When the “World” Lives in Your Home

It has been a while since I have had time to write a blog.  Partly because I have lacked the energy.  Partly because of lessons I am learning could breach confidentiality to blog about. To become more educated on the life and behaviors of a traumatized child I have been doing much more reading than writing.  Lastly the ups and downs are so frequent I really have not been able to fully wrap my mind let alone my writing around the emotion constantly surrounding our family daily.

The challenges have been tremendous, the test has been hard, there are daily sacrifices of all of our own needs and wants for this hurting human being.  There has been nothing in my life that has painted a more personal picture of exactly what Jesus did for me on the cross than foster care.  Each member of our family has been told “I hate you!” one minute then “I love you!” the next.  We all have been hit, kicked, spit at, and then hugged and kissed.    The complaints, demands, lack of gratitude, and harsh words are exhausting to hear even when you know it is out of pure fear and pain from the past. There really can be no comparison to Jesus and His perfect gift of love given to human kind.  Foster care has brought a much deeper understanding and appreciation for my Lord and Savior.  The perfect sinless Savior fully human and fully God took all sin of all human kind upon Himself as if it were His.  He knew what He faced in full as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.   The humiliation, unfairness, and separation from God the Father.  The feelings of fear, loneliness, pain, regret, guilt and shame never felt before would all be upon Him as He took on our sin.  Not to mention the most gruesome physical beating and tortuous death a person can experience.   Why would He do this for us?  Because the Glory of God and heaven is worth it.

Each of us Lucas’ has excepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord and that is our assurance that we will be in heaven one day.  Foster care has been a result of the relationship we have with Jesus.  Why are we doing this?  Because the Glory of God and heaven is worth it.  If one life is led to Jesus because of this small struggle we are enduring then it is worth it all.

Recently I was told  by someone that they didn’t think I knew what I was really getting into by getting into foster care.   My reply was I knew exactly what it was going to be and cost inviting the world into our home.  That is why it took me nearly 7 years to surrender to this calling.   It took me a lot more than one night in a garden to pray “Not my will, but thine be done.”  It took a lot of fighting with my own sinful nature and selfishness.

We have also been told that we don’t know what we are doing.   Truthfully every life is unique and each person’s trauma is different so who really knows besides God what each individual needs?   What I do know is that we don’t know what we are doing, but we are no longer sitting around in our safe little world.  We are doing!!!  It is not about us it is all about God and His Glory.  The fact that we are doing something for a hurting world with God equipping us more than qualifies us.

The deeper appreciation and relationship with our Savior has been a blessing.  The blessing of God’s Word guiding us, and our pastor and youth pastor’s sermons each week are a blessing.  The prayers of fellow believers have been a tremendous blessing. It is amazing how all the books I am reading are indeed helpful, but what has offered me the most help has been the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Just reminded of this verse by a fellow believer and friend.
Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

 

What was I Thinking

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Upon hearing of the weather predictions for snow as I left work yesterday I made the statement “Ah I hope they don’t call school off tomorrow.”   Planning to do some deep heavy duty cleaning and purging on my ever so precious day off for this week I selfishly wanted nothing to stand in my way.

This morning my youngest came barreling in to say “Mom school is cancelled!!!”  My first thought turned to “Thank you Lord for knowing what is best.  What was I thinking yesterday?”  As a nurse there have been very few times on inclement weather days that I haven’t had to drag my children out of bed and drive them to a sitters so I could go on to work.  Nurses don’t get snow days unless a school nurse.  This is actually a rare gem of a day, a bonus day in our ever so busy schedule that the girls and I can stay in our jammies and not have to rush here and there.

I was reminded that our first thought, snap judgments, what we think we want, our selfishness, and our pride get in the way of God’s perfect plan.  He always knows so much better than I do.

Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Now off to do some cleaning and hanging out with my precious blessings on our bonus day together!!!

Are You Just Running Through Life Like a Ladybug?

Several Sundays ago as our pastor preached a sermon about God’s purpose for our lives this lady bug pictured above caught my eye.  The insect was on the back of the chair directly in front of me.  He walked along the top of the back of the chair one direction and started down the side then the next thing I noticed he had climbed back to the top and went on across to the side from where he just came.  He repeated his trek multiple times.  Back and forth back and forth.  At one point the bug paused and looked straight towards me. We stared at each other for what felt like minutes.  Our pastor preached on Deuteronomy 11:10-24 stressing how God’s word teaches us to  serve and love God with all our heart and soul.  He pointed out that when God is our focus all aspects of our lives fall into place with His provision, presence, promise, and protection.  God gives us direction and a purpose in this chaotic world.  The lady bug seemed to be placed very timely and specifically for me in that moment.  He seemed to just be expending all his energy for nothing.  He was just working and walking with no goal, no focus, no point.  I was reminded of the passage in Ecclesiastes 1:1-18 mostly focusing on King Solomon’s words “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless!”

