Sunday, November 13, 2016

Orphan Sunday

Just the other day, a dear friend shared the link to a video...

The news video told of a family whose life had been changed forever by an encounter with a child who had just been removed from his home. He was scared, confused and alone, but as so often happens, it was through this heartbreaking encounter that the Lord began to work within their hearts...

bringing beauty from ashes...



As I watched this video, I understood so much of what this family shared, the brokenness and the burden of now opened eyes and redirected hearts...

but there was one line, one line that just struck my heart and formed into words what so many of us in the adoption community have felt...

"I shoulder this burden of knowledge and when I try to unpack it with family, friends and the church, they smile and change the subject to something 'not so heavy'"!

For those who have been there, for those who have seen with their own hearts the neglect and the abuse and the effect of lives lived void of love...

For those who have lived it out by bringing all of the above into their families...

this one line speaks right into the burden that the Lord has placed within us and the frustration of watching as much of the world turns away and we understand... 

cause this stuff is hard to hear.

It is hard to hear the stories. It is especially hard when the stories are standing right in front of you, sitting in the pew behind you, living right next door to you, or even sitting at the Thanksgiving table with you, smiling, laughing, loving; orphans no more but thriving sons and daughters.




But it needs to be hard y'all...

orphans' lives are hard...

There is just so way to sugar coat the reality in which these precious children exist. 

It is overwhelming, I know...

the need is so great, I know...

It is easy to think that you are not up to the task, that you are not equipped, that you don't have enough love or time or patience or money.

It is easy to think that those who adopt are Super Christians, that the Lord anointed us with an extra dose or two of love, time, patience and money.

It is easy to think that it . is . just . too . hard.

Well, take it from this Non Super Christian, this extremely flawed, slightly (ahem) OCD, incredibly impatient, direction-ally challenged, always late, always broke and truly broken Christian...

It IS hard...

but it is also the most meaningful, most important, most life changing thing I have ever done...

and I don't just mean life changing for my girls but life changing for me and for my former "typical American dream" family...

but I get it...

I do...

I look at other families, you know the true "Super Christians"...

those amazing families that foster kid after kid, many times having to love them and then send them back to the exact same situations that led them to be in crisis in the first place...

those incredible families that adopt high needs children who will need life long care...

those inspiring families who sell all of their possessions, leave their family, their friends and their country, to minister to the least of these, those who have never heard the gospel or those are vulnerable and exploited. 

I look at these "Super Christians" and think...

it . is . just . too . hard...

but I would bet that if you asked any of these families, they would say the same...

It IS hard...

but it is also the most meaningful, most important, most life changing thing I have ever done...

You see, these children change you, break you, transform you and you are not and will never be "ready" but remember...


"God doesn't call the equipped. He equips those He calls."

You don't need to be "ready"...

you just need to say "yes" to whatever it is the Lord is calling you to...

because He is calling and whether it be adoption or foster care or missions work or supporting those who have taken those steps in faith and answered the call for the orphan...

make no mistake...

He is calling, so please...

the next time you tuck your children into bed at night, think about those who go to bed alone...

the next time you kiss a boo boo or bandage a skinned knee, think about those who cry alone...

the next time you drop your little one off at school, think about those who will never have the chance to go to school...

the next time you cheer your child on at their game or their concert or their recital, think about those who will never have anyone cheering them on...

the next time you buy your child another pair of shoes, think about those who don't have any shoes...

the next time you calm your child's fears, think about those who will always live in fear...

the next time you think about or plan for your children's future, please think about those who will never . have . a . future...

and then please, do something!

The next time you buy fast food, think about this...

the amount of money that many people spend per month on fast food could be spent to provide for a child to be removed from an institution into a loving healing home, a place where they have attention, where they have hope, where they have love and where they have life!
Lifeline China Foster Center from Lifeline Children's Services on Vimeo.

This next time you visit St*rbucks, think about this...

the amount of money that many people spend at St*rbucks each month could be spent providing medical care, education or vocational training for a child who has already aged out...

What is (un)adopted? from Lifeline Children's Services on Vimeo.

then please DO SOMETHING!

 


To read more about the family in the news video, please visit the blog, Ransom for Israel 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Latest and Greatest...

In this world of  high tech, insta everything...

the joys of just being a kid get lost behind game screens and ear buds and texting and selfies and recording e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g we do and say.

The fine art of just playing outside - with sticks - cannot compete...

but today...

today, this happened...


