Love Brings You Home Our Foster/Adoption Journey Continues

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About a year ago my mom and I were shopping at Hobby Lobby to find some items for a few projects.  Our foster care licensure process was nearing completion and one project was to add finishing touches to our spare bedroom.   A year ago before our journey began when I walked past this picture and read it the tears immediately started to flow.  This one little sentence seemed to sum up our call to foster children in need in the most perfect way.

That day I did not buy it as I had no clue who would fill the room and I was trying to just keep the décor simple and as gender neutral as I could.

When I wrote A Whole New Kind of Grief in January I had no clue why and what God had planned next.  Grieving someone’s potential to such depth was new to me.  As I write now I have had so much more of God’s plan revealed to me.  As I write now I am in greater awe of His amazing attention to detail on every life.  As I write now I am even more deeply humbled and thankful to be a part of His great plan.

Two weeks to the day of God giving such a definitive answer of “NO”  to my prayer “Do we take the next step toward adoption?” I got a message from a friend’s husband about a need.

You see with our first child we could have no other placements probably never had we adopted.  I had resolved to this was the one and only child God had planned for us to help, but as usual I was so very wrong.   God gave us two weeks to digest all that had happened and then I get a message from a friend’s husband to call his wife about a need.  We were not yet on the market as a foster family.  Our bed capacity still was showing zero as I hadn’t even gotten to fully communicate with our license worker.  As I listened to my friend tell me the story of the need I could feel my heart swelling with love and compassion once again. When asked do you know of a family that can help, all I could think was “all I know of is us”. God had opened our room up and it was specifically for this very need in this very perfect time that it was needed.   Separately speaking to Mike and the girls I watched as each of their hearts did the same as mine.  They all turned into a puddle of compassion.  There are not strong enough words to express how proud I am of their willingness to love and follow God’s call in this ministry.

It has been amazing as we have been able to open our hearts and home to another.  There has been a community of people to help this one life and that is exactly how it should be for a child in need.   It indeed does take a village.  Another amazing turn in the story is that our family gets to remain a strong support in the life of our first child.  Of course I can not share too many details, but God provides the most amazing paths when our hearts are open.

This brings me back to the picture above.  A few weeks ago I found myself at Hobby Lobby again.  When offered to get some new décor for the room our newest family addition only requested a chalk board.  While shopping along I again see this picture that I saw a year ago.  This time I bought it!   Our sweet new member of our family was more than happy to have it hung in the room.

There has been nothing in this life that has brought me to a deeper understanding of God’s love for us than this calling to love this hurt world through foster care.  Our broken lives take us to so many unexpected places, but God’s plan through Jesus is to bring us all home.   Jesus is the only source of true love and our home is our eternal home with him.  As a child I always thought of “God’s Will” to be what job, career, who I would marry, if I would have children, etc…  God’s Will is to completely open my heart to Him.  There is no way I can love unconditionally the way that I have on my own.  It has purely been opening all of my soul allowing God to completely love through me.   Of course my own human nature has gotten in the way from time to time, but He continues to teach me how to rely on Him fully.   God’s will for my life is to love others in such a way that they feel truly loved and  “home”.  Whatever amount of time, capacity, platform, or tool God gives it is all just a way for God to work through me.   My life is to be a channel of God’s love to direct others to Him.  He is our true source of love and our true home.  God’s wish is for all of mankind to come back to Him.  He is such an amazing God that He gives us a choice.  He cares so much about the details of every life that He will provide opportunity after opportunity even in a life of tremendous pain to see His love.  It may be a complete stranger offering a word of encouragement.  We get to see God in small doses throughout our life and it is up to us to accept Him.  As a follower and totally sold out to Jesus I get to be a part of God’s plan to reveal His love to our hurting and broken world.

Home doesn’t always mean to live in the same house.  Home is knowing that you have at least one other person that loves you unconditionally with their whole heart.  Home is knowing you have someone cheering you on in life.  Ultimately home is knowing that there is a God in heaven that loves you in a way that no other can love you.  Ultimately home is knowing that God planned you, wants you, has a purpose for you, and wants to spend all of eternity with you.

John 14:2 “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you.”

