Keep Your Eye on the Ball

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This week I was on vacation from the hospital which actually gave me the availability to help four families and six children ages ranging 1-17.  It is so rare that so many childcare needs happened and happened while I just so happened to be available.  God just continues to give affirmation that I am to invest my life and time in precious children!

One of the children that hung out with the Lucas family this week was a seven year old young man that LOVES sports.  Anything that has to do with a ball he loves it!  He and I went out to play some soccer on our kick board one evening.  Loving the goalie position he wanted me to take shots so he could practice up on his mad goalie skills.  At first I mostly kicked the ball to him.  After several times he looked at me and asked “why do you keep kicking it to me?”  So I asked “You want me to make it more of a challenge?”  He nodded yes and smiled.  So surprisingly this old gal pulled off some tricky shots.   One of the shots I just kept dribbling the ball and then fired the ball to the goal while I was still looking off in another direction.  Totally faked him out and scored.  My buddy started laughing and admitted he wasn’t paying attention.

Taking advantage of a teaching moment I explained to be a good goalie you have to always keep your eye on the ball!

Keep your eye on the ball!  As I watched my buddy dive for the hard corner ones and stretch tall to reach the high ones it made me start thinking.   I felt kind of bad watching the little guy work so hard.  Sometimes he still just missed the ball if he wasn’t watching.  I took those opportunities to take those shots for those learning moments to always focus.  As a follower of Jesus Christ I was thinking about my focus.

In life I am one of God’s goal keepers.  God is constantly sending people across my path every day that He wants me to catch and share His love with.  My mind starts to wonder and regret how many people has God sent my way that I totally missed?  How many people have I missed because I wasn’t focused on Jesus?  How many times have I focused on myself, not looked to Jesus, and missed a person He sent my way to share His love with?   Do I ask for the challenges?  Do I ask him for people that are hard to love that I have to sacrificially dive or stretch myself to show His mercy and grace to?  To be a true goal keeper for Jesus I need to keep my focus on Him.   By doing that He shoots people directly to me that He needs me to share His love with, but I have to see them and reach for them.  It is a responsibility that is humbling and such an honor.  It is my purpose for living.  My purpose is to love God and love people.

Matthew 22:36-40New International Version (NIV)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Unsung Heroes

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Names are not being shared due to privacy and this blog is public.

This past year and a half one of my life long friends has been on the front lines in the war against childhood cancers.  Her son at age 13 was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer.  From the side lines I watched this family that I love go through one of the very hardest trials I can ever  imagine having to face.  It seemed that with every doctor visit, treatment, test, surgery all they ever received was more bad news.   Helpless is the only word I can think of when it comes to something as devastating as this.  For the parents the feeling of helplessness not to be able to fix and make things better for your child.  For the grandparents helpless to not be able to make the hurt for their children and grandchildren go away.  Helpless is the word for the aunt who went above and beyond caring for the younger children of this beautiful family. Helpless is the only word for the friends and family in the outer circle of support wishing there was something that could be done to make it all just go away.

Throughout the 18 months there was always something common with each conversation shared with my friend.  The most common topic that brought brightness and hope was always his nurses.   My dear friend and her husband (also my friend)  would always perk up as they mentioned the nurses  by name.   I saw a sparkle in their son’s eyes when he or his parents spoke of them.  From the sidelines I witnessed how the healthcare providers for pediatric oncology not only did their jobs they became family to a hurting family.   They were the ones that were there with each gut wrenching blow of horrible news.  They were the ones doing all they could to help the pain and nausea.  They were the ones praying as they hung each medication that this would be the treatment that would stomp out this thief of a disease.  They were the ones that would sit by his bedside and play games.  They were the ones that sat by his bedside and took the time to know who this child really is and not just know his disease.  They were the ones laughing, crying, hugging, and sharing in the anger at the unfairness of childhood cancer.   They were the ones he chose to go on his first date with as one of his final life wishes.

