Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2015

This year is wrapping up and for us there have been many changes.  Changes that were born in our hearts November 2013 and finally came to fruition in July of this year.  We've had several small people rest under our roof for the past several months.  The room that was prepared for boys has housed mostly girls.  The two that we prepared for has turned into three. Young children turned into feisty teenagers.  Every single plan we had, every list, every "this is how we are going to do this"......He wrecked it.  As I think about it, I really don't know why I'm surprised.  He is the BOSS.

The days aren't always easy.  Truthfully, some are hard.  We referee disagreements.  We remind young people to say "thank you " (when it's the last thing they wish to utter.)  Laundry is 10 feet high and I haven't learned to hate it any less.   We sleep less and work more.  It isn't always "Beaver Cleaver" land under our roof.  The ugly truth is this is as hard as we anticipated and some days it is even harder.  BUT we didn't come into this thinking it was going to be a picnic and so far we haven't exceeded our own expectations. 

There are rewarding moments.  Moments when the family is restored. When the parents do the required work.  Moments when a 13 year old's happiest moment is sitting down to breakfast  with her family whom she hasn't shared a meal at home in months.  Moments when the 15 year old sends you the sweetest text telling you how much she appreciates all you have done for her.  When the 7 year old draws you a picture or ask you to read her a book.  When she learns a prayer and ask to pray every night before we eat as her tiny hands rests in yours.  When they tell you they "get a good feeling being here."  Those are the moments that make it all worth it.  It's the moments when God smiles and you catch a glimpse of it.

Christmas was a phenomenon.  We had inspections in the midst of the chaos.  One that no one showed up to inspect and we waited for an hour and a half with no call.  The hours I had spent preparing for that one person left me drained and my patience waning. It seems a phone call to cancel never entered their thought process.  It was simply "a break down in communication." I hate when that happens don't you?  We rallied though and piled 7 people into the truck with hot chocolate laden hands to sing "We wish you a Merry Christmas" to the drive through McDonald's worker who said we made her night.  We patrolled the neighborhoods for the best lights and watched Christmas movies that made us cry...or rather made me cry.  We ate our favorite dishes and hugged our favorite people.  We stayed up late into the night because we had no reason to get up early.

We wrapped gifts and our friends and family called for ideas.  The 1000 pictures we had stored on our phones went out in messages and God was good.  Gift wrap was knee deep and I have no idea where I will put all the things that came home with our little people.  My house is full to the brim. 
More importantly so is my heart.  Our people came.  They dug deep in their pockets for extra to meet needs.  They sewed late into the night.  They gave up family time on Christmas Day to come.     They blessed us.  That verse?  The one that says "'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"  You were.  You were doing it to were doing it for HIM.  And he smiled.  Thank you to all of you who thought of them, who thought of us.  It meant so much to Ken and I. You truly breathed the spirit of Christmas into our hearts and our home. You were such a blessing!

I always have these grand movies that play out in my head.  Christmas will look like this..This will happen like that..You know what?  It rarely does.  I'm learning as my sweet husband reminded me this Christmas Eve that everyone has a different movie playing and different doesn't have to mean wrong.  I guess when things aren't going like WE planned maybe God is at work.  It seems that he specializes in having a plan of his own and showing up in a hay bed surrounded by barn smells and animals wouldn't have been my idea of a grand entrance for a KING.... but then what do I know?


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Taking up our cross

This may be the scariest most vulnerable post I've ever written here.  I know many of you that we have confided in and asked to pray with us have voiced your concerns to others that "we haven't thought this through." and even some of those closest to us have stated "I think you have lost your mind."  Maybe we have.  But if so.... if this is losing our mind...(I can only speak for myself)  but I have never felt so right about anything in my life.

Back a while ago I posted this.  And a few months later I posted this.    Here we are and many days have been flipped on the calendar. Alot has happened.  I am amazed as I look back at how the Lord works.  How he knows the desires of our hearts because he places it there.  I am floored at how a thought can turn into a spark and how he fans it into a full blown flame.  I am humbled mostly at how he takes this mess of our lives and uses it for his glory, for his people, for his purpose.

