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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Keep On Asking

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

I was texted this verse earlier in the week. I could not stop the tears from flowing. God is so amazing. I knew He was going to prove to me how big of a God He really is.

I want to start out by saying, as I sit and type this; it's the beginning of November. Because of the nature of the post, I will not be clicking publish until the week of Christmas. In fact, I will possibly be in Mexico when it's published. Even as I write this, I'm nervous. What happens if my secret is found out? What if the time comes sooner than I desire?

I have made known in an earlier post that I will be traveling to Mexico for Christmas. There will be no traditional family Christmas this year. I'm not saying I won't be celebrating Christmas. I'm saying things will be rather unconventional.

Our church has taken the initiative of "adopting" six families in Mexico this Christmas season. We will be purchasing gifts, and several ladies will have the privilege of flying those gifts to Mexico on Christmas Eve, and hand delivering them later that week. I am so excited to be one of the few.

I am even more excited that my daughter is also going to be joining me. This will be her first time flying on an airplane, and she will be flying to another country. This promises to be an experience we will never forget.

A blog is hardly the place to keep a big secret, hence the delay in posting. But I could not refrain from sharing with everyone the way God came through for me.

I told you my daughter has never flown before. What you may not have understood or thought of, she does not have a passport. You are not permitted to leave the country without one, and if you've never flown, you have no need for one.

This trip to Mexico is my daughter's Christmas gift. She will learn this season about giving to others and see it first hand in a very real way. I am certain there will be stories to tell when we return.

Right now, I wanted to share with you the miracle of my daughter's passport. It was a special dance we did to keep the secret alive. I had to very deceptively, in an honest fashion, get the picture of my daughter. I refuse to lie even when it's about something good. I will however, not offer up certain information if it means protecting the secret of the gift.

I hung a white sheet in my backyard, and told my daughter I needed her assistance for a special photography project I was doing. She knew she was my guinea pig. I didn't give her any extra information, and she didn't ask. I did tell her she was chosen to help out because she could follow my directions perfectly. Face forward. No tilting your head. Eyes open. Neutral expression. No glare on the glasses. No shadows. Properly focused. This was a tall order!

To say it was easy to get would be a lie. While I didn't work much at taking the photo, I did work at sizing the photo correctly. I worked even harder to get a good print. We are strapped for time so the passport needed to start processing as soon as possible. I gave myself a few hours to get everything assembled.

After dropping Gabe at school, I went to Walgreen's to make my print. Machine was broken. I drove to another Walgreen's and waited 30 minutes to see the prints. HORRIBLE. The lighting was beautiful on their computer monitor, but was printed extremely yellow in one, and dark in another. There was no way these pictures would be accepted. I wanted to cry. I couldn't possibly keep it a secret if I had her picture taken by a professional for a passport photo. The camera is very obvious.

Normally, I get all my pictures printed at Wolfs. It's a 15 minute drive there, so I originally went close to home to save on time and gas. I knew I could trust them with the prints. I went home and uploaded my photos to their website.

While that was going on, I decided to call the post office and ask how much would be required for my daughter to get a passport. I explained it was a secret and was there any way they could work with me on this. NO. The lady I talked with was very rude. She told me in a condescending voice, "Your daughter will know. There will be no secret about it." She refused to tell me what they required of her beyond the fact that she must be there.

I told her I knew she was required to attend; my question was about how much she would have to do or say. Could they just look at her? The lady interrupted me and placed me on hold. When she got back on the line, she informed me again that my daughter must be present. That was never in question for me. I knew she had to be there. I wanted to know what else she had to do. Her father and I could sign all the documents. She isn't old enough to legally sign for herself anyways. I tried to ask my question again. "What is required of my daughter beyond showing up?" I was answered with a dial-tone. The lady angrily said, "thanks for calling" and hung up on me.

You can imagine my despair. She didn't even try to listen to me. After I laid down the phone on the couch, I cried. I didn't just whimper either. I wept. My heart was broken. I wanted this to be a huge surprise for my daughter. I wanted to see her face light up when she opened her Christmas gift containing the passport. I didn't want to tell her at the beginning of November. This trip will be her big gift, probably one of her only gifts. I wanted her to have the anticipation of the Christmas season, wondering and dreaming about what might be.

I was working so hard for this, and for a moment, I gave up. I resigned to the fate I knew to be true. I didn't dare to hope.

