Tuesday, March 7, 2017

yesterday sucked...

This morning I'm literally sitting and drinking a cup of coffee.... like quietly sitting and drinking coffee. 

I expect at any moment to be shaken from my little slice of quiet heaven on earth, but for now I'm soaking it in. Reading, drinking dark roasted goodness and just breathing...praying... actually taking a moment to write.

Yesterday was one of "those days". You know "those days" you wish never would be days at all. Adoption mamas of kids from hard places; you get what I'm saying.... "those days" that rear their heads to expose and bring to light the ugly side of adoption. The ugly side that shows that your child had a life abandoned, alone, and to this day even still has secret hurts that have yet been revealed.

Any little thing can be a trigger for these times of raw exposure and with it brings the raw behaviors that unleash a world of hurt to whoever and whatever is in its path. 

Behaviors that are completely wrong and unacceptable. Behaviors that if from a bio child would be immediate punishment of some sort. Behaviors that put you on the brink of, "why did I ever adopt this child in the first place?" (Keepin' it real people) 

BUT, there is a child. A child who believes they are grown. A child who behind the actions of unbelievable hate, is a pain that is trying to consume and take over. That behind the stubborn heart who pushes you away, literally and physically, is a child who wants nothing more than to just be held in your arms. 

Sometimes it takes days like yesterday. Days that rip you to the core and leave you bleeding for all those who have been orphaned. 
This can be prevented, children don't have to be so deeply scarred like this and shouldn't be. 

Yesterday I found my self in a dark closet with my child who was trying to hide from himself. Pushed in a corner trying to be all wrapped up in the clothes that hung from the hangers. 

In that dark closet things were brought to light as I heard words spoken to express the rampant emotions that were overtaking my child. (This is huge people!) 

Yesterday sucked. That word is kindhearted and an understatement at best. It tested our faith in a God we serve. It tested our child who fought hard to hang onto an anger he thought would heal, an anger he though would protect, and an anger that ultimately brought so much pain to all those around and to him a consuming fog of a false reality.

What we've learned as parents is to pick and choose our battles with our children. Each child is different. Each child has their own struggles and each has their own way of handling difficult situations. We've learned that if our child does not study for a test there is a natural consequence of their choice. We may remind our child to study but we're not going to fight them over this. If they fail, that's a life lesson they learn on natural consequences of poor decisions. 

But sometimes we as the parent create the consequences. If disobeying is blatant and in pure defiance, so shall the consequence. This can bring the wrath of being "hated" by our kids. But... it also teaches.

 "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." 
-Psalm 139:23-24

Not all days end the way yesterday did... yesterday we had healing, we had restoration, we had forgiveness. These victories are beautiful and humbling. They bring me to my knees so quickly before our Father. Nothing is more difficult than looking at your child and knowing you cannot fix the hurt. You cannot fix the pain. You cannot fix a stubborn heart that is a fortified fortress of reenforced steal and concert and all that is strong and solid... my goodness so freakin' solid!

But knowing WHO can melt this heart of stone brings hope. It makes the victories that much sweeter. Yesterday was ugly with a glimmer of beauty. I will hold onto the hope that there will be days like yesterday that reveal the the broken, stubbornness we try to hide and justify...only that we may surrender it all over to our Healer.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

it's Friday...

Tonight one of our kids said an unkind thing about one of their siblings.... Honestly, this is not uncommon at all! Ha! Our kids slam each other all the time and yell and get annoyed with each other. But... this was different.
It was joking with the hint and snide side of truth behind it. It was meant to be heard as a statement but with a subtle, "oh crap, if they catch on and get mad, I'll just say I was joking."
Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

Well, it didn't fly and the child with the one liner "joking" got called out pretty quick.

Sometimes it just goes too far, and tonight it went too far. I quickly gave the "mom eyes" at this child and asked the ever dreaded mother response; "what did you just say?" 

Gulp... "I was joking." 

