The Sound of Angels Singing…

Image

We are a fostering family.  We’ve been licensed for a little over a year and have had two sets of brothers placed in our home.  The set that we have now is more long-term than the first set.

The two-year old came to us completely non-verbal.  He was described to us as “the most unruly child they (the caseworkers related to the case) had seen in their careers.”  Of course, they didn’t say that when they brought him to us, but four days later upon their check-up visit.  That night we were told the above and that now “he is a totally different child.”

We (my family) never experienced any of the behaviors that they described.  Other than him not speaking, he was a normal two-year old.  He followed directions well… he played… he was fine… because he was safe and loved.

We taught him a few words in sign language to take the pressure off of him to speak and so we could communicate, even if it was very minimal.  We’ve had them for three and a half months now.  He has started speaking, little by little.  About a week ago, he said “thank you” for the first time.  It was imperfect, but it sounded like angels singing to me.  Please, thank you, and more were the first words we worked on… they were also the ones he would never say.  Since he spoke “thank you,” it’s as if the barrier has been broken.  Just in the past week his vocabulary has blossomed.

This morning, on the way to daycare, I heard ” I won doe peas” while he pointed at the McDonald’s.  Translated, that is “I want go please.”  Y’all, that is four words put together in a sentence!  I got all emotional… still am.

We are not perfect parents and we do not have perfect kids.  We don’t have college degrees or exciting careers.  What we do have is the love of Christ in us that works through us.  God has taken an imperfect family of four to love on some kids, even if just for a short time.  And, God has shown me his work…He has shown His grace… He has shown His love.

Some people tell us how proud they are of what we are doing, only to follow it with “I could never do that.”  Sometimes, I want to shake them and say “WHY NOT?!”  There are countless numbers of children in the state systems that just need a safe place to be.  Some may get reunited with their families and some may not.  There’s not a perfect answer most times, but the issue is if not you, then who?  If we as Christians can’t take in the children, who will?  What example are we setting by denying care to the least of these?

Now, I know that some just aren’t physically able.  But most of the time, I hear “I can’t love them in my home just for them to leave.”  Y’all, people come in and out of our lives all the time.  All the time!  Sometimes good-byes hurt more than others, but you move on.  God opens a space for someone else to come in your life.  It doesn’t stop you from loving people.

So, I come to you with this… you don’t have to be perfect… you don’t have to have the biggest house with 47 rooms… you don’t have to have lots of money… what you do need is love… and a willingness to take a step.  God will work through you… and in the process He will show you miracles.

If you know me, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about fostering.  If you don’t know me, find a foster parent and ask them questions.  If you don’t know any, call your local DCF office.  Don’t block God with excuses… let Him use you.

I will follow with… I you are not able to foster for whatever reason, you can still help.  Find a foster parent and help them.  You can always buy things for the children, or offer to babysit, or simply pray for the family and the children… while praying in simple, it is HUGE!

“The King will replay, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

Loving the Broken…

Image

One of the hardest things in life is to love someone that’s broken.  Maybe you have a friend or an acquaintance that God has sent your way that has been through something difficult.  What if it’s someone closer to you, like your parent, your spouse, or your child?

There are many ways to be broken, none of them are pretty.  Brokenness, even in objects, leaves jagged pieces that usually hurt when you touch them. The pieces can cut you, they can make you bleed.  But, what do you do when something is broken?  Do you leave it on the floor in pieces? Usually, no… you pick it up… and if it has enough value to you, you try to repair it.

We can’t “fix” broken people, only God can do that.  “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3  We are called to love, though.  This… this is life’s biggest challenge for me (that, and saying no to chocolate).  I want to fix it… I want to point out your brokenness so you can fix it.  I want to help heal you, but I can’t… that’s not my job.  My job is to love you… to show you Jesus’ love.  I fail… not all the time… but this isn’t about partial credit.

