Want to Know How to Lighten Your Load?

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Usually our son is a pretty good hiker.  Today’s journey started out rough!  Usually a good hike is packed full of very valuable life lessons today’s hike did not disappoint!  As we embarked on our adventure our ears were plagued with continuous whining and complaining from our son!  My husband will soon be fifty and I will soon be forty seven,  we reminded our twelve year old of our older more worn bodies pushing through the physical strain.  The complaints continued on.  We had him stand next to me to show that our legs are actually the same length after the excuse of “your legs are longer than mine”, was spewed out! The attitude was rough and put quite the damper on this beautiful day!  Finally God placed a thought in my mind that was ever so true for myself more often than I like to admit.  “Son you are being weighed down by your bad attitude.  It is heavier than your own body is!”  If you take that attitude and throw it far down that hill your load will be so much lighter!!  You are missing the beauty around.  You are missing the warmer air, the sunshine, the fact that you can see so much farther while the leaves are off the trees!!  Even the muddy path is kind of fun!  It’s fun to get dirty!”  It took some coaxing, but praise God the “tude” started to dissipate!  The guy found a pocket knife off the beaten path as he did some exploring!  He even sang a little!  Toward the end of our 6-7 mile travel I heard “the sun looks so nice going down over the river”!

We all really have those moments when our bad attitude and self absorption really weighs us down. It truly weighs down everyone around us!  As I explained to our son I used my hands to tug at my chest and then flung my arms in a throwing/tossing motion toward the steep of the bluff,  I felt a sense of relief within myself even!  Throw that bad attitude away!  It boils down to our bad attitude is actually sin creeping in.  A bad attitude steals our joy and we miss out on the beauty surrounding us.  Even in pain or trials there are blessings God pours upon us if we have our eyes open!

Hebrew 12:1-3 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

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Lessons from Our Adoptive Son

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The heart of man kind is such a mystery to us, but not to God.  Our son continues to teach me more and more about human nature and God’s love for us all!  It is amazing how people can go through tough circumstances in life and come through with basically two very different outcomes.  The circumstance will either better us or make us bitter.  Really the choice is our own and is based on our heart!  So often I hear “John has a good heart.” from teachers, people at church,  friends, and family.  He of course has a ton to learn like anyone, especially at age 12.  He does indeed have a very loving heart.  With what he has gone through in life, yet still has such love, forgiveness, and remains “teachable” is quite amazing.

He has been bullied a lot and in a very recent case continues to find forgiveness in his heart.  He tells me “Everything is good mom, we are friends now!!”  It amazes me how his ultimate desire seems to just be buddies with the whole world no matter what anyone has done!

He asked me today “Mom, if you could choose any job you wanted what would it be?”  After a second of thinking about what I truly enjoy in life I said a park Ranger!  I have loved being in the woods since I can remember at age four begging my dad to take me for walks in the woods by our house!  I told John I love the woods and I love taking kids on hikes too!  Hikes teach a lot of life lessons!!  He says “Yeah!  I think all the hikes you take me on have helped me get more mature and responsible!!!”  Oh my gosh that is that sweet heart of his, God love him!!  I then said I love to fix up and restore old houses too!  A park ranger that also fixes up houses those are my dream jobs!!  He agreed and was satisfied with my answer!  😂

Recently we redid our laundry room.  My husband tore out a closet that just wasn’t very functional.  Our home was well built with a LOT of plaster and wire.  It sure wasn’t like the fix up home shows that seem to always just take a sledge hammer to bust out walls a lot of different tools and grit were needed.  This wall had resilient layers of plaster with a strong fine mesh wire, and a strong studded framework!!  After the walls came down and stubborn tacks in the floor were removed we were able to restore this space to a pretty little room maximizing the potential of the space.  I was reminded of what God can do with a human heart!  He wants to restore us, tear down the walls of bitterness, and maximize us to the full potential He created us to be!!