Ken and I have decided to foster parent.  There was a time in our lives when Blake was younger that we felt led in this same direction.  Two training sessions in we decided that it wasn't the right time.  We had definite ideas about the environment we wanted to raise our son in. We agreed as a couple that having children in the same house with different rules and disciplinary methods were not something we were willing to navigate.  The disruption seemed too much of a compromise at the time and we discussed waiting until Blake was older, not ruling the idea out completely.  This may appear selfish to some or only thinking of our own child at the time but whatever your thoughts may be, it was our decision and we had our reasons.

Fast forward to last year.  My dad had passed away and I began to look at my life while I was grieving the loss of his.  I thought about death and mortality and my years here on this earth and why God even has me here to begin with.  I thought about my spiritual walk and my church and I started asking myself questions.  I started asking the Lord questions.  I turned to scripture to answer these questions and what I read was not lining up with what I was doing, how I was living, or who I was living for. I was hungry for more.  I wanted to stop talking about my faith and start living it out in a tangible way.

So I started to write about these things here and in my journal and I started to pray and discuss with my husband how we could make an intentional effort to live out our faith.  How just going to church didn't seem enough anymore.  We were excited but afraid at the same time.  God is kinda known for taking you places you may not necessarily be looking to go :)

The foster parenting idea began to weigh on my mind again.  I quickly dismissed it.  Our son is grown.  We are older.  I mentioned it to my husband as a possibility and he dismissed it quickly for the same reasons I had thought of already.  We were entering a different time in our life.  Time for us.  Our nest would soon be coming full circle.

We were in revival in November and over the past several months the thought of fostering had continued to weigh on my heart.  I would look at the heart gallery and see these kids who wanted a home so badly and my heart would break.  I didn't want to hound my husband to death with this call I felt that he obviously didn't and I knew this decision would take both of us being in agreement so I had let the idea rest.

One particular night Casey Johnson, our evangelist, preached a message called "A cause worth dying for." The scripture was actually based on David and Goliath but woven in were the causes we face in our world today.  Clean water, human trafficking, hunger, adoption, etc.  My heart was about to burst.  I felt fostering was our cause and the Lord was affirming that in my heart as the message unfolded.  At altar call I knelt in the corner of my pew and Ken went to the front of the church to pray.  I discussed with the Lord in my prayer time that I felt he was calling us to foster parent but I could not agree without my husband on board.  I prayed that if the Lord wanted us to do this that he would speak to Ken and have him approach me about it and that would be our confirmation. 
I returned to my seat after praying and Ken was still at the altar.  He motioned for me to come to the front and pray with him.  As I knelt there, he explained that after hearing the message he felt the Lord was calling us "to help some kids."  "I think we need to foster."  We prayed together right then.  Not knowing where, who or what the future held, I knew that God was in control of this situation and he had just confirmed it.

We are in training now.  We started this process in November but apparently although there is a huge shortage of homes for these kids, the process takes months and a lot of patience.  There are days that we are afraid of what the future holds.  Everyone doesn't think fostering kids is the best idea on the planet.  After all "some of them have lice"  and "they have to leave at some point, won't that be hard?"  "Some of these kids have problems."  They show up at all hours of the night." All of this is true and yet it hasn't changed our minds.  Strangely I've never been more sure that I was in the will of God than I do about this.

We pray about the days ahead.  I often pray for the child that is coming and their first night here.  I pray that we will be equipped to offer peace after a horrible day of being ripped from their parents and their home and how afraid and sad they will be.  I pray for the energy to deal with young children again.  I pray that we're not too old to do this.  I pray for understanding from our employers as we fall full blown into this.  I pray for peace as we watch our training videos and all the things that "could happen."  I pray for unfamiliar parenting strategies and the skills to incorporate them.  I pray for eyes to see birth parents through the eyes of Jesus. I pray that we can show the Father to the fatherless. That we can show love to the unloved.

