When God Makes You Wait

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I am embarrassed to say that I have been sitting on this amazing story that I am about to share with you guys for MONTHS. Yes, months. Any-who, it's here now!

My friends, Beth and Dustin, have been in the process of adoption for years, I have been so blessed by their obedience and trust in the Lord over that time, so here is their story:

Hi there! My name is Beth Clegg. A while back Tifani asked me to write a blog on “waiting”. I quickly told her yes! The Lord has taught me so much about waiting that I want to share with you, but first things first… You need to know who I am.

First I will tell you I have never written a blog in my life. (Right now is where Tif is saying what? Never? What have I asked this girl to do??? I’ll try not to disappoint you too badly, Tifani) I am absolutely positive that it will be filled with grammatical errors and misspellings because I have developed an art of trying to confuse my spellcheck. So if you are the grammar police, stop right now, escape, its ok. I promise. If you choose to continue on here we go…

I am a 30 something wife and mom. I have been a hair stylist for almost 14 years. I have been married for almost 13 years to my husband, Dustin. He is a pastor of students and evangelism at our church in Wynne, Arkansas. He is way more qualified at this whole blogging thing than me. We have 2 daughters, Laynie who is 9 and Selah who is 3. And we are about to have a son, Jud, who is 2. Ever since the early days of our marriage we knew we wanted to adopt. When Laynie was about two years old Dustin initiated that he felt it was the time to start the process. I wish I could share the whole 6 years worth of our story with you. It’s a good one. But this is about waiting.

Waiting. Everyone does it. Big or small we are all waiting on something. I have friends who are waiting to see what their ACT score is. I have friends who are waiting on the weekend so they can see the Razorbacks play. I have friends who are waiting on their kid’s last few treatments they are getting at St. Jude, and I have friends who are waiting to get started with theirs. I have waited with friends who waited through 2 brain surgeries. Then I waited with them as they waited for last breaths. I have friends who are waiting for the day they get to see their son, daughter, husband, dad, mom, friend on the other side of this life. I wait for the day we all get to see Jesus, the one who created us, the one who knows us like no other, the one who wants to teach us while we wait, face to face.  

Right now, I’m waiting on my son.  

To begin the whole adoption process, we filled out our paperwork, paid a small chunk of change, and in August of 201,1 we sent our dossier to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to be matched with a son or daughter. When we sent it we were told it would be a 15 month wait before we were matched. It was longer than we thought it was going to be but we decided to stick it out. Little did we know “sticking it out” meant we would do so until January of 2015. Yep, we waited over three years. Why? Why was it taking so long? God is for the orphan right? We were being obedient to what we KNOW He had called us to do. What in the world did He want to teach us that we were having trouble grasping??? During the beginning of the wait we had some family related issues. Not all were super pumped about this international adoption thing. I’ll say things got a little heated at times. Looking back at it all, I don’t even really see the hurt that caused. Instead, I see God sharpening and refining Dustin and me. I would’ve thought we had a good marriage but the Lord made it rock solid. He made me fall head over heels crazy in love with my husband. He lit a fire in Dustin that had never been there before. He gave him boldness and the will to act with confidence in Christ that will remain in him forever. He gave us friends who were every bit as good as family. Some of our friends walked some of our darkest days with us and I will never EVER forget it. The Lord gave us verses like Isaiah 40 and countless others. He gave us songs to sing to Him and about Him that gave us hope in Him like never before. As we waited even longer things began to settle and began to get into routine.

Then I got pregnant.  

We seriously thought we would have our Africa baby home before we got pregnant again, but we welcomed that sweet bunch of goodness that the Lord gave us. Selah Cruz is such a joy bringer and I’m so thankful for the gift of her life during the chaos of the wait. We had to wait until she was 3 months old before we could be put back on the waitlist. I’m pretty sure the day she turned 3 months we got back to our process of bringing home our other baby. There was never a day while I was pregnant that I didn’t think about that child. I longed for him/her. Ached for him/her. So it was with great disappointment that we found out we would wait even longer.  

Pretty much indefinitely. Again, we were confident in what God had called us to do, so we were willing to stick it out.  

During that time Dustin switched jobs. He went from farming to ministry. (Another good story, for another time…) I cannot tell you how many things the years of our “waiting” through our adoption process prepared us for ministry. That boldness and fire I was telling you about earlier, we had no idea God was lighting a fire in Dustin to prepare for ministry and to serve in our home church. If we didn’t have the wait, he wouldn’t have any of those characteristics that have made him who he is today. I wouldn’t be who I am today. It has taught me to love differently. To see things differently. To listen differently.  

