Days like Today

Tonight I had the incredible blessing of watching my 4-year-old daughter perform in a Christmas dance recital.  I helped her get ready by putting on her glittery leotard and pulling her hair back in bun.  I smiled as she gingerly walked onto the big stage, and giggled as she twirled in her fluffy white tutu.  As the evening went on and I watched the children dance, my mind escaped off to that place of sadness for the mom’s and dad’s of the little princes and princess’s who were not tucked into their beds tonight.  The shooting tragedy in Connecticut today has invaded my thoughts, and it was hard to get the families whose lives were abruptly interrupted off of my mind.

Christmas presents will be left unopened, family pictures will not happen, visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s house will be filled with tremendous heartache, and parents will forever feel the silent emptiness of loss.  Gingerbread houses will go unmade, Christmas stockings will mournfully hang by chimneys, Santa will not be visited, and the sounds of laughter will not ring out on Christmas morning.  It is absolutely heart-wrenching to think of the precious lives lost today.  These children were just going about their day handing in homework, counting down the days until Santa visits, and telling their teachers their big plans for the weekend when darkness entered their lives.

The sad truth is that violence against children occurs year round and all over this world on a daily basis.  We discard them as if they don’t matter.  We ignore them as if they are not important.  We use and abuse them as if their little hearts and bodies will just “get over it”.  Scripture speaks of children being a reward, and yet, we take our time with them for granted.  I absolutely believe that we will not escape the Lord’s passionate and protective love for His children.

It is days like today that I hugged my Kindergartner and ballerina a little tighter.  It is days like today that I repeated the words “I Love You” to them often.  It is days like today that I am reminded that our children are not ours.  We are gifted with them for a while.  Some stay longer than others, but ultimately, they are the Lord’s children.

It is days like today that I long for His return.

Waiting on God

photo (32)I prayed today for concrete answers to multiple situations going on in my life of which I’m trying to keep my anxiety level to a minimal.  I asked told the Lord to let today be the day that I got ALL of the answers I needed to hear.  Quite selfish, I know, but I’ve been a little overwhelmed lately with all of the “stuff” going on in life.

The stuff I’m referring to consists of (1) wanting an answer for something I’ve been working on for years, and feeling so close to getting, and, (2) needing to hear with clarity what the Lord intends to do with a situation involving a family member.  In the middle of these things lies my normally busy life consisting of children, work, and a home to tend to.  If the truth were told, I would eliminate the work part and focus on the home and family; thus, leading me back to wanting answers!

Even as I write this, I’m daydreaming a little about it all.  As the day grew into evening, I did not receive that phone call or that email with an answer.  I did not receive a letter or phone call telling me what the next steps will be regarding a family member.  The Lord did not break through the clouds declaring the answers I am yearning to hear.  However, as the day went on, I started to realize that He has waited on me multiple times throughout my life, and will continue to as long as I am breathing Earthly air.

He’s waited on me to open the Word instead of opening my Facebook page. He’s waited on me to have a heart pursuing Him with the same passion that I have pursued others and things of this world.  He’s waited on me to write that check in full faith the He will use it for good; instead of writing a check for something temporary that I desired.

He’s waited on me to relinquish my fear of the unknown, and let Him lead my life. He’s waited on me to understand infertility as a part of my life story, so that He could unfold the script.  He’s waited on me to give the same amount of grace for the indiscretions of others that He’s given me.  He still waits on me to let His peace be the answer I need until He moves the mountain that seems insurmountable, or opens the door to the next step in my life.

Today I found myself thinking, “I’m just waiting on God for answers.”  In essence, though, the Lord answered my prayer today.  He answered it with the vision of those times where I’m sure He stood quietly waiting.  He answered it with the sobering remembrance of those moments in my life where I refused to listen.  He answered it with the knowledge that I know is true – He is the keeper of my past, the shepherd of my present, and the lantern for my future.

He answered it with, “Be still and know that I am God.”

When Good Things Happen to Bad People

Why does it seem that bad things always happen to good people?  I have often wondered this; even though, I believe the Lord holds all of us His hands, and that suffering is part of the walk here on Earth.

I have been thinking lately of “good” people versus “bad” people.  I can say that I probably have fit, or still fit, in both of these categories at various times in my life. As a believer in Christ, I know that I am not good enough for His redemption.  It is by grace and supreme forgiveness that I am saved.

Being in the field of social work, I hear the awful things that people do to children and see first hand what the years of poor choices have often lead to, but, I also get the “back story” to these people’s lives.  I learn that many of them were abused as children, grew up in extreme poverty, and had absent fathers & mothers.  Many have addictions that plague them starting in their early adolescence and on through adulthood.