God has sent me some pretty hard-to-love people throughout my journey.  I’m sure that He has put us together for both of us to learn our own life lesson… but I can be hard-headed (shocking, I know).  I always say that if God puts you in a circumstance to learn a lesson, you better learn it the first time because He will keep teaching you until you get it.  He keeps teaching me to love more… to love when it’s not easy… and sometimes I fail.  All I can do is keep trying… but, pray to try correctly.

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record or wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Love is Relative…

Image

Love… what does it mean?  Sometimes a lot… sometimes very little.  Very few people, if any, grew up in a wonderful, loving home.  The home where mom baked your favorite cookies everyday and/or snuggled you until you couldn’t stand it… where dad threw a ball with you every afternoon and/or told you how proud he was of you everyday.

For some, this may be more accurate…

Dad says he loves you, but nothing you do ever measures up, he doesn’t return your calls, and basically ignores you, unless it’s convenient.

Mom says she loves you, but uses the grocery money to buy drugs… ignoring you while she’s high and filling your home with questionable people.

Husband says he loves you, but cheats on you after work everyday.

Wife says she loves you, but lies about how much money she spent on her shopping spree.

Boyfriends says he loves you, but dumps you after he convinces you to have sex with him.

Bet friend says she loves you, but stabs you in the back.

I could go on… there are a million different scenarios here.  We’ve all been there at some point with some relationship.  Love is hard.  You may have grown up with one of these parents.  So, as an adult, you have no concept of how to love someone.  You may say the words, but the behavior is something you learned from your past, it’s not real love.  It’s difficult to model something that you have never been taught.

I’m here to tell you though, that while human love is relative, God’s love is not.  His love is perfect.  To us, love is a feeling, maybe even an action… but God is love.  God loves you with His perfect love.  He created you and He cares for you.  Nothing that you do will change His love for you… nothing.  God does not like it when we sin, and we all do, but He loves us just the same.  He loves you so much that He gave His only son to die for you.  You… the one sitting at your desk… you, the one sitting in the parent pickup line… you, the one looking through your phone while watching tv.  You… He died for you.  He thinks you are special… He will never leave you… He will never forsake you… He doesn’t need you to be perfect… or dress fancy… He just loves you for who you are.

All you need to do is accept that love.  Ask Him to come into your heart and He will.  He will fill you with the love that you lack… the love that you may have been deprived of.  He will.  The only thing you have to do is ask with an open, honest heart… just ask…

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

“neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our lord.” Romans 8:39

Love Letter…

Image

photo-nov-24-5-00-50-pmHave you ever had someone ask you “why do you love me?”  Over the past near 15 years, my husband has asked me that quite a bit.  Sometimes, I think it is because he has trouble finding his value in himself.  Other times, I wonder if it’s because I just don’t do enough to make him feel it from me.  I’m not really sure of which is correct, but since he’s gone right now, I’m feeling a little sappy.  I’m going to try my best to put it to words… even though I don’t think he ever reads my posts.

When we first met, we worked in the same building.  He had given a friend money, with no expectation of getting it back.  I saw him sacrifice things that he might want so others could have what they needed.  I saw kindness, generosity, and caring.  I fell in love with that.  He opens doors, gives rides, works hard, washes dishes… I fell in love with that, too.  I have watched him quietly do the dirty work that mostly goes unnoticed, but makes a huge difference.  He has a servant’s heart… and I love it.

He drives me crazy.  I mean like up the wall, pull my hair out crazy… and I love that, too.  My whole life I quit things when they became easy.  Easy is boring.  I never took the easy road… I chose the road less traveled… most times to the horror of my parents.  But, while walking through the briars and weeds in the woods, I managed to find my way to him… twice.  I love that he knows all my crap and loves me anyway.  I love that he tickles my feet, even though I want to stab him in the eye when he’s doing it.  I love that we are loud… I love that we are silly… I love that we laugh.

