Thursday, March 29, 2012

home study: take three

It went perfect.  The kids had fun giving her a tour of the house and surprisingly didn't completely scare her off.  There were a few questions asked and answered in both directions.  My Love and I were able to share our hearts about the experience as well.  I feel confident that she understands our desires for this process and will keep us in mind when the perfect placement comes available.  We told her that we will be able to welcome a child as soon as May 7th.  It will be here before we know it.  We are so excited and peaceful about the journey ahead of us.  Thank you for your prayers.

Our home study visit is scheduled to be at 11am on Friday.  We are so thankful that My Love had already planned on being home at that time.  It should be a mostly painless experience.  There will be a simple inspection of the home and a few questions asked.  We would appreciate your prayers and are looking forward to this next step in the process. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

class six: mental health

Last night was another foster resource parent training class.  The topic was mental health and was really interesting.  The speaker shared six of the most common mental disorders that we might see in foster children: 1) ADHD 2) Pediatric Bipolar Disorder 3) Dysthymia (a type of depression) 4) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 5) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 6) Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  I felt like I was sitting in Taylor Hall taking a psych class.  Although some of the mental disorders talked about can be caused by a traumatic/chaotic home life, there are others that aren't related to circumstances at all.  Half of the time was spent on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and I asked the most questions.  This very topic was brought to my attention a few days ago by a loved one and I was thankful for God's timing in providing helpful information to pass on.

One of the toughest parts about sitting in class with professionals who have dealt with the foster care system for some time is hearing the stories of patients.  There are some really messed up people out there.  Can you imagine using your child to help you break into homes?  Or killing a person in front of a child?  It is haunting how long mental problems can plague a person after witnessing or participating in a traumatic event.  Oh but for the grace of God!

Someone brought up the same news magazine program I saw several months ago when we were just starting this journey.  It was about how foster children tend to be over medicated.  It troubled me back then to think that I might have to give drugs to a child who maybe didn't really need them.  The news show supported the angle that the state just doesn't want to deal with any deep issues a foster child might have so they drug everyone in the system.  I am not sure that was completely accurate (thankfully).  There is some really hard stuff out there that kids go through.  It sounds like Medicaid does a "good" job getting kids the help that they need.  So much so that this professional said that some parents give up their children to be in foster care so they can get the mental health services that they need and are unable to afford on their own. Mental disorders can be hereditary.  So sometimes the issues that might cause/trigger a parent to have their children put into foster care in the first place might be passed down biologically.

A foster parent can be a huge help in documenting a child's mental health growth.  The presenter last night said even if a child is in therapy for three years that only equates to 150 hours of time in treatment.  Not much can be accomplished in a one hour session once a week.  Foster parents can be an important part of the team to help a child get the help they need.

Monday, March 26, 2012

tub time in the word

I took a rare bubble bath tonight while listening to 1 John while the sun set.  My Love wrestled the kids to bed while I soaked up the Word. 

1 John 2:6, 5:21 (NLT)

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

 21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.

Deep thoughts before resting my head on the pillow tonight with shaved legs and relaxed muscles. 

Do I live like Jesus?  

Is there anything taking up space in my heart/mind/day that I could be giving to God? 

My Love just brought me a cup of tea.  Have I mentioned I am loved?

Sweet dreams.

morning gifts

restless night for us both
Bible on the nightstand
praying together before feet hit the floor
two bundles up before "the 7"
dry diaper
warm oatmeal w/ craisins and applesauce
first time obedience
crisp fresh air in the lungs
two kids on the stroller
tulips ready to bloom
sunshine and blue skies
raining blossoms in the breeze
looking for "X" marks the spot
four leaf clover
tiny bug discovered under clover leaf
two low flying geese right above us
morning walk before school

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I have been feeling a funny kind of discontent lately.  When I tried to explain it to My Love, he said he had been feeling the same way.  There was a time when I thought "Wow, things are really calm right now.  Life is about to get messy.  Do I really want to sign up for that?"

But something has happened since then.  God is whispering gently.  He is giving me/us a desire for whatever he has planned for us.  Suddenly life as we know it doesn't feel calm at all.  It feels like something is missing.  Or perhaps someone.  Any fears seem to be fading away and anxious anticipation for something sweeter is filling our hearts.  Something sweeter than calm.  Perhaps pure joy!

i'm running to your arms

I wept during this song at church today.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

change of plans

Our home study has been moved again presumably to the morning on Friday, March 30th.  Even though we didn't ask for this change, it will likely work out better for our schedule.  My Love has already asked for the day off so he could go to our church's men's retreat for the weekend.  Hopefully he can be present for the home study visit without missing any additional work.  Thanks for your prayers of support.

