The Power of the Cross

That’s the power of the cross
see the chains fall...
That’ the power of the cross
see the chains fall. 

I sang the chorus of this song over and over in Lily’s ears as I held her during our time in China and in the early days of coming home when nothing else seemed to ease her sadness or calm her spirit. 

At first…it was more for me than her because I desperately needed to feel the power of the cross break the chains that were keeping her from trusting us.

Over time…the repetition of this song became something to calm and give her rest.  I saw the power of God’s hand reaching down to break the chains of fear and uncertainty that filled her heart. 

I haven’t sung this chorus to her in over 3 weeks. 

Indeed, the power of the cross is bringing healing and hope to our little girl.  We see her transforming before our eyes beginning to trust and love. 

She has gone from a scared little girl...

to a girl that loves to sign "love"

from crying in daddy's arms...

to giggles and laughter...

from layers of clothes...

to smocked dresses (thanks to her Gaga and Papaw)

from eating dirt....

to smelling flowers...

from being uncertain about our love...

to feeling safe in our arms...

When God speaks to us, it is not just for information…but for transformation. 

I want to be transformed by the power of the cross.  I want Lily to know that Easter is so much more than bunnies, bright colored eggs and fancy dresses. 

Easter is about the power of the cross
                a beautiful picture of redemption, love and sacrifice. 
                a celebration of life and hope
                a gift of extravagant grace
                                …an invitation to be transformed. 

Once in darkness now in light
Once blind now you see
Once a sinner now a saint
Once bound now free.

That's the power of the Cross See the chains fall
That's the power of the Cross See the chains fall

Once a stranger now a child
Empty now filled
Once condemned now reconciled
Broken now healed

That's the power of the Cross
See the chains fall
That's the power of the Cross
See the chains fall


Are you sinking?

If grace is an ocean we’re all sinking…

The words to this song resonated with me when heard them last Sunday at church.  

If grace is an ocean and I am sinking in it, then I look at my life and ask…
am I dripping with grace for others around me? 
am I saturated with the love of God? 

Do I extend grace…unmerited favor… to those in my life who are most difficult to love?  

In my flesh, I am ashamed to say no…the people that inflict hurt and cause emotional pain in my life often lead me to feelings of resentment and bitterness. I try to put a wall between myself and them to insulate the pain that tries to creep in.   

And yet, how does Christ respond to my wandering…to my actions of hurt and pain?  He extends grace…not bitterness.  He tore the veil…He doesn’t build a wall.  He pursues me even in my sin. 

Grace (charis)…the greek term related to rejoice, favor, goodwill…loving kindness. 

God’s grace…unmerited favor made available to me through His son Jesus.  God’s all sufficient, overflowing grace poured out for me…a sinner so undeserving. 

If I really grasp the magnitude of God’s great love displayed on the cross, then my response to those who create pain and hurt will lead to grace and love. 

I am learning more about God’s grace and the depth of His love when I look at the way He has poured out His favor in Lily’s life.   

One of our prayers for Lily was that she would be able to play outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. 
As you can see…even in the poor conditions of her foster home (dirt floors and no electricity), it is evident that she was an outside girl who loved to play. 

When we found out Lily had a playmate in her foster home we immediately wanted to find a way for our friends to try and adopt him!  We found out he has been matched with a family and I recently spoke with his parents…they live only a couple hours away and he will be coming home soon!  ...only by the grace of God. 

We prayed that she would know what it was like to be loved.  
I am humbled by the fact that her foster parents, even in their poverty and older age, took in two special needs little angels.  Lily is an affectionate little girl who loves to give hugs and kisses. 

We prayed my grandmother’s verse over her every night when we were waiting to go get her…when you lie down may you not be afraid; when you lie down may your sleep be sweet. 
Lily is sleeping through the night and each day she falls asleep faster than the night before. (Nap times are a different story but we are still working on that J) 

We prayed that Lily would be true to her Chinese name... Yue (joyful, happy) Xin (new).
                This is the happy smile I get to wake up to every morning. 

My prayer is that Lily will have a beautiful voice to declare God’s love and truth
Lily’s palate will be repaired on May 10th…we wait with expectation to see what God will do in the days ahead after her surgery.

As I reflect on the power of the cross this Good Friday... I am humbled to be sinking in His grace.   

"For by grace we have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God."  Ephesians 2:8

excerpt from the John Mark McMillian's song How He Loves

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy
When all of a sudden I am unaware of these
afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful you are
And how great your affections are for me.

Oh how he loves us so
Oh how he loves us
How he loves us so

We are his portion
And he is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean we're all sinking...


Running to your arms

Michael saved one toy of Spencer’s when he was little because he had such fond memories of Spencer following him around outside pretending to mow while he was working on the yard.  Spencer got it out of the attic last week and when Lily saw him pushing the lawnmower she was off and running!  

Our little Lily pad loves the freedom that comes with her new found confidence in walking.  She is little miss independent when she is happy and exploring her new world.  When she feels secure she loves to do her own thing and doesn’t even think about us or where we are.  When uncertainty, insecurity, fear, or exhaustion set in…she comes running to my arms for security and affirmation. 

There are times when Lily comes running to my arms with a bright smile and happy attitude but those times are few right now because she doesn’t need me as much when she is rockin’ her smiling face and life is sweet!  (don’t get me wrong…I LOVE this part of her and want to encourage her independence.  I try to keep in mind…what can I do today to make her a little less dependent on me tomorrow). 

As Lily’s parents, our desire is to move her to a place of complete dependence…not on us…but in the One who created her…who designed every gift and talent that will be unleashed in the years to come…the One who knows her every thought and calls her by name.   

Michael and I were talking about this and realized that it’s a lot like how we treat our Savior at times.  When life is good and everything is smooth sailing we often try to do it on our own and His presence fades to the background…not because He isn’t there…we are just too busy to acknowledge Him. 

When we walk through a valley or face the fear of the unknown we come running to His arms seeking direction and affirmation of hope. 

I wonder how our sweet Savior feels when we only come running to Him when we are in need…when the foundation on which we stand begins to crumble? Does He get weary of our repeated requests and petitions for help when we forget to count the blessings He freely pours out in our life?  How many times has He been waiting for me to stop and come before His throne when I keep “doing life” because I see each day as mine to order and plan out every detail.    

I want to learn to be in a state of moment-by-moment dependence on the Lord.  I pray that He would interrupt “my” day with the plans and purposes He desires.  Lord, give me eyes to see your interruptions…not as an inconvenience but as an opportunity for personal growth. 

I want to run into the arms of Jesus…in the joys and struggles of life.  The riches of His love will always be enough...nothing compares to His embrace.  

Where are you running?

Listen to the words of this song...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38XATchXJYI

In daddy's arms...

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