Freedom in Adoption

 

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One or two days out of the week when I am off work I get to walk our son to the bus stop.  Walks and car rides seem to always be the best opportunities to have meaningful conversations with my kiddos.   Our son essentially talks non-stop.  Sometimes he says a lot of words and I  still have no clue what he is actually talking about.  We have a lot of work to do on the who, what, where, and why content in his verbal communication.  There are times though he says things that are so very profound.  He continues to teach me how to have good listening skills as I work to teach him how to communicate well.

He likes to talk about when he first came to our home for respite care as a child stuck in the foster system.   Many times he has said he knew this would be where he would stay, his forever home.  I don’t remember what led up to the statement that struck me so deeply, but it was probably some of his reminiscing that he loves to do.  The statement that has caused me to ponder so deeply was “Now that I am adopted I am free!”

In the last six months our guy has made greater strides than he had in the fourteen months prior.  His reading has really improved, he keeps his room clean, self control, and maturity have also tremendously improved.  Of course with ten years to catch up we still have a way to go, but the leaps and bounds have been amazing.

Even with deep empathy sometimes it is hard to imagine what a child in Foster care truly goes through.  As a family licensed in Foster Care there are times we feel “bound by the system”  so I can only imagine how the children feel.   Not knowing where and who you will live with. To have so many emotions that you can’t even begin to understand.  Fear, anxieties, lack of trust.  People and a government that should have your best interest in mind continuously letting you down.

For our son adoption has meant freedom.  Freedom to let oneself love. Freedom to trust. Freedom from the worry of where you will lay your head each night. Freedom from rules that “regular” kids don’t have. Freedom to let go of fear. Freedom to get to hang out with friends.  Freedom to have your picture taken. Freedom to say “this is my home”.  Freedom to say I belong. Freedom to say I am loved.  Freedom to have structure.  Freedom to have loving discipline because someone really wants you to succeed.  Freedom to say I am wanted…  I could go on and on.  Until he said those words I really hadn’t realized what a release of chains of bondage adoption can bring.

It is such a reflection of what being adopted into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ brings.  When we give our heart and life to Jesus He gives us freedom.  Freedom from our own sins that bind and consume us.  Freedom from worry when we trust in Him.  Freedom knowing that no matter what happens in life we have an eternal home.  Freedom to love and know that we are SO VERY LOVED.  Freedom knowing that He will provide. Freedom to embrace His loving discipline because He wants us to succeed.  Freedom in knowing that God indeed wants us even when all else has failed and forsaken us.

Ephesians 1:5, NLT: “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”

John 8:36

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Ephesians 3:12

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

This World Wants to Prey on My Children

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Back in May we traveled to Florida.  Leaving at 1 am with 4 children in a rental minivan we set off on our adventure.  We made great time until  we were close to our destination. All the holiday travelers with the same idea seemed to converge onto the same interstate.  Once we arrived the goal was to unload, go get groceries for the week, get some take out Chic-Fil-A,  take a night walk on the beach, then get some rest.  The grocery store was a mad house as others had the same goals in mind.  Once we reached the check out and started putting items on the counter the older gentleman checker started conversing with me.  Our sixteen year old daughter had come along to help.  What started as pleasantries about where we are from quickly soured for me.  The checker turned my answers about our local floods to political.  Bashing our standing President and then telling me who to vote for in the next election.  The response I chose was simply to remain silent at that point.  My look I am sure said “really dude?”.    At that point he turned to my daughter and said “ahh you are the one I need to talk to”.   He had hoped she was 18 and able to vote. Even after he found out her true age he still continued to push his opinions on her as her mother stood right there.  Paying customers from another state simply trapped having to have this stranger’s opinion forced on our tired ears.  We both remained silent in our own political and faith beliefs.  At one point when he told her what party to vote for when she is 18 I did simply say “Well she does have two very conservative parents.”  That was all and the conversation went back to pleasantries.  The Holy Spirit definitely gives my heart a lot of discernment in what words truly matter and when silence is much more golden!

It was interesting as a mom to have to sit back and watch “the world” prey on my child forcing opinions without truth.   It was politics on the surface, but so much of what is happening is actually a spiritual battle within our country and around the world.  It always has been a spiritual battle more than physical.

