I want to remember the hard and ugly, not just easy and pretty.

Lately I’ve felt a stronger pull to live in the moment more. Our community has lost persons in it recently. I’ve read about things on news pages about lives lost at young ages. I’ve really felt the shortness of life being emphasized around me.

It’s not that we don’t know it deep down, but at certain times of life events bring it more to the forefront. I’ve seen posts about wanting to savor moments when kids have done something cute, or are wearing something cute, basically anything good that people want to remember. I get it as well. I want to remember the good times all the time. Those are the memories that keep us a little bit encouraged when facing hard days with them.

I want to start living in the moments that seem harder at the time as well though. The days I’ve told (and been ignored) by my one year old after telling him “no” a million times-I want to be there. The days I’m exhausted from the time I wake up until my head hits the pillow at the end of the day-I want to be there. The days my girls fight nonstop and I feel like all I’ve done is referee-I want to be there. The days I feel like I’ve done nothing but keep my kids alive-yep, I want to be there too.

I don’t want to just live for the good moments. I want to be an active participant in every part of my life. Why? Because it all serves a purpose. When my one year old does finally listen to that “no”, it emphasizes how important the incessant “no’s” were. The days I wake up exhausted, I know it’s because I’m busy with little people who are some of the most important to me in this world. The days my girls fight and are forced to make amends, relationship is being built. (You can’t have two divas in the same house and it expect arguments to occur while living in close quarters). The days my only accomplishment is keeping them alive is reason to celebrate-because it’s no easy task.

Another reason I don’t want to wish any day away is because I’m not promised rainbows and butterflies throughout life, let alone try to plan it so that’s what I get right before anything bad ever were to happen. Life doesn’t only have purpose when it’s easy. Life doesn’t only have purpose when it looks good. Every moment has purpose because you were given it to live in. In James 4 we’re reminded that life is a vapor. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. We’ve got today, and regardless of the circumstances, I want to be all in.

We don’t live life with only today in mind. A life lived for the short term, in any aspect, isn’t very encouraging. You can’t spend money without thought for tomorrow. I mean, you could but it’d probably get you into some monetary issues. We don’t think of our diet in terms of today. We don’t gorge ourselves daily because we would careless about the long term. The good and the bad total up the sum of your life-and it all has value. Let’s not forget there is purpose in moments of adversity as well.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved”. -Helen Keller

Break Pride to Pieces

This past weekend, I had a moment of dread when I thought I had been doing something wrong to my daughter’s hair the past 5 years. For those that don’t know, child #3 is adopted and is a different race than me. I’ve spent hours and hours reading, watching, practicing, and talking with others in order to better learn how to do her hair.

I initially learned how to do it because I do not ever want my daughter to feel like she HAS to go outside the home to have her needs taken care of. Yes, it will look better when it’s done at a salon as she gets older. Mine looks better when I go to a salon as well. So, it’s never bothered me that some day we may end up at the salon.

The other night revealed a less desirable trait in me as well. The first thing I felt when I thought I was wrong, was embarrassment. Embarrassment because I was worried what people would think if they found out I had been doing her hair wrong? Would it confirm the idea that multi-racial families are just too complicated? Would people think I’m not the best fit mom for my girl?

After this brief moment of doubt, I was reminded that I felt embarrassed because I had put too much pride in myself and my own abilities. Pride has no place in the heart of a believer, when placed in anything other than God. Can I have pride during my lifetime? Absolutely-but I put my pride in the right context when I realize any and every ability I have is given to me by God.

I’ve been reading a Puritan prayer a week from the book The Valley of the Vision by Arthur Bennett. My prayer this week is called “The Great God”. There is a section that goes like this: “Annihilate each clinging shred of self-righteousness, Implant in me true lowliness of spirit,… break me, then bind me up;…Thus will my heart be a prepared dwelling for my God;”. To annihilate means to utterly destroy. To implant means to establish. We should ask God for the grace to utterly destroy every shred of our own self-righteousness. (Because we cannot do it on our own). We should then constantly ask for lowliness of spirit to be established in us. (Because it’s not easy to not feel full of ourselves).

I get that the Christian life is often a topsy-turvy, upside down kind of life. What we are told to do often doesn’t make sense to the masses. But remember there is freedom in learning to die to self and live for God-in all aspects of life.

