Are You Struggling with Depression During the Social Isolation from Covid-19?

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There is just so much that is unknown right now with this Covid-19 virus.  As a working RN I just can’t even go into all the emotions I personally have been struggling with.  For my own knowledge I like to read A LOT and learn from all different sources and references.  It is more helpful to see multiple sides and hopefully get “some” truth that way.  The struggle is that there are so many conflicting reports and things keep changing within my own job every five minutes.  What I am finding is that my own mental health is starting to get infected with it all!!

The other day I was just feeling down about all of it.  The political hatred is driving me nuts and I am trying to hurry past anything spewing hate!  On Sunday I felt so down.  I miss going to church.  I miss my friends.  I miss family.  I am struggling with not knowing where I will be working or when.  I am struggling with will I need to move from my home to protect my immediate family.  All this was whirling around my head and I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to check on the bird eggs.

One egg has disappeared, but one has hatched and is alive.  It was a picture of hope for me when I needed it most.  Two have yet to hatch.   New life gives HOPE!

This is the week we remember what Jesus did for ALL of us. Can you imagine getting a warm welcome into Jerusalem one week then within days those same people were screaming for your death?   Jesus knew he was going to die.  Jesus went through the most unfair hatred ever known.  He did everything perfectly… He loved perfectly…  Even Pilate said he could find no fault in him.  Yet the hatred reigned and Jesus was sentenced to the most brutal beating known to mankind with flogging, then the most tortuous death known to mankind, crucifixion.

As I struggle God keeps reminding me that there is nothing He doesn’t know. Jesus took every sin of all mankind to the cross with Him.  It was dark, scary, his followers ran, they were isolated and fell into despair.  BUT in just three days Jesus arose!!!  He conquered all the darkness, evil, and hatred.  What was meant for evil God used to SAVE us from our own sin!

There are so many theories and blame games going on right now it is hard to know what to believe.  Even if something is meant for evil, God can use it for good  to fulfill His plan!  God is in control!  When we trust in Jesus as our Savior we have new life and have the promise of life everlasting in heaven.  This is what I cling too!

As I feel a sense of impending doom I have to turn to God’s Word.  As I feel down I have to remember what Jesus went through for me and all man-kind.  Jesus gives HOPE and life!

Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

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

 

 

There is Hope in These Uncertain Days… “His Eye is on the Sparrow”

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In the midst of all the uncertainties going on in our world a momma bird has chosen our front door winter wreath to bring her little ones into the world.   First the nest was noticed, then one egg,  then days later two,  then over a week later there are now four eggs!!  Delightfully I laughed yesterday discovering the four!  Wooo weee the Lucas love porch has a lot of hanky panky going on!!!!!  Why our noisy front door with kids in and out, three dogs barking,  two cats that lurk in the window?  It doesn’t seem to be a safe option for the momma bird in my mind, yet here we are.  Of course my winter wreath will be up for the duration as Spring in the truest of forms transpires on our door.  Now I feel a sense of responsibility wanting the door to open and close carefully because of the fragile new life that rests on it!  How beautiful is the craftsmanship of the nest and the eggs.  The security of the nest is amazing in how it doesn’t even shake on the wreath as we open and close the door!  Simply amazing to me!!

As this Covid-19 virus rips across the world I am reminded even more deeply of how fragile life is.  How very precious this gift of life!  Every life, the unborn, the elderly, the special needs, every ethnicity precious and fragile.  We are one race, the Human race, and God is giving us a chance to see how very delicately we all hang in His beautifully created balance!  In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus tells us not to worry.  Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet our Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  The other night on Facebook I watched one of my favorite Christian artists sing “His Eye is on the Sparrow” from her home with her hubby on the piano.  As my tears flowed her powerful voice stirred me to worship and thank God for life itself and my family. (I am not sure about copy writes. I don’t make money from my blog, but search Natalie Grant’s facebook page to listen😏)

One of my favorite songs as a kid was “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”.  This is what I envision now as there is so much uncertainty.  God created us, He loves us, He is in control,  He is the giver of life and gave us free will to choose to love Him back.  The lyrics of this song repeats the same line four times for each verse.  ” He’s got the whole world in His hands.  He’s got the itty bitty baby in His hands.  He’s got you and me brother in His hands.  He’s got you and me sister in His hands.  He’s got the wind and the rain in His hands.  He’s got the whole world in His hands”.   As a little girl I remember reaching out to my dad for his hand on walks or in a busy place for safety.  My dad had big hard working hands that represented strength to me.  How much greater are our Heavenly Fathers hands holding all of creation in balance with His strength, power, and love.

Our front door is essentially the only way in and out of the front of our house so trying not to disturb momma bird is difficult.  This reminds me that there is only one way to life everlasting in heaven.  Jesus is the door.  Our world is broken.  The disease of sin has ravaged the human race since Adam and Eve ate from the one tree that God asked them not to.  We are all under the curse of sin.  Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary.  Making him fully God and fully human.  You see God left the glory of heaven to feel all that we feel here on earth because of our sin disease.  He was fully tempted to sin as we are, yet He never sinned.  This made him the only one that could take the punishment for our sins.  He took our place on the cross bearing all of the world’s sin.  He rose three days later proving that He is God.  God did this out of love for His creation.  He gave us free-will to choose to love Him in return by accepting Jesus as the Lord of our life.  John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”   John 10:9-10 “I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

My prayer is that we as the human race will awaken to how valuable life truly is.  That we will love and care for others again.  Right now the sacrifice is not that great.  Just stay at home and love your family.  My prayer is we will open our eyes and hearts as to what is truly important and what has been a distraction.   God asks us to love Him and love each other.  Our basic human needs of food, water, shelter and love is what is important. We have become so greedy as our sin disease ravages mankind.   God is bigger than any disease, He is bigger than any government, and He is bigger than all of our own personal pride.  I invite you to have a personal relationship with Him and walk through that door of life.  There is hope in Jesus no matter what is going on around us!!

