Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I have seen the actual deaths of two people in my life.

The first was a man that I did not know nor did I ever find out his name.  It was about 12 or 13 years ago and we were at a church softball game.  I was sitting along the 3rd base line and we were finishing watching the game before Daniel's started.  The other team had a hit and a player rounded second on his way to third.  All of a sudden the third baseman fell completely on his back, laid out on the ground. Since he was older everybody ran to him.  Somebody started CPR and somebody else called 911.  I stood up and put my hands on the fence.  He died right there.  

The second person was my Mom. Three years ago today.

It was suppose to be my night to stay with her at Tranquility.  Dad and I had actually picked out her casket and mausoleum that morning knowing that it would be soon.  When I got to the Hospice center the nurse at the desk told me that she didn't think it would be long.  I rushed into her room.  When I walked in my Dad said "I don't think you will be needing your bag for tonight."  She was sitting up with her bed slightly reclined.  Her head was back and she was relaxed.  Her breathing was really labored and her eyes were close.  Dad was holding her hand and I sat on the other side and held her other hand.  The TV was on with no sound.  We sat in silence watching her and listening to her breathing.  Her breaths got farther and farther apart and after about 30 minutes she had her final breath.

There is no label on death.   
There is nothing to describe it when you see somebody you love exit this earth.
There is nothing to describe the process of grief.
There is nothing to change the time that passes.
There is no title.

There is hope.
There is salvation.
There is Jesus Christ.
There is redemption in Him.

I don't know how you label "anniversaries" of somebody dying.  They just remain untitled.  Just like the grief, the pain, the sadness.  Really because everyday afterwards is untitled.  You have to go through things not knowing how but trusting in God who gives us eternal life through our Lord.  This is what God wants.

To be our Hope.
To be our Identity.
To be our Strength.
To be our Promise.
To be our Title.

Our identity has to be in Christ.  If it is not, we are too consumed by everything else.  It is very easy to become consumed in your identity with something else.  To let the identities and titles of this world creep in.  They do, very slowly.  Believe me, I know.  No matter what you are going through you have to abide in Him.  Each day we have should not be titled by this world.  It should be left to be defined by God.  God is Sovereign.  Sometimes that is hard to swallow.  Especially when we do not like the way He is defining our days.  But I don't want to title my days.  I want Him to.  I want to live each day, all day with Him.  

"The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.  I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.  I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be unshaken.  Therefore my heart is glad, and whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.  For you will not abandon my soul to Sheoul, or let your holy one see corruption.  You make know to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."  Psalm 16:5-11.

The greatest moment of my Mom's life was when she stepped into eternity to be with God.  For that there is no title.

Here is one of my favorite songs  "Untitled Hymn" by Chris Rice.  This song was very helpful for me during my counseling.

May all of your "Untitled" days be lived for the glory of God.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Jackpot jack·pot noun
 1.a. The accumulated stakes in a kind of poker that requires one to hold a pair of jacks or better in      order to open the betting.
    b. A cumulative pool in a competition, lottery, or various other games.

 2. A top prize or reward.

We were standing in the checkout line in Target. Daniel and the kids were bagging up our goods. We were buying a backpack and pajamas for the boy we were hosting. He was going back to Ukraine the next day. Understandably he had moped all day long. He knew he had to leave tomorrow and we were all sad.

 We were trying to make the best of it by lightening the mood. We were not very successful. Easy for us to lighten the mood, we were not going back to where he called home. Our home is quite different. He got to be a part of it for four weeks this summer. Language barrier does not cover over feelings. Then again, nobody had to say their feelings, they were written over all of our faces.

Then came the unexpected comment. The check out clerk, looking at the kids, said “What a beautiful family you have.” Of course I said “thank you.” Then she says, “You certainly hit the jackpot with those kids. You have the perfect family.” I paid for our purchase and said, “Yes, yes we do.”

So comes the moment when you hold in the tears. The story of “well actually, one of these is not ours, he is an orphan and tomorrow we are sending him back to an orphanage across the world.” But I did not say that. I just said, “Yes, yes we do.”

Adopting has been a huge topic of conversation in our family for a long time. Daniel and I truly started talking about adoption after the miscarriage of our third child. Then we plummeted into the limited work we could do from our end with LifeSong for Orphans. Always talking, always knowing that we would adopt.

