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….

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.

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.}

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.

11 Jun

Because. I. Can.

kc

I scroll by quickly. Because I can.

Sitting on my comfy couch, in my air-conditioned living room with my cold Diet Coke sweating on the table nearby. I scroll by.

Because. I. Can.

I’m neither proud of this fact or ashamed of this. Just being honest.

I did go back and stare at the photo…all the detail…all the heartache…the tiny little ribs…the sweet arms…the menacing vulture. All of it. With tears in my eyes I shut the tab. Image gone. Tears lingering.

(photo by Kevin Carter — to read blog where I first saw it and read it here)

 

But what can I do? That’s almost always my question. What can I, a simple homemaking, homeschooling woman from the middle of Virginia, actually do???

If that child was within my grasp, would I pick it up? You bet your sweet boopie I would. (Yeah, I don’t know what a boopie is either, but it sounded good and kinda southern…I like to sound southern!) Yes, I would pick up that child and do whatever was in my means to help…to care for…to feed…to love on…to raise…whatever.

But.

(I can already see some of your wheels turning — ready to tell me I could go on a mission trip or I could write a check to an organization is on the ground. Both noble ideas and answers. But.)

While I sit among the richest population in the world does writing a check really make me a woman after God’s own heart? Does a scrawled signature, a stamp and trip to the mailbox get me off the hook in the fight for the “least”?? My simple answer…no. God wants more from me….from us.

My husband and I choose to partner with organizations like Compassion International. And yes, we totally write a check…actually less effort than that…got love auto payments, but our role doesn’t end there. We write letters and send pictures to our Compassion kids. We pray for and talk about the children, their families, their communities, their countries. Compassion takes the money and multiples it with others into food, medical care, spiritual care, love and SO much more.

And while we love Compassion and the richness our sponsorship adds to our lives. It is a piece of what we do…and it still doesn’t help me refute the “but” from above.

At the end of the day, or my life, what can I offer to my sweet Savior as my efforts to change the world? To love those He loves. To change the world one heart, one empty tummy, one stolen childhood, one person at a time?

**start at home** Sounds almost like a cop-out doesn’t it. Too simple, too easy, too lazy. But, it isn’t. Everyday the focus of our home is teach our peanuts about God — His creation, His people (through world history and current events), and loving Him. Homeschool lends itself to educating my children about the truths of extreme poverty around the world, but any family with any schooling routine could do this. You just gotta get a little intentional. The old saying about children being the future is TOTALLY true and we need to live like it. Start the conversations — talking about thinking about others, showing Jesus’ love, sacrificing for others. Then as a family make a plan…what’s one thing we can do this month to change our world (remember one step, one person at a time). Then Do it!!! (need some inspiration or some help — check out this awesome ebook from Live58 or connect with great communities like Moms Ending Extreme Poverty on Facebook or read the book Missional Moms by Helen Lee)

**find their passions** Our daughter has a heart for orphans (or “children without parents” as she used to call them). After listening to her sweet little girl games of school and store, I realized that she was playing that she was teaching orphans and selling everything she owned to care for them. We began to look for ways for her to put her hands where her heart already was. We made dresses…simple patterns, cute fabric and a little bit of trial and error. In the past two years we have sent boxes of dresses to organizations here in the states and we have loaded dresses into missionaries suitcases to have them delivered to little princesses at orphanages and poor communities around the world. What talents do you have? Where does your heart daydream or imagine?

**pray** God can do more with a willing heart than we ever can with a checkbook and a plan. Surrender it all to God — ask Him where to go and what to do. You might be writing checks, living abroad, or inspiring your community to get involved before you know it. Follow God — He has a plan for you.

**do something** I scrolled past that picture that hurt my heart (much like I used to change the channel when Sally Struthers used to show me images of flies crawling on starving children), but I chose to go back. To read it. To pray about it. To follow the links…to read the comments…to educate myself. Our family will be working our through the “Giving Table” ebook (linked above) this summer. That is our first action step, and as we pray who knows where God will take us.

