A Call to Deeper Waters

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A new online community was born this week.  Deeper Waters is a sisterhood of women who want to go deeper in their faith, marriage, friendships, creativity and motherhood.

The founder is Denise J. Hughes, a university writing professor. She tells the story of how she prayed to the Lord for his Church to come together.  She has traveled around the country meeting women and has felt led to bring them together in an online space to encourage other women. Deeper Waters is the answer to her prayers.

The hope is that everyone is welcome, everyone is encouraged and everyone grows in their walk with Jesus. It’s just my kind of place. In fact, I’ll be sharing some stories over there in the coming months. If you’re reading this, I think it’s your kind of place too.  Meet you over there?

 

Love on the Move

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Love is on the move.

When I wrote this post about our 6 week update, the night before I had a bit of a breakdown.  I see clearly now that that evening was simply a step in the grieving process.  Even though we have gained so much through this adoption, we have lost too.  Jacob lost his family, our family of four is gone and the family of five that I thought we would be is not.  I had to allow myself to give up those things.  I needed to say goodbye.

Since then, the Lord has asked something of me. He asked, “Are you ok even if Jacob never changes?  Do you love him for who he is not how he performs or how he treats you?”

His questions rattled me.

We have (rightly) been working so hard to get him the help he needs.  His issues are not small.  Educational, medical, emotional, spiritual.  We have big mountains to climb.  But he is not a project.  He is a person that we are meant to love.  And true love is unconditional.

It loves even when he sins, even when he doesn’t change, even when he doesn’t trust, even when he turns his nose at good gifts, even when he’s ungrateful, even when he doesn’t want to do the work to get better.  We must love at all times.  Because that’s how God loves us.

I thought I was ready for this adoption–that I had this love thing figured out. I have learned the past few years how God loves me and delights in me, but I don’t think I truly knew how much his love covered. He is showing me he loved me the same when I got my act together and was ready to receive that love as when I couldn’t understand his love and sinned against him.

My progress didn’t grow his love, but his love did grow me.

And I see that love on the move in Jacob.

Last week he hurt his elbow after a fall on his scooter. He came in and plopped on his video game, I think to hide it.  I walked by and he calmly said, “Mommy, I hurt my elbow.” He stopped playing and presented his scrapes to me.  I saw how bad it was and told him I’d get him some cream to put on it.  He didn’t question it, didn’t cry, but let me do it.  This is progress.

Last night he needed to do some online assessments for some help we’re getting him and he asked me to sit with him.  This is progress.

At bed time the past few nights, he has asked me to lay with him first instead of Scott. This is progress.

And then last night he’s sitting beside me and he calls for my attention, “Mommy.” I turn to look at him and he winks at me.  He winked at me with a grin on his face.  It was the cutest thing I’d ever seen in my life.  I’ve heard of sons flirting with their mothers, but this was a first.  This, my friends, is love on the move.

I’m seeing it now–love loves anyway, even though, just because, in spite of. It doesn’t wait, it doesn’t require, it doesn’t demand.  

And that is the irony. If we wait to love until the change, the change never happens.  But when we let go of the demands and love anyway, love goes on the move.

 Love loves and then it moves mountains.

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 of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

 

Winning at Whack-a-Mole: How to Pray for Peace for All of Life’s Worries

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I told one of my friends on the phone a few weeks back that I felt like we’ve been playing whack-a-mole in our family.  It’s really apparent since we’ve adopted but thinking back, it’s been true across the board.  It seems like every single week there is something new to worry about.

The first week was the food and the next it was his trust of me, then it was the sibling rivalry and then it was, well, sibling rivalry never went away, but this week it is his education and medical treatment. It feels like a game of whack-a-mole where once you think you sort-of, kind-of have one issue tamped down, another pops up.

This happens with our house.   You have a water leak in the bedroom, and then your van needs tires, and then there’s a hail storm and you need new siding, and then the dryer doesn’t work, and then, well, you know, it just keeps going.  There is always something.

Our moles, if you will, lately have been bigger and scarier and very unknown. I don’t know which hammer to use to tamp it down and honestly, in moments it feels like they are too big to be tamped down at all.

I have been clinging to these verses in Philippians:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I desperately need the peace of God.  Guys, my hair was falling out this summer and my dentist told me this week that my gums are inflamed–probably because of the stress!  He didn’t even blame it on flossing they were so bad!

What we need to understand, and what I have to preach to myself, is that not being anxious takes work.  It is not a given.  Scripture tells us it is only when we come to him with both petitions and thanksgiving will our heart and mind be guarded with his peace.

I don’t have this mastered, but I have been practicing prayer in a new way these past months that have helped. It’s tangible and structured and it helps me keep centered on what this Scripture asks of us.  Sometimes prayer is simply a silent conversation, but sometimes I need it like this.