At first, I had to help a little...


growing up with three big brothers, they expect soccer balls or scooters or rip sticks as required outside gear, none of which we had today...


but it was a gorgeous day that just needed to be appreciated and I was determined that they were going to appreciate it and NOT video tape themselves appreciating it!

*grin*

They built stick houses and stick campfires and stick tools and just played outside...  


ALL DAY!


with no electronic device in sight...


ALL DAY!


Maybe I am just getting old-er but I have found myself longing for simple and honest and innocent lately... 


and today, as I watched the girls play at my childhood home, I was allowed that giant step back to my moments of simple and honest and innocent and real... 

before the world entered in with its high tech, insta everything...

and in this time of rush, rush, rush...

time stood still for a while and the day was savored instead of survived.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Straight A's

Y'all! Do you see this??? 


Can you see this big, beautiful smile??? 


I was in awe again today and praising God for all that He has done and is doing for our Maggie! 

Y'all!!

Maggie brought home her very first REAL progress report and oh my heart... 


she made STRAIGHT A's!!!! 

Talk about "progress"!!!

Maggie handed it to me as soon as she got in the car and I have to admit, I was trembling a bit as I opened it. 

Then, when I saw her grades, well you all know what happened next! 

Maggie and Lucy certainly knew what was about to happen next...

I cried!!! 

The first thing out of both mouths was, "Mom, don't cry - again!" 

*grin*

I called her teacher to make certain Maggie was getting graded on a 3rd grade level. 

I told her that I didn't want to get overly excited just yet and do you know what she said...

Maggie's sweet teacher said...

"Get excited!" 

Y'all, today I exhaled... 

Maggie is going to make it! 

It may not be easy but just look at that face; just look at what "hard" can do! 


Maggie we are so very proud of you my darling! You battle your body every single day. I am so grateful to the One who trusted us to battle along side you my love!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Testing for Whom???

Is it that I am a slow learner...

or is it that I just have old age memory issues...

cause the Lord continually shows up...

and I seem to continually forget...

I can't seem to make it from one miracle to the next without lapsing back into that place of fear and doubt, clinging to my daily portion of manna as if He would not provide again tomorrow.

It is a place where we know we should not live from, but a place where our flesh tends to want to take us.

This fleshy place was where I found myself three mornings ago...

this place of fear and doubt...

questioning the Lord's plan for us, for our family... fear-full of earthly concerns and doubting that He would continue to reveal Himself to us through the worldliness I found myself operating from yet again!

Would that I would show the same patience, mercy and grace with my children as the Lord has with me.

I cried out to Him that morning and by that afternoon...

He had answered and no one in that room was dry eyed...

but let me back up a bit here.

At the beginning of the summer, Hubby and I made the decision to hire an independent tester for Maggie to better help us to understand exactly what our sweet girl could understand, exactly what she might be capable of - or not.

It truly did not matter to us at all what the results were but it would better help us to help her.

We have fought very hard to get the girls in the general education classroom as much as possible but they were struggling, especially Maggie, and we needed to know how best she learned and how best to help her to learn.

Imagine - cerebral palsy, motion disorder, speech disorder no prior schooling and learning a new language...  all at the same time!

yeah...

During Hubby's time as a teacher at the boys' school, he was present at several IEP meetings where he became friends with "C", the special education teacher there, and was introduced to "T", an independent tester, whose testing results and recommendations made an impression.  

It was this tester that we turned to, when at the end of the school year, we were frustrated and frightened for our girls and their futures.

We knew in our hearts that Maggie was capable of so much more...


that there was so much more understanding and learning going on that was just unable to be tapped into because of the herculean effort that it takes my baby girl to speak or to write or just to control her body.

After several testing sessions over the summer, we were scheduled to hear the results Thursday afternoon.

Of course, it was Thursday morning that I found myself consumed in that fleshy place of doubt and fear, crying out to the Lord for answers...

Why Lord, did you call Hubby to teach at the boys' school for 2 years?

Why would You put him there Lord, knowing a teacher's salary would never sustain a family of 9!

Why would he have to stay there Lord, while we depleted so much more of our savings?

Why?

Yes, Thursday morning I was in this world and of this world...

*not pretty y'all*

but by Thursday afternoon, the Lord had so beautifully answered each question that the world melted away!

As we sat in that room and listened to the results and learned about the connections that the Lord had provided...

we, the three of us, Hubby, "T" the tester and I, had to just stop and let it all soak in.

