Thursday, November 27, 2014

Here's what I'm thankful for today.....

We are at the beach with my husband's whole family. 
We had a pretty rough couple of days leading up to this vacation. Lots of chaos. By the time we started packing on Friday night we were pretty exhausted. We were planning to pack, load our borrowed car, put the kids to bed, and then wake up at 2:30am to leave by 3am
After a long day I was overwhelmed at the thought of packing for the 6 kids and myself for 2 weeks, so I decided to make myself a smoothie before I got going. (Stalling :)
I had the blender full to the brim and running...I was helping things a long with a spoon....and then I pushed the spoon down too hit the blades and there was a smoothie explosion. 
Dave was walking toward me when it happened and he got to witness my smoothie shower. It was EVERYWHERE. The ceiling, the whole floor, the cabinets, my hair, and dripping down my face. 
We laughed until I cried :)
By the time the kitchen was finally clean we were way behind schedule. 

Before I knew it my friend showed up to come and get our mama cat and her 6 kittens to take care of them for the 2 weeks we were gone. 
We gave her all the instructions and the kids said their sad goodbyes. 

We had finally started making some progress with the packing- amidst 6 hyper, excited children running around, teasing each other, fighting, giving too many opinions on what goes and what stays- when my friend texted and asked me to call her. 
I walked back to my bedroom and called to see what she needed. 
She was crying. 
She could hardly get out what she was trying to say.....she had gotten home....her boyfriend had opened the car door before she was ready....mama cat jumped out....and ran into the street....right as a car was coming....she was killed. 

I could not believe it. The 2 1/2 week old kittens were now orphans. They still needed milk. How do we tell our kids?!?! They loved that cat so dearly!

Amidst sobbing and sadness we made the decision to go get the babies. My kids were begging me to bring them back so that they could see that at least the kittens were ok. 
I drove off to go meet my friend. 

She was a wreck. She was sobbing as well. She couldn't stop shaking and crying. I felt so bad for her!! I held her while she cried and kept telling her that it was ok. We were ok and it was not her fault!!!

She asked how we could possibly be ok, so I shared my faith with her and my belief that all things are in God's hands. No matter what. 

When I got home the kids were still crying and so glad to see the kittens. Shaeya begged me to let her bring them with us on the trip. 
I looked at her...her heart broken...she was asking how she was going to be able to take care of them and give them what they need...
My mama heart was moved by her pain. 
I put my arms around her and told her we would bring them. 
I said, "Baby, you are not alone in this. I love you so much and I am right here with you. I am on your team. We will work together and give them what they need. We won't care what anyone else on the trip thinks about us bringing them because this is about you and me and them and no one else. It's gonna be ok. Got it? It's ok."

We wiped our tears, pulled ourselves together, and started packing up the kittens and packing the rest of the car. 
There was no way the kids were going to sleep at that point so we finished packing and got straight into the car. 

It was midnight by the time we pulled out. Dave and I, 6 kids, and 6 kittens with a 14 hour drive ahead of us. 

I took over driving around 4am. By that time everyone in the car was asleep. It was just me in the dark silence on an empty highway. 
It was finally my time to talk to my Dad. 
I told Him how overwhelmed I was. I told Him how hard it was to do everything required of me. I told Him how I was struggling to love our foster child. How I was worried about Neiko's bad behavior and how our family would appear to everyone else on this trip. I was worried our chaos would turn people away from us. Concerned that I was forgetting something we would need.

And clear as day my heart heard Him say....
"Everything you said to your daughter tonight when her heart was breaking is everything I'm saying to you now. I feel the exact same way about you. 
I love you. 
I'm proud of you. 
I'm on your team. 
I'm with you. 
This is not all on you- we are in this together. The two of us together and it doesn't matter what other people think. You are not alone in this- I am right here with you and I am helping you."

And my heart soared. The pain and chaos and worries of the last few days melted away.....

