Wednesday, January 23, 2013

he knew in 2012

He knew that we would ring in the New Year with our good friends from Florida.  That M would be able to extend his time with family during R&R by bringing them here to stay with us after Christmas.  He even knew that M would have to say his final goodbyes suddenly during Brother's birthday party and that J would need the love of friends nearby.  That whole visit was a huge gift and he knew.

He knew that Brother would get an ear infection and that we would have to cancel his planned birthday party.  He knew that Brother would respond with grace and that it would speak volumes to the loved ones looking on.  He knew the time of the postponed celebration and how much sweeter it turned out to be.  His plans are always better than our own.

He knew that when he painted the night sky so beautifully pink that I would know in my heart how his love for me is more than enough.  His creation continues to overwhelm me.

He knew how much I depended on coffee to get me to a place each day where I could even talk to God let alone hear from him.  He knew I would choose to give it up (and later caffeine in general) one year ago so that I could have a better understanding of what it means to ABIDE in him.  I am still learning what it means to depend on God with my everything.  He would be able to wake me up each day better than coffee every could.

He knew all the ways that he would show me that he was putting tools in my belt as I put on the whole armor of God for the battle that I anticipated would be before us.  He knew how my heart would hear clearly whenever he repeated himself.  Oh how I clung to his word through scripture and song.

He knew that we would pause to think about all the life experiences that God walked us through to prepare us to be open for foster care.  He opened out eyes to his faithfulness in situations that we didn't know had eternal value.  He is so good to gently lead us if we will only be willing to follow.

He knew that I would need to be gently reminded to be preparing for the joy that would come with foster care and not just the heartache.  I am so thankful for those words from a dear friend to lift my eyes back up and I pose them back at her now.  Are YOU seeing the JOY today?

He knew that Michelle would have a seizure that night after the super bowl.  He knew the helpless feelings of panic we would have and the peace that he would give us in the unknowns.   He is the God who sees what we don't.  We practiced how to trust our Lord with our Babydoll's very life.

He knew that we would start our foster parenting classes and he knew every name of the people who would be sitting in that class with us.  He knew that W would be available to watch our kids for eight weeks of training when we didn't really know anyone else in our new neighborhood.  He knew all the amazing topics we would cover while being educated and how each one would stretch and prepare our hearts for the journey we anticipated.

He knew that Babydoll would go on to have another seizure 17 days later.  He knew that we would first believe that they were febrile seizures.  And he knew that she would sometimes have them without illness or fever at all.  We knew that in the midst of the scary moments of visits with her pediatrician and anticipating the next one that Elohim was on the throne and knew everything about the beautiful girl He created.

He knew how broken I would feel knowing the pain before us while going through the weekly training for foster care.  It was all a part of the process necessary for us to walk through.

He knew that learning what it meant to really love like Christ (in parts 1,2, & 3) would be something that would weigh heavy on my heart throughout the year.  Oh I have so much more to learn on this topic.

He knew that Babydoll would be sick on the day of our first scheduled home study.  He knew that the second meeting time would need to be postponed again on the part of the social worker.  And he even knew the exact day that it was meant to actually happen.  Why do I ever question this sovereign plan?  His is always perfect and complete.

He knew that we would not be content going on living our relatively calm lives.  He planted something in us that would physically feel that a piece is missing and that we would long to let Him fill it with whatever best pleases him.  Ten months later, this post gives me chills.

He knew that he would slowly be planting in my heart a desire to make our family a home for more children.

He knew that we would begin the waiting process that would linger longer than we ever imagined.  He was present in the waiting and he is present still.  We know that today we don't need to wait to serve him.  His timing is perfect and complete and we don't have to wait to live for the some day.

He knew the violent sting I would feel to read the words meant to reconcile a relationship.  He knew the anger.  The sadness.  The all consuming pain.  He knew the walls that needed to come down. The pride that needed to be crumbled. He also knew the healing that needed to be done.  It was successful because he did it and I didn't even realize there was anything that needed to be fixed in the first place.  He continues to refine me and I am forever grateful for this experience. 

