Praise in Motherhood

I read this post at Femina Girls about criticism and praise a few weeks ago.  The quote she shared from Matthew Henry has really stuck with me:

“Praise puts the man into the furnace and we find out what kind of man he really is. The praise might make him proud and lazy or it might make him diligent and thankful.”

Proverbs 31:31 says "Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates." 

It is ok for your work to praise you.  It is ok for others to notice the hard work you put into your mothering, job, or service.  It is how we respond that matters.

Praise could either make us proud or keep us thankful.

We can take the praise and start patting ourselves on the back. Oh Yes, I am a good mother.  Oh, I DO have it all together!  I am so organized.  I am so patient.  This turns into pride very quickly - but we are usually apt at recognizing this type of pride. The self-pity type of pride is more deceiving.  

Sometimes we can take the praise and wallow in self-humiliation. We feel uncomfortable because we began to think of reasons why we don’t deserve the praise.  Doesn’t the Bible say that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble? We feel as if accepting praise is prideful, so we began to form a checklist of reasons why we don’t deserve the praise.  1. I do not always say kind things. 2. I get mad. 3. I am tired all the time….the list goes on and we began to wallow in self-pity.

When we resist the praise, we are actually being proud!  We are focusing on ourselves and why we don’t deserve the praise, or maybe why we wish we deserved the praise.  We are turning our eyes inward, instead of outward and upward.

When we accept the praise and only look inward, we are missing the Source.  When we accept the praise and look UP - at God - we are able to do as Matthew Henry said: be diligent and thankful.

Be Diligent.
When accepting praise, we can turn and look outward.  We recognize that most praise is based on hard work on our part.  We cannot sit back and let our lives play out without hard work.  Working hard at organizing my cabinets will get praise from my husband!  Working hard at manners for my children will merit praise from strangers.  Working hard in my Bible study will be recognized by people when we are able to speak up in Sunday School.  

The praise we receive from our hard work should just make us work harder.

Be Thankful.
Finally, we should immediately begin looking upward when we are praised.  We must give thanks to Him who is the power behind our work.  It is not just our hard work meriting praise - it is God’s Spirit at work in us that deserves the real praise.  When we receive honor or praise, our hearts should quickly bow before God and give Him the glory.

Philippians 2:13 - For it is God who works in you both will and to do for His good pleasure.

Honest Moments are part of a series I do with Keri over at Living in this Season.

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Friday Favorites - ByBMG

Today I want to feature another of my favorite shops.  She is also one of our co-hosts for the monthly link-up parties!  Her blog is www.BYBMG.blogspot.com.  

 Her name is Becky and she runs the shop:

Check out some of her shop items:

Instagram Frame
Instagram Frame

Hand Stamped Aluminum Necklace - customizable!

Your Team Hand Stamped Aluminum Necklace - customizable!

Hand-Stamped Aluminum Necklace - Custom Made!

Toms Flag Zipper Pouch - Blue or Dark Purple Zipper

Toms Flag Zipper Pouch


She has graciously offered a "Free Shipping Code" just for you! 
CODE: abidingingrace and it expires Oct. 31.

We are also having a giveaway!  Enter to win this beautiful Lace Toms Zippered Pouch below!

 It's made with a Toms flag, closes with a pink zipper and has lace sewn on as an accent. 
Follow the instructions below to enter to win!!

~Congrats to Sarah B. for Winning!~

Happy Friday!

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Keeping Focused: What is God Doing?

I shared in a previous post about when we wait, our hearts and minds need something to focus on.  First, we can focus on who God Is.

We learned that He is
Loving and
Our Father

Part Two:
What is God doing?
God is....

Defending the Fatherless.
Psalm 68:5-6a - "A father of the fatherless, a defender of widow, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families."

One of the first verses I came across when we started this adoption process was this verse in Psalm 68.  Over and over again God is described as a Father to the fatherless.  When we look at the faces on the Waiting Child list through the agency, my heart breaks as I see them all without a family.  Yet, God is a Father to them.  He sees them, even more than we do.  Whether it means raising up foster parents, workers in an orphanage, maybe a neighbor across the street, God is providing for them. He looks into their faces - knows their names - and takes care of them.

It is so encouraging to my heart as I entered this adoption world to see God using people to join Him in fighting for these children.  I have met so many people who have already adopted, supporting adoption, or are just starting the adoption process themselves.   Although God loves everyone, there is no doubt from Scripture that the orphans and widows are special Him.

It brings me comfort, that the God who sits on His throne and governs the nations, sees these orphans.  These orphans used to be invisible to me.  I never knew their faces until now.  God, however, has ALWAYS seen their faces.

What is His promise to them? - "God sets the solitary in families." Families.  That is what He gives to these children. Families.