And THAT is what I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving. This year- more than any other year of my life- I am so aware of His presence, His nearness, the way He sees me, the love He has for me, the trustworthiness of His plans for me, His faithfulness, His goodness, His provision, His grace for my failures, and His help. 
He is such a good, good Father and my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. 
Praying we know Him more and more in the coming year, and that we live with thankful hearts grounded in the truth of Who He is in every moment. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I'd like to come out of hibernation to tell you a story. A story about a little girl, her mom, their Father, and her.....ok, I don't know what to call myself in this story, but it's not really about me anyway.....

It all started with my sister saying 'yes'. Yes to taking in a 2yr old little girl- KaLeigh- who needed a temporary home. 
She stole all of our hearts in the almost 3 months she was in the family, and when it looked like she was going to need a forever family, Dave and I said yes. 
I had 8 weeks to wait and see. 8 weeks of wondering if she would be mine. 8 weeks of trying not to get my heart too filled up with the idea of being her mom, and asking Jesus to lead the way and point the way to what He was doing. 
And in that time He spoke to me. One of those amazing, life changing moments when His voice is clear and powerful and water in the desert. 
Exodus 23:20-33
He told me He is giving me the desires of my heart, but at the pace that He knows I can handle. 
Such precious words to a weak, small minded daughter. 
And I told Him that I trusted Him, and His Word would be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 

And then, just when it looked like we would be taking this precious girl through the transition from my sister's home to ours, there was a glitch. 
Some lost evidence and a court hearing and little KaLeigh was abruptly sent back home. 

Our hearts were broken. My sister and I cried many tears over this brokenness and pain and loss. Little one who had finally adjusted to routine and love and physical needs being met was back in chaos, neglect, filth, second hand smoke, sex offenders, poor diet, rotting teeth, up all night and sleep all day...

And I was angry with God. I pleaded with Him. I poured out my confusion, my anger, my doubt. 
How was He good in this?
What about His promises to love and care for His sheep? What about my willingness to change everything for this little one?

And He spoke to me again. 
Isaiah 55:8-13
He told me He knows what He's doing. And His thoughts, His ways of accomplishing His will were much bigger than I could comprehend. What I see is just one small piece of a huge and intricate puzzle. 
Once again I told Him I trusted Him. 
And I also told Him that if there was anyway I could find her or visit her I would. If I could help the family I would. If I could speak of Him to them I would. 
I asked for this. The impossible. 
And I thought that was the end. 

A couple of weeks later my sister had a voice mail left on her phone from KaLeigh's mom inviting her back into KaLeigh's life. 
And when my sister mentioned the voice mail to me, I KNEW. It was for me. It was a one in a million chance connect with KaLeigh and her family. 
She gave me the phone number and I talked with Jesus about it for a few days. 
KaLeigh's mom was not going to know me, and I was going to be asking if I could be the one invited in to their lives instead of my sister.  
I asked Jesus to please pave the way!!

And He did! 
KaLeigh's mom was happy to hear from Amy's sister, and said yes. Yes I could be in their lives, yes I could visit, yes I could be as involved as I wanted.

Only Jesus. Only thoughts higher than ours. Only ways different than ours. 
Sweet miracle worker doing what He does best. Oh how I love Him!!!

But the first time I visited I was shaken. It was worse than I imagined. Bad. Ugly. Scary. Unlike anything I had seen before. In a neighborhood I would never ever normally find myself in. 
The sex offender who was not supposed to be staying there was there. And he was just waking up for the day. KaLeigh was still sleeping and it was almost lunch time. My stomach lurched. 
I had a long conversation with K's mom as we got to know each other, and she said I could have as much time with K as I would like. 
I ended up taking her home with me for the night.
Mom said to keep her as long as you want.
She didn't know I wanted forever. 

Fast forward through more visits. More getting to know everyone. More heartache at home situation. 
And one especially awful night with K at our house coughing and wheezing and throwing up- which I believed was a result of living in so much second hand smoke- and crying over pain from rotted teeth. 
More of my crying out to Jesus. 
And my secret hope that mom would be turned in to DCFS again....or arrested....or something. 

And now here we are at last week. 
I was handed a card at church to give away. An invitation to 'Back to Church Sunday.'
It turned in my heart to invite K's mom, but I pushed it away. 
Until Dave mentioned it too. 
He was right. I should invite her. She lives close to our church and had mentioned wanting to come visit sometime. 