He knew the name of the boy who didn't know His.  And yes my heart still aches and prays for him.  And yes Brother sill mentions him.  Oh to KNOW the power behind the name of Jesus.  May I forever speak it boldly! 
He knew that we would officially start homeschooling Brother this year.  He knew I would need to be encouraged and see his confirmation from time to time.  For that I am so thankful that we chose to follow him in obedience for our family.

He knew that I would make the long drive to our state's homeschool convention by myself on the wrong weekend.  And then to return on the right date a week later.  He walked me through that lesson in obedience and I am better for it.  It amazes me how intimately involved he continues to be in my ordinary life. 

He knew how often I would see him speaking to me in the normal every day things of life, like when Brother got shots earlier this year.  Parenting is such a huge gift that God uses daily to teach me more about his love and grace. 

He knew that Babydoll would first fracture her tiny little arm after falling out of bed and then have her third seizure days later just to wind up with pink eye.  Poor girl.  We learned to trust him more and more each time our sweet angel was put in her maker's capable hands.

He knew that I would need to remember to see his gifts in the every day ordinary.

He knew that our friends (the growing Reynolds family) would be bringing home their fifth child--third adopted from a far off countryOh how I have seen their obedience speak volumes of how God loves.  They have been instrumental in this chapter of our lives in so many ways.  We rejoice that he always knew that Adonias, Misgana, and Sidise would be a part of their family.  Oh the joy in praying for each member of their family this year!  

He knew that I would come to the end of myself in a moment at the dinner table while acting as a single parent one night.  He would show me my desperate need for His strength.  That the more I die the more he lives through me.

He knew that I would need to feel moments of brokenness over my sin so that I could learn to surrender more to him. 

He knew what the root sin in my life was all along and he gently shined his light on it so I could see how entangled it was in all areas of my life.  My eyes were opened and I am thankful that he knew I was ready to see it so that I might be able to walk it out in victory with him.

He knew that this conversation would be a turning point in his revelation to my heart of the future for my family.  The seeds had been quietly planted in the weeks prior, but there was a moment in the phone call that my heart flipped and God whispered "yes!"  Oh how he loves me.  And because of this lesson we know that even though waiting is hard, it would be disobedient to move forward without Him.  Thank you for the gift of your friendship KB.

He knew that this conversation would be another turning point in accepting that the reason for pursuing foster care doesn't have to make sense.  Even if we never get a placement, we still obeyed God.  He has been growing our family during this chapter in so many ways seen and unseen.
He knew that "it may never happen for us " was not an acceptable long term attitude for me to stay in regarding foster care.  But once I trusted that his will was perfect even if I didn't understand it, he showed up and reminded me that he is in charge after all and to keep praying.  He's cool like that. 

He knew that we had a sacred history that he wrote and wanted us to speak out loud often so that we would be reminded of all that he has done.  So our children would hear stories of their heritage and feel a part of our history too.

He knew that My Love would be given an offer for his next job before he even left active duty.  That was such an answer to prayer that we were blessed to have early.  He knew also that the offer wasn't the end of the journey of new employment for My Love.  He knew that we would spend 80 days together before his job transition after ten years of active duty service.  Oh what a treasured gift that time spent together was!
He knew all that he wanted to teach me in my women's Bible study on marriage.  It was several months of hard heart work that our marriage benefited from greatly.

He knew that Babydoll would have her fourth seizure while out of our care at Vacation Bible School.  He was there with her and he placed our loving friend there at that exact moment to care for her needs.  This experience finally opened our eyes to the idea of making her disorder aware to anyone we might leave her in the care of. 

He knew that we would cancel our date night and Babydoll would have her fifth seizure.  Had we not felt conviction about saving our money for another time, Babydoll would have seized right before the babysitter was to come over.  We are learning to hear his clear voice even in the little things and praise him when we realize how if we just listen he desires to direct our steps.  How thankful we were to be home with her in her time of need.