When I am tempted to not see any progress, I remember that God sees her face. Our little girl, who has no family, is not alone right now.  God is protecting her and watching out for her.  He is also working out all the details for us to bring her home.

Keeping His Promises.
Deut. 7:9 - "Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments."

My daughter will always be haunted by medical history forms.  She will be reminded that she does not know her biological family every time she goes to a new doctor.  She will have to sit in the waiting room, not being able to check-mark the form labeled "Family History." She will not know whether her grandmother died of cancer or a heart attack.  She will not know if her mother suffered depression.  She will have no knowledge of her father's health.  That part of her history will be lost.

Her new family history, she will know about.  She will learn of her grandmother's love for running.  She will hear about her great-grandmother's piano playing in church.  She will even hear stories about her great-great grandmother who was a midwife in Logan county!  Her new family history will be one full of God's faithfulness.  She will be reminded of her Great-Grandma Delma's love for God and faithfulness to His house always.  She will have that as a legacy - God's faithfulness.

God is faithful even now, in the waiting. God is faithful in keeping His promises.  God promised Israel things in the Old Testament that are true today - that will be true forever.  God is faithful to keep ALL of his promises.  I cannot look back at my life and not see God's promises being fulfilled.  When we keep our eyes focused on His promises, we have nothing but hope for our future.

Strengthening Our Hearts
Psalm 27:14 - "Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!"

How does God strengthen our heart when we wait?
1. He is Light
Psalm 27:1 - "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?"
When we worry about the future, it is rooted in fear.  Fear of failure. Fear of pain. Fear of struggle.  Knowing God is a God who brings light to the darkness of fear can keep our eyes focused on His strength. Fear is easy.  Shine a light into your fears by looking to God.

2. He is Lovely

Psalm 27:4 - "One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD."
Praising God drives away worry. Lifting our voices and hearts to the LORD God reminds us of His wonderful care and control.  We are reminded that He cares for us, like no other.  We are also reminded of His control of all situations - even the ones we do not understand or cannot see.

3. He is Listening

Psalm 27:7 - "Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me."
God always hears our prayers.  Waiting patiently means trusting that He is still listening, even when nothing is happening.  Waiting can be a time when we cry out to God - share with Him our feelings of loneliness or hopelessness.  We can pour our heartache, frustrations, pain, loneliness, and fear all out to Him because He is listening. 

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I Am Not Enough

I stood in the kitchen, crumbs sticking to my feet.  My dishes were piling up in the sink.  I glanced toward my table, which was sticky with syrup, ketchup, and maybe ranch dressing. The laundry forgotten in the basement and the beds unmade upstairs. They all spoke to me.
You are not enough as a house cleaner.

Down in my basement my craft shelves were lined with unfinished projects.  Then there was the computer file on my desktop that contains all of the DIY projects I’ve found on Pinterest.  Pinterest filled my head with ideas that never flourished into actions.  My paints stood on the shelf unused and my sewing machine stood alone. 
You are not enough as an artist.
My son leaned in close to me, with his hands on his hips and defiantly told me what he thought about the punishment. My voice raised higher. Maybe if the volume increased so would his understanding.  His voiced echoed my volume.  A silence echoed in my heart. 
You are not enough as a mother.  

We want to be enough, but something in our souls echoes that no matter how hard we try, we will never be enough.  Is it true? Or is it a lie from Satan?


A lie from Satan will scream and sometimes whisper in our hearts every time we fail: 
you are not enough.

You are not good enough.
You are not pretty enough.
You are not smart enough.
You are not brave enough. 

Satan and the world might try to also fool us into thinking that we are not enough, but they will also try to fool us into thinking that we are enough.  We aren't.  We really are not enough on our own - that is true.

My son picks me flowers all the time. I graciously accept his sweet gifts of love.  We put them in water and set them on the counter.  Later that day or the next, he is saddened by the sight of the wilted blooms.  They hurry outside to pick me more.  I know that even if they pick more - those will soon die as well.  Without the nourishment from the soil, sun, and water the flowers will always die.

We go through life trying to be enough on our own.  We try to read enough encouraging emails. Participate in enough charities.  Do more. Be more.  But our souls are dying. We cannot be more without Christ.  We cannot witness enough, pray enough, read our Bible enough, go to church enough, or be good enough without Jesus.

It is lie to see ourselves in only our insecurities.  Satan wants nothing more than for us to believe that we are not enough.  The other lie Satan weaves is that we can be enough.  We just need to “accept ourselves” or “strive to better ourselves.”  Sadly, even Christians can fall into that trap of just believing the counter to “I am not enough” is “I am enough.”

John 15 - “I am the True Vine. You are the branches.  Without Me you can do nothing.”

