Friday, May 23, 2014

A message to Christian Girls... and their moms...

First, let me start by saying this... I was young once (longer ago than I wish to say).... and unfortunately I  probably was guilty of the very thing I'm writing about.  So... don't hear judgement in my voice.  Hear my "I wish I knew then what I know now" voice. i would have tried harder to help the boys around me have pure thoughts rather than worrying about being noticed. 
Luckily, some things we don't have to learn on our own, we can learn from those who have walked before us... and change the way we are going now. 

I think maybe being in Zambia has RE-SENSITIZED me to many things about American Culture. Also, as I have become a mother to 4 boys... I'm also acutely aware of things... especially girls. 

Girls, if you are claiming the name of Jesus.  Walk it. Walk it in your clothes.  Walk it in your words. Walk it in your private conversations and chats. Walk it in what you post on Facebook.  Walk it on your iPod.  Walk it on the photos you take. Just walk it out. 

If you aren't a boy, aren't married to a boy, or a mother of a boy... You do not fully understand the power you have over them.  I understand the boost you get when boys notice you.  But if you believe in Jesus... you must fully understand that there is only 1 pursuer in life that makes us whole... 

You are beautiful, and so is modesty.  I'm not just talking about clothes... but it's a good place to start. I'm not saying throw on the long jean skirt with keds and a turtle neck. You can be stylish and cute... and still honor yourself and God. I think you know where the line is. Modesty comes in your words and photos, too.  We know what is flirtatious.  We know what takes a boys mind "there." So, please, help them to think in a right way.  The things you do might make them think about you in a wrong way for a moment... but if you walk with them in a modest and right way... they will ALWAYS remember you for that. It is a battle for them that YOU should care about. Because whether you like it or not, you are involved.

Moms... modesty has to be taught and modeled by you.  It isn't something this culture teaches or values.  Saying "no" is good for our kids sometimes. Saying, "yeah, I need to check your iPod, Facebook, messages, photos"... that's ok. They need guidance to find "right"... it's not in our nature. Just as much as you wouldn't want my boy going up and grabbing your daughter inappropriately, I don't want your daughter flaunting her cute, overexposed body flashing in my boys eyes. 

And one more thing... I've learned that boys truly find purity a complete attraction.  Many don't want a girl who has tinkered around with others.  So much so, I've seen them actually fret about if their future wife will make good choices RIGHT NOW.  And my boys aren't geeks.  Their handsome, athletic, smart, funny, learning to follow-Jesus kind of boys. So girls... you know right... follow it.  There's nothing more beautiful than the glow of Jesus on you... nothing!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

God's little adventure...

So often times, life for us… and everyone… gets bogged (is that a real word?) down with things.  Some things are emotion/time worthy things… a lot is not.  But in this process we forget that God is the greatest adventurer.  He’s always inviting His children on a great adventure.  “Come. Follow me.”  To where? To the places where one can experience Him firsthand!  Just like the disciples, He is inviting us into a life filled with adventure.  He doesn’t want us to come to the end of our lives only knowing Jesus through someone else’s accounts of Him.  He invites us to KNOW Him through our own accounts, too.

Why am I saying this?  Well, recently we went on a little adventure.  This adventure began with a cool, yet tame, idea.  Then, my heart sister, Leslie… took it deeper, because God has blessed her with a sense of life and adventure.  (You know the type… she brings life and fun to all around… she reminds us Moms that life is about more than the daily tasks)

Leslie gets me.  She’s walked the same dusty roads, held the same heartbroken people, laughed together as we muddle through the unknown, and sat in the same still, quiet, dark nights with candles . We’ve shared the adventures together.  Some have been more than one heart can take.  And the adventure becomes so overwhelming… some days you forget that God is just good.  For no reason. Good.

So, about this adventure… We wanted to surprise our 2 big boys, specifically Paul, with a trip to see his favorite actor, Dule Hill, perform on Broadway.  So, we start planning and counting $...  Kinda ridiculous.  Soon, the idea seemed to be drifting away by the reality of … well. Reality.   How could we afford this trip to NYC… with plane tickets, Broadway tickets, AND hotel? (food?  Not concerned, I can eat junk with the best of them… imagine chips for dinner before a fancy night on the town!)
But the dream of my kids seeing him… I couldn’t let that memory go.  Now, on the other end, Leslie had emailed Dule’s agent and they had started talking.  Soon, it was set! We were going to MEET HIM after the show! “WHAT?” (in my best psych Gus voice) Not only that… but He and his agent gave us 2 free tickets because they wanted all 4 of us to come… not just sending the boys with Leslie! 
Now the pressure was on! How could we say NO??  So… we said YES!  AND THEN… Came the free airline tickets… AND the Free hotel!  WHAT?  I’m gonna eat dinner afterall!