What reinforces this belief? The fact that when I realized doing my daughter’s hair correctly or incorrectly is not about me. It’s about her, because I want it to be done correctly. It’s mostly about God though, because in all areas of my life I want to glorify Him. There are times that only way we can glorify Him is correcting our mistakes and trying to do different. We try to do different by reminding our selves of the truths of the only person who truly can bind and heal our hearts.

I mean that as this story relates to where my mind goes when I do make a mistake, and how I handle the mistake. Long story short-I reached out to a friend who told me I was doing it correctly. I didn’t have anything I did need to correct. If I did, guess what? I would have corrected it next time and life would still continue.

If I wouldn’t have been focused on self, I wouldn’t have questioned whether or not I was the right mom for my girl, because I know God has given me this child on purpose. I don’t have to care about what others think of my mothering, because only one opinion truly matters. I wouldn’t focus on the difficulties of multi-racial families because I would recall the truth that no life is without difficulties.

Moments like this are bound to reappear all throughout life. Thankfully God’s truths are still here and they apply to all facets of life, even hair.

The Most Important Relationships

I stayed home tonight from my oldest son’s football practice to clean my house. I know I have 4 kids but my house will not be a disaster regardless. Yes, throughout the day there are many toys and other items strewn throughout the house, but I know those will easily be picked up at the end of the day. I do not like messy bathrooms, kitchens, dust on furniture, etc.

When my 8 year old daughter heard I was staying home, however; she decided it was a perfect night for some mommy and me time. We went on a walk. While on the walk, we stopped and watched the Monarch butterflies fluttering about the empty land around our area. She pointed them out to me. She stopped and took pictures. She was elated. I offered up a silent prayer of thanksgiving because I knew these are the moments.

Our kids long for relationship with us. More than any other thing in their life, they long for connection and acceptance at home. They want to know we’re a safe place for them. Kids want to (and need to) know that no matter what happens, we are there for them.

A lot of times this looks like us giving up our time, or talking about things we don’t want to talk about. (No, I don’t know Patrick Mahome’s favorite color). (No, I can’t dance like that). How many times have I done girls hair while secretly wishing I could relax? How many times have I laid with them for a couple minutes to tickle their arms? I read a quote somewhere listening to the little things so they will learn to trust you with the big things.

Some of you are thinking “that’s not how I want to spend my life”, “what about me?” The people in my home are the closest proximity to share my witness and testimony with. It is my life’s joy to walk side by side with these little people, not because it’s easy. It’s my joy because I’m not nurturing to be my little people forever. I’m nurturing them to be adults. Who I am around them matters. So many of us save our best selves for those outside our home, but friends, it ought not be this way. Yes, we may apologize more to them (because they’re more likely to see our flaws), but even in our faults-relationship happens.

What makes it easier to want to live a life of flexibility with my time in order to build connections? In Philippians 2:6-7 in reference to Christ it says “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:”

We know according to John 10:30 that Jesus states He and His Father are one. So by that verse, we know Jesus doesn’t think he’s anything he’s not. We also know that Jesus didn’t come to the earth in the form of a King. He came as a servant to men, even until His death on the cross. So I know if I am to be like Christ, I am to live a life after His example. We should bear a resemblance of His life, if we expect the benefit of His death.

On our walk, my girl asked me what she would do if an anything ever happened to me and she was with me. Of course, we had to play out several scenarios. Then she said “I just don’t think I’d be able to do anything”. I told her “Yes, you will because you don’t walk alone. You have the strength of God with you as well”.

How am I able to have conversations like that with my daughter? Because of my relationship with God. Relationship is what He wants from us as well. More than any other thing in my life, I have connection and acceptance with Him. I know He is my safe place. I know that no matter what happens, He is there for me. It’s because of my relationship with God that I can attempt to emulate relationships with my kids. God doesn’t leave me as I was when I first went to Him. I don’t plan to let my kids leave me without trying to show them the truth, where I can, in whatever ways I’m allowed to. If we would do it for others, we should be more than willing for the ones we’re entrusted with.

Don’t worry, my bathrooms got cleaned as well. 😉

Suffering with others

I went through a hard time a few years ago. It was about a year after the failed attempt to adopt our daughter’s sister. I think it took a year to realize she probably wasn’t going to end up with us. Losing hope like that is heartbreaking. I found myself being discontent with life, the way my life is. Should I be more than just a mom? Did the hubs really appreciate me? Am I ever going to fit in with my family and friends?

