One of our daughters just asked me this question. She then followed with would you buy a different house? My first answer was no, I just want to have no debt. We then discussed college expenses and saving then then conversation topic fizzled.
The conversation fizzled out, but the thought of this question continued to weigh on me. A million dollars does not actually go far in our world today it could be a start. My self evaluation question became, “If money were no object what would you do?” Then cycling back to the house question my answer started to turn to a yes.
For years now God has put this burning compassion for children who have been rejected and beat down by this world on my heart. For one year now we have been in the trenches of Foster Care. The more of the true story and true pain I see this compassion just grows stronger. This is definitely a mission field that leaves you feeling like your heart has been torn from you, stomped on then placed back into your body to keep powering through beat by beat.
So this is my vision as hard and crazy as it sounds. As I sit here completely emotionally exhausted God will not stop calling on this broken heart of mine. Yes, I would buy a new house. I would buy a working farm or ranch. I would want to buy it where there are amazing hiking places. I would start a children’s home with the proper support staff. I would hire people with the same compassion and broken heart for what breaks God’s heart. It would be an amazing place with jobs for the children to be assigned to based on abilities and personalities. Nothing builds self esteem like a job well done. I would want to do therapy during hikes because who wants to just stare eye to eye with a therapist. Something about God’s creation truly relaxes and can cause true communication and healing to happen.
Truthfully I am worn out from just having one child that is in care at a time. Truthfully I do not have the resource within my own self nor financially to make this a reality. This one question has started to develop into a dream that God’s timing and provision can accomplish if it is in His will and plan. My heart aches for children who are “unwanted”, for children who push away the one’s that truly want to help, for the children who feel unworthy of love… My heart is to give as many children new Hope and a new beginning through the love of Jesus Christ. So if I had a million dollars or if money were no obstacle I would buy a new house. A house of Hope!!!!
A couple weeks ago I took all three of my children on a hike in one of our local state parks. Hiking is one of my most favorite things to do outdoors. The bucket list of hikes I would love to take is extremely long and gets longer and longer instead of shorter. This was our foster child’s first real hike ever I am quite sure. There was severe whining and complaining the entire hike. This was a very short hike compared to what this momma really loves to do. All along the way there were little break throughs amongst the complaining and threats from our child. “I can’t go any further!!! Oh look there is the same kind of bug you and I saw that one time mom!” “Oh I hate spider webs!! Oh my legs are worn out!!! Oh look at the cool butterfly!!” All three children missed the beautiful deer that crossed our path right in front of us. All the way were opportunities to teach about God, His creation, His love, and that in life we need to stop, listen, and look otherwise we miss the greatest blessings from Him. As the hike grew more intense with inclines so did the complaining. The story of the Little Engine that Could (one of my favorites) came in handy that day. With each step I encouraged “I think I can…I know I can!!” At one point I turned and looked at our child to keep encouraging and I saw just how far we had come. I said “Turn and look and see just how far you have already come!! I know you can do this!!”
We reached the top to see the awesome view and the first response was “wow!”. Then that hard shell of pride and survival methods from a harsh life went back up. The guard had been let down just for a moment showing a glimmer of hope that love was winning this child’s heart. The opportunity presented itself to explain that the reason I love hikes so much is that they are hard. The girls started telling him how they have even watched me fall down on hikes. It is a goal that requires physical, mental, and sometimes emotional work. All along the journey God provides little views of His Glory and His Blessings. Once we have persevered and reached the goal then we get to see something beautiful that we never would have seen had we not made the long journey. Each hike I have ever taken I have gotten to see more and more of God’s glory, His beautiful handiwork of His creation.
So it is with life and definitely parenting. Anything truly worth anything takes a lot of physical, mental, and emotional work. As God directs and leads down new paths it is so hard. I stumble, hurt, cry, feel like giving up and then He shows little snipits of His glory. Each new hurdle in life God reveals more and more of His Glory to me that I would have missed had I not listened and taken the path He directed.
Not only was this hike a teachable moment for this young precious child it was one for mom as well. Just keep looking at how far you have come I can hear my Heavenly Father encourage. Just keep taking one step and one day at a time and trust me.
It is always good to look back and see what God has brought us through and the prayers that have been answered. The past is not a place to dwell, but to learn from and press on.
So a message to all parents and especially foster/adoptive parents. Just look at how far you’ve come!!!
Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Just a few minutes ago I was out piddling in our yard feeling a bit overwhelmed with a lot of things truthfully. I sighed as I looked at this tree from the outside trying to see what branches should be trimmed to make mowing around it easier. As I stepped underneath it I felt like I was in a whole new little world. As the sun shown down through the green leaves I felt like I was in a beautiful protective green bubble of life. It was a whole new perspective of this tree I had never known. I took another picture looking out from the protective green branches. That view somehow made our large yard less daunting. As I stepped all the way out from under my green little hut I was looking eye to eye with this beauty.
Had I not taken the time to step under the protective shield of this tree and look up I am quite sure I would have missed the eye contact made with this beautiful creature. Yet another reminder from my Heavenly Father God to step into His protective loving arms, look up, and then look out with His perspective at what is before me.
Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Psalm 42:5 “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him my Savior and my God.”
Hiking has become one of my top all-time favorite pass times. Living smack in the middle of Midwest America there are very few challenging trails to embrace. The circumstance of our geographical surroundings leads me to plan as many vacations as I can around this love to hike and explore. It has to be balanced with what the children and my husband enjoy as well. My definition of fun is often very few others definition.
There is something about the anticipation of what will be around the next bend of the trail. The thrill of reaching the goal of the destination set to reach. God’s creation is photogenic as where ever one looks there is such beautiful artwork. There is pain that comes with these hikes. As I age the pains are becoming more plentiful, but that seems to add to the joy of reaching the final destination. Despite the pain in my right knee, despite the pain in my left hip, despite falling, despite pain in my lower back, and despite the fact that my feet now have their own heart beat I am here!!! The climb, the battle, the pain is all worth the views and discoveries.
There has been a particular hike in the Smokey Mountains that I have had my sights on for four years now. This past vacation there was time allotted for my husband and I to set out on this adventure I had been patiently waiting for. It was well worth the wait, the anticipation, and the four mile one way up a mountain trudge. The path followed closely alongside a bubbling mountain stream with the ultimate destination set for a beautiful one hundred foot waterfall. The entire trek was lined with moss and ferns growing in and out of everything. The beloved ecosystem literally houses hundreds of different species of plant life. There were trees that had to of been hundreds of years old along the trail. As we continued to place one foot in front of the other I kept thinking of Living water mentioned in scripture. Life thrives by this beautiful stream as it gives nourishment and the much needed water for these plants to survive.
Life with Jesus and receiving the “living water” He teaches of and gives believers is what spiritual life, health, and growth requires. You see in a life with Jesus as our guide there is always anticipation of what will be around the next bend. There is anticipation of our final destination of His glory for eternity. Along the strenuous path there will be pain, struggles, and falls. Through the struggles there will be strength, endurance, and a beauty that will prevail as one continues to focus on Jesus and His purpose and plan.
John 7:38 “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
John 4:13-14 “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
One place that I can clearly say I feel the closest presence of God is in the mountains. There is a peace and tranquility unlike no other place for me. The size and majesty of the rocky slopes always seem to remind me of just how big God is and how very small I am. While Jesus walked the earth the mountains were also one of His favorite spots to pray. Luke 6:12 “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”
There is a love for the outdoors and the challenge of long hikes that has been instilled in me. I would have to give my father credit for these loves as going on hikes with my father is one of my all-time favorite memories of my childhood and of my “Dadders”. It is now something my husband and I love to do and actually is more of my idea of a date than flowers and an expensive restaurant.
The first hike we went on this year required a pretty tricky steep rock scramble at the end to reach the summit. My husband and oldest daughter scaled the rocky steep like there was nothing to it. The strength and agility they both have has always amazed me. Neither one of them are bulky looking muscle heads, but you do not want them to give you a friendly slug to the shoulder (OUCH!!). Our youngest daughter and our two teenage family friends who vacationed with us opted to stay at the bottom of the steep. Not quite sure how far I would make it I proceeded to see how far the old arms and legs would allow this gal to climb. As I hit the trickiest spot I said a prayer of thanks that the other girls had remained at the bottom. As each limb of mine was stretched in opposite directions to find ledges to cling to I was reminded that this rock was my safety. As long as I clung to the rock I would be safe. One false footing or slip of my hand I could easily plummet to my death and really put a damper on this vacation. Doing my best impersonation of a spider monkey I made it over the tough spot and stopped to rest and to determine if I should continue the climb or not. That spot took its toll on the old arms. Upper body strength has never been one of my “strong” points having slacked on my bench pressing and pushups the last forty one years. Continuing on I had gotten three quarters of the way up and my arms and legs started to do the fatigue shake. My husband and daughter started making their descent and voiced words of encouragement, but the trust of my own physical capabilities and strength was shattered by the tired muscle shakes. Not being a huge thrill seeking risk taker I decided to error on the side of caution and to make my way back down via doing a reverse spider monkey scooting on my rear end. Actually the fact that I could make it as far as I did was thrilling to me after the left side of my body had gone numb just a year and a half prior. During that time my walk resembled Lurch from The Addams Family. Spider monkey on a mountain was such a greater blessing of an impersonation than Lurching around our home.
The connection of my physical safety relying on the rock reminded me that my spiritual safety also relies completely on the Rock. I had to find strong foot holds to the rock, cling to the rock, hug the rock; there were times I just wanted to find a cleft in the rock to hold me. You see scripture describes Jesus as the Rock of our Salvation. From what I can conclude there are over fifty scripture references referring to God and Jesus (God in the flesh) as our rock, our stronghold, our fortress, and our salvation. Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” There has been no greater safety I have found than clinging to God my Rock. In life it is so easy to slip into paths of destruction both physically and spiritually. As I continue the climb in this life I want nothing more than to cling to my God, my Jesus, my Lord, my Rock, and my Salvation!!!!
It looked like I had so much farther to go when actually climbing. Looking at pictures I realize how close I had gotten. It was the camera hooked to the bra strap that was the problem….yeah that was it!! Ha Ha!!