Category Archives: Daily Living

Sell All

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” Matthew 19:21-22

 “Sell all.”

The immensity of that two-word phrase has been rolling around in my head and weighing heavily on my heart for several weeks now. Maybe that’s why I’ve been silent here for so long.

Lately, I’ve been taking a very serious, in-depth look at my Christianity. I hope to share more of this with you as time and the Holy Spirit allow, but for the last four to six months, I’ve been examining every part of what I believe and assessing why I believe it.  I want to be sure that all of it is in Scripture; that all of it is well pleasing to the Lord.  I must be certain that my life is lining up to His Word, and I deeply feel the urgency of this.

Why? Because at the end of the day (that Great and Final Day), the only thing that will matter is whether I was faithful to the Lord.  Whether I was obedient to His Word. All of it. Even those parts that are hard or uncomfortable; those that may be unpopular, and even cause people to question my rationality. The Lord has been faithfully reminding me that His earliest followers did the things that were hard; sacrificed their comfort (and often their lives) for the sake of the Gospel. They were considered, by most, extreme; by many, crazy, and by others, rebellious.

“Rebellious.” That is the word that I have struggled with the most. I desire deeply that people know that my intentions are pure. I have come to accept, however, that some may not, and I am resolved to be OK with that.  Rebellion is something that is addressed very strongly in the Bible.  It is condemned on the same level as witchcraft. When I consider this, though, I know that following Jesus, taking Him at His word, and putting those words into practice is the exact opposite of rebellion.  The world’s perception is upside down, and let’s face it – the more like Jesus we become, the less the world at large will like us. But it’s not just the world. Even the modern Pharisees, (those who are more worried about the “traditions of their fathers” than obedience to the Word of God,) will hate us! Perhaps, as in Jesus’ experience, even more than the unbelieving world. They may try to discredit us, defame us, question our character and sincerity, or even destroy us.

Shane has been going through a similar journey, and when he brought this Scripture to me, and spoke the words, “sell all,” I  must admit that the words that I desperately wanted to speak were: Please! No!”

I have read the story of the “rich young ruler” many times. I have heard those words of Jesus recounted to me by preachers, Sunday school teachers, and my parents since I was in pigtails. Just about every time that I considered his reaction to the Savior, I would think, How sad! Or He could have followed Jesus! He gave him a personal invitation to come with Him! And He was righteous, but got hung up on his STUFF! What a fool he was!

This time, however (rather than hurl accusations at a Bible page), I was compelled to ask myself a few questions.

”Am I really so different? What would I have done differently, in the same situation?  How might I have responded to Jesus?”

But, these hypothetical questions are just that…hypothetical. They don’t give me a real picture of where I am. So I must ask myself another question: “How have I responded to Jesus?”

Many of us have been taught to expect the blessing of the Lord when we are following Him, and we can! But what exactly does the blessing of the Lord look like? Is it material?  Can I hold it in my hands? Is it a large bank balance? Are riches really even a blessing at all? What if Jesus looked you in the eye and told you that YOU needed to sell YOUR house, car, stuff, to inherit the Kingdom of God? Would you do it?

That is the exact crisis we have been facing.

But…that’s missionary level stuff, right? That’s pretty radical. Do I really need to go that far?  When I am honest with myself and read the Great Commission, that is exactly what Jesus calls His followers to – missionary level.

In Mark 16:15, Jesus says, “Go YE into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.(emphasis mine)

Yes, there is work for me to do here, but am I treating the place that I live as a true mission field? Or is it too easy to think that my children are my only ministry and to be satisfied with that? Do I wake every day thinking about the needs of the people in my neighborhood? Am I asking myself how I can minister the love of Jesus to my community?

What about that homeless person on the corner? Am I guilty of the words and inaction of James 2:16?

“Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”

In a word…yes. 

True, I no longer drive past these people that Jesus loves without looking them in the eye, but, am I giving them an empty “God bless you,” or “God loves you,” and neglecting to put shoes on their feet or food in their mouths? Have I taken the time to actually get to know these that God has fearfully and wonderfully made? Will I ask them for their name, and tell them mine?

What about the widow I know? Do I consider her loneliness and call her? Am I making her a meal or cleaning her house when she can’t? Am I helping her with errands?

What about the orphan and the fatherless? Will I give them what they need? Do I invite them, not just to Sunday school, but into our home to play with our kids and to have a meal when they would otherwise be alone? When they come over at an inconvenient or difficult time for me, do I turn them away with my words and expressions, or do I joyfully invite them in anyway?

Friends, the Lord has really nailed me on this one. Because we have literally adopted three of the fatherless, I thought I was OK. But there are so many kiddos that my kids come into contact with that are practically orphaned. Even if they live in the same home with a living parent, many of these need an adult in their lives that are invested in them, who will welcome them, stand by them and show them the love of an eternal Father.

Do I make this life of serving Jesus look appealing or like a real drag? Do I have a smile on my face? Am I kind to the checker in the grocery store? Am I in such a hurry that I get irritated when someone’s debit or EBT, or WIC card won’t work in the line? Am I reacting in a godly way when someone cuts me off in traffic? Do my neighbors see me smiling and waving or do I have a furrowed brow? When people sell door to door, do I listen to them because they’re PEOPLE? Or do I shut them down because I don’t have time?

Every one of these questions are ones I have been asking myself lately. And I feel like I have been “weighed in the balances and am found wanting.” That may sound extreme, as those of you who have read Daniel know that Belshazzar ended up dying in condemnation when that phrase was spoken to him. But if I refuse to do the things that Jesus commands in Matthew 25, here lies the true rebellion that I should fear. If I rebel against these things, I will face the separation of the sheep and the goats based on my apathy toward the “least of these, my brethren”. Am I giving a cup of cool water? Feeding the hungry? Clothing the naked? Visiting the sick and imprisoned?

What if the biggest reason that salvation looks so empty and void to the world is that they don’t see these things in ME?

God forbid.

So, dear Mama Friends, I now relay the invitation that Jesus gave to the rich young ruler; that He has given to me; that He has given to you.

I am not Nehemiah Mama. We are Nehemiah Mamas, as we do our part where we are.  I ask you to walk this road with me, and as I share with you my challenges, successes and failures, I ask you to do the same.

I am truly excited to see where Jesus leads us as we follow Him closely; as we walk in the footsteps of Jesus, together!

 

Blessings and much love,

Mama

Why I Kicked Chick Flicks and Classic Movies To the Curb

“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” ~Psalm 101:3

For some reason, I was alone in the bedroom folding laundry. Either Shane took over watching the kiddos in the living room, or actually took them out somewhere. I can’t remember. But I decided this was a great opportunity to watch a classic movie on Netflix. “Touch of Mink”…I don’t think I’ve ever seen that one…Doris Day, Cary Grant? Ah…Perfect.

OK, so before you read any further, if Touch of Mink is your favorite movie, #sorrynotsorry for the rest of this post. My soul was grieved by what I watched. I simply cannot be silent about what I saw.

It started out OK, I guess. But less than ten minutes into this movie, it was clear that there was a problem.

