Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for Him.

Something that a friend said to me.. and again came up in the books I was reading this week. Don't ask God to bless you, to give you what you want. Instead start each day by asking what you can do for God. So I have been mulling over this a lot lately. I am constantly asking God to help me, to provide for me, to fill in the gaps for me. I need Him in order to do what I do... He answers frequently with blessings beyond what I could ever imagine. Sometimes He says no. I have learned to trust. But now I am trying to start each day with asking God what I can do for Him. Instead of asking for my needs to be met, I am praying that I could do something for for Jesus. Which is mostly showing His love to my kids and the people I encounter in the day to day, it's nothing big or extravagant. It's small, little everyday things.
So then the question has been in my mind of, how then do I present my needs to my Father when my goal is to have a relationship where I am serving more than I am asking for my needs to be met. I have not come to a good conclusion.. but I had this little thing happen tonight that bolstered my faith and gave me confidence to continue on this road. So every 6 months we butcher a jersey steer that we raise. We ran out of hamburger 2 weeks ago. We eat approx 10 lbs of beef every week. So this is kinda a big deal. Today I was menu planning. I went down to see what I have in my freezers. I had a pile of freshly butchered ground sausage and scrapple(another God story for another day), some turkey sausage (yet another God story) and 2 pks of chicken, along with prepackaged burgers. Our next steer will butchered in about 4 weeks. So I said it once "God, I am sorta out of meat for dinner. Thanks for the ways You have provided before." I did not fret or worry. I was able to menu plan for the next week with what I have here. I also asked God how he would have me serve him, as my goal is to change my habitual prayers to praise and the desire to serve instead of just asking for my needs to be met. Several hours later, we were having a loud and chaotic dinner conversation when we heard someone knocking loudly on the door. It was a neighbor, I don't know them well. But they are always friendly and kind. They own a farmer's market stand. They had come bearing a bag of fresh meats!! Yummy meat from their meat stand. They had no idea that I was out of beef. They had no idea of the prayer I had breathed as I menu planned for dinner meats. They had no idea.. yet... they showed up with these blessings. Now sometimes it's hard for me to accept these gifts. Especially when I have no way of repaying them. This is not the first time they have brought meat with divine timing. I know it's just meat. But when you have four hungry preteens, it's sorta a big deal. So what I learned today is that we are to serve Jesus, to look for ways to do things He needs us to do. But He also wants to bless us. He cares about these things. He really does and if we are obedient He will give us good gifts. (Another God story) So these same neighbors... back in April on the day that would have been our 12th wedding anniversary, I had had a long day. (it's a day that is really only remembered by me, as it has little significance to anyone else.) At the end of the very long day, there was a knock on the door. I opened it to see this same neighbor family, they brought us meat and sub rolls. They had no idea, none that the significance of this day. But they had felt led, and they brought us this blessing. It felt like this little God hug..

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Foster Care Scars..

On August 26, 2008. I was sitting poolside at my Aunt (by marriage) house. My phone rang, it was almost 5 pm. I missed it, my caseworker left a voicemail for me. I tried frantically to call her back, but the office was closed already. That was just the beginning..

I had been a foster parent for 5 months. I had several short term placements.  I was a 24 yr old widow, determined to find a purpose in life.
They had been in foster care since April 2007. (ironically the day we buried my husband). They had been in 2 homes and now needed a new home.

I was able to reach the caseworker's voicemail. I left her a message stating that I was prepared to take these kids. They had called me about these kiddoes before. But the county caseworker wanted a 2 parent, African American home, so my file had been turned down.. But for some unknown reason, my private agency CW had resubmitted my profile. There was a new county caseworker on the case and she approved us, as an emergency respite. Now my agency was trying to work out the details.

They were 3 and 4 yrs old. She looked like a little fawn, big scared eyes, cute little pixie face. He was all macho, brave little man. I imagine Bubbie being in foster care and my heart breaks for my son's lost innocence.

It took us 2 days to work out the details. There were allegations of abuse, laws being broken, rules being bent, whispers of problems in the previous home.

