15 Apr

It Was Never About Me

Bible & Notes

Face down on the bed. I keep reminding myself to breathe and unclench my jaw.

Whose idea was this?!?!?! 

Bible open. Notebook open. Notes, lists, pens, highlighters all stacked around me.

What was I thinking?!?!?!?

Miles from home. I didn’t even drive here. There is no escape. None. I accepted the invitation to teach and now I had to teach.

This was no ordinary retreat. There was pain here, an open wound of a church trying to heal. The whys are unimportant, but the heaviness of following God when it is difficult and painful was evident. The pain of brother against brother — of infighting and backbiting — hung on their hearts, was evident in the tears in their eyes, and palpable in their sighs and heavy silences.

And all I had were a few words on a page.

I felt like Moses….Lord can’t you send someone else, I can’t speak well. Isn’t there someone, anyone…please???

I found myself drawn back to a passage in 1 Chronicles 28 (a small passage I’ve sorta been obsessed with lately). David is talking to the officials of Israel about building a temple and he turns to speak to Solomon. Father to Son. Man of God to man of God. And this wisdom packed passage just keeps drawing me back, but this day as I lay on my bed wishing for an escape from this task FAR above my pay grade I see words I haven’t noticed before.

Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work. (1 Chronicles 28:10)

For the Lord has chosen you…..be strong and do the work.

It was the whisper to my frightened heart I needed and my prayers began to change. I went from “why me” to “please show up….be here…be real…be the words of my mouth, the thoughts in my heart, the peace in the room….overwhelm us with you.”

Normally, when I prepare to teach I write it out. Every word. Every line. I’ve timed it. Edited it. Memorized it. Over and over until it is part of the fabric of who I am. This time. I had a few words on a page. That’s it. No script. No page after page of notes and highlights. I had definitions, a few questions and that was it.  I felt lead…I was positive that God hadn’t wanted me to do the extensive preparation this time. I used only what I could find on the internet (not all the resources on my shelves and computer) and kept it super simple. Although, admittedly I wasn’t sure why. Even as I sat down to speak (cuz a girl with a busted up foot can’t stand and teach, but that is a story for another day) I wasn’t sure where we were headed…..I didn’t even know my intro.

But when I opened my mouth the words came. When I looked at my notes I knew what was important and what wasn’t. As I outlined the weekend for this group of strangers-yet-sisters I began to tell how the Bible is like a puzzle and we can see the picture on the box, but it isn’t until we start putting it together piece-by-piece that we really know the picture, the colors, the texture, the details. And this weekend we were going to take Scripture apart to put it back together so that we can see God when we are done.

When it was all over…all the days…all the sessions. I exhaled and all I could pray in an amazingly tired and yet somehow excited heart….You showed up.

And that was the reminder this weekend…it was never about me, or my words. It was about the God of the universe showing up to love on His girls. It was about Him soothing wounds with laughter, it was about Him whispering to weary hearts in the context of a verse, it was about His girls seeing Him in each other. God had something for each of the women in that house….even me. I can’t tell you how much I learn when preparing to teach — I walk out the lessons in real life that He’ll have come out of my mouth to the women.

But this time He had another message for this girl who struggles with doubt, who sometimes wonders if she’s good enough to be loved, this girl who spent much of her life feeling unlovable and just wants to be liked….I love you, I’ll show up, I’ve called you to things bigger than you, I’ll never leave you….

25 Nov

Unlovable

I spent the first few years feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed when he said it.

I spent the next couple of years craving hearing it. Going out of my way to create moments that sparked it.

Now, I just feel overwhelmed by grace whenever it comes up.

When he stares in my eyes.

When he touches my face.

When my hunky hubby tells me I look great or calls me “hot mama”.

I just linger. A warm sensation from some dark corner of my scarred heart rises up and I feel the weight of an overwhelming grace.

He thinks I’m beautiful.

He loves me.

Me.

That girl who was called “chubs” in elementary school, never got asked to prom and once chased men around hoping for something that felt like love.

Me.

That girl who on any given day hates her hair, has nothing to wear and chooses not to look in the mirror.

When we were first married and there were whispers of beauty or long, loving gazes it made me embarrassed. Uncomfortable. I felt like I had to reject the compliment or ignore it. Because I wasn’t worthy of what he was offering.

Despite a whirlwind romance, a beautiful wedding and this dream boat of a guy. I still felt unlovable.

Most of my life I have felt unlovable.

Unworthy of love.

But his love didn’t stop.

I went from squirming underneath his compliments to craving them. Like somehow it was only in his words that I could find affirmation…that it was only his love that could save me, keep me whole, or heal me. That’s a lot pressure for a guy to live under. And its a lot of work to chase words that cannot be coaxed or set up if they are to be heartfelt.

But still, I felt unlovable.

His words. His compliments. Him. Someone in those moments, I felt loveable and if I could just hear it again or linger in the space where they hung maybe I could feel loveable a bit longer.

