If I Ever Doubted the Love… Yes I get “too” Attached and I Wouldn’t Change a Thing

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I wrote this a month and 4 days ago. The go home day was delayed, but God as always had a plan and perfect timing. A family reunited!!  God is so good!!

Today is what this journey is all for.  Today is the day I pass the baton of motherhood back to the one God initially blessed this precious one to.   The past months have been amazing to see the power of Jesus break the chains binding a mother.  The chains that prevented a mother from truly being able to embrace her gift.  Freedom, hope, peace, joy and love have now replaced the enslaved, hopeless, restless, despair, and lostness that once was.

The emotions within me are everywhere.  My spirit is up in the clouds!!  I feel the warmness of Jesus’ embrace.  It is as though he is hugging me while spinning in a circle so fast my feet are flying off the ground!  We are singing, cheering and doing spiritual high fives and fist bumps!!!!  We are standing in the winners circle against the enemy together!!  Jesus has all the love, power, healing, and righteousness… I’m just here for saying “Ok Lord I will!”.  For allowing Him to use our family as His hands and feet.

Out of the children that have left our care this is the best reason.  This is the goal!  Restoring families, lives, and healing is why we do this!!

Why in my humanness am I grieving so deeply?  Last night I was the recipient of one of the longest hugs I remember in my life.  This precious one hung on to me and was rubbing the material of my sweatshirt between her fingers on my shoulder.  There were no words and didn’t need to be.  Sometimes there just are not words to explain all the emotion.  We had been talking about all the positiveness and excitement of the new life in the future.  My phone was in reach so I snapped a picture of this sweet moment.  My eyes look so glassy as I was fighting with everything to not cry in front of this precious little one.  This is a very positive and happy time.  Lord why do I feel such a heavy weight of grief?  In my spirit I feel Jesus’ embrace and in my humanness I feel Him carrying me. His comfort is amazing how he reassures that the pain I feel is because a chapter in the journey is closing and a new one is beginning.  With every ending and beginning there is pain in life .  There is something lost and gained.  There is a cost for what is worthwhile and good.

Great love will always bring great grief as seasons of life change.  It is an “empty nester” type of grief with each child that leaves I am finding.  How amazing that God can bring strangers into our home and give my heart the ability to love them as my very own.  I love them all down to the very core of who I am.  That is why such a deep grief and sadness washes over me as they leave to their next life chapter.  This is a pain I am so very grateful for!  Thank you Lord for allowing me to love, thank you for loving through me,  thank you for the blessing and opportunity to be a part of each of the journeys you have blessed us with.  This hurts, but I would say yes again a thousand times over.

I have to add that in this situation what has been gained is an adult daughter, a grand daughter and a grandson.  God is so good and so amazing how he brings lives together!!

Washington is Battling Over a Wall Meanwhile I too have a Wall Battle

It seems that God uses things that irritate me to teach me the best lessons.  Our son we are adopting has a habit of constantly touching the walls in our home.  A good habit we are trying to get instilled is good hand washing.  We have far to go with the hand washing.  Needless to say the walls are down right gross. As I see him placing his hands on the walls I remind him that he has two strong legs to stand on. There is not a need for  touching the wall.   He insists that he is in his “pre teen” years so he definitely is old enough to walk without touching everything.  There are some sensory reasons behind the wall touching I am quite sure.  Being aware of trauma needs is important.  Alas it is a bad habit that needs a conscious effort on his part and our teaching to overcome.

Today I was going around each wall with a magic eraser sponge yet again.  Feeling slightly irritated as I have to do this quite often.  Recently our home was ravaged by a stomach virus and I feel even more paranoid with hygiene and cleanliness.  God started flooding thoughts over my mind as I scrubbed.   Here go the wall lessons for Anita today.