“Oh, that blonde, ditzy Doris Day character, she’s so pretty and dumb, it’s only a matter of time before she gets raped.” Uttered by her best friend. Not even kidding. No, that’s not a direct quote…but creepily close. When she finally gets hooked by the almost predatory creep played by Cary Grant, who happens to be rich and thinks he can buy people, he proceeds to buy her glamorous clothes, (his limo had splashed mud on her dry-clean only outfit),  and then takes her on a series of out-of-town trips to “make it up to her”, where it becomes all too clear that he will expect “payment” of a different kind for his generosity. Are you catching this? He tried to buy her. Like a prostitute. One such out-of-town trip, she, being an innocent virgin, breaks out in hives in fear of what was expected of her and a doctor was called.

Haha. So funny. Is it really?

At that point, I was so sick to my stomach that I couldn’t finish watching the movie. That evening I remember distinctly feeling utterly betrayed. Cary Grant, an actor I had grown up loving and adoring was playing a certifiable jerk. Doris Day, who I had always viewed as beautiful and wholesome, was making both attributes appear naive, foolish and nothing but a trap. Yes, they were just actors. But they chose these roles for whatever reason. And we came to see. In droves. “Touch of Mink” is a classic. And we have made it so.

Because I didn’t finish the movie, I had to look up how the movie ended so that I could post this. According to what I could find, in the end, she “finagles” a proposal out of him and everyone lives  “happily ever after.” But is it not disturbing that she sought a proposal from someone who thought he could buy her?

And in true Hollywood style, she was made out to be the heroine who tamed the wild, handsome, ignorant womanizer. What a prize he was.

Now let me say that this review has been burning in my chest since before Christmas. It was here in my soul to share LONG before the Women’s Marches, so please don’t misconstrue this as a response to them. It is simply not.

But we have a serious problem. The disease of hatred and sexism we are experiencing in this current age is a precipitation of something that started many, many years ago. And it’s not just a conspiracy. It was an agenda. Make no mistake.

Have you ever heard of Hegelian dialectic? You can look it up, but it’s essentially this: A fake problem is created, you are then accused of being the cause of that problem, and then the one who made it up in the first place poises themselves as the solution to your problem.

Abusers use this method all the time.

Hollywood has artfully and painstakingly proposed its own philosophy, manufactured a conflict surrounding it, making us the “unenlightened,  uneducated, prejudiced, bigoted, etc., etc., etc….problem” and then has proposed itself as the solution…a way to redeem ourselves. It has set itself up as a religion all its own.

My friends, we are in an abusive relationship with Hollywood.

In the 50’s and early 60’s, feminism presented us as the heroes. Women were the angels that men, who were really animals, needed in order to be tamed.

In the late 60’s through the 80’s, it presented us as the oppressed. Men were evil. They created the bras that we must burn. “Women need men like fish need bicycles…” Remember that Gloria Steinem quote?

From the 90’s through the present, Hollywood has presented itself as the solution to our problem. We can speak of our oppression through the art of film and music. Movies, award shows, TV shows and entire stations are now dedicated to “self-awareness” and to freeing women from the slave bonds of men.

Men have been vilified and stupefied. Dump him… Leave him… He doesn’t deserve you… He doesn’t love you… He’s so stupid, he can’t clean, shop, cook or take care of your kids. That’s right. The children have his DNA, too, but they’re exclusively yours. You don’t need him to help you raise them. He shouldn’t even get to decide if you keep them. You are the strong one. He is the weak one. Why bother with him at all? Who needs him?

We have been told that we are objects that are constantly being judged for our bodies, our skin tone, our weight, our job, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum. And you know whose fault it is? The MAN. We’re better off without him. We don’t need him. All we need is chocolate, coffee, a sexy dress that makes us feel beautiful, the right make-up, the right movie, the right food…Good thing those things are available for us to consume.

Sound familiar? Now I ask you, who is the real oppressor? 

The sickening thing is that the “classic” I watched could have been made last year. Feminism hasn’t improved any of this. Don’t believe me? Think about the movies that have come out in the last twelve months. The TV shows. Watch the commercials.

It’s sick. It’s twisted. It’s trashy.

It’s time to recognize that we’ve been in an abusive relationship for nearly 75 years. It’s time to break-up with Hollywood. And get a restraining order. And MOVE ON.

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

 

*images OK’d for re-use

Family Priorities

Happy New Year, Dear Friends!!

2016 was a good year for the our family. Shane and I celebrated our 15th Anniversary, and got away alone not once, but TWICE in one year…which we haven’t done since we got the kiddos. And it was amazing.

We successfully potty-trained a toddler.

All three kiddos got back into therapy with a wonderful Christian counselor and many difficult issues have been improved or altogether reversed.

Both boys went back to Dallas Public Schools and KILLED it in their respective jog-a-thons. They also were big winners with their Scout Pinewood Derby.

Pickle and I got to see the Broadway musical, “Newsies”.

Our family got to see Crater Lake in August (four of the five of us for the first time) and got to spend Thanksgiving in Grants Pass with dear friends.

Shane was hired as a permanent employee with the State of Oregon in December after nearly two years of hard work and a lot of waiting on the Lord.

I completed a very challenging and inspiring 7-week devotional written by my 8th Grade teacher, Jane Poole, called, “Ancient Wisdom.” It was written with entrepreneurial women in mind, who often find themselves in a chapter of life where they are home, but still have a calling to write or create. I strongly encourage you to try this lovely devotional. You won’t be the same. Visit Jane’s site here. 

AND, I finished reading the Bible through for the first time since I was a teenager. (And I’ll be honest…I did it to say I did it back then and did it to get to know my Jesus better this time.)

God is so very good to us. 

I’ve been reflecting on a sermon Shane preached a few years back for New Years. It made such an impression on me when he preached it that I came home and made a family manifesto for us. I printed it out and placed it in several prominent places in our home. It is still all around our house, but we’ve tuned it out over the years. It’s become part of our walls. I felt like maybe it was a good time to revisit it. And I thought you might enjoy seeing it, too.

Our Family Priorities

We will put God first in our…

  • Decision-Making
  • Plans and time spent
  • Finances
  • Relationships

This means that we will…

  • spend quality time in God’s Word daily. We will listen to God.
  • spend alone time with God every day in prayer. We will talk to God.
  • strive to know and take advantage of God’s promises. We will memorize Scripture!
  • make assembling with the Saints a top priority. If given the choice between going to church or doing another activity, we will choose to be in our places at church. 
  • make our home a welcoming place for others. We will be inviting, hospitable and look for ways for make others feel the love of Jesus in our home and family. 
  • use our resources for the furtherance of the Gospel. We will give to God of our firstfruits. We will make sacrifices to bless others. We will be good stewards of our God-given resources. 
  • recognize that we have bought the truth…and we won’t sell it for anythingWe are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” (Romans 1:16)

My prayer is that we will have a very Happy 2017. However, if I had to pick, I’d choose to have a Holy 2017. Praying you have both!

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

Is tradition worth all this crazy??