Later that week just the 16 year old and I were on the beach one afternoon.  I had gone down to the water for a while to cool off.  As I came back to our chairs I found two young girls sitting with my 16 year old.  As they introduced themselves to me and spoke of their intentions my heart went from worry to hope.  These brave young college girls were sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ right there on the beach.  They didn’t force, they asked questions, shared personal testimony and had scripture to back up all that they said.  They shared  Jesus as a choice that we have in our life to make him Lord.  God gave us free will. It was a blessing to share what Jesus has done in my life and to pray for them before they left us.  As they left I had a renewed hope that for all the false messages God will bring true messages along for my children.

Today in our Life group my one student and I ended up going into the other middle school class with it being just us.  The lesson was on 1 Timothy the first chapter.  Paul was urging young Timothy to stay in Ephesus to combat against all the false teaching happening with the TRUE Gospel.  My friend and co teacher shared that she loves teaching middle school girls because that is the age when all the false teachings start to bombard us.  She wants to help the girls go into this battle armed with the truth.  We explained to the girls middle school through college they will be bombarded with a lot of teachings and opinions that are false.

As a Jesus following mom who made plenty of her own mistakes in those young years, it is so hard to sit back and watch the world try to devour her own kids.  As one child already has turned against the faith it has been painful to see and hear the false messages come from her.  Our relationship with Jesus has to be just that, a relationship.  It can not be forced and must be chosen.  This momma’s prayer for her children is that they will love Jesus with all their heart and want to share that love with others.

This world is tough and grows more brutal by the day.  Our children our constantly preyed upon with so much falseness.  Lies that only brings destruction when we fall victim to them  My advice to other Christian parents is that I have none really.  Not of my own.  Prayer, scripture and completely submitting my children to the Lord are my weapons.    “God they are yours and you love them even more than I do.” “Whatever it takes to keep them in your loving arms or to draw them back to your loving arms is what I ask.”  That is a tough prayer.  Otherwise I watch and listen hoping that the truth will protect them.

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

For my young friends on the beach.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12

Adoption Day (More difficult to Write About Than I Thought)

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Adoption day for our 11 year old son was back on March 4th.  Honestly it has been hard to put words to the emotions that go with what his adoption means.  Adoption represents a new beginning especially for a child that is older.  Adoption also represents loss.  My husband and I are honored to step in to meet the need, but there is a sadness I feel as well.   As I have gotten to know birth family there is a deeper connection and commitment that has come along with the adoption.

For our son I have sensed a much decreased anxiety.  There is a reassurance there that I have not seen.  There is also a new level of testing.  While there is relief in the permanence my heart still hurts.  It is so hard to explain this depth of sadness.  I grieve for the loss he has endured.   I grieve the brokenness that brought him into our lives and to our family.   God had a plan of two people, his birth mother and father, to bless him with.  God entrusted them with his care.  Life happens and choices in life happen.  Life choices that can support  strong families or destroy families, marriages, and lives.  My heart grieves for all of this.  We live in a broken world and my personality type wants to fix everything.  I can not fix anything or anyone, but can point to the one who can.  Not everyone will choose healing.

God created the world sinless and good.  He allowed mankind to have freewill.  To choose to love and obey.  The fall happened when the first man and woman sinned.  The curse of sin has run rampant since that time.  The vicious cycles of sin destroy families and lives again and again.  Adoption is a pathway that can break a cycle.

The greatest breaking of a vicious sin cycle is the adoption into God’s family.   When we admit we have a sin problem. When we have a personal encounter with the healing grace and forgiveness.   The healing only comes from God’s one and only Son Jesus Christ.  Following Jesus with our lives and turning from our selfish sinful pride.  Only then can we be adopted into God’s family and find true healing of our hearts and lives.

People say “you are so good” for doing the foster care thing.  No, I am not.  God pounded on my heart for nearly seven years before I finally submitted to making that phone call.  It has been every bit of hard that I knew it would be.   God has been my strength through all of it.  The full dependency I have had to place on him has been priceless.  I have gotten to see him in a way I never would have had I not answered this calling.  Our family has been strained beyond more than I ever thought we could endure. God has been right here with us.  He has been the sword and shield with every head to head battle with the devil himself!!  My weaknesses have been thrown before me daily.  God has used my weakness to give incredible strength that he gives through full submission and humility.  As things have actually gotten a bit easier as permanency goals have been met I find myself missing the desperation.  The desperate cries to God to help me please!!!  Oh this is just a short break I am sure.  There will be future valleys and pain.  What he has brought our family and myself through has only prepared for the next battle.  The hard places in life are not something I wish for.  Now I have a much greater understanding of why God allows hard things and calls us to hard things in this life.  The closeness, the relationship with my God and my best friend is beyond anything there is to offer in this world we live in.  Do you know him?