He knew that I had to experience feelings of hopelessness in marraige before I could see the beauty of his promises.  

He knew that we would be referred to be seen by a pediatric neurologist while My Love still have active duty benefits.  A huge praise!  He knew that our Babydoll would need an MRI and EEG at just two years old.  He knew what the scan results would be long before the doctors even learned how to read one in medical school.

He knew that the movie Titanic would be used to speak volumes to my heart about acting in obedience swiftly without wasting time trusting the Maker. 

He knew that she would have a sixth seizure after throwing up at church, we hosted friends for lunch, and I had left home to help a friend in need.  He knew that day would be full of lessons for our willing hearts to understand.  I heard clearly from the Lord that day and even recently reflected on more lessons gleaned about boundaries and respect from the day he knew would happen before the beginning of time. 

He knew that the physician that cared for Babydoll would diagnose her with a mild seizure disorder based on clear scan results and the fact that a few seizures did not have significant fever or illness present.  We trusted the doctor's word.  We decided to pick up the medication he prescribed.  He knew that I wouldn't feel at peace after we made that decision.  So we decided not to give her the prescription after all.  We don't know what her future will hold on the matter, but he knows.  It has been three months since her last seizure--the longest stretch between two since February 2012.  Praise God!

He knew the pain that would fill our hearts to experience and witness several fractured relationships with loved ones this past year.  He knows how to heal each of them.  And we pray daily for softened hearts to desire forgiveness and reconciliation.  

He knew that the phone would ring, that she would chose them, that we would rejoice together in his miracle work after years of prayer.  He knew that this child in the end would not be coming home with them.  That she would call me.  That we would cry together over the phone just as we had once rejoiced.  I can't wait to see Jesus someday so I can thank him to his face for the priceless gift of that 15 minute phone call.  He knew that my sister would be getting married and I would be traveling to the left coast for such a time as this.  To hug on and listen to my dear dear friends.  To hold their hands while the three of us prayed on the floor of their nursery.  We may never know answers to the whys.  But God is always good and I know that they will be parents to a perfectly timed precious gift from God.  Oh how he loves them!

He knew all the many songs of praise that would speak straight to my heart that I ended up sharing here.  He knew the scripture that would jump off the page to show me that he is alive and that he hears my call.  And most of all he knew that so many of you would be praying for our family and reading this little blog while walking the journey of 2012 with us.

Even though we didn't know what this past year had in store for us, we are secure in knowing that he always knew and oh how we love him.

Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

16 in 4

16 posts in four months?  How did that happen?!?!

I really do want to get back into blogging again and am starting to pray about what that will look like.  There is a lot to write about.  A lot to share here.  But until it feels right, I'm not sure where to start.  Or when to.

So I continue to wait.  I wait for time and inspiration because it will come.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

in the new year, 2013

**temporary post

Once again God has put things on my heart as one year comes to a close and another starts anew in order to lead me in the direction he wants me to go.  In years past, there have been several areas I have felt led to focus growth in.  This year feels all together different.  God is being concise with me and so I have chosen to bring my goals for 2013 to come under two major umbrellas.


To be continued...

a year in review, 2012

About this time one year ago, I wrote down several key things I felt like God wanted me to work on and pray for in 2012.  Here is my look back at those goals.  Enjoy.
----------------------------------------------------------------------- *ABIDE:  I feel strongly that this year will be about learning how to abide.  To make God the focus of every moment and to pray in every circumstance.

Learning to abide in Him was definitely a reoccurring theme this past year for me.  You don't realize how much you compartmentalize the Lord in your life until you know what it feels like to need him every hour.  I am hopeless without Him.  I didn't go as far as tattooing it on my body but I did use a sharpie on my wrist to remind me on a few occasions.  I thought that was better than writing it on my child's forehead. Check out the jewelry J's friend had made.  So cool.  Awww yes.  To abide in Him is my [daily] life goal.

