When God Gives Hope and a Future
Last week after I posted "Waiting with Hope" I found out I was going to be doing that, literally. I'll explain in a minute. To help with the wait, God reminded me of two verses He gave me for our sweet baby girl, Aster.

One is Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Last Thursday God gave me the most precious gift that ties to this verse. He literally gave her a "Hope" - Hope TerKeurst that is! Hope, the oldest daughter of my dear friend Lysa, is in Ethiopia and she got to see, hold and love on my soon-to-be daughter and baby girl.

I was in the car for six hours traveling with two friends to see another friend. While we were driving along LeAnn and Holly were texting and calling to tell me Hope was on gmail and had just gotten back from visiting Aster at the orphanage!!! I was about to die because I was in the middle of nowhere and couldn't get online.

But I got to listen to LeAnn squeal about Aster's cuteness as she opened the photos in an email. And then LeAnn took a picture of them on her computer screen and texted them to me!!!

Next, Holly called to say she had Hope on gmail chat so I could talk with her in Ethiopia via Holly in Charlotte, NC while riding down the highways of SC and GA. And my friend Marlo got to listen too!

I was so glad I wasn't at home to have this precious conversation all alone, but I got to share it with my girlfriends. I also asked Holly to copy each question I asked and Hope's response so we could save it forever. I didn't want to forget one word of this precious conversation. I've been wanting to share it with you too!


Holly: Tell us all about her. Were you able to hold her?

Hope: She is small in length but her cheeks are so cute, and they are chubby.. and she doesnt have mch hair but its straight not curly! I held her and I was feeding Aster too

Holly: I am on the phone with Renee and I am going to type her questions for you.

Hope: Aww. What is she saying?

Hope: Aster was gazing into my eyes the WHOLE time! She never cried even when I set her down and gave her to jo (Hope's friend). She would just look at her and not look away. She would mold to your body and rest her head on my chest!

Holly: Did she smile?

Hope: Yes, when you tickled her. She would also smile when I kissed her cheek. Her feet are ticklish! It was soo hard for me to put her down. I want to bring her with me!

Holly: how much time you spent with her

Hope: About an hour. then took the tour for an hour

Holly: Cool! Wow, you held her for an hour!?

Hope: Well me and Jo. But yup we never put her down! I couldn't she was too cute!

Hope: The people were so nice! Ivy was great! The room had ten cribs in it. It was kinda small but each baby had their own crib. There was plenty of room for them to lay on the floor and play. There were atleast 2 helpers in the room at all time. Every baby is hand fed.

Holly: What other interesting features did you notice on Aster? Details about her.

Hope:She has soft and gorgeous skin. Her body's not chubby, her cheeks are. Sshe has LONG beautiful eyelashes. Her eyes are the best part! They are so adorable

Holly: What color are her eyes?

Hope: They are a deep brown

Holly: How can we be praying for Aster?

Hope:Pray that everything goes smoothly with the adoption. She had a little cold so pray that she gets better.

Holly: Have you had any power outages? How about shortage of water?

Hope: Yes lots, even at the orphanage there was one. yes very short on water. Power goes out lots, there are certain times you can use the water.

Holly: What was Aster wearing?

Hope:She was wearing a cute blue flower dress thing

Hope: oh one thing is every baby has a photo album of their family.. so she should send one for aster. Ivy said thats one thing they do

Holly: This is so fun! Isn't it amazing?

Holly: oooh, interesting

Hope: yes! I was like so in shock when i met her! i seriously cant say it enough.. i fell in love

: Do you want to go shopping with miss renee when you get home? What size is Aster?

: i would love to! but i dont know what size she is. mrs. davidson said she is prob 6-9 months in clothes

: ok...thanks! Was her nose runny with her cold? That is so cool that you got to hold her Hope! What else did you do with her? Did she laugh? Was she coughing?

: no her nose wasnt and she coughed like 2 times and she did have a little congestion

: Did she smell pretty?

: she did but her food was GROSS! it looked like throw-up

: How many babies were at the whole orphange?

: there were 160 kids total. i would say like 30-40 babies, her crib is nice

: She doesn't look too thin

: isnt her outfit cute, no shes not thin

: were her legs bowed or straight?

: shes smaller then an american 8 month baby. and she did both with her legs. she cant hold her self up yet but is trying

: i meant bowed as in...bent

: do you mean like bent as in staying that way the whole time?

