Tomorrow is a New Day {parenting kids who struggle}

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We walked into the parent-teacher conference today and were greeted with a sweet hello. Soon after, their faces turned grim.

“Has (this child) always been withdrawn?”

“Has (this child) struggled before?”

My husband and I did our best to answer their questions. To be honest, I felt like I was on the defensive. It was awkward. Most of all, it broke my heart. We didn’t have the same challenges that our kids do. We both did well in school, had friends and were active in various sports, etc. I’m sure our parents never had the type of parent-teacher conference that we had.

“It might be best to talk to (child’s) doctor about medication changes.”

“(This child) cannot make eye contact.”

“The issues you are describing can be a much bigger issue than what is known. You really need to talk to the doctor.”

“Has your child always struggled with interacting with others and with grades?”

As a parent to children who struggle, it takes a lot of restraint to NOT scream: “This is NOT all my child is about! My child is kind, wants to help others, and loves (his/her) family!!!”

However, at the end of the day, my husband and I know that our children must fit into this world. The world is not going to fit around them. And, to be honest, that sucks. There, I said it.

The misconception that “if you get a child as an infant, then the child will be okay“, just needs to stop. We got our children as babies. We tended to their needs. We celebrated their milestones and giggled at their curiosities. We did the best we could; like most parents do.

While all that helps, it does not (always) erase the problems that some children have. Instead, my husband and I must do the best we can…at this time…given the circumstances that present themselves.

To be honest, today was just a sad day for me. I wish I could just snap my fingers and all of these Earthly challenges would evaporate. I so wish I could exchange my children’s struggles for my own successes – to give them a life without diagnoses, social challenges and academic strife. Yet, in all of this…in all the daily junk…I know full well that the Lord has given me the exact children I am meant to parent. I know this, even on the hard days.

Parenting looks a whole lot different that I visualized it to be. My husband and I wonder what it would be like to be able to go out in the evening with our kids and not worry about meltdowns. We think about going to parent-teacher conferences and hearing, “You child is just the best student ever.” We long for our children to be given certificates and acknowledgments for being ‘good’. Yet, we also know that this is not the parenting journey that we are on. For me, my faith in Christ is what keeps me going. I know that Jesus hasn’t brought us this far to drop us on our heads. (My friend used to tell me this all of the time.) I believe it.

Today was rough. It’s not like any day is easy. The one hope that a parent with a child who struggles has is for their child to be understood and to have a life-changing breakthrough. When this doesn’t seem to be happening, it can surely dampen the situation, but it can never distinguish the power of parents whose entire world exists to create a better place for their children.

If you know a parent of a child who struggles, the best thing you can do is understand them, love on them and support them. Be a non-judgmental ear for them to pour their angst into. They know you can’t fix the issue, but they also know that just having someone who listens to them is vital. Let them cry to you. Allow them to tell you their story – even if they have to do it time and again.

If you are a parent of a child who struggles, please know that you are not alone. Seek out people who will listen to you. Don’t give up.

Tomorrow is a new day.

 

 

Foster Parenting is a Mission Field

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I was co-speaking at a women’s conference and the person speaking alongside me said this, “We seek foster families who love God.  It’s important for families to love children, of course, but we first seek families who love God…and because of their love of God, they want to serve and love children.”

It seems like it should be obvious but it jumped out at me as an often-missed message when it comes to foster parent recruitment.  For me, it appears that it would be nearly impossible to love God and not love children, but I wonder if we get it switched around when it comes to trying to find foster families for children in need.  We call people to the ministry of fostering because they love children.  Perhaps, we should focus more on calling them to it because their first love is God.

I’ve long thought that foster parenting is a mission field.  How can it not be?

Sure, foster families are not necessarily giving up the luxuries of first-world living that most missionaries are, but they are giving up privacy, control and that part of them that once thought child abuse and neglect is not as bad as it really is.

