Saturday, April 25, 2009

While I Was Away

I just got on the computer... yes, I actually do take time away and venture into the real world, although at the Angel game tonight (2nd night in a row) Jacob wondered aloud if my laptop would get wifi in the stadium, and I had to confess I had wondered the same thing myself... but blogging or surfing live from Angel Stadium would surely require a sudden and severe intervention. And besides, what would I do if it got hit with a foul ball? Anyway, there's just a reflection of how blog/computer crazy I have become.

OK, so back to my original thought, I just got on the computer and realized it's been a WHOLE FIVE DAYS since I blogged last! Unacceptable! It's like the whole world has turned upside down! Were you wondering if I had fallen off the face of the earth? Thanks to the six people who still stopped by yesterday during the end of this little mini-drought! (I took this photo at the game last night with Tori and had to turn the camera upside down to get the button on the right side... I kept it that way since it clearly works with my them... smile.) Rest assured, however, I have not been slacking off.

First off, I have started writing another book. I say "another" because somewhere around here are four chapters of a novel I started more than a dozen years ago (probably) but that after the severe criticism of a valued friend (who was mad at me at the time) I shelved it and never picked it back up again. I had four chapters then, and this week I have completed the first four chapters of a new novel. I feel like I'm at a critical point, like I have to get that 5th chapter written just to prove to myself I can.

No, I'm not going to be sharing it here, especially right away. I have chosen two trusted friends (who had read the previous book as well, but were not the ones who criticized it) to be my sounding boards. They will be honest with me but they know to have kid gloves. If you're a writer then you already know that your writings are a lot like your children, it hurts you when someone criticizes them harshly. You are not oblivious to the fact they are not perfect, but you need the criticism to always be constructive and done in love. I suppose all criticism should be done in such a way, but for me, the profoundness of this truth is never more apparent than it is when it comes to my writings.

Both books are about topics that are important to me. The first book was about the aftermath of abortion, a topic that was in the forefront of my life at the time I wrote it. This time I am writing a story about a marriage because of my concern for what I see happening in the church today. Marriages are in trouble. I am a big "word picture" person when it comes to teaching, sharing and learning, and so I cannot think of a better way to express my heart than by telling a story. If you're so inclined, I would love for you to pray for me about this project.

Next to writing one of my greatest passions is teaching. There was a time when I got to do it very regularly as a part of the women's Bible study team at my church. I think the biggest draw for me is the sense of the Holy Spirit as I am doing it. I feel the pleasure of the Lord as I make myself completely submissive to His will in my teaching. I have my notes and make my preparations, but once I step in front of the women, I am open to allow the Lord to speak through me however He wills, I leave my agenda aside and wait for Him to reveal His. It's exciting.

So anyway, I get to teach a workshop next weekend at a half day women's conference at the church. I'm super excited, and I have been spending a lot of time thinking and preparing, and I stayed up till 4 am this morning putting together the outline handout I'm going to give to the women. Then I spent a big part of today making my teacher notes. I'm very pleased with what has come together and am looking forward to finding how it all comes about. I am teaching the workshop twice and I'm interested to see the differences between the two sessions. I know it will be two different groups of ladies and that the Lord will have something (at least) slightly different to say to each of them. It will be interesting to see where the emphasis falls. God is faithful to show up in a very real and personal way.

I've been doing a few other things like helping put together a couple skits for the women's event, and it led to me spending a good couple of hours yesterday sampling "rain and thunder" tracks. I am blessed that my very talented son has a much better mind and imagination for the theatrical then I do. It was kind of fun to have him help me with his gifts to better accentuate mine. That boy is growing into quite the talented young man.

OK, so no deep spiritual insights this week. It's not that I haven't had anything worth writing about, but I've been concentrating it towards my teaching for next weekend. I could tell you them here, and I probably will, but not now. If you're local I'd rather you come and here it from me live! As well as listen to a great speaker, take another workshop, participate in some awesome worship and have a nice lunch.

I do hope to fit in a few more interesting blogs this week (I have completed most of my preparations for next Saturday and only prayer remains) but I don't have it in me tonight... staying up till 4 am kind of knocks that out of you!


Monday, April 20, 2009

A Monumental Day

"So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, "Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." Joshua 4:4-7

This passage of scripture is precious to me. It came to me like a lifeline in the midst of one of the hardest trials the DePriest family ever faced. To call Ethan's adoption process a nightmare is pretty much an understatement. It took us forty months to complete the process. We had loopholes and experiences no one ever heard of, like having your birth mother live with you until the child is nearly eight weeks old. We had finger print drama that caused a 9 month delay with the DOJ, we had social workers who were at best inept, and at worst, perhaps even sinister. We had judges die and found ourselves continually at the mercy of way too many circumstances and on totally dependent on God's mercy and grace (which is actually a good thing, but can be a hard place to live for long periods of time.)