"Child you know good and well you were not joking now go downstairs till you correct that mouth." Yeah, I said something along those lines and may have said something like, stop being a smart@$$. (I am sorry if that offends some but it's the truth and words fly sometimes when they shouldn't and this I shall apologize for the millionth time over such mom-mouth-fails.)

The night moves along and kids finish homework, fold laundry, put away laundry, sing songs, check stats on mile split from the latest track meet and pray. We talk about tomorrow... 

Friday, the Friday. Where most Friday's I want to scream #BoomShakalaka and dance, tomorrow I shall dance with praise over the most loving act of all time. 
I sat there chatting with the kids... 
Ya, Know guys, God did not wait for us to get it right, He did not wait for us to stop screwing up, He did not even wait for us to stop saying dumb things about each other. (See what I did there... #howtomakeyourchildfeelguilty101)

He said, I love you. I love you, I made you, you're not perfect, I watch you mess up day after day... and I love you still. 
My son Jesus, He's perfect, He's the perfect sacrificial lamb, by his death and his perfect blood, it's going to cover up all your imperfection. By his sacrifice you are made right with me, and become apart of my family. The family you were created for. 

Tomorrow, this Friday. My mind will be here. My heart meditating on these things.

Tonight, as we spoke on these things and the love of Christ, it makes the little jokes with subtle truth seem so trivial. But it also shows us the need of a Savior. 
On our own, our hearts are so deceitful.... on our own we believe the lies we tell ourself and create in us our own little worlds with our own realities. My kids display the truth of this everyday. We all can get so wrapped up in and of ourselves that we miss everything... 

At this moment I am sitting upstairs, writing away on this blog. My kids are sleeping and my child with the mouthy comment tonight is probably still wishing he'd held his tongue.

Do you know what is so beautiful? Forgiveness.

Of all the mess ups and screw ups my kids do, I will always forgive them. I love them. 
Of all my mess ups and screw ups and constant failures at life.... it's been forgiven. This does not give me the free right to live however in the world I want... this, this forgiveness gives me the free right to live as I should have lived all along. 

"I'm forgiven, because he was forsaken. I'm alive and well and His spirit lives with in me, because He died and rose again."

The Death of Jesus:
Mark 15:24-27, 29-42 Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him. At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!” Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there. This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath."

 "For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ."

2 Corinthians 5:21

I have a favorite commentator of scripture... 
J. Vernon McGee. I quote him more than any other I believe. Here below are pictures taken from his words on his take on the above passage. (Sorry you kinda have to piece it together) 
I just love it! Happy Friday!


 And the last sentence finishes with...
"He was forsaken of God and yet, even at that time, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. What a paradox we find here."

"For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation."-

2 Corinthians 5:19

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Great Dilemma...How?

There is this pseudo belief that if I work hard, acknowledge God, or a god, love my family, and enjoy life, I'll see God in the end. And we believe this, in our hearts.

But, Jeremiah tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things; who can understand it.

So what do we do with this?  These are very stark words.  There is not much twisting or manipulating we can do to rearrange these words to our liking.  The heart is deceitful.  Above all things, our hearts are deceitful.  My heart is deceitful.  
Even Gandolf's heart was deceitful.  Think about when he told Frodo that he would not accept the ring of power from Frodo.  He told Frodo that he couldn't take the ring.  He just couldn't.  That even if he wanted to do good with this ring, it was so wicked, that he would inevitably yield bad from it.  
That's our heart!  It's very core is wicked. And we didn't become wicked.  Nothing we did, or can do will ever make us "more wicked".  Sure, we can fuel the wicked with lust, deceit, lies, anger, self, and.....well....more self.  
But we didn't choose this wickedness.  We were born this way.  Separated from God; born into death.  
The reality of this truth is so bleak.  
So what do we do??  How do we reverse the irreversible?  How do we undo our fate?
We don't do anything.  We can't do anything.  We are helpless.  
How does a drowning person save himself?  How does a drowning person overcome by the water rise above the occasion.  Peril is absolute.    Death is certain. 
Someone, a savior, must step in.  Someone must come to the rescue.  
A savior of a drowning person doesn't stand and the shore and coax the drowning person to safety.  A savior jumps into the water, into the thick of it all, and puts their life on the line, for the sake of another.
Think of a fireman.  Some of the bravest servants around us are firemen. 
How many times have you passed a burning building and seen the firemen holding megaphones and coaching the people to safety?  
Does a fireman yell to a person in distress and say, "if you do this better, and do that better, then you find your way out?"
No!!  Of course not.  A fireman put his life on the line for another.  He bravely goes into certain death to retrieve a life from certain death.
Sound familiar??  
Just as Jesus Christ found us in certain death, he himself walked into certain death to save the life of another.  There is no bettering of one self.   There is no pursuit of a happier life. 

