There is Hope in These Uncertain Days… “His Eye is on the Sparrow”

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In the midst of all the uncertainties going on in our world a momma bird has chosen our front door winter wreath to bring her little ones into the world.   First the nest was noticed, then one egg,  then days later two,  then over a week later there are now four eggs!!  Delightfully I laughed yesterday discovering the four!  Wooo weee the Lucas love porch has a lot of hanky panky going on!!!!!  Why our noisy front door with kids in and out, three dogs barking,  two cats that lurk in the window?  It doesn’t seem to be a safe option for the momma bird in my mind, yet here we are.  Of course my winter wreath will be up for the duration as Spring in the truest of forms transpires on our door.  Now I feel a sense of responsibility wanting the door to open and close carefully because of the fragile new life that rests on it!  How beautiful is the craftsmanship of the nest and the eggs.  The security of the nest is amazing in how it doesn’t even shake on the wreath as we open and close the door!  Simply amazing to me!!

As this Covid-19 virus rips across the world I am reminded even more deeply of how fragile life is.  How very precious this gift of life!  Every life, the unborn, the elderly, the special needs, every ethnicity precious and fragile.  We are one race, the Human race, and God is giving us a chance to see how very delicately we all hang in His beautifully created balance!  In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus tells us not to worry.  Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet our Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  The other night on Facebook I watched one of my favorite Christian artists sing “His Eye is on the Sparrow” from her home with her hubby on the piano.  As my tears flowed her powerful voice stirred me to worship and thank God for life itself and my family. (I am not sure about copy writes. I don’t make money from my blog, but search Natalie Grant’s facebook page to listen😏)

One of my favorite songs as a kid was “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”.  This is what I envision now as there is so much uncertainty.  God created us, He loves us, He is in control,  He is the giver of life and gave us free will to choose to love Him back.  The lyrics of this song repeats the same line four times for each verse.  ” He’s got the whole world in His hands.  He’s got the itty bitty baby in His hands.  He’s got you and me brother in His hands.  He’s got you and me sister in His hands.  He’s got the wind and the rain in His hands.  He’s got the whole world in His hands”.   As a little girl I remember reaching out to my dad for his hand on walks or in a busy place for safety.  My dad had big hard working hands that represented strength to me.  How much greater are our Heavenly Fathers hands holding all of creation in balance with His strength, power, and love.

Our front door is essentially the only way in and out of the front of our house so trying not to disturb momma bird is difficult.  This reminds me that there is only one way to life everlasting in heaven.  Jesus is the door.  Our world is broken.  The disease of sin has ravaged the human race since Adam and Eve ate from the one tree that God asked them not to.  We are all under the curse of sin.  Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary.  Making him fully God and fully human.  You see God left the glory of heaven to feel all that we feel here on earth because of our sin disease.  He was fully tempted to sin as we are, yet He never sinned.  This made him the only one that could take the punishment for our sins.  He took our place on the cross bearing all of the world’s sin.  He rose three days later proving that He is God.  God did this out of love for His creation.  He gave us free-will to choose to love Him in return by accepting Jesus as the Lord of our life.  John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”   John 10:9-10 “I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

My prayer is that we as the human race will awaken to how valuable life truly is.  That we will love and care for others again.  Right now the sacrifice is not that great.  Just stay at home and love your family.  My prayer is we will open our eyes and hearts as to what is truly important and what has been a distraction.   God asks us to love Him and love each other.  Our basic human needs of food, water, shelter and love is what is important. We have become so greedy as our sin disease ravages mankind.   God is bigger than any disease, He is bigger than any government, and He is bigger than all of our own personal pride.  I invite you to have a personal relationship with Him and walk through that door of life.  There is hope in Jesus no matter what is going on around us!!

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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When Things aren’t Really What they Seem

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We have lived in our home just over two years now and at least the third bird has now flown into our back door.  I had heard something hit the glass this morning and when I walked out to the living room there was a dead bird laying right there on the patio.  Two of the birds have died right a way.  One woke up after about 10 minutes and staggered off, possibly died later of a brain hemorrhage.  Why on earth am I writing about these poor birds?  Of course if I could have saved them I would have.  My heart breaks each time this happens.