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”  Mark 4:39

I am a girl who loves tradition. I like to have things done the same way every year…especially when it comes to holidays. In fact, I remember the very first time it was casually mentioned by my mother-in-love (I think) when Shane and I were first married that maybe we should have Christmas at a beach house. I don’t remember much after that because I’m pretty sure the room went dark, I may have hyperventilated a little, the room started spinning…you get the idea.

I like my holidays just so. Thankfully, my folks and Shane’s folks get along really well and are all very understanding and so alternating holidays was more the exception and just all getting together as one, big, happy family was the rule when we all lived in the same state. When that didn’t work out for some reason, we were all very content to do Thanksgiving here and Christmas there, but it was still very traditional and very predictable. 

Growing up, my holidays were steeped with tradition and predictability. I knew where we were spending Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years on any given year. I was an only child with no cousins of my age. And I didn’t mind at all. I loved the quiet, cozy holidays that my family shared. Without fail, I could expect End Times prophecy discussion and politics around the table and quiet snuggles afterward with my grandparents on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve with my Dad’s side of the family. Come Christmas Day and the days that followed, we would drive to the beach to my Mom’s folks’ house where I could expect loudness, chaos, tickling, laughter, a dog that hated me and pantyhose Christmas stockings. And I loved both family celebrations equally.

Then one year, when I was in middle school, I was invited to go to Sun River for Thanksgiving with a dear friend of mine. It was SO MUCH FUN! But I remember thinking, This is really differentIt felt so foreign to me.

To a point, tradition can be a really good thing. When we first adopted our boys, establishing family traditions of our own and creating memories was very important and they genuinely loved it. From cutting down our own tree to setting up our heirloom nativity scene, from the Grinch family movie night to ZooLights, from the Advent calendar to new Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve…the list could go on and on.

We have recently added a new Christmas tradition that we’re loving called the “Jesse Tree” and I’ll be sharing with you throughout the month of December how it works.

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The ceramic Nativity scene my Grandma made

But somewhere over the last decade, be it ever so gradual, my compulsion for tradition has subsided. And I am…quite pleasantly…relieved. 

Maybe it started when the traditions of my childhood were replaced with ones of adulthood. More family through marriage, less family through death. The family holidays shifted greatly after both of my Grandpas passed away. My Patriarchs were gone and with them, certain ways of doing things held less meaning.

Maybe it started when we sold our house and we couldn’t host everyone at the same time anymore.

Maybe it started when a large part of our family moved out of state.

Maybe it started when Nutkin was so terrified of the Grinch that we had to cancel our third annual Grinch family movie night.

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First annual Grinch family movie night

Whichever way it started, I think it culminated when we decided to drive cross-country for Christmas in 2014. It was…Truly amazing. Full of memories. Adventurous. Packed with sight-seeing and stops to see friends and family along the way. Exhausting. And very, very different from our “normal.” And we were all OK with it. In fact, we were more than OK with it. We all  absolutely loved it. That year, our only traditional family holiday was Thanksgiving (my favorite anyway) and it was relaxing! Because we knew we’d be gone for the majority of December, and that we were getting new carpeting while we were gone, decorating was nixed. There was no pressure to decorate for Christmas at all. No pressure.

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A highlight of our 2014 Christmas road trip – standing next to the poplars Pa Ingalls planted in DeSmet, SD

There it is. When I think of what I am trying to instill in our children as they move into their teenage and adult years, I want them to hear the words “No pressure,” when they think of the holidays. I want them to hear the words, “relax,” “enjoy,” “cherish,” and “content.” If tradition helps us achieve those thoughts of peace, then it’s a useful tool. But if I feel driven and bound by tradition to the point where my kids get left in the dust while I’m screeching around going from here to there, wrapping this and shopping for that, baking this and decorating that, then what good is it, really?

I’ve been pondering this as I sit in an un-decorated living room writing to you dear friends in the end of October. In a typical year, there would be pumpkins and leaves strewn all about my house starting the first week of September. I have two totes FULL of stuff just for Thanksgiving and autumn, because it really is my favorite time of the year.

But this year, we’ll be breaking tradition once again to be with close friends and family for Thanksgiving out of town. And I have two totes FULL of filing to get done. And other projects to do. And honestly, I could do it all and still have a decorated house. But my kiddos would suffer and my husband would suffer because of all the pressure I would be placing upon myself. 

It’s just. not. necessary. 

Years from now, should the Lord tarry, my kids won’t remember if our house was un-decorated for Thanksgiving in 2016. But they will remember that one really miserable Thanksgiving where Mom was really stressed and we didn’t even have dinner at our house!

I’m not saying  that non-tradition in my new tradition. I’m sure I’ll decorate my house in future years, and when I do, the nativity scene will always have its place of honor right up on the top of our bookshelf. We’ll probably give our kids new jammies every Christmas Eve for many years to come, maybe even into their adult years.

No matter what traditions are broken, or how pared down our Christmas looks, there are certain traditions that we will never, ever set aside. We will always have Christmas-themed devotions throughout the season and we will always read (or recite) the Christmas story on Christmas morning. Some traditions are at the very core of who we are and cannot, and should never be, laid aside. But I find that those traditions weren’t the problem anyway.

I’m just saying that IF I have to break from tradition to keep myself from having a breakdown, I’ll do it and I’ll give myself grace when I do.

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New Christmas jammies, 2013

And, so…I’m enjoying my one pumpkin filled with flowers on top of my piano, and a teeny little gourd that Nutkin picked out at the pumpkin patch on Monday that he has leaning against a lone Yankee candle burning on my dining room table.

And there is a great calm. 

Please know that as I’ve been writing this, I’ve been praying for you, dear Mama reader. I’m praying that during this busy upcoming holiday season, the Lord will speak peace to your soul and that there will, indeed, be a great calm.

What traditions do you hold dear? Have you had to lay any of them aside recently for your own sanity or that of your family? Or are you the type to break with tradition altogether? I’d love to hear from you!

But don’t worry. No pressure.

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

 

Ye Shall Teach Them…

“And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates…” Deuteronomy 11:19-20

When Shane and I were finally approaching parenthood, (the long journey for us took 11 years,) we discussed for the umpteenth time what we wanted to do in regards to teaching biblical truths to our children. It has only become a stronger commitment as our oldest approaches the teen years and both of our boys are in the public school system this year.

I was recently asked to share some ideas of practical everyday ways to teach biblical truths to children and I was struck with the fact that God really has given us such a manageable way to teach our children. And one that will stick. One that will last. He commands us to live it, to teach it every day, to teach it in the little things, in the mundane, in the routine.

As parents, we care about our children’s nutrition. We want to be sure they get the right amounts of everything they need and we make sure they can digest what they’re given. Just as we bottle feed our babies and then give them baby food and then cut up their food in little pieces with physical food, we can — and really must — do the same with spiritual food for our children.

Here are some ideas that I came up with when asked. I have since added a few things to it that have recently come up as well.

“WHEN THOU SITTEST IN THINE HOUSE…”

Prayer time – We’re trying to encourage each of our kids to pray in a group AND individually. Our kiddos get really overwhelmed with the desire to remember needs of others, perhaps more than is even usual, and can get almost panicky that they will miss someone. So we came up with two solutions that have worked.