But life moves on. Words fade. And emotions change.

I felt unlovable.

But his love didn’t stop.

And in this life where I teach school, dig in the Bible, sweep up endless piles of dog hair, try to match all the socks and nestle in his arms whenever I get the chance. Something changed.

I changed.

Compliments kiss my soul. His touch still sends electricity straight to my heart. And his green eyes gaze somewhere deep in my soul. And I linger there….

Not for more…but because there is grace there.

There is love there.

I don’t know when I knew or even really realized it. But, one day I noticed.

I’m okay with being loved.

I’m loved…and I feel lovable.

Worthy of being loved.

Saved by grace…searching for Christ in me…somewhere…somewhere way down deep something began to grow.

No scar makes you unlovable. No mistake or wrong doing takes away your worthiness. No man, no boy, no indiscretion will ever change how much God loves you or how much He thinks you are worth.

I needed to learn about God’s love.

To learn to accept. To feel it. To live in it.

And God knew that.

So he sent me my husband. A man wise and gentle. Crazy and funny. Hunky and romantic. He sent me a man who would whisper to my soul words I couldn’t understand….

….over and over again….

…until one day like a new language learned it would begin to click.

 

21 Nov

A Gentle Answer

1

“They probably don’t want parents by their age anyway, right?”

The question hung in the air between us.

I didn’t know her. She didn’t know me. We were engaged in a rather superficial conversation about foster care.

And then this question just hung there.

My mind was racing…screaming…WHAT?!?!!?

My heart knew this was one of those moments…to change the world with a gentle answer.

I smiled at her and swallowed, hard.

“Everyone wants a place to belong. Someone to want them….to need them…to protect them…to call them mine…a family. I don’t think that ever changes.”

I had more to say. I was ready to educate her. But I bit my lip and just stood there.

The awkward silence seemed unbearable…all twenty seconds of it.

She didn’t move.

I didn’t move.

She didn’t say anything.

I didn’t say anything else.

She smiled, and whispered, “I had never thought of that.”

If I had met her question with anger or frustration. If I had been rude or ignored her. The door would have slammed shut between us, but it didn’t…. We talked about foster care…our family and her and her friend for more than half an hour. Why we want to become foster parents; the kids that are waiting and the trauma they’ve been through; what the process looks likes (NOT the Lifetime movie of the week version); and just how big the need is.

It made me think of Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” This was not the first time (or nearly the last) that people express their opinions about foster care, the children we are waiting for, or the “system” itself. Sometimes I agree with them, but often I want to grab their words in the air and bonk them over the head with them.

But, God is teaching me in this season of waiting.

Those opinions…those moments when those words hang out there….that is a chance to change the world. I have NO idea what people do with the information or love we share when we talk about foster care. Some might forget before they walk away, some might be able to look at foster care differently tomorrow, and maybe once in a while we are just watering a seed that God has planted in their hearts. I don’t know.

But I do know that bonking them over the head or getting all uppity about why I think their opinions are wrong won’t open a door to understanding. Won’t have the potential to change a heart…a life.

1

{photo courtesy of Creation Swap}

I’m not naive. I know when God blesses our family again we will face opinions and judgement aimed at the child we choose to open our home to. There will be words said sometimes that seem cruel or misplaced and I know that there is a mother bear alive and well in my soul. Come after my cubs…and…well….. There will be times that I can’t stop to change opinions or fight ignorance, but there will be times I can…if I choose to.

And I pray that I do.

That I see these people God brings across our path not as people to be avoided or ignore (“oh just ignore them”) but people we can reach out to, share a slice of our story with, and water along the way.

A gentle word doesn’t just turn away wrath it can spark a friendship. There are people praying for our family who I don’t know…not their names or their details…but they are PRAYING for our family because we shared a tidbit of our story. They choose to kneel before the throne of the King of Kings on our behalf becuase we showed them truth laced with kindness. There are people praying our someday child through trauma that no mama heart wants to picture, because we didn’t ignore them we embraced them.

….a gentle words turns away wrath… and that can change the world.

19 Nov

Beautiful Disaster

Light plays across the ceiling as the candles burn low on the mantle. The smell of fresh bread lingers in the air. Snuggled up with a cup of tea, a warm blanket and a book. Pandora quietly plays the perfect low key station. His soft snoring fills the space in around me.

Insert contented sigh.

As I sit, warm and safe…content and loved…home…I hear the quiet notes begin. I know the lyrics before they come…I know the pain that hangs in the melody that’s coming. The song is me…the girl in the rearview mirror…I know her…I was her…I am her….Beautiful Disaster…

I’m sitting in the driveway. The sun is just starting to rise and I catch my reflection in the rearview mirror.  Salty trails of massacre and tears cut down my cheeks. My eyes are red, bloodshot and puffy. My hair is a mess. I look old. Tired. Used.

I lay my head on the steering wheel and bawl.

