Saturday, December 31, 2016

Be kind, 2017.

If 2016 was a person I would like to have a firm talk with him explaining just how frustrated I am with him.
I would say, "2016, I expected so much more from you. Sure, 2015 was worse in theory--but my expectation was for 2015 to be bad. I expected good from you, 2016. You let me down."

And 2016, being the jerk that he is, would say something surprisingly awful. I would have an expectation of remorse and resolution, because that is what I hoped for 2016, but I would somehow still be surprised by how my expectations would go unmet. 

It started  out with such hope--like the eyes of young Kate Winslet suggest---and enthusiasm--like Will Smith's energetic smile suggests.
But here I am, wondering how everything could have gone so far left of my hopes and expectations.

I haven't really shared much about our adoption journey because it has just been too hard. 

I have been focusing this year on learning who I am and who I know God to be. There was a point this summer where I spoke audibly to the Lord, "What do you want from me? How should I respond to all of this? If you want me to smile and nod and say, 'God is in control!' you have the wrong girl!" 

Going back to 2015, when we originally left Honduras, I was devastated. At that point adopting Papa was not at all a possibility. We knew that the Lord was calling us home and we obeyed. The grief I felt in 2015 left me at many times paralyzed. 

I don't know how I managed to get through the year.

However, early on, it became a possibility to hope. The government issued a statement that made it possible to petition to adopt Papa based on the attachment that had formed in the first year of his life to our family. We slowly inched our way into that possibility.

In September of 2015 we suffered another devastating blow in losing Anthony. I really sunk into despair during this time because I just could not find the meaning in this loss. Suffering is manageable, I think, if I can wrap my mind around why I am suffering. But the minute suffering is for sport, it just becomes unbearable. I had lost one child and I didn't want to lose another. Waiting for an adoption seemed impractical, unrealistic, and insufferable. I just wanted my arms around all my babies. I couldn't lose another child.

I remember in December of last year, I told Kyle that I just didn't think I could keep going like we were. 

He asked me to be present emotionally for the kids during Christmas and afterward we would make a plan for 2016.

My heart was wrapped around going back to Honduras. I could have my family under one roof. I could hold them in my arms. I could keep them safe. All of my anxiety fed this need to return. The uncertainty paired with my powerlessness against all that made me uncertain, made me want to lock ourselves away in a bubble. 

I felt abandoned. To be honest, I sometimes still do. I feel so vulnerable and powerless, knowing that I have no control over what I value most in this world--my family. 

However, we didn't go back. Kyle and I committed to a month of prayer and fasting and after that month we both knew that we weren't supposed to go back. It was all I wanted. And I heard, "No."

In February I went back to Honduras to fulfill my responsibilities of returning every 6-8 weeks and to wrap my arms around my son. 

As I pried my crying son's arms from my neck as I left for the security check point at the airport, I told God, "Your move. This is not okay."

I can never put into words what it feels like to leave. 
It never becomes okay. 
I've learned to push through--the feelings never catch me by surprise anymore--they are old. familiar ghosts that haunt me when someone asks to take a picture of our family and he is not there.

When I returned from that trip, Kyle and I decided that we were going to pursue Papa, not sure at all what that meant. 
3 days later I received an unprompted phone call from our adoption agency, I'll never forget what they said, "Mrs. Murray, we have decided to take 10 families for our pilot program for Honduras and your case is one of those 10. We believe that your case has the potential to be successful."
She went on to tell me how much it would cost and I laughed to myself. The adoption and the cost were both likened to hunting unicorns to me. However, if God opened doors I would walk through them. 

This is the part of the year where hope sparkled and enthusiasm busted. 
I believed 2016 would bring our family together.

Kyle and I made the tough, but strategic, decision, for the kids and I to stay in Honduras for the entire summer while Kyle stayed home.
The three months I lived in Honduras without Kyle were three of the hardest months of my life.

I was hopeful that I would be able to bring Papa home at the end of the summer. It was unrealistic; but God was opening doors faster than what seemed realistic so hope poured out of me like a child. 
However, not only did he not come home with us, but we had to acknowledge that this adoption may never be a reality. 
At that point, all those moments where God had told me no or taken what I valued from me came flooding my memory. 
People would say, "You know God is in this. You just have to trust Him"
I still huff when I write those words.lie
Yes, I know God is in this.
I trust God is in this.
I also know that God doesn't always give me what I want and that sometimes His bigger plan for redemption means that I hurt. 
And all the while, watch my kids suffer. They love their baby brother. 

I was forced with deciding whether or not I was going to choose to praise Him in all circumstances, still trusting that what is happening is His will, or feel abandoned by Him.

I just wanted my baby.