John 3:16 “For God so Loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

 

What I Use as Life’s Measuring Stick

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It is hard to even count how many times the subject of “why do the innocent suffer?” comes up in conversations.  The nicest people seem to be the ones who suffer from cancer.  Why do sweet children ever have to suffer?   Why does it seem that evil can have the upper hand torturing and murdering ones who follow the true living God? The measuring stick that brings me comfort and hope when asking the darkest questions of this life is Jesus.  When I look at what He endured on that cross for us it brings about a whole different perspective.  We often think of how undeserving the suffering of so many innocent lives actually is.  There has never walked a human being on this earth more undeserving of suffering than Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God in the flesh, fully human yet fully God, perfect and sinless.  Why would God do that?  Why would He come to earth to be rejected, tortured, and murdered?  Did you ever think that what He has planned beyond this life on earth for those who believe in Him is totally worth any suffering we face in our short lifetime?  He conquered sin and death by dying and proved that He is God by rising on the third day just as He said.  He fulfilled all prophecy and has kept every promise thus far.  Do you think the promise of eternal life is where the true blessing is at?  I do. When I compare everything to the cross nothing ever measures up to Jesus.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The Most Offensive Man

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There was a man whose life began in the most humble of settings.  He was literally born in a barn.  His parents were very young and poor.  He grew up learning the trade of carpentry. In all historical documents none of them can claim any true offenses this man made toward anyone.  In fact all documents describe this man as loving, peaceful, and one who healed the sick.  Very early in his life there were those who wanted him dead.  A king even had all baby boys within the age range of this young fella in the land murdered to try to get rid of him.  He walked the earth for just a mere 33 years.  As he grew he exhibited love and peace to all.  His words pierced to the very core of those who listened and embraced them.  As he grew older and started spreading his message of the way to everlasting life there were people who were very jealous and hated him.  You see even though he had no money,  no home, no assets he was a man of great power and influence.  The love and peace that flowed from him were more powerful than any political sect, more powerful than the rich, and more powerful than religious leaders.  The power of love he demonstrated caused him to have tremendous influence.  Once again his life was sought after by those who were jealous and threatened by him.  With no true offense that could be found in him the jealous ones still managed to succeed in having him put to death in the most gruesome way known.

This man is Jesus.  Still today I continuously hear of certain sects that can not stand any symbol of this man that walked the earth 2000 years ago.  Any scenes that reflect the story of his humble birth and the cross the symbol of his gruesome death are highly offensive and hated by some.  Why would a man that was loving and peaceful who was murdered for doing nothing wrong offend some?  You see it was who this man claimed that he was and through his resurrection proved to be that is offensive to many.  Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, God in the flesh, Emmanuel God with us, and the Light of the World.  He claimed to be the Savior of the world.  The prophesied long awaited Messiah had come.  You see to acknowledge Jesus, who he is, and why he lived on this earth is to also acknowledge that there was a need for him.  That need is to save us from the human sinful nature we all have that separates us from God.

Our human nature being full of pride and selfishness has a hard time facing the fact that we are wrong.  That we need saving.  There are many stories about people who have been imprisoned for years that have been terrified of being free out in the world.  You see the walls of their cell became their comfort zone.  The same goes for us when enslaved by sin.  It becomes our comfort zone.  We are fearful of freedom.  It takes a step of faith to leave our sinful cell and to step into the freedom only found in following Jesus Christ.

Maybe the name of Jesus is so offensive because there has been no other man to make such an impact.  What other man’s name is praised by those who love him and used as a curse word of those who hate him.  His impact is undeniable.  The change of his disciples who were terrified the night of his arrest to the point after his resurrection they gave up their own lives sharing the good news of everlasting life through Jesus.  The change happens to this day as he brings peace, forgiveness, and freedom one heart at a time to those who choose to step out of the cell of sin to follow him.

John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

“Everything is Meaningless”

As I worked a little in our yard today I couldn’t help but notice all the stages of life our flowers are in.  It is early autumn here and there are still new buds, fully bloomed flowers and of course dried up flowers whose short life has already been forgotten.  This week during my quiet time I have been studying the book of Ecclesiastes.  There is so much within this book that struck a chord with me.  If God leads me to writing a book some day it may need to be an in depth study of Ecclesiastes. This book of the bible is a strong example of the fact that the scriptures are truly timeless as this book holds the infamous “A time for everything” verses (chapter 3 1-8) for starters.  I am just stating the obvious.  What impressed me more deeply were the questions of a man who lived around 3000 years ago.  He lived nearly 1000 years before Jesus walked the earth.  His questions, his despair, his struggle with how good things happen to the wicked and how bad things happen to good people, his struggles with his own sin, his own vanity, his own pride, his realization that his power and riches left an even deeper longing and pain in his soul.  He began the writing 1:2 with “Meaningless!! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”  How often in just the everyday activities has this been my own thought.  Laundry is never done, there is always a project, always bills to pay, what is cleaned gets dirty again, there are always people bigger, better, and more talented. How often I have thought how quickly people are forgotten.  Within one generation powerful lessons and skills are forgotten.