: yes

cause she did both with her legs - she would straighten them and bend them in

i think we have to go... thank you soo much for this hope...I saved the whole conversation for Renee to keep forever and put in her baby book

: aw ok! awesome!

: love you lots honey! Renee said thank you so much and hugs to you! and her love too!

: love you too! and your welcome. i loved doing it! Also, Jo says her baby is beautiful and had a great personality!

I wish I could show you her photos too. But I can't until she is ours. She is the sweetest, cutest little punkin' I have ever seen. Oh my goodness I want to hold her while she's still so little.

Praying hard that we get to go bring her home in August!!!

Walking in Faith, Waiting with Hope
So now that we're home and all our bags are unpacked, I wanted to give you an update on where we are in our plans to bring our baby girl home from Ethiopia.

For those of you who are new to my blog, our family has been in the process of adopting a daughter from Ethiopia for the past year and a half. We originally thought we'd adopt a girl or two between 4-8 years old. But we got a referral for a 7 mo old baby girl who's name is Aster two weeks ago and God has confirmed again and again that she is ours!

Aster was born in December 2008 and was orphaned by her mother in late April 2009. Her paperwork explains that her father abandoned Aster and her mother after her birth. When her mother could not sustain her with mild due to her very extreme poverty and her own malnourishment she brought Aster to someone who knew about the orphanage we are working with in Addis.

She weighed 8lbs at 6 months old when she was brought to the orphanage May 1st. In the month she has been there she has doubled her weight, grown 2 inches in length and is thriving.
We aren't sure how long it will be before she comes home. The courts in Ethiopia close in August and September.

Our prayer is that Aster's paperwork gets approved in court before the end of July.

We're also praying the Embassy will have our Visa's approved in August so we can travel to get her in August or September. Otherwhise, if she does not get approved in court in July before they close for the summer, her adoption would not even be considered until October which means we would not travel to get her until late this year. That makes my heart sad just to write that.

So, we wait with hope that God's timing and plans are perfect.

There are several factors that could delay things. First and foremost, Ethiopia is having many power outages which shuts down the courts and Embassy. Some friends who live there told us that the power has been going off every other day from 5-15 hours at a time. They recently had a stretch of 35 hours in a row without power. In Addis, they currently lose power for 18 hours every other day which means all the factories and offices have to close.

Getting Aster through court in July will be a total God-thing. But we know He is able!

Why the power outages? Because there is a water shortage, with distribution to only sections of the city at a time. Ethiopia uses almost exclusively hydroelectric power. The power and the water problems are caused by a cumulative lack of rain. The rains last spring, last summer and now this spring have all been either shorter or much, much lighter than normal (it almost never rains any other time of the year) and so the country could be heading for a big crisis.

This is devastating for the Ethiopians who are beginning to experience famine conditions in many parts of the country. Coupled with the world wide financial crisis and food price hikes – it is an extremely difficult time for many there.

Please pray for water. They are going into the rainy season now so we're asking God to pour down lots of rain over their country in these next few months and that it would come in just the right amounts at just the right time as not to cause flooding.

Bringing home a baby is going to be a huge change for us and we are very excited yet nervous about it all. I am praying through all the things I do and asking God to provide wisdom and balance to know what I need to delegate and what He would have me keep. I will keep writing and speaking, but my role at P31 will need to be adjusted some and we're just asking Him to show us what that looks like.

I treasure your prayers, your friendship and your excitement about our journey! We are walking in faith, and waiting with hope!

Isaiah 49:23, "Then you will know that I am the LORD. Those who hope in me will not be disappointed."

Building Our Husbands Up Through Prayer
Welcome to those of you visiting from the Proverbs 31 Devotion today.

As I shared in my devotion, I haven't always been so good at following and trusting my husband's lead. But over the past 15 years, God has done a work in me and in JJ. I know marriage can be hard and trusting someone to lead when there are things you struggle with together is really, really hard. But I also know God uses us in powerful ways to love our husbands like He does - unconditionally.

One of the best ways we can love our husbands is to pray for them. Praying for JJ
has truly helped me follow his lead. This way I know He's covered spiritually as I invite God to do an amazing work in JJ's life. Of course, JJ has to respond to God's work in his heart, but my part is not based on JJ's response to God. It's based on my surrendering and seeking God's heart for my husband.

JJ tells me prayer is the best gift I can give him.
Here are some verses I pray for my husband that maybe you can gift to your husband, too!