She’s giving boys what they want
Tries to act so nonchalant

Under cover of darkness I was someone else. I had gotten involved with a man who didn’t want people to know we were “together”. When the sun went down I began to drink and party. One more beer, one more bar. Waiting for the phone call. When the phone rang I’d drop everything and run to where he was.

I would act as though I didn’t care about him or for him. I’d allow him to do things to me that made me ashamed and hurt me. I held my breath and hoped he’d call, because I didn’t want to be alone. And I knew he didn’t love me…despite his drunk dialing “confessions” of love and need for me…I knew I didn’t deserve love…this was the best I could expect.

When he was done with me he’d drift off to sleep. Never looking me in the eye, never holding my hand, never calling me by my name. Under cover of darkness I’d get dressed, slip quietly out to my car and drive home….ashamed…broken.

She prays one day she’ll find someone to need her
She swears that there’s no difference between the lies and compliments
It’s all the same if everybody leaves her

Oh, how I wanted more…dreamed of more…but I never felt worth it….never.

And one day, he moved on…someone cuter…funnier…whatever. That man who had no use for me dropped me like I was yesterday’s trash and moved on. I was devastated. I couldn’t even give myself away….

I sat in my car and cried.

—-

His snores bring me back out of tear filled memory.

Just his presence. His snoring….his breath…pulls on my heart.

This man who loves me…even when I feel unlovable…even when I’m hurt and broken and failing. Even when I haven’t showered or I’m not in the mood. Even when I lose my temper or am hormonal. Even when I admit who I was before…..

There are so many miles between me and the girl I was. I don’t miss her…or her life. Or her heartache.

I remember sitting in that car, like it was just a breath ago. I wanted everything to be different…anything to change.

I drank more. Cried more. And just wanted to give up.

And then grace whispered….in a little room under the eaves as late afternoon sunshine streamed through the window I felt a whisper of my worth….

Jesus

It took months, weeks, really maybe even years for me to believe that I could be loved….was worth loving. That even this amazing overwhelming love that I knew Jesus had for me felt more like obligation…I mean He’s God…doesn’t He have to love everyone???

Would anyone choose to love me? Fight for me…protect me…love me.

I’m not sure when my heart got it….really got that picture of my Jesus.. arms spread open wide on the cross….fighting for me….protecting me….choosing me….loving me.

I still struggle with it…and in all truth I’ll never fully understand it.

But I waited for someone to take me home…to love me…and He was already there waiting.

I was so that girl from that song….and I never believed that my life could change.

My life isn’t a Beautiful Disaster anymore….more like a beautiful (dog hair covered, toys on the floor, laundry piled up) mess. And sometimes I take it for granted…I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

Feeling put upon or like this isn’t what I wanted, and then this song blows a memory through my living room.

I’ve seen sayings on Pinterest and Facebook that say something like the things you take for granted, someone else is praying for. And then today, I realized the things I am taking for granted…I used to pray for…..

18 Nov

Don’t Pin This Image

men are idiots

Every time it pops up it drives me crazy.

Every. Time.

I want to stalk the pinner. Find out what board they pinned it on and what other things they pin.

Why did they pin it?

Do they get it?

{I don’t, for the record, I don’t stalk them…I don’t visit their boards…I do it all in my head…most of the time}

Did they pin it for the image or the link…cuz they are very different.

Very. Different.

The image:

men are idiots

The jist of the link (and the link):

All Men Are Idiots – basically my daughter and I saw this t-shirt on a family vacation. While I pondered what it meant and who would wear it made me think of how I treat my husband and how reading this would affect my daughter.

Every time the image gets pinned I wonder if the woman thinks the t-shirt is funny or if she heard my heart in the blog post. Heck, if she even read the blog post — so much of Pinterest is just for the images people seem to ignore the content.

No judgement here. I’ve laughed at (and likely pinned) things that people find inappropriate or rude. I’ve been in a place where I don’t see my husband for the leader and lover he is (and has the potential to become). But this one goes right to my heart…for our marriage…for  your marriage…for all the marraiges.

Cuz here’s the truth…your husband needs your respect.

More than a good job…more than a balanced checkbook…more than his car or a guy’s night out. Your man needs to KNOW you respect him. FEEL you respect him.

Because the world won’t give him that.

The world offers cars, boats, bikes…stuff. The world entices with cheap thrills that carry high price tags…porn, sex, drugs. The world will tell him how to be happy — watch any commercial break — stuff, thrills, meds, and more. And then in the very commercials they use to sell to us they will paint men as inept, whipped, helpless, and just plain stupid.

God’s plan. Ephesians 5…women RESPECT your husbands. Cuz ain’t nobody else gonna.

So here’s the challenge. Don’t wear the t-shirt…in real life or figuratively. Find out what respect looks like in your home…to your husband.

