Friday, November 21, 2014

Christmas Grace







It’s not even Thanksgiving.

Today my eight-year old and I wrapped Christmas gifts for boys that don’t have a family.

We love them dearly.

Almost three years now they’ve been in the foster care system.  Little Bitty is the only blood relative who is involved in their lives.

This morning, MG and I finished her schoolwork early.  An idea expanded on our way home from dropping Little Bitty at preschool.

Like acrylics spreading across blank canvas, our strategy grew— the colors of our minds merging a plan to diligently finish a Grammar test so we could steal away to our garage and spend the morning creating.

Hers a Christmas gift on a tiny canvas.

Mine a much larger wedding gift.

Bare feet on cold gray concrete.

All silent but brush strokes and squeezing colored tubes onto palettes.

The quietness broken by her small voice,

Mom I’m sad.

I wondered how mixing hues had stirred sorrow in her heart and asked,

What are you sad about honey?

I’m sad because B and S don’t have a home, a family.

My creative trance abruptly shattered.

The cracks in my chest split open, exposing the fullness of heartbreak and longing that resides there.

Wet brushes in our hands, we knelt down on the frigid floor and prayed for Little Bitty’s brothers.

By God’s tremendous grace, we were given funds to purchase Christmas gifts for the boys.

People who don’t know them held out open palms and said yes to love them.

A brown truck and many cardboard packages arrive daily.

We decided to welcome Christmas early— carrying a few presents with us each time we see them.

Typically, foster children's wish lists go to churches or are placed upon Angel Trees for people to pick their names and purchase gifts.

We asked their social worker for their lists a few weeks ago so we could help.

Each boy had three things they wanted.

They were surprised today when we arrived toting wrapped rectangular boxes.  Green paper with swirled white trees.  My husband with a penguin gift bag swinging from his arm.

Raw excitement and shock on their faces, they slowly ripped paper.

Hesitant.

The youngest peeked inside the Nike box.  Savoring the anticipation of fully opening the orange lid.  He had the shoes on his list, probably not expecting to actually receive them.

The oldest didn't have the shoes on his list.  He sat stunned.  Finally lifting the lid and holding the shoes to frame his face.

With a broad smile, he repeated over and over how much he loved them.

The penguin bag contained camouflage hats which they quickly perched atop their dark brown curls.

We can’t solve their deep grief.  We can’t heal their hearts.  We can’t give them a family.

But the body of Christ wanted to generously give to two little boys who have very little.

They are seeing Christ as they are loved, cherished, and known.

Each time we visit them, they run to embrace our entire family.  The same thing when it's time to go-- the youngest boy declares it's group hug time.

Even the lady who the State of Alabama pays to drive them back to their foster home is included in the hug-fest.

The youngest asked my man tonight if he’d help him with his homework— it’s a Friday night and we only had two hours together.  This precious boy aches for a daddy.

My heart breaks and tears splatter over the keyboard.

They are in a dark place.

May He shine light and quickly come to their rescue.

Would you please pray for all the children who are desperate for a family?

Please visit The Heart Gallery to see waiting children in Alabama or visit your state’s waiting children list.



The Light


Gulf Shores 2012

The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?  Psalm 27:1

If it were up to my flesh,  I'd prefer to stay complacent, comfortable.

Unmoving.

Many of the chapters of my life still raise gigantic question marks for me.

My eyebrows lifted as I question why?

Pages of my story stained by too many tears to count.

And he answers, I know the number.  For I store your tears in a jar (Psalm 56:8).

Yet, sorrow, is never the main theme.

Page after page of my life reflect the kindness and redemption of the Father.

His mercy, compassion, and tenderness towards me.

His light.

Often His prodding me to more is like a strong shove into places I'd never choose on my own.

Sometimes into the dark.

Times where I feel swallowed whole into a thick expanse of forest.

Stark gray trees rising to endless heights.

Black spindly arms like skeletons against the sky.

The wilderness.



Hosea 2:14-23 speaks of Him alluring us into the wilderness.

Speaking tenderly to us.

Giving us a new name, betrothing us to Him forever.


Held by Grace - m singleton


The absolute last place I'd choose on my own and He graciously, tenderly, lovingly calls me to more.

The wilderness is often a rescue.  A painful rescue.  For He wants ALL of us.  All of our heart.

God was in the dark cloud where Moses met Him (Exodus 20:21).  And He is in the darkness with us.

The wilderness and wandering often stir a desire
so intense that my chest aches with longing for more of Him.

Other times, the desolate surroundings leave me feeling like Little Red Riding Hood.

Lost in a vast sea of danger.

My passion for Him can quickly turn to worry and fear.

Doubt.

Panic.

My orphan-mentality can propel me to numbing out, anger, restlessness, defeat, despair, addiction...you name it.

And then what about those times when I'm begging for quick rescue?

And the response seems to be...nothing.

Silence from God.

Some of my most sorrowful hours have been wandering in the dry ashes of grief with a seeming indifferent God.

