“Mercy does not Need Reasons”

For weeks now I have wanted to blog about what I see as far as true love and support from a foster parent’s perspective.  Our situation has been purely a calling of God on our life as a family and as individual followers of Jesus Christ.   It has been very eye opening to see who and where true love and concern has come from.

The only non-judgmental truly supportive concern and understanding has come from our church family our actual church and fellow believers that attend other churches.   Jesus’ church of believers.  It has been people that have had a true encounter with Jesus Christ themselves and have had God’s calling on their own lives that provide the unconditional support our family so desperately needs.

This blog is not to point fingers or to provide direct quotes of questions we have been asked.  In general there is a lack of understanding as to why we keep on with all the sacrifices of time, finances, home, emotions,  and actual abuse against us for someone who may never “get it”?   Why do we keep on with all the inconveniences and scrutiny of “the system”?

This morning while working on the middle school girls Life group lesson God has helped bring this observation to a deeper level of understanding.  The story of the “Good Samaritan” one that I have read in Luke 10:25-37 many times throughout my life provides the best answers to the questions we are asked.

God’s call on the life of those who choose to believe and follow Him is this…  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;  and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

How can a human being whose nature is all about self survival, preservation, pleasure and promotion give completely unconditionally  to a stranger and possibly “the enemy”?    It is all by the power of God’s love.   It is coming to the understanding of how much God loves me even though I personally don’t deserve it.  God has shown me an indescribable amount of mercy and it is only through Him I can show this kind of mercy to others.  God has different plans for His people to show love to neighbors.  His plan for our family for this season is exactly what we are doing right now.

This morning I was having a morning where I was fighting with my own human nature and feeling very tired of the “behaviors”.   God’s word cut right to my core yet again.

I love a quote in the Wiersbe Bible Commentary I just read.  ” The Samaritan identified with the needs of the stranger and had compassion on him.  There was no logical reason why he should rearrange his plans and spend his money just to help an “enemy” in need, but mercy does not need reasons.”

I’m tired, I’m far from perfect, but God keeps speaking to my heart.  He keeps telling me to press on, not to give up, and  to give what ever it takes.

 

 

Just Look How Far You’ve Come

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A couple weeks ago I took all three of my children on a hike in one of our local state parks.  Hiking is one of my most favorite things to do outdoors.  The bucket list of hikes I would love to take is extremely long and gets longer and longer instead of shorter.  This was our foster child’s first real hike ever I am quite sure.  There was severe whining and complaining the entire hike.  This was a very short hike compared to what this momma really loves to do.  All along the way there were little break throughs amongst the complaining and threats from our child.  “I can’t go any further!!!  Oh look there is the same kind of bug you and I saw that one time mom!”   “Oh I hate spider webs!!   Oh my legs are worn out!!!  Oh look at the cool butterfly!!”  All three children missed the beautiful deer that crossed our path right in front of us.  All the way were opportunities to teach about God, His creation, His love, and that in life we need to stop, listen, and look otherwise we miss the greatest blessings from Him.  As the hike grew more intense with inclines so did the complaining.  The story of the Little Engine that Could (one of my favorites)  came in handy that day.  With each step I encouraged “I think I can…I know I can!!”  At one point I turned and looked at our child to keep encouraging and I saw just how far we had come.  I said “Turn and look and see just how far you have already come!!  I know you can do this!!”

We reached the top to see the awesome view and the first response was “wow!”.   Then that hard shell of pride and survival methods from a harsh life went back up.  The guard had been let down just for a moment showing a glimmer of hope that love was winning this child’s heart.  The opportunity presented itself to explain that the reason I love hikes so much is that they are hard.  The girls started telling him how they have even watched me fall down on hikes. It is a goal that requires physical, mental, and sometimes emotional work.  All along the journey God provides little views of His Glory and His Blessings.  Once we have persevered and reached the goal then we get to see something beautiful that we never would have seen had we not made the long journey.   Each hike I have ever taken I have gotten to see more and more of God’s glory, His beautiful handiwork of His creation.