  • Say thank you…A LOT! Acknowledge what he does, how he does it, and why…A LOT!! To him, around him, in front of him…and yes, even behind his back…this is the only time I’ll tell you to speak behind your husband’s back!
  • Support his dreams — find out what they are, encourage him, help him chase them, believe in him
  • Pray for him — for his abilities as leader and provider, say thank you for him, ask God’s blessing upon, etc.
  • Listen. Not prepare what you are going to say while he is still talking kind of listening. I mean shut up, clear your head and hear him kinda listening. Repeat back to him what you heard…make sure you really heard him.
  • Follow. {Oh, don’t roll your eyes at me, yet!} I know this submission…this following thing is hard and painful…hello hot button issue…for women to take on. But try it. Talk to him, discuss life and decisions and then follow his lead. Trust him. Oooohhhh, yes…this thing of submission is more about you and your ability to trust God and your husband than it is about him.
  • Praise him to your children. Follow him in front of your children. Don’t demean him or argue with him in front of your children. Respect his leadership and teach them to respect him too.
  • Tell him what you need. Don’t leave him guessing or expect him to figure it out. Don’t wait around for him to do what you want only to be angry when he doesn’t do it. Talk to him. Communicate. It will do you both some good.

Oh, sweet sisters, the list could go on for days. Don’t like mine…make your own…don’t know what to do ask him. A great place to start on this journey to figuring out what t-shirt you wear in your marriage. Start with him…draw closer to him, by letting him know you want to give him respect.

{and btw, you will see a change in him. Men respond to respect, because it is what they need!!}

I truly believe we can change the world in the little things we do. And this is a HUGE little thing…changing the atmosphere of our home (to more closely reflect God’s pictures) has a ripple effect through every corner of our churches, our schools, and beyond.

So, friends, do me a favor…save me from stalking you on Pinterest. Don’t pin this image….unless you get why you shouldn’t….

14 Nov

Junk Mail that Changed My World

Compassion junk mail

Any envelope with that logo is met with excitement and anticipation. News from afar. Letters or pictures from our sweet lil Compassion kiddos.

Breathless from her dash back from the mailbox, “Mom, can I open it?” She danced around waving the envelope.

I gave her the nod and she shredded the envelope with more excitement than “the winner is”.

Inside was a plea to help support children without a sponsor for a short-term sponsorship (just a month). While it was a great idea and we do love supporting Compassion there wasn’t another dime in the budget this month, so I told her no.

“What should I do with the pictures inside?” she asked.

Compassion junk mail

I shrugged it off. “Throw them away,” I guess. I dismissed it as junk mail. Well-meaning, yes, but junk mail nonetheless.

And I moved on.

Hours later when it was time to pull up covers and kiss little foreheads, her hands were folded in prayer with a picture clutched between them.

“We need to pray for his family mom….”

There were the pictures.

The junk mail.

The junk.

What seemed like clutter to me and was so quickly dismissed was clutched like treasure in her hands. Her heart beating for the needs of another a world away.

My heart swells with love for our baby girl. I don’t give her enough credit for her heart for others. I amazed that in one day she can push hard against our rules, nearly explode with tween drama and attitude and then breathe such grace and compassion over a picture. Under her mismatched socks and chatty exterior, beats a heart after God’s.

We join her in her prayer. A small voice with big requests — a sponsor, above all. Because God can do these things if we ask Him.

As we close her door I can barely breathe in the hallway.

I miss so much.

It was junk mail to me. It was life changing for her.

Father, open my eyes to your opportunities.

She carries those pictures around. Praying. Talking about them. Those children are real to her — real needs, real families, real dreams. They are important to her.

Are they important to me? Are they important to you?

We see so much need and sometimes that just paralyzes us. Where to begin. How do you start a problem that it seems you can’t fix?

But, really, it all begins quite simply…with the faith of a child really.

Isabel took what God gave her (a few little pictures) and what she could do (pray). And she did it. Who knows what God will do in answer to those prayers? What she might be praying them through or into? What provision of heaven was unlocked when that little blonde head bowed in faith?

So what is God giving you today? More importantly who is God giving you today? If we enter each day…every moment…with a longing to see what God has set before us…who God has set before us…how will that change the world?

Being a parent challenges me. Every. Day. But more than anything else my children help me to see God. To look for God. There is so much of this world that I overlook on my way to appointments, in an attempt to clean the house or just because it wasn’t on my to do list. Our children make me look around…show me these moments of God that I miss. They challenge me to see Him. To grow in Him. To believe…really, whole-heartedly, just believe.

Take a page from an 8 year olds playbook today — take what is right in front of you and go to God with it. Believe…ask…Because God can do these things if we ask Him.

{Take a moment today. Visit Compassion (<<— click there). Sign up to sponsor a child…make an eternal difference one life at a time. Can’t afford to sponsor today? Well visit Compassion anyway, pick a child to pray for…go to God on their behalf! If you do these things could you comment below? I will share them with Isabel so she can see how her mustard seed is inspiring and teaching us all.}

13 Nov

Light Bulb Moments

You know the moment…

…when they get it.

When the lightbulb goes on…when it clicks.