This morning has me thinking of how our sin and the sin of others can look so appealing and safe on the surface.  The devil is always working to deceive just like he did with Eve in the garden of Eden.  “Oh this is the way to go, this is safe, one time won’t hurt, it isn’t your fault, it isn’t really hurting anyone, you only live once, you won’t have any friends if you don’t…”   So many lies that lead to death and destruction.

If I could just warn the birds before they fly into the glass…  My conviction this morning… If I could just warn the person before they try drugs…  If I could tell the person that is so down how much God loves them and I do too…  If I could tell the young girl that you are so pretty and loved by God… you don’t need a man’s attention for your worth…  For the used and traumatized by the sins of others… you are worth so much more than that… that is not what defines you…  If I could just tell everyone about the love of Jesus before they fly to whatever is deceiving them that may be a death trap…

It is by God’s grace I am alive and by God’s grace I have been forgiven of my own sin!  Every day God is teaching me more of myself and warning me of what looks good on the surface may be a sinful death trap!

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

My prayer is for God’s truth to continue to be revealed in lives of individuals all across the world, our great country, my family, and within my own life!  Jesus is my hope and I have never known a greater love and worth than my identity as a Child of God!!

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!!!

The Honest Truth

So instead of folding laundry and mopping a sticky floor I am taking a much needed break.  Whether or not another soul reads these words, typing the thoughts and lessons God continues to work on in me is the most therapeutic.  I guess yesterday I made the mistake of talking too much about the need to be part-time in my job as a registered nurse and stated that “momma’s tired”.   The reply I got was “Well you are doing what you wanted.” As we continue our journey in foster-care some “get it” and some don’t.  That is what it is and I really don’t expect anyone to “get it” or give any approval. That comment though brought out sincere truth of why we are in this.   My rebuttal was “Actually truth be told it’s not what I wanted.” The reply back was, “but you have wanted it for a long time.”  My reply back was “Actually God would not let up in calling us, I put it off for years knowing how hard it was going to be.”  Truth be told if I separate what I truly want in my fleshly human self I would still live in our house we just sold, we would have our pool, I would keep working full-time,  I would keep working long hours to have more finances to put our own two children through college, Mike and I would be planning and taking trips just us.”  Then I remember saying “I wouldn’t change a thing as far as the people that have come into our lives because of foster-care.”

We would also be unsettled and miserable because we wouldn’t be doing what God has called us to.  Our lives would make little if any impact on anyone else.   It is so hard to explain why we do this in a way others can understand.  It puts a strain on our marriage, our other relationships, our own physical, mental, emotional well-beings.   We actually make our family very vulnerable to some crazy stuff.  Compassion fatigue is very real and despite my best efforts I have suffered it with each placement we have had.  My writing today will have a sad tone I’m sure because I am in the midst of some major compassion fatigue.  Hence the desperate need to write!!

The thing is the deeper my relationship with Christ the deeper my understanding of his love for me and this hurting world.  The deeper my understanding of how weak and insufficient I am on my own.  The deeper my understanding of what He did for me and this broken world by leaving the Glory of Heaven.  He came to this earth to be fully human to face, feel and experience all that we do in our lives yet never succumbed to the temptation of sin.  He led the perfect example of the life he has planned for each of us.  As Jesus came to serve and not be served (Matthew 20:28).  Ultimately He gave his life as the ransom for our sins so that we can be saved from our brokenness of sin.   He rose again as He had said proving that He is God.

My life truly is not my own and my purpose is to live for others.  Life especially in the last 2 years has been a constant process.  Trying to find balance like never before with continuous big life changes.  I have such limitations.   Because I am so weak, so limited, so unqualified God continues to reveal His strength and miracles.  When it comes to what truly matters there just is no comparison to what I want as to what God wants for me.  It may not be my way.  I may not know most of the “whys” until I get to go home one day.  What we are doing is not what I want.  That is the truth.  It is what God wants and I really can’t see anyone being able to do this right without God’s strength, Grace, and Mercy.  Because God is God and I am not what He wants for my life far surpasses what I think I want.