I pray that you will watch this video.  And afterwards that you will think about how you can minister to orphans.  There are so many ways to do that even if you don't feel called to foster or adopt.  We as Christians claim to be pro-life.  We want mothers to avoid abortion.  We claim to believe that life is sacred.  It's easy to think it's someone else's responsibility to care for these children.  But Jesus said it is ours,  that we as the church are to care for them.

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress.  James 1:27

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Psalm 82:3

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:17


If nothing else, please pray for us as we finish our training and the waiting game.  Pray for the children that will come through our home. 

Pray that you will discover your cross and that you will pick it up and begin to follow him.  Whatever that cross may be.

If anyone serves me, let him follow me. John 12:25-26

And by follow I mean FOLLOW.  Not just in word...but in deed.

Make a difference for the kingdom.


Friday, February 7, 2014

A Foster Child's Memoir; Part II

I wasn't a foster child in the sense you are thinking.  But a "Foster" child I was.  My daddy gave me that name when I was born.  It may have changed when I married but the character traits remain.  There's a lot that goes along with being a "Foster."  Temper, opinions, strength, pride, compassion, determination.  Our clan can be as soft as we are hard.  As cold as we are hot. As kind as we are unreasonable.  The mold that makes up "us" is complex and often times misunderstood.  That's okay though because confidence is another trait we embody and if you like us you do and if you don't .....well, we are okay with that too.  If you stick around long enough to see through the rough stuff you will find we are the most compassionate, loyal people you will find.

I was born to Charles Foster and Dora Gillion in the fall of 67.  My parents married when my mom was very young.  By that time my dad had two other marriages under his belt. He was 10 years older than my mom, who was 14.  They had known each other a very short time.  Their life together as a couple would span 18 years and produce three children.  It would also produce love, laughter, faith, pain, joy and broken hearts.  I am the oldest of my siblings.  I've heard stories all my life of how my mom would buy me dresses and spend all her money on me before my sister and brother came along.  According to the stories I was pretty spoiled.  I pinched my aunt and spit on my uncle...or that's what they say.  Honestly I can't imagine still being alive if I had done those things but that's the rumor.  Somewhere along they way my parents rid me of all the evil that was the brat my extended family describes because what I remember is being pretty obedient.  My dad didn't play around.  He was fair in disciplining us but when he spoke...we listened.

Like any kid growing up, I tested my limits.  It didn't take me long to figure out where the line was but sometimes I would gather my courage and cross it.  My dad was always right there to point me back in the right direction.  When I was a toddler I wanted to roam during church but apparently that wasn't acceptable church behavior. After a few times of being taken out, I decided it was just best to do what mom and dad suggested :)  I pulled up all the flowers in our neighbor's yard one time.  That didn't go over well.  I remember the worse part about that episode was having to face my victims, apologize and explain what I had done.  My parents believed in accountability.  My brother stole something from Walmart once and my mom marched him right back in there and he got in major trouble when we got home.  Not to mention the fact that he broke windows.  My dad played detective though and mom went to court and all that resulted in my brother doing laundry at the local hospital as community service.  I guess I really should let him tell all of his stuff though so I'll stop there.  I won't mention the episode where he climbed our small town water tower all the way to the top while sirens blared and the mayor and local cops swarmed at the bottom.  Nope.  I won't mention that at all :) My sister simply ran away and hitched a ride with a trucker while we passed out flyers searching earnestly for her.    She took my make-up and clothes to her friends house too.  That got on my nerves but the trucker thing was worse by far.  We were pretty good kids though I promise.  I did get grounded for a year once for being at a hotel with a group of friends.  Boys were there and my dad didn't believe me when I told him we were watching movies.....I know what you're thinking but I swear it's true (we were watching movies!).  There wasn't much talking when he brought me home.  Just swift punishment and no fun for a year.  Believe me...he stuck to it.  He proved his tenacity during that period of my life.  For 12 months he was my shadow.

(One thing I keep coming back to is the tale my husband tells of when he was a boy.  He electrocuted a kid once just because he thought it would be funny and he's one of the nicest people I know (my husband that is..not the kid)  If my in-laws survived him and he turned out okay....there was hope for us.  Ken got a paddling every day at school and he wonders why..... BIG MYSTERY THERE.  He still laughs at people when they hurt themselves.  It's one of the things I'm still trying to understand about him after 30 years.)  That has nothing to do with any of this but I thought I would just throw it in there for good measure.