This led me to act different with others. I wasn’t calling to God as I once did. I wasn’t reaching into His Word when I needed answers. I knew I was angry with the situation, but I wanted to mull in that for a little bit. I wanted to be angry. I wanted to live in the disappointment I felt for a little bit.

One of the most surprising things, was that throughout my struggles, some of my Christian friends were the ones who didn’t have patience for my struggle. They were ones that just kept their distance, and I guess waited to see if it would pass or not.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that feelings are not always truth. God made us human. He gave us feelings. We see that Jesus felt things while He was here. (Weeping when Lazarus died). We must not be afraid to feel, but we must also reflect on those feelings in light of what we know to be true.

I did have a friend (and many others), but one sticks out, that just tried to love me during that. Yes, she is a Christian so this is by no means a bash on Christians. But she met me where I was. She asked me what was going on. I knew she was praying for me and she was sharing truths we both depended on. She also wasn’t afraid to sit with me in the pit for a little bit. This made all the difference in the world in my seeing the goodness of God in the midst of my struggle. That’s why we’re here anyway: to spread the love, truth, and wisdom of God.

I fear this is something we forget far too often nowadays. You can log on to any social media platform today and within minutes see people attacking others. We have so many opinions out there anymore it’s easy to get caught up in it. I’ve found myself in it a time or twenty.

We are told to love one another, bear with one another, be patient with one another, serve one another, teach one another, comfort one another, encourage one another, and the list goes on. We cannot do that when we are caught up in our own self righteousness.

In order to do any of those tasks we must humble ourselves. I realize it’s not always easy to walk alongside others during certain events in life. I get it. I don’t know of many other ways that show the love of God more than suffering beside and for others. After all, that’s what Jesus did for us.

May we start from a place of humility before we approach others who are struggling, or even those who are joyful. May we remember that we are reminded in Romans 12 to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

Continue reading “Suffering with others”

Rest for Struggle

For my entire life (that I can remember) I remember yearning for the normal, consistent, boring family. I remember watching TV shows thinking “I’m going to have that life some day”.

Welp, here I am: a house full of kids, blessed to be able to (mostly) stay home, a husband who adores me (there must be something wrong right?) and that I adore equally in return. I legit go to bed every night thanking God for giving me so much more than I deserve. These gifts are not lost on me.

I also recognized something else in my life though. There is no normal. We have been through many transitions in our 11 years of marriage. We married young, had babies young, adopted, had a failed adoption, and gone into foster care. That’s just in our immediate family! I’m not even including anything else coming from outside my house.

I started to get pretty confident that I’m a cool cucumber (is that a thing?) now. We’ve handled it all, there’s nothing new to stress about anymore. Then Covid happened. Then school enrollment happened. Who knew signing your kids up for school could lead to eye twitches? (Thanks stress).

But then I remembered something: this is my gift. This life. This family. This struggle. Guys-in this life I’m marching with my eyes set on something much bigger, better even. It doesn’t end with today’s problems, or even today’s blessings.

Every transition or change in life should be approached with one goal in mind- to glorify Christ. Am I trusting in Him? Not just with my decisions, but to sustain me after those choices are made. Do I believe that if I made a choice I regretted, that God will use it for His good regardless, if I’m looking to Him?

Because that’s the truth friends: God is the end all. The decisions you and I are facing may seem huge, even overwhelming, right now. But they are still temporary problems. While Covid and it’s repercussions may last longer than we’d like, and it may effect more areas of life than we’d like, eventually it will end. When it gets to be too much, remember what you’re marching towards- Who you will meet at the finish line. In the meantime, let’s give grace and love each other.

I am not Against Cops, but I do believe Black Lives Matter

I don’t believe systematic racism is a myth. I do believe our culture has conditioned us to be fearful of blacks, regardless of whether or not we realize it. But I also believe majority of Cops go into the position hoping to make a difference and not to wrongly harm others. There are Cops I know who I would absolutely trust with my life. I don’t want my kids to fear Cops if they are ever in a place of danger and need help.

That being said, there is an undertone of systematic racism that has colored our history. I don’t think most people even realize they harbor feelings of it in themselves. I didn’t. Being raised in a small town, with little diversity, did not prepare me for becoming a multi-racial mom. I was bombarded with my own prejudices, prejudices I didn’t even realize I had.

