No Life Expectancy

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Planning has sort of been my thing.  Personally I like to have plan A, plan B, and plan C.  It’s possible I will even go to Z.  Plans continuously running through my brain  how I think things will go, but if something crazy happens we will go with this or that plan.  All the planning so that I can rely on me, myself and I.  I am the master planner!!  Waa haa haa (my power hungry sinister laugh).  It is quite hilarious that God led me to be a nurse where a good day can turn in a split second to complete chaos.  Even more hilarious is that He blessed my life to become a mother where one barfing kid can completely blowout the neatly planned day.  Yet to further the hilarity he has led our family to foster parenting.  It is one thing to mess with my work shift, another to have to change plans due to a sick child,  this life in foster care has become a whole other ballgame of inability to plan.

God does humble us where needed.  Honestly I have been broken to complete submission of the plans and expectations in this brain of mine.   From one day to the next there are constant surprises.  Continuous changes in parent visits, sibling visits, therapist scheduling and canceling, behaviors that change with no clue as to what triggered them.  Will this child or that child live with us until adulthood?  Will this parent turn their life around and heal or will they continue the vicious cycle?  The constant change, chaos, turmoil, blessings, falling in love, heart brokenness, victories, defeats, dealing with choices of others… it all has brought me to expect nothing.   I don’t know what will happen next.  I just don’t know…  Ok God you have me I surrender…  Make my thoughts your thoughts… my plans your plans… my heart your heart… You see the bigger picture and I do not.  You know what is best and I do not.

My job is to love.  My job is not to predict the future.  My job is not to judge.  My job is not to be the fixer, but to point to the true healer.  I can not even love within my own strength it is only the love of Jesus loving through me. I am just not capable of this kind of love on my own.  My words must be led by the Holy Spirit or I mess them up out of my own frustrations.  I can not deal with my own grief and loss without Jesus.  I am a sinner in need of forgiveness each and everyday… I am no better than anyone…

One thing that I know, this life of welcoming the broken into our home has brought me to a place of surrender that I didn’t even know was needed.  Who knew that being a little OCD, planner, lover of organization, lover of predictability,  a bit on the “I will take care of this myself” side was such a barrier between God and I.  Really I just thought I was responsible.  No, my addiction to organization and planning actually was and is a form of sin in my life.  This life has brought me to a deeper level of trusting God in each moment and love everyone while I have the chance and the time.  There are no guarantees of tomorrow.  A blessing and gift from God that has come from opening our home has been a deeper level of understanding what it means to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind… and loving my neighbor as myself…   Still have a long long way to go.  The journey is rough, but I am so thankful for the hard stuff!

Are you Hungry?

 

Our small herd of animals are now bringing me tremendous conviction every morning.  My alarm clock sets off the Pavlov’s dog phenomenon in our household each morning.  We have four furry family members, two dogs and two cats.  Each morning when my alarm clock goes off their hunger kicks in.  I am a snooze button hitter and this drives them nuts.  Our fat little mixed dog starts crying and getting anxious.  Sometimes she jumps off the bed (yes she sleeps at my feet) her fat little body will not allow her to get back up so then the crying really ensues.  Our three legged lab will start jumping up and smacking me with her one front paw.  She often tries to physically pick me up with her nose.  She will bury her nose under an arm, leg or my side and dig and lift with all her might.  The cats jump up and pace on my pillow or my head.  Once I am up there is no time to go to the restroom first.  The four of them are just too pitiful.  Salivating, jumping, spinning in circles, tails wagging, whole little bodies just a shaking, panting.  They sprint toward the kitchen then come back toward my slow staggering legs.  They often turn their heads to look back to make sure I am still coming along behind them.   My husband often refers to me as “Dr. Doolittle” when he witnesses this morning routine.  Their excitement over their morning meal makes me smile.  Their excitement just recently started to bring conviction to my own spirit.

Do I get this kind of excitement within myself over being fed by God Himself!   Do I jump and spin in anticipation at what He is going to teach me through His Word each day?   Do I spring out of bed to read His word or when getting up to attend church on Sundays?   I honestly can’t say I get near as excited as I should.  Dear God help me to be more like my precious pets.  Help me to hunger for your word and to be fed by you just like my animals anticipate their morning feeding.

