Would you Foster?

On the 14th of December we will officially have been licensed foster parents for a whole year! It’s amazing how quickly time has passed since we started this journey. The early days of our first placement were hard for lots of reasons.¬† There was such uncertainty on how to navigate all of the emotions and I got such little sleep! On top of that, adjusting to the new normal of visits, getting house work done and trying to still homeschool my children were all challenges that we had to figure out.¬† It was a wild ride, but to be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing.¬† God showed up in such big ways and I learned so much about who I am in Him!

Today’s reality is so much more predictable.¬† The baby is scheduled and sleeps much better, homeschooling happens like it’s suppose to most days, and I’m able to keep up with my other responsibilities reasonably well.¬† Some days I even forget that we are fostering.¬† Loving this child as my own feels as natural as breathing air.¬† This is our life right now and I love it!

So, imagine my surprise when we got a phone call about another child in need of a home! We are only licensed for 1 child at the moment, so it completely threw my heart into a tailspin! It was so unexpected!! Immediately, my brain and heart went into over drive.¬† Can we make this work?! I was willing, but I won’t lie, there was some panic that set in too. And like a snap of a finger, I was reminded how broken this world is. There are babies, children, mama’s and daddy’s out there who’s worlds are falling down around them and we are called to step in and be Jesus to them.¬† We are asked to step into the broken.

It so happened that another family stepped up and took this little charge, but yesterday knocked me back into reality.¬† Maybe not now, but some day we may need to step into the broken once again for the sake of a little one.¬† The first time I had no idea what I was walking into.¬† Today, I’m very aware of how hard it is and how chaotic my life will become.

Friends, please pray that God would remind us all what it means to be like Jesus.¬†Pray that He would open our eyes to not only our deep need for His love and mercy, but that we would be willing to step out of our comfort daily and walk in faith, even if it means walking into hard places.¬† And friends please pray for these little children who are hurting so much.¬† Pray that other brothers and sisters would step up and welcome these precious babes into their homes! It’s so needed! I can take one more, but I can’t take them all.¬†¬†

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Burdens

The daily demands of being a stay at home mom of 5, homeschooling, and a teething baby are hard sometimes.  Some days I go to bed feeling accomplished and thankful for the day we had.  Other days I go to bed feeling completely undone.  The past few weeks in particular have felt like a crazy combination of accomplishments and let downs. 

I’ve been beyond blessed this month.¬† I’ve seen God bring family and friends together in amazing ways! But I’ve also seen such brokenness in my family and I have spent more days than I should mourning the passing of certain seasons of my life.¬† Mourning friendships that have changed, holidays that are no longer spent with loved ones, and watching those I love suffering.¬† When looking at my beautiful Christmas tree full of memories, if I look deeper than the twinkling lights and the ornaments, my heart hurts. This season can be hard.

Today I woke up feeling particularly glum.¬† Like most people I often forget to reach out because I don’t want to put my burdens onto others.¬† I often fall back into this “tighten up your shoe laces and keep going” attitude.¬† It works half of the time.¬† The other half, I find myself irritable and negative.¬† I find myself losing direction and just living to get through to another day.¬†

Today I had a full schedule like usual.¬† My morning went as follows: Wake up, feed children, dogs, cows, cat, and myself.¬† Inhale coffee, quick shower,get dressed and put on makeup.¬† Try to unload and reload the dishwasher without baby climbing into the dishwasher. Start some laundry.¬† Do school with children, feed children again and somehow make time to write blog while the baby naps. All the while thinking about the fact that for the second night in a row I have to keep the baby up way past her bedtime because of a 7:30¬† MRI appointment for my oldest who’s foot has been bothering her.¬†

And as I sat in the computer chair staring at the screen praying God would give me something to say to encourage others, I just felt utterly discouraged and defeated. 

But then my phone went off. A dear friend messaged me because she had a birthday present to drop off for the baby and then she said she was coming over tonight to watch the kids for me.   I literally broke down in tears!  God through this precious sister reached through that phone and gave me the biggest hug! And a blog too at that!  That is so like him!  He is so good to me! 