It is true that I am not good, pretty, smart, or brave enough ON MY OWN. The truth is that I am all of those things AND MORE in Christ.

I am redeemed.
I am forgiven.
I am chosen.
I am loved.
I am adopted.
I am an heir.
I am treasured.

I am enough….with Jesus.

Make sure to check out Keri from Living in This Season
 as she shares her honest moments as well.

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Friday Favorites - Psalm 121

Connecting today with Momfessionals and their Friday Favorites!


Psalm 121 is one of my favorite Psalms. 

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—

From whence comes my help?

 My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

 He will not allow your foot to be moved;

He who keeps you will not slumber. 

Behold, He who keeps Israel

Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord is your keeper;

The Lord is your shade at your right hand.

 The sun shall not strike you by day,

Nor the moon by night.

 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;

He shall preserve your soul.

 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in

From this time forth, and even forevermore.


Throughout much of my life I have been raised going to church.  God was always first in my family's life. Getting saved, serving in church, and giving my life to God all happened before I was thirteen.  Before I even went to college I had taken two mission's trips.  The first was to Lima, Peru.  I was only sixteen and it was the first time leaving my family for more than a few days.  I was gone for two weeks.  

This psalm has always reminded me of that trip.  For a few days we left Lima and traveled up and over 16,000 feet into the foothills of the Andes Mountains.  Being from West Virginia, I had seen "hills" - but soon realized that I had never seen "mountains."  

It is these types of mountains that I think of when I read Psalm 121. 
God is that to us.  His help is like those mountains: unmovable.  Our fears and anxiety rock us to and fro.  Not God.  He is the God of creation.  He will not even allow my foot to stumble.


As I entered college, I had to decide whether this God of the Bible was what I really wanted for my life.  I realized that I no longer could just go to church, read my Bible, and believe all of these things just because of my parents.  I had to choose it for myself.  I did.  I cannot say that my life has been easy or care-free.  But I can tell you the promises of this psalm have been true in my life: 

God Protects Us
God Preserves Us

What Psalm is a favorite of yours?

Happy Friday!

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Keeping Focused - Who Is God?

Waiting is hard enough with a due date.  Without an end in sight for our waiting, we tend to focus on so many unknowns.

We focus on:
1. What our daughter will be like.
Will she be younger or older?
Will she be very sick or mildly so?
Will she be anxious or accepting?

2. The agony of the waiting.
How long will we have to wait?
How will I pass the time while I wait?
How do I continue waiting - doing nothing.

3. Our inability to do anything.
We cannot plan too far into the future with so many unknowns.
We cannot think about what our future will be like.
We cannot have a clear view of where exactly God is leading our family.

So many questions haunt us while we wait - with no end in sight. 

We worry, stress, and try to manipulate situations.  

I am going to write a series about "Keeping Focus" for the next few Thursdays. These lessons are for me first. They are reminders of things we can keep our mind focused on.

Part One:
Who is God?
God is Sovereign - Psalm 33

Psalm 33 reminds us that God created the entire world.  It was through the power of His Word that everything began.  Through the power of His spoken Word, the entire world was formed.  From the tallest mountain to the depths of the sea, God made it all.  He sustains it as well.  Psalm 33 also speaks about God being in control of all nations.  He is responsible for their success and failures.  All of this is in His control.

Psalm 33:20-22 says: "Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, but we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You."

Our response to God's Sovereignty: Rejoice - Trust - Hope!  We rejoice in the fact that our God is in control.  We can trust and hope in Him, even when circumstances are not going "as planned."  We make conscious efforts to praise God. We chose to not let despair or fear take control of our minds.  

When our minds are focused on God's sovereignty, our hearts will trust.

God is Faithful - Lamentations 3:22-27

Israel was not trusting in God.  Because of their unbelief, God punished them.  He sent armies to defeat them and bring them into captivity.  Yet, God did not utterly cast them away.  He promised them hope!  

We have a God who is faithful.  When the waiting seems hard and long, we can rely on God's faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:23 says "Great is Your faithfulness."  How is God faithful?  He brings mercies and grace every morning.  Every moment we can trust that He is working. We need not fear His wrath for our sins. We need not fear that we will fail. His grace is enough to help us with our waiting.

Our response to God's Faithfulness: Hope and Waiting Quietly. So many times I want to work and NOT wait.  I like to have To-Do Lists and check things off.  When all the To-Do Lists are completed and there is nothing left, it is then that I get anxious and stressed.  God says in Lamentations 3:25-26 "The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly."  

Every moment that we trust with a quiet confidence, God is saying: that is good.