I gave him his first bottle. I gave him his first bath. I cleaned placenta from his body and cared for his infected belly button. I sang to him and prayed over him--every day of his life, minus one. No part of me wanted to accept that God may have a plan of redemption that is outside of him being mine. 

But here we were. God asking me if I trust Him, if I am willing to say He is all I need, if I am willing to give up control.

It still makes me cry, because I face my lack of control in this issue and a million others everyday.

I'll never forget the moment I surrendered.
I was outside at Kacey's apartment hanging laundry. 
My kids were playing in our apartment next door and I was alone with God and soggy clothes.
As I hung a pair of tiny shorts on the line, I said an audible, "Okay."

It wasn't big or boisterous. My arms weren't wide open. I just surrendered.

I accepted that God was with me. Earlier in the summer, a friend of mine, Kathy, shared a vision the Lord had given her. 
She saw me on the edge of an ocean with all of my kids around me. And as we looked out at the ocean we saw a wave heading towards us. It was obvious, somehow in only the way God can make things obvious, that it was a tidal wave of grief. I bent down to protect myself and my children from the impending crash but as I bent down, the Lord told me to stand up and watch what he was going to do. Just as the wave was set to crash, it split. And we were standing on dry ground.

I knew the Lord had promised dry ground. But he hadn't promised Papa. I wanted Papa. I wasn't sure I wanted to accept dry ground without Papa. But in that moment, I surrendered. 
If dry ground meant no Papa, then I would trust Him.

It wasn't long after that moment that I was pulling out suitcases. Papa would sit on the suitcases and shake his head no. He knows. 
After exactly 90 days in Honduras, we left...again. 

Except for this time I left without any ounce of hope that Papa would be mine. September, October, November, and December were full of moments where God would open doors and then another screeching halt. However, we now have assurance that Papa is meant to be with us. 

And now, as 2016 comes to a close, I am exhausted.
I spent exactly 6 months of this year in Honduras. 
I have spent the entire year torn in two. Nothing makes that more literal than the time split. 

I read somewhere that JOY = LOVE - FEAR.  I have no clue what 2017 holds, but I know that I have to let go of fear if I truly want to have the Joy of the Lord to be my strength and I anticipate needing strength. 

Thank you to everyone that has poured into me and my family during the past couple of years. I have felt needier than I have ever felt in my entire life. I feel like I have failed at so many things in the wake of trying to survive. I'm sorry for not being myself. Thank you for carrying me and pushing me to continue. 

The best gift I am still, somehow taking with me from this year is Hope. 
I am praying that 2017 is a year of hopes fulfilled for so many of us.

This is my Hope Fulfilled...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Christmas Covenant...

Today is Christmas Eve and my kids are playing while the rain falls causing the humidity to hang in the air like a soggy blanket.  In the background I am listening to "The First Noel" and my thoughts are brought back to what all happened on that very first noel. Maybe its because my life the past few years has shattered the worldview I once had. Maybe its because the Lord has revealed himself to me in a new way. Or maybe its a combination of the two...but whatever it is, the Word of God came alive to me in a new way this Christmas than ever before...More than likely this is not new to many others, but for me, my perception of God has been deepened in a new and beautiful way and I was encouraged to share it, so hesitantly, I will...

A few Sundays ago I was sitting in church listening to my pastor talk about Joseph. He talked about Joseph and highlighted all the reasons that I already love Joseph...he was a man of action and not of words...he wasn't afraid to obey...he lived a life of humility and character...and all of these reasons caused his life to have an eternal impact. Far too often we gloss over Joseph; we admire him for his willingness to stand by Mary and commend him for his faithfulness to obey the angel and then we let him slip off into the background of the Nativity...
But what if there is more?
What if Joseph was more than a man willing to make an honest woman of Mary?
Old Testament prophecy and New Testament documentation all collided for me one Sunday afternoon and it was like I was seeing the miracle of Jesus' birth in a new way.

Jeremiah prophesied, "'The days are coming,' says the Lord, 'when I will raise up a good descendant in David's family. This descendant will be a king who will rule in a wise way. And he will do what is fair and right in the land. In his time Judah will be saved. Israel will live in safety. This will be his name: The Lord is Righteous.'" (Jeremiah 23:5-8)

The Lord promised Samuel, "Your days will come to an end, and you will die. At that time I will make one of your sons the next king. He will build a temple for me, I will make his kingdom strong forever." (2 Samuel 7:12-13)

Jesus fulfilled these prophecies and the many others that mention the line from which the Messiah would come...What struck me as new was Joseph's role in fulfilling this prophecy and cementing the character of our God through this fulfillment.