It has been said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” (source unknown) Darkness and poverty linger (just like that blasted vulture in the photo) and when we do nothing we leave room for evil to win (the battle, not the war for Jesus already won that).  Choose to love….to fight…to follow Jesus…to change the world….Because. You. Can.

 

07 Jun

Lessons the Ladies Have Taught Me

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It will end as quietly as it began. In a small Bible study in our home.

For most people the day will be unremarkable, but for me, even the square on the calendar is already full of memories, lessons and an unbelievable cast of characters.

Next week, I’ll teach my last women’s Bible study, putting a period at the end of one of the most beautifully life-changing seasons of my life…serving in women’s ministry. 

I got into women’s ministry, because I thought women needed a safe place to exhale and allow Jesus to love them….and I thought God was going to allow me to help Him love on them. And while, I’d like to think, that is what happened along the way, the truth is women’s ministry changed me, taught me, molded me. This Jesus girl needed to learn how to love and be loved and there were some lessons I had to learn along the way.

Lesson #1 – Where there are women, there is food

Be it a Bible study, a movie night, a retreat or anything else Jesus girls can bring some vittles now. Tables, counters, and plates piled high with deliciousness prepared and served with a whole lotta love and good bit of laughter.

 

Lesson #2 – We all need a place to just be women

Wife. Mother. Sister. Daughter. Granddaughter Friend. Ministry Leader. Executive. Teacher. Bookkeeper. Hostess. Maid. Neighbor. Servant. Helper. Driver. And SOOOOOOO many more. Women wear so many hats and take on so many roles everyday that it is often difficult to just set everything down and exhale.

And the truth is, most of us, don’t create space to exhale in our lives. We push and rush. We forgo sleep and beat deadlines. And we are tired and hurting. Unfulfilled and overworked.

This is where women’s ministry comes in — it gives us a space and place to allow women to just sit — to worship, to pray, to breathe, to feel God. A woman grounded in Jesus blooms in ways that people cannot miss. When women are refreshed and healing. When they are filled to overflow with the sweet truth of Jesus they pour out.

As women ministry leaders and teams it our responsibility to give women a safe place to immerse in the Word, find discipleship opportunities, and receive the love of Jesus from their eternal sisters.

 

Lesson #3 – We have got to get real

In the beginning I wanted women’s ministry to be pretty. Cute little parties. Music. Flowers. Decorations. Prizes. Pretty. But I soon found that life isn’t pretty. And ministry isn’t speakers, programs, or budgets. Ministry is life….it is a couple of Jesus girls looking for answers…for Him.

We need to stop entertaining people and start engaging. We need to be bold and brave, and take on topics like domestic violence, food addiction, parenting. We need to dig into the Word and help women make sense of it, apply it…GET it!! We need to turn off the movies, disconnect the sound system, and get women talking to each other…ministering to each other.

We need to put on our Jesus girl t-shirts and lay ourselves bare. Share our struggles, speak up about what we don’t understand, and pray for each other. No more prayer request gossip line sessions where we write it down and promise to pray later. Grasp hands, ugly cry if you need to, intercession for each other.

We need to learn to pray, laugh, learn and talk with unabashed honesty and be real with each other.

 

Lesson #4 – It is like herding cats

Somehow it doesn’t matter if there are 5 women in the room or 150, women are hard to lead. God harnessed incredible power and put it in women — passion, love, excitement, drive — and wrapped up in beauty, hormones and emotions. Then we wrap it all up our latest Kohl’s super-cheap, wicked-cute sale find.