"Father, continually renew my husband's mind, resulting in a transformed life. Help him bring every thought into captivity to make it obedient to Christ. Give him a greater understanding of Your Word. Help him to think on things that are pure and right and worthy of praise." (Psalm 119:15, Romans. 12:2, 2 Cor.10:5)

"Lord, keep opening my husband's eyes to deep spiritual truths. Help him to see things as You see them. Please guard his eyes from looking at worthless things. " (Psalm 119:18, Psalm 119:37)

"Father, let my husband hear Your voice clearly. Help him to recognize your voice with certainty. Protect him from listening to anyone who is not seeking and walking with You. Help him not to be affected negatively by what others say and to discern between good and evil. Give him the ability to determine what is of You and what is not." (Isaiah. 30:21, 1 Kings 3:9, 1 John 4:1)

"Help my husband to speak the truth in love. Help him to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Give him the couraage to lovingly confront when necessary. Let the words he speaks be Yours, not his own. Help him speak words that bring grace and truth to the hearers. I also pray that you will help him to grow in his ability and desire to communicate with you and others." (Psalm 19:14, 119:13, 41:3; Ephesians 4:15, 4:29; James 1:19)

"Give my husband a heart that seeks pasisonately after You. Teach him to guard his heart with diligence. Help him deal with anything in his heart that is not pleasing to You. Create in him a pure heart. Enable him to lead our family with integrity." (Psalm 78:72, 119:10-11; Proverbs. 4:23; 1 Thessalonians. 3:13)

"Lord, I pray that everything my husband does would be done with his whole heart, serving You rather than man. I pray that You will also help him to increase his skills and his abilities. Bless everything he puts his hands to." (Psalm 24:3-4, Colossians 3:23)

I pray that my husband would love Your Words and walk in Your ways. I pray that He would be to walk in a manner that is worthy of You, bearing fruit in every good work, and that He would pass Your truths to our children as he walks along life's path. Father, when he walk through the valley of the shadow of doubt and difficulties, I pray that he would fear no evil because He knows that you are with him. (Deuternonomy 6:7, 8:6, Collosians 1:10, Psalm 23:4)

I have seen prayer transform my marriage and my life. Just this week I watched the power of prayer as our family takes some big steps of faith, following my husband's lead into the wonderful world of adoption. Adoption is our family's calling but what many people don't know is that my husband is the one who initiated our "following" God to Africa to get a little girl. JJ is leading us each step of the way.
(To read more scroll down to Monday and Wednesday's posts. You can also click here to read how our adoption story started in October 2007.)

Whatever steps of faith God is calling you to take personally or with your husband, I want you to know that I am praying for you and your marriage today. We have an enemy set on destroying marriages and one of his tools is to pit husbands and wives against each other. I have experienced his efforts firsthand. What our husbands need most is our respect; what our marriages need most is prayer.

Let's look for ways to build our husbands up with our words and with prayer, covering them from head to toe!

Sweet blessings,

Just Enough Light for The Step I'm Taking
Thank you for your prayers and notes. God used your Words to calm my heart and love on me! I read each verse and heeded your encouragement. My heart found such comfort in them.

After I blogged Monday, and asked for prayers, I decided to trace God's fingerprints over the past week and look for His confirmations or lack thereof. I just have to share with you all that He has done:

We found out last week that our fingerprints had expired. This could stop the whole referral process and put our adoption on hold. So JJ and I both went last Wednesday to get our fingerprints done again - without an appointment. It was a crazy day because Andrew also had his elementary school graduation and lunch. But we got in and got our prints done!

Wednesday night we emailed USCIS to request expedited processing. Thursday morning we got an email from the USCIS that our fingerprints were approved - in less than 24 HOURS!! That is incredible. The director of adoptions told us she'd send notification to some the Embassy in Addis that our records are now valid. Seriously, that is some God moving progress!

I went by our Pediatrician's office Wednesday on my way to the fingerprinting office. Our Dr was swamped with patients and meetings all afternoon so I didn't get to see him. I left Baby Aster's health records, photos and paperwork and prayed Dr. Glass would see them and call us that night so we'd know what step to take next.

Dr. Glass called Weds night at 8:30pm. He spent over 20 mins asking questions and explaining what he could read on the baby's medical report. He felt good about her health but wanted to know more about her progress in the last month - socially and developmentally. He requested to talk to the Dr in Ethiopia to ask more questions. We were blown away by the personal interest he was taking in us.