Friday, March 23, 2012


We have been in a fog around here and it smells like sick people.  three out of the four of us have been hit with the stomach flu since Saturday night and I am ready for it to be over.  We have found things to be thankful for in the midst of the vomit though.

My Love took off of work on Wednesday to stay with the kids while I stayed in bed ALL DAY.  Is it possible that I have never felt so loved before?  He took the kids to get a tune up on his car an hour away, hung out at the mall play place and had lunch at Chick-fil-A.  Hours of peace and quiet.  In the late afternoon they took the dog for a walk and played outside.  More quiet.  I was in terrible stomach pain while achy and weak but I had nothing else to do but throw up and I was SO thankful.

Thursday morning at 3:30am, Brother threw up on the floor in the doorway to our bedroom while holding a barf bowl at his side.  Poor guy.  He went 21 hours later with perfect energy during the day before barfing two more times (thankfully in the toilet this time) at 11pm Thursday night.

I can't tell you how thankful I am that the three of us weren't all sick at the same time.  So far My Love has been free of symptoms.  I hope the bug has passed because I am ready to leave the house and live again.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

class five

I didn't make it to our fifth foster training class.  Babydoll had been sick on Sunday and Monday.  I decided to stay home with her so as not to expose our willing baby sitter/friend to any lingering germs.  Unfortunately I was up barfing half the night myself so it is good that I stayed here.  My Love came home and gave me a brief synopsis while I writhed in stomach pain on the couch.  I am hoping he will repeat it at a time when my mind is clearer.  Thanks for praying weekly for our class time.

love one another

The the exact cry of my heart this week...

What's New About the New Commandment?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

LOVE, part 3

Last week My Love and I read another chapter in the book Sacred Marriage together.  I had just started studying about love the day before and was surprisingly not in a chipper mood when he brought out the book.  Something always happens when we take that time to communicate though.  We actually communicate.  

The concept behind the book is that a Christian marriage is the one thing most like the relationship between Christ and the church.  I have read that many times in Ephesians but for some reason this book finally spelled it out for us both very clearly.  If our marriage is supposed to most reflect God's love for the Body of Christ, we aren't taking it very seriously.  Marriage seems to be the first place where the world tells us it is OK to demand our own way.  God says to love selflessly and we listen to the lie that we can find God's love in another person.  From that breeds expectations and resentment.  Wouldn't it be amazing if the world could look at any Christian marriage and ask what is it about that couple that is different?  You guessed it.  It would look like a pair that BOTH died to self.  And when our heads are both bowed low, what does the world see?  GOD!  That would be ideal.  But clearly that isn't always easy or the case.

In all seriousness, sometimes it can be easier to show love to the slow moving cashier than to the person who is the other half of your whole.  It didn't take long after studying love that God asked me to start loving more at home.  You may be thinking, "But you don't know my situation. My wife/husband doesn't surrender his life to the Lord".  Then wouldn't being an example of God's love to the world be most appropriately acted out in your marriage?  Did Christ expect anything from the church before dying for them?

That is my personal challenge this week.  To die to self more completely in my marriage.  That doesn't mean become a door mat.  It just means loving without conditions.  Sounds directly opposed to the way the world chooses to love.  I'm seeing a trend here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

home study

UPDATE: Babydoll has been throwing up and having diarrhea this morning.  Poor thing doesn't even cry when she pukes.  She is so like her mother though.  After it came out she announced she was "all better now" and was ready to get back to playing., child.  Go to sleep while I go clean the vomit off my newly vacuumed stairs.  Thankfully when I called, the woman at Social Services was very understanding.  The home study has been rescheduled for March 27th at 11am.  It has been awhile since I have had a completely clean house for no reason at all.  Off to snuggle my Bundle Boy while he watches Larry Boy for the 50th time. :)

Today is our home study for foster care.  The woman coming to our house has been teaching our classes all this time so we are looking forward to having a little one-on-one time with her (My Love may or may not be here).  

She is due to come at 1pm EST.  Hopefully she can meet the kids, check our their bedrooms, and then I can put them down for a nap (easily and quickly) for the rest of the visit.