I can see so clearly that if a person has their eyes, hopes, and dreams set on the
meaningless quickly passing things of this world that it would be so easy to slip into despair.  Why else would we see the ones who seem to have it all, fame, fortune, beauty, and talent slipping into a world of addictions.  Often addicted to vanity with multiple surgeries to try to restore their youth, addicted to drugs, alcohol, sleeping pills.  Many times retreating to a dark cluttered world full of materialism yet left with a feeling of emptiness.  King Solomon wrote of how seeking worldly pleasures and riches left him with meaningless nothing.

Before Jesus walked the earth providing the one and only way to eternal life King Solomon wrote these words.  3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  The rest of chapter three Solomon gives a glimpse of God’s final plan for judgment of every man.  The end of this book Solomon’s conclusion of life’s burdening questions that remain just as strong today as ever is this;  12:13-14 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”  Throughout this book Solomon keeps going back to remembering God.  Having the close relationship with God.  Unlike Solomon we actually know the whole story of God’s plan to come to the earth fully human yet fully God, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay the price of our sin that separates us from Him.  He proved who He is by rising again. To provide the clear path to have a personal relationship with Him.  To provide us the only way to eternal life with Him.  One day we all will be like the brown shriveled up flower as this life will pass quickly.  What has meaning?  What lasts?  Our relationship with God our creator, our healer, our sustainer, our source of true love, the truth, the life, our redeemer, our friend, the only good judge.  What we do in this life with our eyes set fully on God.  What we allow God to work through us and in us is what is lasting.  Loving others and caring about the eternity of others is the only thing that is not meaningless. That is all that goes beyond the grave of this life.

Chapter 1:9-11 he writes “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.  Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new’?” It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.  There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.”    It is my own observation in life that Jesus was and is the one and only NEW.  He was Creator and He is Savior.  His impact on this earth cannot be forgotten and cannot be changed.  God’s word can not be destroyed nor forgotten.  The word of God, Jesus, is the “new” Solomon was longing for.  Jesus is what all our hearts long for if we just open our hearts to Him he will fill us with joy, pure and meaningful everlasting joy!!!

Where Can One Find Love in a World Full of Hate?

Tonight at church we sang a praise song that I have heard sung by multiple artists and have sung multiple times myself in worship.  The praise song “Let my Words be Few” such a familiar song struck a new “chord” in my heart that it had not before.  As we sang the words “Jesus I am so in love with you”  God pressed the question on my heart “Why do you love me so much?”  As we continued to sing the answers to this question started flowing.  Being a part of the praise team I am ashamed to say that I hold back emotion quite often.   My emotion may cause quite the comotion as truly pondering this question made me want to fall flat on my face in humility.

First and foremost Jesus created me.  He is the creator of life itself.  Because of Jesus I have breath.  Because of Jesus I have senses to experience life in the good and the bad that life has to offer. In Acts 3:15 Peter refers to Him as “the author of life”.

Once sin entered the world by the choice of Adam and Eve God could have just wiped the slate clean. (Genesis chapter 3) With His creation now separated from Him by the curse of sin He immediately started His plan to save us.  The one and only way to bring us back into a loving relationship with Him once again of course allowing us the freewill to choose Him.  Ultimately His plan was to come to earth as a man, fully human, and fully God.  To live a sinless life.  To pay the price for our sin.  “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23 The fact that He left the glory of heaven to feel pain and temptation alone is humbling to me.

He came to earth humbly to serve.  He led a life demonstrating Love in its true form.  The perfect sacrificial LOVE.  My thoughts then went to the image of His suffering on the cross and the look of love and forgiveness in His tender eyes.  I know the amount of sin my life alone placed on Him.  God calls to all of us.  God calls to EVERY human being.  We often forget that He also came to die for our enemies.  The very people who hated Him He was carrying the weight of their sin as well.

Then my thoughts went to how He conquered death and rose again in three days proving that He is exactly who He said, GOD.  Death has no victory over those who put their faith in Jesus.  We will die physically, but our soul will live for eternity in heaven.  Then came the image of Jesus coming back again this time to conquer evil once and for all.  The image of His return coming down from the clouds is something I long for if I don’t get to see Him because of my physical death first.  So you see it is hard for my “words to be few” when I truly contemplate why I can sing “Jesus I am so in love with you”.  Of course after all this flooded my heart and mind during our song worship the Holy Spirit confirmed every bit of this through the words of our pastor.  It seems any time God wants to draw me even closer He will affirm and reaffirm His point to me.  Having a pastor that courageously preaches the word of God is truly a blessing.

“Jesus I am so in love with you” why….?

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever 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.”