You have to have the finesse of a well-seasoned politician; the moves of a Super Bowl receiver; the sense of humor of Betty White; the thick, tough skin of John Wayne and the wisdom of Solomon all wrapped up in one broken and flawed girl who is just trying to follow God. Cuz, us Jesus girls, we can have opinions (that we don’t mind sharing), and drama (Steel Magnolias ain’t got nothing on us), and comfort zones (and if you change something or move us out of it you WILL hear about it), and we have IMPOSSIBLE standards (how the church used to do it or how the church the down road did or how it looked on Pinterest).

It’s like herding cats — they go where they want, with claws and a sometimes a bit of hissing.

 

Lesson #5 – If it is not about Jesus, we have failed

 

I don’t care what the topic is. I don’t care what the point of the gathering is. I don’t care why the church/ministry/Bible study/group has decided to do it. If it isn’t about the Gospel — living it, teaching it, breathing it, learning it, sharing it….it isn’t important.

We don’t have to make Jesus flashy or fancy. There need be no entertainment or show. People need Jesus. They need us…the church…the leaders…the Jesus’ people…to live like Jesus works and help them find His Truth for their lives (in Word and in deed).

If we aren’t giving women the chance to learn about Jesus, equipping them to share Jesus in their lives, and loving on them like Jesus (through TRUTH and SERVICE) then we have failed.

“…one thing is needed….which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42

 

Lesson #6 – God always shows up

No matter what we plan. It isn’t about us or our plans. It is about God and His girls. Year after year — church after church – event after event — woman after woman I have seen it. When we help women carve out time in their schedules to seek God — He shows up!!

He touches a hand lifted in worship.

He whispers to a weary heart surrendered in prayer.

He speaks in the testimony of His daughters.

He breaks through pain, He repairs friendships, He places the “right” person in our paths.

He is the comfort of a meal cooked for a hurting family.

He is in the laughter when His girls gather.

He is in the reflection of stain glass window when your knees are knocking as you speak.

He is in every detail….we need just look.

And that, really is, what I’ve come to know through this journey. That God is in every detail. That it isn’t our time or talent that make anything successful…it is the pure and holy love of our Savior wrapping around us.  He is reflected in every woman I have been blessed to laugh, cry, pray, talk, debate, learn, lead, follow, study, hike, play, serve, worship,  and love with over the years.

 

 

29 Sep

All Men Are Idiots

men are idiots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quick pit stop on a family road trip found me face-to-face with disrespect and the world’s view of men. And boy did it get under my skin.

As I sat staring at the shirt (hung just outside the Dairy Queen we were munching our lunch at) I began to wonder who on earth would wear this? What is her husband like? What is she saying to her children? The world? And then, as though hit by a truck I began to wonder if I wear it…or what the t-shirt of my life reads.

In my head, my t-shirt would read — I love my sexy, quirky hubby and am blessed by our incredible lil peanuts (oh, and please excuse my attitude and pjs today…life got in the way). But, if I stop to really examine my life….how does it read?

Why is the world so quick to say men (particularly husbands) are dumb? Watch commercials – you’ll find husbands who are inept, fathers who are clueless and men who can’t function without the help of the poor put-upon woman he is married to.  Watch sit coms or movies – the married guy is miserable, whipped or stupid (maybe all of the above) while the single guy usually manages to be clean and fed before he pursues his conquests and enjoys his life. Look at magazines, websites, t-shirts and more. The world does not respect an honest, hardworking family man.

And God knew it wouldn’t….

In Ephesians (chapter 5) when God unfolds His plan for marriage He says husbands are to love their wives and wives are to RESPECT their husbands. Why? Because men need to know their efforts are acknowledged, that their talents are useful, that their committment to family and friends is of eternal consequence. And the world will not do that. There is no pat on the back from society for a man who packs lunches; reads the Bible; works longs hours only to come how and rock a crying child; or who teaches his sons to revere their mother and women.

Staring down this t-shirt miles from home I began to look at the snippets of my life. Like pieces of a movie rescued from the cutting room floor I saw myself roll my eyes, speak down to my husband and fail to appreciate his efforts. Some days I wear that shirt.