My mind then wondered how often I look like and feel like this ladybug.  Just running in circles, going back and forth, trying to solve the world’s problems, my own problems, and do everything on my own.  God never intended this for His creation.  His intention was to have a personal relationship with each and everyone of us.  For our lives to have very significant meaning within His purpose and plan.  As people close to me lose family members, friends have children battling cancer, as I see people I love overcome with grief and loss, a family in our area just lost their eight year old to cancer, young fathers and mothers battle life-threatening illness,  the world seems over run with hatred and violence, all forms of government seem to be in a complete mess, people are missing,  people are starving… I feel helpless within my own strength to be of any help.  Helpless within my own power to make any sort of difference.

But when I turn my focus to loving God He reminds me of His love and power.

I can’t cure cancer, but I personally know the one who can.

I can’t bring peace and hope to a grieving heart, but I personally know the one who can.

I can’t cure the evil and the devastation evil acts bring upon lives, but I personally know the one who can.

I can’t save the world, but I personally know the one who can.

I don’t even have a clue how I can juggle service ministries, motherhood, work full-time as a nurse, care for our home, and now deepen my role as a mother by becoming a foster parent, but I personally know the one who can.

My prayer is for my eyes to look to Jesus and focus solely on Him.  To fully trust the creator, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Father, my best friend, my protector, my organizer, my time keeper, my patience giver, my strength, my everything…   without Him everything is meaningless…

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

Our Life Really isn’t Ours for the Taking, but for the Giving (foster/adopt a child 1)

I have been debating on whether to write on this topic or not.  Due to privacy I am not really sure how much of this journey I will be able to openly share.  Realizing that my own struggles could very well be the struggles of someone else out there is the draw I have to write and share what God is doing in the life of our family and within my own heart.  The call to foster and/or adopt has been weighing on Mike and I for around six years now.  During this time I have picked up at least a dozen packets from various agencies I kept a lot of them for a while then finally pitched them.   I have questioned several people that have gone down the road of fostering/adopting and some who have adopted from other countries.  The cost of time and finances has been my largest road block.  The rest of the family has actually been open without hesitation the whole time.  It has been my own selfish struggle.

We now have the resource of an extra bedroom our kids have become older, more mature, and much easier as far as actual care.  In fact we are getting close to being “done” as far as parenting goes.  Though one is never really “done” when a parent.   A few years ago we actually were going to apply for a license to foster, but we couldn’t figure out how to even get the classes worked in with our busy schedule so I easily gave up.

Well the topic reared its head again.  The last few weeks everywhere I turned the topic of fostering children was coming up.  I literally was feeling like God was beating me over the head with it.  So much so a week ago Sunday I actually was arguing with God.  Yes, I love Jesus, I have surrendered my life to following Jesus, but unfortunately I am still just a sinner saved by grace.  I yelled at him “I keep asking you what I need to give up in my life and you are telling me to add another human being or beings?!?!?!”  “Lord I am so tired I don’t know how I can!!!”  Then we go to church that evening and our youth pastor’s sermon was on James 1:26-27 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  The entire sermon brought tremendous conviction and was an answer to my ridiculous prayer/temper tantrum from earlier that day.   God’s answer was this…”You take this step of faith, trust me, I will provide what you need, it will cost you, but that’s ok because I am here and have a plan”.   Every reason I have not to foster children in need is purely selfish.

Needless to say we have started the process to be licensed.  Nothing will happen over night.  There will be ups and downs.  It will be a journey, but it’s not about us.  It is not about me.  My life is not my own.  I had to laugh that one truly does have to pay to be nice in this world.  Today I took a state form to my physicians office to have filled out stating that I am physically capable of caring for children.  There was a charge to have the form filled out.  I will be honest in saying that this caused a minor irritation in me, but a reminder that it does cost to do what is right.   In this life we can give all that we have or we can be takers.  One day when I meet God face to face will he see a life that gave everything?