                                                                                                (friend of a friend)

*BOLDNESS:  I have a feeling this will be a continual theme.  The years of "silent witness" seem to be behind me.  It has become easier for me to speak the name of Jesus but God has provided an all together new opportunity for me this year.  I am excited to see what God does in a new friendship with an unbeliever.

I'm not exactly sure I can say this goal was fulfilled this year.  God faithfully provided many opportunities to speak his name boldly in regular conversations with my friend but I know I could do better here.  Much of the fruit here might be unseen at this point.

*DIE TO SELF: It has become very clear to me that the only way God's love can flow through me to the lost and broken is for me to surrender all of me.  It is not easy.  I am a work in progress.  But I am hopeful by the end of this year I will be able to look in the mirror and see less of me and more of Him.  With disappointments, heartache, chaos, disruption, unpredictability on the horizon my focus can not be on what I want for this day if God is going to use me.
One of the biggest things I have learned in this area is that it is not really an attainable goal that can be measured at the end of the year.  It is a daily effort that I have to work hard at but the result is always fruitful.  

*PRAY: We spent 2011 learning to pray for the needs of others.  We were overwhelmed to watch God work and answer prayers in his timing.  Our faith was strengthened.  Each morning we would open up our journal and lift up the names of so many people in our lives.  Extended family, local friends, far away friends, our church.  Over the months new names/needs would be added.  God worked in many who didn't even know we were praying.  He was faithful to show us more than once what He was doing.  With a little perspective, we have come to realize we let our own family's prayer needs fall by the wayside without intention this past year.  Is it possible we have been offering up other people's Isaac's and holding tight to our own?  2012 will be about learning to pray for ourselves very specifically.  To pray for each other's hearts and weaknesses.  To see God work in our marriage.  To witness more transformation as he answers each prayer in his timing.  We will still be praying for you all, but we are putting our names higher on the prayer priority list with a sense of urgency.  We expect we will be praying a lot more this year.  I guess that is how you learn to abide in Christ and He in you.
We have definitely learned how to pray for our immediate family's physical, emotional and spiritual needs this year.  But we also learned something new on the topic.  It is hard to want to pray for/with someone when you feel disconnected from them in the moment.  We want God to reign in our marriage even when we don't feel like being around each other and that has taken some practice.  Praying more intentionally for the needs of our own family has bound us together in a deeper way this year. 

*SERVE: I want to be willing to be used by God in our church and community however would best bring him glory.

We have gotten more involved in our church this year.  We have committed indefinitely to serve in the toddler nursery once a month.  It has allowed us to stake out some of the younger families in our Body which has been a bonus.  My Love volunteered to travel with a team from our church after Thanksgiving to New Jersey.  They helped muck out homes after Hurricane Sandy.  He continues to be an example to our family of having a true servant's heart and I hope to better follow his lead in this area in the new year.  We were certified to become foster parents in our county this year after an eight week training and a home visit.  We continue to wait for a placement and remain available to be used by God in this way when his timing is right. God has asked me to be more available to friendships in my community and that has probably been the biggest reason for the lack of blogging in recent months.  We see opportunities for serving people in our local community more in the new year.     

*HOSPITALITY:  I want our home to be open to any and every one who might need a place to stay/eat/live.  We honestly believe he gave us this house for his good purpose and we want the doors to be open to all at a moment's notice.  I guess I should learn how to be a better house keeper too then.  *sigh*  A bigger house means more work for me.  Cleaning does not make me jump for joy, people.  I can think of 100 other things I would rather do.  But I want our house to be available to be used by God at any time which means clutter needs to be addressed and bathrooms need to be maintained.  Perhaps I will learn to love cleaning for his glory.  How did this bullet point turn into doing house work?  Is My Love reading this?  Let's move on.  