Almost 3 years ago at Christmas we tried to host for the first time. All three children we tried to host had some kind of strange roadblock to hosting. We were not supposed to host. God made that clear. I knew the reason too. My Mom was going to die. My GPa (her Father) died in November and she died in December. God had been telling me for about 6 months that this was going to happen. I am so grateful for the way he prepared and protected.

Adoption talk and work continued. We did not seem to have a green light. About a year and a half ago I started having some major issues—anxiety. It was kind of the beginning to an end of sorts for 35 years with my Mom. It was also the beginning of an incredible period of brokenness in my heart that God had been fleshing out for a long time. Well at least the beginning of my realization of it. So for the past year I have been seeing an incredible Christian counselor to work through my junk. My junk that I feel pressed to write about now because I want to give the glory to God (hence the huge hiatus in my blog—you just thought I was lazy and forgetful—that I am as well.) I find it ironic however; that my last blog post was titled “Small” and that was about a week before it all started.

So I am writing today to let you know that we are going to get our “jackpot.”

We have officially started the adoption process!! In the next week or so a website will be launched with the amazing help of our friends who are gifted in this!!! It will be about adoption, advocating adoption, being the hands and feet of Christ, fundraising for our adoption (and hopefully in the future other’s as well), encouragement, resources, and whatever else God wants it to be. We are incredibly excited about it. We have so many tools to bring glory to God and that is our desire.

Our jackpot is not going to be a cash prize. It is going to be so much more than that. It may be cumulative (more than one child), it will definitely be a prize (even though it is hard), but unforgettably it is going to be a reward. Because in the end, it is not our jackpot, it is God’s. He has brought us here and we have faith He will take us there.

Do we have more brokenness to go through? “Yes, yes we do.”

Do we know that it is going to be really hard? “Yes, yes we do.”

Do we know that we have a lot more flesh to get rid of? “Yes, yes we do.”

Do we know it is not about us? “Yes, yes we do.”

The time has come. The “perfect” family is whatever God wants for us. It is scary and exciting at the same time. We are excited to share it with you. Be on the lookout-----there is a lot more to come…….

 ***due to the sensitive nature of adoption and our relationships in Ukraine, we will not be discussing over media the specific children we are going for.***

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Why is my faith so small?

Almost two years ago I took my first trip to the orphanage in Ukraine. The first two days we were there, this kid named Vlad concerned us a little bit. He was around 13 or 14 and he was very attention driven. He would come up and hug our neck and lick our face and occasionally bite us. No he wasn't mentally ill, just attention starved. He was also hilarious. He knew a little bit of English and would call us "American-ski." By Wednesday, however, we all fell in love with him. He was weird, quirky, scary, and we would have to remind him not to bite or lick us, but he was just Vlad! The kind of kid that would never get adopted. The kind of kid that would scare people off unintentionally because he was trying for your attention. The kind of kid you would hide from because you never knew what he was going to do even though you secretly hoped he would find you because you wanted to see what he would do. One of my favorite times that week was a 3 minute conversation I had with him. It was the only time I saw him serious. I asked him how he became an orphan. He said he didn't know his parents. Somebody found him wandering on the street when he was 18 months old. His mother/parents had put him out at 18 months old! That was all he knew. After he solemnly told me that, he tried to sit on my lap for which he was severely scolded by an adult male Ukrainian for doing so. He was just being Vlad.

Shortly after our trip, we gave each of our children in our church the name of an orphan to pray for. Nia got a girl named Viola. JJ got Vlad. The first night we prayed for them the kids prayed that they would be adopted. After we prayed, I told Nia and JJ that it was more than likely that neither would ever get adopted because of their age and also for Vlad because he was so eccentric. I suggested that we pray for them in ways that they would come to know Jesus, get in ministry with LifeSong at the orphanage, or become part of the transition program. I'll never forget how Nia cried that night at the thought that nobody would want to be a parent to these kids.

Why is my faith so small?

Daniel just got back from his Ukraine trip in February. We take turns going different times of the year (to the same orphanage). I asked him how Vlad was. He said he saw him there and talked to him. He was in a foster home. HE WAS IN A FOSTER HOME!! He comes back to the orphanage to visit. The first thing I thought of was the night in JJ's bedroom when I told Nia and JJ to pray for something else for Vlad and Viola. And then I heard

"Why is your faith so small?"

Because God is not small. Because I should have been praying with Nia and JJ for the past two years that Vlad and Viola would be adopted.
Because I should have faith that He made Vlad the way he is and that nobody is unadoptable--nobody. Because my children have a big God.
Because my children want to ask God for things I don't ever think are possible. Because my children are right.