Friends, I really needed to be reminded today that God never intended us to carry all of our¬† burdens alone.¬† First, we should be sharing our troubles with Him.¬† Invite Him into your pain, your hurt, and your weaknesses.¬† Secondly,¬† He gave us each other for a reason!¬† God uses our sisters in Christ to be His hands and feet sometimes.¬† We need to be willing to share our burdens with each other and willing to accept help when we need it! It’s obviously a lesson I’m still learning.¬† And in my case, I needed someone to step into my life and offer help without me asking! Thank you, friend.¬† You know who you are.¬† And thank you Lord, for always being faithful, even when I lose my way.¬†¬†

Why Prayer Matters

I love having conversations with God in the car! It doesn’t happen very often, as I usually have a hoard of children riding along. But, this past week I was able to go grocery shopping child free and oh how blessed I was to have time alone with Him!

Uninterrupted time is a precious commodity in my life during this season, I do not underestimate the value of time alone with God. None of us should! Spending quiet time with Him is more than just seeking peace and quiet. Likewise, prayer is more than lip service. Praying is literally like a life line attached to the very heart of God. When we pour out our hearts and our burdens to Him, He does not leave us empty and broken. He comforts and He whispers. If we earnestly are seeking, God will answer us. He gives us wisdom and peace if we ask for it.

My conversation this particular car ride revolved a lot around my feelings of guilt and frustration at myself. I prayed things like, “I don’t love you enough, God.¬†I don’t want to be this way. I struggle with feeling inadequate in my faith walk. I don’t want to be a poor example to my children and I don’t want to live a stagnant life.”¬†The weight of unmet self-expectations weighed my heart down so heavy this particular afternoon. Condemnation had it’s hold on me. Yet, as I drove down that windy mountain road emptying myself God whispered, “You’ve lost the Joy of your salvation, Mary.” and immediately the tears came.¬†He was right! I had!

I started thinking,”What if I lived my every day thinking about what Christ has done for me? If I were living my every day like it was my last, how would my thought life change? Would I still be so bogged down by my inadequacies or on the contrary, would my inadequacies even matter?” And just like that, the lead weights that held my countenance to the floorboards evaporated like smoke and the Gospel once again took it’s rightful place at the throne of my life and as the master of my day.¬†¬†

I’m not meant to be perfect.¬†Not yet.¬†Not till Christ’s return.¬†Jesus lived a perfect life so that I don’t have to. He died on that cross so that I can live washed in grace.¬†And now when I have days where I feel frustrated with my sins, I remind myself to be joyful in my salvation.¬†Satan has no hold on me anymore.¬†The victory has already been won and today’s troubles are just that.¬†Today’s troubles.¬†They do not define me.¬†Christ defines me.

  So friends let me encourage you to spend time talking to the one who loves you the most. And pray that God will give you such wisdom and knowledge of Himself, that he would open your eyes to understand the hope of our inheritance in Christ. Pray that you can appreciate all that He has done for you and pray that He will give you the strength and power you need to live your life in a way that is holy and defined by the love of God. Not a perfect life, but a redeemed life! 

Junk Drawers

¬†During the week of Thanksgiving we often take time to reflect on what we are thankful for.¬† There are so many things I could list but after a season of reflection and refinement, tonight I’m the most thankful for God’s love for me despite my ever wandering heart.¬†

There are a few struggles that have plagued my life for as long as I can remember.¬† I am terrible at being consistent and I am ridiculously unorganized! I struggle with self discipline. Some how I’ve managed to home school and for the most part keep a somewhat clean house but my insides often feel like the two junk drawers in my kitchen.¬† My house looks clean, but don’t open a drawer or look in the coat closet.¬† You will quickly see the real state of my home and my heart.¬†