On Thursday morning, before we could even send his request to our agency, the agency emailed us an update on Baby Aster's healt that came to them overnight from the Ethiopian Dr. It had almost every single one of our Drs questions answered in a progress report. Baby Aster has almost doubled her weight in a month and is growing in length and head circumference.

We couldn't set up a conf call so we emailed questions to the Dr. in Ethiopia. Then we waited all of Thurs and Friday for our Dr. to look over the new progress report. The biggest thing we wanted to know is if Baby Aster makes eye contact and interacts with people, so we could see if there were any neurological defects from her malnutrition.

In the midst of all of this we were praying for Joshua to feel called to this huge change in plans b/c he's been hesitant about getting a baby. Thurs morning I read Aster's background to him, why she was orphaned and talked about what babies are like since he's been around so few. We have said all along this is a family decision and we all have to be 100% sure it's God's plan. During my prayer and journaling time I asked God to please move in Joshua's heart as a confirmation for us.

Joshua came to me a later that day and said, "Mom, I'm okay now with getting a baby." I asked what had changed and he said, "I don't know but I feel like this is what we are SUPPOSED to do. I am actually excited now. I don't know what happened but I am more excited than I was about getting older girls." Well, I knew what happened. God had moved - way faster than I expected!

We left Thurs night for New York. On Friday, our Dr called to say he was pleased with Baby Aster's growth but still wanted to know how she was doing socially and neurologically. No word from Ethiopia so we knew we would not hear or know anything until Monday.

Monday came and so did the Dr's report, stating Baby Aster is very playful and shows no more signs of malnutrition and no sign of any neuroligical delays or concerns. All our questions had been answered. But I was not in a good place. I had had a ton of time to think about the reality of having a baby. As I shared on Weds, my imagination and concerns were running wild!
I had been praying continually about my concern, and all the changes a baby will bring. I'd told God I needed to know how He'd provide help. I'd been praying He would bring someone to us. Someone we know, love and trust. I'm not sure how much help I'll need; I just needed to know it would be there. Friday morning, I'd called LeAnn at work and shared with her my junk. She was so sweet and assured me that we'd figure it all out in the office and offload whatever I needed.

Wednesday after I blogged and journaled all the ways God had smoothed out these rough places in our path, I told JJ I needed us to talk alone and pray. He knew I was struggling. We went for a drive and he reminded me of promises God has fulfilled in our lives over the past 15 years. Ways He has lead us down paths we have not known, and turned our darkness into light. Rough places He has smoothed and impossible mountains He had moved. ( Isaiah 42:16-17)

He reminded me that
God provides just enough light for the step we are on right now. And when we take that step, He gives light for the next step. Then he assured me that God and he will stand in all the gaps for me. We prayed and I cried.

I thanked God for all that He had done but told God again that I wanted a big confirmation from Him. Something clear and bold printed. I opened my cell phone to check to see if the agency had emailed us about our deadline to decide and there was an email from my friend Bev.

I wept as I read it. She'd read my blog and shared how she could only imagine how hard it must be to think of starting over with a baby. She wanted me to know that she woud be "honored" to help me in any way, and would be there if I needed childcare or just relief on days when I feel overwhelmed. I hadn't even thought of asking Bev. God wanted it to be HIS idea. This was my BIG confirmation. A huge peace came over me. God had provided what I told Him I needed - someone we know, love and trust who will be there if I need her. My Elizabeth!

Were my fears all gone? No. Were my questions all answered? No. Did I have peace? Yes, and nervous excitement. I knew God was telling me to walk in faith and trust Him in every way to provide every bit of what we need. I sensed He wants me to expect His sweetest blessings in ways we have not known because we are walking along paths we have not known and trusting Him to light the way.

So my friends, we are GETTING A BABY!!!!

I'll tell you more about the process when we get home next week. For now, I have more vacation to enjoy with my wonderful family of boys which will be transformed by pink precious girly sweetness sometimes very soon!
We drove all day yesterday from Lake Placid to NYC. Today through Friday we're spending in the city!

On Friday, I have a devo running about respecting our husbands so be sure to stop by to see what He's teaching me about that, too! He's always working on this heart of mine.

How will I know?
Our family is in New York this week on vacation. We flew into NYC last Thursday night and rented a car Friday to drive to Lake Placid for the marathon JJ ran yesterday. We have never been to this area and it's beautiful!!!

