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.”

 

Some Times Ya just Gotta Cry

There has been a lot of stressors within our family in the last couple weeks. Health concerns at the top of the list for life stress. There have been a lot of friends losing loved ones and what seems like a lot of sad news. The health concerns have drudged up a lot of the grief and loss our family just went through ten months ago. There have been moments I have had to just go off to myself and weep. I have been doing a “read the Bible through a year” program and during my lowest time last week just happened to be reading the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis.

In Joseph’s life story he really had done no wrong to find himself in the predicaments he endured. Most of his sorrow was brought upon him by the sins of others. His jealous brothers throwing him into a pit then selling him into slavery. Potiphar’s (for lack of a better word) skanky wife throwing herself at him. When he didn’t take her up on her offers she framed him and he ended up in jail. God gave him the ability to translate a cup bearer and a baker of the king’s dreams while imprisoned. The cup bearer forgot Joseph’s favor once he got his taste of freedom and left Joseph in jail. Joseph kept making the right choices and was true to his faith in God. With each valley he went through God brought him through better and with greater influence. His influence in the end brought his family back to him. He was in a position that he could have sought revenge or could choose to forgive the past wrongs of his brothers. I count at least 6 times that the bible says that Joseph wept after his brothers came to Egypt for food. One of these times was in the passing of his father Jacob. I can only imagine the emotions he went through. Loss of time with his family. The fleshly urge to be angry and hold a grudge. The humbling fact that God had turned the bad in his life to good to put him right where he needed to be. The fact that he could see that his brothers were truly remorseful for what they had done. So many emotions to cause this man who now held a powerful position to weep.

Genesis 50:15-21 is the best summary “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly. ‘Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provided for you and your children.” An he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”

No matter what we are going through God has a purpose and a plan. There seems to be a misunderstanding that when a person is a Christian that they will no longer weep or have struggles. The difference in going through life’s hardships as a Christian is that one knows that God is always there and always faithful. That He will bring those who love him through the valleys in life stronger and with an even greater influence than before. We may be beat up by bullies, lied to, lied about, lose people we love, but God provides an indescribable ability to forgive. He provides indescribable hope and peace. It is ok to cry. Give it all to God and see what beauty he creates from our tears.

Home Improvements are all Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye

An eyeball was not literally lost during our task to provide a fun teenage hangout place in our home thank the Lord!  Well at least no lost eyeballs yet.   A blood vessel in my eye burst upon hearing some bad news that made me have to do some serious tongue holding.  All companies and vendors that we have patronized during this endeavor have been great minus one.  The very first thing I arranged and put money down for, an egress window, is a major hold up in our project.  Because this space is in the basement and with wanting to have an additional bedroom we decided this would be the best thing to do to provide a fire escape for any occupants.  The basement room would make space available upstairs for the extra sleeping accommodations.  This would open up opportunities to have foreign exchange students, guests, possibly foster a child, etc…

The company doing this for us has been in business a long time and I had not heard anything bad about them.  Their specialty is waterproofing basements so I figured who better to make sure a new hole in the basement wall is sealed tight.  Unfortunately this company has disappointed several times, has always told different stories each time I have had an interaction with its employees, and has had delay after delay.  Before the eyeball blow up they had already knocked my confidence level in them to a very low.  Finally it looked like the installation of the window was actually going to happen.  The guys showed up and everything!  Unfortunately I was at work and my poor mother had to come and hold down the fort for us.  The first install date I had been able to take at least one of the days off work to be home, but with the reschedule was unable to make such arrangements.  That day I go to my lunch break and check my text messages.  This is the message I see from my mother.  “Bad news.  The company that made the window made it the wrong way.  The tall part was made horizontally instead of vertically.  They are going to cover the hole.  They are trying to see how soon they can get the right window.”   It was the “cover the hole” that caused my stress level and blood pressure spike.  The vision I had in my mind was a 5 foot 4 inch by 4 foot hole in the concrete wall of our basement in the middle of January left open to the elements indefinitely.  As well as when it rains there would be a mudslide right into our house from the hole dug in the outside landscape.  I clinched my fists, took a deep breath, and then pursed my lips.   I am quite sure this is what cause the blood vessel explosion.  Being in the lounge having lunch with my coworkers I got up and walked over to the lockers to call my mom with my back to my coworkers.  I ended up speaking with the window installer and found out that they had only dug the hole outside and there were no cuts in the concrete.   I will spare you of the details of the rest of the story as we continue to wait for this service to be completed. When I finished the conversation with the man and my mom I turned to face my coworkers.  They exclaimed “Oh my gosh what is wrong with your eye?!?!”   Half of my right eye was now bright red from a blood vessel burst from holding in my anger.  It took all that was in me to prevent regretful angry words in loud decibels from being spewed from my lips!!

There are many verses about holding and taming the tongue and how to prevent sin when one experiences the emotion of anger.   These are the actual verses that keep coming to mind though.

Matthew 5:29-30 ” If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

In this case my right eyeball took one for the team for my tongue.  If I end up wearing an eyeball patch in the end you all will know the company doing this window failed yet again to come through.   Either I am too nice or it is because I serve  God who is the  God of 2nd chances and forgiveness.  Matthew 18:21-22″Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?’  Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.”

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

eve and papa

My mother caught this moment with her phone yesterday and it has stirred tremendous emotion within me from the moment I first laid eyes on the photo.

The man’s face in the photo is my father.  When he died in March the funeral director took a great photo my mom had of my father and she and had it made into a tapestry.  My mom has the tapestry placed on the back of her couch in the center of her home with dad’s face exposed very prominently. The photo of my father was a priceless photo that caught the true essence of the person he was on this earth.  It captures the Christ-like love and joy that poured from his eyes and his life.  It captures the expression he would have had if he were actually there holding his precious little grand daughter.

