Thursday, April 24, 2014

When It's Time To Let Go

Me and my dad-circa 1960
Why is letting go so hard? I'm a master at holding on…a wimp at letting go.

My dad died in August of 2011. As of Monday, I still had his clothes in my possession. Four boxes sat in tidy stacks in my garage. I wasn't ready to let go of the physical part of him that remained.

I have our memories, the good and the bad. Fortunately, the bad memories are fading. I've chosen the path of forgiveness. He earned that before he died.

My epiphany came at Christmas this past year. I was reading early on Christmas morning, before everyone else got up, about Jesus giving up Heaven's glory when He came to earth as a baby; how He chose to humble Himself and be born in a cave with animals looking on. As I was reading, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, "What about your dad's clothes, are you ready to give those up now?"

I knew the issue wasn't clothes, it was about letting my dad go. But God used that moment to get my attention.

His Son knew all about letting go.

Oswald Chambers says:
"We must build our faith not on fading light but on the Light that never fails. When "important" individuals go away we are sad, until we see that they are meant to go, so that only one thing is left for us to do––to look into the face of God for ourselves."

Me and Dad-circa 2007
My dad was a gentle, humble man. He didn't have many worldly possessions by the time he came to live with me. His clothes and shoes were all he had left and I wanted them to count for something.

I want to imagine him smiling from Heaven. I can see his eyes dancing now…

"But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…
2 Timothy 4:16-17 NKJV

And this is what I did…

I donated his clothes and shoes to June and Carroll Emery and friends who are having a huge yard sale on Saturday, April 26th, to benefit Christian Learning Centers of the Upstate. I've written about this organization in a previous post.

I think he would be happy to know the funds raised will help children and teens learn about Jesus.

Letting go is a process. It has a different time table for everyone. Be patient with those you love. Give them grace and kindness.

Stay the course and don't let anyone tell you when it's your time to let go. You'll know, and God will direct your steps in how to do it.

He has never failed me. It took thirty-eight years for me to finally grieve and let my mom go. 

Life is a series of grabbing hold and letting go. The key is looking to the Master, walking close enough to hold His hand. One thing you can be sure of, He will never let you go.

Blessings from My Little Corner,

P.S. If you live in the Upstate of South Carolina and are interested in the yard sale, please contact me through the blog or Facebook and I'll give you directions on the location of the yard sale. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Guest Post: He Calls Us His {An Adoptive Mom's Story}

I'm excited to have my friend, Amanda Bacon, as a guest on my blog. We met through author, Emily P. Freeman, prior to She Speaks last summer.

Amanda lives in the beautiful state of Alaska where she's a mom to eight, and wife to Jeremy. She has a smile that lights up a room, and a heart that's as big as the state she calls home. She puts her faith and trust in the one true God, even when He says do the extraordinary.

I'm closing out my series on adoption by hosting Amanda and her heartwarming story. I think you'll be blessed as much as I have been by her and her family. Please join me in welcoming her.

Several years ago, I believed I had a thorough understanding of God’s love. At the time, I was madly in love with the two little boys and two little girls we were entrusted to raise. Though I was crazy busy with those young kiddos who were maxing out the minivan and my capacity to keep up with the laundry, I was contented and happy. Loving them in that distinct way mothers love their children helped me understand God’s love for His children.

He sacrificed His Son for us. I sacrificed my time and energy as a mom.

He continually gives us wisdom through His Spirit, the Bible, and His people. And there I was in my yoga pants passing along godly wisdom to my children day after long day while wiping noses and watching countless episodes of Little Bear and Bob the Builder. See? God and I were basically the same. Ahem. I really should have spent more time during those days watching the sky for falling anvils.

I knew God loved us so very much that He sent His Son Jesus to earth to be the necessary sacrifice on our behalf. And I thought I understood the part about Him doing absolutely anything to be with us – anything to bring us into a relationship with Himself.  But honestly, I didn’t really get what the big deal was. After all, He chose to do it this way didn’t He?

Back then, I didn’t have a firm grasp of the gospel. The part about Christ’s death on the cross, taking the enormous weight of the world’s sin onto Himself. That’s huger than huge. It all started to sink in when I became an adoptive mom in 2010 and started to grasp how far He would go to pluck us out of our grim situation and lovingly tuck us under His protective wing.

When we were introduced to the gorgeous 7 week-old baby girl who was to be the first child welcomed into our family through adoption, the love I felt for her was fierce. So fierce that I would have done absolutely anything for her to be mine. After navigating some rough roads, we were able to take Gabrielle home a couple weeks after meeting her face-to-face, but then endured several months of teetering emotions and frustrations as we attempted to complete the paperwork needed to legally adopt her.