I love that he is calm when I am not… and I am calm when he is not.  I love that he takes the boys to get icees and always brings me back a candy bar.  I love that he would buy me the world, yet doesn’t understand that I already have it.  I don’t love when he’s gone, but I love that he serves our Country… and I most love that I get a chance to miss him… to get butterflies… to be excited to see him… even after 14+ years.

I love when he smiles, even though he thinks he looks goofy.  I love when he prays, even though he thinks he’s horrible at it.  He prays simply, but if you be still and let him go… there is a great humility when he speaks to God that is beautiful.

Mostly, I love that when we stand face to face and he puts his arms around me, I can lean my head in… and there is this spot on his chest where my head fits perfectly… like God made it just for me… and there, I feel safe.  I love you babe…

photo-nov-24-5-02-25-pm“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:7-9

Still Growing…

Image

Spiritual GrowthAs the year comes to a close, I have been reflecting.  This year has been filled with some really good things and some disappointing things.  This has been another year of spiritual growth (I pray every year is a year of spiritual growth).  This year’s growth seems to be a little more painful than years past.

The past few years I have made it my goal to give… to give financially, to give my time, but most importantly to give my heart.  I want every person that I come in contact with, to feel… to know, that I care about them.  I do not succeed all the time… sometimes, my day gets the better of me, but I hope for the most part that I show love.

The problem with trying to give your heart, is that people tend to step on it sometimes.  I think that’s why this world is filled with cynical, hardened people who are totally self-involved.  Love hurts.  I take that back.  Love does not hurt… love never fails… it is people who don’t love that hurt.

This year has been filled with some amazing things that I was honored to be a part of… it was also laced with some pretty hurtful things from some unexpected people.  My growth has come in knowing that as long as I continue to try my best to love, I will be ok.  People can sting me a bit, and I will be quite honest, it hurts.  It may surprise you, but I do have feelings.  But, you know what? Love wins… love always wins!

So, when you have people in your life that are petty, mean, and selfish… love them… even if they hurt your heart in the process… love them.  You may have to love them from a distance, but love them just the same.  Without love, we are nothing.

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2

Know Your Neighbors…

Image

Photo Jul 06, 1 03 51 PMI am writing this post to do two things… 1. talk about what an awesome kid I have and 2. be transparent about my own short-comings.

The other day, my younger son was having a fit of rage.  To calm him down, I made him take a walk with me.  We walked to the end of my street and back.  My street is a cul-de-sac.  I don’t normally drive the part that we were walking.  The fact that I don’t walk is another story. 😉

Anyway, we passed a house that is a few down from our house and I noticed that the yard looked pretty bad.  I know that there is a lady that lives there and that her husband died a few years ago… possibly more years than I’m willing to acknowledge.  Sadly, I did not know her name and have only talked to her twice since we moved here ten years ago.  Once within a year of us moving here, she complained about my dog running around… the other, she complimented my flower bed as she was driving by.  It was that time that she told me that she was a master gardener and that my yard “looked good.”

Having that conversation filed away in my brain, it was bothersome at how bad her yard looked.  Something must be wrong… I am ashamed of myself for not recognizing sooner.  This lady has lived three houses down for TEN years.  I did not know her name… I knew that her husband had died, but never once checked on her… I was a poor neighbor and an even worse Christian.

I can think of some excuses as to my failure, but that’s all they are… excuses.  I failed.

But, here is where the story turns… that night, I called my older son in my room.  He has recently learned to cut grass and has been making money doing it.  I told him that I saw a yard down the street that looked pretty bad and that the lady was a widow.  “Son, the Bible teaches us to take care of widows.”  Without a blink, “ok, mom, I’ll mow her grass.”

The next day, he wanted me to go with him because he was nervous that she may come out and yell at him or something.  We didn’t know if she was home.  We didn’t knock.  He just started mowing.  About the same time, my husband came home.  I left him with my son because I had to run some errands.  When I got back, all three of my guys were at her house.  They were mowing, trimming trees and bushes, edging, and raking.  (Mind you, the youngest wasn’t thrilled about it, but he was helping.)