The words “he chose his nurses” are words I can not speak or type without tears flooding my face.  As one of his very final wishes he chose to take his nurses out on the town.  The pictures of this event show the brightest smiles on all the faces of the nurses and the face of this sweet boy.   His nurses were his heroes.  His nurses made his final painful days brighter.  His nurses made him feel important and not just like another patient.   He chose to leave this life in the place that had become another home with the healthcare workers that had become an adopted family.  His nurses were there alongside his mom and dad sharing in their pain and grief.

Of course I have a special place in my heart for nurses, but now I believe that pediatric oncology nurses are truly the most heroic of all.   To open your heart and step into the lives of children and families going through the hardest of all life’s battles.  These beautiful souls are doing so much more than trying to kill cancer cells.   To open your heart to love even when you know you might not have the ones that you love for long shows the quality of true angels of mercy.    These are the unsung heroes that walk among us.

 

 

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.”

 

 

Would you take in a Child that Claims to be Homosexual? Foster/Adopt #6

This is a question that was asked of me this afternoon.  I have no clue of the perspective of onlookers , but from my own it felt like my words came with little hesitation.   The question was worded actually as “Would you take in a LGBT teen?”  My first response was no one over twelve as we want to keep the birth order as a priority, but ultimately yes to a child within our age range.  All I could think was that child needs love and a family as much as anyone.  Also what came to mind is that it is sin that throws a child into this crazy foster care system to begin with.  Whatever means the child has been sinned against the abuse, sexual, physical, mental, emotional, and/or neglect (many times all of the above) that child is going to be messed up and confused no matter what.  For me to judge and say no I will not love you and care for you defeats the purpose of the very ministry our family is being called to do.

My authority is God and His word.  His word tells me ALL have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23)  I am a sinner.  My own sin is no better and no worse than anyone else’s.  It may look different than another person’s, but sin is sin in God’s eyes.  Jesus carried the weight of ALL sin of ALL mankind on the cross.  He paid the payment of ALL sin so that ALL can be forgiven.  When Jesus walked this earth who did he minister to?  He ministered to those that the “holier than thou”, “self righteous” religious leaders of the day called “sinners”.   It was those religious leaders that Jesus truly had the hardest time with because they did not realize their own need for Him. Jesus met each person that was willing to trust Him and receive Him right at their deepest need.  He met them where they were and provided physical healing, spiritual healing, emotional healing,   forgiveness, grace and mercy.  He never condoned the sin nor  said it was ok keep on doing what you have been. He loved them healed them and said “Go and sin no more.”   John 8:11 being just one example. Jesus met them at the core of their problem and healed them from the inside out.  That is the example God has given us to live by.   To meet others at their need and love them.  Then we can point to the one that can truly bring about change and healing for a person.

Another calling on my life has been nursing.  For over 21 years now I have cared for criminals, addicts, contagious disease baring, suicidal, abusive, ungrateful, all sexual lifestyles, psychotic, mentally disabled, physically disabled, bitter, helpless, weak, etc… My calling as a nurse is to provide care, healing based on human abilities, empathy, and to meet people in their time of need.  The calling has been that I take whoever God places in my care and that I do not have the right to pick and choose.

I guess when it comes to this next/additional calling in life I feel called to the same standards as Jesus’ example He gave us in the Word of God.   We will have questions to ask case workers and have the safety of our own girls to keep in mind of course.  The fact that a child may question their sexuality I do not feel is a compromise on God’s word by us taking them into our home.  Saying that any kind of sin is “ok” IS a compromise to God’s word.  Also not loving someone because I think their sin is worse than my own is a huge compromise to what God’s word teaches.

What I do know is that I am already praying for God to give us discernment, protect us from being sinned against, protect us from sinning, for our children to flee from temptations,  for God’s protection of them,  for us to trust God with all our hearts, and for us to love unconditionally.  We are being called to meet a child/children and their families at their time of need.  We are not called to judge them we are called to provide love, safety, forgiveness, and point them to the only one who can provide true healing…Jesus.

 

So I am Going to get a Little Political

Our country is hurting and first of all in deep need of prayer.  Personally I like to stay away from political debates and opinions, but I think no one can deny that our country is in trouble on so many levels.