Christ said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, but through me."
How do we go through Christ then?  Just believe in him?  Doesn't Satan and the demons believe in him?  And more so, haven't they even seen him, and know the truth.

So how do we go to the Father, "through him"?
We must follow him.  
Christ had one stipulation.  
In Luke 9:23 Jesus said, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me." 


That single emoji describes my entire existence in response to the words of Christ in Luke 9:23.

My selfish ways?  What are my selfish ways? 
While I would like to now create a list, it is just easier to sum up Selfish Ways in one word...everything.
If my fate is death and the desire of my heart is deceit, then all of my ways are selfish.  My family, my house, my job, my life, my friends, my circle, my feelings, my....
The common denominator is "my".
And so give it all to him.  Don't take give it just to take it back.  Give it to him.  The fun, the hate, the life, the lies, the loyalty, the lust, the giving, the self.  Give it all to him.  Turn from it all.  Repent of it.  Turn around, and walk away.  Follow him, and take up your cross on which you will certainly die daily.  
This is the meaning of "through him".  This is how we go to God 'through' Christ Jesus.  

Only when we go through Christ Jesus, are we no longer ourselves, but we are Christ through us.  It is no longer us, but him in us. 

The old self must die.  

Put to death all that you are.  Turn from it and follow him.  It's that easy and it's so hard.  It's hard to believe in a life beyond myself.  But it does exists.  He promises it does.  We only must give up and follow.  

Paul nails it when he says...

"Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
Ephesians 2:1-10

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Paws For a Moment

Today I had the honor of reading a story by a young author, seriously young author, only in 8th grade! But the words I read were by no means the typical 8th grade words...

Please read the winning 8th grade entry for the Bartow County School System in the Young Georgia Authors Writing Competition.

Paws For a Moment 
By: McKenna Trapheagen 

It was a quiet evening as I walked into my room with my dog Bailey at my side.  She perched herself on the frame of my bed, wagging her little Corgi tail and begging for me to plop her on the covers.  She stared up at me, patiently waiting for me to jump into bed.   I switched off the lights, and climbed under the blankets as she settled into her usual spot. The faint pitter-patter of rain hit the window and her gentle, steady breathing started putting me to sleep.  As I lay there, I started a conversation with God.  I wondered if he would signal that he was listening.  Through the darkness I saw a comforting glow in my companion’s eyes.  There it was. There was God offering me a sign of his presence.

My mind drifted as I considered what this message was.  Bailey appeared to smile in the way that knowing dogs do.  The light shone on her furry face so softly that the moment seemed suspended, almost like God was saying, “Listen.”  A thought began to form in my mind of how amazing this little dog’s love is for me.  She is always there to greet me.  She never seems to judge me.  She can sense when I need her.  And she just keeps smiling, a little bend in the corners of her mouth that says “I’m happy.  You should be too.”  This is, in a larger sense, how it is with God.

Unburdened by the expectations of the world, Bailey seems to live in the moment. She leads a simple life, seeking only the occasional pat on the head, game of fetch, and a treat.  As I stare back at her, I realize that my own life should follow this example.  I often pursue many goals with a need for reward and the finer things.  Yet there was more here, Bailey not only sought happiness, but also inspired it within me.  It was in this thought that I made the connection between my dog’s view of the world and the one that God would have me seek.  

