Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Simple Things



If you've read my blog before, you know I perpetually need perspective.

I frequently lose sight of what is good.

I type words onto a blank screen because I need to know what I believe.

This blog was honestly my selfish doing.  To process my story.

To help me fight to believe.

The mental sorting of my life just so happened to be in a public venue.

I have been working for a while on a draft post called The Simple Things.

I totally scrapped what I wrote and will re-work it into something else later.

Because this past week I had the honor of talking to several dear soul sisters who are limping through life-- struggling daily to do the simple things.

We are all on unique journeys, written specifically for us.

But, really, as believers, we are all on the same road.

If we are living authentically, our route will display deep gouge marks, stains of sorrow, joy, surrender.

A battle.

As clay, we are messy-- this world a place where we are refined and purified.

Chiseled and cut.

I call these dear girls my soul sisters because their pain is raw.  The depths of their grief is intense.

I've also known these sweet ones in their times of immense joy.

Their laughter as honest and heartfelt as their current sufferings.

I am in awe of their daily choice to lift their heads and passionately battle.

They are warriors.

Not by their own strength.

A moment by moment decision to grasp the hand that holds them and fights on their behalf.

My conversations this week left me in tears.

For different reasons.  Partly because their stories closely match mine.

I was also left with hope and thankfulness.

One friend was praising the Father for the simple things...the Father peeling back the curtain to allow her a glimpse of what she once considered mundane.

The routine chores she once carried out with grumbling, now embraced and held close to her heart as a gift.

Cooking a meal, mopping the floor, doing laundry.

Giving praise because she had taken it for granted in the past-  the simple things that are part of normal life.

Hearing her praise the mundane brought tears. 

Perspective.

Because when we are undone, knocked down by illness or brokenness, we often lose ability or desire to even do the simple things.  Sometimes we become frozen- our feet stuck in depression or illness.  We can't even lift our heads for normal living.

It is often in the gouges of life that the Father showers us with thankfulness.

Emerging from the cavernous depths into radiant light, we gaze upwards to see the Father, holding us all along.

Darkness gives us a memory of His faithfulness and rescue. Seared into the crevices of our mind is a remembrance of His goodness.  A thread of hope for the next trial that comes along.

Today I thank God for the simple things.

The holy moments I often take for granted.

What simple things in life can you rejoice over?

Where can you live and love more fully where you are?





Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Demolition of Hope




After a highly emotional and profound play-therapy session today, I began to think about anger.

If you are human, there's a strong likelihood you experience anger regularly.

Anger is not always a wrong or sinful response to life.

I will protect Little Bitty's heart and story, but I will share the fact that walls are disintegrating slowly, brick by brick.

Sometimes it is with the smashing force of a sledge-hammer of angry words.

Other times it is through a raging force of body language.

Today I sat in the tiny room.  Cross-legged, bare footed.  My eyes observing the battle within.

My heart felt like a punching bag.

Beaten, bruised.

Tears pooled in my eyes.

There is much anger, confusion.

It is heartbreaking to witness.

The effects of brokenness on one so small.

We came home to a snack of peanut butter and apples.

A social worker visit for re-licensing us as foster parents.

Paperwork.

My brain hasn't been allowed the chance to process our morning session.

So here I am.

Staring at a blinking cursor.

Attempting to gauge my heart response in relation to truth.

I know our only hope is Him.

Her youthfulness gives us a tremendous advantage.

Support and counseling from Lifeline, consistent love, His transforming power.

All these things a reality and great blessings from the Father. 

Yet, I still hurt and grieve.  It would be wrong to say I don't feel or ache at the unfairness of it all.  I can often become raging angry about the deep injustices children suffer because of the choices of adults.

Our anger is really the same-- hers and mine -- anger at injustice.

The result of a mama and daddy's choices.

Sadness over the situation intermingles with deep gratitude that we were chosen to parent this dear little one.

As I placed her in her bed for her nap she said,

Mommy I need you.

