Friday, April 26, 2013

The Blessing ... after the Thankfulness

"The blessing always comes after the thankfulness."

I remember this line from the book by AnnVoscamp that I recently read for a women's book study. I have to admit that that particular book was hard for me to get through.
It wasn't the pretty flowers and happy-you-can-do-this kinda book that I thought it was going to be. Instead it was hard ... and painful ... and honest ... all the while being true and searching and beautiful. There were moments in her honest words that I could see pages from my very own life and other parts that I pray are NEVER part of my life. And the book just happened to come at a point this winter when everything just kinda felt all tangled up. I really just wanted a sweet read to escape into! A nice warm fuzzy ...
Instead I got a challenge to appreciate the hardness in all it's reality and the crazy idea to simply SEE the beautiful even in the littlest and sometimes hardest moments.

I'm still chewing on it all. I did come away from the book study with a profound realization of how UNthankful I am. Which really stinks.
Who wants to find out that ... or should I say ... admit this ... I think I already knew all along.
Sometimes the truth is just not very nice.
But I'm glad to have the opportunity to SEE and to learn to intentionally be more thankful especially in the little things all the time, all around me.

In January I saw a beautiful post by my friend Kelly at, "My Over Thinking," and she challenged her readers to write a blog post for a chance to win a charm from Jiayin Designs! The charge was to simply write telling about what your Jiayin Design charm means to you.
{Jiayin Designs: Sterling silver charms to celebrate good and beautiful news.}
Oh ... have you seen these beautiful silver charms?

Many times these special charms carry the Chinese name of an adopted child or the promise of one that is to come and I will admit that I did put the idea of the charms in the "hopeful chamber" of my heart that maybe someday I'd have a perfect name to carve into the silver ...
but since I didn't exactly fit the perimeters of the giveaway, as I did not have a Jiayin Design charm, I winced a "wow, wish I could share a story," comment to the post. But instead of condolences, Kelly reminded me, "we all have a story Valerie."
And she was right. We all do ...
So I composed a post and I was thankful that I did. It was cathartic. Typing down the words brought to my eyes that even though my dream of adopting hasn't become reality ... there still is a beautiful story that is being written in the other ways that God is working. And SEEing that in a new way helped me to see it in a thankful light instead of a pining one. Which is a good thing.

I didn't win the contest. But the other entries were so deserving I really wasn't all that surprised or disappointed. It was good to read the words and hopes of others and to share their joy of God's faithfulness evident in their lives!

So life went on and I can't say that I forgot about the post. I've gone back a few times to reread it ... fearful that maybe I shouldn't have made it public ... but by the end I'm always glad that I did. I never get through it all without getting a few tears welling up. I was glad that I wrote it down. To remember. And to be thankful.

About a month ago (April 2nd) I received a yellow padded envelope in the mail. Yes, out of the blue. I happened to pick up the mail on the way out of the driveway on the way to a late night hockey tryout for my oldest son. I am amazed at the perfect timing of especially the littlest things. I know in my heart I wasn't being very thankful right then. Sitting at a cold arena at 9 at night (a school night none the less!) just kinda being the driver who wished it was a piano recital or something that was more my dream that I had held for so long for my children ...
But in that moment when I was exhaling and embracing the dreams that my child has, I thought I'd escape into the mail.
Not usually one to receive mail other than things I don't want like bills or receipts to be filed, I was intrigued by this package with a hand written address. And when the silky draw-string indigo bag slid out of the envelope I know my heart just beat a few extra beats knowing that this was surely no small thing. In fact, I'm starting to think that the "extra" heartbeat that plagues me now and again and sent me to the cardiologist last year is actually because of this "extra chamber"in my heart ... my hopeful chamber.

Yes, Kelly gifted me with my charm ... even though I wasn't the winner of her contest!
Just because.
{insert tears here}
Kelly, thank you so much for your dear heart and your generous gift!
I treasure my charm.

What do the characters mean, you might ask?
In my post I concluded that the charm that I would like someday would say "God's Love Endures Forever" ...
which I have come to learn translated into Chinese becomes even more powerful. The way they speak of this enduring love that only God has translates into:
"A Persistent Love."
Yes, God has a persistent love with me. With us.

I will remember ...
And be thankful!

Jiayin Designs has many, many wonderful items! Be sure to stop over and check them out!

Jiayin Designs' website ( 
Facebook page ( 

And be sure to check out Kelly's blog My Overthinking. Her posts are always enlightening ... like the one today. It brought tears in her truthful words on raising children.


Tara Anderson said...

I love Kelly's heart. And I'm so glad she blessed you this way. :)

Learning Together at Home said...

It couldn't have happened to a more wonderful person!

The Sanders Family said...

What a sweet, sweet necklace that will always serve as a loving reminder of His love and faithfulness. And please never regret being real or transparent. God knows the cries of our hearts and tells us in His word that we need to be real with our fellow believers and lean on each other. So much easier to lift each other up in prayer and be there for one another when our genuine prayer requests are made known. Thanks for allowing me to pray for's truly a privilege and blessing my friend.

Kelly Raudenbush said...

I had just texted a friend this morning saying I needed a few words of encouragement today. She replied with a sweet text to me, and then a few minutes later, I got the tag on Facebook directing me to this post.

There was no need to thank me. Truthfully. As soon as I read your original post, I felt the spirit's nudge to order this charm for you. But, this post today? It was just the encouragement I needed and the reminder I needed that God loves with an ever persistent love.

Big hugs to you for responding to His nudge today.

Carrie said...

I love this story, and I love both of your hearts! I think the "adoption" world has brought some amazing grace-filled women into my life... I'm so very thankful for that.

Valerie -- SWEET VALERIE! -- God has used you in mighty ways in the few years that I've known you. He's used you to champion the cause of orphans and bless the lives of those "on the ground." I know your heart aches to make one your own, but I know God is always working to give us the desires of our hearts, even if it doesn't look the way we imagine it might... and in your life, I see you as the mama to a whole buncha little ones... the little ones for whom you tirelessly advocate, through your sewing donations, through your graphic design work, through your prayers, through so many other things that you do... I'm quite sure if you had ONE child in your home, you wouldn't be able to have the impact on the MANY that you do right now.

That isn't to say I'm not still praying that in some move of His mysterious ways, God will give you the deepest desire of your heart... but regardless of that, I see you submitting your life to Him and being used or mighty Kingdom ways. Keep up the fight, brave warrior! You are a woman of valor!

The family

The family