They are giving up their own family time and sleep-filled nights.  They are giving away pieces of their hearts that may have been sealed with the belief that trauma isn’t as bad as they once thought or that love can cure just about anything.  They are giving up their own plans and instead, walking step-by-step in the muck and mud of child abuse and neglect.  With each child that comes and goes, they are carrying away with them all that has been poured into them by their foster families.

Yes, foster parenting is a mission field.  And, it should be.

When considering the walkabout of Jesus while He was on Earth, each step He made was a purposeful, mission-minded ministry.  When others advised Him to stay away from people who were considered difficult, misunderstood or downright lowly, He walked towards them.  Did you read that?  Jesus walked TOWARDS them.

When it comes to children, Jesus’s actions in Scripture exemplified how precious they are.  He healed a child.  He set them as an example of how we should view faith.  He cast a demon out of a child.  He blessed them, fed them and in many ways, honored them.  Jesus’s ministry was very-much geared towards children; towards all of us.

When considering becoming a foster parent, it is important to undergo a heart-check – not a physical one, but a spiritual one.  Do you have to be a Christian or believer in a faith in order to be a foster parent?  No, absolutely not.  However, if you feel foster parenting is a ministry and calling in your life, then you have to act like it.

You must choose to be humble even when you don’t want to be.  You have to show resilience, patience and restraint, even when your body and mind are screaming not to.  It is hard.  It is emotional.  It will challenge nearly every aspect of your life, but keep in mind that for some people, you may be the only example of Christ they have witnessed.  No pressure, right?!

The willingness to serve God by loving children and youth through foster parenting is a calling.  The desire to step into the darkness of abuse and neglect and do so because of faith is remarkable.  Foster parents do this.  They step out of their comfort zone and right into darkness.

Yes, foster parenting is a mission field, and an important one at that.

“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of care I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” -Forest E. Witcraft

 

Magnificent Treasure

Call it odd, call it mysterious, or call it incredible, but the times when I feel the least valued by others are the moments when I feel the most treasured by our Heavenly Father. May you feel His presence today, and feel that you are a magnificent treasure….because you are. 

I posted the above status on my Facebook page this morning.  I woke up with it on my heart and felt the need to share.  Funny thing is that it later came in handy when encouraging a person who is of great closeness to me. Or, maybe it is not funny at all.  Maybe it is the way that the Lord works; the confirmation of His presence in my life, and in the one I encouraged today.

I fear that we miss the boat when it comes to seeking and searching the strengths of each other.  Sometimes, we remain stuck in our own tunnel-vision lens of how we think things should be, or how others should be, that we miss incredible opportunities to build each other, challenge each other, and seek the potential that is there.

The awesome thing about faith in our Creator is that a believer can take the feeling of being devalued, and give it right to God.  We were not created to be measured up to the standards of others.  We were all designed with incredible strengths, weaknesses, insights, talents, and gifts.

A life lived in Christ is the only standard that we should seek to be measured by.

So, my friend, if someone has made you feel less than worthy, or devalued today, hold your head up.  It is not the vision of others that you should hang your worth on.  Your worth has already been determined by the One who sacrificed it all…for you.

YOU are a magnificent treasure.

 We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us.  We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up.  In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again.  We face death every day because of Jesus. Our bodies show what his death was like, so that his life can also be seen in us.  This means that death is working in us, but life is working in you.  -2 Corinthians 4:7-12

 

Compassion

“I miss you, Mr. Bruce.  I wish you were still my therapist.”  

The words above are ones I heard today from my office.  I got up, walked down the hall, and found a chubby, 10-year-old boy looking up at my husband.  My husband is not a therapist, but a child welfare case worker, and we work at the same agency.  This boy had been on his case load for several years until he was recently transferred to another worker who could focus more on his adoptive recruitment.

The minute the boy walked away, tears started to well up in my eyes.  I could barely keep them in.  This boy, the one who missed my husband, is the same boy who my husband worried about, had on his mind long after work hours ended, and had a hard time letting him go to another worker.