  • One is to just talk about all the needs we know of, similar to our church prayer room-style, and then pray for “all the needs mentioned.”
  • The other thing that has worked is to make a permanent list to hang of needs/people that we need to pray for every day and then have them look for stickers that they can put by the names to remind them of what they are. We have a fluent reader, a beginning reader and a non-reader. No matter who is praying out loud and needs to see the list, they can all remember those we want to pray for. (Little Miss’s situation has been at the top of our list for nearly three years, but since her name is on it, I’ve edited her name off. The sticker the boys chose was a baby bottle at the time.)

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Games – On occasion, we use Bible trivia games in lieu of devotions.

  • We found a couple of really inexpensive card games, I think at a garage sale, one which is similar to UNO, but has trivia on every card. Even our 3-year old can play.

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  • I have an old-school game called , “The Book Game for kids,” that my parents bought  and used to play with me back in the dark ages. I’m so glad I kept it! But even if you can’t find it on e-Bay or the like, you can make your own variation! It’s basically “Chutes and Ladders” with trivia. It gives you chances to climb the ladders by answering questions, (you get to climb some ladders for free like the “grace” ladder). There are also knot ropes, like the “temptation” rope that you have to get the answer correct or you slide down. There are also “reward” and “setback” cards. Lots of fun!

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“WHEN THOU WALKEST BY THE WAY…”

Out and About Time – We are on the road a lot, which means a lot of van time to fill. I have found that giving up on “my music”, though edifying, so that they can listen to Sunday school songs and audio books and drama has paid off so much. The conversations that blossom from especially the radio dramas have been SO VALUABLE!

  • Adventures in Odyssey – The kids LOVE listening to these in the van. We own one set that we bought from the Focus on the Family store while visiting their headquarters in Colorado Springs. We You can check your local library, or I think there’s a membership that you can purchase direct from Focus on the Family. Visit Odyssey Adventure Club here.
  • “Out loud” Bible reading time – Our oldest son in particular is getting to the place where he’s reading circles around us. The world could be burning down around him and he wouldn’t notice. We are thrilled with his love to read! But we did recently set a guideline for him to help use that gift for his spiritual good. For every hour of free reading time he has, we ask that he give 1/2 hour to Bible reading. He actually really likes his Bible reading time, but is intimidated by the big words. So while I’m driving, he sometimes reads out loud and stops when he needs more explanation. It’s  truly become a precious time that we both look forward to!
  • Sunday school song CD’s – We play them OVER AND OVER AND OVER. We’re particularly fond of Cedarmont Kids, (but there are many others out there!), and you can purchase their CD’s for a relatively inexpensive price. And they’re worth their weight in gold, in my opinion. Visit Cedarmont Kids here.

WHEN THOU LIEST DOWN…”

Evening devotions – This is the time where our entire family really focuses on singing, Scripture memorization, and the Sunday school lesson for the week. We usually do this right before bedtime.

  • Songs – On a typical night, we let each kiddo pick at least one song. They range from Sunday school songs to hymns. It’s nice to own a hymn book for this reason. We also have a Wee Sing Bible Songs book. For more modern songs, believe it or not, there are a lot of Sunday school songs available to view on YouTube. We sometimes ask the kids ahead of time for a list of songs they want to sing for evening devotions and then Shane or I search for and queue them up. They love this and we’ve discovered many new fun songs this way.
  • Memory verses – We try to introduce their weekly Sunday school memory verse early in the week. One fun thing we’ve discovered is that there are many free coloring pages online and we can cut and paste their memory verse to it before printing so that they can color a picture in relation to their memory verse.
  • Sunday school lessons – Because we have three kiddos at three different age levels, we usually pick a Sunday school lesson a night. Our church, the Apostolic Faith Church, creates its own curriculum and it is excellent! If you are looking for something like this for your kiddos, it’s available, free of charge, on our headquarters website. Visit the Sunday school curriculum link here.  
  • Bible stories – For the other 3-4 nights when we aren’t reading the Sunday school lessons, we read from our old Children’s Bible. Realistic pictures are very important to us. We want our kids to know that the stories in the Bible are true accounts. So we avoid cartoon-y books. Honestly, the older the Children’s Bible, the better. Ours was printed in 1971. Thrifts shops and antique stores will yield great finds for old devotional books and Bibles for kids. They’re more likely to be KJV this way (our preference) and we find they treat the Bible with much more reverence than more modern Kid’s Bibles do. Another good source are the Bible stories like you find in the doctor’s office. We have a set of those as well.

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“WHEN THOU RISEST UP…”

Morning devotions, thankfulness and prayer – This one was difficult to maintain in the summer, but we are back on track with this school year. We read a quick devotional (see additional resources), say at least one thing we’re each thankful for and pray for the day ahead of us. We usually do this during breakfast and in the van on the way to school.

“THOU SHALT WRITE THEM UPON THE DOOR POSTS OF THINE HOUSE…”

I’m going to be honest with you. I used to see folks’ homes that had Scripture posted everywhere, similar to the way some people post positive affirmations on their bathroom mirrors and such and thought, Seriously? Maybe a little overkill…

But now that I’m a Mama, I get it. I totally get it! It is so good to have Scripture where you can see it, read it, absorb it. Do I have Scripture posted all over my walls? No. But maybe I should. I’m working on it.

One way I’m already practicing this is to look up each memory verse for the week (including Mom and Dad’s verse, which is good for the kids to see, I think) and print them all on one sheet that we have hanging on our front door. (Little Miss has a verse, too, but her name is on our copy, so I cropped this shot.)

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Another way we’re trying to do this is to have verses posted in the kids’ rooms. Some friends of ours gifted us a beautiful framed, hand-done painting of Proverbs 3:24 for the boys when they first came to be a part of our family.

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I have had it on the wall almost continually in one of their two rooms or another and kind of forgot about it. But today, I found a note from Nutkin hanging on the fridge for all to see. It read: “To The Famuly…One vurs is my faveret…it is Proverbs 3:24… it make me sleepy.”  (I left the spelling as is and just punctuation for clarity.)

The Scripture on the wall is indeed making an impact.

In addition to hanging verses on their walls here and there, I’ve been trying to tie godly values into whatever they’re into and use it to decorate their rooms as I can. For a long time, Pickle was really into knights and swords and Prince Caspian. So I found pictures of the Armor of God to frame and hang around him room. It’s fun and super inexpensive.

Mamas, I believe that as unique as each family is, the variations for teaching our children the Gospel are almost limitless. But if you feel stuck, feel free to take the ideas I’ve shared with you to benefit your family!

In turn, PLEASE share with us here what you are already doing! I’d LOVE to hear what you are doing to teach biblical truths to your children!