There were many unknowns that winter as we waited. Many nights my mind started to wander as I envisioned members of her birth family appearing at her window in the night coming to steal her away and all sorts of other crazy imaginings those ten months we waited for her adoption to finalize. I couldn’t bear the thought of her not being mine. Her story of adoption, and every other I’ve heard, is grace laid out for all to see. We saw how God orchestrated events in this little one’s life to bring her here to us, and we’re continually floored and thankful. We’ve had a front row seat to God’s great love and mercy two more times as we’ve welcomed two little boys home since Gabrielle’s adoption.

Through all of this, Christ’s immense love for us on the cross became so real. He didn’t have to attack sin head-on for me or for you, but He did. He couldn’t imagine us not being His, so He endured the unthinkable even in our messy state.

I finally understood. His indescribable love plucked us out of our grim future and took us under His protective wing. And just like that, He called us His.

What gripping words to ponder as we approach the holiest days in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ. 

My heartfelt thanks to Amanda for sharing her story with us. You can follow Amanda on her blog at She has exciting things in the works for Moms you don't want to miss.

Happy Easter,

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Miracle of Adoption-Baby Number Two

January 20, 1989 was a momentous date in the life of the Bush dynasty and the O'Brien family. You may wonder what our families could possibly have in common.

For the Bush family, this was the day George Sr. moved into the Oval Office and became our Forty-First President. And while that was of great importance, the events about to take place in the life of my family carried more significance.

While President and Mrs. Bush were making their rounds of presidential balls, we were sitting in an airport in Charleston, South Carolina waiting on a flight from Guatemala, Central America. It was carrying a three month old baby girl. She was given the name, Bailey Jean, at birth. Her first name was my mom's maiden name. Jean, is my middle name.

She would carry the name of her mother and grandmother, one she would never meet this side of heaven. That was important for me; the passing of a legacy through one's name.

When the missionaries asked if we wanted the next girl born, our answer was, "No, we want the next baby born." At that time, there were three women visiting the children's home, ready to give birth. Bailey was the next born, the others were boys. We knew from the beginning she was meant for us.

We opted to have her brought to us by Larry, the missionary. Her story unfolds on camera, and we have it to watch over and over again.

We arrived at the airport with time to spare. Our friends, Steve and Lori Williams, met us in Charleston. Steve was to be the official videographer. The plane was scheduled to land at seven p.m. We were there by five p.m. Anticipation grew as the magical hour approached. I paced back and forth, until there was a path worn in the carpet. My husband was cool and collected.

Daddy's girl...then
The aircraft was finally on the ground, yet we continued to wait. Babies are last to come off the plane many times, so we tried to be patient. One by one, passengers filed by, as disappointment gripped my heart with each one. I tried to contain the tears, but I could feel the well of emotion filling up.

Steve decided to go on board and video Larry carrying our baby out to us. He thought it would be more dramatic to capture her expressions inside the plane. The look on his face as he came off the plane is one I'll have in my memory for the rest of my life. He spoke these words in disbelief, "She's not there."

"What do you mean, she's not there?" I said "She has to be there." I burst into tears as my husband held me. There was no explanation.

We asked the flight attendant if there was a baby on board and she assured us there was not. She suggested we go to the Delta ticket counter. As soon as we approached the counter and gave them our name, there was a message awaiting us. The original flight had been canceled and she wouldn't be arriving for seven more hours.

A mixture of relief and anger flooded over me…mostly relief. I was thankful she was on her way but angry no one had informed us sooner. A simple announcement would have prevented our anguish. (Cell phones didn't exist.)

Now more waiting…the four of us went to dinner, shopped until the stores closed, went to a late movie, and  w  a  i  t  e  d.

Bailey and Lori
I cried until there were no more tears and then cried some more. The months of waiting for my baby girl had been difficult. Claire mailed pictures of her to us. Once you get a glimpse of a baby God has gifted you with, it's gut wrenching not to be able to get your arms around it. Once the floodgates opened, I couldn't stop the tears.

Finally, the announcement was made, she was on the ground. The camera was on and the moment we'd waited nine months for…"Welcome to America, Bailey Jean," were Steve's first words to her.

She was the most beautiful baby girl I'd ever seen. Her hair was long and jet black and I couldn't stop talking about it. Tears of joy fell all over her as she stared into our faces. We both cuddled her and held her and told her how much we loved her. It's a moment frozen in time for the three of us.

Not realizing at first what was happening, the flight crew and a few passengers had gathered around us to witness our joy. Applause broke out among those watching. They shared their experiences with her on the flight.

Lori and I stole away to the restroom with our little bundle. Bonds were sealed that night with these dear friends as well as those who were at home taking care of Andy.

Lori was the first to change her diaper; Steve's voice is the first voice she heard on American soil. There are many others who have had tremendous influence on her life to shape her into the woman she is today.

She is more beautiful today because of who she is on the inside. Though her outward beauty is stunning, it will fade one day, but the inward Strength she's built her life around will never fail her.

Her namesake would be proud to know her legacy is one of godly character and strength. I'm sure if she can see her she'd say, "Yes, that's my girl, I'd know her anywhere."

Blessings from My Little Corner,