Redeemed

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I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood recently. More specifically, about my relationship with my mother. My mother and I had a very strained relationship. When I was just a little older than Emma I can honestly say I didn’t care for my mother. Up until that point I had tried so very hard to gain my mother’s love. To no avail. And so I returned her coldness and wanted only to be away from her. I know it sounds terrible, but that was just the beginning. As I grew into an adolescent my dislike turned into an ugly hatred. When I left for college I was leaving for good.

Here’s where the redemption begins. When I left and would only come home when absolutely necessary I think my mom realized I wasn’t coming back unless she took a step toward me. We didn’t have any sort of dramatic sit down, but once I saw her making some effort I returned in kind. Forgiveness was never spoken of but it was given and received. It has been a blessing to have a relationship with my mother. As I get older I see the great value of this relationship, though it still has it’s difficulties.

The complete redemption though is in my relationship with Emma. I really had no expectations, no way of even imagining what my relationship would be like with my daughter. But every time, she calls out to me, runs to my arms and relaxes in the comfort of my embrace I feel redeemed. All the years of pain over my mothers lack of love comes back as healing a hundred fold in each sweet little kiss. I am deeply grateful to my Savior for this precious gift. How great a redeemer, how gracious our Lord.

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Heart and Seoul

I never understood the people in the old testament. I couldn’t comprehend how God’s chosen people, whom He spoke to, and gave signs and wonders to would blatantly disobey. From high in my tower I thought, “surely, if God would speak to me or even show me clearly what I should do, well of course I would do it.” Gladly, in fact. But recently, I’ve seen that I am just as stiff-necked as the Jews wandering the desert for 40 years.

For the last 4 years, that’s right FOUR years (almost like 40, without the 0) I have been wandering the desert of disobedience. David and I had been desiring to have another child and started “trying” 4 years ago. Early on thoughts of adoption took seed in my brain, but I did not allow them to grow roots. That wasn’t for us, not right now.

I had plans. Of course, I should know by now, my plans rarely match God’s. I had also planned to get pregnant the first time… about a year or two AFTER Emma was born. That’s right, Emma was a gracious surprise. This time, I wanted to get pregnant on my terms. I wanted to WANT the pregnancy. I wanted to experience pregnancy, childbirth and infancy with joy.

There were many instances where adoption would creep into conversations with David, but neither of us really wanted to walk that road. That road was full of unknowns and it was costly and we could find so many excuses why it wouldn’t work for us. Yet, all signs seemed to be pointing in that direction. I wanted to walk by the burning bush and pretend it wasn’t there. I was just as stiff necked as those wandering the desert- I wanted things MY WAY.

The more I prayed, the more I cried out in pain over my hearts desire gone unanswered the more thoughts of adoption would crop up. It seemed that this was the road we needed to walk. I wasn’t happy about it and there are times when I am still unhappy about not getting my way. What can I say, I’m an only child.

And so began our path toward adoption.

Run Lola Run

Today I went running. I haven’t been in a few weeks. For me running has been a great teacher. Here’s what I learned today.

Running in so many ways parallels my spiritual life.

I have been running for a while now. I have been walking in the grace of God for a while now as well.

When I run I have clarity. I have discipline and I increase my stamina and strength. My mental, emotional and physical well being prosper when I run. I sleep better. I handle daily situations better

Similarly, when I spend time reading the Bible, praying, worshiping and serving I receive many benefits. In fact they are very much alike. I have clarity, my spiritual stamina and strength increase. My mental, emotional and spiritual well being prosper. I sleep better. I handle daily situations better.

Unfortunately there are similar downfalls. No matter how long I have been running, no matter how good of shape I am in, it is still a forced act of the will to get out and do it most of the time. Which baffles me. How can I be so thick? I clearly know the benefits and yet I’d much rather sit on my butt. There are times when it is easier than others, but it’s always a disciplined act. The same is true for me with reading my Bible, praying, worshiping and serving.

Then it struck me. I have a hard time getting out to run, but once I do, I enjoy it (mostly). But I still have moments where I want to quit. Until, I get to the “home stretch.” Then I have a hard time not sprinting. I see the end is near and I want to be there. Even though I know the end is coming the entire time I am running, it’s veiled until I get about 1/2 mile away. And being in the presence of the end makes me want to go faster. In fact I am able to run faster than I thought I could.

So it is with God. Right now His complete presence is veiled to me and so I must press on and endure. And when I spend time in God’s presence, the more I “see” Him, the more I can endure and I am able to accomplish more than I thought possible.