The purpose of the visit is for them to check out our home (for safety and to see where the child will be sleeping) and ask us some questions.  I'm not expecting it to be too invasive but it is still one more step in the process.  We appreciate your prayers today.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

LOVE, part 2

I spent several days this week reading through the gospel of John and studying some commentary notes in my Bible.  I took notes to help me see it more clearly.  As my attention was drawn to the idea of God's love suddenly it seemed like that is all people were talking about around me.  Perhaps the Spirit is stirring many in his Body to learn what love really means.  We know what the world thinks love is...  Love is a feeling.  It is strong and passionate at first and then it fades as time passes and things become familiar.  You can apparently love someone but not be IN love with them anymore (whatever that means).  But in the end, it boils down to how the other person makes you feel.  As soon as you "fall out of love", the world says you are free to move on.  According to the world, love comes with conditions.

That can't be right.

God IS love.

Shouldn't He be the One we look to so we may see what real love looks like?

Rather than cut and paste all of scripture here I challenge you to read through a gospel in whichever translation you prefer and watch how Jesus loved others.  It is amazing.  Take notes.  And then ask yourself if you love like that?  You will be challenged.

So what did I learn about how Jesus loved?

* he welcomed unplanned guests
* he answered people's questions
* he spoke for justice
* he sacrificed his own human needs
* he talked to people that most would not reach out to
* he asked questions
* he provided a big meal
* he had time to himself
* he discouraged grumbling between others
* he didn't judge by appearances
* he was merciful
* he pleased God
* he told the truth
* he was resourceful to meet a need
* he laid down his life for his sheep
* he cried over a loss
* he raised someone from the dead
* he let someone bless him
* he was a humble servant
* he washed his friends' feet
* he abides in the Father
* he loved
* he laid down his life

Hmmmm.  I am pretty sure the way I love according to a life I live for self has some of that and a whole lot of other conditions applied.  

I can't meet the needs of my family until my needs are met first.  I can't answer your question again because you have asked it 95,000 times already.  I can't talk to you in the parking lot because you look like you might mug me.  I can't tell the truth because it might hurt your feelings.  I can't invest in getting to know you because it will hurt when we move away.  I can't let you bless me because I am the servant.  I join in on the grumbling because I don't want to come across as self-righteous.  I am too good to bend down and "wash the dirt from your feet".  I don't have time to ask you questions about how you are doing because I spent so much time telling you about myself.  I can't show you mercy because you don't deserve it.  I can't have you over for dinner again because you have never invited me to dinner.  I can't meet your need because I don't have enough resources.


I have an ugly heart, people.  OK, so some of that was exaggerated but it is a wonder anyone can see God in me.  My life is all about me and it is time that changed.

When Jesus lived on earth, love was not a feeling.  It was not conditional on the people in his life.  Jesus loved at all times.  He put others before himself.

I want to love.  Really love.  No strings attached love.  I want to reach out to people and not worry about my schedule or finances or capabilities.  I want to be God's hands and feet and I want the people in my world to see His love for them.  They can't see Jesus if I make how I love all about me.  Loving one another has to be about him.  That is where the dying comes in.  When you die (to self), you are free to really LOVE.

It doesn't matter if they have hurt you or annoyed you or talked bad about you.  God commands us to love one another and it is time we really did it.

I really loved this passage in 1 John 3 and I leave you with this for now.

1 John 3:16-18 (ESV)

16 By this we know LOVE, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Now go love.  Love your spouse, your coworker, your father, your enemy, your if your life were not your own and your only aim was to show them Jesus.

More to come...

LOVE, part 1

They say death is a part of life.

What if death was life?

The world sends us messages every day.  It tells us what we need and want and must have.  It tells us we are worthy and special and entitled.  Even Burger King says "[I] can have it [my] way".  The world makes my life all about me.  I can be anyone I want to be.  I can do anything I want to do.  Life is what I make of it and then I die.  That seems so sad to me.  No wonder people fear death.  They make their whole life about themselves and then often beyond their complete control life ends without their say-so.

What if we died long before the end of our lives?  What if we willingly gave our lives up?  What if we lived every minute not for self?  Wouldn't that be completely opposite from the way the world chooses to live?  Perhaps that is exactly where we need to start.

I can hear it now.  "What does all of this have to do with love?  She has completely lost it."