And to my surprise she accepted the invitation! 
So, the next Sunday morning I dropped my family off at church and then drove to go get them.
K's mom sat beside me during the service and had tears streaming down her face the entire time. 
I could feel her soaking Him in and Him pouring into her and filling her in a way she hadn't been filled before. 
And when Pastor asked if anyone wanted to come forward and open their lives to Jesus, I knew. 
She waited, quietly watching while others went forward and then when Pastor gave one final invitation she was up and moving forward. I followed her and wrapped my arms around her and we cried together. 
Sweet Jesus once again doing above and beyond what we could ever think or imagine. 
From the first day I met K, to the day I thought she would be mine, and then the day she was abruptly returned home, and my first visit to their home so shockingly broken, I could've never dreamed all of this up!
My heart was so focused on saving K while His heart was wanting to save so much more. 
So much more. And only a small part of which are these His three daughters. Saving one from abuse and neglect, one from the grip of the world, and one from her narrow minded, judgmental, uncompassionate heart. 

I took K's mom to meet with our Pastor on Tuesday and then to church on Wednesday night. 
She is so hungry for the truth. She is soaking it up, asking tons of questions, and she read through the whole book of John in one night. 
She is seeing things differently and anxious to learn more. 
And then there's me. Loving K. Watching her, holding her, praying for her.
And my heart is heavy. 
Oh my heart! 
Jesus, deal with this heart!!!
This heart that has to go from seeing her mom as the problem to seeing her as a sister in Christ. 
She is a believer, but still doesn't know how to take care of her child. K still lives in smoke, still has rotting teeth, still eats only junk food, still stays up all night and sleeps all day....
And the mama in me wants to be angry and judgmental and still hopes to have K as mine someday.
Help me, Jesus!! 
It was more comfortable when I didn't think I had to really love her mom. It was easier when she wasn't sitting next to me in church.
And yet I know I wasn't called to 'easy' or 'comfortable'. 
And I know now that the best thing I can do is to let Jesus love K's mom through me. And let Him teach her how to love and care for KaLeigh through me.
A changed mom means a changed family. 
And Jesus can turn everything around. 

He is whispering that He's not done yet. He tells me to watch and see what He will do. He can heal blind eyes and hard hearts and He is making all things new.

Jesus, change me. Help me to stop ever thinking that I know best. Help me to stay right where you are- not a step ahead and not a step behind. 
Just right with You. 

The end of Isaiah 55 says this-
"Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." 

I believe it for KaLeigh. 
And it is all pointing to Jesus. 
For the fame of His name, for an everlasting sign. 
It is so much bigger than me. Or KaLeigh. Or her mom. It is HIM. 
It will always be HIM. His plans are bigger. His eternal perspective so much clearer. His love so much purer. 
His grace so much deeper. 

Father, have Your way, and glorify Yourself in us all.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

So we have been a bit swallowed up in life over much going on......I'm sad that I've let the blog slip!

Here is my quick catch up!

-guess we are going to be on TV :)
we start filming 9 more episodes in just a few days......crazy.....and one episode will be filmed at our house. Praying that we will be drawing from Jesus and not from the world, and that we will show His love and His heart TO the world.

Lake Life is ours in case there was any question...;)

-our kids are growing and changing so quickly!  They keep me very busy and they are my DELIGHT.  Love them so dearly!!! Tyden will be 13 in September!!! Shaeya is 10, Tekoa is 7, Wren is 5, and Neiko will be 4 in July.

-we have 13 cats.  no joke.  13.  Remember the days when I couldn't even keep ONE alive??
Haha we have learned a very important life lesson over here about getting cats fixed!! Both our cats had kittens, so we have 2 litters at once.  11 kittens.
You all know I am not an animal lover, but these kittens are awfully cute.....and they keep my kiddos very busy. :)
They will be up for grabs at the end of July so let me know if you want one! They are well loved!