That day my sweet four year old niece was not feeling well.  My mom cared for her while my sister and brother-in-law were at work.  First they were at my sister’s home and decided to watch the video of pictures of my father from his funeral.  One of my mother’s greatest concerns has been that her grandkids have not had the opportunity to express their grief as his death was such a surprise.  At the time we were all focused on our own personal loss of him.  Grief is different for us all, but we all feel the loss no matter our age or the amount of years spent with the one we love.  Evelyn only had four short years and it is important to us all that she and all the grandkids get to know what an amazing Godly man their Papa was.  Shoot I had 41 years and I still feel like the time was cut way too short.  My mother had 44 1/2 years of marriage to him and longs to have had more time.

Mom and sweet Evelyn then went to my mother’s house for some lunch and to watch a movie.  Evelyn had spent a lot of time there with Papa watching movies and eating popcorn. It was after the movie my mom caught this moment.  She said Evelyn was hugging and had been actually rubbing her hand along my father’s face.  Torn, she decided to go ahead and take a picture of the moment.  The longing in Evelyn’s eyes is priceless.  It makes my heart hurt all over again for our loss.  This picture of Evelyn reflects what is happening with this little girl that is still inside of my 41 year old body.  There are days that I still want to hug my daddy’s face.  There are moments that I want his advice or to just take a long walk looking at God’s creation with him.  Evelyn’s expression doesn’t just capture the emotion of our family, but of all people hurting and missing a loved one.   No matter who we are there is still a sweet little 4 year old within us all that longs for that fatherly love.

Many of us may never get to know the love of a earthly father like I was so blessed with.  This is not a bragging statement, but an acknowledgment of the fact that having a loving father is truly a gift.  More and more are without father’s on this earth.  Ever wonder why the earth is growing more and more evil?  There is a tremendous shortage of loving daddies out there.

This picture brings out the emotion of gratitude within me as well as my grief.  Gratitude for an amazing father and for the time I did have with him on earth.  Also a deeper gratitude for what God did for us by sending Jesus to die on the cross so that we have the opportunity to no longer be separated from our loving Heavenly Father, God, by our sins.  You see no matter what we are dealt in this life, an absentee dad, an abusive dad, or a good dad we all actually have a loving Father.  God longs for our love and He is always waiting with open arms.  He gave us freewill because He wants us to long for Him as well.   To have a relationship means both parties desire to have that closeness and love.  God sent Jesus to bridge the gap that our sin causes so that we can curl up into the loving arms of our Heavenly Father, God.  It is moments of pain like missing my earthly father so much that I feel the presence of God so deeply.  He gives me eternal perspective and fills my heart with such joy, peace, love, and compassion for this world I live in.  All attributes that don’t flow from me they are only attributes that come from a perfect, Holy, almighty, all-powerful, creator, God.

I am also reminded that for the follower of Jesus death is not the end.  It is the beginning of true life.  I can say with BOLD confidence that I know for sure my father is in heaven.  I can say with BOLD confidence that I know I will one day be there too and see my dad again.  Oh how amazing that day will be to get to thank Jesus face to face for giving LIFE!!!!

Emotional Roller Coaster

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What a day it has been for emotions.  Last night as I went to bed I felt such a burden for all the victims of evil.  With all the beheadings and shootings it really seems like the respect of life itself across the entire world is quickly slipping away.

When I woke this morning one of the first posts I saw as I checked into social media news was that a friend and her son had come upon a terrible car accident right after it happened and shared that they had stopped to help.  We went on to my daughters soccer game and after we arrived I checked my phone for messages.  The first thing I saw was that a friend I had graduated with from high school had died in a car accident.  It was the same accident that my friend and son had stopped at the scene to help.  For the sake of privacy for all friends involved I don’t want to share any more details other than my friend in the accident left behind very young children and a husband.  The soccer game became background noise as communication was made to connect families so that the husband could have some questions answered and some closure.

My nerves rattled we then sped home after the game to go to my mothers to join my sister and her family to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  Her first birthday without my dad here to celebrate with her.  We did a little work for her in the yard that included dismantling my dad’s garden.  We planted it for her this year, but she really didn’t have the time or need for it as that was always my dad’s thing.  So we said yet another goodbye so it seemed today.

One of my dearest life long friends attended her 10th annual Leukemia and Lymphoma walk as a survivor of Leukemia.  Usually we walk with her, but the schedule conflicts did not allow this year.  For my friend it was also the wedding anniversary she and her late husband shared.  Another classmate that we lost too soon he to the thief of cancer.

It was our oldest daughters first homecoming dance this evening and the emotions shifted upward to see our daughter and her friends becoming such wonderful and beautiful young ladies.  My mind kept going back to classmates of my own now gone with the shock of latest loss so new.

My heart felt heavy for some friends who lost their teenage daughter just last fall in a car accident and tonight would have been her senior year homecoming.

LIFE…every single event and emotion today was LIFE.  A life worth living.  A life worth preserving and respecting.  A life full of ups and downs.  A life full of sadness and joys. What so many in this world believe they have the right to steal from others. Spewing out the most lame excuses and rants as to why they are justified to take the life of another human being.

There are still people in this world who respect and cherish every life and every breath no matter how they believe or the color of their skin.  There are still people who FEEL and LOVE other human beings!!  All of us who love life need to come together and pray to God who gave us life for his healing and protection from evil.  God loves our lives so much to knit us in our mother’s womb and to plan our purpose.  God loves us so much to send His Son to die for us so that we may have eternal LIFE.  Eternity is nothing we can earn it is only by God’s grace, love and mercy.  Love LIFE!!!

Psalm 139: 13-16 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. “