I can sometimes go days without cracking open my Bible.¬† I get so caught up in the busyness of life and my natural propensity for selfishness that I don’t even realize how far I’ve wandered until I feel a thousand miles away.¬† Truth be told, praying doesn’t come naturally to me either.¬† ¬† I don’t think my struggles are very rare though.¬† I think many of us share them.¬†¬†

I’m starting to realize that my refusal to clean out the drawers of my life and bring God into the mess is a kind of self harm.¬† I’m cheating myself of peace, joy, and growth.¬† I’m cheating myself of a complete and whole relationship with God because it’s easier to hide than it is to repent and change. I can keep doing the same old thing and watch my heart slowly harden, or I can fight! I do not have to accept second best because God loves me more than that. God loves you more than that!

Starting today, I am awake.  Today I dump out the drawers of my heart and shine light on all that has been holding me captive.  The resentments that clung to me like cancers are being traded for forgiveness.  The broken little girl who tucked away the shame and fear, now shouts from the mountain tops how God has redeemed her broken! I no longer have to hide and neither do you!

Today let’s put on the whole armor God!¬† This is more than a choice, this is war!

  1. We are to gird our waist with truth which means we do not allow the things of this world to distract us from God or what He has called for us to do.  We obey His word and live without hypocrisy.  
  2. We put on the breastplate of righteousness which means we try to live our lives in a way that is holy and pleasing to God.  When we live our lives contrary to scripture we are left vulnerable and easily attacked.
  3. We shod our feet which means we stand firm in the Gospel.  God is for us, not against us.  He will give us the strength we need to fight against all those things that attack us and try to hold us down.  
  4. We take up our shields of faith which basically means we trust God absolutely.  We know that He will keep His promises to us and help us to not fall victim to the temptations of sin.  
  5. We put on our helmets of salvation knowing that there is nothing nor anyone that can take us out of the hands of God.  He chose us, not the other way around.  No one can snatch us away from Him! 
  6.  And lastly, we take up our swords of the Spirit which is the word of God! The Bible is the only weapon that we need to protect ourselves from Satan and his schemes. (Ephesians 6:14-17)

You are loved

It is inevitable that at some point in your life you will realize that the one and only person who loves you the way you desire to be loved, the way you crave to be loved, is Jesus. No one else is capable of that. They may try but their love will always fall short. I think everyone comes to this realization during hard or challenging seasons of life, whether in marriage, friendships or family. It’s in these seasons that we are reminded that we cannot expect others to be something they are not capable of being. We have ALL fallen short. No exceptions, except for one exception… Jesus.

Others can and will mistreat you, hurt you, use you, forsake you and take you for granted. This is a guarantee. But, how AMAZING is it that when we are in that place when we feel not good enough, when we feel rejected, hurt or unloved, that God gently reminds us that we ARE good enough because He Loves us… A simple truth. He loves us so much so that He, instead of thinking about His own life, His own “well being” sacrificed Himself for you and for me. So even if in this life I may feel alone and unloved sometimes, I am NEVER alone and unloved. Feelings and emotions lie. God does not!
He promises to never leave me or forsake me even if the whole world does (Hebrews 13:5-6). All I have to do is cry out to my first love, my Savior, and He is there with arms wide open to embrace me, all of me. Not just the good parts, but the yucky broken parts too.
In the ups and downs of life, not only is God always constant and present, He uses the good AND the bad to remind us of how much we are really loved. I am reminded often in the hard seasons of my life that even in my hard, I am blessed. I am trying to learn how to be thankful even when it does not come natural in my heart. I am trying to learn to let God quiet the negative thoughts and feelings and replace them with Him. It’s a raw and emotional process sometimes, but it’s such a blessing to see yourself not through your own eyes but through the eyes of God. And, it’s a blessing to know that God isn’t finished with me yet. He is still working on my stubborn, cold heart and daily changing it to be more like His.
I do not always have the right words to say, and sometimes the chaos of life can seem overwhelming. But I know if I cling to my salvation in Christ and His promises, He will bring me through and comfort me. He loves me dearly and He loves you too.