Evesdropping

A little while back I was getting my hair cut. It seems that most of the hair dressers I have are chatty, but not my current one. I am SO thankful for that. I can just sit and enjoy having my hair “played” with and think. On this occasion my heart was heavy. I had been considering some of the obstacles we may face as our children grow, especially our child that we are adopting. I worry about how he/she will face the thoughts of adoption, whether or not he/she will feel rejected or a sense of loss. I worry about how the children will compare themselves. Obviously I will do the best I can on my end to alliviate these issues, but it seems that they may still come up.

SO, back to the hair dresser. As I am sitting, stewing and drowning in my worry I hear the hair dresser next to me talking to his client. His client was asking him if he had some sort of medical test done because his mother was having some sort of health problems. He replied that he hadn’t since he is adopted and genetic problems wouldn’t pertain to him. AHHHHH! Another thing to worry about. Our child isn’t going to know his/her genetic history… what if…..BLAH BLAH BLAH. My mind went on and on in just milliseconds. BUT, on further listening this man seemed to dismiss the lady’s concerns. He said, we all have genetic predispositions, but it isn’t a guarantee we’ll get (fill in the blank with disease) or not. He was so logical and calm and… well, right.

They discussed his adoption further; he talked about how he met his biological mother and that was that for him. To him she wasn’t his mother, she was his womb and he was grateful for that, but his adoptive mother was “mom.” He wouldn’t change anything. I wanted to ask him for his mother’s phone number.

Overhearing that conversation was a great gift. God saw my small faith diminishing in my downcast heart. He had pity and allowed me to hear that conversation, that glimpse into something better. He turned my thoughts upward and outward instead of inward.  He reminded me that David and I are not raising our children alone, nor should we be depending on our own abilities to do so.  God is so good.

It’s that time…

Let the feats of strength begin!

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Thanks 1:3

“Thanks” At this time of year I hear this a lot. Lots of “what are you thankful for? I’m thankful for…” But I wonder who are all these people thankful to? We are told to be thankful and to give thanks. Is it something we’re supposed to speak into the cosmos and hope that it’s heard? All week at Emma’s school, every classroom has made projects, written essays etc on what they are thankful for. I can see that there is something to be said for an attitude of gratitude, but it looses it’s effect when we loose sight of the giver. In fact, it can be a dangerous place where we begin to think we have brought all the good things in our lives with our own two hands. We are thankful to ourselves. We make ourselves idols.

(Stepping off soap box.)

I have so much to be thankful for and all of my gratitude is to God, the giver of all good things.

So here is Thanks 1:3

2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ

Moving Forward

I’ve been trying to write something about Judson’s memorial for a couple days now and it’s always too much. His mother wrote the following, and she sums up many my feelings as well.

Dear family and friends…

The last several days have been very difficult, but we continue to be significantly touched by amazing love and support, near and far.

We are tremendously grateful to all who took time out on Veteran’s Day to memorialize our precious boy. We were moved by the presence of so many and believe that both Jud and our Father in Heaven were honored well. Thank you!

Today was Judson’s graveside service and burial, attended by family. The reality that we have been called to let go of our sweet boy hit very hard as his casket was lowered into the grave. Our hearts are grieving more that can be expressed in words. We have a long, sorrowful journey ahead of us, but are so grateful that we are not walking alone.

Even in the midst of our significant pain, it has been impressed upon our hearts that the Lord is worthy of praise; we trust Him. In the coming weeks and months, we will be doing a lot of wrestling with God and trying to understand how He has been speaking to us, but one thing we know—He is good and He loves us. The Lord has already redeemed Judson’s pain and affliction in unexpected ways, and we will continue to watch and see how He will do so in the future.

For those of you who were not at the memorial service, I have posted the slideshow and video of his life on YouTube. Here are the links:

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw-6UD7qRos

Slideshow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIU-DDhiBl0

I have also posted Drake’s and my eulogies and our closing prayer on MySpace: http://blog.myspace.com/levasheff

Though Judson’s life has ended here on earth, his story is definitely not over. I will be doing a lot of writing as we process through this next phase of our lives. In fact, in the near future, we plan to develop a website to chronicle Jud’s story and this journey.

Many people have asked about how they can donate money in honor of Judson. We are collecting information about a few organizations that have impacted us during this season, and we will post details soon. Thank you to all who want to pay tribute to him in this way!

We love and miss our Jud the Stud SO much!

Christina (on behalf of Drake & Jessie too)

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