Today we're relaxing and enjoying time together in the mountains while JJ's legs recuperate. We had breakfast at little cafe down the road called Chair 6. We plan to go walking on a nature trail around Lake Placid this afternoon, and then rent some kayaks to row around Mirror Lake. I LOVE being with my three guys. We have laughed so much!!

Today is also the day we should hear back from the Dr. in Ethiopia about come information we wanted as we prayerfully decide about the adoption referral we got last week. I have to be honest, I am nervous (and sometimes downright overwhelmed) by the thought of being a mommy of an infant again. I want to be Godly and selfless but I'm not always in that place. This is such a huge change from a 4-6 yr old. But GOD!!!

I know this could be the very plan God has to bring our family that much closer together. This baby girl could be the very one we've been praying and waiting for. But I'd be lying if I wasn't real with you about my fears.

Please pray for me. I need it. This is so different than the direction of adopting an older child we thought God was leading us for so long. One day I'm good. The next day I'm not so good when I insert a baby into the scenery of what we're doing at that moment. I'll see a baby crying and an exhausted mommy looking at her husband like she wants to run away and it just scares me.

The next minute I think of so many good things about a baby, and how much easier it may be for her to adjust emotionally and mentally. I remember the coos and the smiles and the joy a baby brings. I think about how our boys have never had a baby in their lives and how precious it could be.

Five minutes later I think about me being at home with a baby all day. I was kinda lonely when my boys were babies and my life revolved around nap times. I wonder what life will look like when I've had little sleep. And what about my job at P31? And the speaking ministry God called me to?

We have not sensed God telling us to cut back each time we prayed about upcoming events in 2009 and 2010. JJ's says he wants to keep doing what we're doing. Then I also remember how God has confirm again and again that it was time for me to write a book. I just completed the proposal. I wouldn't have done that if I knew a baby was coming.

But GOD!!!

So what do you do when you can't understand God's plans or you're not sure if they are His?

I cry. I talk to my husband. I call a friend. I journal my heart and my thoughts. I read my Bible and tell God I need help and hope. Yesterday a verse jumped out at me that reminds me of God being my help and my refuge.

I also remember the ways God came through last week when life turned upside down with the news of a baby girl possibly coming into our lives. I"ll share more about that tomorrow. Today, I just need to know that I know that I know if this is the daughter God has planned all along for our family. Because if it is, then every thing is going to be okay.

How will I know... if my hesitancy God's way of leading us to say no...or it's selfish yet normal fear...or if it's the enemy trying to get me to miss God's best? I'll let you know when I find out.

In the meantime, I sure would treasure your thoughts on how you know, and your prayers as I muddle and pray through my own finding out.

Please pray for my man!
I am in Lake Placid, New York with JJ and the boys. JJ is running a marathon today. He just called my cell to say he's almost at mile 12, which is right in front of our hotel.

We are headed out to meet him with a power drink, an icey cold towel and his cheering section! PLEASE pray for him to have God's strength, endurance, stamina and whatever else he needs to finish all 26.2 miles, and finish strong! Last Nov when he trained for another marathon, he ended up in the hospital with an intestinal infection the week before and had to cancel.

Running today's race is a huge goal and accomplishment for my man. Go JJ!!!!

JJ was doing really well when we met him at mile 12. Just talked to him on his cell, and he's at mile 20!!! Whoo Hooo! Prayers are working. He's said he feels great but he's had some cramping in his legs. Please pray cramps will stop and the last 6.2mile will be AMAZING!! I can't wait to see him cross the finish line!!

HE MADE IT!!! Wow - 26.2 miles!!! The last half mile was nothing but steep hills. Unbelievably hard hills. But he did it. Now he's soaking his legs and feet in an ice bath and then he'll be taking a nap. I'm be headed to the hotel pool with the boys soon. JJ/Dad - we are SO PROUD of you!!!

But God!
I have so much to tell you guys but so little time this week. Today is Andrew's 5th grade graduation from Elementary school so I am hurrying to get out the door. But I just had to update you on some big news!

I have been writing and writing the past week. I was seriously ready to throw my computer and my book out the window. It was just so frustrated with how long it was taking me. Well, with God's constant reminders of the need through the survey results and gentle heart whispers, your comments, my husband's constant encouragement and many prayers, I finally FINISHED my 2nd chapter!! Whoo Hoo!! I felt like I'd given birth!