When I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord my body became the temple of the Holy Spirit.  He lives in me.  Something dawned on me this week.  If I live my life for myself, how can anyone see God in me?  He is there.  I believe it.  But all too often I make my life about me.  My wants.  My needs.  My opinions.  I don't seek first the kingdom of God.  Don't get me wrong.  I invite him to be a part of my daily life.  But what if God was my whole life?  What would my life look life if I surrendered it all to him?  People would see God, that is what it would look like.  Every day it would be undeniable.  My life would look completely opposite than the world defines it.  With my death to self comes His life.  And if they see  God in me, they see LOVE.

I think about a girl who lives in Uganda and has given her whole life to God.  Even as Christians we look at that and think "Wow, how could she do that?  Give up her "life of luxury" and move to a poor country indefinitely?"  Her life is not her own.  She died long ago.  So when we see Katie Davis, we see God's LOVE and we can't deny it.  It looks different from the world.

What if every Christian lived that way?  Not move to an African country (to serve the poor and take in orphans) per se but chose to die so that He could fully live in them.  When you take yourself out of the spotlight of your own life it is amazing what comes naturally from the Spirit.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  When we only give God a portion of our life to try and squeeze His Spirit into, it often gets drowned out by self, by the cares of this world.  Our attempt at love, joy, peace, etc. by our own strength seems to reflect the world's definitions of those things rather than God Himself.  Even striving to be kind/good/gentle for the right motives (to please God) makes our life about us.  It is not until we die to ourselves that we see Him living in us. 

I hope someone will speak at my memorial service someday and say, "Today we are thankful for her life because it was not her own.  She actually died (long ago) in 2012 and after that all we saw was God's love."  Wouldn't funerals be a lot more joyful?  OK, maybe they would still be sad, but if we had died to self long before the end our own life God would be seen in our life and death.  We wouldn't be remembered as a "good person".  When they knew us on earth, they knew God because our life completely reflected who he is.  I want to live like that. 

You know who else lived like that?  Jesus.  He came to earth to sacrifice his own life to save us from our sin.  He made a way for us to come to God and have a relationship with him.  But while he was here, she showed us how to live.  He showed us how to really LOVE.  
More to come... 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

class four: veteran resource parent

God is always good. 

I am sure if I had a chance to share here last night you would have been vomited on with information.  His timing is always perfect.  We are halfway finished with our eight week training course to become foster parents.  We learn more each week and are thankful for this time to prepare for reality.

Yesterday was a veteran resource (the up-and-coming name to replace "foster" because of it negative association) parent who shared some of her story and what to expect from the experience.  She and her husband have adopted three sibling sets through the foster care system in our county.  She said they started fostering while they were waiting to get pregnant naturally after five years of marriage.  After awhile they realized that this was God's plan for growing their family.  They now have six kids who were all once foster children.  She is a rock star.

I am not going to lie.  She shared some scary stuff but it was all honest and helpful.  After 20 years of fostering, she was a wealth of knowledge.  And since each set of kids joined her family in twos (at varying age stages) she had experience to answer all kinds of questions.  There were many joys too (which could still be considered scary).  

She talked about how she kept a journal.  My Love wrote a note on my paper reminding me of how I did that when I was a nanny years ago.  It was amazing to see how far a 7 month year old had come after two years of writing down his daily milestones for his working parents.  I am excited to have evidence of the miracles God will do in the lives of the children he places with us.  We will celebrate every step in growth he allows us to witness.

She boldly made a statement I needed to hear clearly.  "All of the children who have ever been placed with us have been sexually abused.  And I would venture to guess is you lined up 90 foster parents, 89 of them would say the same thing."  We aren't talking "most" anymore.  This is something we will need to expect.  (cue the freaking out grandparents).  In the initial introductions, we mentioned our desire to keep with birth order (there are different schools of thought on the topic).  To be honest I was still open to breaking open the box we might of be putting God in if they called us with an older child (but still preschool age).  This woman agreed with the plan for our family.  She thought the foster child should always be the youngest in the family with natural born children present.  I think that confirmation solidified our hearts on the topic.

The stories she shared about the lives her children had before they came to her were heartbreaking.  One woman was planning to give her son to her girlfriend as a gift so she put her friend's last name on the birth certificate.  One woman (maybe the same one?) named her son Devil and told him he had the devil in him.  His birth sister was named Angel.  Um...yeah that would leave some lingering issues in a person.  All of her kids had issues with food.  One boy in particular would ask at every meal/snack IF they would eat again.  And there have been attachment issues.  One of their daughters has been in their family since 3 years old and is no 11 but she said is the least attached to them as parents.  "It took six months before she smiled and boy did we celebrate that first one!"