Seriously… God wants us to say YES!  (no I’m not talking about blindly hopping into something that will financially sink yourself) He wants us to say Yes.. get in the boat.  I want to bless you.  And sometimes, His adventures… are just for our “filling up.”  Nothing else. Often times, some of us believe He is only in the adventure that leads to the bedside of the suffering.  But that’s not true.  In our tenacious desire to bless our children… God turned around and blessed us…  And No, it doesn’t always work out that way.  And no, God doesn’t want us spending our lives on our own selfish adventures… But sometimes… yes! Yes… He wants us to remember that He’s just good.  For no exchange. That He wants to renew our joy, our sense of security in Him, our sense of “I can do this life, and it’s worth doing!”  I didn’t find that on the streets of NYC or in Dule Hill’s dressing room (although that was really cool)… but through God’s total surprising me… while I was planning the surprise! Isn’t that cool of Him?  It’s just a love note… a… “I’m with you” kind of message. And, to be honest, I needed that.

And the trip was amazing.  We met Dule Hill.  Hung out with him in his dressing room for about 25 mintues.  Chatted about “what’s next” in his life,  Psych, and a little about Zambia. Met his brother… gave him a birthday cupcake and a card… You know… the things “friends” do.  Ha.  He was gracious to my children.  He was kind and interested. 

  And the smiles on their faces were priceless to me.  And I think the joy in my heart… was priceless to my Heavenly Father… who showered us with such an incredible adventure.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

words like water...

3 years ago... we met a boy.  He was/is tenacious, funny, and rough around the edges.  I used to call him my African Tarzan.  
  This wild and crazy little boy has become a wild at heart young man right before our eyes. He has gone from a shy, unable to express himself boy to a more mature, expressive and emotionally insightful young man. God has used him, along with my other 4, to love and encourage me.  Many days, it's their words mixed with Gods that sustain me.  
The other day, I received this letter.  I have to share it, because it is evidence of God's goodness... His continued working in what He has started... His redemptive glory in adoption...  and I hope it can encourage moms out there... 
Keep going when you think you can't...
Keep teaching when you think they aren't listening...
Keep following God's word when you think no one is looking...
Because... You are making a difference.  Your words stick... and so do theirs! What a gift!
"Dear Mom!!! Happy Birthday!!! You don't look like you are over 35 years the day before your birthday and you looked even more beautiful with each passing year. 
I am so thankful that God created you as my second mom.  You are truly the most loving, thoughtful, selfless, compassionate, caring, giving, amazing woman most people have ever seen. 
You make me want to be a better man and a better father when grow up.  You constantly amaze me in the ways that you care for others before yourself. 
Thank you for always thinking of ways how to make me happy, for everything you do for me, I love and respect you.  I am so grateful that you are my mom.  I love you!!!" 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What Morningside taught me

Well, I have to say that while I’m beyond thrilled to be leaving the hospital tomorrow and going home the following day… I sit here in the silence feeling a bit nostalgic. 

Yes, this week started super scary and chaotic… but I found myself in a place abnormal from my usual life: quiet… alone… with my biggest decision being “what should I eat for dinner?”  I have to admit, it’s been kinda nice.  Despite the emotional baggage I’ve been working through with Jesus about this stay… there are so many things I don’t want to forget. 
For the first time in a LONG time, I spent 6 days alone with my firstborn.  The first 4 days internet and phone was scarce, so we were forced to find things to do.  Some of my favorite things have been:

*bringing the paper dot game back to life

*watching zack watch TV, because we only had one set of earphones most of the week.

*eating chocolate muffins with him. J (yeah, that wasn’t on my diet)

*reading together snuggled up in bed

*working together on ipad games to make it through the levels of “jellies” and “water something or another”

*talking quietly about the day as we turned out the lights and just lay in the quietness.

*laughing uncontrollably at ourselves, and how bad we really stink at some of these games.

*reflecting together on how Jesus is indeed with us.

*the big stuffed dog (I’m gonna regret that when we get to the airport)

*washing our clothes in the bathtub with body soap (it can work peeps)

*our great nursing staff: Lucia, Esther, and Candace.  Personality galore.

*oh… and of course… the daily selfies…

Usually I am running around with so many things on my mind, but I was able to be truly and fully present, and for that I’m so thankful.  So many times we moms are carrying way too much… and it robs us of our joy of motherhood.  Guilty as charged.  But I'm
 thankful for the time to reflect and take note that there must be a different way… not all the time, but sometimes… the crazy ball must stop rolling and you gotta just enjoy and love on each other well… without anything else pressing in.
So… I’m grateful for sickness this week.  Grateful for the hidden blessings in something that doesn’t make sense to us sometimes. 
Tomorrow… guaranteed I’ll be soaking it in… because on Monday, the noise begins.  


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Some people never learn...

Yes, I'm one of those... one of those kids who "had to be told 100 times"... one who always went the way I was told not to... I'm just not made to color in the lines. :) 

There are some good things to that... If I didn't think a bit outside of the norm... I wouldn't be able to see God for how BIG He is... and how there's so much more to Him than I can ever even fathom! He's OUTSIDE the box, too... 

