God of the Little Moments

"He holds the whole world in His hands...."

We all know that song. It is catchy and cute. It talks about a God that is so big that He can hold the entire globe in His hands. We adults know how big our world is. Not just the physical world, but even our own little "world" - or sphere of influence. We know how much swims around in our brains at any given moment. We know the depths of our hearts and how deeply we feel things.

God is a God who holds it all in His hands.

What does that even mean?

Scripture has a lot to say about God and His hands.

1. Psalm 37:24 - Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

God keeps us from sinking. He fights and defends us. We are attacked on all sides - by our sinful flesh, by the sinful flesh of others (especially those little heathens called children), and by Satan. God is our defender! We do not need to worry, fret, or stress. We need only trust and rest in Him. He will fight for us!

2 Psalm 139:9-10 - IfI take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.

Trials are those things we face through no fault of our own. Sickness. Death. Disease. Those things happen because we live in a sinful world. Temptations are those attacks that try to draw us away to sin. Nothing we face will out-stretch the arm of God. If it is a trial, we know that God is in the midst, holding us. If it is a sin, we know we need only confess and He is faithful and just to forgive us.

3. Isaiah 49:16 - See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.

Nothing can separate us from God. Look at Romans 8: "will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" separate us from God? No! We are written on His palms. We are His beloved. Rest in that. Take comfort in the fact that we are saved - no matter what!

4. Exodus 33:22 - So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.

God protects. Not only will He defend, He protects. He sees when we suffer, and He protects us, maybe not from the suffering, but from despair. His glory will shine - even through the darkest night.

When God holds the whole world in His hands, He holds all the big things - but all the little things as well. God sees, cares, and directs even the smallest of activity.

When we fold laundry and put away the dishes, God upholds us.

When we soothe a "boo-boo" with our hands, God is soothing us with His hands.
When we suffer from an illness, God is our comfort.
When we grieve the loss (even years later), God is our hope and promise.
When we wake up tired, on Monday, with piles of laundry, God is our strength.
When we kiss a little face goodnight, God is there to watch them while they sleep.

God cares about the little moments! To me, my life is made up of little moments. No one sees me change a diaper three-four times a day. No one is there each morning as I wake up groggy. No one sees me make mac 'n cheese (again, for the 100th time).  But God does. He does more than just see the moments, He cares, directs, and upholds those moments.

That is such a comfort to me – to know Someone cares. It strengthens me to continue the hard work of being a mother. It gives me peace knowing that I need not do more – but just keep doing what I am. It gives me hope that my life means something.

I know this because He has become this in my life. I do not say this with any pride or self-glory. I say this with the opposite attitude: humility. I am weak. I am prone to wonder. I am not worthy. Yet, day after day, He meets me where I am. If I am tired, He gives me strength. When I am down, He lifts my spirits. When I am overwhelmed, He gives me peace. However I am lacking, He fills my cup.

May you learn that the God who holds the WHOLE WORLD in His hands, is also the God of the little moments.



Remembering the Progress

David asked God if he could be the one to build God's temple. Instead, God gave David a promise. He told David, in 2 Samuel 7, that a descendant of David’s would sit on the throne of Israel forever. David's response was...

"Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: 'Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? '" (2 Samuel 7:18)

 David did not see this as a disappointment, but rather, a way to reflect back on all of God's faithfulness.

Sometimes it is so hard to remember where we have been. Instead, we feel disappointed that we are not where we want to be.

I can be so hard on myself for...
Not praying enough.
Making a couple of bad food choices.
Still getting mad over the little things.
Not being a fast runner.
Forgetting that birthday.
Not calling someone.
Being a bad mother, wife, friend...etc.

We can also fail to remember the progress our children have made. We find ourselves so consumed by what skill we want our children to master next.

Many of us have said, "I can't wait until they can..."
sit up.
feed themselves.
walk, so I don't have to carry them.
tell me what they want.
make their own bed.
pick up their own toys.
play nice.
stop whining.
brush their teeth.
put away their dishes.
clean up after themselves.
help me with chores.

When we focus on the future, we lose sight of the present and the past. When it comes to progress, do we forget where they have been as well?

Not remembering the progress brings discontentment. Discontentment is such a dangerous thing. It can lead to fear, anxiety, anger, and resentment. 