She has had the benefit of decades of years behind her with some of the older kids.  She knows had they stayed in the situations they were in they would have lived very different and hard lives.  She admitted that they will each have issues for the rest of their lives.  It is not like a warm bed and loving parents will cure any length of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.  In fact, abuse sprung up in her household between an older boy and younger girl (cue freaking out me).

But something happened last night.  I took in all the information and felt completely covered in prayer.  There were no tears on the ride home this time, just praising God.  The woman shared what her oldest son was up to now.  At 28 he was married and doing well.  However he is covered in tattoos and has gauges in his ears (not that there is anything wrong with that).  But she described it as an outward expression of his unworthiness and his desire to keep reinventing himself to be loved.  "Nothing will ever fill that void inside him," she said.  I turned and looked toward My Love agreeing that we knew the One who could.  "Except God!" she added after a short pause.  I let out a whisper-yell from the back-ish row, "Amen!"  And that is when it hit me.  Satan would like nothing else but for us to panic and worry and fill our minds with anxious thoughts about the what-ifs.  I choose not to do that.  I choose to think about who God is and prepare ourselves to tell each child over and over and over who He says they are.  I am completely ill-equipped to deal with any of the other abuse, but I know I can share God's love with a hurting child.  His love is the only thing that will heal their wounds anyway.  Hey.  God's love!  Isn't he amazing?!  I have been studying the gospel of John this week and am excited to share all he has taught me that is changing my life about how I should be loving others.  See you on Sunday about that one. 

When I got in the car to drive home, a song came on the radio by Brandon Health called "Your Love".  I cranked up the volume obnoxiously loud for the chorus.  How does he do that?

But Your love
Your love
The only thing that matters is Your love
Your love is all I have to give
Your love is enough to light up the darkness
It’s Your love
Your love
all I ever needed is Your love

I am so thankful that I know His love and am excited to share it with the children we come to know and love in our home.

Our home study is this coming Monday.  Keep praying.  We feel each prayer lifted on our behalf.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

soap box: love

It has been awhile since I have stepped up here.  You know, on my soap box.  Every once in a while something becomes so passionate in me that I have to share so that I won't forget.  If you aren't in the mood to hear me preach it, skip this one.  It might be hard for some to read...

Love has been on my mind lately.  Not romantic love, but real godly love.  I think it probably sparked inside me during our foster parenting classes.  What does it mean to really love someone like Christ did?  Once I figure that out I think that is how I will choose to love the children who come to stay with us.  Since we can have no expectation that our love will be returned, it has to be selfless and without conditions.  This might be surprising, but some of the children might hate living with our family.  I know.  Shocking.  But really we have to learn how to love them anyway.  We have to model for them Christ's love.  

As he often does, God started bringing up the topic of love to me through other people.  First my friend, wrote this post.  Then my former pastor started sharing devotional thoughts and scriptures about the idea of love on Facebook.  This morning you guessed it, our pastor taught on love from the "love chapter", 1 Corinthians 13.  Clearly God wants me to chew on the idea.

Unfortunately it has also brought my attention to feelings of disappointment in others.  This would be the time when I could say "the American Christian church as a whole does not know what it means to love" but I won't.  Well I guess I just did, but I won't elaborate.  My thoughts have been thinking more close to home.  We all give excuses why we can't love... I'm afraid of commitment.  I have been lied to, cheated on, ignored.  That guy really annoys me at work.  My Dad wasn't there growing up.  She gossips.  He brings too much drama.  I can't possibly forgive her.  I'm busy.  I'm busy.  I'm busy.

I've heard so many excuses lately.  Seriously people, you have to choose to love.  First you have to know how Christ loved and then you just have to do it.  You have to love EVERY ONE.  Make effort.  Really love them.  Not be nice to most people but totally resent that one family member who hurt you.  Not serve in your church but be rude to the tired waitress who mixed up your order.  Not give up something for lent but just live in your own little world.

Do you know how easy it would have been for God to stay up in heaven and yet expect us to figure out how to come to him?  But he didn't.  He came to us and loved us in spite of ourselves.  He showed us how to love.  Really love.  Why do we think any pile of excuses can give us a free pass to get out of really loving someone?  Why do we let years pass by without making intentional connections with the people God have placed on our paths?

I challenge you to learn how Christ loved and do it.  That is what I am going to do.  Other than the Wednesday update after our foster care class, I won't be on here for the next week.  I need to study what it means to love.  Love my husband, my kids, my parents, my sisters, my in-laws, my neighbors, my far away friends, my soon-to-be friends, and every other person I see each day of my life.  I need to really get this.