This boy has no one, but case workers.  He has no birth family to connect to anymore.  He only has the people in his life who are professionally charged for caring for him.

His small, vulnerable hands reached out to staff members today.  He introduced himself, shook our hands, and used his little hands to make pictures for each of us. He needed this activity to fill his day until he met his new foster mom.  He seemed fine, and had some boundary issues, but overall, he appeared to be a sweet and resilient little guy.

As the day went on, I thought about the boy, what has happened in his life, what might or might not happen, how innocent he is in so many ways, and how empathy tends to rip out one’s heart.  I’ve been confronted with empathy and compassion several times this week.  Just a few days ago, I posted this quote on a friend’s Facebook wall:

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.” ~ Henri Nouwen

My friend, whom I’ve known since junior high, is part of a group of citizens who are organizing meals for the homeless in our community.  During a recent lunch conversation, our thoughts turned to the idea of how helping others loses its “doing good for others feeling” and becomes an experience that causes full immersion into the trauma, poor choices, dysfunction, and despair of others.  I think my friend has hit “that wall”….that painful, raw wall of human experience.

It is a wall that I ran smack into when I first started working in the field of child welfare.  I was going to change the world.  I was going to find families for the kids who just needed to be loved.  I was going to make a difference.  To say I saw my role through rose-colored glasses is an understatement.  The first week or two were wonderful.  I was warmly welcomed by other staff members, and was slowly being introduced to foster families, and I was starting to get some “cases”.  By cases, I mean children.  

Then, I opened up my first file of documentation about the history of the children I was assigned to find families for.  There before me were the stories of gut-wrenching abuse at the hands of adults charged with caring for these little ones.  Within the stories were layers of neglect, past trauma, dysfunctional family systems, and lots and lots of despair.

The stories of child abuse were no longer stories.  They were images of innocence ripped away.  I wanted to pretend that what I was reading was not that bad….but….how could I?  How could I gloss over horrific sexual abuse, or babies being found laying in cribs among animal waste?  How can I ever forget the picture of a 4-year-old, blue-eyed beauty with staples in her head from the physical abuse suffered at the hands of her mother’s paramour?

I hit the wall.  My vision of the community I thought I lived in changed.  I entered the underbelly of what is really going on behind lots of doors, dark alleys, and drug-fueled minds.

I remember weeping at night about what I witnessed through the pages of life stories unfolding in front of me.  I had bad dreams…nightmares really.  I know I was going through what is typical in the helping relationship field.  Others before me had already hit the wall, and had successfully built their own resilient walls to shield them from the pains and problems of their clients.

The wall is necessary to get through the day, but it does not make us less compassionate.  Compassion forces us to go to places we would never choose to go on our own.  It kicks us in the gut, compels us to move, and pushes us to keep on “keeping on”.  There is a difference between a “do-gooders”, and compassionate people who seeks to make differences in their worlds.  Doing good does just that….it does good, but compassion does so much more.

Compassion reveals the gut-wrenching human existence that is part of life on Earth.  As a Christian, I believe that compassion leads us to the place where Jesus exists.  It puts us in the most broken of painful places.  It causes us to see others with fullness, not just splinters.

It is the place where Jesus calls us to be.

I’ve thought a lot about the little boy who looked up to my husband today.  I’ve thought about his future.  I’ve wondered how it is possible for him to even dream beyond tomorrow without the safety of yesterdays.  I’ve shed tears for him.  I’ve felt pain and worry for him.

If compassion can lead us to feel all of this, then surely, it can lead us to imagine the depth of how the Lord sees us.  Though broken in my vision of this little boy, and the others I’ve met along the way, I know that my human vision is nothing compared to the vision that the Lord must have for these children, and others in our world who have fallen on the downside of society.

