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Where does my strength come from?

“They” say adoption is not for the faint of heart–you’ve probably read that before on my blog…but it is very, very true. Some times, I get sidetracked from truth and my flesh sneaks in. I start to worry what others might think of me when it is hard…because right now–we are in a season of hard. But this too–shall pass. In the mean time…I some times I feel like others might be looking in and thinking “Well, you signed up for this”…”You thought about it right?”…”You’re the one who wanted a big family”…all of those things being statements some people might actually in their flesh allow to cross their mind when they see our current hard parts. I can’t let what others see and how they might interpret our harder seasons bother me–I can only focus on following the Lord and allowing HIM to be my strength. He who calls me will equip me. And THAT is all that matters.

But–I don’t feel very equipped right now. (But isn’t that a good place to be? Even when it does NOT feel that way?!)

While these past few weeks have been very, very hard. I wouldn’t change a thing though as I am learning TRULY where my strength comes from. HAVE YOU EVER REALLY CONSIDERED IT?! I mean, does your strength come from time by yourself? A workout? Shopping? Time with friends? Appearing to be a perfect mommy…work person…wife…this or that? Does your strength come from what others think about you? Doing good things for others? Because—when you get to a place when ALL of those things are gone…you really see WHERE YOUR STRENGTH really does come from.

I love how the Message translation says Psalm 121…I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep. God’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you – Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moonstroke. God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.

I THOUGHT I was sure of where my strength comes from. It isn’t until the testing and trying of your faith in perserverance through trial–when the rubber meets the road–that you REALLY see and understand and FEEL where your strength comes from. We are following the Lord…THIS was the Lord’s plan for our family. AND–we are so thankful. The “rose-colored glasses” have been put away, and I am believing in choosing to walk through hard things…in the end–it will be more beautiful. MOST OF THE TIME–choosing and following the Lord’s plan will mean difficulty by the world’s standards. Less sleep. Less time to yourself. Less you, you, you. And while this part is really hard–oh, I know–it is so, so worth it.

I think about the Lord’s goodness…to bring us the most beautiful boy in the whole wild world (don’t argue with me that yours is cuter;)…both his sweet little face and his happy, joyful spirit melt my heart. I think about the Lord’s GRACE in allowing us to grow our family through adoption…HE CHOSE US!…how BLESSED we are!!! And this is one miracle I just couldn’t live without experiencing…it is so HARD…but SO AMAZINGLY beautiful…because at the end of the day–*I* am the one who gets to watch him sleep (even if it is only for a couple of hours at a time;). I think about God’s Fatherly love to our son…how He brought him home in His PERFECT timing…timing perfect for not only Isaac but also for Frank and helping them grow in brotherly love…and in perfect timing to keep Isaac healthy…to place him in a family who would do whatever it takes to get him well…to place him in a family who belongs to Himself. Truly…although these days are hard–God is just so good.

Yesterday, my dear friend Shannon Holden captured us a family for the first time. She is a talented photographer here in the Atlanta area (if you are lucky–she might have some spots open for this Fall;). Shannon and I have been in the same Bible study for 2 years now. Our children also go to the same school. SO, she not only rejoiced with me when Frankie baby was born–but she was here praying with me from day 1 on adoption road…all the way to this past Friday when she stopped by and caught me at a tired, mommy moment (aka: tears). She has seen the best and hardest–and she has celebrated them all with us. I wanted to share some of my favorites with you all…as many of you have also prayed for our son before we even knew his name and you have continued to pray for him through our time home…
The thing I am amazed at most…is what a FIGHTER this little guy is. Here he is…wheezing for air…trying to get over yet another UTI…and what do you have? A HAPPY BABY! He has been through so much in his life so far. Some would say he is resilent–but I say he is a strong, fighter—and I officially agree with the words on our referral from Almaz, “When I look in his face, I see the the strength of God and His grace.” Don’t you see it?