I like to focus on the days I don’t. On the days I have taught our children the concept of “daddy is our hero” providing, protecting, and loving us.  I easily recall the days I made his favorite dinner just because or sang his praises publicly. I’m even quick to tell others, sometimes, about the things I’ve done for him.

Amazingly, I can easily respect, love and honor my husband when it makes me look and feel good. But what about the days it doesn’t? When we don’t agree and my answers become laced with venom. When I treat him like the commercials portray him, instead of the college-educated, driven man that he is. When I let the sun go down on a day where I haven’t said thank you when he has worked to provide, played with our children, done the laundry and never complained that he didn’t have time to himself.

Perhaps the t-shirt got under my skin because it speaks a bit of truth. Or perhaps it got under my skin because our daughter read it. Out loud. And in those moments I cringed. Not that she could read it but that the world’s “joke” could be construed as a truth to her soft heart.

I watched her wrestle with the concept. Her mouth still moving over the words as she read them again and again. “Mom, I don’t think the shirt is true. Jesus wasn’t an idiot.” After I suppressed the urge to laugh. I had to nod…well, at least she was on the right track. “And Daddy’s not an idiot. He’s our hero.”

“Yes, he is baby girl. Yes he is.” Was all I could mumble. Tears in my eyes. And truth clanging like a gong in my ears.

I want my life to read like a Jesus t-shirt. One that points to Him. One that speaks love over my children. Honors my marriage. Respects my man.

The how of that is a little tougher for me. Oh sure, while I’m writing to you it sounds easy. Pop out of bed and greet the day — put on my ‘I’m a Jesus-girl, See me rock it’ t-shirt and off we go. Whew…if only it were that easy.

Well, maybe it is…once you get the learning curve. I’ve been counting these gifts of grace, gifts of God (you all know that!!). In looking for those gifts I am learning to look for God, find Him in the everydayness of my life. Well, what if we applied the same concept to marriage, to husbands. In every moment of marriage, the large and the small what if we look for God’s details…in our husbands.

If I begin to look at my hunky hubby as a reflection of my Jesus, even in the midst of an argument, what will change? Could I roll my eyes at Jesus? Or would I?? Could I look at the man who just worked 9 hours, drove 2 hours in traffic, and brought us dinner and see him as anything less than a provider. When I’m angry or hormonal and I look into his eyes will I see the pools of green that reflect a Savior’s adoration?

Do you see it? Do you see how those moments when we are willing to see Jesus in our husbands can change everything? It is not a stretch or some hokie tactic…it is the truth. Jesus is there. If I can treat my husband as the godly vessel that he is it will transform our marriage, our love, our family.

And my t-shirt will read Jesus lives here.

Father, thank you for my husband. Thank you for the privilege of being a wife. Please help me to treat my husband with the respect he deserves and the love that you have given me for him. The everydayness of life can rob us of so much, Father, help me to live beyond that. Help me to model respect and submission for our children. Help me to be the wife you want my hubby to have. Amen.

 

 

 

 

16 Sep

Thanking God on Friday

princess and light saber

474. a husband who prays when the chips are down
475. puckered lips and puffed up cheeks blowing out candles

 

 

 

 

 

 

476. GramVader

477. late night phone calls full of cheer and love
478. cool mornings
479. birthday dinners
480. sidewalk drawings
481. singing with headphones on
482. the excitement of a surprise
483. just in time trips
484. belonging
485. the knowing laughter of another woman
486. last minute registrations
487. field trips
488. other people willing to invest in my kids
489. Bible study
490. Little girl prayers to start the day
491. the white noise of the fan
492. his snoring
493. bedtime stories
494. little girl love
495. dresses, headbands, tights and all things little girly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

496. princesses and light sabers

497. my aunt
498. secrets revealed on ancestry.com
499. laughter over the breakfast table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

501. Little boys saving the world

 

What are some of your counted gifts of grace this week? What are you thankful for?

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