While we were out breaking windows, stealing, pulling up flowers, and hitching rides with truckers, mom and dad were teaching us to say "yes sir" and "yes mam" and to respect our elders.  Saying "yea" and "naw" wasn't acceptable and if we forgot.......well, we just didn't forget.  It wasn't an option. We weren't allowed to interrupt adults.  We asked for things with please and thank you.  Cultivating manners was important to my mom and dad and years later as I hear young people respond or engage in conversation with adults it makes me sad that we are losing the art of teaching respect and failing to insist on our children having manners.  Manners shouldn't be something from the old days or thought of as a "southern thing."  When a person extends a hand in greeting, take it...return the offer.  Whether you are in Arkansas or Kansas it's just simple courtesy.

(Disclaimer: If you don't agree feel free to click the red x in the top right corner and start your own blog :)

Just kidding

(actually I'm not.) 

Anyway, on with the narration:

Being lazy was not a thought that would occur to anyone living around my parents.  They both had strong work ethics.  When you washed the dishes you best wash them right the first time.  If not, ALL the dishes came out and you got to wash EVERYTHING..."sigh."  Once as we were pulling everything out of the cabinets when dad found a dirty skillet I made the mistake of asking if we had to wash the silverware too.  I don't think that had occurred to him but since I reminded him he decided yes, we had to wash the silverware too. We were all involved in keeping our home clean.  Vacuuming, dusting, making our beds every day, washing was all part of being a part of this unit called a family.  We were expected to do our part.  I resented it sometimes as I was growing up and looked around at most of my friends, who weren't expected to do as much as we were, but knowing all of these things would prove to be skills I would need later on......  I just didn't know that at the time.  I'm sure my parents did.

to be continued......................

If you missed part I of this series click the link here.

A Foster Child's Memoir Part I

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Foster Child's Memoir

There are days that I am so conscious of the fact that simply having a roof over our heads, food in the pantry and our health is a blessing abundant.  There are things going on in the world around us where others are not so fortunate.  Safely tucked inside my own home those things seem far away and we tend to forget, to move on with our own lives thinking that those struggling around us will figure it out.  It's not really our problem, we have enough to deal with.

I feel that way too alot of days.  Dealing with grown people issues is tiring.  Resentment sometimes boils over because you wonder if the cycle ever ends.  You wonder if God has heard your never ending plea for deliverance and if so why the continuing battle.  Why does the enemy prevail in the lives of our loved ones and why do they continue to drag themselves to the dark places where sickness and fear are lurking.  The answers to these questions keep me awake at night.  Literally, as the phone rings at 1:00 a.m.

I get angry.  And I shed tears.  I raise my voice.  I am overcome.  I am tired.  I am human and sometimes my humanity gets the best of me. I hate that I even have to deal with any of it.  Why is it mine to deal with?  I've asked myself that question alot and the only thing I can come up with is because no matter how overcome I am, I can't walk away...or ignore...or just not care.  God gives me these people and maybe that is for a reason.  He commands me to love...but sometimes I struggle with loving well .....How deep is my capacity to love?  How far will it go?  How far will I go?  In asking myself these questions he reminds me how far he goes for me...

My comfort is in my safe life.  The happy life I have built with my husband and my son.  My home is our sanctuary.  A safe place where I am respected and encouraged and cheered on by the people who love me, as I do them.  It is the place I dreamed of and one that I never take for granted.  I've lived the uncertainty.  I've swallowed my fear and pressed on.  I've experienced the loneliness... and the whys and why nots.  It's not a pleasant memory nor one I wish to relive, which may be part of my angst.

The life I have today is very different from the one I lived growing up.  I believe everything we experience in life molds us into the people God sees as a finished product and for that reason I wouldn't change anything.  I hold tight to values and morals my parents taught me and I believe my experiences have made me the person I am today... and if nothing else they have pushed me closer to a great big God that has always proven to be bigger than anything I have ever faced.