John 1:12-13 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Romans 8:14-17 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Saying Hello to You was Easy! Saying Goodbye is so Hard!!

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Our lives are so blessed as God brings along special people and special pets.  Five years ago I wrote about our Chloe in Love, Life Lessons, and a Three Legged Dog.  She has quite the special story.  Since that blog we have become a foster family.  She has been so loving and protective of every child placed in our care.  Her story is one of rescue, unconditional love, overcoming, and perseverance.  Her story and her unconditional love have been so therapeutic for our kids who have had a rough start in life.

In February the day our little girl returned home to her mom we learned that Chloe is full of cancer.  She has lost so much weight I really don’t know how she has continued on other than the fact she loves her family and her life so much!  Chloe has had a sweet intuition about her knowing when any of us are sad or sick.  The last 10 years have had a lot of loss and sadness for our family and for people we are close to as well.  Chloe has been that sweet comfort that I personally have needed so many times.  We say we rescued her, but truthfully she has rescued this momma over and over.  From the day we met and especially from the day I picked her up from her surgery we have had a special bond.  Chloe is the only one that actually listens the first time I say no or stop. 😊  It is so hard to say goodbye, but I am so happy that we got to say hello!!!  Thank you for all the love you have provided for our family sweet Chloe!!  I will miss you so my dear friend!!

If I Ever Doubted the Love… Yes I get “too” Attached and I Wouldn’t Change a Thing

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I wrote this a month and 4 days ago. The go home day was delayed, but God as always had a plan and perfect timing. A family reunited!!  God is so good!!

Today is what this journey is all for.  Today is the day I pass the baton of motherhood back to the one God initially blessed this precious one to.   The past months have been amazing to see the power of Jesus break the chains binding a mother.  The chains that prevented a mother from truly being able to embrace her gift.  Freedom, hope, peace, joy and love have now replaced the enslaved, hopeless, restless, despair, and lostness that once was.

The emotions within me are everywhere.  My spirit is up in the clouds!!  I feel the warmness of Jesus’ embrace.  It is as though he is hugging me while spinning in a circle so fast my feet are flying off the ground!  We are singing, cheering and doing spiritual high fives and fist bumps!!!!  We are standing in the winners circle against the enemy together!!  Jesus has all the love, power, healing, and righteousness… I’m just here for saying “Ok Lord I will!”.  For allowing Him to use our family as His hands and feet.

Out of the children that have left our care this is the best reason.  This is the goal!  Restoring families, lives, and healing is why we do this!!

Why in my humanness am I grieving so deeply?  Last night I was the recipient of one of the longest hugs I remember in my life.  This precious one hung on to me and was rubbing the material of my sweatshirt between her fingers on my shoulder.  There were no words and didn’t need to be.  Sometimes there just are not words to explain all the emotion.  We had been talking about all the positiveness and excitement of the new life in the future.  My phone was in reach so I snapped a picture of this sweet moment.  My eyes look so glassy as I was fighting with everything to not cry in front of this precious little one.  This is a very positive and happy time.  Lord why do I feel such a heavy weight of grief?  In my spirit I feel Jesus’ embrace and in my humanness I feel Him carrying me. His comfort is amazing how he reassures that the pain I feel is because a chapter in the journey is closing and a new one is beginning.  With every ending and beginning there is pain in life .  There is something lost and gained.  There is a cost for what is worthwhile and good.

Great love will always bring great grief as seasons of life change.  It is an “empty nester” type of grief with each child that leaves I am finding.  How amazing that God can bring strangers into our home and give my heart the ability to love them as my very own.  I love them all down to the very core of who I am.  That is why such a deep grief and sadness washes over me as they leave to their next life chapter.  This is a pain I am so very grateful for!  Thank you Lord for allowing me to love, thank you for loving through me,  thank you for the blessing and opportunity to be a part of each of the journeys you have blessed us with.  This hurts, but I would say yes again a thousand times over.

I have to add that in this situation what has been gained is an adult daughter, a grand daughter and a grandson.  God is so good and so amazing how he brings lives together!!