  1. I notice the dirty hand prints most in the bright day light.  How true in our own life that if we let Jesus shine His light on our own hearts He sure reveals a lot of dirt.
  2. How much of a habit do I have in leaning on God?  Do I turn to Him in prayer?  Do I go to His word for all answers?  Am I leaning on my own strength instead of Him?
  3. Do I rely on old habits to calm anxieties.  Do I hang on to worry?  Do I let go of false security and fully trust God?
  4. It takes a magic eraser to clean the walls in our home.  It takes the blood of Jesus to clean our hearts.  There is nothing magic to the remedy for our sin.  It is the pure love, grace, mercy, and power of Jesus taking my sin to the cross, dying, and rising again that cleanses me.
  5. All people that I love have habits I can’t stand.  God has shown me unconditional love and forgiveness.  Truly loving them completely is to love their imperfections as well.  I get to clean the walls for my family.
  6. Thank you God I have a home with walls and a family to make them dirty.
  7.  I have qualities that are annoying to others and thank God they love me anyway.
  8. Thank you Jesus that you saved me even though I do not deserve it.  Maybe I should make my boy clean the walls.  Sometimes Grace is better and I will do it for now.
  9. I probably don’t even want to know how many times God has protected me from consequences and has shown me Grace.
  10. Dirty walls teach me patience and to prioritize.  People or things first?  Clean when you aren’t needing to focus on people.

Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

Walls will one day crumble, but the love God gives us to give to others will last for all of eternity!!

Words from my precious Mother-in-laws funeral…She was there…

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My sister-in-law asked for me to share scripture at my mother-in-law’s funeral.  I typed it into Word press as I pieced together what God was putting on my heart to say.   This blog was started almost 5 years ago out of the grief of my father and it continues to provide tremendous healing as God helps me type through life’s journey.   Our Mother is and will be so deeply missed.

 

Proverbs 31 is the first scripture that came to mind when Lisa asked me to read scripture today.  God’s word eloquently describes a woman of virtue and noble character.  Jody fits so well into this scripture.

 

Proverbs 31:10-3110 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

There are so many memories and examples that can be shared about Jody.  Her love and care for her husband, children and grandchildren.  How she was always making something special from stained glass, barbie doll clothes, to crochet baby blankets.   She welcomed me as her own daughter into the Lucas family.  For the sake of time I  narrowed down to one special memory and lesson learned from Jody.

When Mike and I bought our first home the entire house needed paint and all the carpet ripped out.  It was disgusting.  She had a day that she could come and help me with painting.  She was the expert trim painter extraordinaire with her very special brush. (there are a few stories of her painting capabilities out there)   She chose the hardest room to work on with a deep, dark, dried mustard color with the carpet to  match no less.   She worked so hard and we shared several stories and giggles as the day went on.  My dad was also a painter and used tape.  Jody taught me the art of no tape just keep your wet rag handy.  Now my own painting is a combo of their teaching tips. As the time she had to help came to an end she kept apologizing that she did not get much done and felt like she didn’t help much.  She was 66 years old at this time and was a tremendous help.  The thing is looking back I really can’t remember how much she got done or even how “perfect” it was.  What I remember is that she was there.   Jody was there for all of us, helping, caring, and cheering what ever the need was she was there.  A true life lesson her life has taught me is that what is important is that we are THERE for our family, friends, and people in need.  The details aren’t so much important as our presence.

Parenting in so many ways, especially a parent like Jody, reflects that same kind of love our Heavenly Father has shown to each and everyone of us.  Despite our imperfections, despite our sin God sent His own Son Jesus into the world to give his very life for us.  AS parents we aren’t always happy with our children’s choices.  There are some pretty funny stories of times Jody wasn’t happy with her kids behavior, but she was there still loving and guiding. God desires nothing more than to welcome us all into His family  through His Son Jesus no matter who we are or what we have done.  He wants to be there for every single one of us.  Through the happy times and the sad times in our lives.  Most importantly He longs to welcome us one day into our heavenly home with him.

A mother’s love is a beautiful picture of sacrifice doing all that she can for her beautiful babies.  Jody’s love for her children was the very core of who she was.

I will close with a final scripture about the love of Jesus for us.

Romans 8:34-39

34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Where are you Christmas?

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This year has been a struggle to get our Christmas decorations up.  There is a lot of life happening around us and in our family, those needs are the priority.  My husband moved the stable to our Nativity scene into the yard because he needed it out of his way and it was time to put up decorations anyway.  The figures are up in the garage attic and not so easy to obtain.  So alone sits an empty stable.