I had a client tell me one time, “You’ve treated me better than my own family ever treated me.”  She was 20-years-old, addicted to meth, homeless, uneducated, and just lost her baby to the foster care system.  I was certainly not her friend.  I was the case manager for her and her infant son, and ended up being the one who recommended termination of her parental rights.  However, I was kind to her.  I tried to put myself in her shoes.  It is tragically sad that I treated her better than her family.

I have often thought, “By the grace of God go I”.  Basically, I didn’t grow up in these type of situations and give praise for the Lord’s grace in my life that I’m not living this way now.  There is great heartbreak in our own backyards; yet, so many of us are shielded from the turmoil.

I have had my share of bad things that have happened, but I have also had an incredible amount of good things and good people in my life.  I am left with the thought/question of, “What if good things happened to bad people?”  I mean, what if the world showed more mercy and kindness to those deemed “bad” by society?  What if you and I (you know…the “good” guys) decided to wake up each day with the notion that we are going to make a positive difference in the life of someone who otherwise might be overlooked or looked down upon?

What if goodness and kindness became a habit?

The best thing ever happened to all of us.  Our Lord and Savior chose us.  His love and mercy are incredibly good things that continue to bless us every day.

photo (23)I believe in the power of a redeeming God who loves everyone – “good” or “bad”.  I also believe in His calling for us to love one another.  Maybe it is time for us to show the goodness of His love to others.  I cannot help but hope and believe that if more good things happened to bad people, our world would be a kinder, softer, and more loving place.

What do you think?

Food For Thought Award

the-food-for-thought-award

Thank you to Teresa at http://catholibertarian.com for nominating me for the Food For Thought Award a few weeks ago.  I’m sorry that I missed the 8:00 pm deadline for passing it on though…

Here are the seven Scripture verses that seem to speak to me the most:

  1. Jeremiah 29:11- “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  This verse is one that I believe all Christians should cling on to.  We know our only hope is in the Lord.  We know His will for our lives far outweighs what the world desires for us.
  2. Isaiah 54:10 – Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.  I just love how this verse declares that the Lord will NEVER forsake us.  There is nothing that will take away His love for us.  I also love that it speaks of His love being full of compassion and never-failing.
  3. Romans 5:2-5 – Through him we have also obtained  access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the  glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that  suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character  produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been  poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to  us.  This verse is what I have on my About Me page.  Years ago I may not have rejoiced in my suffering of being barren.  I see now though that the endurance, character, and hope built by suffering are all part of who I am in the Lord.
  4. Psalm 23- The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  I sang this Psalm just a year after my near-death illness when I was eleven.  The words are ones that have been seared into my memory since that time.  I even wrote a post about it – valley of death, Mercy of Life
  5. Psalm 139:13-16 – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  I actually favor the entire Psalm 139!  This part though speaks to me of the incredible and brilliant design that the Lord has for all of us.
  6. Luke 12:7- Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  The very God who created the Universe loves us. Our worth to Him is far greater than we will ever comprehend.  
  7. John 3:16-  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  If one does not believe this verse to be true, then one does not believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

As part of the award, I am to link seven blogs that I enjoy!  Here they are!

  1. Greenlightlady
  2. Wordsmith’s Desk
  3. Infertility Awakening
  4. Simplicity Lane
  5. trbcCoffee Break
  6. Wayne Augden
  7. Unshakable Hope

Here are the instructions if you choose to participate!

  1. Post the award on your blog.
  2. Thank the one who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  3. Share seven of your favorite Bible passages. For extra points (Perhaps our Father in heaven will award them.), explain why each these seven passages is a favorite. Done
  4. Nominate seven other bloggers you admire and enjoy! Why seven? In the Bible, seven symbolizes completeness.
  5. Inform each person that you have nominated them.  Will pass on by tomorrow at 8pm.

Thanks again to Teresa for the nomination!  It is greatly appreciated!

Heavenly Permanence

For my last post in recognition and celebration of National Adoption Month, I wanted to write something so bold, fresh, and new that everyone would want to become a foster and adoptive parent.  I wanted to try to list every well-known person (alive or deceased) who has either been adopted or who has adopted children.  I considered writing about persons in Scripture who were considered to be adopted, or at least, raised by persons other than their biological parents

I realized, though, that none of this compares to the incredible and profound blessing of our adoption by our Heavenly Father.  Through the sacrifice of His son and our acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have been given an Eternal inheritance, and the promise of His love and His care.  We are sealed  by His grace.