Oh the beauty of loving another's as your own ;)

-while all my kids were at school this past year I started getting very immersed in worship and worship leading.  At home, at church, my aunt's church, and the Greater Peoria House of Prayer.
I've been on a journey with Jesus as He has been teaching me what it means be a worship leader and teaching me to drop the "performance mentality" that I have always struggled with.  He is so merciful and kind!!!
And I also learned how to play piano and Jesus blessed me with a beautiful Yamaha Keyboard.

                  House of Prayer

-we were so blessed a few months ago to have a beautiful foster baby named Kaylee for a week and a half.
she was a super sweet little 5 pound angel whom we had a very hard time letting go of!
Having her here has sparked a desire in us for more orphan care.

We were close to being given that opportunity with another Ka'Leigh and we were praying that she would end up in our home.  (This mamma was already dreaming of loving her and showing Jesus to her.)  And then there was a court case and some evidence was lost and she went back home to birth mom.  An unsafe home.
I am still praying and still believing that with God all things are possible.  Pray with us for Ka'Leigh! She will more than likely be removed again at some point and we are praying it will be sooner than later and that somehow she could end up here.

-Dave and I are feeling so blessed.  Full to overflowing.  Every day is a new adventure and we never know what's around the corner.  Our Father is so good and He is so trustworthy.  He is teaching us to let go of our sense of control and to let Him lead.  And He is so gracious to show us how, lead us, and help us.

We will be celebrating our 14th anniversary next month and we are so thankful for how far God has brought us.  He is so good.  :)

       I love this pic! A day in the life of him!!!      

                                                   Working at the church :)

Always getting my hair done! :)

Love these crazy kids!

Sunday School!

Monday, May 12, 2014

I've been thinking and praying about the 'bread of life' lately because we started studying the book of John at church. Thinking about the state of being hungry and the state of being full.
And this morning I felt the Lord speaking to me about my marriage and how the same truths of hunger and fullness also apply in this area.
I realize that when I am hungry at home I soak my husband in. I can't get enough of who he is and what he does. And even the friction from our differing personalities seems to be smoothed over and made beautiful.
It sets the tone for so much peace and joy in our home. It flows over onto our children and our friends and so many other areas in our lives...

And then I have times when my husband is not the main course for me at home but just another side dish.
I let life creep in and fill me.
Children, extended family, friendships, ministry, wants, my needs, my view, my goals, my comfort....
When I am filled to the brim with all of the above, then I have no appetite left for my husband. Every little extra thing he needs or asks is an annoyance.
I get critical of his actions and even his attempts to fill me.
Because I am already full.
Even the best meal is rejected because I can't possibly fit any more in. I only want to be left alone with my fullness....
And that spills over onto our children and into every other area of life too.
The joy in our home is gone and we are left with keeping up appearances and striving harder than we were ever meant to.

So here's the thing- when I'm seeking first and only the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, when my desire is to make His name great and my name small, when I'm emptied of my love for myself and full of Jesus' love for me, and the walls are down, lies replaced with the Word, and I'm walking forgiveness- then I am so very hungry for Jesus and for the incredible man He has given me to make me more like Him.
And every other thing takes it's rightful place as just another side dish.

"One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet." Proverbs 27:7

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My sister and I were having a conversation yesterday about orphan care. We were sharing the challenges and the beauty....but what stuck with me was the confession of the hard. The hard places it sometimes brings us to. The ugliness it can reveal from within.

And for the first time in my life I feel freedom to reveal the ugly.
I'm so thankful for that freedom. I'm so thankful for the Word of God which has been showing me that I am not defined by what I do or don't do.
I spent so many years trying to protect myself from feeling 'less than' by performing perfectly and not showing any of my flaws.
When I don't understand that I am loved despite what I do, I hide behind a wall of self-defense.
And I have learned that I am called to something much greater than all of this hiding.

There is such freedom and beauty in confessing the hard. Talking about the ugly. Especially with the One who desires to use it as an avenue to bring about repentance, dependence, and gratefulness.
I'm learning that I can hand Him everything- the beautiful moments and the moments that come from something broken in me.
He wastes nothing. He orchestrates every moment. He leads me into the hard and straight into the ugly and He is wanting me to worship Him through it.