I've wanted to write this for a long story.  We all have our childhood memories and people living in the same house may have different views.  Their own story.  This is my story and my memories and if they differ, it doesn't mean either are wrong.  It simply means these are my memories and this is how it effected it still does. be continued.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Not One Word

Everywhere I look people are choosing a word for the new year.  Of course, me being me, not just one word will do.  Call me greedy but I kinda like words.  Actually I loooove words.  I read them.  I write them.  I read and write them some more.  I write them in my journals.  I record them on my blog.  I save them on my tablet.  I write them on small scraps of paper and tuck them away.  Words are so important in our lives.  It's the means in which we communicate.  Verbally and on paper (and every other source of media these days.)  Words can build us up, or tear us down.  They can take us to places we may never have the opportunity to go.  Curling up with a collection of words is one of my favorite things to do.  Without books, without words, I would be incomplete.  Words have power.  Words increase our knowledge.

The words of Paul in Phillipians are the words that I have been pondering the last few days.  I'm absolutely sure that it is no accident that the Lord has brought me back here again and again to read chapter 3.  You see I had been reading the Joshua Code which is a fantastic little book that talks about the importance of memorizing scripture.  It got me to thinking about my "word" for the year.  I didn't just want to choose any word.  I wanted to choose a collection of words to memorize for the year.  Scripture that would be the spiritual driving force in all the days of 2014.  I thought about what I wanted spiritually, the prayer I wanted the Lord to hear and answer..the deepest desire of my heart.  As I laid across my bed early one morning reading his word and writing in my prayer journal, I thought I want to KNOW you Lord.  And I whispered that prayer and sent it out into the universe for the holy spirit to capture and deliver to the throne room of God.  Not "oida" the greek word for knowing often used in the new testament... but rather "ginosko."  Oida simply means to "see, to observe."  I want to "ginosko" (to know from personal involvement, to understand... often used in describing a marital relationship.)  You see I think alot of us know the Lord in the oida sense. We hear about him, we recognize his name when it is spoken.  We "see" him and observe him on Sundays.  Sometimes on Wednesdays.  We like to hang out with him when it's convienent for us and talk with him occassionally.  We know him from the biblical accounts we hear from the pulpit but I'm asking myself......Do we really "KNOW" him.  Do we have a personal involvement with him that manifests a "ginosko" kind of knowing?  Do we know him like Paul talks about in Phillipans 3:10-11.. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

And so after much pondering I settled on that verse.  I chose my word for 2014.  This living "word."  (For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12)  I don't know about you but I need a "living" word.  I need Jesus to penetrate the joints and the marrow of my body, my soul, and my spirit and divide the things that are pleasing to him and those that aren't. I need him to judge my attitude and my thoughts.  I need him to come into my heart and clean house.......because I want to know Christ.  I want to know him like I have never known him.  I want to chase after him and whirl him around so that I can look in his face and throw myself into his loving arms with wild abandon.  And I want to stay there soaking up everything I can to know him, his character and his that God willing, I can become like him.

It's funny how the Lord works all things together for good.  I was watching a sermon online by David Platt New Year's Eve and it was called "Don't waste your life."  The text for that sermon was none other than Phillipians Chapter 3....  Imagine that.  To further solidify that the Lord is confirming the fact that I need to "know" him, he led me back there again last night.  Happenstance?  Coincidence?  I don't think so.  I had downloaded 10 free Beth Moore books for my kindle and I selected "To Live is Christ" to start on last night.  I could have selected any of those ten books.   Any scripture could have been included in my study.  The bible does have 66 books, 1189 chapters and endless verses.  Paul wrote a good portion of the new testament so it could have been any random selection of text he had penned.  But no, it wasn't a random verse.  It was a specific verse... Phillipians Chapter 3.....AGAIN.  I could only giggle like a little girl.  He knows me.  He's listening and I know that it is the greatest desire of his heart as well..............that I know him.

So "ginosko" it is..and the entire chapter of Phillipians Chapter 3.  That's the word I'm starting off 2014 with.  What about you?  What word is the Lord leading you to?

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