The kiddoes were supposed to arrive at 4 pm. My friend S came over to hang out with me, to help me transition these kids into my home. We knew there would be drama.

The caseworker arrive at 6, (she would eventually become a good friend). She informed us that the foster parents wanted to bring the kids over themselves, after dinner. I felt uncomfortable, but I was young and new at this..

They finally arrive at 9:30 at night.. I lived back a long driveway, way out in the country. This African American Grandpa and Grandma, arrive with their hispanic son entow. They brought the two little kids..

they didn't bring a stuffie.

They didn't bring pjs.

They didn't bring pictures.

They didn't bring toys.

They didn't even bring a change of clothes or underwear.

These kids had lived in their home for 3 months and they had done respite for them for over  a year..They brought NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

They dropped off these two little kids. The little girl, she was asleep or pretended to be. THey carried her into the house and plopped her into a bed.
The little boy, he was 4 yrs old. He came in with his foster brother.. and they played with my friend's son in the toy room, while us adults talked. It was uncomfortable to say the least. The foster parents were not happy. I wasn't sure why exactly they were arriving at 9:30 pm instead of 4, as was scheduled.

We talked for a couple minutes, then they called their adopted son out of the bedroom. Then.. they quietly snuck out the door. The little 4 yr old boy had not been told anything. He thought they were visiting my house, as friends. Suddenly he realized that his family had left without him. He ran screaming for the door, frantic to get out. I was a complete stranger, a white stranger who lived way back in the scary woods. I locked the door to keep him from running.

He collapsed in the caseworkers arms, crying for his mommy...  the one who had just dropped him off, without an explanation, who had left him with strangers without saying good by..

Meanwhile the little girlie, slept on in bed. To this day if she gets woken up in a new place in the middle of the night, she will cry nonstop.

Eventually the caseworker left, the friend left, the little boy settled in to watch a movie until he fell asleep.

The little girl woke up at 3 am, she screamed frantically for her mommy. Where was she? Who was the young white woman who had replaced her black grandmotherly mommy? It tooks hours to settle her. She never again cried for her first or second mommy. She shut down.

The next couple days were hard. No one knew if the kids would be staying in this home long term.This was a trial and the county would ultimately make a decision on whether they would stay or go.

The little boy would cry, big crocodile tears, why do my mommies not love me? Why did they leave me? There was nothing to do but to hold him and cry with him.  He lived with the fear of abandonment for many years, babysitters were scary cause what if this new mommy would not come back.

Time marches on.. time heals.. but scars will always remain. To lose everything familiar to you in one night, to have this happen multiple times with multiple caregivers is devastating.

It took us over 3 years to adopt these two kiddoes. But they are now permanent members of our family.

As a mother, that was one of the hardest things.. to see these little kids devastated by the awful transitions. I was too young and niave. I did not fight for their possessions from the previous home.  I will always regret that...

Now these two are 12 and 13 yrs old. Those days are vague memories.. God has done an incredible work in all of our lives..

Sunday, August 6, 2017

When Mom Runs on Empty...

God has taken me on a journey this past week.. I don't particularly like the direction of this journey. But it has been good for me.
 I am thankful that God has placed some good, strong Godly people in my life. People who are not afraid to speak truth, strong truth into my life.
The thing is, when you listen to the good, strong, Godly people in your life, it usually means God is doing something big.

The thing is, sometimes you get so caught up in doing everything right, living up to what you think people want from you, meeting goals you set for yourself that you forget that God doesn't expect you to do it on your own. That HE IS THE SOURCE OF YOUR POWER!