The lady had come out of her house.  She was out-of-sorts and kept telling them weird things, but she was over-joyed that they were there.  I walked down to see their progress.  I could not have been prouder of my husband and boys.  I saw a need (that I should have seen long before), but they were the ones tackling it.  I spoke with her and finally learned her name.  She just kept saying “thank you.”  She tried to shake my hand, but I hugged her instead.  While I was hugging her, she just cried… I hugged tighter.

Before and after...

Before and after…

Later, I asked my son how he felt about what he did… his twelve-year-old response… “good.”  How do I feel?  Well, I swell up with pride at knowing that, while I fail every day, I may have done something right in this parenting thing.

I’ve also realized that in order to love thy neighbor, we have to know them first.  We can’t just go through our daily routines, drive in our garages, and close the doors.  We may have to get a little nervous and knock on a door and introduce ourselves.  We may have to take a leap of faith.  In turn, we may be blessed by the people who are the other side of those doors…

“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.” 1 Timothy 5:3

To the Writer of the Linked Article: Bless Your Heart…

Image

A friend posted “Kansas is Ready to Prevent Welfare Recipients from Going to Swimming Pools and Movies” on Facebook this morning.  There’s a nice picture of a boy doing a cannonball into a pool to head the article.  I thought that maybe at was satire.  I wasn’t sure so, I read the article.  I have to tell you that I got angry reading it.  It truly struck a chord and I’m sure that was the writer’s intent.  It didn’t make me angry because of the proposed law; it made me angry because I disagreed with the point, so much, that I wanted to shake the author… and anyone that agreed with him for that matter.

So… I closed the article and decided not to comment on the Facebook post because I would probably start an argument or hurt someone’s feelings.  As the day has gone on, I see comments others left on the post, some for, some against.  I’ve had time to process and pray…

To the author… bless your heart for thinking that just because you relate to one political party that you lose all your compassion and humanity.  I associate with the Republican party because it does not support abortion, because it follows fiscally conservative principles, and it is not afraid to say “God, Bible, prayer,” etc.  This does not mean that I agree with every Republican, nor does it mean that I disagree with every Democrat.  This means that as a whole, I associate more closely with the Republican party.

I do, however, agree that there are abuses to the welfare system.  AND, I agree that there are truly needy, hurting people out there.  (I’m about to go down a different road, here… so hold on to your holy s&^t handle.)  It is not… I repeat NOT the government’s job to support these people.  Nowhere in our founding documents does it say that we are a socialist country, that we have to provide any or everything to low-income people, or that everyone has to always have the same things in life.  Nowhere!  Life isn’t fair… LIFE IS NOT FAIR!

There are people who come from very dark places that rise above, and there are people who come from great wealth that fall far.  Most of us just come from the middle of the road and just try to stay between the lines.  That is the road my family is traveling.  My husband and I are both employed, he serves in the military, we have children… we make do.  We live fiscally within our means and we try our best to give generously.

I think that what most people don’t get is that it truly is not the government’s responsibility to take care of each person.  I will argue though that it is a church’s responsibility.  You see, while our Constitution doesn’t require us to take care of everyone, the Bible does.  If you search “take care of the poor Bible verse” at least 50 are listed.  God tells us to take care of the poor… repeatedly.  God, not the government.  I’m not sure if you (the writer of that article) are a Christian, because there was no mention of your faith in the article.  Maybe you are just unaware of what the Bible teaches.

This is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue.  This is a matter of Biblical principles that have been lost in our country.  I know that churches and Christian organizations are helping people every day, but if we Christians were truly doing all that God commanded us, there would be no hurting people.  God commanded us to spread the Gospel, to love, to serve, to follow Him.  If we were “on fire” doing those things… well, you can imagine what would happen… GREAT THINGS.

So, I beg you to stop politicizing this argument.  Stop trying to make me look like I don’t have a heart because I choose a different political party that you.  Instead, pick up a Bible, go to a church, give, serve, LOVE!

“and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise  in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10