At the end of the week I would like to hear what you learned about the way Christ loved.  Get ready to share because you know I will.

I'll close with a story I heard on the radio the other day.  A woman was recalling her lunch with a friend who had lost her husband.  She asked the recent widow what she would share with others who wanted to know how to help someone going through a similar tragedy.  Her friend's response stuck with her.  It went something like this...  When someone suffers a loss don't tell them "let me know if you need anything".  They can't even think about what they need in the next ten minutes while grieving much less be mindful enough to ask someone for help to meet it.  Just do.  Bring a meal, mow their lawn, pick up an extra gallon of milk at the store.  

Love without waiting to be asked.  Love before they seek your forgiveness.  Love without even knowing their name.

Don't you think that is how God would want us to show his love to this lost and dying world in need of a Savior that we know?  I do.  And I want to be like that.

When did we make love about us instead of completely about HIM?

See you back here next Sunday.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

our family anthem for 2012

I was going back to label some of my old posts and found this one I never published.  It came at a time in early January when I was sharing other important song-videos and didn't want to have it get lost in the shuffle.  I guess it is time to take a listen to the anthem I thought our family should follow into 2012.  This one is for me.

who are you?

I won't lie.  My four year old son has been running me ragged lately.  He challenges my every word and chooses defiance over obedience.  Sometimes I just look at him and ask out loud (or in my head), "Who are you?"  I feel like I tell him over and over again that when Mommy/Daddy gives him an instruction he needs to obey it.  Not give excuses or delay in response or pretend he doesn't hear me or offer a better idea or negotiate consequences or get distracted.  Sigh.  Just listen and obey.

While I was particularly frazzled while trying to take them out on a fun adventure, I realized something big and my heart sank.

He is four.

I am thirty.

And God tells me over and over again that he has a purpose for my life.  He wants me to listen to and obey his word.  He has proved himself faithful and worthy of my trust.  And yet I defy.  I want to see the big picture and I question his plan.  I give excuses and delay in response because I think I know better.  I sit silently pretending I didn't hear that instruction because I know it might hurt.  I try to negotiate a better idea because I feel out of control.  I think my plan is more thought out.  I wiggle in my chair and get distracted by whatever idol I give my focus to above him in this moment.

He tells me to trust him.  To listen to him.  To obey his words.

And I fail.

Suddenly I am thankful for my four year old boy.  I mean, of course I am.  But today I am reminded that My Father never gets frazzled or run ragged by my 30 years of disobedience.  The Holy Spirit breathes peace and patience.  He never looks at me with his head tilted and asks, "Who are you?" but rather says, "I made you so trust in who you KNOW that I am!"


His grace is overwhelming.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

class three

My head was spinning last night.  First because I had a pounding headache and second because there was just so much to process at our third training meeting.  I have come to really enjoy my solo drive to and from the class on Tuesday evenings.  My Love meets me there after work and so drives himself home.  I cried all the way back to our house last night.  I am overwhelmed.

I am not exactly sure what the theme of the training was called.  It was taught by the director of Social Services.  She had a lot of experience and an amazing memory.  I kept looking at My Love when she would tell stories about particular children in foster care and rattle off the exact dates that situations happened.  For the third straight time, we went around the room introducing ourselves and sharing why we were there.  There have been new additions to the group and it has been helpful to get to know everyone a little more.  There have been some faces missing too.  The group is dwindling down.  And some have admitted that they may not actually move forward with foster care when the training is done.  We shall see.

The director read a kind of story about what a child goes through when they are taken from their family and put into foster care.  What they might be thinking.  An experience from the child's perspective.  One line in particular really got me thinking.  The child drives up to a big house where there are a Mom and Dad and kids standing on the front porch smiling excited to welcome this child into their home and this is exactly the worst day of the foster child's life.  They are terrified.  My prayers are changing.

There was much talk about abuse.  They have promised there will be more to come.  Sexual abuse is really common.  I needed to hear that because it can be easy to pretend that it might not affect us.  I turn my face away when she shares another story of a two year old.

My mind started thinking two things.  How could anyone be so cruel and evil?  And what are we getting ourselves into?