My daughter’s high school team has two goalies.  My daughter being one of them.  Both are great goalies.  Both are on the JV and Varsity rosters.  This I think is awesome.  What I see happening is that both goalies are held up to a higher standard.  There is a friendly level of competition.  There is a higher level of accountability.   All these factors encourage harder work and a deeper level of commitment to the team.  On an even greater level hard work and commitment builds character and integrity.

This is what I have seen lacking in all governmental levels across the United States of America.  Even with two main political parties they both have fallen into a very selfish and lazy form.   When there is no competition or accountability bad things happen.   With no competition, pride arrogance and big ego develop.   With no accountability laziness ensues.  As one becomes more powerful and great in ones own mind the temptations become even greater.  When a bribe is laid before a politician the human nature of “self” can completely take over when there is no one looking and holding accountable.  The attitude of “entitlement”  has trickled down from the top.  All things run downhill and in the last several decades it has been nasty stuff sludging down the hill.

When a person believes that there is no one greater, “their the only game”,  and when there is a monopoly things get dangerous.   We all are replaceable and there is always someone that is more talented that will come along.

Humility, accountability, competition, commitment to the people, and integrity is lacking greatly in our country especially in the governments and those making the laws.

Life long politicians should not have happened.  Government positions are  suppose to be a service to “the people” not the power trip that they have become!    Ultimately God is in control and on His throne no matter who is the leader of our country.   We need to turn back to God and to turn back to truly serving Him and others instead of self.

 

What is Good?

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The longer we wait for our Foster license the more little projects I am finding.  When a woman is pregnant it’s called nesting.  I have no idea what to call it when waiting for the completely unknown.  It’s a whole new kind of nesting.  Each item in this room has been carefully thought out and  inexpensive monetarily speaking.  A lot of time and love has been put into it.  Each item can also be reused or repurposed elsewhere in our home if need be so nothing is lost or wasted.

This little chair has been my latest labor of love.  This chair was literally getting ready to be thrown in a fire and my husband spotted it and saved it.  I’m sure he is now getting an eye for “what  Anita would love to paint and restore”.   I sat looking at this simple little chair this morning after putting a sealing coat on it and thought. “I like it.  It looks good, well at least to me.”   My thoughts then turned to God as he created this amazing earth and all the galaxies.  After each day of creation “He saw that it was good.”

God planned each and every person, plant and animal before He even spoke it all into existence.  My thoughts then turned to how my heavenly Father looks at me.  He planned me before sin entered in.  He knew all the good He could do with my life and my existence.  He had a purpose in creating little me.  He has this much love, thought, and planning for every human being.   Others may not look at what God has created and think it’s any good or like it.  Every human being is not likable and pleasing to all other human beings, but to God…  We were all created for something beautiful.  Of course sin entered and that beauty becomes distant and separated by our sinful nature that opposes all that God created us for.  We search to find our own purpose, meaning, and salvation to no avail.  On our own separate from our Creator we are destined to be used up and thrown into the fire.   God provided a Savior, Jesus, to snatch us from the grasp of that fire.   He looks on us with love and sees His original purpose, plan, and beauty.   As we submit to being saved and give up trying it all on our own we begin to change.  Beauty and restoration happens and God looks upon us and sees that Jesus has covered our entire being.  God can once again look at a human being that is covered by Jesus and say “it is good”.

I am so thankful for God’s love.  As I am so far from perfect He continues to teach me how to love, forgive, and live.

Genesis 1:31a  “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good”

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone,  the new is here.”

Life is More than a Vending Machine

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The other day my youngest daughter and I had dashed out of the house without eating any breakfast.  Our place of destination that morning happened to have a vending machine full of junk food that could provide a very short lived satisfaction to hunger pains (with no nutritional value I must add).   My daughter asked if I had change so she could get a snack until we can get some “real food”.  With those big blue eyes softening my heart I of course  caved and told her to go ahead and get some change from my wallet for  a snack.  Her first try to obtain a snack of her choice the tasty treat became entangled in the spiral mechanics of the machine and would not drop below to her reach.    Upon her second try for another choice the snack once again became stuck between the spiral grasp and the glass door of the machine.   After the second try  the only thing being fed was the machine with mom’s change instead of her belly so she decided to call it quits and just count her/our losses.