Knowing all the while the Maker of the universe is in perfect control, able to pull me out.

So Why doesn't He?

When chapters often end and begin anew with an unchanged plot-- me still walking battered down dry paths, why won't He pull me out when I want?

Just as golden beams crest above the horizon at daybreak, His light eventually ruptures the wilderness...in His timing.

You see, that is part of the rescue.  Time in the wilderness being wooed by the Father can be transforming if we allow Him to hold us in the ravaging winds.

As I emerge beaten, bruised, and parched from the storms, His light kissing my soul, I realize the darkness was a kindness and mercy from the Father.

To refine and draw me nearer to Christ in His sufferings.

When I am willing, the wilderness can be a time of deep intimacy with my Savior.

I may feel parched and dry, but His word waters, His arms enfold, His light breaks through even when circumstances remain unchanged or worsen.

It is always Him holding me, after all.

To Him be the glory!







{photo credit:  http://wallpaperswide.com/}

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fellowship of Grace




Honored to write a guest post on The Quiet Place blog on their monthly theme, Community.  We could not do life without the dear people placed in our lives.  So grateful for those who hold our arms up when we can't.



http://www.the-quiet-place.com/2014/11/fellowship-of-grace.html




Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Attachment is Not Crazy

 
As a mama to a child from a hard place, I truly do not care if others think I'm crazy.

The past year has stretched me outside my comfort zone in so many ways.

So, when I crouched down in church to tell the Sunday School music teacher that she couldn't hug my daughter, her shocked face did not move me.

She had knelt down to invite Little Bitty into her arms.

I didn't feel like I needed to give her a book on trauma and attachment.

Nor did I give a lengthy explanation.

I just said, Sorry she can only hug her family.

Attachment is a real issue and I'm willing to fight for it.

People will not understand, many will be offended.

Many already think I'm crazy.

That's okay.

Last week, I toweled off our girl's little bitty body fresh from the tub and grabbed her pajamas.

I off-handedly said, You are such a good girl!

Her little feet stamped wet imprints on the pink wool rug trimmed with mint green and white polka-dots.

Her sing-song voice answered back, No mama, I'm a bad girl.

I reached for tiny shoulders, drawing near to her head-- a tight bun of soaked black curls.

I focused on her dark eyes and, in confusion, asked, Why do you say that sweetie?  Why do you say you are a bad girl?

She gazed up at me, Because I don't know who to hug.  I hug the wrong people.

Oh bless her.  It's been hard.

I affirmed that little bitty girl and hugged her close.  I assured her it was a normal part of growing up-- learning who to hug.

Something that seems like second nature to parenthood-- attaching to your child-- is a struggle for many children from hard places.

Sometimes the huge progress from the last year of bonding and hours of play therapy sessions splinter like hewn wood in an instant.

The remnant particles float through the room like sawdust--the gaps of our bond dangle in space in front of me and I suck deeply to draw clean air into my lungs.
 

To a normal observer, the mocha cutie with tightly coiled hair is just friendly as she bounces across a room full of strangers, working the room like a pro with her skillful shrieks and hugs.

She just appears to be lovable and precious and huggable to all.

And she most definitely is! 
Her eyes met mine at a recent football game.

As she toed the line, moving further away from me.

Down the fence line towards a total stranger.

Daring me to come after her.



To a careful observer on attachment, it's problematic:

She's hugging a complete stranger at church.

She's running across the tiny home school co-op to be lifted into another mama's arms and tossed into the air. (I love you Heather!)

She disappears at the picnic and we discover she's having dinner with an unknown family.

She's sitting in every teenager's lap in the gym.

You see, it's often the unspoken struggle that many adoptive and foster parents don't talk about.

We don't always have years of bonding from infancy-- memories to draw upon for the hard days.

On my worst days with my biological children, I can reminisce of nuzzling them as newborns, recall their stages of development.  There's an investment of years in our relationship that trumps the times when our connection is broken.

With Little Bitty, we don't have those memories.

We are having to create them.

As a sinful mama, the difficult days are even harder with her.

Because I often forget...

All that she's lost, all that she's trying to learn

Her past brokenness, her story

My story, who I am in Christ

This is my calling, where past and present collide, the moment of redemption and hope.

There is always, always hope for tomorrow.  He is building beauty from ashes.
 












 



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Monday, November 3, 2014

Lies





Evil comes with sugary charm.
Promises good, to do no harm.
A hug, a gift, peck on the cheek.
It's with a kiss betrayal seeks.

Beauty masks the slithering sneak.
Flesh is singed.  I can not speak.
Gray curls wicked into my ear.
The truth I know, but still I fear.

Sooty lies twist flesh apart.
A scalding deep within my heart.
Sinew rips.  Cut bleeds red.
Black forges pathway to my head.

Sometimes I wonder where there's light.
With life such a battle, a fight.
I know the love and true light within.
But some days feel like evil wins.




 







{photo credit:https://www.flickr.com/}