As I glanced over at the lonely stable the other day backing from our driveway a thought occurred.   What if the stable had remained empty?  What if God had just left the world in our sin and never came down to redeem us?  God is the perfect judge.  God created us.  God could have wiped the slate clean of His creation once we became broken by sin. He didn’t do that.  He loved us so much He sent His one and only Son.  God is LOVE.  John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

The stable was full that night our Savior was born.  His young parents, who were sinners themselves, had no idea what a key part of God’s plan they had become. The lowly animals were there.  The first to receive the birth announcement directly from heaven’s angel choir were lowly shepherds.  The shepherds were not perfect and without sin.  Yet once again God used sinners and low social status common man as part of His plan. The shepherds filled the stable to worship the King of Kings.  Many months later some wise kings sought the child to worship Him and bring offerings.  The fact that God had low shepherds to wealthy kings seek out the new baby shows He came for ALL people.

Jesus is also called the Word in scripture.  John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  Jesus is scripture lived out in the flesh!

His life lived on this earth is the standard to look to.  As was with his birth so was his life.  He ministered to ALL.  According to the culture of the day he especially concentrated on the “greatest sinners”. Luke 5:31-32 “Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  As He spoke to the self righteous Pharisees they were blind to the fact that they are sinners themselves.   Even the self righteous were a part of God’s plan.  Their desire to have full control of “the law” and keep their religious  power is what put Jesus on the cross.  Jesus died on the cross for ALL people and ALL sin.  He even forgave the very ones who put Him there as he hung in pain.  Luke 23:34 “Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Jesus died and was buried and then three days later He rose to life fully defeating death and sin.  Luke 24:5-6 ” In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!  Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee.”

The tomb was empty that day because the stable had been full.

I am so grateful that Jesus came.  I am a wretched sinner no better than anyone else.  The deeper I understand my own sin and what Jesus took on that cross for me the deeper I understand the GRACE.   We are called to love and share His light and good news with the world.   Mathew 28:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son an of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This Christmas lets remember that if it weren’t for a full stable there would not have been an empty tomb.  Salvation, love, grace, anything good does not come from us.  It is all about Jesus.  He is our hope.  The only hope for humanity.  We only make a difference when we allow Jesus to love through us.  This Christmas I ask Christ for the compassion I  need for ALL of his creation.  I want the world to have the most precious gift that I have received.  Salvation from sin through God’s only Son, Jesus.

1 John 3:18″Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with action and in truth.”

 

 

Living in a World Filled With Hate

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One of my teen daughters had friends come over to hang out. Our town and public school system are very diverse. One thing I really love about this town is that there are people from all types of backgrounds and we don’t all look the same.

This morning I was in our basement restroom and my heart stopped when I noticed the light switch cover in the bathroom. Beneath the silver duct tape is a confederate flag. We just moved about a year ago and the previous home owners were from Alabama. There were many hints of Southern culture left in this home.

My sweet daughter was worried that friends coming over with darker skin would be offended by the symbol of that flag.

It is difficult to put my emotional thoughts into words. Maybe that is why I feel compelled to sit and type this out.

First I felt a heart warming pride that my child considered the feelings of others. Out of respect of her and her friends I think I will just go purchase a new switch cover.

Second I felt a sadness. A sadness that greed led to slavery in our country. A sadness for all the life lost in war over the sinful greed. A sadness over the divisions there are just because of skin color all over our world.

Third I feel angry that we even have to be so politically correct and walk on egg shells because of hatred. If we all loved as we should there would be no such thing as political correctness.

Then lastly my thoughts and emotions turn to the symbol of the cross. The cross that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died on. It is a symbol of true freedom. A symbol of the freedom of the sin that enslaves us. The sin that has this world so broken and torn. Sin that has caused the hatred, greed and division. Jesus came to provide the one and only way to healing from sin that enslaves us. He came to this earth as a very poor helpless baby. Led a life without sin. He demonstrated the perfect way to love others from all walks. He demonstrated how to love the sinner and not fall to the temptation to sin. His name and the symbol of the cross causes an emotional stir in everyone. It may be love and thankfulness or hatred, but there is an emotion. For the cross and the name of Jesus I will not cowar to political correctness. It is by his name and what He did for us on the cross every human being can have true freedom and peace. He died for all people and for all sin. He rose again on the third day proving He is God.