From here my silent conversation turned toward the past.  I have had many dogs in my life and each has brought me their own unique brand of love.  But one thing remained the same: I was never alone.  These creatures looked upon me with such unconditional affection.  In my thoughts this evening, I’d come to realize that God’s love accompanied me in the same way as my canine companions.  It would never leave me.  It would never turn away from me.  It would never end, even in passing. 

As the time ticked forward, Bailey’s eyes drew heavy with sleep beginning to overtake both of us.  We were content, both aware that my conversation with God was coming to an end.  She cuddled up closer to me and shut her eyes.  I was thankful for her unspoken wisdom.  My ears could not hear it, but my heart understood it perfectly.  No longer resisting sleep, I gave God the last word, and he whispered, “You are loved.”

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. "-Romans 8:38

Sunday, January 24, 2016

change in plans...

This morning Jon and I woke up and our plans we had for the day were instantly changed. We had plans of doing our normal routine of workout together and then coming home, making breakfast for the savages that have bottomless pits and then I would head into church with those savages and he would head into work.

Well, he wakes up to a message from his manager telling him he needed to be in at work early and as I roll over to get up I hear the sound of a horsy, barky cough from our little red head. He's feverish and complains of a sore throat. Thus, our morning plans are instantly changed.

I love "living on the edge" with no set plan and can typically go with the flow of the ever changing events of life... But, I really like my mornings with my man. Our workout time together is more than just a workout, it is like a daily "date-night" together but in the morning. ;)

This morning's instant change in plans allowed Jon and I to just sit and have coffee together. To just sit and "be still." 
I did not know how much we needed this until it happened. I did not know that God was parenting us in the way he does and giving Jon and I a "time-out."

As parents we do this to our children. We give them a time out for misbehaving, or for being a little too full of themselves, or to simply say: "listen child, I don't know what's going on with you but you just need to sit here and just calm down." We do this because we know them better than they know themselves, and know they need a moment of quiet, of non-movement... a moment to sit their butts down and "be still."

Oh our Father certainly had His way with us this morning. He said, "listen up you two, if you can't be still for just a moment and listen to what I have to say then I'm going to make you!" And so He did. He made a change in "our" plans so that we could listen up to "His."

How too often we do this. We lose sight of His will for us as we get so consumed with our will for ourselves. We take our focus off of our Savior and think to ourselves... "Dang, I am pretty good, look at what I can do." We get lost in in the depths of self and to be honest, that is a scary place to be.

As Jon and I sat still drinking our coffee we were hit smack in the face with our loss of vision. That we were once again becoming blind and lost in the mist of our life... We asked each other, "when was the last time we had a heart to heart with God, handing over our lives to Him?"
Sure we pray, and pray daily.... But it had become the standard "morning prayer with the kids before school, dinner time prayer, and night time prayer with the kids before going to bed." And sure we may have prayed for others in their times of need BUT for the Love... We both had not in a good while, prayed with ourFather, pouring our heart out to Him. And it's embarrassing to admit... but it's the truth.

Thank you Father, my most precious loving and patient God. Thank you for giving me (us) a time-out this morning. Thank you for making us "be still". Thank you for opening our eyes and hearts to see our lives as they once again were so full of ourselves! Help me to lay it aside for your will and not my own. Help me to not get so busy that I push aside my time with you. You are ALWAYS there, but I am not. I leave you waiting... like a husband waits for his wife while she changes outfits over and over to go out on a date, you wait as I change my mind 1000 times trying to do life on my own... But YOU WAIT. Thank you for not giving up on me, for not leaving, but for waiting and allowing me to once again to fail, but be forgiven. Help me to love like you love and keep my eyes from falling away from you once again. 

"In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice;In the morning I will prepare a prayer and a sacrifice for You and watch and wait for You to speak to my heart." - Psalm 5:3 

Friday, January 1, 2016

the varsity

On our way down to the Fox Theatre the other day, we treated the entire family to an Atlanta classic, The Varsity.