But it is in those moments when I stumble and fall that my flesh wants to shrink back. I want to find a dark, solitary place to put my own bandage over my shame.
And my Papa actually desires to stay close to me.
He wants to pick me up so He can wash the scrapes and cuts.
He knows there has to be a washing first to prevent infection and scars, and that it hurts, it's humbling, but it is followed by healing.
And He is asking me to stay right with Him in the light during that painful washing. To keep our relationship in the truth of who He is. He wants me to be in the heat of His presence, in the pain of the pruning. To stay faithful through the intense filing down of my flesh.
To remain, endure, persist.
To not withdraw into myself.

He desires repentance from me. It is beautiful to Him. And learning to own up to and hand Him the ugly, and then to allow Him to help me turn from it is life changing for me. The thought of it makes me breathe a little freer and fills my heart with gratitude for His amazing love.
And then gratitude for the circumstances that reveal my inadequacies...
Thankfulness for the child whose behavior shows that he needs a bigger love than I am capable of giving in and of myself. Thankfulness for the messy days of motherhood and marriage.

And I'm learning that sometimes it's in those moments after the scrapes have been washed clean that He gives me the grace to let Him hold me the closest.
No, I am not defined by my performance....but I'm either taken deeper into Him or deeper into myself by my response to it....

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything."
John 15:5

Friday, April 25, 2014

Last night Neiko wrapped his arms around me and whispered, "you're the best mom I ever had."
And my sweet boy has no idea what he is actually saying to me....
I smile.
I think about his first mom, the mom whose body bore him and whose features are reflected in his face....
I think of her, and I am well aware that the only difference between her and I is the gift of Jesus' righteousness and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
And so out of gratitude- gratitude for that imputed righteousness and gratitude for perfect gifts- I lift up my hands.
I raise my hands and my heart to the Best Father I ever had.
The one who brought in an orphan girl, washed her with His Word, covered her with His robe, gave her His Name, and is preparing a home for her.
He changed the whole course of her life, and changed her orphan heart to that of a chosen and beloved daughter.
And I am so very humbled and honored to be the one who through God's grace gets to reflect all of THAT to my son.
By ways and thoughts much higher than my own, that former orphan boy now has my name and my home and my heart forever.
I get to be the best mom pointing the way to the Best Father.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.
Because I live, you also will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." John 14:18-20

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."
John 14:18

When we believe lies about who God is, there is always a consequence.
And a long time ago, there was a girl who agreed with the lie that she was alone.  That her Father, who was supposed to be with her always, had somehow wandered away at a critical time.  She needed Him, and she prayed and prayed for Him to come and step in.  She pleaded with Him to save her from darkness- and He didn't.  The enemy seemed so powerful, and so present.  Her Savior seemed to be absent...
And she believed that she was alone and that she had to fend for herself.

She let that lie settle and find its home in her heart.  She tucked it away and covered it up with life.
And as she grew older, she didn't really understand that she carried that lie, that orphan heart around with her.
But she believed, deep down, that although she loved and trusted God, when it came down to it, she had to make things happen when He didn't.

She ended up with children of her own.
She loved them and treasured them.
And her heart pricked her as she called God her Father- and yet felt the difference in her beliefs that didn't line up with the fierce, fighting love she felt for her children.
As she taught her children to trust her, she felt her lack of trust in Him.
She heard herself speaking to her children,

"You just have to trust me.  You have to believe that I know what is best.  It might not always feel like I am on your side, but I am.  I see the big picture when you don't.  Just trust me."

And she knew that she was teaching something that she wasn't truly believing...

She was then given a child who was truly an orphan.  A broken little boy who also believed that he was alone and abandoned.  He too believed that he had to fend for himself.
And she jumped right in and expected to love away his broken, orphan heart.
She expected to fill the hole his first parents had left.
She expected to lead him into the perfect Father's love.
And as one year led to two and then three, she saw that she was powerless to heal his heart.  That the hurting little boy was going to fend for himself and do what he thought best no matter what she did.  No matter how many times she told him and showed him he could trust her.
So she prayed and prayed for him.  She sought the true Father for healing.