John 1 1-14 gives further understanding of exactly who Jesus is.  Then again I recommend reading the entired bible from cover to cover to really know God…and then read it again and again!  🙂

Timeless

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As I reread and study scripture I am always left in awe of how men who loved God that walked the earth thousands of years ago scripted what exactly is on my heart. I marvel at God’s creation, at God’s wisdom, realize how fleeting this life and its materials are, and humbly realize the need my life has for a Savior then I sit down and read words God gave Job, David, Paul, and many others then realize what is on my heart is timeless. The same awe and desire for God’s relationship has been in the heart of mankind since God created us. God is timeless. He is the beginning and the end. The words He placed in the heart of these men and several others hold true today. These men were a vessel God used to show generation after generation what kind of relationship we broken human beings can have with our timeless, Almighty Creator. The lives I have observed that have shut Him out have a bitterness of soul about them. The beautiful poetic words of Job chapters 26-28 are a small sample of what I mean. God hears our cries of pain. He wants us to cry out to Him. It is ok for us to ask “why?”. Then God opens our eyes and ears to the whispers of Him throughout creation. His evidence is all around us if we have our eyes open to it. His peace and presence is right there for the taking for all of us if we just open our hearts. He pours out His wisdom for anyone who asks for it.

Revelation 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Oh Where Oh Where has my Little Sock Gone

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My creative outlet has been focused on a project for Father’s Day and for scavenger hunt clues for a slumber party these past couple weeks so the blog has been a bit on the back burner. A friend of mine just gave me a topic suggestion of lost socks and now after having twelve girls staying in our home for one night there are all sorts of lost something’s around here. Socks, undies, towels, shoes, and swim goggles to name a few random items found so far. My friend is single and still has the infamous sock mystery in her own home she said. Where do these socks go? As a mother I am so relieved that the fashion has changed to the little anklet socks that are bright in colors and do not have to match. In fact you can even purchase socks now that do not have a matching friend. In this household it isn’t always such a mystery of where our socks go with having a dog that loves to eat anything that smells like feet. I shall not mention the other things this weird dog loves. We also find the socks in random places. Pockets of jeans, behind the dryer, in toy boxes, under the couch, in the couch… There are sad little socks lost to never be worn again across our beautiful globe and most definitely across these wonderful United States of America. Sometimes you see a lone sock or even a shoe along the roadside. Now how in the world does that happen? Socks seem so insignificant until you have a blister rubbed on your foot or wear a pair of shoes without socks. Enclosed shoes worn without socks become putrefied very quickly within the Lucas family. The worst smelling shoes award were a pair of soccer shoes and socks that had been worn to play a soccer game in the rain. The shoes and socks were left under the driver’s seat of my car without my knowledge. The next morning it literally smelled like a small animal had crawled in my car, died, and decayed overnight. For the most part losing a sock doesn’t get me too bent out of shape. Now there have been frantic searches for a matching soccer sock on game days that gets the entire family focused on one measly stinky sock. This mother learned very early to always buy at least two sets of each color of uniform socks. Even then that is not always enough to prevent the last minute soccer sock panic.
My friend’s suggestion got me to thinking and studying God’s word more intently on what it means to be lost. It is a Christian term that I know I have been guilty of taking for granted that everyone knows. The Christian terms of being “saved” and “lost” can be quite confusing to anyone who hasn’t been raised in church. As I think of terms we just haphazardly throw around it is no wonder the world doesn’t understand.
In the bible Jesus says in Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost.” He made this statement for the benefit of critical on lookers as he called to Zacchaeus the tax collector to come down from the tree and asked to go to the house of this so called “sinner”. When researching this verse I learned something new about my own bible. There is no Matthew 18:11. In all the times I have read the book of Matthew I have never noticed the missing verse. In some scripts this verse Luke 19:10 was quoted here as well, but upon researching original Greek scripts this verse actually does not translate into this section of the bible so many newer translations have simply left it out. It is a process called textual criticism that is a tool in testing the accuracy of the scriptures. In Matthew eighteen the concept of Jesus seeking and saving the lost is there as He tells the parable of the lost sheep. Matthew 18:12-14 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wonder off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” This discovery brought an even greater discovery and reassurance of how God has protected His ancient word. No other ancient manuscript has been copied so many times in so many different languages yet maintains nearly one hundred percent accuracy despite the fact that “to error is human”. He divinely used human beings to script His word and continues to use us to share and copy it. He has protected this roadmap to life and the history of His plan time and time again through countless efforts for it to be destroyed or to be taken out of context.
The same love and protection of the scriptures God has applies to every single human being. What does it mean to be “lost”? What does Jesus need to “save” us from? God had created mankind to be his friends yet he wanted the love and trust of the relationship to be mutual. For us to have “free will” to choose God’s friendship and to trust Him. Adam and Eve succumbed to the temptation to eat from the one tree that God had warned them not to eat from. They had free reign of all the other food in the paradise God had placed them in. There was no pain, sickness, guilt, shame, or sadness. As soon as they had eaten the fruit of the tree God had told them not to the result was immediate. They immediately felt the burden of guilt and shame. They tried to hide from God and started passing the blame from themselves Adam blaming Eve and Eve blaming the serpent. All in all it was each of their own personal choice to do the one thing God their creator and friend had asked of them not to do. From that point on every human being has had this bondage of guilt, shame, and sadness. Not a single one of us is free from our sinful choices. We are a slave to our choices, addictions, bitterness, and selfishness. Our sin has caused separation from God’s love, companionship, friendship, and protection. The Old Testament provides the history of God’s plan to provide the perfect sacrifice to cover the separation our sin has caused. The New Testament reveals God’s one and only Son, Jesus. God in the flesh came to earth and led a sinless life. He was the pure and perfect sacrifice that covered our sins that separate us from God. Once again God has given us the choice. First we must realize that we are lost. We are so much more important than a sock or a sheep as in the parable that Jesus told. To God each and every one of us is worth the pain and suffering endured on the cross. He calls to each and every one of us separately and personally. When we choose to believe and allow Jesus to free us from the pain of our burdens it is the most freeing experience that is possible for mankind. So often we have no idea of the weight that we try to carry and the joy that we are missing. We can choose to become bitter by our circumstances of sins inflicted by others on us or by the consequences of our own sins or we can choose true life through Jesus.
We don’t have to be a lost sock. We can forever be paired with Jesus to fulfill God’s plan for our lives for eternity. It is our choice to continue to carry our pains in this life and to die separated from God forever. Or to start living a life free from our burdens right now and have the promise of eternal life. When death comes for a believer true life begins with no more pain, tears, or sorrows.