 

This encounter reminded me so much of the world we live in.  Some give and give yet never seem to get ahead or become successful according to the standards of our world.  There are some who may give a little and get what someone else paid for and lost.  There are some who may just shake life and make demands and the demands are granted without any work or effort.    Sometimes worldly systems work  sufficiently and one can get what they have worked/paid for.  Life can really seem unfair and meaningless.

Life of one who has a relationship with Jesus provides so much more than the give and take of this world we live in.  The things that are so fleeting and superficial, beauty, money, power, fame, attention, etc… start to become just that, superficial, as one’s relationship deepens with Jesus.   A quote caught my attention in Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s Bible Commentary of the New Testament.  “God’s love for His own is not a pampering love; it is a perfecting love.”    It seems all anyone wants to hear is what God will give give give.  Our lives are so much more than what we can get.  The world is so focused on “self” and what God and others can do for “me me me”.    God’s plan for us is to perfect us.  Not in a way the world sees perfection.  It is a perfection of faith and love.  The more He perfects our faith the more of His light and love can flow through us.   The stronger our faith the more God can work through us to love others perfectly.  The stronger our faith the less we let ourselves get in God’s way.  Sometimes deepening our faith means we have to go through a lot of pain, suffering, sorrow, and mistakes in this life.  When it comes down to it I would much rather be perfected than to have everything perfect.  When I look back on what may seem a complete mess in my own life I can see God’s perfect plan and how it evolved and refined my faith.

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– His good, pleasing and perfect will. “

Foster/Adopt #5

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It’s funny that this is now my 5th blog on this subject and we are actually still just waiting for our license.   We live in a broke and back logged state so there is no surprise in the waiting.  Our room sits ready, clean, and a bit sterile until personalities fill it with life and color.  As we wait I continue to see how God is working within my own heart to prepare me as well as my husband and children.  He continues to provide people of support, stories, testimonies, and articles to read to build a foundation of love and wisdom.

Our family continues to lose loved ones.  Tomorrow we say our earthly good byes to the man that was my last earthly father figure remaining, my maternal grandfather.  All the loss lately of fathers, aunts, uncles, friends leads me to a deeper level of empathy that can only scratch the surface of the loss that any child placed in our care will have endured.

As a child one of my greatest fears was to lose my parents.  I am not sure if that is a normal fear of a child.  Having been a pretty weird little kid now grown to weird little adult it is goofy stuff that I remember best.   When I was age five my parents went on a retreat of some kind I am sure for pastors.  A couple from our church kept me for about a week and another family kept my baby sister.   What I remember that week is that I never stopped crying.  The couple I stayed with were very sweet and loving.  They were at their wits end as to what to do to make me happy and to stop crying.  They bribed me with buying toys to no avail.  I am surprised I didn’t dehydrate from all the tears.  I wanted familiarity, normalcy, and security.  I felt scared and alone even though I was with nice people in a nice home.   The highlight of that week was getting to see my baby sister at church.  She was my family and someone I had a true bond with.  It was the longest week of my life.

Having been born to a very loving stable environment I really don’t know what it feels like to have the people that should be your rock and support fail you.  I don’t know what it is like to suffer through the death of a parent while still a child.  I have not been beaten or have had to watch anyone beaten and abused.   I have not had to watch sexual immorality or people getting high as if that is a normal everyday activity for a child to see or experience.   There is a loss of family and a loss of innocence for so many children and it makes my heart ache.  What I know is that week without my family even though I was safe and cared for made me so very sad.  I know that as we continue to lose more and more family my heart grieves and I am forever changed.  My prayer is that God will keep these feelings alive in me so that His love and compassion will flow through me as we press on with this journey.  He continues to prepare us and ready us for who He has planned.  It is hard not to get impatient in the waiting.  He reminds me that Noah didn’t build the ark in a day.  David had to wait to be king.  The Israelites were slaves for 400 years in Egypt.  Throughout scripture God refined and strengthened His people, prophets, and disciples through the process of waiting.  Then the glory of His perfect plan and timing was revealed.

“Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”  Psalm 27:14