And then- in His goodness and kindness and mercy, in His faithfulness and his graciousness- He spoke to her.

"You can't lead someone somewhere you haven't been...." 

And she knew it was true........and it was time.
As she lay awake in bed one night, she opened that hidden place up to Him.  She gave it to Him in all of it's ugliness.
And the ugliness didn't surprise Him or repulse Him like she thought it would- He already knew that it was there.  It was never hidden from Him.
"For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."
He asked her to ask Him for the truth of where He was at that time when she thought she was alone and forsaken.
And she was terrified to ask.
But she did.
And the picture He gave her blew her mind and blew through her heart and has left her forever changed.
Her Jesus was there.
Not only with her, but with His body wrapped around hers in fierce protection.
The saw very essence and origin of that fighting love that she felt for her own children.

And you can tell her that she's a little crazy. :) You can tell her that He doesn't work or speak that way.  And she will tell you this-

I have seen it for myself.

"Now to Him who is able to do exceeding and abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the church both now and forever..."

And now that broken little boy and I, we still have our struggles.
But there is a confidence in Jesus' fighting love and care for us both that changes things.
It changes helplessness to hopefulness.
It changes doubt to belief.

And we have so much farther to go, and so much more to learn, but I know Jesus holds it all in His hands.
And He will continue to show us the way as we grow in our understanding of Who He is and grow in our trust in His care and in His unfailing love....

"When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is He who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I stopped by my kids' school today to drop something off, and as I was leaving, I noticed that the first graders were all lined up and ready to test out the paper airplanes they had made.
I stopped to watch.
On the count of "three" they released the airplanes......and Tekoa's plane didn't fly. It flopped down at her feet.
Her shoulders slumped and she had that "I'm about to fall to pieces" look on her face.
And the mommy in me couldn't hold back.
I walked over to her and scooped her up in my arms. I carried her to a chair, we sat, and she melted. Sobbing.
The teacher's aide came over and whispered, "she's had a rough day."
Which pulled at me even more.
We sat like that until the students were called back to the classroom.
I carried her into her classroom and sat down at her desk- with her body still wrapped around mine.
Her teacher told the students to get out their handwriting pages and to get to work on them.
When I heard "handwriting" my heart pulled yet again, as I knew that was her least favorite subject. I knew that, unlike my other children, my Tekoa gets overwhelmed easily by a big task. And handwriting especially- because of the length of time it takes her, and the amount of writing to be done on each page.
So, I turned her around, pulled out the page, and set it in front of her.  She wiped her tears, and without even looking at me she started right in.
No complaining, no thinking about the enormity of the task in her six year old eyes. She started in on the slow process of forming each letter. Lines and curves making letters, making words.
When her lines weren't straight, she erased them and started again. No sighs, no frustration, just pure focus on the task at hand.
Every now and then I would whisper in her ear, "good job." "nice work." "keep going." And she did. Through the whole page.
She did her very best work, because her mom was with her. Her mom was watching every stroke of her pencil. That was all that mattered- the presence of her mother. Mom was in Tekoa's world- at her level, in her classroom, and sitting with her at her desk.
The failure was forgotten, and the huge task ahead was not so intimidating anymore.
It changed everything.

And as for me, I was mesmerized.
I was with her, silently cheering her on. I was watching every line and every curve. And there was nowhere else in the world I would have rather been than in that moment with my daughter.
The slanted lines didn't make me cringe, they drew me in. I knew she would correct them, because she knew I was watching.
The amount of time it took her to complete the page didn't bother me either, because I know that for her, at six years old, this is all that she is capable of. I have no doubt that next year she will be flying through a page like that. But this year, she is only six and she needs more time and more practice.
I'm not concerned, because in my mind, it was just yesterday that she was taking her first steps and forming her first words.
She has come so far from the helpless baby I changed, fed, and held.
I remember how much I loved gazing into those big blue eyes as I nursed her.  She would smile at me, and the milk would run down her sweet chin.
Those same big blue eyes are the ones that now fill up with tears at a failed paper airplane, and they are the same big blue eyes that will look at me with excitement when I someday hand her the car keys.
It will happen too fast, but I will be there through it all. Rooting her on. Being with her on her good days and in the trenches with her on her bad days.
It is my joy, it is my pleasure, because I love her. She is part of me.
She has captured my heart through her very existence and she doesn't even have to try to draw me in.
I'm drawn, I'm captivated, I'm forever with her.
Because she is my daughter.