And *I* get to be his mommy!!! How blessed am I? I get to be the one who gets to care for him…wake up with him throughout the night…tickle him and hear his funny little chuckle…and best of all…no one else gets kisses like I do…

And on top of all that–my 4th little man has brought Richard and I ever so close in our marriage. And that is when you know you in the Lord’s will. Things may be hard for a time…but they are as they should be at their core…

And this…(our very first family portrait!)reminds me how really–all the hard stuff + the fun stuff + the day in day out stuff = WORTH IT. So, to the onlookers who think we’ve lost our minds…we are following the Lord and trusting HIM to be our strength. We got news today that antiobiotics will in fact not work on our little man right now (among other things)–so we need prayers to get that UTI away…for his lungs to be stronger…and for hands and hearts and minds to be continually filled with strength from the Holy Spirit as we care for our little ones with tired eyes.

Thank you Shannon Holden Photography for capturing the love of our sweet family. It was just what the doctor ordered for this tired momma…and I know I will cherish these for many, many years to come. Hope you all have a GREAT week!!! I’m taking a few days off to find more rest in Him. Thank you for praying for our family and for being a part of our life.

Alison - September 13, 2010 - 10:08 pm

These pictures are so PRECIOUS!! Will be praying for ya’ll as your going through this hard time. Our strength truly does come from HIM alone!

Melissa Lazzara - September 13, 2010 - 10:09 pm

fantastic pictures!! i especially love the one where isaac is about the eat your face off! so sweet =)

Becca Harley - September 13, 2010 - 10:12 pm

the pictures are beautiful – your family is just breathtaking. We are praying for you – for rest, for strength, for peace, for healing, and for continued laughter and joy and smiles.
Isaiah 40:31

Mandy - September 13, 2010 - 10:13 pm

Such great pictures!!! You have such a blessed family!

Marguerite Burr Cameron - September 13, 2010 - 10:19 pm

Your family is adorable! I have loved following your blog and I really enjoyed what you wrote about today. It was just what I needed to hear.

april - September 13, 2010 - 10:45 pm

oh andrea…those pictures are TRULY priceless! On hard days, just take a look back at those pics and they will truly brighten your day and remind you what you are called to do!

Tara - September 13, 2010 - 10:46 pm

Praying for you and your sweet baby, beautiful pictures

Andrea - September 13, 2010 - 10:58 pm

Praying for you and your beautiful family. Thank you for being honest about the journey and helping others tounderstand just what adoption entails.

Megan - September 13, 2010 - 11:04 pm

Wow, I have SO much to catch up on! And AMEN to that BEAUTIFUL post sister!!!
Love the photos, can’t take my eyes off that beautiful boy (and your gorgeous smile btw).

Dawn - September 13, 2010 - 11:08 pm

LOVE those family pics!!!!!!
Praying for Isaac- for continued strength to fight all this stuff off. What a trooper! Praying for you too- because it takes a lot of strength….thank God we know where it comes from….and we can draw on it 🙂

Kim - September 14, 2010 - 12:01 am

Why am I crying? Oh how you speak directly to my heart. And I stand in awe of how you praise Him from the pit. And how you gracefully dismiss the judgements of others resting fully on His truth!
Then … as if your words weren’t enough … those photos.
Do I see the strength of God and His grace in ITY’s face?
And those family shots.
I must confess … the 1st one with Richard holding you in the background is beyond beautiful!
Love & Blessings from Hong Kong,
P.S. And you know, you can count on my prayers for our little man and his healing!

Kelly Jo - September 14, 2010 - 12:01 am

you represent Christ well Andrea…praying for you sister!!

Jennifer - September 14, 2010 - 12:24 am

LOVE this post! Relating to you. Abby is getting tubes tomorrow and we went to the ENT TODAY. Miraculous cancellation! God is good!!