1 John 4:7-11 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might love through Him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

To my Children from Your Imperfect Mom

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To my precious children. An apology is owed to you.  You see I am not perfect. Lately I have heard the remark “I am not perfect like YOU!”  It is a rebuttal that has sliced me to the core.   That is the one thing I have not wanted my children to see me as.  I have not wanted them to feel any pressure that they need to be “perfect” for my love or approval.  As a preacher’s daughter that is exactly what I rebelled against in my teen and early adulthood years!!  I couldn’t stand the pedestal I felt pressured by the world to stand on.  Temptations and the need for friend’s approval and popularity overwhelmed me.  I look back and often wonder how I even survived other than by the sheer Grace of God.  I was a hypocrite I was a fence rider.  My faith I had as a child was constantly being suffocated by the world.  This hard headed mom was once a very strong willed child who had to constantly do things her own way by her own self first.

Thankfully God did not give up on me and turn His back as I did to Him.  Oh I had many an idol I placed before Him.  I skipped out on church some, but you see I was a hypocrite.  I was all about image.  I had to make my dad look good, but at every ounce of freedom I was pushing my sin and His forgiveness to the full.   Sometimes I would listen and feel conviction when I was in church.  Other times I had my self so justified in my own mind I felt nothing…   Then consequences of my own personal choices started to occur.  The consequences brought guilt, shame, embarrassment, and loneliness.  There was no one to blame but me.  I was feeling the fullness of my burden of sin. Definitely something I didn’t really carry at age five when I accepted Jesus.   It was because of my mistakes and imperfectness that I came to realize the magnitude of what Jesus did on that cross for me.  He took that burden of sin and shame to the cross and died the death I deserve.  Do I wish I hadn’t made mistakes?  Yes I would go back and do things different.  Would I have the deep relationship with Jesus I have now were it not for my mistakes. Most likely not.  So I am grateful Jesus doesn’t give us do overs He washes our sin away instead. It is an individual journey.  Of course I want to protect you from making bad choices.  You may not make the same mistakes I did, but you will make your own.

This leads me to why I believe church is so very important.   Like our pastor just said on Sunday usually when people stop coming it is because they are not liking the conviction.  Conviction does not feel good.  Not at first. Now I have come to welcome it!  I desperately desired to hear the Word of God!  I desperately need fellow Christians, sinners saved by Grace, praying for me.  I go to church because I have watched the power of God’s Word and prayers of God’s people transform lives, my life included!  Because I remain connected in worship and prayer with fellow Christians I get to witness miracles.   My week is a hot mess when I don’t go.  This I noticed in very early adulthood.  When I didn’t make it to church and get the spiritual refreshment I was a complete wreck.  Weeks I made it there was just enough strength and accountability to get through what ever was handed to me.

You my dear children have also brought a much deeper understanding of God’s love.  As I would do anything I can for you.  I would die for you.  I can not take away your sin. I can not choose following Jesus for you.  God made a perfect creation and gave mankind free will to choose to love and obey Him.  Wow if Adam and Eve only had one thing God asked and only one sneaky  snake tempting them to disobey and they STILL sinned.  Sheesh it is no wonder we are such a mess now as sin and its consequences have multiplied over and over.  There is a constant bombardment of temptations.

So your mom is actually  a very imperfect person who desperately needs Jesus every moment of every day.   I need to go to church to worship and pray with other believers.  I need God’s word to teach me and correct me daily,  I need to hear the Word preached at least once a week to be given a more biblical perspective of life.

So I sincerely apologize to have given any pressure that you have to be perfect.  Jesus tells us to come as we are.  He is the one who is perfect and makes us right.  No matter your mistakes I love you.  You will have to face your own consequences and I pray your journey will lead you back to and closer and closer to God.

Love,

Mom

All the Finger Pointing

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We are all guilty of it. Not one of us is exempt from pointing a finger at others.  The judgement and blame is all around us everyday.  Social media has exacerbated the division and judgement unlike anything I have witnessed in my life.  In my own experience I have watched people who claim to be Christian and God fearing cast heartless and relentless judgement.  Sometimes even from my own family members against other family members.  The judgement goes from the Christian end of the spectrum to the one who claims there is no God.  Those that claim they are the most tolerant of others until the other has a differing belief or opinion.

On the flip side we all have experienced the brutal isolating end of being judged by others.  We all have a story.   Literally I have been judged for laughing too much.  (That made me laugh by the way)  I’ve been called every name in the book for doing all within my resources to help provide love and security to a stranger.  It really doesn’t matter who we are we are all guilty of casting judgment and we have been recipients of judgement.