I stepped up tall.  Bending over the side-rail of her bunk bed.

I placed my hand on her cheek.

She pretended to braid my hair.

Her brown fingers twisting round and round.

My hair becoming tightly coiled.

I said,

It's hard to trust Mommies sometimes.

It's okay to be angry.

It's okay to be confused.

Her eyes fixated on my hair.  Twisting, twisting.

Her bitty head nodded as she nestled down into her pillow.

Our noses touched in the semi-dark room.

The fan whirred its soothing rhythm-- a constant in the middle of a life of unknowns.

I love you sweet girl.  Let's have cookies when you wake up.

Another nod.

And now she sleeps.

I rejoice at the mortar coming loose.

The shifting that's occurring as a demolition is taking place.

The hope of healing and re-building.

His hand always, always at the helm.







  
{photo credit:  swampplot.com}


Friday, July 25, 2014

My Baby You'll Be


I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be. 
~ Robert Munsch Love You Forever


You weren't placed in my arms like the babies I birthed-- swaddled in a striped flannel hospital blanket, fresh-faced from the womb.

But I bet you probably had a nest of ebony curls upon your crown.

Your tiny fingers likely grasped hold of a nearby finger.

I wonder if you squealed that same baby-girl cry as your sister, whose lungs generated quite a distinct sound from her brothers.

Our first encounter with you was quite different.

At nearly two-years old, your black curls were set atop your head with a pretty ribbon.  Your bottom lip was puckered out.  

A sensation spread throughout my body as I buckled your tiny frame into the car seat of our SUV.

A whisper from the Father.

Sunlight spilled in from the sunroof and the whole world just felt right with you inhabiting that space in our car.

An emotion I couldn't explain.  A feeling only experienced with you, Little Bitty-- not the eleven others.

I knew you were unlike any other who would fill our beds.  But, I dared not speak it out loud.  Not even to Kevin.

We missed your babyhood, but we embrace you now, just as you are.

Today, at three-years old, you squealed with delight, jumping and clasping your hands to your face.


Your eyes shimmered when I said,  

If we had you when you were a baby, Mommy and Daddy would've bought you special baby clothes and toys.

Just for you.

Would you like to go to the store and look at the baby toys and pick out something?

You barreled through the automatic doors of the store.

Insisted on walking instead of riding in the buggy.

It turned out you couldn't even walk.

Instead, it was a Little Bitty sprint to the baby aisle.

Chubby brown legs created a cadence of wee steps in your mint-colored Mary Janes with hot pink straps.

Spirals of mocha bounced down your back with each stride.

The tiniest one in the house.  Yet, your acoustics are some of the highest volumes my ears have known.

A passionate spirit overflowing with ear-piercing joy.

All of Target surely heard your heart explode as you shrieked.

Sheer delight as you touched the rainbow of colors that splatter the infant items.

You first chose a baby grooming set.

You wailed big tears as I gently placed it back on the shelf.

Telling you to wait.

To see everything before choosing.

Maybe I should have bought it.  But, we really don't need more fingernail clippers or fingernail files.

You finally settled on a pink lovey, pressing the fluffy fleece to your brown cheek and rubbing the satin edges with your fingers.

A bathtub tea set made it into our buggy as well.

Something Mommy would've bought you...if you'd been a baby in our house.

Come on family!, she yelled as we headed out to the car.

And my heart soared.

I floated in a wave of joy across the steamy Alabama asphalt.

Because there is new growth.  A blossoming of stability.

I can view it with my eyes.  Sense it within my soul.

The Father loving her more than we ever could.

Things are changing.

And I am immeasurably grateful for His tender love and care.


Sweet girl with her lovey and bathtub set.  When I woke her from her nap, she had spread her lovey over her pillow to sleep on. 

 *Please be sure to see the resources at bottom of post






 

*A side note- first of all, there is NO way we could walk this journey without our agency, Lifeline, holding our hands.  They are phenomenal and give us the resources to connect and call us to more as parents.

