Thursday, August 30, 2012

Third World Symphony While We Wait

It has been a very long time since I've fallen in love with an entire album.

Probably since Over the Rhine's release of Ohio or Long Surrender has their been a time that I listen to a cd over and over start to finish. We have some other rocking worship music and favorite friends who have albums we love, too. But, a long time since I've found something that becomes the anthem to my soul for a solid year.

And, I'm telling y'all, the Carpenter family has been in love with Third World Symphony since last October.

Shaun Groves Third World Symphony iTunes-banner-125x1
I am not exaggerating that we have listened to it in our car, every single day since we first heard it almost a year ago.

Austin sings the words to most the songs. "You have loved us...You have loved us all..." I hear him sing. Many a day, I have found myself scrambling to change the cd player to disc 3 over and over on the craziness of driving in the car with two boys or a stressful day of busy thoughts. Most music is either too chill or too loud for us amidst traffic and kids, but not Third World.

I finally was able to play  "Down Here" for my Mom in the car for the first time on the way to the Beth Moore conference here in Charleston the other week. "Up there, the prayers of generations split the sky..."  God has given me a few of those almost spooky; but very real visions of his Kingdom work, and this song has helped me put into words what I believe He's been showing me. I have felt the presence of the cloud of witnesses in my life this year!  I have found myself in parking lots with my foreheard on my steering wheel as I sang and prayed that song over and over (on days when I get to drive alone, of course). I know people must think I'm having a meltdown. But, this song has kept me rooted on so many days this year to the fact that this present world isn't all there is.

What in this life ain’t passing?
Big deals and beggars end in ashes
All go from cradle to casket
Down here
What in this world ain’t busted?
Crowns and cathedrals rusted
Is there a thing we can trust in
Down here
Up there
The prayers of generations split the clouds
The groans of all creation turn to shouts
Up there
The One who has no start and no goodbye
The One who mourns our fall hears our cry
And comes to live with us and die for us
Down here

I also love that Shaun's album contains the song "All is Grace" and I believe was penned from inspiration from his friend Ann Voskamp's book that God has give her to write, One Thousand Gifts. Again, just love that God is giving us that theme in song and writing through these two!

Okay, so maybe we feel a little bit personally connected to this album, too. Travis and I met Shaun as he casually strolled the exhibitor booths during a break out session of Together for Adoption in Phoenix, Arizona last fall. He was MCing the event, and we were just starting our journey of adoption. We had a mutual friends (shout out to the Tavianos!) and since we were not very shy at that conference, we introduced ourselves. We are not claiming to be BFFs with Shaun at all.  But we loved that he took some time to chat with us. He so openly shared  with us about his families journey into adoption world and just their journey with Jesus the last few years. We were touched and realized that this guy was not pretending to be authentic. He just was authentic. He loved Jesus and his family something fierce. And he didn't pretend to have it all together, but he was wrestling and working out his faith and he was kind enough to let us in on what God was doing in and through him.

But, truly, I can tell you that our lives this year, feel that we have lived almost every word on these albums. Now, that is not something I can say about just any music. So, I truly believe it's been a gift to us this year.

We are attending Together for Adoption again in Atlanta in just a few weeks, I gotta tell you, we are both excited to get to say hello to Shaun again and thank him for his words that have carried us closer to Jesus every step and day of this year. We are so glad that he'll be back to be a part of the Together for Adoption community, especially since we are also self proclaimed T4A Groupies!

While we wait for a referral. We are living in God's grace. Our boys remind us of the Grace every day that we receive, that we give, that we must give. The blessing of working with Journey Together Ministries is just thrilling our souls.

So, while our hearts are bound up in Jesus' perfect timing, I'll be honest,  I can't let words spill onto page without possibly breaking into a thousand pieces because this wait isn't easy and it's not even the hardest part yet. But, as we cling to the Truth we know, we'll also be singing over and over this gospel message....

Arches of reaching limbs
Crickets sing secret hymns
Over all of us
Tickle across our palms
Lit up like diamonds drawn
From the black above
Awake my soul to live this moment
Awake my soul,
give thanks and hold it
Dear now
God is here now
Awake my soul

and this...

The doubters pray for your signs and wonders
All the cynics say You’ll let us go under
But we’re here to stay
God, will you come by here?
Come, we have nothing else God
And having You we want for nothing
No death, life
Angels or demons
No depth, height
Can come in between us
And Your love, Your love, Your love, love

And this will probably the only time, I put a music player on my blog, too.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Together for Adoption::

If you can join us in Atlanta, for Together for Adoption conference, please please make it a priority!