Thank you, Lord, for being the author of that fierce parental love that doesn't hold back. Thank you for being my Father, making me your daughter, and for being right with me in all things.
The understanding of Your love for me, and the knowledge of Your presence in my life changes everything.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

1 Corinthians 10:3-5
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."

I do believe I have read those verses many times in my walk with Jesus.  And at this point I cannot even remember what I used to think when I read them.  
Over the last few months though, these words have come ALIVE.  Very literally alive.
Tearing down fortresses.  Destroying speculations.  Obliterating what we have held higher than the knowledge of God.  Teaching us that through Him we actually can take every thought captive.  
And He has so much work yet to do!!!

My blog silence has stemmed from this inability to put it all into neat and tidy words.....

You see, I thought we were ok.  I thought we were actually doing quite well, honestly.  Just a normal family dealing with the normal family issues.  We were trying very hard, and using all of our willpower to do everything right.  And more often then not, at the end of the day, I thought we came out ok.  

And then our eyes were opened.  He is so good like that.  
What we thought was good enough, He told us was not even close to what He had in mind for us.  
We had moved our aim.
We were shooting our arrows at "close enough" and "better than last year" and not at "PERFECTION in Jesus Christ."

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."

"you are not your own....."

We are a family under reconstruction.  And we are not the ones in charge.   
This mama is not even sure which end is up most days.  
Please bear with us as He teaches us to let go of all we have carefully built for ourselves.  Sometimes the letting go is just plain ugly on the outside.  Sometimes it is offensive in and of itself. 
Sometimes when you look at all the ingredients individually it looks like a big mess.  And some of those ingredients taste very bitter on their own.
But we are trusting that God sees the finished product. We are praying that when it is all stirred together and put through the fire He will declare that what He has created is very good.  


Our church is fasting this month.  An all-church fast from junk food and electronics (except for blogging, of course ;) Wren has already let me know that I'm not supposed to be using the computer.....sheeesh!!
I'm only writing about this to share what God is doing in my heart during this time.  He is showing me some very ugly truths about how I survive as a mother of 5.
Of COURSE on the first 3 days of the fast we would be SNOWED IN.  Of COURSE we would all be stuck in the house together with nothing to do and nowhere to go.  
And it was during those 3 days that the Lord showed me how much I depend on entertainment- for both the kids and myself- and comfort food during my time at home with the kids.  
How can I love them and teach them if I cannot be fully immersed in them and meet them on their level? How can I be immersed in them if I am constantly escaping to comfort myself? 
What kind of Savior am I showing them?
Too busy pursuing my own comfort....needing a break from them....not wanting to be bothered with their constant needs....more concerned with the mess they are making than the fun they are having....barking orders instead of teaching....distant....distracted....frustrated....unapproachable....

NONE of these is a correct reflection of our God and ALL of these are me at times. 
I am praying that He will give me the grace to repent and to change.  

He is calling us to MORE.  
To leave what society tells us is normal and to trade it for what Jesus says is better....

I believe that the root of the issue is what I believe about God's love towards me.  
And as I learn more and understand more about His love and His thoughts toward me, it changes my love and my thoughts thoughts toward my children.  When I can comprehend the breadth, the length, the height, and the depth of His love- and when I truly believe that His strength is made perfect in my weakness, it changes everything.  
When I am parenting from the overflow of the knowledge of His love for me, then I will be a true reflection of that love.

Keep changing me Lord, keep teaching me what is better, keep me immersed in the TRUTH of Your Word, and help me to move that truth from my head to my heart....
I am absolutely nothing at all apart from You.