Yesterday I was editing my chapters and reviewing my whole proposal and cleaning up my "new baby" before sending it to my literary agent, and guess what happened?

We got a call from our adoption agency with a referral for a baby girl from Ethiopia!!!! As many of you know we have been in the process of waiting to adopt a daughter just over 10 months.

We have thought all along that we'd be adopting an older child, more around 6 years old. This baby girl is 6 MONTHS! We are excited yet nervous and praying a ton about it all. There are some great things about adopting a new baby but it's a huge leap in parenting stages since we have 11 and 14 yr old sons. We haven't done baby in quite a while. But GOD!!!

Please pray we, our whole family, will know clearly if this is God's baby girl for us!! And please pray for this sweet, precious baby who is 6 months old but only weighs 8lbs. She is very malnourished but doing better each day she gets the care and nourishment she needs. I wish I could show you her photo, she is such a little pumpkin!!!

Off to watch my baby boy graduate from Elementary school - wow!

BibleGateway.com's 100 Most-read Bible verses

I was searching for some verses this morning and read on BibleGateway.com that they decided to find out the 100 most-read Bible verses on their site. They crunched some numbers from a sample of 25 million Bible passage searches from March and April. (OMG!)

I was going to list them all but it became a mile-long post. So click here to read the top 100 most-read Bible verses on BibleGateway.com. Here are the top 15.

John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Jer 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Rom 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Phil 4:13: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Gen 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Prov 3:5: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Prov 3:6: in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Rom 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Phil 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Matt 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Eph 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

Gal 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Rom 12:1
: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Acts 18:10: For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”

And if you’re curious to know what the least popular Bible passage is, it’s 1 Chronicles 23-27, which details the organization of the priests and officials under King David.

Is your favorite verse in the list? If not, what verse do you like to read most often?

The winner of my 'Beyond the Shadow of Doubt' DVD is Darlene Oakley. Congratulations!! Please email your mailing address to Renee@Proverbs31.org and we'll send it to you.
Happy Weekend!

On My Knees
I woke up this morning at 2:14am.

My heart was so heavy-burdened for my 14yr old son who's struggling with a bunch of hard stuff right now. It's part of being a teenager. Part of the changes and challenges that come with it. Those feelings and doubts and questions that just come out of nowhere! It's so hard for them - and us who love them.

We had stayed up late talking with him. Actually he didn't do a lot of talking. A little grunt here and there. The glossy distant "you guys just don't get it" look in his eyes broke my heart. We were all tired so I asked if I could walk with him to his room.

I only stayed a few minutes. Just long enough to pray with him, asking God to be real to Joshua now and protect his heart and mind. Asking Him to help Joshua and us navigate through this new phase as he becomes the young man God created him to be. It was good for my heart, and even if he doesn't say anything now I know it's good for him too.

I fell asleep praying. Then I woke up at 2am with deep concern again that left my heart tossing and turning. I have to say that being a mom is one of the hardest things I have ever done, and being a mom of a teenage boy is maxing me out. This is my first child - my little man whose sweet brown eyes and gentle heart changed me forever just 14 years ago.

All I could do was pray last night. It's what I needed. It's all I have. Talking to God is my only hope and comfort in the middle of the night. Or all throughout my day when life brings struggles that are more than I can handle.

I can't talk my child out of how he's feeling. I can't just give him a promise from the Bible and hope it makes him happy again. I can't deny what he's going through or even figure it out for him. All I can do is pray. And listen. And pray some more. And love him. And pray some more.

I laid in my bed praying at 2am. After a few minutes, I felt God nudge my heart to go up to Josh's room and kneel beside his bed.

As I tiptoed quietly into his room the moonlight peeked through his window shades and I could see his head resting on his pillow. He was sound asleep.

I thought about that verse that says God inhabits the praise of His people as I knelt beside him. I started silently praising God for Who He is hoping He'd somehow completely inhabit that room and squeeze all the enemies junk out! I asked God to please send more angels to watch over my child as he slept and as he awoke. Then I prayed God's Word over Joshua - promises for courage and hope and strength and understanding for his seeking yet struggling heart. And I prayed the blood of Jesus over the doorposts of his room and our whole house commanding the enemy to back off and submit to God's authority over our family and home.

A peace came over me as I lifted my son up to God's able and caring hands. God's comfort and calm washed away my worries as I lifted my tired self off that floor. And then I tiptoed back downstairs, crawled back into my bed, and fell asleep.