In my daily journal, I make a list of all the good things about the situation I’m worried about.  In fact, sometimes I go further and list any good thing in my life at the moment.  Even if I’m sick, I list the ability to go to the doctor and having insurance and having money for the prescriptions and having a car to drive to the doctor and the job I have to give me the insurance and money.  Even in our lowest moments, we have something to be grateful for.

Sometimes I get through this step and my problem doesn’t even seem like a problem anymore!  A cold? Pshh.  No big deal.  God was pretty smart when he told us to present our petitions and thanksgiving together!  Sometimes gratefulness is all we need to whack our mole.

Other times, we are still burdened.

I write a list of things that are true next.  These are truths that are particular to my situation based on Scripture.  Things like:

  • God is all-powerful
  • We can do all things through Him
  • We are more than conquerors
  • God never leaves us
  • God knows his plans for us
  • God works all things together for our good

Then, I list my petitions.  What are the moles in my life right now?  I’m sick or I can’t find Jacob a pediatrician or Lexi and Jacob won’t quit fighting or even,  I don’t know what to make for dinner.  Anything that comes to mind that might be worrying me.

And then, I thank God for all those good things I listed. I tell God all the things I believe about him and then I pray and give those worries over to him–the One I just told was all powerful, all knowing, loves me so much and has good things planned for me. Sometimes I even put my hands over the words I’ve written and tell Him I’m giving it to Him and ask  him to show up. I tell him I know he sees my worries and my desires and would he please show himself in the situations.

And then, his peace comes. There is some sort of inner release that He gives when I truly make an effort to give my worries to him.  I sigh out a breath I didn’t even know I was holding.

If a worry begins to pop up, it’s like those good things and truths act as a shield to deflect the worry.  They remind me to keep my mind on the good things and remember who is with me.

Sure, the moles rear their ugly heads the next day and I have to do it all over–and sometimes I don’t, but Jesus only ever asked for daily bread so I never expect more than that either.

I can’t imagine you don’t have your own moles right now.  Something that you have going that could be causing you worry.  God cannot lie and he promises if we pray with petitions and thanksgiving, that his peace will come.

A Pirate Party : Jacob Turns 9

We celebrated Jacob’s 9th birthday (actually later this week) on Sunday with a pirate party. It was his choice a month ago and I loved that Friday happened to be Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Friday totally pumped us up for the party.  I decorated Saturday afternoon knowing that Sunday after church would be totally insane.  I loved having our new table with the two leaves–I was able to seat all 10 kids!  Normally I’m cobbling together a few tables to make everything work but this was great to have.

It’s so hard to tell in pictures but it looked like the table was a ship.  We had the fan blowing and the pennant was even blowing in the wind like sails.

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I got everything on Amazon last week. I was so happy when everything went so well together.  I’ll list them all at the bottom.

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The party was in the afternoon so I kept the food simple with some cute signs I printed.

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For the games, we decided to keep it simple and go old school.

First was the tug of war. I think this was everyone’s favorite game.

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This picture is fuzzy because I had to zoom in so much but you just have to see Lexi’s victory face after the girls won the first round:

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My girl is nothing if not competitive.

Next we did a few iterations of walk the plank–they had to hop and walk backwards.  I think a few of them thought it was lame, but everyone got candy when they got to the end so it was worth it. If only our pool wasn’t freezing cold, it would have been awesome to do as a pool game.

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The next game was a real treasure hunt. We hid 10 pennies in a huge container of rice at a time. Each one had 20 seconds to find as many as they could.  It’s harder than it sounds! I think the most anyone got was 7.

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Next up was the ship pinata which was entertaining, as always.  Emma still talks about the princess castle she had at her 3rd birthday party (<--yes, I blogged about it 9 years ago) and all the candy fell on her head.  She cried and cried and apparently was traumatized seeing that 9 years later she's still talking about it!

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Cake, ice cream and presents of course are a must.

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I can’t pass by this part of the recap without a little extra transparency. Jacob was–something–at a few parts of the party. Overall, he seemed to be having a fantastic time. But at a few moments he seemed overwhelmed? Holding back because of his ADHD meds?  Being triggered back to his past? I don’t know and this is the hard part of adopting an older child.  I don’t have all the pieces to know what was going on. I would love to hear other adoptive parents experiences with first celebrations.

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According to him this was his very first party. Even in foster care, they didn’t do big parties so I think the most he’s had is a cake with family.  Even so, he assures me he had fun at the party and liked everything. He was zooming around on that scooter all evening, shooting everyone with the nerf guns and shuttling his new remote control Jeep when it was charged.

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I know big themed parties aren’t a must for childhood, but it’s definitely part of our family culture.  I have fun doing them and I can’t even tell you how lucky I feel to get to give him his first–hopefully just the first of many!

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Resources:

  • I used the Rapscallion font and layered a black and red rectangle shape underneath to create the tags.
  • Gold cups were found in a fall pack of cups at Walmart
  • Here is my Pirate Party Pinterest Board with most of these ideas

From Amazon:

 

Lynn’s Feather Story: Comfort in a Crisis

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I got a message from a reader named Lynn this week.  She found me through a mutual friend and she’s been reading about our feather story.  Turns out God had some plans to use it to comfort her in one of the worst crisis of her life.