Compassion calls us to wake up each day with the desire to grasp a glimpse of the lives of others.  It breaks our hearts, and stirs our determination.  Most of all though, it begs us to live a life walking in the full measure of the mercy we have been given, and to reach to others in ways that they see Him living in us.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12 

Thoughts about last Monday

I thought twice about writing this one.  I’ve thought even more about posting it.  Actually, I had convinced myself not to write or post it, but upon waking this morning,  I just could not escape the thoughts trapped in my head yearning to be released.  So, here I go….

My intention is not to hurt anyone or be offensive.  My thoughts after last Monday have been “all over the place”.  I want to come away from this post feeling that I’ve taken a tragic situation that the bombing at the Boston Marathon was, and turned my feelings of anger into introspection about where we are as Americans…not just Americans, but Christian Americans.  A part of me feels as though I do not have the right to have an opinion.  Another part of me deeply wonders if I would feel the same way if my spouse, children, mother, father, sister or friends were victims of the attack.  Honestly, I do not know, and pray I will never know what it feels like to be looking at tragedies like these from the inside out.

Like most Americans, I was angry when I saw what happened.  I was worried that there would be more attacks, and I felt sadness for the loss of life and liberty for so many people on that day.  I heard calls for prayer for the victims, the city of Boston, and for our nation.  I did not hear anyone call for prayer for the perpetrators of this act.  My thoughts, (although I did not express them out loud to others at the time), were perhaps we should pray for the perpetrators as well.  Why shouldn’t we pray for them?

Matthew 5:44 – But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;

As the events of Friday played out on the television screen, I was shocked to hear how young both men were.  The youngest brother is only 12 & 1/2 years older than my son.  I do not know all of the details of how these two brothers came to the place where they chose hatred.  I cannot comprehend knowingly setting a bomb by anyone and walking away.  I also could not help but feel pity for them.  I pity them for being lost in the mix of hatred and confusion.

They had their whole lives ahead of them.  One was a young father, and the other, just barely an adult.  Now, one is dead, and the other might face death through the justice system.  Please hear me say this loud and clear, I definitely want justice for the victims. I definitely want a trial to be held.  I definitely love our country.  I find it a blessing to live in a country that is free.  I still cannot escape the “what if’s” of these young men’s lives.

What if the chaos they must have felt in their hearts was replaced with the love of Christ?  What if Christians in their communities and schools would have ministered to them through friendships, love, and prayer?  What if they would have been embraced by Christians in a way that left them no doubt who the Lord of love is?  What if….?

There has been a multitude of Facebook posts about the incident.  Some have been deep prayerful desires for healing, while others have been about seeking vengeance on this young man, and any other that would cause harm to our nation. If I didn’t know better, I would wonder if we (American Christians) put our country before our Lord, our patriotism before our prayers, and our flag before our faith. Again, I think of what Scripture says.

Romans 12:19 – Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

I know it is cliché to ask it, but, “What would Jesus do?”  Sometimes this question is asked rhetorically when determining whether or not to give change to the homeless man on the corner, or to turn the other cheek when facing opposition.  I challenge myself to ask this question when faced with the seemingly unforgivable acts like the one committed nearly a week ago.

I know that my words may alienate some readers.  I hope not.  Writing my thoughts out has become my way of working through times that might cause a stumble in my  faith.  I challenge you, fellow writers and readers, to consider what the Lord would ask of us during this time, and any other.  What is our Christian response supposed to be in times like these?

Our instinct is to seek revenge, but I pray that we would seek a deeper relationship with our Lord, and with each other – friend and foe.

The Egg of Grace

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do you see the word grace?

We dyed eggs this weekend with our children like we usually do on the eve of Easter.  I wanted to add an element of learning about our faith in Christ during this Easter tradition.  After boiling the eggs, I took a white crayon and wrote words on them in hope that when the eggs got dipped into the dye, the words would appear.  Thanks to Charity at WatMattersMost blog for her wonderful ideas about incorporating our faith into Easter activities for children.