One of the coolest things about being a homeschooling mom, I think, is getting to share these moments with our peanuts. Seeing them really figure things out and take hold of ideas. Watching that lightbulb come on!

Well, I suppose this year I had my lightbulb moment about homeschooling. (Light Bulb!! — love how Gru says it in “Despicable Me”…watch it —>>> Light Bulb)

I’m not an expert. There are women who have done this years (and years and years) longer than I have. There are women with degrees, businesses, books and blogs. They are the experts in homeschooling. But this year, for the first time, I think I am becoming an expert in something…my kids.

With my calendar, my planner, and piles of curriculum around me I sat just a few short months ago. The puzzle of our school year coming together — workbooks, reading, field trips, videos, crafts — they were all becoming boxes to be checked off. And even while I planned I knew something was different….but I didn’t know the what.

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure when I figured out what was different…sometime between day one and day whatever this?? (we are in the ninth week so you do the math…I don’t do math before coffee)

The difference isn’t really the what I planned…well it sort of is.

The difference isn’t really in the how I planned….well it sort is.

The difference was in my understanding of what I’m doing and why. The difference is my understanding of my children. Of how they learn…what they like…where they struggle…their strengths…their weaknesses opportunities for improvement (ha!)…what drives them.

I prepared for our lil man who has to move even when sitting still…coloring sheets and small activities while we are reading our zillions of books.

I prepared for our girl who needs to read it and write it before it locks in her brain…her response to reading or listening to information is to journal it out and read it back to me when she is done.

There are piles of library books, stacks of math manipulatives, bins of lapbooks, and now a whole stack of already completed crafts that accompany our subject matter. And let me just tell you…this is so not for me. I learn best with simple book, some notes and to recopy the notes later. I don’t need my hands on things or to work it our in clay, but my kids do. They are hands on learners — exploring the world with every sense and putting the pieces together with everything we do. The more they can touch, play and hear what it is…the more it becomes theirs.

I have spent the last few years leading Bible studies. Teaching women to dig deeper into God’s Word — to really see what each verse says…about the Biblical story and about God. This past summer I stepped back from teaching to just focus on things at home (you know like being a wife and mother, preparing to be a foster-mother, oh and tackling that ever-growing pile of laundry). I have felt a little lost. Like I no longer had a calling or a purpose (cuz those things I stepped down to take care of don’t count??). And then one day I saw it…yep, another, lightbulb moment….I could teach my kids to study God’s Word…to fall in love with God verse by verse.

So, we started the year with Joseph. Each day we read a couple of verses and talk about what they mean. What it tells us about Joseph, the people in his life and God. We’re in week nine and Joseph is hiding silver cups and still hiding his identity. It has been so cool to watch my kids own this story — to retell it, to ask question, to feel for Joseph, to look for where God is even when life’s circumstances don’t clearly show Him. This morning they acted out Joseph’s story so far — laughing, playing different parts, using invisible people, chasing each other through the house like some Keystone Cops show — and they knew it. Every details. Every dream. Every circumstance that seemed unfair. That God stayed close. Watching my kids this morning made me feel like a Bible study teacher again. Gave me a dose of what I’ve missed — watching people fall in love with the Bible…with God.

And really, this is the lesson I’m learning this year. God called me to homeschool…this challenging, humbling, giggly adventure with my family. He has never asked me to be an expert in anything more than what He has given me — my family…my kids.

I wonder if God is as excited about my lightbulb moments as I am about our kids’??

11 Nov

When Your Life is Burning Down

When your life is burning down

Blind with tears I penned these words…

I don’t know what road you are on or what hell you will go through to get to our arms. If I did I’d walk there. To hell and back. Through hell and back. Just to hold your hand and whisper that you aren’t alone. (read the whole post about waiting for the child God has for us here)

As I read my own words hours later, an image very clearly came into my mind.

Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods. (Daniel 3:25)

My torn heart teaches me something of a grace I still cannot fathom. I ache for the child we are waiting to adopt from foster care. If I could take on her hell I would, but her hell is what brings her to me. It is what will grow him, mold him, and build in him a testimony of God.

And in the dark, quiet hours of night as I wrote about waiting I tasted the salty tears of a heart made in the image of my Jesus. I longed to go to our child…right where he is…and hold her, whisper to him, wrap them in love.

When we find ourselves in the furnance heated seven times hotter than normal. When our lives are burning down around us.

We are not alone.

The grace of heaven descends like a dove. Through the flames, in the flames, of the flames.

When your life is burning down

{Photo courtesy of Creation Swap}

Jesus comes to us.

His heart full of love and unspeakable mercy He walks through flames, through hell on earth, through death and back to whisper of grace.

In your job loss when uncertainty reigns. When cancer ravages the one you love. Under the heavy cloud of depression. When your heart’s longings are unfulfilled.

We look for rescue and curse when it doesn’t come.

We struggle with our suffering and miss whispers of grace.