Joseph had planned to divorce Mary quietly when he learned of her pregnancy until an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, descendant of David, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife. The baby in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son. You will name the son Jesus. Give him that name because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew goes on to write, "all this happened to make clear the full meaning of what the Lord had said through the prophet.  The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son and they will name him Immanuel. This name means, 'God is with us.' When Joseph woke up, he did what the Lord's angel had told him to do. Joseph married Mary. But he did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to the son. And Joseph named the son Jesus." (Matthew 1:20-25)

Just writing these words makes my heart flutter with excitement...I just cannot believe I never saw it before!

Jesus was adopted!

It was planned this way. Ordained by the Alpha and Omega...the One who sees all time and knows all things.

We know that orphans are near to the heart of God...we know that we are called to serve the orphans and care for them (James 1:27)...we know that we are adopted into God's family through the spirit of sonship (Romans 8:14-17)...but all of this was first made evident in the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus being born into the line of David.

When the angel spoke to Joseph, he was addressed as "Son of David."
In Luke, we are told, "Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee. He went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. This town was known as the the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David." (Luke 2:4-5)

We never learn of Mary's lineage. Of course, this could be cultural or it could be understood that she, too, was from the line of David because many of the tribes of Israel married within their own tribe. But for me, I believe that this was not an omission but a purposeful attribute to prophetic fulfillment.

In order for Jesus' birth to fulfill prophecy, he had to be born in the line of David. But in accordance to the character of God, he fulfilled this prophecy through adoption!

God did the impossible in bringing his own son to be born by virgin birth. And then he added careful, deliberation by fulfilling the prophecy through Joseph.

I love this for so many reasons.
1. Neither Mary nor Joseph created Jesus. However, if Mary would have been the one that was noted as being from the line of David then people would miss the beauty of adoption in this story. If they would not have abstained from having sex than the purity of Jesus' birth would have been tainted. Jesus is fully God.
2. God is the ultimate example. He asks us to embrace adoption and he models this through Mary and Joseph and the adoption of his own son, Jesus.
3. Adoption is proven to be God's heart. Adoption is so counter our flesh, like most things of the spirit. The acceptance of adoption within cultures ebbs and flows depending on time and location...however, God's love for adoption and view of adoption as covenant, or contract between God and his people, is made so obvious through Jesus and is eternal.

He loves us.
Everything God does and has done and will do is intentional.
My love for God has been deepened this year and although my heart has hurt in ways that I wish I could forget, knowing that God loves me enough to bind the past to the present to the future in such deliberate ways makes me trust him with my past, present, and future.

If He can do this, than certainly he has my life covered.
I'll trust him. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

to the one who doesn't feel brave...

"You are so brave," Jack said.

We, just moments ago, had put our toes into the chilly,early April waters of Florida.  He had convinced me, as only a son can convince his mother, to continue wading deeper.  At this point, we were up to my knees and he was trying to encourage me to go deeper.

"You are so brave," he said.

Immediately my brain was flooded with the chilly thoughts of the day before...the day that we boarded an airplane and left Honduras.  I wanted to feel brave, but all I felt was broken.  Jack and I continued our battle against the cold waters until we were completely submerged and we were impervious to the ocean's assaults.  We played and laughed, and Jack thought his mother was brave.
I loved that moment.

I still hear his little voice in my head telling me that I am brave. When I think of those words, tears sting my eyes because I want it to be so true.  I've thought about bravery so much since that day...I have this habit of over-thinking, over- analyzing, over-understanding anything and everything that comes into my mind...and this concept of bravery is no different.

For Jack, bravery means not being afraid.  When I dared to enter the icy-cold water with him even though our toes, legs, bellies, and arms begged us to run the other way, he viewed my act based on a lack of fear of the consequences...but the reality is that the fear of consequences is oftentimes the motivation for bravery.

In this case, the thought of not entering those waters with my most sensitive son meant choosing sadness over motherhood...over him.

I didn't want to go.  I didn't feel like playing.  My heart was broken.  But I was afraid that choosing sadness would lead him to feel the brokenness that I was feeling. I didn't want that for him, so I put my toes in that water and he laughed and called me brave.

When I think a little deeper I realize that the root of all bravery is self-sacrifice.  Really, the two words could be synonymous.  In a moment, you are choosing what someone else needs over your needs.  Devotion to my son made me choose the water.  I didn't feel brave because my mind has constructed some sort of imagining of bravery as something bigger...something grander...something more warrior-esque.  But really, there is no greater war than the war against selfishness.  No greater victory than choosing others over ourselves.  No truer warrior than the ones who set aside their own needs to help another.

I am not brave in the sense that I fearlessly walk into battle completely unaware or unmoved by the cost.

I am brave in the sense that I choose to do those things that I know I am not equipped to do because the thought of what it means for those things to not be done is far scarier.  