I was so amazed at God all over again and asked if I could share it with you.  She was more than willing to share, wanting everyone to see what God had done.

Here’s Lynn:

 

My mom’s health has been declining over the last year or two… But the last 2 to 3 months have really been the biggest decline. Over the last 6 or so weeks she has moved from the hospital… To rehab… Where she fell the day before her discharge and dislocated her shoulder… Back to the hospital… Back to rehab… And then another move back to the hospital for low oxygen saturation. As a COPD’er… She has been in the hospital many many times over the last couple years. This visit didn’t seem much different. She was admitted a week ago Tuesday. They opted to put her on a bipap machine to help her breathing.

On Wednesday morning when they tried to take her off….   They couldn’t. When my brother called me to tell me this, I was on my way to Bible study fellowship for the intro/welcome class so that I could join their study this year of Moses. I chose to go on to class because I would be able to be at the hospital by 11:30am. Due to late start day last week for my daughter, I had to catch a ride with a friend to the hospital afterwards. My friend lost her mom about a year ago… So we actually sat in the hospital parking lot for about an hour talking about the struggles of taking care of elderly parents… The heartaches… The strain on your own personal family… And the turmoil of realizing that you can no longer care for them at home.

I climbed out of her car and headed into the hospital. As I walked up the walkway to the entrance… There in the middle of the sidewalk was a feather. I gasped. I picked it up and so totally sensed God’s presence and comfort. I walked in feeling a little lighter.

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I sent JoAnn Blackwood and my other friend Crystie a picture of my feather. They both knew your story. Crystie said she had asked God for a feather… But hadn’t gotten one. I told her I purposely had not asked. I then realized in my heart it was because I didn’t want to be disappointed when I didn’t get one. (Many realizations later… Because I didn’t want to be disappointed with God… Because he didn’t meet my expectations… Like I can’t trust Him when He doesn’t do what I want Him to… Heart journey with The Lord started over that realization)

As I left that day knowing that my mom’s health had turned a corner that I didn’t want to turn … I thought, wouldn’t it be really nice to find another one. Almost to my car… Nothing. Then boldly thought, Wouldn’t it be nice if it were right by my door so i’d know it was just for me. Well… I didn’t find one by my door… But one by my tire and another one by the curb. Three in one day.

On Thursday as I parked again and went toward the entrance of the hospital… I found another one. Then another one. That day we received the news that my mom’s health would not improve. Not only was her breathing issue a critical issue… But she was in heart failure… And what started as a antibiotic resistant UTI… Was now in her bloodstream. It would lead to organs shutting down. We had a very difficult discussion with her about her desires for the end of her life… Whether it be weeks or months. What she wanted that to look like. Hospitals and needles? Or hospice? Or home?

Either Thursday or Friday… I shared your/my feather story with my son that is 24. He looked at me like I was crazy. He left to go to grab a bite to eat… And returned with big eyes… And his own feather. I told him I had asked God to provide a feather for him so he would understand. That night when my son got home to his own house… A feather floated through the air… Right in front of his face… And he was able to catch it. He was floored.

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My sweet moma passed on into her eternal glory and home on Saturday. God had given me at least one feather every time I went to the hospital. And another one as I left every day. There was such peace with her passing.

Saturday afternoon after my mom passed, I asked my friend Crystie if she would run to Bath & Body Works to grab me some candles. (She had asked God for a feather… But didn’t get one) she asked God again for a feather even if it’s just for Lynn… And as she came out to get into her car… There in a puddle was a WHITE feather. All of my others had been dark. She grabbed it up and brought it to me. Crystie used her white feather to create a picture with a scripture reference on it… Psalm 91:4, “He will cover you with His feathers”… (A coworker shared this exact scripture with me on Friday after hearing this story). I had those printed and framed for my family.

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On Sunday night I gave one to my 20 year old daughter and realized that somehow she had missed this story over the last couple days. She also thought I had lost my mind. When she got home.., she found 2 feathers inside her home. She was floored!! God hasn’t given me another feather since Saturday… But he has covered us with his feathers throughout this whole difficult time.

I shared it with the Pastor that did my mom’s funeral on Tuesday. He didn’t do a great job with your part of the story… He tried… But I don’t think he was able to really get the story to translate to the people there… But it wasn’t because I didn’t tell your story before my story.

Thank you so much for sharing your story… So God could use it to not only provide peace and comfort during my mom’s passing.., but also to slap me with my own issue of unbelief and the need to trust Him even when he doesn’t do what I want. (And I thought we had already been there, taught that lesson… And I thought I learned it)

Much love! Lynn

 

Y’all, I am just floored. Bless you, Lynn, and your family as you travel this difficult road.  I am so thankful we serve the same loving God that can meet us in the worst of times.

We are not alone in our struggles–whatever that might be.  He sees you, he loves you and he wants to comfort you!