But the downfall of this is that "i never learn."  I just came across this post written in 2010... the title of it grabbed me because well, that pretty much wraps it up right now... "the limits of poor, weak, dust"

So, in honor of myself for never learning... and the possibility that I'm not alone in that... enjoy reading from 2010... maybe you've come further than I have! ;)  


Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Where are you?"

"Oh, God, Where are you?"  ... Those were the words that were ringing (and still are) in my ears as I attempted to drive home M, a mother whose baby had just died.  The wailing and mourning can't even be recognized by anyone unless they have walked that path before. The crying out to God in desperation and question...even now... continues.


One month ago, the grandchild to one of our staff members... niece to 2 of our students... was badly burned.  Sadly, this is a common accident since cooking is done on an open fire, and there are so many boiling pots at a baby's eye level.  Shane took them to our clinic, one of the best in town.  She was there for some time... and we were able to visit... take food... a little toy... and pray for them.  

Things seemed to be going along well, and she was discharged. 

2 Weeks ago, I took the mother and baby (2 years) for review.  The feedback was positive, from the best I could get. 

Last week, I received a call that the baby was very sick and needed to be rushed to the clinic.  I dropped everything, and was accompanied by one of our students.  Hospitalization seemed to be a certainty... so I left them as the nurse was taking them back to the ward... so I could get food for the family and baby for the night and next day. When I returned, they said they were not being admitted.  Ultimately, they were not able to identify any problems.  There I sat... with a Doctor... making a decision I will always wonder "Why didn't God give me superior wisdom in that moment to just push for hospitalization?"  

"My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts" 

The next morning I took them back in because she wasn't better.  2 days later, the baby died.  Sepsis and severe anemia.  

"But WHY didn't they see that before, WHY didn't I know?" 

"in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me"

I found myself pulling up to the empty hospital.  Empty... except for a mother and grandmother broken for their little B... they lost their "GIFT." 

As I was helping sweet Grace carry her daughter to the car... the weight of M. fell on me... the sadness, the confusion, the brokenness. 

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted...."

The raw and expressed emotions in the van almost drove me to the breaking point.  I sat there driving, feeling like the grand canyon separated me from her... I don't know suffering as she has known it.  And yet, God could allow me to know it all too quickly.  

We came to the house... and difficult doesn't begin to describe it.  Just 2 years ago, I sat in this same room... meeting one of our students brother who was paralyzed.  1 year ago, I sat in the exact same room, as he had died.  And this day... I am here again... in the VERY same room, with the same family... grieving together once again.  Surely, Lord, this is enough.  

"Where, God, Where are you?"  

"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  
Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night. EVEN THE DARKNESS IS NOT DARK TO YOU; THE NIGHT IS BRIGHT AS THE DAY, FOR DARKNESS IS AS LIGHT TO YOU." Ps. 139

The next day, I found myself in church, surrounded by people who know suffering beyond what I know... and we sang "Oh, my God is good... yeah-yeah... my God is good. Everything is double double...." 
I could barely get the words out.  The truth is that HE IS GOOD.  This is the deepest element of faith.  No, it's not logical... but God is bigger than logic.  No, it seems unfair.  But we can't know the future... nor can we see things the way He sees them.  I can hurt.  I can question.  But I will not doubt... for I know, My God is Good.  He is sovereign. He is all-knowing.  And... He is holding little B right now... fully healed.    

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Do I want the broken?

Life has once again hit in full force... not that it ever stops for a moment.  Currently, I'm back to teaching my 3 little ones full time, teaching a Grade 5 English Class starting next week, and my usual duties of caring for the school, staff, and the children.  Needless to say, we take time for family when we can get it.  I'm thankful for that.  During this holiday break, we have taken a lot of time and it's been pretty awesome.  

Today, we snuck away for a few hours and went to one of our favorite places nearby.  At the Dam, there are many things to do: fish, swing, swim, soccer, etc.  KG and her daddy usual go "hunting for pinecones"... but today I was the lucky one with the invite from little miss. 
As we were hunting, KG noticed that I overlooked or threw down some that were broken.  She looked at me and said, "Mom, why did you throw that one away?"  I simply said "because it looks smooshed and broken."(Yes, i said smooshed) She said "but I want it, don't you?"  So... with much conviction... I proceeded to go back and pick up the broken ones.  In that moment, God whispered to me... 
Do you want the broken ones? 
Do you embrace brokenness I bring to your life? 
Do you just want the things that look good, feel good, or that's perfect in your eyes?
Can't I... Don't I use the broken ones?  The brokenness? 

I just sat and reflected on the many things in my life that God has taken... broken to pieces... and redeemed.... and made completely beautiful.  One of the biggest things that God brought to my thankful heart is my 2nd oldest son.  He was broken.  To the point some even said "I would never bring a child like that in my home."  But now... if you could see him now... It's something only JESUS can do.... And it's only by God's power that we were able to walk through the broken pieces together. But now, it's beautiful. 

He wants to take the broken things... and make them beautiful.  He wants us to embrace the brokenness... the yucky... the hard... and allow Jesus to make it beautiful.... He really does make beautiful things out of the dust.