Check out a bit of Dan Cruver, the co-founder of Together for Adoption, share part of his story here::

Together for Adoption 2012 Atlanta (Trailer 2) from Together for Adoption on Vimeo.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Journaling:: During the Wait

Sharing some of the more emotional side of this journey. 
A little more journal, and raw, and a lot less factual..... 

He is still there. My God. He is on that Throne. 
It will not be moved. It will not be shaken. 

And I know it, as we shift eyes and steer conversations away from the Wait.  
As we muster up smiles and shurg off sighs. 
I regurgitate all the Christian-ese that everyone else wants to hear. It is indeed peppered in truth; but manufactured in emotion.

I know the Truth in all things.

So, I preach the gospel to myself. I preach. And I preach, and I pray. 

And I know that the love of Jesus is the only Truth that heals. 

I know that the Grace of God is the only strength weak hearts will feel coursing through their veins. 

And I choose. 

I choose joy. 

I choose peace. 
I choose to trust. 

I choose to live fully in the fights and bickering of young boys. 
I choose to smile at the curls and dirt and insects that fill my home.
I choose beach and sand and squeals and splashing. 
I choose to stretch my eyes over the bridges to the horizon of the sea as it passes in moments.

And, yet, at night, when it all slows down. When the darkness fades from summer sun,
I let it breath at times. The Ache. 

The reality that my daughter is half-way around the world and another human being that we do not know may {or may not} be taking care of her is suffocating. That is a fact. And for a Mother who is overly caution on anyone who takes care over her children without her presence, this is a harsh reality.

Beth Moore preaching from James in our women's Bible study states that Joy and Anguish can co-exist. And I can tell you, I am living that out. It seems odd to say that waiting for a child can result in anguish. But, this is a different wait.

I fail miserably at blowing rainbow sunshine at anyone when situations unravel. When pain creeps in. When reality pulls up a chair to the table and pours himself another glass of wine. The Truth never leaves and pain never becomes unreal. But, I've sworn off band-aids and voted for bleeding on the table and cleaning up the mess. 

So, here is my mess. I ache.

I search the websites of the organizations online. 
I look into the eyes of each little girl with similar medical conditions that could be like our daughter's.

And I pray. And in my heart, I talk to that baby. Just like a Mama talks to the baby in her womb. I find my hands clutching my heart more often than not because she didn't come from my womb; but she's in my heart.
And I continue to search as I wait. At naptime, and at night, I scroll the pages. I google the towns. I look at the faces of the care-givers. I read the lists. And I pray. And I plead to God for mercy for our girl.

And then sometimes, sometimes I dare to draw back the curtain, and enter another room. 

And her face is there. 

Her hands. Her heart. 

She probably did not have a choice. She most likely could not parent this baby legally. 

Her Baby.         My Baby.           Our Baby. 

And I ache for that Mother whose heart I share. And in the midst of that layer, as my heart reaches for hers, I know that only the God of the Universe can knit hearts together for his Good! Only His Redemption reaches this deep to the places of a mother that faces the loss of a child.

And then still, on some nights, I follow the wizard behind the final curtain. To the place where all the faces multiply to thousands and millions. Lines blur. Time is caught in fistfuls of wind.  

I lay in the dark, my heart feels as if it could break free from my ribs. And my breath is caught in lumps of air. And I can feel it. I can feel the weight of the lonely who are not yet set in their families. And it is suffocating. The numbers. The reality. The horrific facts. The system. The messy system.

The physical pressure is tangible. I do not lie when I say that I can, in moments,  feel the weight of it. The depravity. Only for a moment, thank you, Jesus. For I was not meant to bear that weight. I will not climb on a Cross to save this world. I will not be the Redeemer. Yet, in His Grace, He lets us in. To the suffering. To the immense pain. At times, a strange gift is given when reality is revealed.

And so I cry. I wail. I sob. I squeeze fist to flesh. I feel finger nails to roots of hair. 

I push covers back. Feet to floor, I open doors and press my cheek to my son's and then run fingers through curls of our youngest. To remember. To see miracles. To see His children home.

And I breath. And I ache.  I can feel the rush, the outpouring of Grace. The hope. I can hear the calm waters. I can see the Truth. 

I reach for it with white knuckled faith. I stomp my feet in anger. Then in raw determination. Then in hope. Fists pound air.

Blood shot eyes darting back and forth in the darkness. Almost hoarse at times, I whisper:
"Please, Jesus. Please, Jesus. You make all things sad come untrue. You Redeem. You Rescue. Let Your Kingdom Come. Let Your Will Be Done. You are My Father and Hers!" 

And so, I rest in the end game. I know the stories/y's end. And yet, as the pages turn so slowly. As ink smears to parchment on our own small journey, as we live fully in each moment...

I wait. 
I ache. 
I hope.