed praying about all that had transpired in a short time, two verses came to mind.

The first was 2 Timothy 3:12:   Indeed all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Suffering...assaults from the enemy...are promised to those who love the Lord.  Not as punishment...but as evidence that we are HIS.  As Jesus suffered, so must those who are called by His name.

As I sat and processed this, a second verse Acts 5:40-41 became my response.  
They called the apostles in and had them flogged.  Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.

The Lord spoke to my heart...these trials are proof-positive of My love for you and your love for Me.  It is a pre-cursor of the "well done, good and faithful servant" which I long to hear.

This third flower in the Valley of the Shadow brought perspective to the back-to-back trials.  It did not lessen the pain, but brought joy (different from happiness) to know that my God had counted me worthy to suffer for His name.

And that meant He had a purpose and plan for this suffering.  I knew it meant He would somehow receive glory, honor, and praise and that I would grow in my love and knowledge of Him.

In Him,


Flowers in the Valley, part 2

One of the most profound lessons I have learned in the Valley of the Shadow came in the very moment I heard of Luke's death.

It is this...as a believer in Christ I must "decide" now what I believe about God.  Now.  Before the storm hits...before the battle rages...before.  Now.  

It is equivalent to be trained for battle, adept with my weapons, dressed in my armor.

I don't say this meaning I can create for myself Who God is.  

Not at all.  

What I do mean is that, as a Christ-follower, I must KNOW Who the Word of God declares God to be.  And then I must purpose in my heart that I will never allow myself to believe anything other than that.  

No matter what my feelings or circumstances seem to indicate.  

God's Word is perfect and unchanging...my feelings and circumstances are not.

Many times over the years, I have purposefully studied the attributes of God.  Most recently I co-taught a study on A.W. Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy.  Through all of the varying valleys I have traversed, WHO God is has been what has held me together. 

Knowing God is sovereign, loving, faithful, all-powerful, all-knowing, righteous, just, perfect, compassionate, holy...good...has been the anchor for my soul.  I have tied myself to that and cried out to God to never let me let go the Truth

I want to see every new trial through WHO He is not...not the other way around.

When God and Satan discussed Job, Satan's goal was to get Job to curse God.  His first tactic?  To get Job to doubt WHO God is by muddying the waters with difficult circumstances.

Satan (our adversary) has the exact same desire for each and every believer.

The astounding reality of this confronted me during that phone call.

What I didn't share previously about that phone call was this:

Right after the woman from our adoption agency spoke the words about Luke's sudden illness and death, I felt the enemy of my soul whisper:  "So, Mandy, is God good now?"

Not audibly, but it might as well have been.  

I was so stunned at the obvious frontal attack on the nature of God and the low-down, dirty timing of it.  

Immediately, I replied in my heart...yes, He is good all of the time. 

Right then and there I purposed to declare His goodness in this trial as often as I had opportunity.  If you have followed this blog these last few months, I pray that this has been evident even through my tears.

He IS good!  He is always good...and I will shout it from the rooftops that even during this great loss, He has been so good to me.

Satan wanted me to curse God, but I refuse.  God is good...all of the time.  Had I not seen in Scripture and determined to believe that God's goodness is WHO He is not what my circumstances are...I would have been easy pickings for the enemy.

So, another flower was discovered in the Valley.  This flower of God's unchanging goodness served to open my eyes to look for more...more flowers of His goodness in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  Satan, who had come to destroy my faith in God, had actually served as a herald of my task...to be looking for the flowers of God's goodness.  His goodness became the lens through which I knew I had to choose to see all that was going on.

 Surely goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Psalm 23:6

In Him,