I wouldn't say my love for housecleaning has increased.  Or that I clean any more often.  But I do feel as if I have been more eager to open my home at a moment's notice when an opportunity arises.  That sometimes means kid clutter and dog-hair bunnies and dirty dishes piled on the kitchen counter much too long, but fellowship still happens here and we love welcoming people in.  Friends and family from near and far are welcome. 

*READ: I need to make more time to read.  As an adult, I have learned how to get lost in a book and I hope the new year allows for more opportunities to do that.  Once again this brings focus to prioritizing better.  With the addition of foster children, many things at the bottom of the list will be sacrificed. Our marriage, children, home, friendships, prayer, loving, serving, blogging, and reading seem to be the only things worth preserving.  Kind of freeing actually.  

It took me a while to realize how much reading I actually did this year.  More than usual.  I did three devotional studies.  One with our women's Bible study (Enhancing Your Marriage by Judy Rossi).  One with our Life Group (Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas).  One with my sister via Skype (James: Mercy Triumphs by Beth Moore).  I also did A LOT of reading about foster care through the library.  Many, many educational and factual books about the System as well as books written by former foster children (The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave both by David Pelzer, Castaway Kid by R.B. Miller) and foster parents (Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison).  It consumed my down time for several months and I am thankful for all the information I was able to glean through the broad library resources.  And after two years, I finally got an opportunity to read Hope Unseen by Scotty Smiley whose brother is a friend of ours.  It is his written experience of becoming the first blind active duty solider and all that God did in and through him because of it.  I highly recommend it.  I also read Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis while traveling to see family.  It was definitely an inspiring tear-jerker. 

*DATE: Enough said.
We did do better about dates this year but they didn't actually look the way you might think.  Because our Life Group meets every other Friday evening, we hired a babysitter so we could participate.  We managed to sneak away for date on a few special occasions but it looks like 2013 might prove to be the best year for our dating life.  With new-old friends moving to the area in early December, we have already had the chance to swap babysitting each other's kids for free.  Oh yes.  I could see this being a very good arrangement indeed. 

*LOVE:  I want to learn to love how Christ loves.  To see others through his eyes.  
 Another work in progress that needs reminding.

*SALVATION:  We are praying for many to come to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord.  May this be the year that the Holy Spirit opens their eyes and hearts of those we have been lifting to Him.  Will you join us by praying with confident expectation for the lost that God has put in your lives?  
Our prayers are continually lifted on the behalf of many loved ones.  He is Sovereign.  His timing is perfect and complete.

*BOUNDARIES:  With all this serving and hospitality we have learned some very important lessons.  We need boundaries.  We need firm priorities that are not affected by constant changes in the wind and rain of the storms coming.  This is a time sensitive goal.  With every long term house guest has come opportunities to learn this concept.  God has been good to show us this need before the abnormal becomes normal.  With boundaries and structure in priorities the unexpected that will fall in our laps will be less likely to blow us down.  We choose to cling to our foundation and each other.  Their can be peace in the chaos.  We choose to abide...and create boundaries.  

With My Love's lengthy stay home we had lots of opportunities to practice boundaries with our time and priorities.  We have learned that good communication helps this goal tremendously.  As well as understanding the overall mission of our family. 

*EDUCATION:  I REALLY want Brother to be in some kind of structured pre-K kind of schooling at home.  He is more than ready and I know if he has something in place the unpredictable days ahead will be less stressful for him...and me.  (temporary note: this Saturday is a homeschool gathering at our new church.  Perhaps this goal will be well underway sooner than I think)

Brother has been thriving since April with the kindergarten curriculum we have chosen for him this year.  We have created a good routine for schooling at home and it has been such a blessing for our entire family this year.  So far so good.

*STUDY:  My Love and I would like to do a Bible/book study together this year.  It has been a few years since we have done something like this.  I am hopeful it will open doors for better communication and deepen our connection.  We are both really excited to see what God will teach us together.  Have any book suggestions?
Our communication, connection, and understanding of each other continues to grow whenever we have a chance to do a study together.  Thankful that this year included several. 

And that is about it folks.