Speaking in general, children from hard places (adoption, foster care, or even biological children with stressful in-utero or birth experiences) may miss stages of development.  For example, a neglected or abused child may skip crucial stages of infancy or toddler-hood if they do not receive adequate care.  A baby left to themselves in a crib without purposeful nurturing or eye contact (which occurs in healthy homes in the care of feeding, rocking, changing diapers, playtime, etc.) will miss these normal stages of development which are vital for psychological and developmental health.  For example, this often manifests itself with an older child acting much younger than their age.  Because of this, it is significant to go back and allow children to make up for lost time (i.e., letting them experience the omitted phases-- this can include swaddling, rocking, bottle-feeding, and allowing them to play with baby toys, etc.), which permits their brains to connect and bond in a healthy way.

For more information and wonderful resources for children from hard places, please visit Empowered to Connect.  Workshops are available all over the country.  Also Dr. Karyn Purvis's book is a treasure.



{photo credit: lily.shop.com}

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bloom

A challenge from Lisa-Jo Baker's blogThis is the place where once a week we take the chance to just write, and not worry if it’s just right or not. 

For five minutes flat. 

Here’s how the game works: you simply stop, drop and write. Set your words free. Don’t edit them, don’t fret over them, don’t try to make them perfect. 

Today's word BLOOM.

~~~~~~

Tonight I sat among blooms of tiger lilies and purple flowers with their stems bending.

Girls giggling as they slid down a gigantic slide.  Drizzling cool rain dancing on the water.

Mamas talking.  Cake and candles.

And I think about growth.  The seeds that have bloomed within my heart.

For a ministry I didn't want to embrace.  For a Savior I rejected most of my life.

I am growing.  As the laughter swells and the rain pelts harder, I realize I am different than I ever imagined I would be.

Thankfulness blooms, as I'm encircled by happy children and life as a mama.  

In a backyard birthday party.  Pizza and cake.

Gratefulness grows for who He has made me.  Where He has placed me.

Fireflies prick through the dark trees on the drive home.

Light in the darkness.

Always thankful for that truth.





Five Minute Friday










{photo credit:  rezinate.wordpress.com} (wording added)

{photo credit:  apuregeneration.com}

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Waiting In the Pew



Life never seems to turn out as I plan.

Sign up for foster care and life never, ever will follow a stable route.

But, the Lord has been doing something in our hearts for quite a while.

Our grip is loosening more and more on the things of this world.  

Our hands opening ever so slightly.

With foster care, we knew there would be drama and lots of uncertainties.

Nothing established or firm-- constant shifting sand.

We have often jumped aboard the twists and turns of the roller coaster.

And I hate roller coasters.  That nauseous feeling of falling.

But, by His grace, we are more often peering up at His face and less at the circumstances.  Falling into His arms.

We still freak out.  A lot.  

We still get frustrated.  A lot.

And we still deeply grieve.  A lot.

But, we are also growing in faith.  A LOT.

We've traded a well-planned life, for rickety slopes where paperwork is fluttering by, sometimes never to be found again.

And... we trust it is part of His plan.

Do I scream?  Sometimes.

Our life is now overtaken by people and situations we can't control (like we have any control anyway...all an illusion we grabbed more tightly in the past).

Transporters trek down a completely different path of puttering, leaking oil, flat tires.  Always late or disappearing for hours with Little Bitty.

I stand by with no control and watch a child I love being strapped into a car seat that does not meet up to my personal safety standards (or probably those of the federal law).  Little Bitty often squished between multiple babies or toddlers to go to a birth family visit.

There has been much releasing and letting go of my plans and comforts as we have embraced this calling. 

Court dates ride on a fast mine train from Indiana Jones.  Whizzing by.  Leaving me dizzy, disoriented.  Fearful.

And, He whispers...trust me.
  