The word permanency comes up often in child welfare.  Permanency refers to the goal of achieving something permanent in children’s lives.  I like to refer to it as the final place a child gets to call home.  We talk about the goals to attain permanency for children in the system all of the time.  Well, with the Lord, the goal has already been met and achieved!

Our permanency is in Heaven!  Now, isn’t that something to celebrate!!

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” -2 Corinthians 6:18

My Life’s Song

Here we are in the last few days of November and the last week of National Adoption Month.  This past month I have posted something each day that I hope has inspired people to take care of children through adoption and foster care.  I’d like to share some insights I’ve learned as an adoptive parent.  Here’s the first one:

Through the adoption of my children I have learned that my life was planned and designed with great purpose.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that growing up I never really understood or appreciated the concept of a life planned in advance; especially if the plan included the heart-wrenching grief of infertility.  I did not comprehend how a loving God could or would allow infertility, even though barrenness is written about in Scripture.  I certainly never envisioned myself as a mother.  I just didn’t think it was “in the cards” for my life.

Seeking the Lord and the adoption of my children have both revealed to me that mothering was written into my life story.  My children were planned for me, and I was planned for them.  Despite the medical problem I had that resulted in being barren, I was still designed with the great purpose of motherhood by the God that created the Heavens and the Earth.

Some call it fate.  Some may say I lucked into being able to adopt.  I choose not to call it either of these things.  I call it the grace of the Lord and His Divine Plan.  I call it the presence of a living God whose works are ones of love.  I call it the pouring out of His blessings.  I call it a mission-filled and purposeful design.

Adoption really is my life’s song.  My children are the instruments.  Our experience together is the melody.  The Lord is the composer, and, from time to time, you just might catch me dancing to it.

“For I know the plans for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Beautiful for God (quote from Mother Teresa)

“Do you want to do something beautiful for God? There is a person who needs you. This is your chance.”
-Mother Teresa

I find this quote from Mother Teresa to be simple, powerful, and truthful.  I think that if you substitute the word child for the word person, it makes this quote even more awesome.  I hope your day is one that shines beauty for the Lord’s sake!

Welcoming children, Welcoming Him

And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

-Matthew 18:5

I love working for a child welfare agency that is not only Christian in name, but in acts and philosophy.  The agency has been involved in the social welfare of children since 1886 and has evolved through the years as societal changes have occurred.  Although our services have developed through the years to meet the needs of children and families, our priority and reason why we do the work has not changed.  We know that we can serve the Lord by ministering to children who are hurting, youth who are struggling, and families who are broken.  We also believe and have witnessed the great miracles that occur in the lives of children and families through the love and acceptance of Christ.

One aspect of my job is to speak to families who have expressed an interest in foster care and adoption.  Like my husband and I, many families go into fostering with a desire to parent children and know that fostering is an avenue that could lead to adoption.  There are others who see it as a way to give back to children or their society.  Most of the Christian families I work with feel the Lord calling them to be foster parents and to adopt a child out of foster care.

Thinking about these families leads me straight to the Scripture noted above. Our Heavenly Father loves children.  They are near and dear to His heart.  One cannot also overlook the fact that He wants us to be like children when it comes to our walk with Him.

I really do enjoy witnessing the love of Christian families that is poured into children in need of foster and adoptive homes.  To see and know that change is happening in children’s lives is what keeps most of us in the field of child welfare going.  The Lord stirs the hearts of people so that they can minister to His children through fostering and adopting.  

Welcoming children in the name of the Father is a blessing.  Families who feel the Lord calling them out to become foster and adoptive parents are able to learn so much about their own personal journey with Christ.  One such foster parent who was hoping to adopt the child she was fostering, said to me, “The Lord reminded me that they are all His children.  We are just taking care of them.”

It is statements like the one above that confirm my personal belief that when people do what they are called to do, especially when it comes to caring for children, the Lord blesses them with His wisdom, His grace, and His power to withstand many trials.  When the Lord whispers His plan and His calling into the lives of others, they are able to whisper His love into the lives of children.  When one welcomes children, they welcome Him.

John 14:18 (HIS children)

I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.

-John 14:18

I was talking in church several years ago to a woman who had spent some time in children’s ministry.  Through the years she had ministered to many hurting children.  An issue that always seems to affect and burden children are when their fathers are absent in their lives.  By all means, I believe that many single women do a wonderful and fantastic job of raising children.  My grandmother raised my mother, and several siblings, after the death of my grandfather.  However, there is something special about the relationship with a father.