I wish I could tell you I have always waited well and I continue to wait well. I don’t. I have had many screaming matches with the Lord on why He won’t just give me my son already. But I cannot deny the things He has done in me over the last 6 years. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s a gift that I will treasure. But I need to wrap this story up so where were we… Oh yes, January of 2015. We got a call one day from our caseworker telling us they would be ending their Ethiopia program. Rip. My. Heart. Out. This seriously wasn’t going to happen??? We fought for that kid. We gave blood sweat and tears from them. It was a gut punch. What do we do now??? We picked up the pieces of our shattered hearts and prayed. What route did we take? Still international? Domestic? Through the system? What did the Lord want from us? After much praying and reflection we landed in the waiting children China program.  

All of these children had some form of a special need and were paperwork ready to be adopted. Ready to adopt? Cha ching!! Yes Lord! Sign us up! So we started over. Started over the dreaded paperwork and home study and medical paperwork and everything that comes with it. During all of that you have to fill out a list of things you will accept in the form of a special need. When we checked the “will accept a child with albinism” block I remember thinking, wouldn’t it be funny Lord if You went from giving us a black child to the whitest of the white? The Lord’s sense of humor has never surprised me more.  

In December of 2015 we got another phone call. This time it had a little boy’s face with it. A little boy who in fact indeed has, you guessed it, albinism. The Lord started 2015 taking a child away, He ended it with a beautiful face of our Chinese son. Isn’t He good? He gives and takes away. He is still to be called blessed and good. 

The Lord has taught me in a whole new way that my way isn’t His. You say that all the time right? But have you ever had it put to the test? Because it’s a whole lot easier said than done. I would’ve said I was ready over 6 years ago for the child He called me to adopt. But God knew I wasn’t. He knew that my heart needed to grow and change. He knew our marriage needed to grow and change. He knew I needed my sweet Selah. He knew Laynie’s heart needed her too. He knew we would change jobs. He knew all along our son was in fact in China, not Ethiopia. And He knew when we started this whole thing we weren't even old enough to adopt from China. He knows y’all. He knows us so much better than we know ourselves. Waiting calls for trusting. Wholly and fully trusting that the Lord holds your life and your days. Think on that while you are waiting on whatever it is He has called you to wait on. I wouldn’t trade learning that for anything in the world.  

So here we are, it’s September of 2016. It’s been 9 months since I have first seen my son’s face. And I am so pleased to tell you, we will be leaving to travel to get him in around 3-4 weeks. But until then, I wait.

UPDATE!! Dustin, Beth, Laynie, and Selah have officially welcomed home that precious little boy, and y'all.... just look at that sweet face! Please continue to pray for the Cleggs as they adjust to this new life, and as Jud finds his place in his new family. God is SO good!

Why God Gives Us More Than We Can Handle

Monday, November 28, 2016

 How many times have you heard the saying, "God won't give you anything that you can't handle!" or something similar? These days, it seems like I can't go a single day without hearing those well-meaning words. It is easy to understand why we would want to tell others that they can handle anything thrown their way. It is encouraging and up lifting. Especially as a woman in today's culture, everyone wants to make sure that I know that I am strong and capable. We are told not to doubt ourselves, and that the Lord will not let us fail.

The real truth, though, is that God lets us fail often. Do you remember Job? God allowed Job to go through so much pain and suffering that he cursed the day that he was born. Job was not strong enough for what God put him through. If we could handle this world and all of its pain and suffering without God, what's the point? Why would even need Him?

God allows those He loves to go through tragedies. He allows for cancer to exist. He allows marriages to fail. Some children grow up without parents. Others battle addictions. 

Many of these things are more than we can handle, and that's okay because in my weakness, He is strong. In my brokenness, He is whole. In my failure, He is perfection. 

"But, he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
‭‭                                                                                                         2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭

One of my best  friends is currently battling ovarian cancer, and she is so strong. She pushes through each treatment with grace and courage, and she rarely complains. Despite how strong and courageous she is, that isn't why God allowed her to have cancer. God didn't set this on her plate because He knew she could handle it. God wrote her story this way because no matter what, He is good. Let us face each struggle with confidence knowing that we are not strong enough, but God is.

5 Easy Ways to Uplift Your Husband

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Most days in a real and honest marriage are not picture perfect. And the many times, I am not on my A game as a wife. Some days, though, deserve a special category. Let's put these days into a category labeled #wifefail. Recently, I experienced a real life #wifefail type of moment. It happens to the best of us, I guess, but this day in particular was truly one for the books.

Imagine a bed sheet fort and a flashlight to my face as I continue this nightmarish story.