Remembering brings joy.
Nothing steals joy like discontentment. When we remember the progress, we can restore joy. We can restore joy in the hearts of our children and ourselves. Our children need to hear us praise them for their progress, even if that progress is small. If they have mastered the art of sitting still, praise them! If they have mastered the art of getting dressed themselves, praise them! If they clean their room on their own, praise them!  Bring joy to your heart as well by remembering the small things.  I used to have such a bad attitude about certain chores.  My days seem to be filled with chores, but without my bad attitude.

Remembering brings motivation.
When we remember the progress, we can be motivated to keep going. With our children, it can motivate us to keep teaching.  You can click here to see a post about love and teaching.  We can focus on how far we have come with our healthy-eating plan, exercise, spiritual life, etc. We can remember how we used to not be able to say no to an unhealthy food, and now we can make the choice to have an apple. We can remember how a mile of running would have been our limit, and now we can run five miles! We can remember where reading our Bible was a once-a-week thing, now we are reading at least three to four times a week.

Remembering brings delight.
When we remember the progress, we can delight in the little moments. We can be thankful for the present. We can laugh at the silliness and marvel as they learn new things. I loved seeing my little boy get dressed on his own for the first time. His smile was priceless. I loved seeing my kindergartner recognize words on cracker boxes and billboards. I get a lot of enjoyment in seeing myself making good choices.

Say this:

Instead of focusing on________, I am remembering ________.

Instead of focusing on my five-year-old's lack of cleanliness, I am remembering that he can now bathe himself!
Instead of focusing on my three-year-old's tantrums, I am remembering that he can use the potty all the time now!
Instead of focusing on my 1-year-old's ability to make a mess, I am remembering that she can pick up toys as well!
Instead of focusing on my lack of faith, I am remembering all of the faithful moments.

Just this morning, I was able to praise my five-year-old for a his progress.  He usually throws a huge fit if he is interrupted during his playtime.  As he was coming down for breakfast he said, "I still have work to do (on his block tower).  But I can finish it later."  I was shocked!  I could have just ignored it, but instead, I praised him for such a great attitude!

What progress are you remembering - either with your children or yourself?

**Special Note**
The above photograph (and others like it) are from Johnson Photography WV.  She is a gifted photographer and her speciality is children! Check out her website at:


Home Study: Check!

Get ready for some exciting news!
We have been in contact all week with our social worker, who has been working so very hard to finish our home study.  She would email us with questions, then we would email her back. Sometimes she would need an additional form.  We looked over two drafts of the home study before she submitted it Friday, April 11th.

Insert here: Me doing a BIG HUGE happy dance!

It goes on to two different supervisors for approval. After both supervisors approve it, we can move on to the next step: the dossier.  (Pronounced doss-e-A) 

An international adoption dossier is a collection of legal documents that are translated and authenticated to prove that we are who we say we are, and we are able to care for a child.  This packet of information will be sent to China once everything is gathered.  Some of this information includes:

Birth Certificates
Marriage Certificates
Employer Verification Letter
Financial Statements
Medical Suitability Certificates
Police Clearance Letters
Home Study
Reference Letters
Doctor’s Letters of Support (specialists that will be able to take care of a child with a special medical need)

Most of these items will need to be notarized as well as verified by the Secretary of State’s office.  Usually this step takes three to four months. While we are working on our dossier is it also possible to be preliminarily matched with a child.  It means that while we are gathering documents, we can look at referrals. 

On Friday we were able to participate in a conference call with the China team at our agency. First they sent out a letter.

The letter stated:
We have signed a new agreement with the Shanghai Child Welfare Institution! The Shanghai CWI is a top tier orphanage in China and has an excellent reputation for the care they provide to the children, as well as specialized services such as play therapy, occupational and physical therapy, and medical care. Teams of educators and social workers collaborate to meet the educational and mental health needs of the children. The CWI also has a rehabilitation center that provides rehabilitation and language training to children with autism, cerebral palsy, and deafness both within the orphanage and in the larger community…

Through this new relationship with the Shanghai CWI, we are anticipating between 50 and 80 new referrals (that is children!!) during the next 12 months. Children in the China program range in age from about 12 months to 13 years. About 20% of referrals will be for children with more treatable, correctable conditions, and the remainder will be for children with more moderate to significant needs.  We will have each child’s referral for 2-3 months and are therefore actively seeking families who may be open to children with these types of needs, in the hopes that we will be able to quickly match new referrals to families in our program.
Our agency is so excited about this new agreement and the amount of new referrals.  Our agency is reaching out to families who are in the process of adopting, but who are not currently pursuing China, to consider doing so.  The wait time for a referral from China will be significantly shorter.  They also hope to place as many children as they can so as to keep this agreement with the Shanghai CWI open.