There is so much in the Bible about the heart!  We all sin, after Adam and Eve sinned we all have the curse of sinful nature.  Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”

We all are in different stages of restoration and need of restoration.  When we look at others how God sees them it sure helps to protect our own hearts from bitterness.

Every person God has used in His great plan has sinned, but He always considered their heart.  It was the condition of their heart that caused God to use them.  Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Moses, David, Paul, Peter, John… the list is so very long.  All sinners, yet had hearts that were repentant and teachable, loving, able to receive and give forgiveness.  The scripture of course speaks better than I.  Here are just a few verses that really touched my “heart”!!  ❤️

1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him.  For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

Psalm 119:2 “Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their heart.”

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”

Proverbs 21:2 “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.”

Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

How is your heart condition?  God is continuously working on mine!!!

Freedom in Adoption

 

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One or two days out of the week when I am off work I get to walk our son to the bus stop.  Walks and car rides seem to always be the best opportunities to have meaningful conversations with my kiddos.   Our son essentially talks non-stop.  Sometimes he says a lot of words and I  still have no clue what he is actually talking about.  We have a lot of work to do on the who, what, where, and why content in his verbal communication.  There are times though he says things that are so very profound.  He continues to teach me how to have good listening skills as I work to teach him how to communicate well.

He likes to talk about when he first came to our home for respite care as a child stuck in the foster system.   Many times he has said he knew this would be where he would stay, his forever home.  I don’t remember what led up to the statement that struck me so deeply, but it was probably some of his reminiscing that he loves to do.  The statement that has caused me to ponder so deeply was “Now that I am adopted I am free!”

In the last six months our guy has made greater strides than he had in the fourteen months prior.  His reading has really improved, he keeps his room clean, self control, and maturity have also tremendously improved.  Of course with ten years to catch up we still have a way to go, but the leaps and bounds have been amazing.

Even with deep empathy sometimes it is hard to imagine what a child in Foster care truly goes through.  As a family licensed in Foster Care there are times we feel “bound by the system”  so I can only imagine how the children feel.   Not knowing where and who you will live with. To have so many emotions that you can’t even begin to understand.  Fear, anxieties, lack of trust.  People and a government that should have your best interest in mind continuously letting you down.

For our son adoption has meant freedom.  Freedom to let oneself love. Freedom to trust. Freedom from the worry of where you will lay your head each night. Freedom from rules that “regular” kids don’t have. Freedom to let go of fear. Freedom to get to hang out with friends.  Freedom to have your picture taken. Freedom to say “this is my home”.  Freedom to say I belong. Freedom to say I am loved.  Freedom to have structure.  Freedom to have loving discipline because someone really wants you to succeed.  Freedom to say I am wanted…  I could go on and on.  Until he said those words I really hadn’t realized what a release of chains of bondage adoption can bring.

It is such a reflection of what being adopted into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ brings.  When we give our heart and life to Jesus He gives us freedom.  Freedom from our own sins that bind and consume us.  Freedom from worry when we trust in Him.  Freedom knowing that no matter what happens in life we have an eternal home.  Freedom to love and know that we are SO VERY LOVED.  Freedom knowing that He will provide. Freedom to embrace His loving discipline because He wants us to succeed.  Freedom in knowing that God indeed wants us even when all else has failed and forsaken us.

Ephesians 1:5, NLT: “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”

John 8:36

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Ephesians 3:12

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Adoption Day (More difficult to Write About Than I Thought)

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Adoption day for our 11 year old son was back on March 4th.  Honestly it has been hard to put words to the emotions that go with what his adoption means.  Adoption represents a new beginning especially for a child that is older.  Adoption also represents loss.  My husband and I are honored to step in to meet the need, but there is a sadness I feel as well.   As I have gotten to know birth family there is a deeper connection and commitment that has come along with the adoption.