The very heart of God – the holy and powerful – it beats for us. It is His breath that fills our lungs, it is His hand that leads us through.

When our lives are burning down around us there is One that walks in the flames with us. We are not destroyed because we are in Him – eternal. We are not singed because grace is our skin. We do not smell of smoke for it is His fragrance that lingers.

My heart hurts as I wait…for I don’t know our child’s details – where to find him? What she is going through? How long we will wait?

But, Jesus knows right where you are sweet friend. Your circumstance is not lost on Him, it is used by Him.

Look for Him all around you….

…in the simple gifts like the sun warming your skin, a stranger’s smile or the giggle of a child.

…in the impossible circumstances where provision can only come from Him.

…in the prayers seemingly unanswered…for He always hears us and is always working on our behalf…even when it feels like our prayers aren’t answered.

…in the waiting…for you do not wait alone.

Parts of my life are burning. They are hard and painful, and, in all truth, I don’t want to go through them. But, I am. It is my prayer that in this fire and on the other side of this fire all people see is a girl who walking with Jesus.

06 Nov

Waiting for Our Davion

empty room

If there were words to say, I would say them. But it seems they catch in my throat.

I wonder if my tears would tell you what my heart can’t seem to express.

We are waiting for you.

I run my hand over the door.

empty room

I don’t go in…I’ve memorized every inch of the emptiness.

I think of him…

…the boy now famous for voicing his need for a family. I think of Davion and I choke on my own emptiness.

Do you know this boy’s story? Have you heard his plea for parents…for a family…for a place to belong…for love?

Who hears your pleas?

I wonder where you are tonight.

Are you safe?

Are you warm?

Do you know my sweet child that I’m waiting for you….we’re waiting for you?

I don’t know what road you are on or what hell you will go through to get to our arms. If I did I’d walk there. To hell and back. Through hell and back. Just to hold your hand and whisper that you aren’t alone.

Whispers of God’s plan. Jesus. Death. Life. Loss. Salvation. Love. Adoption.

That it is God…that even when it is dark and painful…when life is empty and hard…He is there.

And I’m in Him. Or He’s in me.

That He’s carved a space in our lives for you. That our hearts won’t be full until you fill them up.

The beautiful chorus of your someday siblings laughter fills our home every day. It is one of my favorite sounds, but lately I’m aware of the notes that are missing. That the chords are not full. Your laugh will complete our symphony.

I think of your scars – the ones I’ll see and the ones you’ll guard. Of our gaps where trust will grow to make us family. I pray now for your healing then. That we aren’t merely bandaids for a soul in need of grace but skin grafts that become part of you…part scar and part healing…the place where God touches.

Through tears I beg Jesus to wrap you in Him…in a hug…a presence…a breath of hope, because my arms can’t reach you yet.

“My name is Davion and I’ve been in foster care since I was born. . . . I know God hasn’t given up on me. So I’m not giving up either.”

Do you know that God hasn’t given up on you? That we haven’t given up on you?

There are days when the waiting is long and the emptiness is heavy. There are days when it seems like we aren’t meant to be your parents, because you haven’t arrived yet. There days when the rules, the restrictions, the “system” seem like they are too much. There are days when it feels like I won’t be able to find you or reach you or help you. And I want to quit.

I want to lay down. Give up. To stop grasping at emptiness.

But….

You.

It wasn’t an idea or a calling that God laid on our hearts. It wasn’t a process or piles of paperwork or a ministry that God lead us to.

It is you.

And, my sweet child, we’re waiting for you.

 

 

05 Nov

I’ll Always Come Back to You

come back to you

It seemed we were walking in a painting. Leaves of every color swirled in the air all around us as the gentle autumn breeze spread fall colors like a smooth water-color brush.

We had explored briar-guarded hollows, walked along barbed-wire fences, collected a delightful spectrum of fall glory in our little basket. Standing on the top of the hill overlooking our back yard and house I wanted to freeze the moment. To always remember their delighted giggles as they chased each other through twirling leaves. To remember the questions they asked and the answers I sometimes feel ill-equipped to give. To freeze childhood…to linger in these moments of falling glory.

Before I could find life’s pause button it moved on without me. She shot down the hill in a hurry to run free and explore. And as so often happens when you are the one with the littlest legs he was left there with me on the edge of adventure. Hesitating he smiled up at me, “Mom, I’m going to put my stick in your basket. Okay? Cuz I don’t want to lose it, but I want to run. I’ll always come back to you so I can leave it here.”

Clumisly knocking and twisting he shoved his stick in the basket and he was gone. Running on after her….into adventure.

come back to you 2

And there I stood autumn dancing on the breeze around me…..

I want to run…I’ll always come back to you….

Life became a blurry mix of colors as my eyes teared up and I was lost for a moment.

He’s six.

There is so much life to live. Roads to run, hills to roll down, adventures to be had. For this breath, for this moment he is still our little boy.