I don't think I can even explain how my heart is changing.  On one hand I mourn the idea that Bundle Boy and Babydoll are about to lose their innocence.  They are about to be introduced to a hard, wicked world that would cause a child pain.  That would chose not to love a child.  That would dispose of them.  On the other hand I feel so thankful that God has given my children this gift to learn compassion and how to think beyond themselves and to be eye witnesses to why we all need a Savior.

We road the elevator down with a young-ish couple without children.  They hope they can foster a baby who they can adopt.  I hope their hearts aren't going to be broken.  Can you imagine fostering a baby from birth and then saying goodbye 18 months later?  That would be hard enough for me, but for it to be your only child at home...  Breathe.  We are praying for them.  They are Christians and I hope God is preparing their hearts too.

The teachers of the training have told us time and time again that in 99% of the cases the ultimate goal is for the child to return to their birth parent.  (Trust me that you don't even want me to share an example of the 1%.)  Obviously that may not happen but that is what the social workers are working toward.  No matter how badly they have been hurt by their parents, the child will want to be back with them.  No matter if we can provide a better life for them, they will want to be with their birth family.  We are preparing our hearts.  We are choosing to love and nurture and pray over each child that God blesses us with.  All the while trying to prevent our hearts from dreaming that they will be in our family forever.  How does one do that?  I am hopeful that they will teach us how to prepare our children for as much. A year is a long time in a 2-year old's life.  How does Babydoll say goodbye to a child she has grown up with?  Breathe.

There was another bit where we read on slips of paper scenarios that we tried our best to answer and then we watched a video.  It was 15 minutes of text flashing across the screen and the periodic sound of children's voices reading some of the lines.  It was powerful and moving and heartbreaking.  What some children go through is overwhelming.

How?  Sniff.

In the back of my head I hear a loud screaming telling me "DON'T DO THIS!"  I know it is not the voice of truth.  I mean, how could I not do this?!

There is much to process.

Up until now we have been somewhat consumed with preparing us for a new addition.  Our thoughts have shifted.  It is time to start thinking about the child.  The scared, broken, angry, lost child.  Does it really matter what our hearts might go through?  Wouldn't God want us to love them with reckless abandon even if they don't love us back?  It can be easy to look at all we have to offer and assume any child would be happy to fall right into line with our family.  Why would they possibly trust me?  There will be many tears and we have to be okay with that.

Once back at home together, My Love said, "On the drive home I just thought about how much we need to be praying for these kids."

I have no idea what it feels like to be scared, broken, angry or lost.  I can not understand what it means to have no family.  Can you imagine?  To be full of pain and be all alone.  To have no one to trust.

I envision lots of holding of little ones just speaking the name of Jesus.  Telling them over and over again as they cry how much he loves them and cares for them and sees them.  Only the Father can bring them comfort in a lifetime of pain so we will gladly point them to the cross.


I know all of this sounds hard but really it has been really good for us.  We are learning a lot and believe it or not we are still excited about this journey.

My friend who has been staying with the children has been hit with what appears to be some spiritual warfare.  Someone is trying to keep her from being a part of this process but she keeps showing up and we are thankful for her commitment.  Pray for her.

We have scheduled a home study.  Pray for us on March 19th at 1pm EST.  My Love will be taking the time away from work (yay!) to be here even though they said he didn't have to.  They will take a tour of our house and sit down to ask us some questions.  We can't wait.

I also wanted to make clear something as I move forward.  For obvious reasons, I will not be able to share any details about the children staying with us.  You will never see a photo of them posted.  You will never hear the reasons why they entered foster care.  But I will share.  I will share our joys and our struggles.  I will need your prayers.  I will be faithful to tell you how the Lord is answering them.  Thanks for following us as we take this step of faith.  God is always good even when we are in the midst of processing.

Monday, March 5, 2012

break open the skies

I could dance around my family room singing this song all day long if I didn't have other things to do.

God has been busy repeating himself again.  This time I keep hearing that "there is power in His name".  The name of Jesus is powerful.  I chew on that often.

The song I shared above is one of my favorites right now.  I especially like the chorus.  It helps that I am a visual person. 

And He'll break open the skies 
to save Those who cry out His name  
The one the wind and waves obey  
Is strong enough to save you

Don't you just love that imagery?  Breaking up the sky for me.  A name that the wind and waves obey.  Beautiful. 

Off to dig up a hymn that comes to mind at this moment.  Enjoy the song.

note: Did you see the "lift up your head" reference there near the end of the song?  God is cool like that.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

always again

A LONG time ago I remember sharing this song but I can't seem to find when/where I posted it.  The chorus really spoke to me back then.