Over and over again in the Bible we are told to not be afraid..
  1. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Psalm 34:7 NIV
  2. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT
  3. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 NLT
  4.  This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 NLT
  5. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 NIV
  6. I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 NLT
  7. For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears.He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17 NLT
  8. Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil,  for you are with me Psalm 23:4 NIV
  9. Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:36 NIV
  10. One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! Acts 18:9 NLT
In order for God to calm our fears, we first have to realize we have them and I have never been confronted with such an assault of fear as I have on the mission field.  I've walked my son down the path of anxiety... He has a painting of a castle that is right beside his bed.  On the painting, are the words, "the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe."  Each night as he wrestled the fear that tried to overtake his mind, I would point him to the truth that he was safe.  I watched him choose faith over fear but I have never had fear like that...Fear that insists on being acknowledged and addressed...but even then, I marveled at his faith.  Watching him purposely choose faith because it was the only hope against subduing the Fear that waged war on his mind was inspiring...but, still, I had never known that Fear.

I remember the first night anxiety and panic covered me like a thick blanket while I laid in bed.  The days had been long and hard.  I went from night-time feedings to foreign hospitals to homework, laundry, and dinner with such a sense of duty that I had barely noticed how out of control I felt.

It should have been no surprise, but it came as a full surprise to me when I laid in bed one night convinced I was having a heart attack.  My heart was racing..beating faster than I have ever felt it before...and it was pounding so hard I was convinced you could see it pumping outwardly.  Every time I closed my eyes the room would arms were chest ached.

I was afraid.

The weight of life pressed heavy against my chest and instead of calling it by name I called it a heart attack.  That in itself only caused the weight to feel heavier, my heart to beat faster, and my mind to spin faster.

This was a moment that I had to learn that I was afraid.  My flesh cried out in fear because I had never been so confronted with such suffering.  It is strange to be so close to the war between flesh and my spirit, I was brave...but my body was exhausted, overwhelmed, and out of control. I struggled with this nightly war of spirit versus flesh for over 6 months...

And then one day Oliver Jack told me I was brave.
Those words washed over my spirit as the cold water cut through my legs and I realized that I do believe it.
Although, I feel broken and afraid, the Lord is my strength.
The Lord God is my bravery.

Being afraid doesn't make me weak.  The biggest lie I have ever believed is that Christians are not afraid.  I do not have to convince myself to be bigger than the suffering that surrounds or to be unaffected by human suffering.  In contrary, the more I am moved by suffering the more my heart bends to compassion. Suffering is scary.  Is it even possible to love without compassion?

Bravery and compassion are linked to freedom because it is through both that we find love...and love is selflessness.

We have all these truths in the bible...we hear that God is love in 1 John...we have love defined in 1 Corinthians...we are told that we have freedom in Christ in Galatians...and yet my mind always makes it more complicated.  All I have to do is put my faith in my only hope bigger than the fear...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I remember the morning that I first woke up to see this little guy sleeping in this beautiful Moses basket.  Just the day before, I held him wrapped in rags, covered in the signs of birth, hungry and crying.  But today, 2 days shy of 9 months ago, I am remembering how he slept like a prince.

This is how the Lord loves us.  He takes us in.  Washes us clean.  Wraps us in new clothes.  And we rest; we rest in the shadow of his wings...we sleep like royalty...and in that moment we hear the message, "You are seen. You are known. You are free."

Today, I woke up needing to remember that this message is for me.

I would like to think that this is a message that I would never forget.  But sometimes, especially as women, we get so caught up in the act of serving, teaching, and mothering that we forget that we are also known, seen, free...and mostly...loved.

Papa was the first baby that the Lord asked me to walk alongside and help carry his burden.  His burden was too heavy for one little baby to carry.  It is a load that no baby should have to carry.  The minute I held his body in my arms it was as if I was looking at an old photograph.  This baby is why He called me.  This moment is why I was here.  Papa is known.  It was my job to stand in the gap so that he would never question it.

Then there was Anthony...The Lord saw him in his sickness and knew that he needed someone to help remind him that he is loved.  He asked me to be that person.  The Lord, in His infinite goodness, knew that He had a family waiting for him.  Only that family could not be there in that moment.  So He brought Anthony to me and asked me to love him like my own.  I cared for him in the way that only a mother can care for her sick child...He gave me endless strength, patience, and courage so that Anthony would never have to feel forgotten or alone.

Mili came in with a bracelet from the hospital labeling her as abandoned.  How quickly we label people with chains and bondage that tie them to lies!  The Lord asked me to pray that she would know the truth that she is pursued.  Her name is not, and never was, "Abandoned."  Her name is, "Loved," "Redeemed," "Free."

The first time I saw Genny's face it was on the front page of the newspaper.  I immediately called our social worker and asked where she was and asked her to bring her to us if it was possible.  The Lord put her in my heart and a few weeks later I was picking her up from the local child services office.  As I sat cradling her body in my arms that night, or more accurately, morning, tears flowed down my cheeks.  I will never know the circumstances that led her birth family to place her in a trashbag and discard her among bags of things unwanted and unnecessary...but the Lord put within me a desire to speak against that spirit of rejection.  I prayed over her that she would know the truth that she is God's most precious treasure.

We have been called to help carry the burden for these children because the burden is too much for a child to carry alone.  But the burden wasn't taken off of the child at the expense of another.   Since leaving Honduras I have felt all these things: I have felt unknown, forgotten, alone, purposeless and abandoned.  All of the things that I have prayed against in all the children I have served, I have felt.

In a moment of grief, I was messaging a friend back in Honduras and I was telling her how I feel like what I was doing was important but now everything feels meaningless.

She responded in a way that poured into my spirit and it was as if all the lies that were rubbing my spirit raw were covered and coated...tears streamed down my cheeks in way that they always do when I am confronted with truth...She said to me, "I know the Lord's heart hurts for you, but the biggest lie of the enemy you could accept right now is that this simple obedience isn't meaningful."  And it is in that moment that the Lord was speaking to me that I am loved, I am seen, I am known, and I am free.

This is why we need community.

Sometimes our burdens are too big to carry alone and we need to be reminded that the message we are carrying for others is also meant for us.

I had forgotten...and now I am being carried by my fellow missionary friends in Honduras as they carry each other and my sweet babies, my in-laws as they pour into us and help us adjust back to life here, my parents as they love on us and see our needs without us asking, our friends and family as they listen and pray for us, our church family as they welcome us back with open and hopeful arms...The Lord is restoring my soul with the gift of community.

For this reason, I am excited for the opportunity to attend this year's Women of Faith tour.  In perfect timing, this spring and summer, Women of Faith is traveling across the USA with speakers from the past 20 years to celebrate the beauty of women from different generations ministering to each other and reminding us all that, "You are seen.  You are known. You are free."

I know I am not the only one in need of hearing this message.  For that reason, I am excited that the wonderful people at Women of Faith are offering readers of this blog $20 off the price of the standard or premium tickets in any city with use of the code Carrie20.  Tour information with the names of speakers, dates, and nearby hotels are available on their site.

I will be attending the Charlotte (Oct. 9- Oct. 10) event and would just be pleased as could be to sit next to you and just soak in all the goodness of your company alongside the event!  I am planning on grabbing some coffee and dessert...mostly dessert...over at Amelie's and would love to have some friends to share with.  That way we can all get different things and sample almost all Amelie's has to offer while still feeling like we haven't overindulged {{wink}}. Just don't forget to put in your code so that you can receive your discount and let me know so I can know how many seats to save!

Price includes all event sessions with speakers and muscians such as Building 429, Sandi Patty, Kori Robertson, Luci Swindoll, Jen Hatmaker, Nichole Nordeman and much more...

I do hope that you will consider coming so that you can be reminded of these truths.  We all need to be refreshed, restored, and renewed...Such an amazing opportunity to invest in our faith.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Reaching the End and facing Beginnings...

The day we decided to follow the Lord's call to serve our lives were changed forever.  In that moment, we willingly placed ourselves in a place where we entered into a life embracing change.  A hilarious choice, really, for a family that has spent so much of our life building stability and structure for the ones in our home that really need as little change as possible (ahem...Kyle and Calvary...). But embrace change we did and in the two years since, our lives have been a cycle of saying, "yes!" to change.  Saying yes has been challenging.  We have had to say goodbye to our families and dearest friends; Kyle quit his job of 10 years; We left or sold our most valued possessions.  And the Lord has covered it all.
We have been challenged, but not in despair.
Calvary, the boy who once could not sleep in a different room in our own home, has moved homes 5 times and lived in 3 countries.
All of our children went from loving home school to going to a school where their primary language is everyone else's second language.
We went to knowing that our home would always have 6 people for dinner to never knowing how many people would be joining our table...sometimes we would have 8 people and other times we would serve 20.
Our family has enjoyed gain and suffered loss as children have come and gone.

But now, the Lord has asked us to do something that all of the challenges have only served as drills for what He now expects of us.

We have known that the Lord is calling us back to the States.  And although we are excited for the beginnings of that which He is calling us, saying goodbye to what we have been part of here in Honduras has proven to be the biggest challenge of my life...and the lives of my children.

I have had such a difficult time processing what the Lord has asked of us.  I have never questioned that we have been called home; I have peace about the decision.  He has made it abundantly clear, just as I have asked of Him.  But my heart doesn't want to listen.  I have had a difficult time expressing how I can know with certainty that the Lord is calling us home but feeling like I don't want to go at the same time because I don't understand it myself.  I have been asked why we have to leave?...Why don't we fund raise from here?...How can we leave Papa?
And I am frustrated because I don't know the answers to the questions myself...these are the same questions I have asked the Lord...but the call to go back is clear and the obvious path where He is leading.

At church a few weeks back we were studying the journey of the Ark of the Covenant in 1 Samuel.  As I listened, I fought back tears as I listened to the text describing the final leg of the journey to Beth Shemesh.

"'Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yolked.  Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up. Take the ark of the Lord and and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering.  Send it on its way, but keep watching it.  If it goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the Lord has brought this great disaster on us.  But if it does not then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us and it happened to us by chance.' So they did this.  They took two such cows and hitched them to the cart and penned up their calves.  They placed the ark of the Lord on the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the models of the tumors.  Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh , keeping on the road and lowing all the way; they did not turn to the right or to the left."
1 Samuel 6: 7-12

I love how the Lord's enemies tested the validity of the Ark by using natural instinct of mother.  There is no stronger force than a mother's love and if the call of the Lord is stronger than that force then clearly the Lord is calling.  Those heart broken cows just followed the Lord's call all the way to the place of completion...but it wasn't without crying.

This is where I am.

I never felt more like a cow then I did after hearing this passage.  My heart just sobbed empathizing with those poor milking cows.  I just knew how they felt.  I have been asked to do the same...I have been asked to go forward and leave behind the ones my heart has grown to mother. In doing so, I am denying everything that feels natural and safe.

We are coming home.  Papa is staying here.  Kacey and Jesus are staying here.  Kaylie, Bekah, Anita, and Johana are staying here.  Todd and Wendy and all their precious children are staying here.  Our entire Honduran family, the ones we have been in the trenches with for the past year, are staying behind and I cannot help but feel like a very, very large part of my heart will be left behind as well.

BUT there is grace for this heart of mine!

The Lord has BIG plans for us back in the States and I know it, but in the short term He is already providing solace for my heart.

We have been asked to stay on as interim country directors for Honduras and this allows us to maintain a role as a big part of ROOMs ministry in Honduras.  Kyle will continue to handle the financials of ROOM: Honduras and collectively we will continue to oversee the projects and volunteers in-country.  We will also be planning and leading short term mission trips to allow other people to join and work alongside of us in Honduras. Also in this role we will be traveling to speak on behalf of orphan care and supporting fundraising efforts in the United States in order to support financially and through resources to the children who need it.  Fulfilling these responsibilities will require one or both of us to be in-country bi-monthly.

This is the grace.

He has asked me come back but he has not asked me to abandon our work here.  In many ways, we will be able to support and care for the ones we love so dearly even more so.  I would like to be here.  I want to be the one who holds and snuggles.  I want to be laughing at our dinner table.  I want to fold Kacey's laundry.  I want to see Jesus walk in my living room.  I want to pick on Bekah.  I want to be here for Kaylie.  I want to exchange song lyrics with Anita that no one else knows because apparently we are serving here with generation Bieber.  But for now, that's not what He is asking of us.

In the meantime, we have quite literally used all of our missionary support.
When we began our fundraising efforts we could have never known that we would be paying rent for houses in two countries, supporting the care of many children or families, or feeding countless missionaries in need of community.  The crazy thing is that we should have been out of money so long ago...but the Lord's economy doesn't make sense...and we are so thankful for  everyone that has come alongside of us and supported the work we have been part of here in Honduras and in Costa Rica.

Our prayer is that we will continue to have people come alongside of us as we return to the States.  The Lord has provided work for us as we return and we will no longer rely on missionary support to fund all of our living expenses, we will still very much need missionary support to continue the work we have been asked to serve in as missionaries for Honduras.

We have had many people ask how they can support us as transition into different roles...Here is how you can help.
1.  Pray for us.  Pray for the hearts of my children...they are grieving and will continue to grieve...Pray for our fellow missionaries here and all of the children that will be affected.

2. Help us reach April's budget. As of today, we have not reached our budget for April in Honduras.
We are so thankful and blessed that our dear friends Todd and Wendy are moving into the ROOM transition home that we have been able to create.  This home has been Papa's home and it will still, by God's great provision, continue to be his home.  This transition is a gift and my prayer is that it will continue to be a gift for all involved.  In order for that to happen we need to reach our monthly budget of $2,500.00 to cover the rent and utilities and loose ends of the house here.

3.  Contribute to the ongoing support of our work for ROOM.  Our monthly goal for ongoing support is $800.00 a month in order to cover the expenses of traveling for fundraising efforts as well as traveling expenses to travel back to Honduras to continue to develop and oversee staff and missionaries in-country. Please consider maintaining your monthly support, joining us as monthly sponsor, or by giving a special, one-time gift.

Please remember that all donations are tax deductible!

You can make a donation by visiting our razoo page
or by mailing a check to Reach Out Orphanage Ministries, P.O. Box 5882, Concord, NC 28025.  Be sure to indicate "Murray Family" in the memo field of your gift.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

dear alexander...

dear alexander,

i remember the very first moment i laid eyes on you.  every mother remembers that first moment, even if that mother is only a mother for a moment.
it was unlike any other moment i have ever had with any of my other children...but your beauty was not lost on me.  the policeman that carried you seemed a little uncomfortable carrying your load...the gun that was draped across his back was definitely more familiar to him.  give me a baby any day over a gun.  i guess we are different kinds of soldiers, though.
i knew that you were supposed to be mine.  the moment i saw him carrying you, my heart leapt in my chest and i just knew.
that day you were heading to the public orphanage and we were supposed to be driving you there...the miracles that aligned so that you did not are some of the best gifts of my life because it meant that instead you came home with me.
for you, alexander, the Lord changed our lives.
for any mother that doubts that her job as mother is anything short of a calling, i can assure them that mothering a child is the deepest, most profound calling in this world.
you are so important and so valued--you are why the Lord called us to this country.
those early days were beautiful.  all of your brothers and sisters fell in love with you.  harper mothered you with all that she has inside of her.  oliver jack and finley covered you with kisses and lullabies. you are the baby that began the melting process of calvary's baby-hating heart :)  the nights were not long...instead, i cherished each bottle as a chance to snuggle and connect with you.
as you grew we started calling you papa.  oh, papa, we call you this because...well, because you looked a little like a potato for a little while...the cutest potato with arms and legs i have ever seen...but a potato nonetheless.  now, you have grown out of your potato-ness and are extraordinarily handsome...but papa stuck.
it makes me laugh a little because i addressed this letter to alexander and it felt so strange and us, you are papa.
life, your life, has been a whirlwind.
you have gained and lost several brothers and sisters along the way.  each one of those losses prepared me for what will inevitably be in our future.
i want you to know that my heart breaks knowing that i will not be your mother forever.
i will not be the one that covers your head and cheeks in kisses.
i will not be the one that sings ridiculous made up songs as you sit in my lap.
i will not be the one to watch the look on your face while you swing.
i will not be the recipient of those smiles that light up your whole face until your eyes twinkle.
it won't be me and it breaks my heart.
the Lord told me it wouldn't be me from the very beginning.  he told me that my job is to love you while we wait for your mother that will be your mother forever.
this is why you never called me mama.
we all know that's what i am...but to put a name to it, only confuses things...for me, for you, for the kids...
i want you to know it is not because of you.  you are a gift.  you are smart, handsome, silly, and loving...but you wouldn't have to be any of those things in order for me to love you or want are always love for you has always been the same---when you were grumpy, unkind, or your hair was bad...i want you to know that all the days of your life.
you are enough.  you are a gift.  you are loved.
government isn't something i can explain to you at 7 months old...i don't understand it at 32...
but even if the laws were in our favor or the government had different procedures that made me being your mother forever a possibility, i am believing that it still wouldn't be me.
because if it was supposed to be me, mountains would be moved...
it's not for me not asking it.  it's not for me not pushing it.
i've prayed.  i've asked.  i've done it all and the mountains are still there.
but, i know papa, that your mama is coming for you.
she is going to cover your head and cheeks in kisses.
she is going to sing songs and watch you clap happily while you sit in her lap.
she is going to watch your face as you swing.
and she is going to be the recipient of those smiles...
she will also watch you grow up to be a boy and she will guide you into being the man that the Lord has called you to be.  your name means "defender of man" and i have no doubt that you will be voice for those who have lost their own.
she has been waiting for you and praying for you.
and i will be praying for you and thinking of you all the rest of my life.
my heart is broken, but the Lord has given me such a gift in loving you.  and when the day comes that your mama comes for you, please know that she is not taking you from your home...
i am returning you.

i will love you forever,

Sunday, February 15, 2015

a strong tower...

Life on the mission field is like my house...
Here it is...I think it is charming...I love the green and the wood detailing...don't even get me started on the nice, cool breeze that passes through all the large windows...
I love this house.  When we first moved to Honduras I fell in love with this house and its charm.  I never thought I would live in it, because, of course, I was here for one week.
Yet, the call of the Lord to stay was so loud and the pull was so firm that we reluctantly made the decision to stay here.
From that point on, I called myself the reluctant missionary.
I didn't want to stay here.  It was hot.  People were always running around crazy...there was no structure or routine...I never knew what to expect the next day...our family had no time was essentially my worst nightmare.
We reluctantly said yes, but I also asked the Lord to make it so evident why he was asking me to stay when it made so little sense to me and then...well, that's when the tornado that has been our experience hit.
All in the span of two weeks our life flipped upside down.
The founder of our organization, and our host family, had to suddenly leave.
At that moment it became clear why the Lord was asking us to stay.  I thought that was it, though, but really, that moment was just the beginning of the Lord leading us as we reluctantly followed.
I kept wondering why he wanted us in our reluctance.
Surely there were people that are more enamored by adventure or have hearts that can handle the levels of brokenness that we have encountered...but still, he called us.
The Lord wanted me to know something...