John 6:35 “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

We are all Lost Without Light

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

This is Not Our Home

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Just recently Mike and I attended more Foster parent training focused on trauma.  The trainer had us all participate in an exercise to help us to better understand the loss that children in care have endured.  She gave us each five blank index cards and instructed the class to write one thing that is important to us on each card.  Some wrote individual names I grouped my people which might have been cheating a bit.  As I began to write God was my first card.  Next I wrote husband, kids, extended family, and then friends.   Not one material thing popped in my head as to what is truly important to me.   So for the next step our trainer asked us to give up one card and lay it upside down on the table in front of us.   As much as I love my friends that was the card I gave up.   Then the next part of this exercise I watched as the trainer went around to each person and took all but one card.   Everyone reacted with “aww you are mean!!”, there were a lot of sighs, gasps, and sad faces.  As I watched this process I just kept saying/praying “Just please don’t take my God!!”.

Guess what card I had left?  Yes it was my God card.  I think I was the only one smiling in the bunch.  The reason for the smile was that it is God who has given me everyone and everything in my life.  Without God the creator my sweet husband, precious children, all family members and friends would not have ever been.  I would not be.  They are His to give and His to take.  Everything on this earth is His.  No matter what I do or how hard I work to earn something.  It is God’s.

This point is driving home even deeper with me as our country and our world continues to be hit by natural disasters and wars.  Right now so many people in the great state of Texas have lost family, livelihoods, and homes.   We do not know from one second to the next what turns our life journey will make.  We are to love and cherish all that has been given in the time that we have been given.  Each moment is a gift of God’s.

So that brings us to this next step in our journey of Foster care.  We now have our home on the market.  As we have stepped into stories and lives of two children so far in our journey the reality of how much of me these kids need has really hit hard.   As I have evaluated the hours I work and our finances God placed the question on my heart.  “What are you really working for?”  I can spend my life making very little impact on this world keeping my own little world maintained.  Or I can work less maintaining my own little world and spend more time making a greater impact in the world we live in.   Life is about people and relationships.  In my fast paced job there is very little forever impact made.  To provide love and safety to a broken young person and their family that can last forever.   People need our time, our love, our encouragement, our hugs, our smiles, our true heart felt concern and help.  People do not have changed lives for the better by me having a nice home.  So we press on looking forward to the great things God is going to do.  We press on as God plans for our life path to cross the life path of others.  I pray God will use us to bring Him glory and point the world to His love and true healing He gives us through Jesus!!

Hebrews 13:14 “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”

When We Sabotage Our Own Lives

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Once again I am preparing myself to pack up another child’s room.  Once again I feel the sting of grief.  My hope is that as my heart is shattered into more pieces that God can use those pieces to love that much more greatly through me.

As Mike and I think and look back we feel no regrets.  I pray and ask God was there something else that needed to be said or done.  There is nothing, but a peace He gives that we did all we could.  We loved whole heartedly we provided chances, forgiveness, teaching, true sacrificial giving of time, energy, and resources.

There has been nothing that has painted a better picture of what Christ has done for each and every human being than this ministry of Foster care.   We are born into a sinful and broken world.  Why are innocent children abused and neglected at such a young age?  Why are so many people succumbed to addictions to drugs and alcohol?  Why are we so prideful and full of ourselves?  Why are we so selfish?  Why are we so ungrateful?  Why do people who show nothing but love and kindness get taken advantage of?  It is all because of sin.  God gave us all freewill.  I can not make choices for any other human being and can only control my own.

We become comfortable in our situations of sin self inflicted or inflicted by others.  It is what we know.  It is why so many victims of domestic violence just keep returning to the abuser. When love steps in, when God calls to a person’s soul, we become uncomfortable.  We start to realize there is something far greater and bigger than us and it is scary.  The thing about our human nature is that so often we start to see and realize what true love, true abundant life can be and we sabotage it.  We retreat back to old ways because it is what we know.  Our sinful habits are what we think will make us happy.   It is a deceitful lie that leads us down a painful and deadly path.

The image of Jesus dying on the cross taking all my sin and shame as well as every human being’s remains the strength that keeps me going.  Christ was rejected by his very own.  He is rejected every minute of every day.  So many curse Him, turn their backs on Him, and run straight into the pit of destruction He came to save them from.

Oh, but when a person finally does realize their great and desperate need of His love and forgiveness that is when life truly begins.   Life is hard and the consequences of our own bad choices are very hard.  God gave us a way out of the pit.  He gave us a way to true life through Jesus Christ.  As my relationship deepens more and more I yearn for each breath I take to be for Jesus.  Because of my own sinful nature I still have so much to learn about full surrender and trust.  The more I breath Him in the deeper my peace, joy, and realization of how loved I am becomes.

My heart breaks when the love I give is rejected.  I can only imagine how Jesus feels to have paid the penalty for all sin through death on the cross only to be rejected by so many.   In fact the love I give doesn’t even come from me it is Christ loving through me.