Another lesson is just never tell anyone if your sick, tired, etc… Judgment usually follows. I can cry out to God “Lord I am so tired, I need you!”

Just recently I was told “Thank you for not judging me!” even yet more confirmation that God has me exactly where he wants me.   Our  purpose is to serve and to love.  Our purpose is not to give our opinions and judgment. It is quite a relief actually to leave the judging to God.  To be on the receiving end of judgment of others  is pretty stinky and I pray that God helps me to always leave the judging to Him!!

We are all Lost Without Light

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Last weekend our family took a camping trip in the midst of all this selling and buying a house business.  My husband works midnights and had been awake for 38 hours at the time we arrived at the campground well after dark.  It was a campground that was new to us so we had no clue where everything was located.  My husband got quick little instructions from the guy that checked us in and no map was given to us.  Needless to say we drove all around with one wrong turn and dead end after another.  We stopped by the office again where I ran in got further instructions and requested a map of the campground.   Even with that we lost the road we were on and could not really see the markers.   We still ended up on the wrong site, but it all worked out.  Miraculously our tent went up easily even in the tiredness and confusion.  We had a nice no drama time other than the lostness we felt when we first got there.

If it weren’t for instructions from someone that knew the way,  the map, and our headlights we probably would have ended up in the river.

This got me to thinking that this is such a picture of life.  We are thrust into this world completely lost.  When relying on our own strength and knowledge we really make one wrong turn after another.  There is one light  and only one light to guide us to our true home and that is Jesus Christ.  Looking to His road map, the Bible, and getting instruction from others that are wise in His word are the best instructions.  Most important is His light shining on our path in the direction we are to go.

The next morning we awoke to sunlight and could get a true perspective in how the campground was set up.  Looking on with daylight it was no wonder we were confused.  The road did disappear and the site markers were hard to find.  Only with full day light could we truly know where we were.   This reminds me of heaven one day when we get to see God’s Glory and plan in fullness.   Jesus is the light of the world.

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,” I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

 

What Would you do if you had a Million Dollars?

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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!!!!

“Mercy does not Need Reasons”

For weeks now I have wanted to blog about what I see as far as true love and support from a foster parent’s perspective.  Our situation has been purely a calling of God on our life as a family and as individual followers of Jesus Christ.   It has been very eye opening to see who and where true love and concern has come from.

The only non-judgmental truly supportive concern and understanding has come from our church family our actual church and fellow believers that attend other churches.   Jesus’ church of believers.  It has been people that have had a true encounter with Jesus Christ themselves and have had God’s calling on their own lives that provide the unconditional support our family so desperately needs.

This blog is not to point fingers or to provide direct quotes of questions we have been asked.  In general there is a lack of understanding as to why we keep on with all the sacrifices of time, finances, home, emotions,  and actual abuse against us for someone who may never “get it”?   Why do we keep on with all the inconveniences and scrutiny of “the system”?

This morning while working on the middle school girls Life group lesson God has helped bring this observation to a deeper level of understanding.  The story of the “Good Samaritan” one that I have read in Luke 10:25-37 many times throughout my life provides the best answers to the questions we are asked.

God’s call on the life of those who choose to believe and follow Him is this…  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;  and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

How can a human being whose nature is all about self survival, preservation, pleasure and promotion give completely unconditionally  to a stranger and possibly “the enemy”?    It is all by the power of God’s love.   It is coming to the understanding of how much God loves me even though I personally don’t deserve it.  God has shown me an indescribable amount of mercy and it is only through Him I can show this kind of mercy to others.  God has different plans for His people to show love to neighbors.  His plan for our family for this season is exactly what we are doing right now.

This morning I was having a morning where I was fighting with my own human nature and feeling very tired of the “behaviors”.   God’s word cut right to my core yet again.

I love a quote in the Wiersbe Bible Commentary I just read.  ” The Samaritan identified with the needs of the stranger and had compassion on him.  There was no logical reason why he should rearrange his plans and spend his money just to help an “enemy” in need, but mercy does not need reasons.”

I’m tired, I’m far from perfect, but God keeps speaking to my heart.  He keeps telling me to press on, not to give up, and  to give what ever it takes.

 

 

Just Look How Far You’ve Come

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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.”