We were so encouraged when we heard this news!  Not only does it mean a possible shorter wait time, but it also has reconfirmed that God is leading and guiding us to China.  We have moments when we ask ourselves, Why China? Why are we doing this? and Why are we adopting?  It is an unspoken question I am sure many friends and family have wondered too.  Adoption is expensive, not only in the financial realm, but the emotional realm as well.  Adoption is a hassle.  Adoption requires a lot of paperwork, hours of reading documents and books, traveling various places to gather the correct paperwork, and endless emails back and forth.  Adoption requires openness – during our home study we had to be open about our strengths and weaknesses as a family.  It is not easy to be open about weaknesses. 

Adoption is hard at times. But God keeps reminding us over and over again that He has called us to do this.  We know that we were led here by Him.  We cannot think of any good reason why we should NOT adopt.  We can only remind ourselves of all the reasons we ARE adopting:
To fulfill the Great Commission.
To obey the commands of Scripture.
To raise children to follow God.
To add to our family.
To provide a child with a home.
To embrace a different culture.
To be a LIGHT in a dark place.

The fact that our home study is almost complete and that it looks as if China is opening its doors a little wider has just lifted our spirits and caused us to give praise to God! 

**If you are interested in adoption, please contact me!  I can share with you some resources and answer any questions you might have.


Practicing Joy

We juggle a lot as mothers.  We juggle cleaning, cooking, teaching, and organizing.  Some mothers work outside the home – adding a new dimension to the juggling.  (I have always had a great respect for working-mothers!) When do we have time for joy?  We talk about joy being something we feel, but it is not a feeling. It takes practice to have joy.  It takes work.

Out of the Grey’s song “Joy” describes how elusive joy can be.

Some say the face is unforgettable
I'm sure I've seen it many times
Ah, but you know me
I forget so easily

Joy seems to slip away as soon as we get a hold of it.  Joy is not something easily described.  We think back to times in our life when we think we had joy: college, single, high school, childhood.  Joy is not found in circumstances – nor is it found in anything in this world. If you have not accepted Christ as your Savior and Lord, true joy cannot be found.  You can experience times of happiness, but a deep-seated joy can never be obtained.  True joy is found only in Christ.  Sadly, many Christians (including myself) seem to lack the joy that is supposed to follow being in Christ.

We can look at a few Psalms to find how to practice joy.

1. Practice trusting in God
Psalms 5:11 – But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful.
Psalm 37:5 –Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

Trusting means to let go of independence and depend on someone else. I ask my children to trust me.  When my children fight and argue, they are not trusting me.  I tell them no to protect them.  I ask them to do chores to teach them.  I have them apologize to learn forgiveness.  When they say no to me, they do not trust me.  When we are being selfish and independent, we are not trusting God.  Worry, sin, disappointment, fear, and anxiety can all steal our joy. Trust God about the little things: dinner, a clean house, and the laundry. Trust God about the big things: sickness, loss, and fears. We practice joy when we trust God. 

2. Practicing the presence of God

Psalm 16:11 – You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is the fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 89:15 – Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.

Where do we find God’s presence?  In the things we know we should do: reading His Word and praying.  Read God’s Word daily.  I cannot emphasize how much joy can be found in the pages of Scripture! Get a daily reading plan.  A simple Google search will show you hundreds.  One reading plan I like is to read one chapter in the Old Testament, one chapter in Psalm/Proverbs, and one chapter in the New Testament.  When I finish with Psalm/Proverbs and the New Testament, I begin again.  I do not try to make-up any days that I miss.  I pick up where I left off.  Daily prayer is also a place to practice joy.  I have just completed seventy days of writing out my prayers.  You can see my post about that here.  I am anxious to keep this habit going with a small notebook!

 3. Practicing forgiveness and mercy
Psalm 32:2, 5 – O Lord my God, I cried out to You and You healed me…For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

So many times that verse is taken out of context.  You can see from the previous verses, David is speaking about God’s forgiveness and mercy.  Sorrow for our sin (“weeping”) may endure for a night, but forgiveness and mercy (“joy”) comes in the morning.  Many times we lack joy because we harbor sin.  Some sins that steal our joy are bitterness, worry, anger, and fear. We can sing with the Psalmist, Psalm 106:1 - Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. When we seek forgiveness and mercy, we will find it!  God is ready to restore our joy as we confess our sins to Him. We also can practice this forgiveness and mercy as we forgive others.  When bitterness over something someone did wrong overtakes our hearts, joy can be found in forgiving that person.  Joy is practiced as we forgive those that wrong us – even if we have to forgive every day!