Maybe my faith is so small because I am too large......

In Matthew 17:14-20 we have the message of the disciples unable to cast out a demon from a boy. The father brought the boy to the disciples and they couldn't do it. The father then brought the boy to Jesus and at His rebuke, the boy was healed. The disciples asked Jesus in private why couldn't they cast out the demon. Jesus replies, "because of your little faith. For truly I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you." (v. 20)

I'm not going to turn this into a self-help "believe in God and you can do anything..." I don't think that is what Jesus was telling the disciples at all. Nor do I believe that the Bible teaches this. In fact I think we place ourselves in the messages of the Bible where we don't belong but only Christ does (another blog, another time). I believe that Christ is all, does all, and says all. I think God taught me all this through Vlad because He wanted to show me that so many times my faith is misplaced on myself and my thoughts of God, instead of who God really is, what God really does, and what God really says.

That makes my faith small.

I am so glad that my children have this awesome, big God! I am so thankful that God is sovereign over Vlad. Praise God that He uses His sovereignty and plans for Vlad to teach me about my smallness. My prayers are only hindered by myself. I need to ask that He increase my faith. Glory to Him for the grace He has for all of us.

Because I once too was unadoptable.

Read Matthew 17:14-20 again. Give thanks to God that He accepts us because Christ makes us acceptable.

And may you ask Him to grow your faith as big as a mustard seed.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Two days before Christmas I was in Wal-mart. It was in the evening and I was picking up a few extra things so I wouldn't have to go back out before the Holidays. In front of me checking out was a very young woman and she was by herself as well. All she was buying were bananas. Well a lot of bananas. Like several pounds of bananas. The "southernly" check-out clerk asked her "what are ya doin' with all these bananas?" To which the young woman sweetly replied, "they are for my son. He is 3 years old and he loves bananas. He eats several a day." The check out clerk carried on casual conversation with her about what a good eater he was and then gave her the total. "Six dollars and .36 cents is your total." The young woman pulled a WIC check out of her pocket which was a prepaid amount of six dollars. She said with embarrassment "all I have is six dollars, I guess we will have to put some of the bananas back." "Well wait a minute," the clerk said searching her pockets, "maybe I have some change. No I'm afraid I don't." The young woman started to grab the bananas to have them taken off her total. Of course at this point I am going to buy all the bananas for her so I already have my wallet out. The clerk asks me, "Do you have any change?" Knowing I never have cash, I peer into my change pocket of my wallet hoping to find 2 quarters and I say, "all I have is 3 nickels and a few pennies. It doesn't look like 36 cents." So the clerk holds her hand out and says "Well honey, count it out in my hand and we will see how much you have."

Do you need to ask how much I had? I had exactly 36 cents. Three nickels and 21 pennies. Me, who never has cash, me who thought I only had 3 nickels and a few pennies.

I almost cried as I counted out to number 36. The clerk was counting with me. We were counting out loud too. She folded up her hand, opened her register, dropped the money in, and said to the young woman, "Well that's God for ya." The young woman half smiled, still a little embarrassed, and walked out with $6.36 worth of bananas for her son.

Today is my birthday, I am now 36. I have to say I am much happier turning 36 than turning 35. Last year a very difficult birthday. I didn't want to turn 35. It was like I could no longer be in my early thirties. Daniel was literally out of the country. My Dad was in Wisconsin because his brother had just passed away, and it was my first birthday without the one who birthed me. There was no phone call from her telling me the story of how I was 9 lbs 15 ounces and broke my collar bone being born.
There was no describing how I had a bunch of red, curly hair. There was no telling me how I looked like a line backer with big shoulders. There was no me rolling my eyes at the story I had heard at least 100 times. Oh to hear that story once more......

I think about the 36 cents I had in my wallet that evening. How long had it been in there? How long had it been exactly 36 cents? At what point did I add or subtract for it
to make it the perfect amount for that evening? I do not ever believe in random chance. And it may seem trivial, but I believe 100 percent that the amount was there
for that moment by God to speak to me. I am sure it spoke to that young woman as well. We live so much of our lives in doubt. Doubt of God that is. It is hard to believe
in the "unseen." But the Jewish people had the "seen" and most of them didn't believe as well.