On this dreadfully early morning (4:30 to be exact), I rushed around my home in preparation for a long day at work. I opened one of the coffee shops that morning, and Gabe opened a different one about an hour and a half after me. I throw on clean cleanish clothes, brush my teeth, and bolt out of the door. About an hour later, I receive a phone call from my dear husband asking me if I have his car keys. 

Insert the surprised eye emoji here.

After fumbling around in my purse, I find that I do indeed have both sets of car keys. My husband, being the patient and problem solving man he is, quickly assures me that all is well and that he has a bike to get him to work, a bike with two flat tires I might add. 

He peddled himself to work on two flat tires and kept his job another day. 

That being said, my husband deserves some much needed uplifting! I hope your husband doesn't have to deal with an airhead like myself, but the truth is, all of our husbands are faced  with their own trials. They need a cheerleader. They need a encouragement. That, my friend, is something you can do. Even if you are an airhead who unintentionally makes your husband's life much harder! So today, I created a list of 5 easy ways to uplift your husband.

Speak Words of Encouragement

Believe it or not, your husband seeks your approval. He wants to hear and know that you are on his side, and cheering for him. Take a little bit of time to let him know how special he is to you. Whether it be in a text message or a sticky note on the mirror; cheer him on today, and be his biggest fan.

Learn His Love Language

This one is so very important if you want to make your husband feel like he means the world to you. Invest time into learning what actions speak love to him. You may be putting all of your effort into keeping a clean house and a meal on the table to uplift your husband just to find out that he feels loved when you speak words of affirmation instead.

Pray for Him

Not only can you pray for your husband, but praying alongside your husband can also be a prime opportunity to uplift your man. Praise God for the wonderful man he blessed you with, and bring his worries to the feet of the Lord. 

Praise His Efforts

Did he take out the trash? Pick up take out? Make sure he knows just how thankful and appreciative you are for all of the little things he does. Not only will this lift his spirits, but thanks to a little positive reinforcement, he just might do those things again tomorrow! But seriously, nobody wants to feel unappreciated for the work that they do.

I will be the first to admit that I can let things like work, school, house work, my emotions (I could go on and go, really) get in the way of  uplifting my husband. Sometimes we just need a little encouragement!

What unique ways do you uplift your husband each day? Where do you struggle?

For the Woman Who Thinks She's Not Enough

Monday, July 25, 2016

I wish I could come to this blog and write about how perfect my marriage is at all times. I long for the days that I can write about how even-tempered I am, or how I am always slow to anger and rational. The truth is I strive everyday to be the perfect wife in the perfect marriage, and somehow, I always seem to fall short. At the end of an argument, I often find myself wallowing in guilt and self-loathing. (This is my blog, and I am allowed to be a little dramatic.) I become plagued with thoughts like, "Why can't I be a better wife?" I mean, it really shouldn't be so hard to always be nice and friendly to the person you love most, right?

Maybe one day, I will be able to write posts about how perfect my attitude is at all times, and how my words are always encouraging, but today, that is not the case. Today, I am imperfect. Today, I fail. Today, I act like a spoiled brat. Today, I desperately need grace
On days like today I find it hard to imagine myself doing anything of worth for the glory of God. How could I possibly fulfill God's callings on my life if I can't speak kind words to my husband. How could God use someone as hopeless and disobedient as me? As these thoughts begin to surface, I am reminded that my story is not about how perfect a wife I can be. My story is not about how broken or irrational I am. My story is about God's perfection. God takes the broken pieces of us and makes us whole. We do not have to rely on our abilities to be used by God in any area of our life. He can do it all on His own. 

Wives, mothers, children,  take that weight off of your shoulders. Your story is not about how much weight you can carry at any given time. Your story is about nothing more than God's goodness. He knows what He is doing, and He alone is enough.

All Natural Deodorant

Saturday, July 16, 2016

There are many products in our lives that we tend to use out of habit and necessity. We grab the items at the grocery store that smell the best, and appeal to our eyes. For years I grabbed Secret brand deodorant off of the shelf on a regular basis. This was an item I could not live without. And trust me, you wouldn't want me to.

The problem is that many of the ingredients in these drugstore products are questionable carcinogens and allergens. Most deodorants from the drugstore, including my old favorite Secret deodorant, contain talc, aluminum, added fragrances, and more! Something about rubbing those things on to my armpit right next to my lymph nodes just doesn't sit right with me. But are there really all natural products out there that hold up all day long?

The first "healthier", non-aluminum deodorant that I purchased was Nourish Organics in the scent Wild Berries (I have since discontinued this deodorant because it contains added fragrances). I am pretty sure my coworkers hated me the week I started using this product. An hour into the day, my body odor was noticeable, and with summer quickly approaching, this was not okay! In the meantime, my hands landed back on the drugstore alternatives. I purchased more all natural products that still did not hold up to my body odor. After a miserable (for my husband) trip to the zoo in the southern heat, I knew there had to be a better answer for this B.O.