The inconsistent ride can be maddening if I am putting my hope and trust in the ride-- steep drops and fast rolls in stark contrast to the sluggish time frame and decisions.  If my eyes wander from the eyes of my Savior, my trust falters.

After eight months of rescheduled court dates, in my hopeless hours, it all seemed like a waste.

As we entered court a few weeks ago, He again gently unfolded our eyes to see His precise plan.  His hand chiseling the details for a perfect, specific time.

A significant plot twist occurred the week before our court date-- a time He knew would expose the truth and the children's best interests.

None of the days beforehand wasted with babysitters and Kevin taking off from work.

Our hours sitting on benches only to be told to go home.  Nothing wasted.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither
 are your ways my ways (Isa 55:8)
 
We finally got our court date.  Trading one set of uncomfortable benches for hard pews situated behind our attorneys inside the courtroom.

We spent two days listening to lawyers and witnesses.

Waiting.


The wooden pews in Family Court remind me of the ones I quietly occupied as first grader.  Sitting close beside my best friend, Kathleen, in a tiny PCA church in small-town Alabama waiting for the sermon to end.

We'd pass notes to each other and giggle.  Satin bows, stockings, patent leather shoes.

The solid oak benches of Family Court, however, are most definitely stained with five million more germs than those of my childhood church.  (I am a self-professed germaphobe and carry loads of hand cleaner everywhere).

The seats have also withstood more than their fair share of daily splatterings of tears, heartbreak, and families in deep pain.

If pews could talk and we had ears to hear, we would be on our knees daily crying out for the least of these within our city.

Family Court is in an area of town I had never visited before.

Poverty screams at you with cracked sidewalks and shards of glass in window frames of abandoned buildings.

Rubble.

Prostitutes.  Drug dealers.

The businesses still standing are surrounded by barbed wire.

I never knew this part of town existed.

Life is cozy on my side of town.  My zip code.

In the past, it was easy to live life with my eyes tightly shut.

Pretend my own life was not as broken as those sidewalks, shards of glass surrounding me.

Sometimes we open our eyes by choice, other times it's the grace of God that peels them open to view ourselves as we truly are-- a broken mess in desperate need of rescue. 

We have walked through the metal detectors and up the flight of stairs of Family Court too many times to count since Little Bitty moved in with us.

For two days we held on tightly to wooden benches as a tidal wave engulfed us, sucking us under to watch a parent's worst nightmare.

A fractured family.

Wholeness slipping further from their grip.

Shattered.

That's really the only word I can think of.  Shattered.

There is no doubt in my mind that Kevin and I were placed on those benches by the Father Himself.

Still a place we'd rather not be, if we're being honest.  

It's hard to look brokenness in the eye, especially when you hold up a mirror and gaze at a similar reflection staring back at you.  That's us-- a fractured family saved by the grace of God.  Still bearing the scars, always grateful for His hand dipping down to rescue us.

The rescue, our story, our passion-- the place we've been called.  Advocate.  Be a voice.

The two days we held on with a fierce grip to those sturdy pews in the courtroom, fighting through prayers and conversations with legal people.

Listening to shattered hopes and story after story of heartbreak.

And now we wait.  Again.

And we stretch our arms wide.

Across the chasm, the gaping space, where in God's perfect design He created a mama and daddy to be.

There we find Christ's arms are already enfolding us, drawing us to the place He's called. 

Holding us up as we hold Little Bitty.










{image - gettyimage.com}

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Waste




I am a champion belly-flopper.

Into a pile of waste.

Wasted time.

Wasted thought life.

I get stuck there.

I forget who I am.

Sink into well-worn currents of wrong beliefs.

Back flip and swan dive into the refuse.

Backstroke into depths--further away from truth.

Wallow in the mess.

Until a flicker catches my eye.

My focus shifts.

A silhouette; there all along.

He wades deep into the muck.

Draws me out again with solid arms.

I hear Him say,

Nothing, oh nothing, ever goes to waste.













{photo credit: nanobitwallpaper.com}

{photo credit:  www.rpcboatpeople.blogspot.com}