I had left the battlefield and the front line in capable hands with Jesus.

This morning when I woke up I found my son cooking bacon in the kitchen and making himself a bacon/toast sandwhich like nothing had happened the night before. I gave him a verse with his name in it to stick in his pocket and carry with him to school. He smiled and said good-bye, and then headed out the door with his dad.

I have a feeling I'm gonna be parenting on my knees a lot for the next several years. I know there's no better place for me, but sometimes it's a hard place to be...

We broke 1000!!! As of noon today, we have 1,003 surveys!!! That's simply incredible to me.

You can click here to complete my mini-survey if you want to know what I'm celebrating or if you haven't had a chance yet.

You can win 'Beyond the Shadow of Doubt' DVD if you or a friend complete the survey for the first time this week. Just please let me know in the comments ( click on "comments' and type in the white box). Be sure to leave your email and I'll draw another name (of new surveyors) and give away a copy of this message on DVD filmed at She Speaks last summer. I'll announce that winner Friday.

Book Give-Away Winners
With the help of Random Integer, I finally chose the winners. I had entries from my blog, through email and on facebook so it took me a little bit to get it all organized and numbered. Drum roll please....the winners of "Who Holds the Key to Your Heart?" by Lysa TerKeurst are....

Blog winners:
M & C
Leatrice Jones

Facebook Winner
Erica Woodard Abbgy

One More Winner I decided since I had so much support from you all in the first 862 surveys that came through Thursday - Sunday, I would give away an extra 'Beyond the Shadow of Doubt' DVD.

The winner ia

Now I gotta go write some radio shows for my recording on Friday. They were due last Friday and I am so late! All that book proposal writing got me behind on a few things. I need lots of encouraging thoughts/ideas for shows, and the ability to quickly condense them into 184 words max! God is able to do exceedingly more than what I can think of or imagine...right?

Exceedingly More!
We have 867 surveys complete! God did exceedingly more, didn't HE?? That's 367 more than my original goal and only 133 less than 1000 - my "God it would be amazing to get 1000 " goal! I just have to go for exceedingly, abundantly more, don't ya think?

If you haven't had a chance, please Click here to complete my mini-survey. It's only 6 questions about our doubts, and you will help me reach 1000 this week! (I don't know why my font is so big in these first paragraphs in Explorer but I can't seem to fix it. I promise I'm not yellin' at ya!)

If you complete the survey, please let me know in the comments under today's post. I'll draw another name and give away a copy of my 'Beyond the Shadow of Doubt' DVD filed at She Speaks 2008. I'll also give a DVD to an extra winner from the first 862 surveys from Thursday's post.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for helping me get this far!Your comments about the survey were a huge unexpected blessing because they showed me we have doubts we don't even know we have and they affect our lives. That fueled my heart to keep going and get exceedingly more of my proposal completed.

All I have left is a sample chapter to finish. That means I'll turn in my book proposal to my literary agent this week. Then she sends it to different publishers to consider while we pray and wait. In the meantime, I plan to keep writing chapters.

I sense God's calling me to write this book so that He can come alongside women, the way He's come alongside me, and walk them out of the shadows of their self-doubt so we can live in the confidence of who we are in Him. We know it in our heads but if we are honest, we aren't living it in our hearts and in our everday lives. But it's time - girls it's TIME!!!

More thoughts about our doubts...I used to pray and pray and beg and beg God to just take away my doubts and zap me with confidence. Instead of removing my doubts, many times God uses them to lead me into a deeper dependence on Him and His truths. When I am honest with Him about my insecurities, uncertainties and questions, He encourages me to turn my eyes away from my circumstances and emotions, and surrender to His promises.

His Word diminishes the darkness of doubt...doubts that make me believe, " I'm not good enough. I'm not smart enough. I"m not confident enough," as He whispers, "You are...

“For you are a chosen (woman). You are a royal priest, a holy (daughter). God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” Isaiah 43:1

“You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you.” Isaiah 43:4

I will not forget you. “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16

Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders. Deuteronomy 33:12

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19

“You are my witness," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He.” Isaiah 43:10

For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. Proverbs 3:26

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD , "and will bring you back (set you free) from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:13-14a

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Luke 4:18-19


I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19

You are....You are exceedingly more than what you can think of or imagine!

PS. It's taking me a little while to organize the hundreds of comments, emails and facebook posts of survey "completers" for the book give-away. I'll post later today RIGHT HERE :->.