None of our children had ever been to the original Varsity and thought it was really peculiar that we would pull up to the curb, and have people serve us through the car windows. 
It was quite an interesting experience.
As we pulled up to the curb, we quickly found a group of Varsity employees huddled up, waiting for the next customer.  

An older employee , 84yrs old to be exact, walked up to our car to introduce himself.
His name was Frank and he quickly announced that he had proudly worked for the Varsity for the past 60 years!!

60 years?!?!  I can't even imagine being alive for 60 years much less working for 60 years, much less working at one place for 60 years, much less working at the Varsity for 60 years.  
As we ordered our food, I thought and thought on this matter.  How can he...?  How could he...?  What motivates a man to....?

I don't ever want to turn up the opportunity to teach the kids about work ethic.  I began working for pay when I was 10yrs old and for an hourly wage at 11yrs old.  Work ethic is very important to me and I want to instill this same value into my children.  
And so when Frank came back to the car with our food, I asked him,
"Frank, after 60 yrs of continued service in the same job, at the same business, what advice can you give my five children (motioning to the van full of wide eyed kids) about how you do it?"  "In one sentence, what can you tell them?" I asked. 

I was already prepared to hear things like, "live your dreams", "when the going gets tough", and  "do what you love".  
But Frank, he had something different for us.  

As we looked at Frank, and he smiled at us, he told the kids, "Praise the Lord."

"When you get up, think on Him.  When you go to bed, think of Him.  Above all, Praise Him."

What a message for the masses.  What a message for myself.  As I work today and we head into 2016, I must remember to 'Praise the Lord', because Frank said so.  What great advice is that?  What a deep truth rooted in the simplest of understanding.  Praise the Lord, for he is good. 

Psalm 146:1-2 Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord;I will sing praises to my God as long as I live. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

the first question...

Last night the big boys in our house were answering questions about their life and their relationship with God for an upcoming missions trip to Texas.

In preparation for the trip the kids need to examine their own lives and write about what the Lord is doing in their life as well as write a short testimony on when their relationship with Jesus began.

These are deep questions for anyone and especially deep for teen boys who don't like to talk about "personal feelings" all that much.

I have totally loved this questionnaire for the missions trip.... 
1. It really gets the boys thinking and praying. 
2. I don't have to fill it out. 
Win-Win on the parent front! 

As they were going through the questions, the very first deep question threw one of our China loves into a deep deep thought... He started biting at his lips, scratching his head, fidgeting in his chair... and before he wrote anything he looked up at me and said, "mom, who is going to read this? Is our youth pastor going to?"
I answered him the best I could and told him I am sure several people from the church staff are going to go over these and yes, I am sure your youth pastor is as well.
He blurted out, "oh man, really!? It's kinda embarrassing." 

I then told him as seriously as I could, "oh yes, then they read it in front of church so the whole church can decide if you should go on the mission trip." 
As he picked up on my sarcasm he said, "oh come on mom, be "really"!" 
(I love his ESOL version of "be serious.")

As the evening went on and an hour or so past, this same son came up to my room and asked me to read what he wrote.

As I read, the memories of our first several months together as mother and son rushed to my heart and mind. There were memories of pain and heartache, and memories of hurt and deep sadness that overwhelmed me. And then came memories of joy and hope and restoration. The healing of a young life that had taken place over the last two years flooded my eyes with tears. 
I looked up at this sweet face and dark eyes peering at me, seeking approval over his English he had so beautifully written. He was not wanting approval over what he wrote but over the grammar and spelling in which he wrote it. 

I could not help but burst into smiles and happy tears. (He is just sort of looking at me like I'm a crazy person... yep that's normal!)

He then connected with what I was so wrecked over and just walked over and gave me a sheepish hug and said; "thanks mom."

This boy, his heart, Our God!!! 
Thank you Jesus for how you Heal lives and transform broken pieces into beautiful works of art. 

*these are my son's own words in his own handwriting in his beautful language that poured from his heart.**

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you."- John 15:5-12

**All was shared with our sweet son's permission.**