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

 

Additional Resources:

  • Pinterest – I’m rarely on Pinterest, but when I am, it’s usually for ideas for Sunday school and devotions. All you have to type in is “Sunday school” and the results are endless! You can narrow the search by the Bible story or even memory verse as well.
  • Jesus Calling for Kids – great devotional for kids that we are currently using in the mornings. My only complaint is that the key verse is not in KJV so I look it up and read it from the Bible instead.
  • The Jesus Storybook Bible – though the art is more cartoon-like than we normally go for, this is a great devotional that we used last Christmas-time that went along with our “Joshua Tree.” If you haven’t heard of it, stay tuned!! I am going to be detailing ours this year for you to follow along. I plan to post the information ahead of time so that you can do it with your family, following the advent calendar, too!

 

 

Stained Glass Windows

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  ~Ephesians 2:10

Here I sit. I have been struggling with writer’s block for a full month. I keep trying to start and then I just stop. It’s partly exhaustion. This has been a trying month. It’s partly because I’m struggling to open my heart. And any of you who have read my blog at all know that I pour my heart out here. I want to share with you all what is going on in my head, but it’s just so hard to put into words.

So I’m going to go back. Way back. WAY BACK. When I was a little girl, my mom would take me to this little ice cream parlor/burger joint called Jem 100. It’s still there and I still love them. I still remember ordering bubble gum ice cream on a sugar cone, and I would admire the totally cool high school girls working behind the counter. I dreamed of being just like them and working there someday. In my sophomore year, my dream came true.

Coolest. Job. Ever!

When I was working there, before they remodeled, there was a little corner booth where I would often take my 30-minute paid lunch. One of the booths faced a stained glass window. I stared at it often. Surprisingly, for as much as I looked at it, I don’t remember what it looked like. I’m pretty sure it had a bird as its centerpiece. I often worked at night, making it dark outside for my dinner break, but there was a streetlamp on the other side of that window, so the colors shone brilliantly.

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I have no idea what was going on in my life at the time. High school was full of trials and tribulations, of course. But the Lord was reasoning with my heart on one memorable night in particular. As I stared at that window, the Lord told me that my life was a stained glass window much like the one I was staring at. It was filled with many different parts. Each seemingly insignificant piece represented events, lessons, phases and chapters in my life. Some were large, some were small. Some had smooth edges, others were sharp and defined. They each were fairly monochromatic. Pretty, maybe, but kind of “meh” on their own.

Then, there was the metal fusing them together. It was hard, cool and silvery. But at some point, under the guidance of a skilled glazier’s hand, that same metal had been an oozing, flowing, red hot fusing material. Whatever was going on in my life, the Lord impressed upon me that the really hard times, possibly something happening at that moment in my life, was one of those lines of lead. And it was still hot and painful to touch. But someday, it would be part of the beautiful masterpiece. And the heat and pain would be just a memory.

Finally, the Lord reminded me that in order to see the true beauty of a stained glass work of art, the light must be shining behind it. Without the Light, even the most beautiful stained glass is dull and lifeless. 

Fast forward to nearly 20 years later. Do you know what triggered that memory?  A grown-up coloring page. Cracks me up to think about it, but many of those pages look much like a stained glass window when they’re completed. I was coloring a card to send to a close friend and the Lord reminded me of that special moment, when as a teenager, the Lord made Himself so real to me. I only meant to repeat it (or the parts of it I remembered at the time) to encourage that friend who was going through a fiery trial. But truth be told, I am, too. 

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I’m facing the fear of loss of our Little Miss. This case continues to drag. And although I am so very grateful for every single day that we have her, I long to call her mine. Yet, I fear that sounds selfish.

I want God’s will above all else. I want the kids’ Mom to be saved and well. I want Little Miss to have closure and stability. And I hope and pray that all of these desires can be answered at once.

Prior to just a couple of weeks ago, I felt extreme guilt from asking to keep her at all. What a selfish thing to pray for, after all. But my sweet husband in his wisdom reminded me of a very important event over 2,000 years ago. Jesus prayed a prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane right before His crucifixion (Luke 22:42). Before my discussion with Shane, I had only focused on one part of His prayer, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” But I was so gently reminded of the fact that in that same prayer, and in fact, in the same sentence, Jesus also prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me…” Jesus had asked for something specific. He wasn’t selfish, and He wasn’t sinful. So praying for something specific like being able to raise this little girl is OK. As long as I am also willing to accept, and embrace His will, should He choose to answer my prayer another way. After all, I am not ignorant to the fact that the Father did not choose to remove the cup from Jesus and He did, indeed, have to suffer for me and for you on that cruel cross.

Now here’s the part that I have been having trouble verbalizing here. The thought of losing her doesn’t cause me to fear that I will turn my back on the Lord or stop loving Him. I can’t imagine my love for Him ever diminishing. But I have been so afraid that I will get lost in my grief and won’t be able to find my way out.

Prior to losing Little Miss the first time back in June 2014, I didn’t really know what a broken heart felt like. But when I lost her, my chest physically hurt for days. The tears couldn’t stop flowing. I felt that my heart was being literally ripped apart. And I struggled to grieve with my family because it was so very painful. It took a full six months to even feel again. So what will happen to me if I lose her again? Will I recover at all? Will I be able to be involved in the ministry? Will I even be able to sing without weeping?

I don’t know.

But by the grace of my Jesus, I can say this. This whole trial, I mean the WHOLE trial…from the first day we brought this bright, beautiful blue-eyed baby into our home until today…has been a very long, flowing, winding line of red hot lead. It has fused the pieces of our lives and our story together in a way that I could never have imagined. And for better or for worse, whether we get to be her forever family or not, our life story has been carefully and gently crafted by the Master and when it’s all said and done, I trust Him.

I don’t trust me. But I trust Him.

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And that’s enough.

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

 

What am I up to?

A funny thing happened to me the other day. It was the beginning of Lent (which I do not typically observe) and I saw that a friend of mine was taking a break from Facebook for Lent.

The thought came to mind, Could I even do that?? And then the realization hit me. If I was asking myself that question, I really needed to do that.

And it wasn’t like it was a convenient time or anything either. I had just applied to be a contributor for a blog site and I know that among other things, they look at how active we are on social media. In addition to this, I was also starting to take Plexus products and wanting to share my experiences (both positive and negative). But I felt like the spiritual implications of the decision to take a break would far outweigh any negative impact of my decision.

So I’ve been off Facebook for 12 days now and I’m not just surviving. I’m actually liking it! Don’t worry. I’ll go back to it because it really is the very best way to keep in touch with everyone and helps me network for this blog, among other things.

But in the meantime, I’m enjoying a slower pace.

There have been several times I’ve thought, I wish I could share this on Facebook right now! So instead, I’m going to share here what I’ve been up to. Don’t worry, I’m not that self-important and I know this may not matter to some of you, but it is fun to share what’s going on.

40 Bags in 40 Days

In 2014, I found out about something called “The 40 Bags in 40 Days” challenge and was intrigued. Basically, the challenge is to get rid of a bag of stuff a day for 40 days. Our lives are so cluttered and the point is to rid ourselves of excess weight in our lives. I LOVED doing it and got rid of more than 40 bags of stuff. Last year we found ourselves parenting five children and I was too overwhelmed to do it. But this year I was determined to try again. So far I’m ahead of the game. I may skip a day here or there, but other days make up for it. I make myself a tally to motivate myself. I did before and after pics the first year but it’s not really necessary this year. My home isn’t THAT much of a wreck this year.