Washington is Battling Over a Wall Meanwhile I too have a Wall Battle

It seems that God uses things that irritate me to teach me the best lessons.  Our son we are adopting has a habit of constantly touching the walls in our home.  A good habit we are trying to get instilled is good hand washing.  We have far to go with the hand washing.  Needless to say the walls are down right gross. As I see him placing his hands on the walls I remind him that he has two strong legs to stand on. There is not a need for  touching the wall.   He insists that he is in his “pre teen” years so he definitely is old enough to walk without touching everything.  There are some sensory reasons behind the wall touching I am quite sure.  Being aware of trauma needs is important.  Alas it is a bad habit that needs a conscious effort on his part and our teaching to overcome.

Today I was going around each wall with a magic eraser sponge yet again.  Feeling slightly irritated as I have to do this quite often.  Recently our home was ravaged by a stomach virus and I feel even more paranoid with hygiene and cleanliness.  God started flooding thoughts over my mind as I scrubbed.   Here go the wall lessons for Anita today.

  1. I notice the dirty hand prints most in the bright day light.  How true in our own life that if we let Jesus shine His light on our own hearts He sure reveals a lot of dirt.
  2. How much of a habit do I have in leaning on God?  Do I turn to Him in prayer?  Do I go to His word for all answers?  Am I leaning on my own strength instead of Him?
  3. Do I rely on old habits to calm anxieties.  Do I hang on to worry?  Do I let go of false security and fully trust God?
  4. It takes a magic eraser to clean the walls in our home.  It takes the blood of Jesus to clean our hearts.  There is nothing magic to the remedy for our sin.  It is the pure love, grace, mercy, and power of Jesus taking my sin to the cross, dying, and rising again that cleanses me.
  5. All people that I love have habits I can’t stand.  God has shown me unconditional love and forgiveness.  Truly loving them completely is to love their imperfections as well.  I get to clean the walls for my family.
  6. Thank you God I have a home with walls and a family to make them dirty.
  7.  I have qualities that are annoying to others and thank God they love me anyway.
  8. Thank you Jesus that you saved me even though I do not deserve it.  Maybe I should make my boy clean the walls.  Sometimes Grace is better and I will do it for now.
  9. I probably don’t even want to know how many times God has protected me from consequences and has shown me Grace.
  10. Dirty walls teach me patience and to prioritize.  People or things first?  Clean when you aren’t needing to focus on people.

Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

Walls will one day crumble, but the love God gives us to give to others will last for all of eternity!!

Words from my precious Mother-in-laws funeral…She was there…

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My sister-in-law asked for me to share scripture at my mother-in-law’s funeral.  I typed it into Word press as I pieced together what God was putting on my heart to say.   This blog was started almost 5 years ago out of the grief of my father and it continues to provide tremendous healing as God helps me type through life’s journey.   Our Mother is and will be so deeply missed.

 

Proverbs 31 is the first scripture that came to mind when Lisa asked me to read scripture today.  God’s word eloquently describes a woman of virtue and noble character.  Jody fits so well into this scripture.

 

Proverbs 31:10-3110 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

There are so many memories and examples that can be shared about Jody.  Her love and care for her husband, children and grandchildren.  How she was always making something special from stained glass, barbie doll clothes, to crochet baby blankets.   She welcomed me as her own daughter into the Lucas family.  For the sake of time I  narrowed down to one special memory and lesson learned from Jody.

When Mike and I bought our first home the entire house needed paint and all the carpet ripped out.  It was disgusting.  She had a day that she could come and help me with painting.  She was the expert trim painter extraordinaire with her very special brush. (there are a few stories of her painting capabilities out there)   She chose the hardest room to work on with a deep, dark, dried mustard color with the carpet to  match no less.   She worked so hard and we shared several stories and giggles as the day went on.  My dad was also a painter and used tape.  Jody taught me the art of no tape just keep your wet rag handy.  Now my own painting is a combo of their teaching tips. As the time she had to help came to an end she kept apologizing that she did not get much done and felt like she didn’t help much.  She was 66 years old at this time and was a tremendous help.  The thing is looking back I really can’t remember how much she got done or even how “perfect” it was.  What I remember is that she was there.   Jody was there for all of us, helping, caring, and cheering what ever the need was she was there.  A true life lesson her life has taught me is that what is important is that we are THERE for our family, friends, and people in need.  The details aren’t so much important as our presence.