4. Practicing praising God

Psalm 43:4 – Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.
Psalm 122:1 – I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord.

The psalms clearly teach that joy is lived out in praising God.  When we worship God, we are focusing on Who God is and what He has done.  We tell Him how faithful or how mighty He is.  We can sing or play music.  God is faithful, just, holy, righteous, true, lovely, all-powerful, all-knowing, and loving. He has rescued us, adopted us, loved us, and guided us. Begin to praise God and joy will take a front-row seat in your heart.

5. Practice sacrificing

Psalm 27:6 – And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Sacrificing is the way of life for mothers. We have sacrificed our bodies (emotionally and sometimes physically).  We have sacrificed our hearts. We have sacrificed careers.  We have sacrificed going to the store alone, or getting a good night’s sleep, or eating a quiet meal.  We can either become martyrs or we can become joyful servants.  Sacrificing is the way of life for Christians. We are told to sacrifice.
Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
We do not always feel like sacrificing.  That is ok.  Remember that sacrificing leads to joy.  We may not feel joy at first. Who really finds joy in scraping off the last little bits of dinner from the plates the next morning?  Joy comes when we remember that we are living just how Christ has called us to live.  Our calling is one of sacrifice. 

 Joy is a confidence in the Person. When the focus is off of ourselves, we focus on Christ.  He is our source of joy through

Trusting Him

His presence

Confessing our sins

Worshipping Him


If we practice those things, we are practicing joy.


Love in Laundry

Laundry and teaching have a lot in common. We will always be doing laundry. We will always be teaching.  Our families will always have dirty clothes and our children will always need to be taught something.  My laundry piles up about twice a week now.  I realize that might be nice for some of you, who end up doing maybe four or five loads a day.  Before children, I did laundry once a week. As my children grow, I realize so does the laundry!  Soon I will need to be doing laundry every day. My children remind me every day that they need to be taught things as well.  As a mother of small ones, I hear myself saying things like:

"Stop that."
"Don't touch that."
"It isn't nice to push."
"Please stop blowing in my face - you cannot continue to blow in people's faces."

"Please put away your dish."
"Remember to flush!"

We teach our children to ...
...be potty trained.
...wash their hands.
...eat with a fork.
...sing songs.
...be respectful.
...be kind.
...not invade personal space.

So many books and blogs on motherhood speak about doing the everyday things.  Sometimes they say it is hard.  Sometimes they say it is lonely.  Sometimes they encourage you to "get through it."  Or, "this is only a season."  Teaching your children and laundry are not seasons. We will always be teaching.  We will always be doing laundry (and dishes and mopping). It can be discouraging. It can be disheartening. It can be tiring.  How do we escape the discouragement?
Love. It may seem too simple, but it is not.  Loving is so very hard.  How can you love someone after they just threw-up all over you?  How can you love something that takes all of your mental energy?  How can we love while serving whether it be laundry, dishes, mopping, or teaching? 

1. We do not have to love the job - We only have to love the person behind the job. 
Proverbs 10:12 says "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses." (ESV)
We love our family and want them to have clean clothes.  That is why we do laundry.  We love our family and want them well-fed.  That is why we fix dinner every night. We love our children.  That is why we continue to teach, discipline, and guide them.  You do not have to love the fact that you told your three-year-old to flush for the 100th time.  You only have to love that little three-year-old.  You do not have to love the fact that your five-year-old still tries to get your attention by blowing in your face.  You only must love your five-year-old.  You do not have to love the baby's dirty diapers.  You only must love the baby. Loving that person allows us to focus on who we are serving, instead of trying to just serve.

2. We do not have to love all on our own.
John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches, He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit (love!); for without Me you can do nothing....As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love."  (NKVJ)
This is key.  This is the strength behind how we love. Only through Jesus' help can we truly love.  Our own love will fade and eventually fail.  We have all tried to love someone on our own.  Eventually, we fall short.  Only with Jesus' love, living through us and aided by the Holy Spirit, can we truly continue to love those around us.   Loving people is hard work. It takes more than you have. It takes more than I have.  Filling ourselves with Christ each day and striving to keep His commandments is the only way to be able to love freely. 

How do you continue to love in laundry (and the rest of motherhood)? How do we fill ourselves with Christ?
1. Read God's Word daily.
2. Pray daily.
3. Rest daily.