But I believe always, always
Our savior never fails
Even when all hope is gone
God knows our pain
And his promise remains.
He will be with you always

Today I was exploring some of Roku's channels in the "Religious" section and stumbled across a channel of Christian music videos.  I added it and then watched a few videos of music I like before rediscovering this song.  They don't play it on the radio here any more.   Always by Building 429.

I teared up when I saw how the official music video depicted the lyrics in the video.  Never did I take that meaning from the song.  God was already planting the seed way back when.

Please pass the tissue.


comforted by failure

As a kid growing up in the church, I remember asking God into my heart multiple times so he could forgive my sins in case He didn't hear me last time.  I don't know why I did that.  I guess I just saw other people at summer camps and youth rallies having radical transformations and maybe I thought I did it wrong before.  

As a maturing believer, I am now thankful for a life testimony that was gently held by the Lord. Yes, it is true that I don't have any "big" sins for which my God saved me from and perhaps that was holding me back in my walk with him.  I am not saying you have to really mess up to be really saved.  I am just saying that maybe I needed to truly see my need for a Savior to completely understand his grace in my life.

When I was a child praying in the quiet of my heart at those alter calls that the Lord would save me from all my sins: past, present, future, I guess I thought that was it.  And it was.  Jesus died once for all.  In my mind, the act of salvation had occurred.  The rest was on me to do and say the best that I could.  It was my responsibility to make good choices that modeled what was in the Bible.  I made being a Christian about me.

Something happened this past year though.  God showed me my daily need for his grace.  (note: obviously there was other growth in my process of sanctification between 10 years old and 30).  He put a mirror in front of my face and asked me if I was ready to let him live in all parts of me.  Was I willing to surrender my whole heart to him so he could mold and shape it for his glory?

I have never confessed my sin so much as I have this past year.  Not even in those blanket prayers way back in my elementary school days.

When you live in the light of Christ, there is nothing you can do or say that is ever good enough to earn his love.  His love is a free gift.  And yet I feel so unworthy to even accept it.  I ask him time and time again to forgive my selfishness and pride and need for control.  That he would take away my ugly heart and ungratefulness and harsh words toward those I love.

I don't repent because I question my salvation.  I ask God to forgive my specific daily sins in the moment because I know I am unworthy of his unending grace.  His grace abounds and I yet I continue to fail.  It is frustrating.

Just this week I wrote an email to a friend trying to encourage her in a personal prayer request she sent me.  By the next day I was struggling in the very thing I had been praying for her about.

My Love and I were barely talking on the way to church.  I sat in worship feeling broken.  Why do I do the very thing I don't want to do?

I came before my Savior again repenting of my ingratitude of all he has done for me.  My attitude implies that it is not enough.  I need more.  Oh but he is enough.  He is more than enough.

We drove home with few words spoken between us.  I want to ask forgiveness of my husband but why do I always have to be the first?  Why am I feeling convicted all the time?

The day goes on and I reach for my God Calling to break through the sound of my own annoying voice in my head.

Yesterday's entry read:
"Think of Me.  Look at Me often, and unconsciously you will grow like Me.  You may never see it.  The nearer you get to Me, the more will you see your unlikeness to Me.  So be comforted, My children.  Your very deep sense of failure is a sure sign that you are growing nearer to Me.  And if you desire to help others to Me, then that prayer-desire is answered.  Remember too, it is only struggle that hurts.  In sloth, spiritual, or mental, or physical, there is no sense of failure or discomfort, but with action , with effort, you are conscious not of strength but of weakness--at least, at first.  That again is a sign of Life, of spiritual growth.  And remember, My Strength is made perfect in weakness."

Um.  Wow.

How does he do that?!  I have never been so thankful to feel like a failure as I do today.  I really was comforted by my own weakness.  I guess it just means I am growing nearer to God and seeing how unlike him I really am.  I need him.  Oh the joy in eucharisteo!

It is a heart-aching place to be though.  I don't want to sin against God or my husband.  But every time I acknowledge that failure, I can more fully accept his grace in my life.  I can have a better understanding for my need of a Savior.  

My life has been transformed.  Perhaps it came in the form of a delayed reaction (like 20 years late), but it has been no less radical.

i'm with you

I have heard this song on the radio one hundred times before.  Today my heart truly listened.  Am I prepared to sing these words?
Casting Crowns- Praise You In the Storm

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls

I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away


And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands 

For You are who You are
No matter where I am

And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side

And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth