Once Going Organic There Aint No Going Back

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Two of the teenage girls my life has been blessed with came out to talk with me on our back patio yesterday morning.  I was actually getting to sit and study God’s word in peace.  Truly one of my most treasured happy places that I need to be in so very much more.  There was conversation about some tough things and tough parenting going on in our home right now.  The words and analogies that come out of my mouth sometimes most definitely do not come from my wee little brain.  We were talking about how conviction hurts and we get angry with whoever and whatever points out our brokenness.  We don’t want anyone telling us we are wrong no matter how kindly it is done.  Our human nature wants to stay in our sinful nasty ways.  We tend to make excuses and cast blame on everyone but our own self.  It hurts, but once we have surrendered to God’s ways and we truly desire to follow Jesus with our life then we start to experience true joyful, pure living!   I told them it is like drinking Organic Milk.  A few years back when I went through total detox for health purposes I started buying Organic Milk for the kids.  Now that we have tasted what is more healthy and pure the regular milk taste terrible.  Regular milk actually taste like chemicals with a hint of card board.   The words coming from me were that once we truly surrender to following Jesus the sin that we clung so tightly to starts to become like the regular old milk.  Once having the true taste of freedom, peace, and joy that Christ brings then the old sinful temptations start to look and taste like pure poison.  The closer we grow to Jesus the greater our desire for His ways and not our own.

We all have our different weaknesses, we all sin, and it all is disgusting.   No matter what our weakness is Jesus can heal us, purify us, and help us to live abundant life that He planned for us.   When God is convicting us it is painful to see how broken and dirty we truly are, but we can not experience true living without realizing how broken we truly are.

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Growing Strawberries and Being a Foster Mom

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Feeling down thankfully is not the normal for me.  Most days there is a song in my heart, a one liner joke or pun at the tip of my tongue, and a some smooth dance moves especially designed to embarrass my children or anyone around at any given moment of opportunity.   That has not been the case lately.  For the first time in my life I would have to say I have felt extremely down.  The bombardment of what I refer to as “stupid stuff” has been non stop from the moment I made the call to start the licensing process for Mike and I to become Foster Parents.  There have been a million annoying things.  The attack on our marriage, strain on finances, everything breaking, annoying stressors in our jobs, you name it Satan has been blasting it.  Nothing real huge just stressors that are like stepping on a Lego block barefoot it hurts, but doesn’t cripple.  Our choice to become Foster Parents has been totally and utterly a calling from God.  In my heart I know that these attacks are because we are doing what we are suppose to.  In my heart I know that if we weren’t making a difference Satan would not be trying so hard to get us to quit.  Physically, mentally, and emotionally I have grown tired.

There are days I feel the weight of so many people sitting on my shoulders.   I feel that I am crumpling underneath the weight of this cross God has called me to bear.  Actually I feel like I am flat on my face with my mouth and eyes full of dirt under the cross.  Each time I cry out God provides someone, something, or some sign of hope that lifts me back to my feet with a renewed strength to keep on with my cross upon my shoulders.  This road of ministry as with any God called ministry can be a very lonely and painful road.  The more God teaches me how to love with His love the greater the strain under the weight of my cross He has planned for me to carry for Him.   It is hard to explain being able to look someone in the eye that actually hates you and still feel a deep compassion for them.  It is hard to explain wanting to still help and give all I can even when the help is not well received nor wanted.  The only explanation is God’s love, God’s strength, and God’s will.  It sure does not come from my own ability because I can not.

Today I had one of those moments that I could feel God lifting me to my feet and giving a renewed strength to carry this cross. Our pastor’s sermons the last two weeks have had a significant impact as well as scripture God has led me to personally preparing me to see what I needed to today.

This afternoon I walked down to our little raised garden that really isn’t much to speak of.  A few years ago I planted two strawberry plants as well as many other types of seeds and plants.  The strawberries were the most successful so two years ago I decided to just let the garden be a strawberry patch and planted two more plants.  Each year the vines take over more of the garden and the harvest of plump red strawberries grows larger and larger.   There really hasn’t been much work needed.  Just the space for the plants, sunshine, rain, and some pulling of weeds.   God brought the fact to my attention that our call to Foster Care is much like our little strawberry patch.  We need to be willing and open to providing the space, resources and care.  The rest is actually up to him.  What lives we actually make a difference in has nothing to do with us, but is totally about God and His power to change lives.  It is God’s power that grows the strawberries.  It is God’s power that will make the difference in the lives he puts in our path.   We are to be available and let him love through us.  There is a nice harvest of delicious fruit that took a few years to get to reap and enjoy.  There is no limit to what God can do with the opportunities to love others, children, families, caseworkers, state workers, and our community through the ministry of foster care.   As of now counting our birth children we have had four children to plant, love and nurture.  Like the four strawberry plants I pray the love of these children will spread, grow, and bear a tremendous harvest of fruit.

Luke 9:23 “Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with me, He must deny Himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

 

John 15:8 “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

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Two Months IS Significant

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As we continue on in our journey in Foster care one of the greatest lessons has been to expect nothing.   The only guarantee and expectation that I personally have learned is that God is always present even when it feels like He is not.   So actually going into this ministry and definitely in the throes of our ministry a thank you is not expected.  We try to teach gratefulness, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, good work ethic, etc… with every opportunity.  The expectation, other than knowing God will be present, is a personal one.  Do I exemplify qualities that Jesus demonstrated for us? Do I show love, forgiveness, kindness, patience, gratefulness,  do I work hard?  My failures in these qualities happen daily so how can I  expect someone who has had a rough start in life to have them.  Why should someone who has had some rough and traumatic experiences at a young age have any reason to say thank you?  It is not expected.

One never knows what is significant to another person when first meeting.  Every person has a story and every person has something that is significant to them or longings that are significant. It is often a mystery and hard work to learn what is significant to another.  What is significant to my neighbor may not be significant to me. Yet we are to love our neighbor as ourself.   So how do we love others deep enough to truly make a positive impact?  Start learning what is significant to them.  It is an ongoing process in relationships with others that never ends.  Love grows deeper and stronger the more you learn and act on what those matters of significance are.   What is a passion, a joy, a hobby, what is the deepest need, what is the deepest longing of the other people in your life?

For our dear child that God has so divinely brought into our home there is a significance of time.  We all need the time of others invested for a relationship to grow, but to some time means security.  Toward the end of March I was asked about a specific date in April and if I knew what that day was.   My brain was in total “der” mode as I couldn’t think of a birthday, sporting event, or historical marker.   The next words gave me a clue as to what is significant to this dear one.  “I will have lived here two months.”

As that day approached two days ahead I was handed a card.  The card was going to be given on the day…no the day before…no the day before the day before….   The anticipation of this date in time demonstrated even more  how significant two months in the same home with no threat looming of having to leave has been to this precious child.   In care it is one day at a time never knowing what is going to change and happen next.  Security is one of our basic necessities as a human being.  We can provide words of assurance and love, but nothing speaks more than time and action.  So our thank you was very unexpected, but significantly heart melting to us.   It has been a wild roller coaster ride of  a first year as a foster home.   There truly has not been anything harder with a greater impact that our family has ever done.  As God continues to mold, shape, and strengthen us as a family and me personally, my prayers have turned into how can I love more?

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!!!!

Lost Dog The Cold and Hungry

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This past Friday night around 1030 pm this beautiful dog came up to our back patio door  scratching and begging to come in.  Hesitant to let a strange dog in I had hoped it would run off back to its home, but she just kept on looking at me through the glass and laid down along our back step.  Our dogs were going crazy as well as two of our three kids were getting all gaga over this bundle of furry sweetness.   Our most dog crazy daughter was staying at a friend’s home for which I was so thankful.  The drama of the begging “can we keep her?” would have earned her an Oscar I am quite certain.  My first step to help this sweet creature was to take to Facebook.  We started with a picture of her scratching at the door and sent out the plea to hunt down the owner.  There were comments, likes, and shares of the post, but at first no sign of the owner.  Eventually I felt safe trying to let her in much to our yellow lab’s disgust.  She was not a fan.  It was getting late so my oldest just took her downstairs with her to keep the dogs separate.  Our oldest daughter was totally in love already.  In the meantime we got this much nicer photo of the sweet girl’s face.

Eventually we were able to sleep.  Early in the morning I had gotten a message that it potentially was the messenger’s neighbor’s dog.  Through back an forth messages and more photos we were both confident this dog indeed was her neighbor’s.  About eight hours of her showing up on our door step she was riding off into the sunrise with her rightful owner.  The power of social media was a grand thing that day.  That same sweet face looked at me from the truck’s passenger window as she rode off.  She seemed to say “Thanks for letting me crash here!!”

My posts to search for the owners continued to be shared far past the reunion of dog and master even with stating in the comments that she had made it home and making a “Nala’s home” separate post.  My husband suggested that I just delete them so that the post would stop, but part of me was just too curious.  My curiosity won out and the posts remain.  Part of me really wanted to see how many people would try to help a dog.  Part of me wanted to see what kind of judgmental comments there would be on the shared posts.

One of my posts had at least 227 shares and the other with the better picture had at least 98 shares.  Far from viral, but impressive to me.  There were comments from people I didn’t know that leaned toward judgmental that we should “let that poor dog in!”   In fact we did let the dog in.  With the hypocritical thinking of our society, I know exactly the kind of judgment I would have rendered had the dog attacked one of my children.  “What kind of idiot lets a strange dog into their house!!!”   “She got what she deserved, you don’t let a strange animal in your home!!”  “What kind of mother is she?”

As the story goes all was happy and a sweet ending.  My children are bugging me that much more for a third dog now.

One thing that amazes me about our society/community/world is the extent people will go to for an animal while there are human beings that are cold and hungry.  Also the extent that people judge each other.  Recently I watched a video about an adopted redhead.  The video showed a young redheaded little girl that “annoyed” her adoptive parents and the end of the video shows the dad taking her to a country road getting her out, throwing her doll, the girl chasing it as the dad drove off in the car.  The end of the video shows him looking in the rearview mirror and the red headed girl was actually a dog.

Believe me I am huge animal lover and I certainly don’t want to see any of God’s creatures mistreated.  My point is that I post about foster care and hurting children all the time and these posts essentially are ignored.   My question is what would be the help or judgmental comments had the living being knocking on our back door been a child?   What would you do if a cold and hungry human being came to you for help?   What are we all doing to help the cold and hungry in this world?  This has just been such a strong burden on my heart after seeing the response I had for this dog.

1 John 17-18 ” If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

Matthew 25:35-40

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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.”

 

A Whole New Kind of Grief

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One never knows what a new year will bring.  This year has brought a whole new level of heart broken.  This picture is with puffy sad eyes of a turn of events breaking this momma’s heart.  Praise God for a sweet sensitive family pet that knew exactly what I needed in the moment. Sunday morning during our pastors sermon I had a short little prayer “God is it time to move forward with adoption…should I ask Mike about it again?”   The answer to my prayer was practically immediate and not what I ever dreamt or thought.  To protect privacy I can not write about the behaviors of our child that ensued immediately after our church service while we were still at church.  It was more of the tough stuff we have been enduring the last nine months with great intensity.  The afternoon improved and Mike and I once again were given apologies.  Once again we forgave without hesitation and then it seemed that what had become our “new normal” family life resumed for the rest of the day.  That night our child made a very dangerous, pre meditated and planned choice.  It was a choice that greatly endangered our entire family.  The realization was overwhelming that God was protecting us in a mighty way that night.

With prayer and consultation through the proper channels of foster care workers it became very evident that the next layer of healing would not be in our home for this young one.  God had answered my prayer with a big NO regarding adoption.  Not what I expected.  The message that followed was “you did exactly what I needed you to do and now it is time for the next step in the plan I have”.

This Sunday morning I sang the special music at our church.  It was a song that I had heard weeks prior that grabbed my attention in a powerful way.  As I listened to the words I thought “oh my this is my prayer that I have been praying through our journey!”  “These are the images of Jesus put to words in a song that have been sustaining me moment to moment.”  The song is “Abide With Me” by Matt Maher.  As my life journey continues my relationship with Jesus is deepening, but nothing has required a further growth and complete reliance on Him as our foster parent journey.   One of the images has been the image of Jesus on the cross carrying the burden of all the sin of all mankind.  As we have carried the weight of the EFFECT that sin has had on just one young life the understanding of the magnitude of Jesus’ love has blown my mind.  The burden has been so heavy and I have not been able to even carry one person that has been so sinned against without Jesus’ love.  The next image has been Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He prayed alone, abandoned by His sleepy disciples.  He prayed with great anguish knowing the magnitude of the weight he was about to endure.  His anguish was over the burden of sin and separation from God the Father more so than the physical torture.  Now with this week’s events there is a deeper level of Jesus’ pain that is becoming more clear.  Not only was he giving the ultimate sacrifice for those who would choose His healing.  He was fully obedient to carry the weight of those who would completely deny and reject Him.  This was something I knew, but haven’t had the depth of understanding as I now have.  To pour every ounce of love, energy, and sacrificial giving into a person who may not ever choose healing has been very eye opening.

God goes to extreme measures to reach each and every human being.  He will place people in the paths of others so that everyone has the opportunity to know the truth.  The workers are so very few.  (Matthew 9:35-38) As a follower of Jesus I feel so gracious and honored to get to be used by Him.  To understand that there is so much work to heal this broken world and that God would use someone so inadequate as me to touch the life of another humbles my soul.  God continues to provide a peace that nothing has been in vain.  That His purposes are eternal and we may not know on this side of heaven what work He has done through us.  If we went back in time to the day we got our license to foster the answer would still be “yes” to our first call.

We do need some time for “self care”, healing, and to pour love into our daughters.  We are not going to quit and still feel the call to open our home to children who have been hurt by this sinful broken world.  There are so many lessons that are priceless.  I will always love this child that is still learning how to receive true love.  Any child that has been in my care will always be one of my children.  This young life will remain in my prayers.  My hope is that one day I will be reunited with this young one in heaven.  I pray he will choose goodness, love,  and healing that only comes from Jesus.

Here are the words to the song “Abide With Me”.

I have a home, eternal home

but for now I walk this broken world

you walked it first, you know our pain

But you show hope can rise again up from the grave

Abide with me, abide with me

don’t let me fall, and don’t let go

walk with me and never leave

ever close, God abide with me

There in the night, Gethsemane

before the cross, before the nails

overwhelmed, alone you prayed

you met us in our suffering and bore our shame

Abide with me, abide with me

don’t let me fall, and don’t let go

walk with me, and never leave

ever close God abide with me

Love that will not ever let me go

Love that will not ever let me go

You never let me go

Love that will not ever let me go

You never let us go

And up ahead , eternity

we’ll weep no more, and sing for joy, abide with me

 

Chaotic Souls

It has been a while since I have written about our journey as foster parents.  It remains a journey with extreme ups and extreme downs.  There is a challenge and spiritual battle nearly everyday. There are also amazing teachable moments and victories nearly every day.

Today was an unplanned foster son room major clean up.  These have been required anywhere from every 2 weeks to monthly.  In preparation for Christmas today was my last chance to get the house in order before all the holiday festivities.  We now have a house rule that bedrooms and personal belongings around the house need to be picked up before computer time can be granted.  During school  homework and violin practice needs to be completed as well. So our foster son went into his room to clean to earn computer time.  At one point a bed was moved out and our son was sweeping all the toys and clutter out from behind it.  This initiated exuberant praise from me.  “Yes that is how to truly clean!!  Great job!!!”   Moments later when our child said he was done the time spent did not match the task at hand.  As I went in to inspect I noticed that trash that I had noticed on the floor as the child was sweeping was not in the trash can.  The wrappers I witnessed were nowhere in plain sight.

Then it happened. I discovered that a room that appeared and had been appearing pretty clean on the surface was not truly clean at all.   I began moving furniture and emptying drawers.  There was hoarded food, dirty laundry (I had wondered where all his socks went), pieces to games, trash, legos, chewed up wads of gum,  you name it.  In a mind that thinks like mine it requires far more effort to shove stuff behind and under furniture than to just put it where it goes.   There was some role playing to help the child see why mom’s mood went from happy to grouchy, having the child to look me in the eyes as we talked to truly connect,  there was teaching yet again on where things go, everything has a place, etc…  With each discovery of stashed messes our child became more and more angry with me.

Finally after moving the night stand and finding another huge chaotic mess words came from me that I had not had time to think of on my own.  Pointing to the mess I said that is what we look like on the inside before we ask Jesus to come in to clean us up.  We hide our sins, stash our pain, our trash, all our junk into the deep corners of our soul so no one else can see it.  God sees it though and that is why he gave us Jesus.  Jesus is the only one who can find our clutter of junk and clean it out.  Your room is not truly clean until all the junk stashes are sorted out.  Our hearts are not truly clean until we ask Jesus to clean us.  We can’t truly feel joy until our stash of trash in our hearts are cleaned out. There was a lot of tough love and firmness going on  as I have had to learn to be much harder than ever before.

With tears of frustration being shed by our child during this process we did finally reach smiles and happiness upon job completion.  Mom was also told “I’m sorry I had a nasty attitude.” and forgiveness was granted by momma.   For a child that is from hard places there is much more meaning behind the chaos of a messy room.  The control of things because that is all that a traumatized child could have any control of.  The hoarding of food because it has not always been readily available or possibly used as a punishment.  So much happens in lives of children from a hard place that we just never even really know about.  Often the child can’t even remember the trauma let alone make the connection of past experiences effecting behavior choices.  On so many levels we have had to start from the very beginning with teaching, socialization, and emotional development.

We just keep repeating and repeating teaching, loving, and tough loving.

I too had to have my heart cleaned by Jesus.  I have to cry out everyday for Him to purge the messes in the corners of my heart.   Sometimes it hurts I cry and get a little angry.  Once the junk is purged my eyes are opened to my nasty attitude and I can ask my Lord Jesus to please forgive me.  Once the chaos of my soul is clean I experience true joy and contentment.  Thank you Lord for showing me tough love and grace.

 

A Sixteen Year Old Daughter Teaching Mom Lessons on Vanity and Pride

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A few months ago my oldest daughter, Michaela, expressed her desire to participate in the St. Baldrick’s  fundraiser.  This is an event where the participants raise money for childhood cancer research then have their hair completely shaved off.   My youngest daughter, Cora, and I looked at each other with looks that were mixed with shock, reservation, and uncertainty.   The thoughts and feelings that flooded over me in that moment are embarrassing.  It is amazing who and what God uses to reveal the nasty parts of our human nature.  My first thoughts were “Oh that hair is so beautiful, she has prom, senior pictures, etc…”  Pure selfish prideful thoughts were my initial response.   How nasty and foolish of me.  During her elementary school days it was mom that encouraged her to donate her hair to “Locks of Love” a couple times.  The last time was in fifth grade.    Going to a “Bob” haircut for fast growing hair was apparently reasonable for my  prideful heart.  We later learned that those wigs were charged for and not donated to children with cancer with that organization so I stopped encouraging the drastic haircuts.   In the mean time her thick beautiful locks have grown and grown.

As parents we often don’t realize the impact our conversations and prayers have on our children.   Our lives have been heavily impacted by children with cancer in the area we live.  A year and about four months ago my life long friend since the fourth grade’s son, Collin,  was diagnosed with bone cancer.   He and his family have been in the brutal battle with cancer since the day he was diagnosed.  They have had blow after blow yet continue on taking one day at a time.   They have to continue living life one treatment, test, and surgery at a time.  There is another family with a three year old daughter, Lexi, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer this last year.  I watched Lexi’s mother grow up from the church youth group into a wonderful wife and mother.   Lexi has now completed her treatments and we pray the cancer stays away.  There are many other families impacted by childhood cancer just within our small area.  So as I have talked about and prayed for Collin and Lexi specifically Michaela was listening.

She felt a passion to do this in honor of Collin and Lexi.  Her selfless reason to give her hair made my initial thoughts and emotions that much more embarrassing.  The next thoughts were “It is just hair, she is beautiful with or without hair, SHE DOES NOT HAVE CANCER ANITA!!!”   Dear God please forgive my pride and vanity!!  God there are so many families impacted by childhood cancer and here I am so very very selfish!!!   She is alive and healthy!  Her hair will grow!  Her body is not poisoned by healthy cell devouring cancer.  Her body is not poisoned by the treatments to fight that atrocious disease.  This painfully shy child at age sixteen is willing to have her head shaved in front of her classmates.  This painfully shy child is willing to walk around with no hair for months as it grows back. This child who has no job is giving what she can, her hair, to help someone else.

This humbled momma continues to learn so much and most often through my own children.

The high school she attends does this fundraiser annually.  This year there were 33 students that participated and they raised over $20,000 toward childhood cancer research.  We can learn so much from the ones that are tomorrows future!!

Our children are listening even when we are so far from perfect ourselves we should watch what we do and say.  We are shaping the future of tomorrow.   Sometimes they shape us, in spite of ourselves.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3