He wanted me to know that his love is like this house.

I fell in love with a house in a country I didn't want to live in... and this house feels like home.
People are constantly pouring in the doorways of this home and I just love it.  We have loud, messy dinners.  We have laundry on the line constantly.  We have colorful cookware.  We have bedrooms that look like bedrooms...complete with beds, sheets, and little bed side tables.  Sure, we are often times without power.  Sure, the hot water can barely make it up to the second floor. Sure, we use a fold out table and plastic chairs for our dining room table.  But those are the things I can overlook when I feel home.
The Lord knew our home is where we invest...but he also wanted me extend my concept of home.  
He knew that people here need to be invested into deeply and purely... and He wanted us to be the ones who invested in them.

He wanted this because all around my house is this fence:

It is high, and solid brick all around.  The top 3 feet is an additional chain fence topped with barbed wire that is pulsating with electricity.
On the other side of that fence is apparently the most dangerous city in the world.  The city that we have called home.  

I have seen things on the other side of that fence that I never could have even imagined to see...

Just on the other side of this wall is the social security hospital...sometimes the stench of the hospital wafts down to our house...the street is crowded and constantly busy with motorcyclist, pedestrians, and vendors.  Many times, on this crowded, public street, we have seen people drying their clothes in the bushes while they slept on cardboard beside it...we have seen many, many naked people...some are bathing in the river while children and cattle play closely nearby...some are taking a casual stroll down the street..we also watched as a man sat beside a dog that had been hit by a car the previous day and carefully removed its insides for what i imagine to be that evening's meal.  We have watched tiny, unsupervised children juggle and beg for one lempira...basically the equivalent of one nickel...we have seen countless automatic weapons...on guards at every store, on the military police that are increasing their presence, to the trucks that the backs are brimming with military police wearing masks that cover everything except for their eyes...we've dropped off a friend's child at school countless times passing by the bus stop that was bustling with activity on the opposite corner of the school; only to see it shut down and overgrown in a matter of weeks due to threats of gang violence because that particular route did not pay their gang tax.  We shop at the grocery store where a man was gunned down by men on motorcycles carrying automatic weapons.  

All of this happens on the other side of the wall that surrounds my house...daily...hourly.

Yet, inside of this house, we know peace, love, and rest (well, most of the time).  

I think this is what the mission field is like.
I want everyone to know that in the midst of crazy, they can know peace.
In the middle of hate, they can feel love.
And when their bodies are dog-tired, they can rest.

The Lord hasn't asked us just to run to this house and shut the other side of the fence out either.  
Our whole life here has been inviting those that need peace, love, and rest the most into our house.  
This is where the Lord has stretched me.
He put in me a desire to open my home to others, but i never knew how to do that.  Being here, I've learned that your house doesn't have to be perfect and just has to be open.

We've also been in the places where most people would avoid going...
When God calls you to open your home, your investment grows...not only are people pulled in by draws those inside, out.  The Lord made that happen when he brought Anthony into our lives and all of a sudden we found ourselves spending days that turned into nights that turned into weeks at the public hospital.  It was love that drew Kyle out to make home visits for parents wanting to be allowed to have their children back because those very children had been in our home and our hearts were to make sure they would be safe.  
It is in opening our homes that our love grows and begins to not only draw us out but shine a light into the places that would seem dark and scary without it.  

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are safe."
Proverbs 18:10

The Lord reminds me of that truth everyday.  I have had to learn, like I often do, the hard way that our security comes only from the Lord.  He has taught me, in my reluctance, what it means to enter into the messy.  

I've never once felt afraid in honduras.  
It is only when I begin to think deeply that I even can think of the craziness that our lives have encompassed.  
The Lord was teaching me that His name is that fence that surrounds my house.  Wherever we go we are instructed to invite people into our invite people into the love that we know, the peace that we know, and the rest that we know... the strong tower, the home, that we carry with us wherever we go.

I am not so reluctant in our lives as missionaries now.  
Now, I am excited and hopeful of what the Lord is calling us to next.
The only reluctance I feel is in missing opportunities to love share more...
I know now, that the scariest place to be is not San Pedro Sula, Honduras, but anywhere without the covering of the name of the Lord.  
I guess He had to bring me here to teach me that.