Why We Call Our Blog the Miracle of More

The miracle is a beautiful image of Ephesians 3:20--more than I can ask or imagine. Every day is a miracle. Every moment is a miracle. Specifically for our family, the miracle of more is our family growing in ways I would never have imagined when we first committed to adoption 8 years ago. But, the greatest miracle is the change in ME!

If you have questions about adoption, our work in South Africa, or spina bifida, please email me at rbmattox@bellsouth.net

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A New Favorite Place

I visited here many times as a child. I have wonderful memories of being here with my mother and my sister, my cousins sometimes, and my aunts.

My children are now learning to love it as much as I do.

Jekyll Island

We've taken the children to the beach there a few times. That's where we were last year when Drew and Zeke had their first trip to the beach. (See it here.)

But, I have now shared with them some of the other experiences to be found on the island. I covertly loaded up scooters loaned to us by friends from school. I didn't tell them the plan. It was a secret. We got to the beach and I showed them the scooters. If you don't live in south Georgia, you might not have been to Jekyll Island. It has MILES of bike paths along the ocean and through wooded areas.

The kids and I spent a couple of hours on scooters along the bike paths.

Ellie, though, told me she wanted a picnic on the grass...like she had seen in books.

So, I took them for the first time to the historic district of Jekyll Island. They loved it far more than I could have imagined. We sat in a grassy park area between the Jekyll Island Club Hotel and the water. The live oak trees offered precious shade, but my children found much more than shade.

Low hanging limbs to ride like horses and climb, or even just to sit and enjoy the view.

They surprised me most when they enjoyed looking at the historic "cottages" and talking about the history. I look forward to more memory-making days with my children at Jekyll!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Praising in the Rain

I have faithfully kept my commitment to reading, studying, and listening to God's word this past week. I can also say with all honesty, my spirit is renewing day by day.

And, now I plan to return to the blog world, sharing the ups and downs of parenting 7 awesome children, 4 of whom are 10 and under. I hope the posts will once again be more regular, that I can share all that God is doing, while keeping it real.

We were on spring break two weeks ago. The kids and I did LOTS of long-overdue cleaning, AND we managed to have some fun.

On one of the those days, I was blessed with an invitation. Caleb, who had only been home from his recent submarine underway a few weeks asked me if Josie-Tatum and I would like to join him and Casie canoeing at the Okefenokee Swamp. My heart sang, remembering when he was younger, how he and I went canoeing  on 2 different trips and took a small motor boat on another.

 I guess his memories of those days are as fond as mine, if he invited us to go now when he is an adult.

The weather was beautiful, albeit cloudy. That, however, kept us from getting too warm.
 If you look closely in the top of the photo above, you'll see a small tour boat. As Josie-Tatum and I adjusted to the use of paddles, we were not quite travelling in a straight line. Sometimes we ended up in the bushes. The boat loaded with tourists stopped just behind us. I'm not sure if the "captain" was showing the people some of the wildlife, or if he was afraid JT and I would interfere with his preferred path. As the boat finally made its way past us, I said, "Hello," to the passengers and assured them we were not part of the show.
Caleb was a good instructor for  his mama. I learned how to correct our direction and keep us from going into the bushes, sometimes. I learned when to hold the paddle in the water to slow us down if we we had over-corrected our direction and were quickly headed into the vegetation.

 I think he might be smirking just a little here.

We paddled along the trail recommended by the lady who took our money at the visitors' center. We saw a few alligators and turtles. Then we came up on a dock. While resting a bit, we took a photo:
 Please note my appearance in this photo...and note Josie-Tatum's as well.

While we were here, a group of tourists speaking more than one language asked if I would take their photo. I agreed, of course, and learned they were from France! Wow! They were from France, visiting Florida, choosing to canoe the Okefenokee. Remember them, they will play another part soon.

Exit stage left: Robbie, Caleb, Casie, and Josie-Tatum. We left...intentionally ahead of the French group because they were kinda slow......

As we paddled back to the dock, 1 1/2 hours away, the breeze shifted, and the clouds rolled in. Ahead of us, we saw a father and his son tip their canoe over. Not....comforting. The father did not use language I was afraid we might hear. He used it as an opportunity to teach his family how to empty a canoe of water....Glad, we did NOT need that lesson.

We paddled past them when we learned they were all going to be okay. No alligators were chasing them. The dad was standing is waist deep water and the remainder of his family was in the other canoe while he continued with his lesson.

The wind began to blow stronger and often Josie-Tatum and I found ourselves pushed into the bushes...not paddling down the creek. She began to freak out occasionally. Then it began to sprinkle.

I'm okay, I can handle sprinkling....until it began to rain...yeah, nice steady rain where the creek ran back into the river. I took off my glasses since they are not equipped with wipers and enjoyed the view through my own lenses which provide a good solid 20/250 vision. I was tempted to grumble when I thought about how I really wanted Josie-Tatum to leave the swamp with good memories....so....