I chose the words justice, love, helping, forgiveness, kindness, hope, freedom, faith, humility, mercy, patience, and grace.  These words, in my opinion, are all characteristics of how Christians should walk in this world.  They are also characteristics of Jesus, and the words He spoke.  My plan was to talk about each word after we were finished.  My hope was for the kids to walk away not only with colorful fingertips from dying eggs, but also with little nuggets of wisdom tucked away.

Well, this momma’s plan didn’t exactly work the way I wanted it to.  I messed up by writing the words when the eggs were a little too hot.  One by one, as the eggs were pulled out of the dye, white blotches appeared.  It looked more like bleach spots instead of formed words showing up.  My kids were saying things like, “What is that?!”  They didn’t seem to mind and quickly moved on to the next egg. I was a bit frustrated and already figured out a plan of correction for next Easter.

As my son pulled another egg out of the green dye, the word began to form a little clearer than the others.  One might not be able to make it out, but since I wrote the words, I immediately recognized the word grace.  “What’s that say?”, asked my son.  I answered, “It says grace.”  He gave me a puzzled look and moved on to the next egg.

I didn’t have the words at the time to tell my children what grace means.  I was flustered from the whole project being awash, so I just let it go.  As I started to put the eggs up, I couldn’t help but notice that eleven of the dozen eggs were a mess. The only one that was clear enough to form a word was the egg of grace.

Immediately, I began thinking that life is just one big mess up over and over again, and yet, God’s grace is always present.  Grace cleans up my messes.  Grace doesn’t hold a grudge, and grace doesn’t change.  I also thought about how often I fail at showing more grace to my children for their messes.

As I was tucking my son into bed, I asked him, “Do you remember the egg that had grace written on it?”  He said, “Yes.”  I said, “The other eggs had messed up words on them.  We mess up in life and make mistakes, but God offers grace to us.  God doesn’t get mad when we mess up.”  I went on to tell him that we are to offer grace to others when they make mistakes or upset us.  I kissed him goodnight, and walked out of the room.

I learned from this that I should never disallow a lesson that the Lord is placing in front of me.  I should never assume that I messed up so bad that nothing can come from it.  I also learned that my offering of grace needs to supersede what I expect to be offered from others.

There are messes all around me, within me, and because of me.  Most of all, I was reminded that when it seems that nothing good comes from mistakes, and that things are just too messed up to be worth anything, grace appears.

Never say Never

“Never say Never”

The words above were spoken often from the lips of my mom while growing up.  I specifically remember telling her, “I will never work with children; especially abused and neglected children.”  She responded with, “Never say never.”  I’ve thought about these words for years now.

I know that part of my rejection of the notion to ever work with children stemmed from my fear of getting too close to the raw emotions of infertility.  I thought that if I steered clear of anything to do with children, I would not have to face the jagged reality of never being able to bring a child into the world.  My studies in college were all about aging and the elderly population; in other words, NOT about children…never about children.

It was about twenty years ago when I told my mom that I would never work with children (especially abused and neglected children).  As I was sitting at a visit tonight with a couple considering becoming foster parents, the words “never say never” came up in the conversation.  I thought about these words that my mom stated to me through the years, and how true they are.

Just last weekend, I listened as two teenagers in the foster care system shared their stories with prospective foster parents.  My heart broke for these kids.  I wanted to grab them and say, “You are and never will be a throw-away kid!”  Their stories of rejection by birth parents, drug addiction, homelessness, and basically being completely independent of anyone else meeting their needs are ones that can cause great anger and frustration.  Again though, the words “never say never” crept back into my mind.

One of the teens is being adopted by his foster parents when he turns 18-years-old.  He will be adopted when he becomes a legal adult.  I’m sure somehow through his eight-to-ten year stay in the foster care system it was said that he would never be adopted, and never be part of a family.  The other teenager spoke about celebrating sobriety and accepting the Lord.  I’m sure too that at some point in this child’s life, someone thought he would never get sober, never make it in a family, and never accept the Lord.  I venture to guess that both of the boys have thought these things about themselves as well.