The Selfish Mom Trap

I spent the evening banging around pots and pans in the kitchen. I slammed cabinet doors and I felt sorry for myself while everyone else sat in the living room oblivious. After a full day of running errands, cleaning, cooking meals, teaching and changing diapers, I was overcome and overwhelmed by the aftermath of dinner. The sin in me shouted, “No fair! I’m tired, I’m frustrated and I want help! Why does everyone else get to relax but my job never ends?” Like a lion crouching outside the door of my heart, all I had to do was walk on through. Trap set.

It’s true that sometimes being a mother and wife can feel like a thankless job. More often than not every cup, every missing pair of pants and every meal is the responsibility of yours truly. But, as I sit here now putting my thoughts into words, I feel ashamed for the attitude that overtook me in that moment. What an opportunity to serve the Lord and my family, and I dismissed it as trivial and grueling. How silly of me to belittle the God worshiping privilege of motherhood and home making.

It is so easy to become halfhearted and lose all joy when serving and loving people, especially when I’m loving myself more. It’s not about “us” mamas. And, yet all too often I forget.

Thankfully even though my heart often fails miserably, God never does! In these moments when I feel my heart buckle under the weight of self, God is right there calling me into repentance and His grace. He gives me the strength to keep on going and reminds me to whom I belong.

The honest truth is I’m pretty good at messing up. We all are! Some days I need to be more about having a thankful heart than having a thank you. Tonight I was reminded of why I wash the dishes and fold laundry. I do it for the love of Jesus. Any other reason gives sin a foothold in my heart.

Let’s be reminded today to focus our eyes, ears, minds and hearts toward Christ, and serve Him in all we do! Whether it be dishes or dusting, it is our silent worship to Him! These things are not as trivial as they seem. Our homes are our mission fields. We shouldn’t be resentful of the jobs put before us but grateful to have such a call! We are so blessed! Let’s start living that way!ūüíē

The Hard

It was a morning just like any other morning. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and slowly pulled myself out of bed. Time to brew some coffee and feed the children. Time to start my day. But, sometimes life has a way of turning a regular morning into something more challenging…more heart breaking. What do we do when tragedy and pain touches our lives? How do we as Jesus followers respond when we stare face to face with the darkness?

It is all too easy to stay comfortable and hidden in our own little bubbles of life. Day to day mundane tends to do that to a person. Especially when everything is going well, your bills are paid, you are healthy, your stomach is full and your family is safe. But, what happens when tragedy or pain touches your life? The reality is difficulties will touch your life and they should.

When I am overcome with the sorrows and the hard of life, I preach the gospel to myself. Nothing can reboot one’s mindset in times of trial more than reading about Jesus’ humanity, compassion and sufferings. God himself took on the form of a man. He humbled himself to the point of death (Philippians 2:8). He wept for the broken hearts of the ones he loved (John 11:35). He washed the feet of his followers and friends (John 13). Jesus’s humanity wrestled with the knowledge of the suffering and pain he would endure on the cross to the point of sweating blood (Luke 22:44). He stared into darkness every day. He knew what it felt like to be overwhelmed by the reality of this sin ridden world: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38a). Jesus knows because Jesus has lived it. And, as humbling as that is, when I ponder that he chose to live this way because of his immeasurable love for us… Wow.

When I consider life through the lens of Christ, suffering and pain take on a different hue. When the darkness seems to surround us and our flesh responds with fear, we respond with, “But God!” Because you see, Jesus overcame! Jesus says in John 16,” I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”(vs 20,22,33).

Because of what Jesus did, we can face the darkness and we can shine the light of Christ in it. Because of Jesus, the reality of sin and pain is short lived in the light of eternity with our heavenly Father. We are called to love when it hurts, to mourn with those who mourn, to serve, to sacrifice and to die to ourselves. Because of what Jesus did, we can have peace even while walking in pain. The hard in our lives can be a gift in disguise because the hard keeps our hearts soft and reminds us to turn our eyes to the one who created them.