Parenting in so many ways, especially a parent like Jody, reflects that same kind of love our Heavenly Father has shown to each and everyone of us.  Despite our imperfections, despite our sin God sent His own Son Jesus into the world to give his very life for us.  AS parents we aren’t always happy with our children’s choices.  There are some pretty funny stories of times Jody wasn’t happy with her kids behavior, but she was there still loving and guiding. God desires nothing more than to welcome us all into His family  through His Son Jesus no matter who we are or what we have done.  He wants to be there for every single one of us.  Through the happy times and the sad times in our lives.  Most importantly He longs to welcome us one day into our heavenly home with him.

A mother’s love is a beautiful picture of sacrifice doing all that she can for her beautiful babies.  Jody’s love for her children was the very core of who she was.

I will close with a final scripture about the love of Jesus for us.

Romans 8:34-39

34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

To my Children from Your Imperfect Mom

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To my precious children. An apology is owed to you.  You see I am not perfect. Lately I have heard the remark “I am not perfect like YOU!”  It is a rebuttal that has sliced me to the core.   That is the one thing I have not wanted my children to see me as.  I have not wanted them to feel any pressure that they need to be “perfect” for my love or approval.  As a preacher’s daughter that is exactly what I rebelled against in my teen and early adulthood years!!  I couldn’t stand the pedestal I felt pressured by the world to stand on.  Temptations and the need for friend’s approval and popularity overwhelmed me.  I look back and often wonder how I even survived other than by the sheer Grace of God.  I was a hypocrite I was a fence rider.  My faith I had as a child was constantly being suffocated by the world.  This hard headed mom was once a very strong willed child who had to constantly do things her own way by her own self first.

Thankfully God did not give up on me and turn His back as I did to Him.  Oh I had many an idol I placed before Him.  I skipped out on church some, but you see I was a hypocrite.  I was all about image.  I had to make my dad look good, but at every ounce of freedom I was pushing my sin and His forgiveness to the full.   Sometimes I would listen and feel conviction when I was in church.  Other times I had my self so justified in my own mind I felt nothing…   Then consequences of my own personal choices started to occur.  The consequences brought guilt, shame, embarrassment, and loneliness.  There was no one to blame but me.  I was feeling the fullness of my burden of sin. Definitely something I didn’t really carry at age five when I accepted Jesus.   It was because of my mistakes and imperfectness that I came to realize the magnitude of what Jesus did on that cross for me.  He took that burden of sin and shame to the cross and died the death I deserve.  Do I wish I hadn’t made mistakes?  Yes I would go back and do things different.  Would I have the deep relationship with Jesus I have now were it not for my mistakes. Most likely not.  So I am grateful Jesus doesn’t give us do overs He washes our sin away instead. It is an individual journey.  Of course I want to protect you from making bad choices.  You may not make the same mistakes I did, but you will make your own.

This leads me to why I believe church is so very important.   Like our pastor just said on Sunday usually when people stop coming it is because they are not liking the conviction.  Conviction does not feel good.  Not at first. Now I have come to welcome it!  I desperately desired to hear the Word of God!  I desperately need fellow Christians, sinners saved by Grace, praying for me.  I go to church because I have watched the power of God’s Word and prayers of God’s people transform lives, my life included!  Because I remain connected in worship and prayer with fellow Christians I get to witness miracles.   My week is a hot mess when I don’t go.  This I noticed in very early adulthood.  When I didn’t make it to church and get the spiritual refreshment I was a complete wreck.  Weeks I made it there was just enough strength and accountability to get through what ever was handed to me.

You my dear children have also brought a much deeper understanding of God’s love.  As I would do anything I can for you.  I would die for you.  I can not take away your sin. I can not choose following Jesus for you.  God made a perfect creation and gave mankind free will to choose to love and obey Him.  Wow if Adam and Eve only had one thing God asked and only one sneaky  snake tempting them to disobey and they STILL sinned.  Sheesh it is no wonder we are such a mess now as sin and its consequences have multiplied over and over.  There is a constant bombardment of temptations.

So your mom is actually  a very imperfect person who desperately needs Jesus every moment of every day.   I need to go to church to worship and pray with other believers.  I need God’s word to teach me and correct me daily,  I need to hear the Word preached at least once a week to be given a more biblical perspective of life.

So I sincerely apologize to have given any pressure that you have to be perfect.  Jesus tells us to come as we are.  He is the one who is perfect and makes us right.  No matter your mistakes I love you.  You will have to face your own consequences and I pray your journey will lead you back to and closer and closer to God.

Love,

Mom