So it is with life and definitely parenting.  Anything truly worth anything takes a lot of physical, mental, and emotional work.  As God directs and leads down new paths it is so hard.  I stumble, hurt, cry, feel like giving up and then He shows little snipits of His glory.  Each new hurdle in life God reveals more and more of His Glory to me that I would have missed had I not listened and taken the path He directed.

Not only was this hike a teachable moment for this young precious child it was one for mom as well.  Just keep looking at how far you have come I can hear my Heavenly Father encourage.  Just keep taking one step and one day at a time and trust me.

It is always good to look back and see what God has brought us through and the prayers that have been answered.  The past is not a place to dwell, but to learn from and press on.

So a message to all parents and especially foster/adoptive parents.  Just look at how far you’ve come!!!

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

 

 

I Love You Because you Exist

There are daily life lessons to learn as a foster family.  So many I really can’t share.  Many things I have known, but God is driving a deeper and deeper understanding within me.

What a messy world we live in.  It seems that so many people desire to completely change who they are and are never satisfied within their own skin.  There is a desire and push within this world to completely change the things about ourselves that are clearly defined when we are born.  It is hard enough to figure out things like what school to go to and what career to choose let alone the things about us that are actually very cut and dry.

God continues to reveal to me the deep problem of humanity and what His cure for the problem is.  The greatest need of every human being is to know that there is at least one person that loves them merely because they exist.  A love that has no condition, a love that has no selfish goals, a love that is there even when we are underserving of it.  From the day we are born we are in need of this kind of love.  You cry I will be there, you cause me to be unable to meet my own needs at times…I will be there, you lash out at me…I will be there…   I will still look at you and smile, my eyes will light up when you enter the room.   We all need this kind of love and fewer and fewer are receiving it…even as a small helpless child many never receive this kind of love.

Love like this opens our heart to realizing that we exist because God cared enough to create us and plan our lives.    It opens our hearts to realize that God gave us free will because He wants us to love Him in return because we choose too.  Love like this opens our hearts to understanding that God sent Jesus because He loves us despite our wickedness, flaws, and our unworthiness.   God loves us just as we are because He is.

No matter the struggles and challenges the answer to the deep dark pains of this world is LOVE.   God is helping me love and understand on deeper levels daily…sometimes minute to minute.  To look at every human being with eyes of love merely because of their existence.  Because they are a creation of God.

The Truth Truly Sets us Free

I have witnessed truth freeing moments my whole life!  I know what the truth has done for my own heart and life.  The weight of the burdens of this world are unbearably heavy.  We carry the weight of sins made against us leaving scars, grudges, unforgiveness, emotional pain, mental pain, and sometimes physical.  We carry the burden of regret from our own selfish, self-seeking sin.  Our own sins bring along with them shame, guilt, emotional anguish, mental anguish, and often physical consequences.  The weight that weighs the world down causes the world to want to drag everyone and everything down.  Misery loves company.

In a world that is so full of lies it is hard to know what is true.  Even amongst those that should be speaking the truth and setting truthful examples.  Within my own life the only true TRUTH and FREEDOM has been found within the pages of God’s word.  Everyday God speaks more truth into my heart making the lies of the world more and more clear.

The moments that I have seen God’s light of truth lift burdens off of others and my own life are what I live for and long for these days.   What I am learning is that speaking truth is the only way.  It is very hard and meets resistance, challenge, and sometimes rejection.  In the end it is worth it as truth and love chips away at the scars left by a deceitful world.

John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Our Journey has Officially Begun Foster/adopt#7

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For the sake of privacy and protection I can’t share too much at all about this amazing last week we have had, but I can share what I am learning.  As I have watched the divine plan of God and His perfect timing unfold in our journey I am not surprised that this happens to be the seventh blog on this subject.  The perfect number.

God has chosen us to be the part of something so amazing and so much bigger than ourselves.

When I gave birth to our first child I remember how as a new mom I would look at her and feel like my heart would just burst with love for her.  I had never felt a greater pouring of love into my very soul like this before.  Our second child came along 3 years later and once again the love poured in.  The love doesn’t run out when it comes from God.  This unconditional I would give my life for you kind of love grows and grows when we forget about ourselves and allow it.