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Blog Related Stuff

Recently, as I mentioned briefly above, I applied to be a regular contributor to a Mom’s Blog. Although I didn’t get a full-time contributor position, I’ve been offered to submit guest posts for two blogs, which is an exciting prospect for me. Stay tuned!

What I’m reading…

I’m a veeerrrryyy slllooooowww reader. I always have been. It’s very difficult for me to finish a book. But I’ve been determined to change that this year. I’m reading, Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery for the first time with Pickle. I’m loving it. I’ve always loved the movies, but now I’m seeing it through new eyes as I rock my adopted son and see his reactions to what she experiences and feels.

I’m re-reading the Ramona the Pest series, by Beverly Lewis with Nutkin. We’re currently on Ramona and her Father. I laugh every time I read it and I can’t help but think that he has some of the same thoughts and misunderstandings as Ramona does.

In addition to reading a different chapter book to each son, I’m reading “What Led Me to You,” by my friend, Carrie Dahlin. Get it. Read it. It’s available on Amazon here. It’s a beautiful account of what it’s like to foster and adopt, especially while finding the will of God in all of it. You can also visit her blog here.

My Valentine’s Day Surprise

Shane and I agreed (at least I thought we did,) to not get anything for Valentine’s Day because we were going to a concert the following weekend.

So imagine my shock, surprise, amazement and elation (and slight annoyance that he totally outdid my $1.00 box of chocolates because I couldn’t do nothing,) when I opened the text message showing me a picture of the beautiful mandolin he bought me.

He did this to me 15 years ago, too, also on Valentine’s Day, and bought me a guitar. You didn’t know I play the guitar, you say? Yeah, that’s because I don’t. But I am determined to teach myself. And now I have a mandolin, too. No pressure. The beauty is that YouTube has come a long way and there are basically free lessons online. At least for the basics. It has the same string arrangement as the violin so I won’t have to relearn that, which is pretty cool. I’m really looking forward to playing during our family devotions. My kids are pretty forgiving.

Here’s my new baby! I haven’t named her yet.

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What I’m listening to…

Well, because of our said musical addition, I’m listening to a lot of Ricky Skaggs and the Isaacs, because you just can’t get much better mandolin playing than that. I’m particularly liking the album, “The Living Years,” by the Isaacs. I’m particularly fond of, Ac-Cen-Tchu-Ate the Positive. So much fun!

And then there’s the Collingsworths! I can’t express to you how much the music of the Collingsworth Family has ministered me on this adoption journey. I’ll never forget the day we found out that our eldest son, who had not yet moved in with us, was far more scarred than anyone knew. He was basically expelled from school that day, a first grader. The caseworker called us begging us to still take him. I remember thinking, Is that even an option?  Of course, to us, it wasn’t. However, it did seem like an insurmountable mountain ahead of us. And then I heard, Tell the Mountain. And I wept in the laundry room. And I knew that it would be OK.

Fast forward to this month, and I’ve been listening to their newest album…basically on a loop. I don’t ever get tired of it. Many of you know my health and infertility story. Gotta Get to Jesus is one of the most powerful songs I’ve heard in years. Shane took me to see them live last weekend and Kim shared that the demo for this song almost went unnoticed and the song barely made it onto the album. I’m so very glad it did. I cried from just about the minute they came to the stage to the moment I hugged Kim, got my picture taken with her and got back into the car. They encourage, challenge and show a lovely holiness in their music that is so refreshing.

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The True Meaning of Lent

Ultimately, this break hasn’t put a halt on my life, but it has freed up some time to meditate on His Word, and not just to read it. Considering that the primary reason for Lent is to focus on the 40 days leading to the crucifixion of Jesus, this has been a very precious time. Jesus suffered for us. He knows how we feel. He experienced pain, loneliness, hunger, thirst, persecution, rejection, temptation, you name it. All for you and me. And then, THEN! In glorious victory, He conquered sin, Hell and the grave for us! And He is now in Heaven preparing a home for those of us who have availed ourselves of His precious gift. What a glorious hope we have! It makes every trial, every sacrifice, every struggle pale in comparison.

I would encourage you, dear Mamas, to take time in these days leading up to Resurrection Sunday to focus on just what exactly it is that Jesus did do for you. I know that I know it. But to take time to really meditate on it and find ways in my life to show Him just how thankful I am for His gift takes more time, effort and focus. And I’m grateful that He led me to do just that.

 

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

 

Feed My Lambs

“As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.” ~John 21:9-10

I’ve really been enjoying reading through the Bible this year. I haven’t done it in years. Honestly, the last time I read through the Bible, I’m pretty sure it took me about three years. So this has been a great adventure.

For January, for the New Testament reading, John was the first book selected. I love the Book of John. John was a close personal friend of Jesus. He literally walked with Him and talked with Him. He knew exactly what He looked like…what His voice sounded like…His mannerisms. And I absolutely love that he referred to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” Isn’t that how we all feel who have felt His personal touch in our lives?

As I was reading the 21st and last chapter of John the other day, reading a story I have read more times than I can count, something new struck me. It was so exciting to me, I had to call Heidi and read it to her on the phone. It was like I had never heard it before!

So the account goes that Jesus had died, had risen again, and had shown Himself a few times to his disciples after He was glorified, but before He had ascended. At this point, for whatever reason He was absent. Peter decided to go back to what he had always done before Jesus had come along and rocked his world. He said, “I go a fishing,” (v. 3), and the others that were with him said basically, “we’ll come, too.” It was what they knew. It was familiar. It was their livelihood.

Before Jesus.

You’ll remember that when Jesus first called Peter and some of the others, they were fishing. It was what they did. They were fishing for fish. And Jesus told them that thereafter they would fish for men.

He had intended for so much more for them. He wanted them to be different than they were when He found them at the beginning of His ministry.

After Jesus. 

But now here they were, after three years of following Him, walking with Him, talking with Him, traveling with Him, and they had gone back to fishing for just plain old fish. So Jesus appeared to them at the edge of the sea and asked if they had caught anything. They hadn’t. So He told them to cast their nets on the other side of the ship and immediately, the net was full, as it always is when we trust Him to guide us in what we’re doing.

But here’s the awesome, amazing, mind-blowing part. Did you catch it in the very beginning when you read the scripture?! Go ahead and read it again!

“As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.” 

Did you catch that? He already had fish for them cooked and ready to eat on shore. He had already prepared a meal for them. He had been ready to meet their needs from the beginning.

Yet…yet…He told them to bring what they had. Why?

There’s such a beautiful message here and I never caught it before!

Jesus Breakfast at the Sea 2

Jesus will always have enough to meet our needs. He has the meal set for us. He is ready and waiting to serve us and nourish us. He wants to commune with us. Yet, He still wants us to bring in what we have, not for ourselves…but for others! It’s interesting that the number of fish is recorded, 153 to be exact. In short, it was way more than they needed to feed themselves.

It’s at this point that Jesus asks Peter three separate times if he loves Him and with each affirmative response that Peter gives, Jesus replies to feed His sheep or lambs. The correlation is astounding, really.