In my experience, children long for their fathers.  They want to have a decent, healthy relationship and to at least know they are loved.  The former children’s minister seemed to always have the right words to say to children who mourned their absent fathers.  She said to them, “You may not have an Earthly father by your side, but your Heavenly Father will never leave you and loves you more than anything.”

When I read the verse above, of course, my mind goes to adoption.  Children who were once fatherless are given the joy of having Earthly fathers through adoption.  I also believe that this Scripture verse is a promise to all of us.  We will not be left as orphans.  He has promised His love for all of us.  The Lord loves every human being on Earth.  We are HIS children, and He will not abandon us!

Have a super Sunday~

Their Greatest Joy

This blog has been mostly devoted to my own personal journey from the valley of unknowns and barrenness to the glorious mountain top that is adoption.  I know that my story is not the only one out there.  There are many families whose stories include answering the call to care for children in need.  This is one of them.

In 1999, when Tamra was just 23 years of age and finishing college, her heart was deeply touched by the foster children who attended her daycare.  She was moved so much that she decided to become a licensed foster care provider through the state.  Tamra asked to be put on the so-called openings list for placements.  This list is how workers know that families are available to take children into their homes.  A few days had passed before any calls were made to her.  That all changed though on July 24, 1999.

Imagine, if you will, running into your home to change clothes after a wedding so that you can head out for the reception, picking up the ringing phone, and being asked “Would you be available to take in a two month old baby boy?”  That is exactly what happened.  Tamra excitedly got off the phone, grabbed her friend, and made their way to the hospital – so much for going to the wedding reception!  

This 8 week old baby boy had been intentionally thrown out and onto some lawn furniture and needed to be checked for injuries.  As Tamra was waiting to meet him, her mind was racing with thoughts of “What have I done? I don’t know how to take care of a baby!”  She also wondered if the nursing staff thought of her as being too young to be a foster parent. Tamra was not prepared, but felt the calling to say “yes”.  She did not have a crib, car seat, or anything really for a newborn, so after they left the hospital, they made their way to Wal-Mart to pick up all of the necessities for taking care of babies.  Foster families very rarely get a lot of time to prepare for placements, so they must think and act quickly.

It was very natural for her to fall in love with the little prince that came to live with her on that fateful night in both of their lives.  Tamra’s fiance, Shane (now her husband), also fell in love with him.  Their extended family worried that they would get their hearts broken, but they were also supportive and realistic about the primary goal of the foster care system in working towards reunification with birth parents and their children.  Although adoption was not their first intention, Tamra and Shane were very happy when it appeared that adoption would be the goal for him.

Things were moving along and then…new case worker….new ideas…a relative stepped in.  This little boy had been placed with her since age of 2 months, had been visiting his birth parents the entire duration of the case, and now was potentially going to be moving in to a relative’s home.  After 2 weeks of nail-biting anxiety, a decision was made to keep their boy where he was.

After 4 years and one month of loving and fostering him, their dream of becoming his forever parents came true.  Their adoption was finalized by the courts.  Their son is an amazing child, is in a gifted program and in advanced math classes.  They are very proud of him!

Despite the long haul through the system with their son, Tamra and Shane decided to pursue another placement of a foster child.  They really hoped for a girl and were blessed by the placement of a 12 week old baby girl. This precious girl only weighed 9 pounds and the 3-6 month clothing Tamra picked out for her swallowed her up!

Tamra and Shane fell in love with this little girl immediately; yet, they were realistic about foster care as they had just experienced a long journey with their son.  At their very first team meeting, they were asked if they would consider adoption of her!  They were so surprised and felt incredibly blessed!  Their adoption was finalized in 2004.

Their daughter has had some challenges.  She is autistic and has a seizure disorder, but she is an amazing joy in their lives.  They feel so blessed to call her their daughter.  Life would not be the same without her “sassyness” and her personality.  She has made great strides and they have great hope for her continued progress and well-being.

Tamra and Shane want those who are considering foster care and adoption to know that you have to give the children your all.  Foster parents have the opportunities to help set the foundations for these children that can last a life-time.  It is a risk and you can get hurt, but the impact you can make on the lives of children is worth it.  Perseverance, consistency, stability, advocacy, and trusting your knowledge about the kids you are caring for are attributes that Tamra and Shane feel are necessary when fostering children.

They believe that the Lord had His hand in forming their family through foster care and adoption.  Tamra and Shane do not regret a single thing and feel extremely blessed to call their children their own.  Their greatest joy is raising the children, witnessing their triumphs, and experiencing life that is free from abuse and neglect.  

In Tamra’s words “Adoption is a beautiful thing!”

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28