I know I’m not the only one, and I do believe people of all occupations have the same prejudices as well. The black community is not safe until we address and change those prejudices. Prejudices that exist because we still take pride in the side of history that fought against equal rights of all persons in the United States.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t emphasize that even though everything right now is unstable, God is still good. He is still good when all that we count as comfort (or maybe just norm) has been ripped away. He is still good even though we are still having to address racism 60 years later. He is still good when uncertainty lingers and everything feels broken. George, Breonna, Ahmaud, and countless others, who have lost their lives due to racial injustice have ultimate hope that doesn’t lie in me or you.

Until then, we have been given a command to mourn with those who mourn. (Including the Cops trying to do right). And to stand for righteousness and justice, regardless of popularity.

Motherhood is not my Ultimate Calling

I wake up in the morning to either a baby crying or a kid (or kids) jumping on our bed.  I go to sleep after feeding a baby at night.  My days are marked by what time to pick my kids up, what time to drop them off, what events they have going on, what appointments may be scheduled, etc.  At this stage of life, much of my time is marked around my moments of mothering.

But, motherhood is not my ultimate calling.  If it were, what would that mean for my life when my kids are some day out of my house?  What would that mean for some people who never bear children of their own?  What would that mean if, Heaven forbid, something happened to my children?

My ultimate calling in this life is to give glory to God.  In whatever situation I find myself in, I am called to give glory to God. In 1 Corinthians 10 we’re reminded “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”.  That means whatever situation I find myself in throughout life, I can use it as a means to bring God glory.

Currently my main way of giving glory to God is through my mothering.  (As I stated above, with 4 kids, much of my time is spent mothering them).  What does that look like for me?  It’s doing my Bible study in the morning while the kids are still laying around and half of them are in school.  It’s listening to podcasts and sermons while doing dishes, cleaning, or feeding a bottle.  It’s CONSTANTLY praying for me to receive the tasks I’ve been given to do, in a God honoring way.

You may find your job fills most of your time.  You may be a full time student who finds yourself immersed in books and studying.  You may find yourself at a stage in life where you are caring for elder family members.  You may be a lucky grandparent who gets to watch your grandchild during the day.  Your situations will change throughout life.  Whatever your situation is, our calling is all the same- Do All To The Glory of God.

Social Justice is a Christian’s worry

“Let us examine together the Word of God, and then you will know what has moved me to sacrifice property and friendship, and home and reputation.  With Christian patience and Christian love, give me your attention to the end of this letter, whilst I endeavor to show you that the Holy God disapproves American slavery.” –William Brisbane, Abolitionist

As I learn more about history, it always surprises me how much history repeats itself.  As a Christian, who has adopted and fostered and has a multi racial family, it has surprised me how many people (some Christian) have thought I’m speaking up for things that aren’t actually a Christian’s concern.

While slavery isn’t the known social injustice in today’s time period, there are many other prevalent social injustices still evident.  You may be someone who chooses to put your head in the sand and say “that’s just the way it is”.  That doesn’t stop it from existing.  People made excuses for slavery, but that didn’t make it right.  If you are a Christian, especially, you have a duty to speak up for the marginalized and the down trodden.

For one, we have to be careful to try to not break our lives into “categories”.  It’s a dangerous thing to say “God belongs in this part of my life but not that part of my life”.  God is ruler of the world and that does not exclude the entirety of your life.  Every single part of our life is meant to bring honor and glory to God, no area being excluded.

We also can see in the Bible that Jesus was very much involved in breaking social norms while he walked the earth.  We see him giving respect to women (which wasn’t done often in those times).  They were seen as people that didn’t really have a voice and should just do what they were told to do.  He sat with “publicans, harlots, and sinners”.  People complained when Jesus went to Zacchaeus’s house because they didn’t think he was worthy of entertaining the presence of Jesus.

We should be a voice for all injustices in the world (as they accord with the Bible).  We need to not be so concerned with popularity, our reputation, or our own things when it comes to giving a voice to what is right.  We need to believe that we are all part of one family and act as such.

 

Adopted

I found myself sitting with baby K earlier this week making an “About Me” poster for her Preschool class.  We put her birth date and birth location.  She is the only one of my children who wasn’t born where we all live.  It seemed weird writing it, it felt like writing that made her different from the rest of my kids.  I know, I know, she is adopted.  She is a different race.  So obviously she LOOKS different from the other kids, but I feel like all of them look different from each other.  Sure, you could look at our biological kids and see some of mine and the hubs physical features in them.