“Never say never” is a saying that tends to provoke us to be mindful of what we say, do, and feel.  I can boldly state that I never imagined working for a Christian ministry focused on meeting needs of children in foster care.  I never visualized ever sharing my story of having a hysterectomy as a child and infertility to anyone outside of my close inner circle of friends and family.  I never thought for one minute that my professional life would be filled with working with families who are struggling with infertility, or who are desiring to care for children desperately in need of love and stability.

I never, ever dreamed of being a parent to any child, let alone three children. While fostering my son, I really wondered if we would be able to adopt him.  I probably told myself “it will never happen”.  I also never thought I would adopt a little girl.  Now, at this age and with the great blessing of children and a full life, I never would have dreamed of bringing in, loving on, and caring for another baby in need of stability.  “Never” seems to be an Earthly reaction to what life can throw at us.

I want you to know that the Lord has spoken this into my life:  “You will work with abused children.  You will work in ministry.  You will share your story of infertility with anyone willing to read or hear it.  You will work with families who have also felt the cutting pain of infertility, and with those who attempt to bind the wounds that the world has left on children.  You will be a parent to a son and a daughter.  You will follow as I lead you down the path of taking in another child.”

It feels like a life-time ago that I stood in my mom’s kitchen declaring what I would never do.  She was right you know,….”Never say never” to what the Lord has planned for your life.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

The Lamp and the Light

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.  Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

I’m exhausted from the day.  It is not that I’m physically exhausted, but emotionally exhausted.  Our hearing was heard today to obtain custody of the precious little one who has come to live with us.  I fret over his future, and yet, I love his birth mother as she too is a child I once carried around as an infant.  My husband and I petitioned for guardianship of the baby because we love him and we love his birth mother, his grandmother, and his great-grandparents.  We are all family, and family matters.

I’m exhausted from the day.  I had to be on the witness stand to testify as to why I would be a good home for him.  I had to prove myself, my experience, my relationships, and my stability.  This is not the first time I’ve had to do this.  Being a former foster parent felt like a constant attempt to prove myself as being worthy of being a parent.  I have not cared for a single child that has come to me free of legal strings attached.  I’ve had to testify and show the courts and other powers-that-be that I am capable of providing and loving on a child with-whom I’ve already taken into my home, cared for, and loved on.  I’ve had to prove myself, and yet, the Lord already approves of me.

I’m exhausted from the day, but, I have this sense of inner peace.  I know that my God loves this precious little one more than I can ever imagine.  He commands this child’s destiny.  He has written his past, his present, and his future.  He sings over this baby, and He rejoices over his growth like a proud daddy.  The Lord, and His word are the lamp upon his feet, and the light upon his path.  Truthfully, He is the lamp upon all of our feet, and the light upon our paths.

I’m exhausted from the day, but also at peace knowing that the Lord would not set me and my family upon this path if any of this didn’t matter to Him.  I sat in the court room today at the table with sweaty palms, quick breaths, and a rolling stomach.  I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and welcomed the Lord into the courtroom.  I said softly to myself, “Lord, be with me.”  Although nervous and uncertain what the Judge would think, I felt great strength knowing that God was with me.

I’m exhausted from the day, but not worn out.  I know this fight, this passion to protect, and this path has been lit by the light of the Lord, and the choice to love the way He wants us to.  I know that He is the lamp upon which my feet walk, and that each step forward may feel like it is in darkness, but not for long.  I know that He will light the way.

Custody was granted for us today.  This little babe that we love is with us for now at least.  Custody may be temporary, and I may not know what the future holds for him or for his place in our family, but I know who holds his future.  I know to trust the Lamp that will guide the child’s feet, and the Light that will brighten his path.

I know in the depths of my being that the Lord loves this precious baby more than I could ever imagine or fathom…now that is something that refreshes my soul.

