The story that didn’t make the book

Having never written a book before, I did not know how deep and personal I was going to get with my audience. I made what is called a mind map and wrote out one or two word prompts for the big ticket items that made up my foster care experience. You can read my devotional here. There was a very important thing that happen to me that I just wasn’t willing to make public. Granted, this story is not a secret. I told it publicly at my girls adoption ceremony in 2011 and have told it to select friends. But the story is deeply personal and I didn’t feel up to sharing it in the book.

Dealing with the “system” is difficult and the goal as a foster parent is to serve the children in need. It’s difficult to do this and keep our minds on Christ during this time. I had what I would call a “God moment” before we got our girls. It was big when it happened. But as time went on, I would forget about it and enter into a state of doubt and overwhelm when faced with the different aspects of foster care.

Of course, when we shared it at our adoption ceremony, God was on our hearts and in our minds. We were so thankful and hopeful and ready to start our life together as a family. Once again, as time went on, this story fell from the forefront of my mind. At a very low and pitiful moment in the last year, I shared my doubts and overwhelm at the situation of our oldest daughter to a group of sisters at a Bible study. One friend, who had been to our ceremony and remembered my story, hugged me close and told me that God had put me with them and that I had what I needed to take care of my child. She reminded me of the story that i had forgotten as I was so bogged down in the present and defeated. Since that moment, I have reminded myself of this story and used it to persevere through my trials.

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Photo by Nathalia Segato on Unsplash

I was winding down a road in my subdivision in the summer of 2011 when I heard on the radio a very unfortunate story about a local murder case involving a young child. Just hearing it pricked my heart and I started crying out to God. I was praying, “Lord, here I am wanting to help children who are needing homes. God, if you would give me children, I would love them so much and take care of them.

Fast forward two weeks. I get a call from our child placement agency while I am in my car. The first words from her mouth about the children were, “You might have already heard a little bit about their story, it’s been in the news.” I knew that exact moment who they were and tears filled my eyes. I pulled over to talk to her on the phone. I got to know their ages and my husband got on the phone with me to give his “Yes” also. We were on our way to welcoming the girls into our life.

I did not know that these girls existed when I called out to God that day in the car. There was nothing about them on the radio story. I’m not sure how it all works spiritually speaking but I think God knew that he was giving them to me. My spirit knew that I was receiving them. I made a space for them in my heart that summer’s day. Two weeks later, with God’s intervention, we made a space for them in our home. This “God moment” I like to call it, is a sign of providence and his hand in our lives. It spurs me on to continue to parent them as I was chosen to do, when I know without a doubt that they were meant to be with me. The scripture Romans 8:26-28  (NRSV) agrees with this principal.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

I hope that this encourages you. I know that you have God moments in your life too. I’d love for you to share them with me.

God is making moves in our lives all the time. He is touching us and anointing us for special things when we are ready to receive the call. I learned most importantly in the last year or two, to remember his calling on our lives. If we do remember, it will spur us onto great things. It will encourage us when we are feeling defeated; it will strengthen us when we are down.

“I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; I will remember your wonders of old. I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds.Your way, O God, is holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have displayed your might among the peoples.” Psalm 77:11-14

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Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

It’s difficult when you are in the thick of your problems to forget how far you have come. Praise the Lord today for his goodness. Pray for a remembrance of the times that he has shown himself in your life, the times he has pulled through, and the great joy you have experienced in the past. Hope expectantly today for a breakthrough in the issues that you are experiencing, the sanctification you are needing, and the change you are desiring. God will provide a way.

Why now?

It’s been almost a week since my devotional was published and what an exciting week it was. If you have read it and haven’t left a review yet, leave one here. It will help other foster parents find it and be uplifted.

I have already heard back from a handful of people about how much they have enjoying the book and it is very encouraging to me.

I love to read and if I am enjoying the book that I am reading, I really love to devour it. I would encourage you, however, that if you often devour books, that you eat the devotional as you would an elephant- one bite at a time. Let the scriptures soak into your soul and spirit. Watch as the truths manifest in your life by giving you joy and peace, that can only come from God.

You can get the book here. I have lowered the price to $2.99 this week.

I wrote the book over a period of a few months. During my little kids “quiet time” and my big girls’ “free time”, I would sit down in my recliner and study my bible. Then I would open up my laptop and get to writing. I’d spend a time writing down the memorable stories from my foster care journey- the tough times and then the happy times. One by one, I would relive the moments. I would put myself in that place and uncover old emotions and right the wrongs that I felt in my life.

I was also ministering to myself through the Word as I tackled the troubled situations that I am experiencing in my family. I was coming to terms with a decision made years ago, to love hurting children. I am still committed to loving hurting children, even more so now than ever, I am realizing that the first step of fostering was a big step, however, choosing to continue in daily love and commitment to these children is what carries me further in my ministry and faith. Living life and loving life with peace and victory instead of fear and defeat is my goal.