We finished up the Book of John with the kids the other night for Bible time. We were reading about how Jesus appeared to the disciples and in particular to Thomas. Oh doubting Thomas. Thomas who had to see for himself the markings on Jesus' hands and feet. Jesus who waited 8 days to appear to Thomas. Jesus who said to Thomas, "Do not disbelieve, but believe." Oh how I love Thomas' response, "My Lord and my God!" "Lord" translating in Greek to the divine name "Yahweh" and "God" to exclaim
His deity. What sweet worship. Jesus' timing was perfect.

John 21 describes Jesus appearing to some of the disciples as they were fishing one evening, after His resurrection. When the disciples realize it is Jesus on the shore, Peter jumps into the water and swims to where Jesus is standing. What I love is that the Bible says they weren't far from shore. The rest of the disciples boated back in. Peter couldn't wait. Peter who denied who Jesus was. Peter who said he never knew the man. Peter who was afraid. Jesus' timing was perfect.

I say all this to bring encouragement. I don't know if you are doubting, disbelieving, or struggling with something in your life or faith. I know that I cannot live without my faith. I know I am not suppose to live without my faith. I know I do not want to live without my faith. I struggle with various things in life like we all do, but I can explain the comfort I have had from the day I knew my Mom was going to die, because of my faith in Christ. Life is difficult. Believing in the "unseen" is hard. But He has shown us His hands and His feet. He has said "Do not disbelieve, but believe." And He gives us 36 cents all the time to show us that He is our Lord and our God.

May you believe Jesus is the Christ and jump into the water. The only thing we have to deny is ourselves.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Who is ever satisfied with their weight? Even if you lose weight there is always that possibility that you could lose more right? Every where we look there is something that reminds us of our weight. No matter how much we exercise, eat right, or suck it in, we still want to change our weight. There are times when I know my weight is fine but I still feel heavy. I have this opinion about myself based on a scale. What a travesty. Maybe I'm just speaking for myself, but I have a feeling that you are reading this thinking about your weight right now.......

So I have a weight problem. Well we all do.

Time and again we hear about how people have to find a balance in life. You must balance your family with your work. Your free time. Your sports. Your homework. Your finances. Your computer time. Your phone time. Your TV time. Your church time. Your diet. We must balance it all. To balance it means that you have to equal it out. Equal out what you do one moment with what you do with another moment. That is only fair right? If we feel like we are able to balance things, then everything is kosher?

Well I have a balance problem too. Well we all do.

I was listening to a sermon a couple of weeks ago by David Platt. He is pastor of Brook Hills which is in Birmingham. He was talking about the glory of God. Glory is used some 400 times in the Bible. That's a lot of glory. That's a lot of God. We learn that God is glory. We learn that the glory of God is so immense that we cannot be in His presence. We learn that the glory of God was so tremendous that Moses had to veil his face because it was glowing from being in God's presence. The people couldn't handle it. It scared them. How pure, majestic, perfect, beautiful, fearful is the glory of God.

What about giving glory to God? We learn about that too. It is something we can't handle. It is something that should scare us.

When you look up the word "glory" in Hebrew it is "kabowd" or "kabod" which means to be heavy or to give weight to. In Greek the word "glory" is "doxa" which means common belief or opinion. So I have been thinking about my weight and balance problem in terms of kabod and doxa. If I am to truly glorify God, then I am to give all weight to Him. All my beliefs, all my attention, all my focus should be on God and not trying to balance anything. If I throw my whole weight to God, and I'm talking spiritually, emotionally, physically, then that is how I glorify Him. God is my life and the most important relationship I have. God is heavy. God is weighty. He does more than tip the scale, He breaks it. There is no balancing God.

No matter how much we try to do it all, we can't. Stop trying to balance. God doesn't want an equal part of you. He wants it all. The only way to glorify God as an image bearer is to look like Him. The only way to look like Him is to know Him. The only way to know Him is to communicate with Him. The only way to communicate with Him is through His Word, through prayer, and through the Holy Spirit. David Platt said we will look like the God we worship. It's too hard to look like too many things. That's the beginning of our weight problem. The only heaviness we should ever feel is the glory of God, His heaviness. His glory is pure. His work is majestic. His Son is perfect. His light is beautiful.

Every minute, every thought, every action, should be in the weight of God. We can't handle it. It is scary. That is why we have Jesus. God knows that our every minute, every thought, and every action isn't done in His weight. That is why He gave us Jesus, to remove the veil so we can be in God's presence. So we can be acceptable to Him.