Wolfs was done with my photos by this time, so I drove across town to pick them up. I was very sad the whole way there, but I tried to convince myself it would be okay. It wasn't like the trip couldn't happen. I began to dream up ways of telling my daughter the news. Anything to make it more exciting than just standing in a line at the post office. I wanted pictures and video when she found out.

The photos cost less than the previous set I had purchased at Walgreen's. I took them to the privacy of my car where it wouldn't matter how I reacted to them. I didn't want to face more disappointment. The pictures were beautiful! You could actually see my daughter's face in them. Hope was renewed. I dared to believe.

I decided to claim Matthew 7:7. I shared with you about God coming through with a donation for this trip. What I didn't share was the email I had originally received from my friend. She talked of asking a cousin if he could get us a discount, and I quote her, "I remember the Bible says you don't have because you don't ask ;) I figured the worst they can say is no ..."

If you aren't familiar with the verse it says, "Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find..."

Yesterday my sister shared on her blog another story. I quote, "I prayed a crazy prayer. A Matthew 7:7-8 kind of prayer. I told God if He wanted me to go to Mexico that I needed Him to provide for me. To make it crazy I said 'Hey, you can pay for my trip through my tips if you want. Be creative!' ;)" The next day she received a $60 tip. (She works at a cupcake shop.) That is not a normal tip. That's a God tip.

It seemed like the theme for this trip. "Ask and it will be given to you." I wanted my turn. I wanted to ask God for something and see Him work a miracle. I decided to believe again. I was going to ask. I figured it couldn't hurt anything to ask again. I didn't count on seeing the lady I talked with on the phone. She was in an office somewhere.

The hours were going by so slowly. I wanted my time to come so I could have peace. Everything was all jumbled up inside of me. I was nervous and anxious. I set it up with my daughter that I would take her out for lunch that day and we would just happen to drop by the post office.

Before I left to get her, I saw that I had a text from my sister. She had responded to a cry for prayer from me. I knew that if I had God's favor, and the worker was willing, we could keep this a secret from my daughter.

The text read, "I agree... I'll be praying! Matthew 7:7 :)" I knew it was fresh in her mind but I still found it pretty amazing that she referenced the scripture I was trying to hold onto.

With minutes left to get my daughter from school, I decided to look it up in my bible. This version was different than what I had been quoting in my head. It didn't say "ask and it will be given to you," it said, "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for."

I cried again. I had asked once and been rudely turned down. I was going to KEEP ON ASKING. This time I knew it was going to work. God didn't want me to give up so quickly. The enemy sure does like to mess up our path, maybe throwing a few branches over it so we can't see the way. But God comes in and clears away everything. He sweeps it all away so the road is visibly clear. We need to follow the one who carries the broom.

When we arrived at the post office, I was scanning the faces to see who looked friendly enough to help me. I didn't get much of a choice. There was a lady yelling at us to bring all our papers over. I hesitated and she yelled again about checking to see if we had everything we needed to even start the process.

It was very obvious why we were there. Signs were everywhere for passports. I went ahead by myself and got my husband to take the kids aside. I quickly shared my story with the woman and she was so friendly! "Of course we can do that. All I gotta do is look at her. She can't sign anything anyways."

As she began to dump the contents of my envelope out, I knew it was going to work out. She checked my photos and first claimed they wouldn't work because of the coloring, but soon found there was a third in the envelope. It was perfect she said. My husband and I signed our names and watched as the kids played over to the side of us. The time came for Ariel to be observed.

We called her over and the lady took one look and said, "Yep, you look just like your picture." This confused Ariel a bit, but she didn't question us there. I stayed to finish up the paperwork while Titus took the kids to make a copy of his driver's license. Ariel asked him who was getting a passport and he responded, "Your mom needs a passport to get into Mexico."

It wasn't the answer to her question, but it satisfied her curiosity. When I made it out to the car I smoothed things over a little more. I apologized for taking so long to get the passport. I knew I had promised her lunch and I should have thought better than to take up her school time for my errands. She didn't mind a bit. You could tell the wheels were still spinning in her head when she asked me, "Why did that lady want to look at me?"

I told her the lady thought she was a pretty girl.

It was settled. The passport was purchased. The lunch began. We had a wonderful time together.

I am so thankful that God didn't let me give up. I pushed on when my heart was breaking and He fixed everything. Don't ever stop asking and seeking.

"For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:8

Ariel opened her passport today! She was very excited and didn't know a thing until this morning when she opened up one of her Christmas gifts, a new piece of luggage. Then the wheels started turning and she remembered the trip to the passport office. God is going to do great things on this trip!

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