Everlasting Value

When losing someone you love there comes the very painful task of what to do with their belongings. Thankfully mom can take her time with most decisions. In order for dad’s church he pastored to be able to move on, the cleaning of dad’s office at the church was of top priority. Having a day off the week after his death I had the availability to help my mother with this daunting task. Memories flooded my mind of all the moves my dad had helped me with over the years as I traveled to his church. He had helped my sister and I through our college years move in and out of dorm rooms. As a young adult moving to my second apartment my dad sheepishly mentioned that he really did not want to help me move again anytime soon. At the age of twenty-four I told him that I would only move if I were getting married or by the time I turned thirty I was going to buy my own home. A year later from that time I was engaged to my soon to be husband Mike. In less than two years, yes, he was helping during a move yet again. He has always been there with every move of ours, painting, assembling furniture, and selflessly helping anyway he could. When my grandfather died, my dad’s father, I can remember sitting on the back steps of my grandparent’s home. Dad was sweeping the carport for grandma and my grandpa’s shed was directly attached to the carport. As a young boy one of my dad’s chores was to clean and organize my grandpa’s shed. As I sat on those steps I noticed water drops splashing onto the concrete underneath the carport. My eyes panned up my dad’s tall frame to see him leaning onto the broom handle with his face planted on top of his hands. He had started to sob in grief as he remembered the significance of cleaning his father’s shed once again. Well here I was helping with my father’s final move in his years of ministry. He had already mentioned to mom that if anything happened to him to just throw out all of his files upon files of sermons. In later years he had started to save them into the computer, but with thirty-seven years in the ministry the amount of sermons, funerals, weddings, and special programs was still a vast amount. Knowing that it would not be possible to actually read through every one of them I knew that was the only realistic thing that could be done with them. Being logical still didn’t help with the pain of seeing the hours and years of his work go into the dumpster. God started to press on my heart that those sermons are actually everlasting. The ears that heard and took those words God gave dad to heart changed lives and that could never be thrown away, burned, or destroyed. My father was my pastor for twenty-one years of my life and though he probably did not think I listened, I did. Those sermons were investments dad made into my eternity as well as so many others. The eternal perspective has taken such precedence in my life now more than ever before. Everlasting investments have become top priority. Galatians 6:8 “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” So much of our activities in life are so fleeting. Any work we do on our homes, our yards will just need to be done again. Money spent on material things is fleeting. Money given to missions, ministries, and the needy is everlasting. What we do for others by lending a helping hand, praying for, and sometimes an encouraging smile or word is what is eternal. Lord I pray that you will use my life for the things that are eternal.