(Photo credit to Johnson Photography)

God is Loving - Deuteronomy 7:9 
Not only is God love - He is loving.  His actions and motives are all wrapped up in love.  When Moses was telling the Israelites God's laws, he reminds them in Deuteronomy 7:9 why God wanted them to obey His commands: "Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments."

Our response to God's Love: We obey and love others. We do not obey to get love but rather, we obey because we are loved.  He has me in this season of waiting because He loves me. He is teaching me His commandments and making me more like Christ.  When we are filled with God's love, it overflows into the hearts of those around us. 

We love because He first loved us.

God is Our Father - Romans 8:15-17
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Romans 8.  Many people quote the passage, referring to the part about never being separated from Christ.  As we began this adoption journey, I found this scripture in the middle of the chapter concerning adoption:

Romans 8:15-17 says "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified with Him."

What truth and encouragement we find here!  We need not fear the unknown, especially in the waiting seasons.  We are adopted in God's family - an heir!  When we bring our little China-girl home, she will be completely ours.  She will no longer be an orphan.  She will be a daughter.  She will have all the rights and privileges as our other children.  She will inherit so much from us - not just physically - but personality and temperament as well.  

Our response to God as our Father: Courage and Confidence.  We no longer need to be fearful about the future with God as our Father.  We also have this confidence: as children of God, we are not just invited to live with Him in heaven, we will join Christ as heirs to the kingdom!  We are not just guests, but family.  Family brings confidence.

We can focus our mind on these characteristics of God when waiting has no due date.

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Next Steps - Waiting!

We had our conference call today. We weren't sure what to expect.

It was both informational and encouraging.  Only slightly discouraging.

The purpose of this call was to give our China team more information about what type of child we are open to adopting.  We had filled out a six page paper on all the possible medical needs she could have. The list couldn't possibly cover everything and quite a bit of clarification needed to be done.

Things like, "You said you were open to 'limb deformities' - does this include both hands and feet...both...one or the other?" and "Are you open to hearing loss with a deformity or without a deformity?" were asked.

By nature these conversations are extremely hard.  We felt as if we were making judgment statements when we would say "no" to some things and "yes" to other things.

Although we've shared why and what we are open to - it is hard to say "no."  It is important that we are honest.  We are not judging medical conditions. We are not judging children. We are being honest. We are saying that we are not comfortable with certain conditions while we are with other conditions.

It was important that our case worker understand exactly what we are comfortable with so that she could best match us to a child. It was informational even for us to think through all that we had said "yes" to and confirm in our minds what we will be facing when we bring her home.

What does that mean now? What is the next step?

We wait for a referral. When we asked how long it might be, our case worker said a couple of things.  First she said that looking at our openness, we should expect the wait time to be 6-9 months. She also kind of said in passing that "I could match you tomorrow." So the answer truly is: We don't know.  We are open to quite a few things. It really is all up to what type of children become available to adopt.

When we asked her what type of medical needs we could expect, she was able to give us three or four good possibilities.  Having just three or four as opposed to ten or more possibilities feels much better.  

Some interesting facts about the next steps in the process - if you aren't interested, skip down to the end for prayer requests!

- Our agency receives files TWO ways. The first is the "shared list." Every two-three weeks, China releases new files to all the agencies all over the world.  Our agency literally has seconds to decide whether they can match a child or not. Last night, our agency was unable to even get one match.  In seconds all the new files were already taken by other agencies.  It is super competitive and our case worker told us that receiving a match from the shared list is very unlikely.  

- The second way is through their partnerships. Our agency currently has partnerships with four separate orphanages. Every so often (it varies), they will send exclusive referrals to our agency.  Our agency is the only one to receive these files and has a longer amount of time to try and find matches for these children.  The amount of referrals vary and the frequency of receiving new referrals is also unpredictable.  For example, our agency relieved two files two weeks ago.  Before that, none had been sent since June. It could be months before new children are available - it could be tomorrow. 

- Once we receive a referral, we begin the travel paperwork.  Typical travel paperwork takes about 3-4 months. We must apply for a visa to travel; immigration for our child; and other steps that seem a little overwhelming right at this moment.

Please pray that:

1. We will have patience while we wait.
2. Our little girl will be protected and loved.
3. God will continue to work in our hearts.
4. We will have the wisdom and open hearts when we receive a referral.

We are still processing the conference call. It was discouraging to hear "6-9 months" - but we are trying to trust God.  He still sees her.  He still knows her.  He still knows when WE will be ready for her.  I was hoping to hear, "We can match you next month!"  Maybe our family is not ready for her yet.  Hitting the nine month mark seems a little silly - but it does feel as if I should be holding a baby! 

God has lessons for us yet to learn.

We are trying to remember this truth:

Stay tuned for more information about a fundraiser opportunity as well!

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