This is what He had called Peter to do…to fish for men. By meeting their needs. By taking Jesus to the masses! And as daunting of a task as that seemed, Jesus was sending Him a message that He would meet Peter’s needs at every turn.

Maybe we haven’t been called to the same ministry as Peter, but we’ve all been called to something for the Kingdom if we’re saved and serving Jesus. As a Mama, my husband and my kiddos are my calling right now! I feel like every day is a struggle to meet their individual needs while just staying sane. But that has recently changed and here’s the secret…

As of January 1 of this year (not because of a New Year’s Resolution, which I NEVER end up keeping) but because January 1 is a good time to start something new, I became absolutely determined to give Jesus the first 30 minutes of my day. That may seem like a very small thing to some of you, but to me it was a HUGE sacrifice. I have spent time with the Lord every day for years, but I always struggled to do it FIRST. To say I am not a morning person is an understatement to end all understatements. I have never, ever in my life felt rested when I awake and I always feel like I’ve been thrown into my day with a giant heave-ho. My kids are all morning people, bless their little hearts, and they ask so. many. questions. in the morning that I just. can’t. process. I finally concluded that I’d much rather start my day sleepy, in the quiet peaceful presence of my Savior so that I, in turn, can handle the boisterous, loud, giggly chaos that my kiddos bring to me at 6:30 sharp.

And miraculously, it has been like manna from Heaven. That little bit of effort I make to get up and commune with Jesus pays off exponentially. He feeds me so that I can feed them. It’s just that simple. Not easy, but simple.

If you are not a morning person, but are wanting to do something similar, here’s what I do: 

  1. Accountability is key! I have a sweet friend who works out at a gym down the street from where I live that is up even earlier than I that has committed to texting me if she doesn’t see my light on. It’s been the extra kick I’ve needed to get up when I’ve been so tired.
  2. Download the app “She Reads Truth” and follow the “Read the Bible in 365(6) Days” Program. (Thanks, Lisa of “One Thankful Mom”!) Every morning I look to see what I’m reading for the day. (PS – the reading function in this app is super glitchy/clunky, so don’t use it for reading if you want to stay cheerful.)
  3. Get your favorite morning drink ready. I used to be addicted to coffee, but have recently switched to Plexus Slim and it has changed my mornings! (Visit my website http://shopmyplexus.com/glendajdunaway  or see my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NehemiahMama/for more info.)
  4. Download the MySword app to your phone. I use the KJV with lexicon links so that I can look at the original words for more info. (It’s amazing what all the names mean in those long genealogies!)
  5. Invest in a good Archaeological Bible to keep open alongside your phone. It has a lot of extra info about places and time periods that put what you’re reading into historical perspective.

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Massages and pedicures are nice, but we don’t have to have those things to take care of us! The world screams at us moms that we’re not taking care of ourselves and that we need more “me-time”, but I’m finding that mornings with Jesus are the very best self-care we can bless ourselves with.

I’d love to hear about what you do to make sure you’re getting fed so that you can feed others!

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

 

 

He Writes the Best Stories!

“And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.” Mark 1:22

Well, dear friends. It’s been a long time since I’ve written. I think it’s safe to say that I’m not blogging to gain a readership and eventually make money. I blog simply when the Lord lays something on my heart.

I have almost written several things. So many things have happened over the last couple of months in relation to politics, faith, school, family, whatever was on my mind at the time, but I just didn’t have the gumption to really do it.

But now I feel is the time to let you all in on what going on in our lives. Not because we’re interesting or exciting or any of that, but to testify to the awesomeness of God and the magnificence of His plan.

At the end of October I got a call from DHS. That is nothing new. It’s a common occurrence. But I had to let it go to voicemail. I can’t even remember why now. Probably changing a pull-up or making lunch or rocking a sleepy toddler. Before I could return the call, I got an email following up. Little Miss is being returned to her birth mom.

Again.

The news was particularly surprising because the plan had finally moved from foster care to adoption in the courts in August and we were identified as one potential resource.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, or maybe we’re new friends, Little Miss is our foster daughter. She is the biological half-sister to our two adopted sons. We got the call when she was three days old that she graced the world with her sweet little presence. Through a series of circumstances, she was placed with another foster family for a few weeks. However, in June 2013, when she was nine weeks old, she became part of our family. We knew it was just to foster and that the plan was to return her home, but twelve and a half long months passed and with each minute of it, we became more bonded, attached, and fell in love.

Completely.

Then we got that first call that she was going back home. It was May of 2014 when we got that news and I was devastated. I was driving to DHS for a visit and by the time I got to the parking lot, the caseworker met me to hold me while I wept.

I won’t re-hash those last weeks we had her, but we were all a mess. The boys were in a tail spin. Shane was distant and more emotional than I had ever seen him. A dark cloud hovered over our home and I wondered if we would ever recover.

The day before she was returned to her birth mother, Shane and I woke up, looked at her in her crib beside our bed and held each other weeping mournfully, trying to choke back the sobs so as not to wake her.  As we stood over her, still asleep peacefully and completely unaware of our grief.

On June 30, our precious 14-month old Little Miss gave us sloppy kisses goodbye, which we we adored, and waved happily to us as the DHS car took her away, presumably forever. At that moment we had no intention of fostering again. Of course, we would do anything for her and would hold out hope. But we weren’t holding our breath.

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Our sweet Little Miss the day before she went home, 6/29/14

But the Lord began a work in my heart just over one year ago. In November 2014, the Lord blessed me with a beautiful and healing weekend at a retreat for Christian adoptive and foster mamas called, “Called to Love.”

In one of my very first blog entries last year, I talked about what the Lord was doing to my heart. But looking back over this year, I had no idea just how much He had planned. Suffice it to say, I began to truly love my kids’ birth mom. I thought I already did. But the Lord was whispering to my heart that I held much resentment toward her in my heart and that He wanted to teach me how to love her as He does.

I began reading the boys’ adoption file to read about her this time, not them. My heart broke over the abuse she experienced. Pieces started to fit together and I began to understand… not excuse… but understand her behaviors. Although I had prayed for every day up to that point, I began to pray very specifically for the LORD to speak to her heart, to show her His Abba Father love, to be very near to her and send people her way who would mentor her. And I continued to pray protection over “our” little girl every day.

Very long story short, eight long months later, we had finally healed enough to foster again and on February 3, 2015, we got a house-full. Two little fellas joined our home and just like that, we had four boys. FOUR. BOYS.

And then just 20 days later, we got another call.  Little Miss was back in care and could we take her in one or two hours? Uh….YESSSSSS!!!!! I was shaking and bittersweet tears were streaming down my face.

Our certifier, whom we love very much, knows us enough to have already answered for us and THEN called us.

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The day she came back, 2/23/15

Fast forward to tonight and it’s been over a month since we got that second call that she would be transitioning home. We have been told that we will have a shared Christmas with her birth mom, and by the time that rolls around, we will have had her 10 months.