I love reading comments to videos friends share on social media.  Videos of babies, puppy dogs, cats, etc…  I’m drawn to the happy non-political things.  Seriously if you read comments there always seems to be at least one negative Nelly casting judgment.  Recently there was a little girl reading to her cat.  She actually could not read, but was mimicking the love and nurture shown to her as she had been read to.  Literally someone called every person stupid on the thread because the child was not really “reading”.   The beauty completely missed by their blinded judgmental eyes.  Another recent video was two healthy babies sitting on some sort of vibrating platform.  They were laughing and having the time of their lives as their baby rolls jiggled and voices shook.  Someone was claiming child abuse and shaken baby syndrome.  Really there is more vibration driving a car down a gravel road.  My point is that no matter how sweet, innocent, loving, and good the judgement is there.

As God continues to bring people into my life from all walks my prayer has become this.  Lord help me to keep from pointing the finger of judgement and use all ten of my fingers to build others up.   It takes no effort to point a finger.  What does pointing a finger accomplish besides hatred?  It takes God’s power and everything within my own strength to lift  up another.   While we point one finger there are nine other fingers being wasted.

Stories of people who have overcome are also one of my favorites.  Two common factors in these stories I notice is that it took looking to God and that each person had at least one other person that believed in them.  It was a person that God used all ten of their fingers to lift the broken person up, speak truth to them, and say you can do this!!

Truthfully I would much rather sit and listen to the story of the drug addict lying in the gutter than what the “rich and famous” are doing.   I am no better than anyone who sins differently than me.   We all have pain, we all have a story, we all need truth, we all need love,  we all need affirmation, we all need at least one person that believes that we matter.

Scripture tells us when Jesus walked this earth he met people in their brokenness and those were the lives healed.  The blind and judgmental completely missed Him.

What if we all put the one finger down and extended all ten fingers in love?

No Life Expectancy

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Planning has sort of been my thing.  Personally I like to have plan A, plan B, and plan C.  It’s possible I will even go to Z.  Plans continuously running through my brain  how I think things will go, but if something crazy happens we will go with this or that plan.  All the planning so that I can rely on me, myself and I.  I am the master planner!!  Waa haa haa (my power hungry sinister laugh).  It is quite hilarious that God led me to be a nurse where a good day can turn in a split second to complete chaos.  Even more hilarious is that He blessed my life to become a mother where one barfing kid can completely blowout the neatly planned day.  Yet to further the hilarity he has led our family to foster parenting.  It is one thing to mess with my work shift, another to have to change plans due to a sick child,  this life in foster care has become a whole other ballgame of inability to plan.

God does humble us where needed.  Honestly I have been broken to complete submission of the plans and expectations in this brain of mine.   From one day to the next there are constant surprises.  Continuous changes in parent visits, sibling visits, therapist scheduling and canceling, behaviors that change with no clue as to what triggered them.  Will this child or that child live with us until adulthood?  Will this parent turn their life around and heal or will they continue the vicious cycle?  The constant change, chaos, turmoil, blessings, falling in love, heart brokenness, victories, defeats, dealing with choices of others… it all has brought me to expect nothing.   I don’t know what will happen next.  I just don’t know…  Ok God you have me I surrender…  Make my thoughts your thoughts… my plans your plans… my heart your heart… You see the bigger picture and I do not.  You know what is best and I do not.

My job is to love.  My job is not to predict the future.  My job is not to judge.  My job is not to be the fixer, but to point to the true healer.  I can not even love within my own strength it is only the love of Jesus loving through me. I am just not capable of this kind of love on my own.  My words must be led by the Holy Spirit or I mess them up out of my own frustrations.  I can not deal with my own grief and loss without Jesus.  I am a sinner in need of forgiveness each and everyday… I am no better than anyone…

One thing that I know, this life of welcoming the broken into our home has brought me to a place of surrender that I didn’t even know was needed.  Who knew that being a little OCD, planner, lover of organization, lover of predictability,  a bit on the “I will take care of this myself” side was such a barrier between God and I.  Really I just thought I was responsible.  No, my addiction to organization and planning actually was and is a form of sin in my life.  This life has brought me to a deeper level of trusting God in each moment and love everyone while I have the chance and the time.  There are no guarantees of tomorrow.  A blessing and gift from God that has come from opening our home has been a deeper level of understanding what it means to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind… and loving my neighbor as myself…   Still have a long long way to go.  The journey is rough, but I am so thankful for the hard stuff!