So my eyes will continue to look that much more intently on Jesus and His way.  Everything I do is for His Glory and not mine.  God has a plan and perfect will.  My hope and trust is that anything done for His Glory will not go in vain and that He will take the seeds planted and continue to water His truth on them.

Philippians 2:1-5 “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and one of mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…”

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!!!!

Honesty and Integrity where has it gone?

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My heart is so sad.  This week I watched our community come together for a Police Officer shot down while fulfilling his calling by God to serve and protect.   This officer’s life leaves a legacy of what honesty, integrity and service look like.  I didn’t know him personally, but know many who did know him.  He has made an impact on me. The outpouring of love for him and his family has been a beautiful testimony of a life lived well.  Officer Snyder was an example of a follower of Jesus Christ and a life surrendered to serving Jesus and others.

My heart is deeply troubled for our country and it’s freedoms that so many men and women of service have given their lives for.  Our flag, our anthem, and our brave Heros are disrespected dreadfully.  The media has made the presidential election a three ring circus.  We have career politicians that can’t even tell the truth about what they ate for lunch.  Anyone that stands against the “agenda” will have their character and life smeared all over the media whether there is any truth to it or not.  Why can’t we have honesty and integrity running our country anymore?   We still do have some honesty and integrity giving their blood, sweat, tears, taxes, and their very lives in America’s people still.

My heart is so burdened for our country to turn back to God.  If we are loving God with all our hearts minds strength and souls and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27) we would not be in the shape we are in.   There would not be racism, there would not be constant fear between people of darker pigmented skin and those in uniform.    There would not be the need to lie, cheat, steal, and kill for self promotion and greed.   There would not be so many homeless children in our very own country and in our very own towns.   There would not be people going hungry.  There would not be such a need for finding other things to fill the hole that is in all of our hearts that only Jesus can truly fill.   There would be no need for  illegal drugs, overly prescribed drugs for “nerves”, or abuse of alcohol.

The answer is not in who is elected president…the answer is turning our hearts, our lives, and our eyes back to God.  That is when we will find honesty and integrity again.  If only we all lived our lives putting others first and started giving our all to Jesus.  Jesus truly is the answer for every problem in our own lives, our communities, our schools, our country, and the entire world.  My heart is troubled and sad, but Jesus said… “Do not let your hearts be troubled, you believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1

A Strong Clue That You Are Following God’s Plan Foster/Adopt #4

In all of our sixteen years of marriage Mike and I have never felt more under attack since we decided to take the step of faith to become licensed foster parents.

As a nurse I have cared for the drug addicted, mentally ill, abusive, and suicidal. I have cared for children on the receiving end of all sorts of abuse. I have cared for the broken, lost, and angry who lash out at those who are genuinely trying to help. God has given me the strength to love patients and families throughout my career. He has helped me on countless occasions to not judge and show compassion. I am not 100% perfect in non-judgemental, loving compassion of all humanity ALL the time, but it has grown easier and easier through the years with God’s help. That being said it is one thing to take care of the broken at work. It is a whole other ball-game to invite the broken into your home. Not just inviting the broken but the government as well.

It has been knowing what foster care would truly involve that has taken me over six years to surrender to taking this step of faith. After that sermon from our youth pastor mentioned in the first foster/adopt post my husband and I discussed finally moving forward with licensure. His statement to me was “I have always been good with it. It has been you that has struggled.”
Ok fair enough. Now as we have completed two thirds of our pride foster parent classes he has developed some of the same fears I have faced over the last six years. These classes can be sobering and emotionally draining as many worst case scenarios are shared. How the tables have turned as I feel a stronger determination not to give up and also that I want to not give up on any child placed in our care. As well as help that child’s family if at all possible. Mike on the other hand is questioning and he mentioned the word fear several times. We have both been stressed, cranky, and overwhelmed. Attacks by Satan worse than ever on our own personal attitudes and patience. In our discussion I mentioned that fear is Satan’s strongest tool to prevent people from taking steps of faith. It is only fear and our own selfishness that truly makes this decision hard. God provides scripture at the most critical times as the story of Peter walking on the water to Jesus came to mind. I reminded Mike that as soon as Peter started to become fearful of the storm and waves he sank. (Matthew 14:22-33)When we stop looking toward Jesus and look at all the dangers around us we will never truly follow the path God has for us.

The image of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane so often comes to mind.  Being fully human knowing the pain, suffering, and the weight of bearing the sin of the entire world Jesus prayed “not my will but yours be done”.   Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good of all humanity.   Brings the sacrifices made to make a difference in at least one young life into a whole new perspective.  (Matthew 26:36-46)

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”