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.

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!!

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.”

Two Months IS Significant

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As we continue on in our journey in Foster care one of the greatest lessons has been to expect nothing.   The only guarantee and expectation that I personally have learned is that God is always present even when it feels like He is not.   So actually going into this ministry and definitely in the throes of our ministry a thank you is not expected.  We try to teach gratefulness, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, good work ethic, etc… with every opportunity.  The expectation, other than knowing God will be present, is a personal one.  Do I exemplify qualities that Jesus demonstrated for us? Do I show love, forgiveness, kindness, patience, gratefulness,  do I work hard?  My failures in these qualities happen daily so how can I  expect someone who has had a rough start in life to have them.  Why should someone who has had some rough and traumatic experiences at a young age have any reason to say thank you?  It is not expected.

One never knows what is significant to another person when first meeting.  Every person has a story and every person has something that is significant to them or longings that are significant. It is often a mystery and hard work to learn what is significant to another.  What is significant to my neighbor may not be significant to me. Yet we are to love our neighbor as ourself.   So how do we love others deep enough to truly make a positive impact?  Start learning what is significant to them.  It is an ongoing process in relationships with others that never ends.  Love grows deeper and stronger the more you learn and act on what those matters of significance are.   What is a passion, a joy, a hobby, what is the deepest need, what is the deepest longing of the other people in your life?

For our dear child that God has so divinely brought into our home there is a significance of time.  We all need the time of others invested for a relationship to grow, but to some time means security.  Toward the end of March I was asked about a specific date in April and if I knew what that day was.   My brain was in total “der” mode as I couldn’t think of a birthday, sporting event, or historical marker.   The next words gave me a clue as to what is significant to this dear one.  “I will have lived here two months.”

As that day approached two days ahead I was handed a card.  The card was going to be given on the day…no the day before…no the day before the day before….   The anticipation of this date in time demonstrated even more  how significant two months in the same home with no threat looming of having to leave has been to this precious child.   In care it is one day at a time never knowing what is going to change and happen next.  Security is one of our basic necessities as a human being.  We can provide words of assurance and love, but nothing speaks more than time and action.  So our thank you was very unexpected, but significantly heart melting to us.   It has been a wild roller coaster ride of  a first year as a foster home.   There truly has not been anything harder with a greater impact that our family has ever done.  As God continues to mold, shape, and strengthen us as a family and me personally, my prayers have turned into how can I love more?

Security

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Yesterday at church my husband’s cellphone fell out of the pocket of his Bible bag and plummeted to the floor. The end result was a completely shattered screen and a non-functional phone. I couldn’t help but notice the significance of what the phone fell from and where he was the time the phone was broken. It seems we all are so glued to our phones these days as well as other technologies. It is with guilty fingers I am typing this blog today. Life seems to stop when one of these devices ceases to work. The first thought “Oh no what am I going to do?”

Now there are certain safety aspects to having a phone. Taking call for my job deems it is a necessity most definitely for me. We cancelled our home phone line because it was rarely used and we have not missed having it. The phone in and of itself is not a bad thing. It is our lack of looking up from the phone to experience the world around us that gets us into trouble.

The question of where does our security lie? Is what has fleeted through my thoughts from the time I heard of the phones demise. The fact that our first reaction so often is panic when our phone doesn’t work is a clue in what our society has put its trust in. Last year on vacation I had to spend half a day taking care of my phone that without warning just up and died on me. There was a need for a call shift as soon as I got home, but still frustrating to waste family time having to take care of a phone. Now the significance of time being even greater as this was the last vacation my father would be with us.

Will our phones save us in a true disaster? No all cell phone service will be caput. Will our stocks and bonds save us? No they can be gone with just a click of a mouse of a hacker’s computer. What about our homes? One tornado or fire…gone.
The fact that Mike’s phone fell from his Bible bag reminds me of how secure the Word of God is. Oh sure the book itself can burn and be destroyed, but nothing can destroy God’s spoken word. It stands forever. He spoke this world into existence. The word actually became flesh to take on the sins of this broken world to give us grace and mercy we are undeserving of.

John 1:1-18 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”

The only thing that lasts is Jesus. The world didn’t recognize Him then and it is obvious it doesn’t recognize Him now. We are too distracted by our “own securities”. What we think is secure. We hold onto what we think is within our own power and control. How much control and power do we have? Can we control how long we have a heart beat? Can we control the weather? Can we control the evil of this world or the evil that is within our own selves? Only Jesus had the power to speak the world into existence, only Jesus could speak and calm the storms, only Jesus could pay the price for our sins (the evil within each man), only Jesus conquered death, only Jesus can give us grace and mercy, only Jesus can bring true hope of eternal life, only Jesus brings true security.

Yes this will sound weird that I am glad my husband’s phone broke in the way it did. The daily reminders of who God is, the truth, and what really matters are priceless. My true security does not rest in the “stuff” from this life.