When we remember that God is the source of our power, we can be powerful warriors for the kingdom. We can do amazing things, because God is the source of our power. But when we strive to do things in our own power, we wear out, we burn out, we fail. (actually sometimes we fail when we do things in God's power because our failure is part of his making us who we are to be, to best serve him)

In the work that God has done in my heart has been two part. 1 is the reminder that God is my source of power. My ministry, my living, my parenting is NOTHING without God's power in me. When I allow my tank to become empty, when the daily grind of parenting, of serving, and the addiction of fb pulls me away from getting refilled by Jesus. When I forget to spend time plugged in to Jesus, when I don't read His love letters... I am empty, my source of power is gone. I am striving and failing to be who I am meant to be. I wear out. I burn out..
2. By drawing close to God, I have His power, His strength, His blessing, His discernment in my life. Which means my own life is not overwhelming.

 It means that I am excited about parenting. It means that when that child throws the 500th tantrum, I am not running on empty, but am running with Holy Spirit Strength which allows me to pull out old parenting tricks from my extensive parenting toolbox. It means I am not frustrated by the child, I see it as a teaching moment. An oppurtunity to practice resting in what Jesus has for me in this season.

When homeschooling highschool wants to overwhelm me. When I sit down to make a schedule and I am not sure how I am going to do school for a 9th grader, 2-7th graders, a 5th grader, a very special needs 4th grader, and a very energetic toddler, I can ask God for His Power which will sustain me.

When ADHD, ODD, PTSD, food allergies, asthma, seizures, massive constipation, lyme disease, candida, genetic mental illness, and trauma behaviors crash in on my day, I can stand strong with His power.

When the bills come and the budget is stretched thin again and financial decisions have to be made,and I have been deceived and lost trust in all earthly advisors...I can trust that I have the very best Advisor who can see not only the momentary problems but the long term too. He promises to always provide and he does.

When I run into my first "daughter" and my heart stops....because I have not seen her in 5-6 years...and I want to be in her life... but I don't know how to balance boundaries with the love of Jesus. I can trust that He will give me wisdom.

The thing is.. God fills us with His Power and uses His people to fulfill His promises. When everything is crazy, he brings community.

He brings the produce place that has 3 baskets of peaches on sale, that arrive on the very day that a friend decides to drop off 4 baskets of peaches, the very day that another friend insists that when you are ready to do peaches she will help you.  So you can do all 7 baskets of peaches on one day with the helping of an amazing friend.

God shows His power when He provides the most unlikely friend to provide free respite one day a week for your daughter with special needs. That same friend that isn't afraid to confront you when you are doing things on your own.

God shows His power when your sister sends you a box of dishrags, dishtowels and pot holders cause you are a tightwad and hate to spend money on such things... and every time you wash dishes you think about His blessings on you...

God shows His power when you get free horseback riding for 3 of your kids.. and your kids get to work on the farm.. and the farm brings deep healing to the soul of your broken children.. and you get to sit by the pond and breath in the beauty of the farm for 2 hours every week. which feeds your soul and you feel God's presence and His love.

God shows his power when you get a hair dresser that does your hair without charging, and shares how amazingly God has worked in her life and you are encouraged just by being in her presence.

God shows His power when you find a Super Hero Cape for your very challenging child and you can help him gain super powers by being kind and obedient... and he wants to wear the cape every single day.

God shows His power when everything is canceled for the day, by the 3 different people your children minister too.. which gives you a free day at home to schedule your homeschooling and get your life back under control. Which brings peace to your soul.

God shows His power when he blesses you with a neighbor friend that wants to walk 3 miles a day with you, which is so important for your mental and physical health... that calls you and talks on the phone with you, and listens to you vent and rant and rave...

God shows His power when he provides a neighbor dad, that has over the years gained your trust,  fills out hunting licenses, teaches kids how to shoot guns/bows and takes them hunting and fishing and fills in the gaps in the lives of 13 yr old boys who don't have a dad.. and 12 yr old girls who don't trust men.. and 4 yr old boys that need someone to look up to.

God shows His power when he provides a Dr that works with your budget and your schedule and helps your child with anxiety.... and your children with lyme.. and your child with seizures..

So remember today, that when you rest in Jesus, He wil take care of everything. It doesn't mean that your life will be easy, painfree or stressfree. But it means that your life will be peaceful and you will get to see incredible miracles.