LOVE THE PICTURES! So beautiful! Priceless!

abby - September 14, 2010 - 12:25 am

absolutely wonderful and precious photos. and I’ll agree…he IS the cutest…especially snuggled up next to mommy in that beautiful sling. praying for you tonight.

kristi johnson - September 14, 2010 - 12:26 am

oh, what great pics…Karen does mine next week..ok, so we need to start planning YOUR weekend here…Saturday night?? hanging in the back yard?? i’ll email ya, kj

Amy - September 14, 2010 - 7:43 am

The pics are beautiful!! Praying for you and your sweet little guy!

Britney - September 14, 2010 - 8:52 am

Your family is beautiful!!! We will be praying for everyone…especially for Issac’s health.

Amy @ Filled With Praise - September 14, 2010 - 9:27 am

Love the pictures. Beautiful. Praying for your family.

Lara - September 14, 2010 - 9:49 am

Those pictures are sooooo sweet. I love the family one. Yesterday I posted this about adversity:

Praying for you in this challenging season.

Shannon - September 14, 2010 - 9:53 am

<> Know this. Keep praying. The tough Months, move on to tough weeks, which become tough days, and then maybe tough mornings or afternoons and then moments. THis changes you. As much as the kids adjust- so do the adults. <> It does get easier.

missy - September 14, 2010 - 10:40 am

the beauty of god’s grace, strength and provision is all over this post. it shows up in the pictures of a beautiful family deriving their beauty from His! i love them all.

did you use an ethiopian shawl/scarf as a carrier in those photos?! brilliant…and GORGEOUS.

Bobi - September 14, 2010 - 11:02 am

I so needed this post, Andrea! We have been “dragging our feet” so to speak on our adoption the past couple of months, however God continues to confirm His will for us to adopt in so many remarkable ways! When people look at me like,”you must be crazy, you already have such a crazy busy life”, sometimes I feel discouraged and doubt this decision, but I think of you and how REAL you have been in sharing the ups and downs of this journey, I praise God to have you as my friend, even if it is from a distance!(:

Sallee Couch - September 14, 2010 - 11:16 am

BEAUTIFUL family!! and love her in a POPPY DIP!!

Suzanne - September 14, 2010 - 11:50 am

Great pictures! You have a beautiful family.


Sara - September 14, 2010 - 12:20 pm

Girl, I needed this today. I’m sitting here a work, tears in my eyes. I’m tired. At my wit’s end. Patience gone. Wondering why in the world we signed on for a fourth child. The self pity party needs to stop. And God has used your blog to tell me so. Thank you.

And the pictures are simply beautiful.

Mitzi - September 14, 2010 - 1:00 pm

So wonderful!! Thank you for sharing your story with us. Our prayers are with you and God continues to weaver your family together!!
Love You,
Mitzi Aylor
Yukon, OK

Elizabeth Olson - September 14, 2010 - 1:24 pm

AMAZING pictures!!! You can actually SEE the love you all have for each other! Love the precious pictures of ITY in your arms! God is truly showing His grace through that little face! Thanks for posting this, and reminding us all that we get our strength through HIM!!!

Christy - September 14, 2010 - 3:35 pm

Read this at THE perfect moment. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing your heart. Will be praying for more STRENGTH during this time for you!

Tara - September 14, 2010 - 3:38 pm

These pictures are beautiful! I appreciate you sharing the hard and joyous parts of the journey.

april - September 14, 2010 - 4:07 pm

So excited! Friday is our first day us ladies at church are getting together to cut out the patterns for the pads and envelopes and then we will get together a second day to sew them all!

Angela Crawford - September 15, 2010 - 9:52 pm

I have been following your blog ever since you brought your sweet baby, Isaac home from Ethiopia!! I am inspired by following your story, as my hubby & I (& our 4 children) wait for a match for siblings (0-5 yr)! Thanks for taking time to blog because it makes a difference. I especially enjoyed your last blog about where your strength comes from & absolutely LOVE the pict of you & Isaac & your family as well!!