Raising Royal Kids

My son's version of a kid wearing a crown!
My son’s version of a kid wearing a crown!

Walking by the magazine aisle in the grocery story, I noticed a headline that claimed “Raising a Royal Baby”.  The article was apparently about the expectant royal couple William and Kate.  I thought how interesting, exciting, yet difficult it would be to raise a “royal” child.

All the eyes of the world would be on you.  If your children struggled with behavioral problems or other issues, what kind of attention would that draw?  The initial thought of being someone of royalty sounds quite intriguing, but, to be under the constant scrutiny would be tough.  Parenting is a hard enough job without having the eyes of the world watching your every move.

Tonight would not have been a good “parenting through the lens of the camera” moment for me.  Busy streets, long lines, and two very hyper, and slightly defiant, children pushing every boundary possible in the store, was enough to diminish the “merry-ness” of the last-minute Christmas shopping trip.  Thoughts of “I’m gonna wring their little necks!” ran through my mind all while I was smiling through my pseudo-calm words of “If you continue this behavior, we will have to leave the store.”

Reflecting back on the magazine cover I saw, it hit me that we are all raising royal children.  As a believer in Christ the King, I know my children are His.  This means that I am raising royal children!  What a wonderful, and challenging thought!

The next time I get a little….um….frustrated with my little ones while out and about, I need to remind myself that I am raising children of the King.  Now that should humble and refine me a bit!  That should remind me of the importance of striving to always grow as a parent, to learn more about what works and doesn’t work, and to remember that I too am a child of the King.

Letter of Love

photo (33)I’ve known my husband since we were in our early to mid twenties.  We’ve been a couple for about 19 of the 21 years we’ve known each other.  He’s traversed the valley of infertility with me, jumped right in to foster parenting classes, stayed up late at night to feed the babies, and drove our car with extra care while on our way to our adoption hearings.  We’ve basically grown up together in many ways, and parenting continues to grow us.

It was about 4 years ago when we went through a difficult time with employment.  My husband lost a job just a few weeks before our adoption hearing.  I was quite shocked that a company would let someone go right before an adoption, but never-the-less, our adoption happened.  Several months passed by with no potential employment doors opening for my husband.

As Christmas came around, I could tell that he was worried about what to get me.  It didn’t really matter to me anyway as I knew finances were tight, and I had been given the most amazing gift of my sweet boy through adoption.  I was so thankful to be a mother, and to be able to wake up each morning with the knowledge that my life had been drastically and blessedly changed by motherhood.

We really don’t make a big deal out of presents for each other.  Instead, we enjoy giving gifts to others, and that year, we were so excited to see our son’s expression when he woke up.  As the morning progressed, we headed into the hearth room where our stockings are hung by the chimney.

As I reached my hand into my stocking, I felt a piece of paper.  I pulled out a letter (the one pictured above), and had no idea what in the world it was.  As I unfolded it and started reading, I realized it was a love letter.  It was not one of those “I’ve got a crush on you” kind of notes one may get in high school.  No, this was a love letter from a man to a woman.  It was a letter from his heart to mine. It was a letter of one’s humble admission of loving someone else more than that person would ever know.

There I was sitting half-disheveled in my pajama’s with tears rolling down my cheeks clutching a letter.  All of this occurred while my curly-haired 2-year-old squealed with the delights of Christmas morning.  My husband sat there a little embarrassed and a little stoic.  This letter was the best Christmas present I ever received.  From time to time, I pull the letter out and read it as a reminder of how special marriage is, and how lucky I am to have married someone who is one of the most self-less persons that I know.

This morning while thinking about the gift of that letter on Christmas morning, I thought of the love letter that the Lord has written for us.  Scripture really is our love letter from Him.  It is the grounding wisdom of our history, the guide for our every day walk, and the revelation of our future.  It is His promise skillfully described.

The Word brings life, love, and meaning.  The Word transforms us, shapes us, comforts us, and humbles us.  The Word creates for us the ability to stand firm in our faithful knowledge of the Lord, and it confirms to us how incredibly passionate our Heavenly Father loves each of us.

The Word is Love.

The next  time you need to be reminded of how loved you are, open your Bible and read the Lord’s letter of love written for all of us.

Related Article: Letter to my Lord

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!

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~

Isaiah 1:17 – defending the cause

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. – Isaiah 1:17

Couldn’t be more clear!  I love this verse and hope that I will pass along these directives to my children through words and actions.  I fear believers in Christ sometimes judge the oppressed, forget the orphans, and disregard widows.  Doing so bleeds right into injustice and does not show the goodness that is found in a Christ-filled life.