Enter armpit detox.

Seriously, don't stop reading! After some research, I found that our armpits need to be detoxed of all of the nasty chemicals before the all natural deodorants will work.

Underarm Detox:


2 Tablespoons Bentonite Clay
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
coconut oil or water to desired consistency

Combine bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar. Add in coconut oil or water until you reach a paste consistency. Once pasty, rub the mixture on underarms and allow to dry. Once you begin to smell an odor, rinse off the paste and apply an all natural deodorant. Repeat this process once you begin to smell body odor again. Your healthier deodorant will begin to last longer as the toxins from your old deodorants are pulled out. Be patient, and trust me! It works! Eventually, your deodorant will last all day long!

Get Outdoors and In Shape

Friday, June 17, 2016

I have a confession to make...

In my life, I have been to the gym countless times. I have had highly motivated and productive days at the gym, and I have also dragged my feet in and quickly out of the door of the gym before. My real confession though is that I have actually left the gym before out of boredom. I was out of ideas, energy, and creativity. My mind was swirling with all of the more enjoyable things that I could have been doing, and couldn't wait to get out.

On days such as these we basically have two options.

Option 1: Grab a bag of potato chip your way home, plant your butt on the couch, and cry about your love handles. (If you go this route, at least turn the T.V. on Grey's Anatomy so you can blame your despair on Shonda Rhimes.)

Option 2: Find a more creative way to get your workout in.

If you picked Option 2, congratulations! Treat yo self to a twinkie! (That was a test, and if you are holding a cream-filled sponge cake, you failed.)

To be honest, the gym just doesn't do it for me sometimes. Some days I need fresh air, scenery, and maybe even a friend or two tagging along for an adventure.

Need to think? Take a hike.
Need some sun? Rent a kayak.
Leg workout? Go cycling.
Arm day? Climb some rocks.

If you are bored with your workouts, do not be confined by the walls of your fitness center. With a little creativity, even taking your kids to the park can become exercise. So go ahead and leave the gym a little early today.

5 Steps to Healthier Hair

Monday, June 13, 2016

When I was in fifth grade, I started to "style" my own hair (by style I mean torture my hair with tight ponytails, tendrils, butterfly clips, and my $15 sparkly flat iron). Not long afterwards, the dissatisfaction with my hair began to sink in. The color wasn't right, it curled in all the wrong ways, and then there was the cow lick... From then on, I was constantly on the search for new ways to damage and manipulate my hair into what I thought it should look like.

Everyday we put our hair to the test and expect it to follow all of our orders. It can't be too dry, too fine, too thick, or too oily. If it is curly, you want it straight. If your hair is straight, you are begging for curls. We ladies can be pretty hard to please when it comes to those locks. Some of us even let the type of hair day we are having set the tone for the whole day! Those are some very high expectations. As a result, our hair suffers from a lot of damage. Not only that, but our hair can become more damaged, dry, and fragile as we age. We have to show our hair a little love if we want the same thing in return. I have put together a list of ways to increase the health of your hair, and repay it for all of the damage done in the past.

1. Limit the amount of heat you apply to your hair. I know I am asking a lot of you, but trust me! Excessive exposure to heat products can cause serious damage to your hair causing unwanted breakage and dryness. Give your hair "heat breaks" as often as possible, and even try letting your hair air dry instead of blow dry. I almost never use my blow dryer these days, and my hair is reaping the benefits!

2. Use a hair mask weekly. There are many hair products on the market, but the one I use is cheap, simple, and all natural. Instead of reaching for an expensive and chemical-filled hair mask at the store, try coconut oil instead. Cover all of your hair in the oil, cover with a shower cap or plastic bag, and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before washing out. Just make sure you wash it ALL out, or you will have nice, greasy hair to start your next day with.

3. Cut down your hair washing to just a couple of times a week. This one takes a little time, but with a little patience, you should be able to begin stretching out your shampooing. Use dry shampoo (you can make your own with a little corn starch and essential oils) to get help you stretch it out a little at a time. The more you wash your hair, the more it overcompensates and creates more oils. You need to train your hair to last longer between washes.

4. Get a silk pillowcase. If you notice that your hair is extremely fragile and damaged, you might try out a silk pillowcase. It is much more gentle on your hair than a cotton one, and may help you maintain a healthier mane.

5. Trim off those dead ends! I know you are probably trying to grow your hair out from the last big chop that you regret, but you do not want long, dead ends. This only makes your hair more damaged and unhealthy. Have your hair trimmed regularly to avoid breakage and split ends.

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