But I know how life moves (how that pause button eludes) and in a breath…the ragged breath of a life loved at full speed…he’ll be a man. Always a little boy to my heart.

Let it be so, Father.

I barely breathe the prayer…a whisper from my heart.

How I long to be a mother that helps him find his wings. A mother that helps him develop roots. The place he calls home (no matter where we are) and the place that he will return to when his life is bigger than our back yard.

My hunky hubby and I speak often about making our house the “soft place” for our children to fall (really for all the children in our lives). As they grow and learn, push against boundaries and lean hard into life, we will want to be that place even more so. A place where love meets you at the door — offering a full fridge, stuff to do, life to be lived out loud full of honesty and a healthy dose of sarcasm, where questions are encouraged, laughter is in full supply, and there are dogs to warm your feet and lick your face.

We talk about it now. We plan it for someday. And I realize we live it everyday…because tomorrow will be today. And tomorrow that sweet boy with the knobby knees who looks up at me with such an impish grin will be the man who looks down at his short lil mom as he hugs her goodbye.

Our hill spread out before him, he pumped his skinny legs as fast as they would go. I just watched him go.

come back to you

I carried the basket full of leaves and the precious stick cargo down the hill. Smiling as I heard them laughing and playing.

“Hello, mom!” A cheery little voice greeted me as a sweet lil face popped over the back fence. Our monkey man has been very proud of his new ability to scale fences and avoid gates. My heart skipped a beat…a whole lifetime of dreams and adventure await him. But today, while his hands are still small I get to be his mama.

In a flash he was down from the fence and opening the back gate for me. “Mom, come watch….” he hollered as he shot off towards the monkey bars.

The gate clicked behind me. The back yard a brilliant world alive with green grass, falling reds and yellows, dogs wrestling for a ball, and two sets of bright blue eyes twinkling at me from the swing set.

Here surrounded by Autumn in its full glory I breathe it all in. The colors, the smell, the sound of the breeze through the changing trees. And I whisper a short prayer as I watch my sweet peanuts play….

…Father, please help me always see the glory that falls around us….

I linger there.

04 Nov

Our Shabby Chic Love

wildflower love

It is nearly 5 p.m.  I am in sweats, I haven’t showered today and I smell like a combination of sweat and carpet cleaner.

Over the past few weeks I have battled with shingles followed by a cold/bug/system slowdown/thing, keeping me at arm’s length (if not more) from my husband.

And today is our anniversary.

As I try to guide the carpet cleaner over an area rug that slides and moves and flips over, he comes to my rescue. Planting his big ole boots on the corners of the rug my hunky hubby helps me finish this push to clean our home. And I begin to clean the rug he begins to dance. He shakes and gyrates as I clean and laugh. Then he jumps up, lands both feet back on the corners and gives me a view of the same dance from his backside.

I love him.

I think back over our nine years. We were one of those newlywed couples, the ones that always wanted to be together, to somehow be touching…close. I don’t think we were too smoochy in public, although in all truth I can’t remember because somehow I only had eyes for the green-eyed boy I married. I remember spending hours getting ready for our anniversary date…working hard to look good for him.

And I wonder, for a brief moment is romance dead? Did I kill it? Shouldn’t I be showering, makeuping, trying on half my closet only to put on the first thing I picked??

But, then there is this man gyrating in the entry way and I laugh. And I know. Romance isn’t dead….its different….it is intimate and just ours.

As newlyweds we lived our love out loud and in front of everyone. Smooching. Holding hands. Cute. Cuddly. Sickening. (he, he) It was sweet, this blossoming marriage. Our days were filled with each other….because that is all we had.

Then came children, more furniture, a bigger house, more land, church commitments, serving, homeschooling, and so much more. And what was cute and cuddly was tested through postpartum depression; sick kids at 3 a.m.; the death of loved ones; lean months and rough patches.

A few years ago I lamented over the loss of that newlywed stage. Saddened that we just weren’t those two people anymore. I focused on what I thought was lost, not on what we had found.

We found what love looks like when it is refined by the fires of life. That at 3 a.m. we are like a Seal team — silent and on task we combat sick kids, huge messes, and nasty things quickly. That death comes, to us all, and there is no other place to lean but on each other when our hearts hurt. That money will be tight, nerves will be stretched and plucked and life is hard.

I’ll always adore the time we had together when our love was new and shiny. Before life began to “distress” it (think shabby chic here!) a little. I’ve learned that romance isn’t dead…it just isn’t shiny or store-bought anymore. Like these wildflowers (weeds maybe?!?!?) that my hunky hubby put on the breakfast table a couple of months back….our romance is simple, intimate and just for us.

wildflower love

 

Some women may not be moved by little things like chalkboard expressions of love and vases of wildflowers, but I was…am.

Some women may not be moved to laughter and overwhelmed with love at this rug-cleaning Magic Mike moment, but I was…am.

And that’s what I mean.

In the nine years we’ve been married we both have more grey hair, a few more wrinkles (mostly laugh lines!), we have both grown a bit around the mid-section, but we’ve also grown into our love.