So it sounds easy right? I actually am just like the Israelites. I know that I am not adequate or worthy to be in the glory. It scares me sometimes to think I may be lukewarm. But I just do the only thing that I know to do. Throw my weight at Him. Look at Him. Know Him. Communicate with Him. Then maybe, just maybe I will look like the image bearer He created me to be in spite of my sin, but because of my Christ.

I am so thankful for Jesus Christ. I am so thankful that He is my righteousness. Because my own righteousness, my own weight, is a travesty.

May you look like the God you worship.

Love is Christ.

Friday, December 31, 2010


I sat next to my Dad last night on our couch in my living room. It was his rehearsal dinner for his wedding. Everybody was visiting with each other and I thought it I would steal a few moments with him.

We talked about how he was feeling, how tired we were, and what all had to be done to still get ready for the wedding today. The conversation was "bittersweet" as I thought how precious my few moments with him were.

Just over a year ago I sat on a couch with him in a family room in a hospice facility. My Mom had literally just died and we were waiting for the funeral home to arrive. Our conversation was quiet as we talked about everything we had to do to get ready for a funeral.

I have had a lot of feelings lately that have been difficult. I have been so excited for my Dad to get married as the woman he married is a wonderful Godly woman who loves my Dad tenderly. My prayer over the past few months has been that their relationship would honor God above everything else. I can honestly say that it does.

The difficult part lies in the grief that I still feel. Grief is amazing at times because it is necessary, natural, numbing, and sometimes dreadful. There is however, grace in grieving. Grace shows grief as necessary. Grace enables grief to occur naturally. Grace brings you through the numbness. Grace allows you to live through the dreadful.

The best part of this past year is the appreciation God has given me for His grace toward us. I have experienced His love in a fresh new way. He has allowed me to literally feel the prayers of others. He has shown me I need to love others better. He continues to reveal my insufficiency, self-righteousness, and laziness. He always gives me the answer which is Him.

So the wedding was incredibly beautiful. Two families have met to join. The family time has been precious. It has been the fastest year of my life. I think we are all going to sleep well tonight. We have another year in front of us to go through the things of life that are bitter and those that are sweet. No matter what, God will give us the grace. God is necessary. God is life. To God be the glory.

May you savor the precious moments God allows and experience His grace when those moments are bitter and when those moments are sweet.

Happy New Year.
Love because of Christ

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I was cleaning the toilet a couple of weeks ago and was praying while I was cleaning. Sounds strange I know, but I had someone on my mind and I was praying for them. In their particular struggle I was thinking about why it was so difficult for them to deal with their situation. I prayed and asked God that He would help them to deny them-self.

Clear as day, in the middle of my sentence, before I could even finish it, "Cami do you deny yourself?" No I don't. Isn't that the problem with sin? It is all about us. We do not deny ourselves everyday. Instead our sin denies God everyday. I deny God everyday.

I have talked many times of my "running" or attempts at running. I actually enjoy it even though it is hard and causes pain. Sometimes I want to quit in the middle of the run. Yet I keep on running over and over again. I know that my run will end soon. I know that my running has benefits and does bring joy.

Paul talks repeatedly in the Bible about "running the race." He perseveres through many trials we cannot even imagine, yet he does not boast about his faith. He is always Christ focused and Christ centered in the things he says even though he struggles with his flesh. Paul didn't have self-help books, Paul didn't even have the Bible to direct him in living a Christ centered life. All he had was Christ's life.

So much of our "faith" is based on ourselves. As I was thinking "how do I deny myself," and not commit sin, I came to realize it wasn't about me at all. I can't "deny" myself on my own. There isn't a magic formula to not sin, just like there isn't a magic formula to run. It is just continual focusing on Christ. He is the goal. Living for Him and following the teachings of Christ is what I am suppose to do. In that, if I am following Christ, I am denying myself. Just as my sin denies God everyday, I can deny my sin by looking to Christ and not myself. My faith isn't about me. It is about Christ. He is central. He made me acceptable to God.

One of the scriptures I have been reading over and over lately is Colossians 2:15-23. It is about the preeminence of Christ. Every time I read it tells me who Christ is and what I believe. If my faith is about anything else besides Christ, it isn't faith. That
is the race I am trying to run.

I actually enjoy it even though it is hard and causes pain. Sometimes I want to quit. Yet I keep running over and over again. I know that my run will end soon. I know that my running has benefits and does bring joy.

But my run is for God's glory. My run is for worship of Christ.

And that is something I never want to deny.

I pray that your running will bring joy to God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son.