Not only did we learn that Miss Maggie is more than able to learn and given the right tools and measurements, more than able to keep up with her peers...


but we also learned that "T" the tester is a believer and that she had cried out to the Lord as well, only it was over testing our Maggie!  She struggled with the fact that she had to throw out all the rules, that she had to research and develop other methods of testing for our girlie, that she had to sit and be incredibly patient as Maggie worked so hard to read 100 1st grade words and then 100 2nd grade words and then 100 3rd grade words, that she could feel the exhaustion after that session and could understand Maggie's level of output each and every day.  Yes, at one point she wanted to give up and cried out to the Lord asking why?  Why had He given her this difficult case, why?

Then we learned that "T" the tester just happened to be good friends with "C" the special ed teacher at the boys' school - you know the school that the Lord kept Hubby at for 2 years...

and that "T" began to understand the Lord's answers to her questions when she thought to ask "C" the special ed teacher to help us by attending Maggie's next IEP at school to help the school to better understand why we needed to fight so hard for Maggie because you see...

C's hubby also has cerebral palsy...

WOW

C's hubby is in a wheel chair and has movement and speech struggles...

just like Maggie...

but he is a hubby and a dad and an employee who supports his family!

WOW

C's hubby was Maggie as a kid y'all!

What we will be asking for to help Maggie is extreme and "out of the box" so the fact that the Lord brought us together with this amazing tester and this amazing special ed teacher and her amazing hubby...

well, I had my answers and I knew the Lord was once again reassuring me and getting me ready for the next step out of the boat...

cause it may be a biggie y'all and it may not be just about Maggie and her diploma...

but the road before us with Maggie and possibly Lucy as well, will not be easy.


Easy would be to just let them continue on and rest in the inertia of doing nothing but we know that the easy road is not what He has called us to, prepared us for.

So we stop at these heavenly reveals and just soak in the presence of the Lord and all of His goodness.

 I know there will be other moments of doubt and fear as this journey continues but with each reveal, each soaking in, the doubts and the fears grow weaker and have less and less control over our hearts.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Thank you Lord for giving Maggie and Lucy a hope and a future and for gifting me a purpose!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Puppy Love

Yes, it was love at first sight...


only we were in denial...


we tried to be strong...


to strengthen our resolve...


to look away from the come hither glances...


I mean we are old hats at this foster gig...


we know the deal...


they come - we love on them - and then they go...


right???


Yes, yes, yes...


I am well aware of the ones who have, um, not gone...


the ones we affectionately call...


foster failures...


but we were past all of that...


we had our three...

the last one being - ahem...


a definite foster failure.


So, we were done.

We would just foster puppies from now on!

Safe right?

Easy in, easy out...

done...

I mean they are cute and all but after a few weeks of cleaning up potty accidents and chewed up magazines and toilet paper and toys and pencils and paper and furniture and carpets and and and...

we would be ready for them to move on to their furever families.

Right??

only not so much...


not this time...


one look at that face...


those faces....


and we were done alright!


Her name is Beth... not exactly a doggie name but a name that was meant for her...

after being told that she was named after the police woman who rescued her, we were still unsure as the naming war process had already begun with Dixie and Daisy neck in neck... but after speaking to this police woman and hearing her heart...

I knew there could be no other name!

Very special thank you to Michelle and Gimme Shelter Animal Rescue and all of the wonderful work that they do!


Welcome to the family little Beth!

Never saw that coming, did ya!

*wink*

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Joy Filled Hard

We live very close to the beach...


I grew up going to the beach...


It is a part of who I am...


We don't go as much as I would like to these days as it has become harder.

Days are filled with the tasks of raising a larger family and our mobility issues don't mix well with beach sand.

There are those sweet times, however, that we do get to go and I am reminded of the joy that it brought me as a child.

While Em and Lizzie are out perfecting their Boogie Board techniques...



Maggie and Lucy just have fun playing in the surf, finding shells and building sand castles.


It is so hard for Lucy to walk on the beach...


she falls almost as much as she walks...


but that does not stop her from trying...


or from loving the beach...


I see that smile...


and I am reminded of the joy that He brought me as a child and now, as the parent of a very special child.

This is hard but this is blessed and all a part of the journey the Lord placed on my heart as a child,  growing up with joy.

So we will go to the beach beautiful Lucy...


and the blessings are the memories and they are joy!