I Pick the Cross

photo (56)Last Friday, we took our children to an amusement park not too far from where we live.  My parents came along to enjoy the day, and to help out with little ones.  My son was quite determined to find either a shark tooth or alligator tooth necklace, so naturally, his Papa assisted in finding and purchasing him one.

My 4-year-old daughter and I looked at a few of the charms for necklaces, and I kept pointing out the butterflies, hearts, guitars, etc…basically the ones I thought she would want.  She carefully picked up and inspected each one, thought long and hard about her choice, then picked up a yellow cross with small red dots on it and said “I pick the Cross”.  I have to admit that I was a little surprised by her choice.  I just didn’t guess that she would choose a cross for her necklace.  After all, there were far more shiny, decorative, and cute ones that little girls tend to find appealing.

I asked her again if it was what she wanted, and she said, “Yes, I pick the Cross”.  My heart was warmed by this.  Our daughter seems to have always been a child who embraces God.  She has reminded me time again that God lives in her heart.  She leads the prayer at dinner time, and if we get a in hurry to eat, she reminds us that we must pray first.  She wakes up nearly every day wondering if it is Sunday because she is excited to go to church.  She has asked time and again if she was a little baby in Heaven with God before she was in her birth mother’s belly.  I probably shouldn’t be too surprised that she picked the Cross for a necklace that her Papa bought her.

In thinking about this again today, I  thought of why Jesus reminds of being like a little child and having a child-like faith.  I know there have been and still are times when I do not pick the Cross.  Instead, I have picked the shiny, appealing, and popular things the world has to offer.  I still struggle with wanting more of the world’s charms, and find it a constant battle to focus on desiring the Lord over anything else.  If I told you otherwise, I would be a liar.  Even if I didn’t admit it out loud, God would still hear the words of my heart, and the longings of my desires that often sway me from Him.

The world tells us, “Pick me! Pick me!  Don’t do what you think God wants you to do.  Do what is best for you, what will put you ahead, and what will serve you.  Don’t listen to Him.  Don’t pick the Cross.”  In those times when I have listened to the world, I have missed out on the blessings that come from walking in His light.  On the contrary, in those times that I have ignored the world and focused my actions on His calling, I have been abundantly blessed with grace, insight, and strength.

I often learn wonderfully humbling things from my children, and am sure that I will continue to as I raise them.  I am also quite sure that I will walk the fine line of balancing my desire for the world with choosing to follow Christ throughout the rest of my life.  I know though, that living a life in faith and choosing to pick the Cross will never cause me to fail or lose.  I will have gained everything that is worthy of gaining by choosing the Cross, and by choosing Him.  After all, Jesus gave everything up, and carried the Cross for me.

Father, Thank you for using my daughter to teach me about You.  Thank you for instilling in her a heart that longs for You, and I pray for Divine protection over her.  Father, help me, and help us all to always pick the Cross, and our Lord and Savior over anything else in the world.

Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving!  Here’s my top ten list of things I’m thankful for:

  1. Grace – the Lord knows I’m a mess, but He loves me anyway.
  2. Love – my husband knows I’m a mess, but he loves me anyway.
  3. Adoption of my children – my life is much more colorful because of them.
  4. My job – I’m blessed to work for a child welfare agency that understands that our own families come before those we work with.
  5. Freedom – to get an education, to go to church, to live without fear.
  6. Salvation – Jesus chose us over His life.  What a beautiful Savior!
  7. My parents – for their support & for never allowing me to be a victim of my own set of circumstances.  I cannot imagine how painful my hysterectomy must have been on them.
  8. Revelation – the Lord has spoken His will into my life and has shown me that His plan had a purpose & for that I am so grateful for.
  9. Friendships – my friends also know I’m a mess, but they love me anyway
  10. Reading/writing & fellow bloggers – I’m so glad I stumbled onto writing.  I always knew I enjoyed it, but never realized how much of an outlet it is.  Thank you all for reading my blog, and thank you for sharing your worlds through writing your blogs.

Oh yeah, I’m also thankful for moments like these, and so many more!!