In my opinion, this verse speaks the essence of Christianity and the belief in a loving Heavenly Father who will always be the Father to the fatherless.

Have a beautiful Sunday!

A Blessing from Above

A Blessing From Above is probably one of the Little Golden Books that is not well-known.  It is a sweet story of adoption and a fantastic way to introduce the idea of adoption to young children.

Written by an adoptive mother, it tells the story of a Kangaroo who prayed for a baby.  While under a tree, a baby bird fell out of its nest and landed right in her pouch.  I looked all over for it in various bookstores and finally settled on ordering it from Amazon.  I’m so glad that I did because I have read it several times to my children.

Recently when reading it to my son, we came to the part of the story that talks about how the mama bird noticed she had too many babies in her nest and decided to give the baby bird to the kangaroo.  My son stopped and said “Wait!  So….she gave her baby away?”  I sat there for a second trying to read his expression.  It appeared that he was not just asking a simple question about the story, but processing it as well.

I said to him, “Well, she decided that she could not give the baby bird all the attention that he needed and when she saw how much he was loved by the mama Kangaroo, she decided to let him stay with her.”  I do not know if I answered it the right way or not, but he seemed okay with the answer.  We finished the book, put it back on the shelf, and he returned to his usual routine of playing with Legos.

I have found it a little difficult to fully explain my children’s whole stories to them.  This book helps in some way to promote positive feelings about adoption, but I have not been able to find a book suitable for young children that helps them understand foster care adoption.  The truth is that both of my children were taken from their birth mothers involuntary for reasons of serious safety concerns and other issues.  Their stories are not as easy to explain.

They did not just fall out of an overcrowded nest.  Their birth mothers did not choose us as their parents.  My son’s birth mother did sign away her rights voluntarily, but only after nearly 12 months of efforts to get him back.  She did say that if she could not have him, she only wanted us to have him.  But still…it is not the same.  My daughter’s birth mother never made one effort to be reunified with her baby girl due to instability and other factors.  It is hard to put drug abuse, chaotic home environments, and instability into kid friendly terms.

I have heard of books for older children adopted out of foster care, but none for young children who were taken into care as newborns and placed with the families they eventually were adopted by.  All of this being said, I still do love A Blessing from Above, and have suggested it to numerous foster/adoptive families.  It speaks of the goodness of adoption, of the love of birth mothers and adoptive mothers, and of the ultimate blessing that comes only from above.

Do you know of any children’s books that talk about foster care and foster/adoption?  If so, please let me know!  

Barren to Blessed (meaning behind the name)

The first night I started this blog, I had no idea really what the heck I was doing.  I just felt the urge to write.  It started when I began to journal about my hysterectomy a few years ago.  I guess I held so much in over the past 25+ years that once I started writing, there was not an end in sight.  I do not want to stop.  Writing is therapeutic, and each time I write, I learn from it.  I am pretty sure most bloggers can relate to this.

I know I am not the best writer and often make grammatical mistakes, but writing is not about perfection anyway (at least in my opinion).  Writing, like life, has moments of grit, sorrow, heroism, and laughter.  Writing has given voice to the imperfections of my life and to the yearning to be understood in the world.  Writing releases the words my heart wants to say.

I have to be honest, I really did not spend a lot of time coming up with my blog name.  Growing up knowing I would not be able to have biological children caused me to think of my barren self as being cursed.  I do not mean cursed in the witch-crafty, voodoo kind of way necessarily; although I wondered that from time to time soon after it happened. For whatever reason I felt that I was intentionally blocked from having a “normal” life.  Of course, now that I am an adult, I do not know of anyone who has had a “normal” life.

Adding children to my life has given me a taste of living a life outside of my own.  Parenting children continues to bring meaning and sense to life and the things that have happened.  But, the meaning behind my blog name is more than just about the children.  I walked a long and difficult road to see the Lord for who He is in my life.  I was void (barren) of listening to His will, reading His word, and leaning on His hope.  I did not see a purpose for what happened.  I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel…until I saw the Light that is Him.

The Lord was calling me back to Him long before I even gave a thought about becoming a foster/adoptive parent.  My blog name obviously represents the blessings that come from children.  If my life ended up without children, there would have been sadness of course.  I know that.  However, I also know that life in Christ is a life worth living and for that I am truly blessed.