This has been my first experience now of parenting a child that was not given to me by birth.  God strategically laid the foundation within my heart and the rest of the family to prepare us for the blessing brought to us this past week.  As I look back at the lessons, challenges, delays, and how this calling actually began now around 7 years ago I can see the work of God’s hand.

Once again as I look at this life handed to me to care for and nurture I feel this huge pouring of love that makes my heart feel like it will burst.  As complicated and broken as life can be sometimes it is amazing what peace and assurance God brings.  It is amazing how God orchestrates lives to cross paths  showing  just how much He loves every single human being He created.  He will and does go to all sorts of planning  for even one lost sheep.

Luke 15:3-7

“3 Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Ugh When I Feel the Mother Hen in Me Trying to Unleash

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Every so often and sometimes far too often I am reminded of the battles my oldest child and I have trudged through together.  From the very beginning even her time coming into this world has been a battle to overcome.  I seriously could write a battle book for her from the day I found out I was pregnant with her until now nearly sixteen years later.   There will be many more chapters to add to the book that will grow in greater intensity.  Somehow these far too frequent and early battles will have prepared her for what God has planned for her.  Since the day I knew I was carrying her I have felt this overpowering desire to protect her from a world that loves to tear down who it views as weak.

Her shyness and quiet spirit is all I can account to the reason why others have singled her out and  left her out from day one.  Usually it has been people who should be in her corner backing her that I have watched leave her out and mock her.  Most of the time it has been the  most appropriate for me to sit back and immediately treat her wounds with encouragement, positivity, and instruction how to learn from the world’s harsh reality, rather than confronting the source directly.  Oh there have been times I have had to pray, choose my words wisely, make phone calls, send emails, do research, present her case, and stand up for her as well.  There have been medical battles, school battles, sports battles, child bully battles, etc…

Yesterday I was reminded as she was in goal for an intense game of soccer that I still have that mother hen.  As she was making an appropriate choice to keep her post in goal and let her defenders do their job I hear a scream “COME ON KEEP” from behind me.  It was a tone that if I were a child and yelled at in that manner I would have been crushed and cried.  The tone was like fingernails down a chalk board to me.  The tone said “you are terrible and not doing your job” to me as the mother.    No goal was scored and my daughter had chosen wisely.

With  Easter having just been this last weekend my thoughts went to Mary the mother of Jesus.  In all her humanness I can’t imagine what her own “mother hen” felt like watching her son being mocked, tormented, falsely accused, cursed, beaten, and murdered on the cross.    I can’t imagine being in a crowd that is screaming “CRUCIFY”  and having your one small little voice saying, but he has done nothing wrong…he has done nothing to deserve this…he has never done anything wrong…   With those three words I mentioned above screamed harshly at my own child every nerve in my body stood on end.  I can only imagine with each strike, whip, and each hammer of the nails how Mary’s nerves would have been completely frayed.  She was there at his miraculous conception, his birth, and witnessed so many instances in the life of Jesus that clued her in to the fact that He indeed was the Son of God placed in her womb and entrusted care.  Her Son has the ultimate battle book and fulfilled God’s ultimate plan to fight life’s ultimate battle death.  He alone conquered death for all of mankind.  Mary in her humanness as she watched her boy hang from that cross being cursed at and mocked still did not understand the extent of God’s plan, but kept a mental record of it all.   “She pondered it all in her heart.”

There is nothing we can face or give in this life that is greater than what Jesus did for us.

As a mother I know God loves my children even more than I do and that every challenge faced is to teach them and prepare them for the next.  As a parent God continues to increase my wisdom on how to build up, encourage, and go to bat for my children out of love.  Even with our next journey in life with fostering I feel this mother hen in me desiring  to protect children who are weak and have no one to battle for them.  Sometimes it will be taking a stand for them and sometimes it will be providing the encouragement, love, and instruction to help wounds heal…   I really don’t like the feeling of my mother hen rattling the cage, but God has put this drive and fight within me for a reason…

 

What is Good?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is More than a Vending Machine

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

 

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

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

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

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.”