Attention to Details

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Sunday evening our town had a memorial and tree dedication service for those who had trees donated to the town parks in memory of a loved one.  There were many small details that I noticed God paid particular attention to.  Our church usually has an evening service at 6 pm the same time as this service.  We had a special schedule this Sunday that allowed our family this time free.  I was also on call for work and was not needed at the hospital during this time.  The service was held at the rose garden.  My picture above was snapped quickly with my cell phone, but I actually like the vintage blur given in the photo.  Some friends of the family donated a tree in honor of my husband’s father and he loved roses.  What a great detail.  My own father loved roses and caring for them so this was a nice time for his remembrance as well.   When we walked under the pergola a momma bird had built a next that had a least three baby birds.  We had a nice “birds eye” view under the pergola of these young ones.

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These baby birds reminded me of new life with Christ when we accept his gift of salvation.  They reminded me of eternal life in heaven and the hope of seeing our loved ones again.

Another detail was that my father-in-law’s tree was planted right next to a fellow church member’s who lost his wife this year.  This gentleman and my husband are buddies driving the church bus to pick up children and those unable to drive.

It was a great reflection of how God always pays attention to the fine details.  He knew of this little ceremony long before our church staff planned the calendar.  I am so grateful God pays attention to the details and that his timing is perfect.

Romans 8:28 ” For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”

If I Would Just Remember to Look UP First

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Just a few minutes ago I was out piddling in our yard feeling a bit overwhelmed with a lot of things truthfully.   I sighed as I looked at this tree from the outside trying to see what branches should be trimmed to make mowing around it easier.  As I stepped underneath it I felt like I was in a whole new little world.  As the sun shown down through the green leaves I felt like I was in a beautiful protective green bubble of life.  It was a whole new perspective of this tree I had never known.  I took another picture looking out from the protective green branches.  That view somehow made our large yard less daunting.   As I stepped all the way out from under my green little hut I was looking eye to eye with this beauty.

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Had I not taken the time to step under the protective shield of this tree and look up I am quite sure I would have missed the eye contact made with this beautiful creature.   Yet another reminder from my Heavenly Father God to step into His protective loving arms, look up, and then look out with His perspective at what is before me.

Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”  Psalm 42:5 “Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him my Savior and my God.”

We Just Don’t Know

Not many of my own words tonight.  Just searching the word of God for comfort and thought I would share the verses that are bringing me peace.  I have no clue what the future holds, but what I do know is who holds the future.  My Heavenly Father holds the future, He holds me when I let Him, and hears the prayers of those who love Him.  That is really all that I am one hundred percent sure of.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:8-11

“In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”  Job 12:10

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

““Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

In the Midst of Chaos

With our home in the middle of some improvements going on the word “chaos” keeps coming to mind. The dirt, dust, disorder, and unpredictable nature of projects has had me feeling a bit frayed and frazzled. I decided to do a little digging via the helpful use of internet search engines into the definition of chaos. The consensus of the dictionaries seems to be that it is complete disorder and confusion. Most of the dictionaries also included the words abyss and chasm. Some even ventured to give the definition of the darkness of outer space before the ordered universe.

This lead me to search “what does the bible say about chaos”. The verses that came up were about the darkness that existed before God created light and order. Other verses referred to the sin that separates us from God’s light and love. There were verses about the fallen angels and the end times and final judgment. Chaos and God’s plan to bring order and purpose in the midst of it really is the bible’s theme cover to cover.

From the very beginning Genesis 1:1-3 ” In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters, and God said “Let there be light,” and there was light.”
God’s order, His creation was good then the fall of man happened, sin entered the world. Ultimately the Old Testament leads us through God’s plan to send His only Son Jesus, God in the flesh, to bring order to chaos. God is continuously working to provide order to the chaos of our lives through Jesus.

The New Testament leads us to God’s final plan as He states in Revelation 21:5 “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me it is done I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

The only hope and salvation to the chaos in our day to day lives is a relationship with Jesus. Let Him fill your heart and life with order, meaning, and purpose. He will bring meaning and teaching to all the frazzles in our lives.

How Much of God’s Promise are we Missing?

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So I was just reading in Genesis and in chapter 15 verse 18 God says to Abram “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.”  Out of curiosity I searched how much land that actually is compared to what the Nation of Israel actually ended up being through the Old Testament to our current time.  Wow because of sin there is a lot of real estate missing.  The nation never really even got close to what God actually had fully promised.  You will have to read the entire Old Testament to find out why and how sin was the culprit.  This made me question how much of God’s promise do we miss as individuals in our lives?  Through my own doubts and lack of trust how much of His peace, love, protection, and blessing do I miss out on?  What promises do I miss out on because of my sin? Every single time I decide “It’s ok God I got this myself!” what am I missing?   What real estate in this life have I not even come close to scratching the surface of?  A lot to think about…