Distractions, Distractions

Wow!  I have been really distracted this week.  My daughter has been a real pistol lately (okay she’s almost four, so I’ll give her a break), my son’s allergies appear to be creeping him closer to bronchitis despite the medications and various attempts to keep him healthy, a situation involving an extended family member has filled me with concern, my job is busy, my husband’s job is busy (he too works in child welfare), and, well, the toaster caught on fire.  I’m talking flames shooting out of it heading right towards our cabinets.  What does the toaster catching on fire have to do with all of this?  We were distracted!

Here’s a picture of the toaster that got a little toasted itself this week!

While toasting taco shells for dinner, we got busy talking and stopped paying attention to the toaster oven.  One of the shells fell to the bottom somehow and caught on fire.  I frantically opened the toaster door which added air to the fire which then caused the flames to shoot up over it right towards our cabinets.  Clearly, the training I have had in how to put out fires did not even register!  My husband quickly grabbed the oven, ran outside, threw it on the ground, and poured water over it.  Within a few seconds, the smoke alarm was going off, my children were screaming, and the kitchen and hearth room were full of smoke….which of course, has added to the challenge of keeping my son’s bronchial issues minimal this time of year.

It was not a major fire or anything like that, but that brief moment of not paying attention could have turned into something far worse.  The smell of thick smoke stayed with us throughout the evening despite our attempts at clearing out the air in the house.  Since this happened, I have been thinking about the variety of distractions I have in life that often cause me to lose sight at times of my relationship with the Lord.

Work, laundry, children, parents, husband, more laundry, errands, and of course, laundry – these are all components that fill up my days, my thoughts, and my responsibilities.  I usually do not even realize how distracted I have become until I am at church and focus only on Him.  It is like an “ahh” and “aha” moment every Sunday morning.  I sit there thinking only of my faith in the Lord, my hope in Him, my walk with Him, and that Glorious Day when He returns.  But then, as the sun sets on Sunday, the laundry basket starts looking more like a laundry tower, the kids start yearning for me as they know the weekend is coming to an end, and I start thinking about all that will be required of me throughout the work week.

I do not want to sound like I am complaining.  I feel 100% blessed to have the opportunity and ability to work, to have a home to clean, to have children to bathe, to have a husband, and to have errands to run.  I see all of these things as gifts and do not want to take them for granted.  Life is just busy.

However, I still keep thinking about the fire in the toaster.  How many times have I come close to stepping into a fiery situation because of taking my eyes off of the Lord?  How close have I come to being burned because of my distractions?  Like the smell of smoke that lingered, how has the residue of sin lingered in my life?

The Scripture verse I am drawn to when thinking about this is Matthew 6:25-34.  The lessons I take from these verses is not to worry.  However, as I think further, I realize that distractions in life can sometimes be based on worry.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I take away from this the reminder that the Lord is never so distracted that He fails to meet our needs.  He keeps His eyes on us all of the time.  He will never be too sidetracked by our busy schedules, or overflowing laundry baskets, or screaming children, to meet us where we are.  He will provide for us even though we are frantically trying to provide for ourselves.

I think it is funny how the Lord used a burning toaster and some very over-cooked taco shells to bring me back to thoughts of Him.  Thank you Lord for your sense of humor!  I pray the only real distractions I have are ones that always point me right back to Christ.

Forgiven

The picture on the right is of a ring I wear nearly every day.  Besides my wedding ring and a necklace with the names of my children engraved on it, this ring is about the only consistent piece of jewelry I wear.  The word forgiven is engraved into the ring and serves as a gentle reminder to me that nothing else matters really except for the forgiveness and life I have in Christ.

On the inside of the ring, Eph. 1:7 is engraved.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.  Ephesians 1:7

Sometimes, I think about things I have done in the past and the struggle even now to live a life that models Christ to others.  I get caught up in wondering whether or not I’m “good enough” for the Lord.  Truthfully, I’m not good enough for Him.  No one is.

Often, my human desires get in the way of keeping my eyes, mind, and heart focused on Heavenly intentions.  I set goals that will enhance my walk with the Lord, but then fall short of completing them.  I get up every day saying and praying that I would act in ways pleasing to Him and that the love of Christ would show through my actions.  Then….life happens.  I get upset about something, or make a snap judgement about a situation, or not offer the same amount of grace that the Lord has given me over and over again, and that feeling of failing the Lord sinks in.

During these moments, I look down at my ring and see FORGIVEN.  It serves as a quiet reminder to me that He has already chosen His grace over my flaws.  He loves me despite all the messes I have made and will make until the day my eyes look upon Him.  I am already forgiven for things of the past and the times I acted as if I did not know Him.  Nothing will change the mighty forgiveness of the Lord.

His love is unfailing, His blood is redeeming, His mercy is miraculous, and His forgiveness is forever.