I never have felt like they were any more destined to be in our family than baby K though, just because she was once adopted.  There has never been a doubt in my mind that she was destined, before hand to be exactly where she is.  Just like my bio kids.

It’s funny how much we put on “physical traits” to mean that a child belongs to a family.  Some biological families don’t even resemble each other, but when I write her birth location and when I am out and about with my family, I know that people view her as the one that “was lucky to end up in our family”.

Here’s a little bit about the luck that baby had of getting into this family.  She was brought into this first world by a momma who knew she couldn’t provide for her.  She was hand picked, by her first momma to join this family.  She was wheeled directly into a separate room after birth, while being comforted by a voice she didn’t recognize.  She lived in hotel rooms (with her family) for 2 weeks before coming home.  She has dealt with horrible asthma, that we can’t get answers to, since she was a newborn.

Truthfully, while I’m telling you her story, I could do it for any of my kids.  I could tell you how my first child screamed so much when he was a baby that I took all my maternity clothes to Goodwill when he was 3 months old.  I could tell you that I struggle daily with him believing he has to share this house with his sisters.  I could recount the story of #2’s birth and how she or I could have not come out of the operating room when she was born.  How I struggle now for her to not take everything so personally.  My youngest may physically resemble our family a bit more than baby K, but he was left at a hospital a couple of hours old.  He was welcomed into his home after a brief stint in 2 different hospitals.

I say all that to say this, we all have somewhere that our story began.  Biological children are not a formula to ensure the ease of their life or your family unit.  I find this most encouraging because I’m adopted too.  I came from a background of someone who loved myself more than most all others,  someone who lived in several homes growing up, someone who hasn’t always tried to have good relationships with those in my family.  I was someone who did several things I was ashamed of as I grew older.

Then I was adopted.  I was adopted into a family where “in Jesus Christ, you are all son’s of God, through faith.” (Galatians 3:26)  I was welcomed into a family, not based on my race, gender, economic status, or any other means.  I was welcomed because Jesus sought me, before the beginning of time, to be an heir with Him.

My story is different from yours.  My story is different from my husband’s, my childrens’, my friends’, but that’s only part of my story.  That’s only where it began.  Now we are brother’s and sister’s with each other, not because I was lucky or because I met a criteria.  Simply because I was chosen.  My brothers and sisters don’t all look like me either.

All of my children were handpicked to be in this earthly family.  It doesn’t matter that one of my children was born in a different state.  It doesn’t even matter that two of the four are biological.  They are brothers and sisters.  While their beginning was different from the others; they all ended up in this family.  Not on accident.  Not because any were lucky.

Because God chose us to steward each of these lives and raise them up to send them out.  Not for my husband nor myself- but for the One whose family they will ultimately end up in.  That family is for eternity.  I hope and pray to some day call them my brothers or sisters in Christ, because ultimately that’s where our family is headed.  This too, is just our beginning.

 

Morality VS Christianity

I am a woman in my early 30s.  I am a Christian.  I am right around the Millenial/Generation X time frame.  I tend to get a little disheartened when I hear the older generation of people discuss our world as if “the best has already been” and “it’s all downhill from here”.  Yes, I am of this generation so it’s not hard for me to find pros of this generation.  You relate to something more when you live it.

We can all agree that in the past, there were more laws (written and unwritten) that helped to hold up a certain level of morality in our culture.  We cannot equate morality to Christianity though.  If you yearn for the “good ole’ days” you’re probably not yearning for more Christianity, as much as you are yearning for more morality.  Therefore, I don’t necessarily feel as though it’s a topic that always needs to be discussed in the Christian circles as though all the Christians have disappeared.

I will argue that church events used to be more of a social thing than they are now.  People (Christian and not) would go to these events just to be able to socialize with friends.  This does still happen today, just not to the extent that it used to be.  Actions do not always signify a heart change.  Have you ever heard of the Pharisees? They were probably the most moral people you could find in their time, yet God called them hypocrites repeatedly.

Discussing our day like this always suggests a lack of trust in God’s work.  Does God have you here on accident?  Is the world the way it is on accident?  Does God just gasp in surprise every day? The answer here is no, to all of the above questions.  He has you here ON PURPOSE during THIS TIME.  Yes, we are dealing with things that may be “new” to our current living generations.  History also repeats itself, and I look in the Bible and see there is truly “nothing new under the sun”.

God doesn’t make mistakes.  Regardless of current hardships you see in this life, God overcomes them all.  He always has. He always will.