This scripture was part of the word that came to me as a lifeline at one of the darkest times in our process. Ethan was about 2 1/2 when our latest social worker came across a small random note in his birth records that really had no purpose in being there. Without getting into all the details, our social worker forced us to go looking for another potential birth father despite the b/m's claims that he wasn't the father. Anyway, long story short (is it too late for that?) After all this time had passed we tracked this boy (man?) down and notified him of our intention to terminate his possible parental rights, and his response was to let us know he intended to fight us and take Ethan back. Our world stopped.

Suddenly every bad Lifetime Movie Network movie I had ever seen became unbearably foreboding. Some stranger wanted to take out little boy away, not some infant, but a toddler firmly established in our home. I remember when I got the call from our attorney, it was a Monday morning and I was blown away. I didn't know what to do. I remember falling to my knees at the side of my bed and just crying out to God and opening my bible randomly asking him to speak to me. My bible opened to the book of Joshua chapters 3 and 4.

I remember thinking at the time that I had no concept of what this passage meant. I was disappointed in myself for doing the ill-advised open and point search of scripture. Ninety-nine times out of 100, I don't recommend it. I just cried and prayed for mercy. What in the world did the Jordan River have to do with the potential devastation we were facing? To say panic and anxiety had overcome our home doesn't begin to describe the atmosphere there.

The next morning I went to our Women's Bible study as I always did. I was broken and overwhelmed, and I needed a word from the Lord. I was begging Him to speak to me. First He spoke ot me through worship. There was a particular worship song that was a real strength to me during that season. It's title is "Made Me Glad." And I sang it continually as a prayer. The lyrics go like this...

I will bless the Lord forever, And I will trust Him at all times, He has delivered me from all fear, And he has set my feet upon a rock

And I will not be moved, And I'll say of the Lord....

You are my shield, My strength, My portion, Deliverer, My shelter, Strong tower, My very present help in time of need

Whom have I in Heaven but you? There's none I desire beside you, You have made me glad, And I'll say of the Lord....

You are my shield, My strength, My portion, Deliverer, My shelter, Strong tower, My very present help in time of need

As the worship leader began to sing the song, I knew it was no accident she had chosen that song that day. I remember just pouring myself into the song, crying my eyes out standing in the back of the room. I was pouring my heart out before God, declaring to the Lord, there was no one else I would trust, but Him I could and Him I would.

Then the teacher came forward to speak. She opened her bible and asked everyone to turn in their Bibles... to Joshua, chapters 3 and 4. She began teaching on it, I waited, listening, nothing substantial seemed to come and answer my heart cry, when suddenly she stopped as if some thought had just occurred to her. She asked us all, "Do you know what the Jordan River stood for to the people of Israel?" All sorts of answers came from the group, "life," "sustenance." The teacher just stopped and looked at us shaking her head. Then she spoke these words of life to my soul, she said, "The Jordan Rive was what stood between the Israelites and their Promised Land. And from their perspective there was no way to the other side, until God made a way, where there was no way."

The Word, salve to my soul. And although it did take almost another eight months to complete the process, I did see God make the way where there was no way. In response to the passage in Joshua, the people built a monument in remembrance.

Today we don't really build monuments personally like that, in remembrance, but when I wake up and look at the date on the calendar, for me, I see the monument of the awesome things God has done for our family.

Today is the 5th anniversary of our Adoption Day. As long as it took to get to that day, or so it seemed for 40 months, it's amazing to look back now and realize that five years have gone by. What a joy it was the moment we signed the papers and the judge proclaimed us officially a family.

I cannot express the joy that we experienced on that day, and in all the days since. Adoption is such a miracle anyway, and I feel privileged to have another perspective of what it means to be adopted into the family of God by Christ's sacrifice. I can even look back now and see all the benefit that came from the struggles and trials of that long process, knowing how much we all grew in our faith and confidence in the Lord.

So today, I'm just revisiting the place where God has done a mighty thing for the DePriest family. I look forward as my children grow to being able to take them into the deeper depths of the miracles we saw God do on our behalf. I am excited for the days when Ethan will have a deeper understanding of his own testimony and what God did to make him a part of our family, and even for Victoria and the way God used her as such a strength in the process. I know I haven't shared enough of the story to make all that clear to you, but trust me, as you read this you are standing in a place where God has done a mighty thing.

Then, Adoption Day 2004
Now, April 2009

I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever;
With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.

For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever;
Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.”

Psalm 89:1-2