For our son I have sensed a much decreased anxiety.  There is a reassurance there that I have not seen.  There is also a new level of testing.  While there is relief in the permanence my heart still hurts.  It is so hard to explain this depth of sadness.  I grieve for the loss he has endured.   I grieve the brokenness that brought him into our lives and to our family.   God had a plan of two people, his birth mother and father, to bless him with.  God entrusted them with his care.  Life happens and choices in life happen.  Life choices that can support  strong families or destroy families, marriages, and lives.  My heart grieves for all of this.  We live in a broken world and my personality type wants to fix everything.  I can not fix anything or anyone, but can point to the one who can.  Not everyone will choose healing.

God created the world sinless and good.  He allowed mankind to have freewill.  To choose to love and obey.  The fall happened when the first man and woman sinned.  The curse of sin has run rampant since that time.  The vicious cycles of sin destroy families and lives again and again.  Adoption is a pathway that can break a cycle.

The greatest breaking of a vicious sin cycle is the adoption into God’s family.   When we admit we have a sin problem. When we have a personal encounter with the healing grace and forgiveness.   The healing only comes from God’s one and only Son Jesus Christ.  Following Jesus with our lives and turning from our selfish sinful pride.  Only then can we be adopted into God’s family and find true healing of our hearts and lives.

People say “you are so good” for doing the foster care thing.  No, I am not.  God pounded on my heart for nearly seven years before I finally submitted to making that phone call.  It has been every bit of hard that I knew it would be.   God has been my strength through all of it.  The full dependency I have had to place on him has been priceless.  I have gotten to see him in a way I never would have had I not answered this calling.  Our family has been strained beyond more than I ever thought we could endure. God has been right here with us.  He has been the sword and shield with every head to head battle with the devil himself!!  My weaknesses have been thrown before me daily.  God has used my weakness to give incredible strength that he gives through full submission and humility.  As things have actually gotten a bit easier as permanency goals have been met I find myself missing the desperation.  The desperate cries to God to help me please!!!  Oh this is just a short break I am sure.  There will be future valleys and pain.  What he has brought our family and myself through has only prepared for the next battle.  The hard places in life are not something I wish for.  Now I have a much greater understanding of why God allows hard things and calls us to hard things in this life.  The closeness, the relationship with my God and my best friend is beyond anything there is to offer in this world we live in.  Do you know him?

John 1:12-13 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Romans 8:14-17 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

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!!

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!

Discouragement One Beat Foster Momma

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This week as a foster mother has been a rough one.  There have been moments that I actually said (not out loud), “Lord I am tired of trying to raise other peoples kids.  I’m tired of dealing with the problems that I did not create.”  I hate to admit that openly, but it is the honest truth.  The love I have felt for every child within our care has been unexplainable other than the love from Jesus Christ Himself poured through me to them.   This week has been a discouraging week.  Discouraging behaviors and a discouraging system bring me to the point of feeling overwhelmed so often it seems.  Our dear pastor preached this morning on discouragement and it was so needed.

So often it feels like it is all for nothing.  There has been no difference made in anyone’s life especially the children.  Our first two placements probably would not be considered “success stories” according to the world’s definitions.

Just when I feel so low God gives the gift of a phone call out of the blue from our first child placed with us.  I was notified by our second placement of a charitable fundraiser that the kiddo is participating in.  Both continue to check in.  After a lot of attitude and pushing this momma to the limits the youngest child in our home tells me that she wants be a parent just like me when she has her own kids one day.   A birth parent has now been to church six Sundays in a row and we exchange a mother/daughter-like “I love you” when saying good-bye.    The devil sure wants to beat me down and make me quit, but God who is so full of Grace and Love shows me these glimmers of hope just at the right time.   So often it seems like there is no difference being made.  If a child can say that they know that when in our home they were truly loved then that is a success.

Thank you Jesus for pouring out your Grace on me.  Thank you for pushing me to continue pouring out that Grace to others even when it is so hard.  I am so far from being perfectly loving and therapeutic 100%, but God wants to use me despite how weak I am.

As the apostles continued to press on sharing the Gospel of Jesus this verse made me think of what I am learning in this ministry of Foster care.  Acts 4:33″With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.”