We began to praise the LORD. We sang and we sang. The wind blew and we found our way into the bushes...um....often. Caleb and Casie were growing further ahead of us....you tend to go much faster in a straight line, rather than the zigzag path from one side of the river to the other. I continued to sing. Josie-Tatum's song was growing weak.

Then, somehow, as we headed into the bushes again...and I tried to correct our direction, the wind blew and we got turned around. There we were facing one of the French men we had taken a picture of earlier. He was not one of the men who spoke English. He kept waving his hands at us and making a a turn around gesture with his index finger.

I was so frustrated I began to laugh hysterically.

Then, somehow we were turned so that we were perpendicular to the flow, when another canoe full of French tourists ran into us. Good thing, though. They grabbed our boat and turned  us around.

Just in time for me to see......

Another tour boat full of people watching the show.

I greeted these tourists like I did those earlier and once again let them know we were NOT part of the show.

Somehow, Josie-Tatum and I finally made it back to the dock. Caleb and Casie were standing at the water's edge, in the rain, waiting on us.

Look back at the photo of JT and me earlier.

Now look at this one:

Life is like that, you know. The unexpected. The detours. Sometimes we even get turned around. There may be an angel or a Frenchman directing you to the path. Total strangers may push you in the right direction. We don't get to choose the obstacles we face, but we will face them. Our choice is how we handle the adversity. We can whine and complain...or we can praise Him in the rain.

I'm always good at giving too many details, so let me share this one with you. I had a sweater in the van, so I took of that pink tank top and bra and wore only the sweater home. I had not intention of getting out. I even took off my wet shorts, and wrapped myself in a towel. I drove home half-dressed. Josie-Tatum thought I was crazy.....

Crazy thing is: I'd go back for a canoe ride with my son, his wife, and JT again, anytime, even if there was a chance of rain.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Story: God's Story

For several months now, I've wondered if or when I would write this post. Tonight, I finally felt the liberty.

Never could I have imagined my life...as a little girl, barefoot on the dirt road, playing with my sister.

My life has undergone many changes in the last 9 years, adding five children who wore born not of my body but in my heart. Each family addition brought challenges, but none that have exceeded the blessings. Each of my children is unique, and I have so much to learn from them.

In the past 4 years, my three adult children have gone through major life changes, leaving for college, leaving for the military, getting married, getting engaged, completing college. Life is always changing.

But, the change I least expected in my adult life happened just a couple of months ago. After being married for nearly 30 years, I am now a single mom. The story is not all mine to tell, personal details that involve too many other people, but I think today is the time for me to share part of this chapter. When I said, "I do," in 1983, I meant, "I do FOREVER." I have learned, however, that I cannot control the choices others make, and all effort on my part cannot change another's heart.

This has been a difficult chapter in my life, possibly the most difficult of all. My faith, like yours, has been tested many times. I have walked in faith, as we waited on our adopted children. I have walked by faith, waiting on God to provide financially for adoptions and mission trips. God has proven Himself faithful. Through each of these faith journeys, I looked forward with anticipation, waiting to see what God would do. But, this test of faith has been different.

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1st Peter 1:6-8)

. I am certainly finding it difficult to greatly rejoice. Being married for 29 years and 11 months, I have found it difficult envisioning the remainder of my life. I've had angry moments, bitter moments, grieving moments, even panic attacks. I've also had moments of sweet peace, knowing God was directing my path, and the peaceful moments grow longer and stronger every day.

Walking through the grief cycle, grieiving the death of MY dream, I seemed to have faltered in a period of mourning. Still mourning doesn't seem to be quite the right word. Maybe it's fear, a fear of loneliness. Or perhaps it's simply discontent.

As I search for Jesus in the midst of this manifold temptation, I am so strongly tempted to take my eyes off of Him. I know I need Him now more than ever, and I am forming new habits to keep Him foremost in my thoughts. One new habit is to spend time daily listening to a pastor of speaker. And, tonight, God used Louie Giglio to get my attention.

As I watched him, this thought grabbed my heart. There was the apostle Peter, having given up everything for Jesus for 3 years, and Jesus was dead. I pondered Peter's thoughts, how he must have wondered if he had wasted those 3 years, if he truly should have followed Jesus during that time. He didn't grasp the next chapter of the story.

That's where I've been lately, looking at the past 30 years...and wondering...... But, tonight, I was reminded that God wants me to remain in HIS story. His will for my life is not limited because of my past, my mistakes, or the failures of others. He is writing an AWESOME story, and if I but stay close to HIM, I don't have to know what is next. I just have to trust. He is still an Ephesians 3:20 God. The next chapter of my life will be filled with more than I could ask or imagine.

  So, tonight, I ask you to pray for us. Pray specifically for me to be ever prompted by the Holy Spirit to seek the face of Jesus. I invite any of you to ask me frequently, "Where were your eyes focused today?" More than just an invitation, I implore some of you faithful prayer warriors to hold me accountable to my promise to seek HIM.

And, I also invite you to take less than an hour of your time to watch this video. It will bring encouragement and hope to those who have lost it.
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Ellie Min Chun

Ellie Min Chun
Josie-Tatum's MeiMei