I never thought I would get married or be a mother, and I am so thankful that God’s plans weren’t my thoughts. I am blessed beyond measure to be the wife of a man who takes life as it comes, seeks God, laughs heartily and loves whole-heartedly. Here’s to another 60 years, hubby….now I think there are more rugs to be cleaned.

01 Nov

Homeschool Top 10 Things

prayer sticks

I was thinking about how Facebook changes, momentarily, in November. Many people are counting blessings, grace…things to be thankful for. And here it is November 1st.

I have a lot of things to be thankful for…more than a months worth, by far. But today I thought I’d bring you my top ten list.

My Homeschool Top 10 Things (to be thankful for) that make our days easier.

1. pencil sharpener – I don’t think I would have purchased one, as they seem to be kinda spendy. But my grandfather died last year and this was one of the things we got out of his house. Who knew our daughter would take after me in her belief that a pencil only writes well when it is very sharp. The whirring sound is the sound of school work and writing…music to my ears!

2. paper cutter –I can’t draw a straight line and I’ve learned since trying to become this crafty-we-can-make-anything mom that I can’t CUT a straight line either. For a little under $40 we bought one a few years ago. We use it all the time…crafts, projects, ministry, you name it. Great investment, especially if you find yourself wanting to cut more than one of anything.

3. laminator – Another one of those things I didn’t think I would need or buy, but!!! I bought a simple little Staples brand laminator when it was on sale — like super  on sale a few years ago. I’ve been laminating anything I feed through it ever since. It is best to try and find a deal on the pouches and sheets, but you can or just by in bulk (a way to save) because you know you are going to use them. We laminate charts, certificates, worksheets, and all kinds of stuff for school. I have laminated recipe cards, signs, bookmarks and more.

4. dry erase board, crayons and markers – We didn’t buy this one. The board and markers we sort of inherited after a ministry project. And someone along the way gave the kids the dry erase crayons. We use them mostly for math “class”. This year fraction practice for our lil man has been all kinds of fun on the board with different colors and the ability to erase.

5. computers – We have two in our office/school room. This year we have instituted game time after school work is complete — the kids are learning to type, read, navigate a mouse and keyboard all while playing and having fun. We also have formally started using Rosetta Stone for Spanish.

laptop

6. prayer sticks – Admittedly these might be one of my favorite things we do. In an attempt to engage the children in prayer every morning we began prayer sticks last year. I had no idea how much we would all enjoy them. We update them periodically adding new people in our lives or taking out family members that pass away. Each morning we each pick a stick (or two) out of the jar and take turns praying for who we draw. The kids ask to do it everyday and are excited to see who they will get. It is a simple, colorful way to make prayer an active part of our homeschool day.

prayer sticks

7. our “school room” – Half office, half school room — it used to be our dining room (which is now in what used to be a formal living room). Shelves, computers, a keyboard, globe and boxes and bins full of everything we need. There is no table in here because the kids choose where to work; sometimes on the floor, on the couch, at their desks or at a table.

homeschool room

8. room to run – Oh! How important it is for them to stretch their legs. To run, giggle, screech, roll, chase and just play. It isn’t recess for us…it is life. We have school time throughout the day punctuated by periods of play in yard or walks to gather things or investigate nature. The best part of homeschool is all the school stuff that happens along the journey not in a book or in class.

come back to you

9. Paper, Paper and more paper – there are shelves of paper in the school room – white paper, lined paper, construction paper, cardstock, you name it. Creativity is never hindered by lack of material or color. It is fun to see what they make when they get an idea and have the room to cut, glue and create on their own.

10. Chalkboard breakfast table – A few years back we got this brown(ish) little breakfast table with two chairs. I never really liked the color, so this year when we decided to add two more chairs to the set I jumped at the chance to paint it all white. How cute and crisp it all looked…while it dried. Then life began to be lived on it and soon there was nail polish on it, koolaid in the cracks, and some mysterious person drew on it in pencil (that didn’t erase!). My cute white table became a pain the backside and daily chore….it was cute but this mama doesn’t need ONE more thing to clean or look after.

Chalkboard paint to the rescue…..

breakfast table

 

It was so cute!! I began to leave love notes for the family and write scripture on it daily. And when it was all clean (not chalkboard looking) it was quite stylish.

Then our daughter started cursive. The little lines in the workbook weren’t the easiest place to get a handle on the motions. So cursive practice began on the table…big, easy and erasable (3 things I like in ALL homeschool materials!). I had no idea how much we would use it for when I painted it — games (like dots and tic-tac-toe), lessons and school work practice, love notes and planning.

chalkboard table

 

There are many other things that make our days easier and are blessings in this homeschool process, but what I’ve found as I wrote as the list is that many things that I use and rely on I stumbled on. That is why I wanted to share. I would love to hear your top ten or even the number one thing that you use the most or rely on the most in your homeschool life.

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