I can’t explain it, but the grief is much different this time around. It’s not better, but it is very different. I still weep often. I still try to memorize little looks she makes, how she says certain things, how she smells, how she feels in my arms when I am rocking her.

But God is faithful, Friends. Beyond words. Beyond comprehension.

We have been able to experience the incredible miracle of actually meeting with her mom. We didn’t think that would ever happen. She had been very resistant to us in the past. So to hear that she wanted to meet with us was exciting! Our meeting with her was personal, but I will just say that we got to talk, got to listen and were able to share our hearts with her. We were able to tell her personally how much we love her, how much we want her to succeed, how much we want to help her however she wants that to look.

This story is still unfolding and I have no idea how it will end. I’ve tried to imagine it, but the LORD keeps surprising me with plot twists and new characters being introduced into this story. Truly, I am merely one of many characters in this story. I’m not the Author. But I have the privilege of knowing Him intimately. And I can trust Him to write the very best story with the perfect ending. 

When you look at your story, are you trying to write it yourself? The world tells us to. That we can decide our own story, that we can choose our own ending. And the truth is, we can. The LORD loves us so much that He created us with feelings, intelligence and choice. But like a character in a story, we can only see our own point of view. We can’t see the needs of the other characters in the story. We can’t see inside their heads and hearts. We don’t know their back story. But the Author does. When we yield to the Author of all things and allow Him to write our story, we can trust that He cares for all involved. And His creativity, wisdom and attention to detail far exceeds the most creative, wise and detail-oriented mind in this world.

When Jesus walked this earth, He blew people away with His authority when speaking of doctrine. Think about it. He had the AUTHORity. He wrote it. He wasn’t just repeating what He had heard or learned. He was the Word made flesh.

My dear Friends, You can trust Him. I can trust Him. We can trust Him.  He writes the best stories!

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

 

The right thing at the wrong time…

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

Joshua Harris said, “The right thing at a wrong time is a wrong thing,” but that’s not a new concept. And that idea has been rolling around in my brain a lot lately.

The other day, my three kiddos and I spent the day at my folks’ house. It was less than an hour before we had to leave to pick up my hubby from work and my youngest son asked to use the scissors to do some crafts. I love his creativity, but I also know that he makes confetti with paper and scissors. Literally. The smaller the piece, the better.

All. Over.

In addition, I know that he is not at all happy to pick up said confetti when it’s time to help clean up. And it wasn’t even our house and I know how willing Grammy can be to clean up for him.

For these reasons, I gave him a resounding ‘no’ to the scissors.

I continued working on the potato salad I was making in the kitchen for a potluck that evening, and about a half hour later, I came into the living room to find scissors out and…confetti.

All. Over.

But wait, there’s more! In addition to the above infraction, he had used Grammy’s notepad as his source of paper and her “To Do” or “Grocery” list was destroyed. We honestly couldn’t tell which list it had been, because there was only slight evidence of ink on the border of the paper. He had left that part and cut out of the middle of the page.

But that wasn’t all! He had made a really cool silhouette of a person. My heart sank.

He had deliberately disobeyed me. I even clarified to make sure he had heard me about the no scissors thing and he said, “Yeah, I did.”

What I did next pained me, but in my mind, it had to be done. I took his creation that he had made in direct disobedience and threw it away. There were some tears. Not just from him (though I kept mine so as not to blow the lesson I was attempting to teach.)

“The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.”

Today, as I was driving through Keizer, my eye caught a Mexican restaurant that brought back vivid memories that illustrate that point.

2015-09-02 07.29.45                                                                                              The window to the right-hand side of the door is where our table was

In the late summer of 2001, that same restaurant was a home style place known for good breakfast. Shane and I were newlyweds and were asked to meet his former pastor and his wife to discuss something of importance.

As we sat at the table across from them, I heard the words that I felt would make my dreams come true. They were asking Shane to be the youth pastor for their church. I had felt the call to be a minister’s wife for years. In fact, I had even had a “vision” or picture in my head of what it would look like…a youth group sitting in our living room having a Bible study or watching a movie and playing with our own kidlets. This seemed like a no-brainer. What’s more – we would even get a house and stipend out of the deal!

Looking back, I am so very thankful that Shane was much more reticent than I to say yes. But at the time, I was clueless. He said we would pray about it and get back to them. And then life went back to normal.

I went home excited and started borrowing books on leading youth. He didn’t talk about it at all. I would ask him on occasion if he had thought more about it and he said yes, but was still unclear. Where I was excited and proud, he was hesitant. I just didn’t get it. B

After nearly a month went by with no answer from him, I told him a decision must be made and he agreed. So we went away for the weekend to discuss and to pray.

Looking back, I can tell you the climate around this decision. We were newlyweds. We were 19 or 20 (I can’t remember if our birthdays had passed yet or not.) We were not following the Lord closely at all. In fact, if I’m being honest with myself, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t even saved at the time. I was faking it really well and did still care about the Lord’s will to some degree in my life, but I was talking the talk. We certainly weren’t Sanctified and weren’t filled with the Holy Spirit. Beside all that, we would be leaving our church home to lead at another church and that was one part neither of us liked.

After that weekend, we both felt that it would be foolish for us to lead their young people. We were kids ourselves. We had no life experience. And though we may not have admitted it then, we were not spiritually sound. God kept us from taking that position and I am so very glad He did. He saw what lie ahead. He saw that we would have many more things to face before we would be broken before the Lord and truly willing to come back to Him with honest hearts in full surrender. Had Shane become the youth pastor at that time, it would have resulted in disaster for that church…and for us.

“The right thing at the right time is a blessing!”

Has my son used scissors since his little escapade at Grammy & Grandpa’s?

Definitely. His creativity is a beautiful thing to behold. Within the parameters of our dining room table, with his safety scissors, and glue stick in hand (the true bane of my existence), his imagination runs wild.

It makes me smile.

2012-05-11 09.30.44                                                                                          My little artist, May 2012

“The right thing at the right time is a blessing!”

It is now almost exactly 15 years later and I can say with certainty that ministry was the right thing for us. But how thankful I am that our Heavenly Father didn’t allow us to put the cart before the horse. Shane started preaching in 2009. We were in our late 20’s by then. Soon thereafter we adopted our kiddos. We want nothing more than to live in the center of God’s will. We are blessed to be ministering in the same church we were back then and they are as much our family as our relatives are. Within the parameters of God’s perfect will, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can be fruitful for Him.

2014-03-29 21.04.17                                                                                                                      My dream come true – young people that we love dearly, hanging out in our living room, watching a movie and playing with one of our kiddos

I hope it makes the Lord smile, too. 

Are you facing a situation where you find yourself thinking, “Well, it seems to be the right thing…” I urge you to follow up by asking yourself, “But is it the right time?”

Intimacy before marriage is a perfect example of this. It was designed by God. It is perfect. It is wonderful. But done out of order, it can spell sure disaster. And I’m sure, the Lord grieves, just as I grieved when I had to discipline my son with some natural consequences.

God’s timing is perfect and you will be blessed for following His perfect plan for your life. If we continue reading in Ecclesiastes 3, His Word confirms just that.

“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Blessings and much love, 

Mama