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Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash

I want to get upfront real quickly and let you know that my life is not perfect. I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139) but not a spiritual superstar. The past year or two have been difficult for our family; we have had difficult circumstances and difficult decisions to make. Our oldest girl (13) whom we adopted and have been with for 6 years, has had severe mental, emotional, and social struggles. This has impacted our family tremendously. I won’t get into the gory details but needless to say, it left us feeling like our world was turned upside down. I questioned everything: myself, my decisions, and even the character of God.

I never doubted His love, but I doubted His plan, His sovereignty, His promises. I was so confused- “Why was this happening to our family?” It left me topsy-turvy and literally sick at times. Luckily, I received healing spiritually and physically after getting back on track and digging into the Truth of His Word. I was approaching these circumstances all wrong. As I studied God’s truths I discovered the lies that I had been believing. I realized that I had made the correct decisions for my family the whole time. I needed to live by faith and continue on in this ministry- with the joy and peace of God. Jesus promised to give us his peace and that we could have abundance. It’s up to us to use this peace in our lives.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14:27 NRSV

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Photo by Davies Designs on Unsplash

I know that you have probably had the wind knocked out of your sails on more than one occasion. Problems in life can leave you feeling defeated, miserable, and lonely- we need to be reminded that we can weather the storms with Jesus’ peace.

All of the issues in our family right now are not solved. Week after week there are hiccups and bumps in the road. Now, I am learning how to whether the storm- not by simply hanging on in the storm, suffering with my eyes closed, because I can’t bear it. But now I am opening my eyes and looking to God, seeing the storm in my mind, and commanding it to be calmed. I’m praying for God and his ministers to calm the storm in my daughter’s life also. We are learning better ways to parent her and ways to set boundaries for our family’s sake.

I hope you will find comfort and peace in this message. Next week, I will tell you a story that didn’t make the book. It will help you to get to know my story even better. Until then, I will leave you with this scripture:

“For this reason, since the day we heard it (of the church’s new Faith), we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.  May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled  you  to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” The Apostle Paul to the Church at Colossae (Colossians 1:9-14 NRSV)

 

 

Who am I?: Losing Your Identity to Motherhood

I remember taking a look at my old blog last year. One I started in 2010. It was before we fostered, before we adopted, before we birthed. I looked at pictures of my past mission trips, hiking trips, and musings. I just stared at the pictures of myself and honestly I felt so disconnected from that person.

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My blog thumbnail in 2010- Taken on our first cruise to Cozumel, Mexico

Motherhood is all consuming. It’s easy to lose sight of all my other roles: wife, daughter, nurse, sister. Children are completely dependent little people. And because I focus so much on them I start to wonder:

Who in the world is that person? What did I used to be like? Who am I now?

Because I feel like I am a totally different person than I was before.

More like I started singing that song from Mulan, “Who is that girl I see staring straight back at me?” Because all I watch is Disney movies now!

I’ve been a mom for 7 years now and I’ve mothered 7 children. Not all of my children have I kept however. In 4 years I’ve fostered 4 children and adopted 2 of them. So I’ve had quite a bit of roles: foster mom, adoptive mom, biological mom. Granted, they are still all “mom”. Despite the fact that foster and adoptive have some added bureaucratic responsibilities they all “look” the same to me.

Motherhood has this way of changing women. I guess it could be for the worse but mostly it SHOULD be for the better. Or maybe it doesn’t change us. It just brings out the bits of us that we’ve never seen before. The sleep deprived, anxious, angry bits. The overwhelming, overflowing, joyous, happy bits. There is nothing like it.

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Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

Motherhood has this way of changing women. I guess it could be for the worse but mostly it SHOULD be for the better. Or maybe it doesn’t change us. It just brings out the bits of us that we’ve never seen before. The sleep deprived, anxious, angry bits. The overwhelming, overflowing, joyous, happy bits. There is nothing like it.

Maybe motherhood hasn’t made me any different. Maybe I’m still made of the same me that I was before. I’m just showing something new on the outside that was always there.  Maybe I’m ever changing. I’m learning new habits and breaking old ones. I’m learning to cherish new moments and set aside my old desires. I’m breaking a little over here and mending a little over there. Sometime it hurts and sometimes it feels good.

And then I get it.

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.” Malachi 3:3-4 NIV

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Photo by Johannes Wredenmark on Unsplash

Jesus is making me better. Even better than 2010 when I started my first blog. Even when I wore a size 8. When I went on mission trips. When I went weeks without losing my temper. When I had hardly anything to remember so I had nothing to forget. When I had more free time than ever. When I was more self-consumed than ever. When I had less joy and appreciation for Him.

He’s refining me like a piece of metal. He stokes up the fires and gets my impurities out. The fires are not meant to consume me, they are meant to show what is inside of me. So he can do the work to get them out.

Sometimes all I can see are the impurities. I forget about the glittery gold and the shiny silver that I actually am. He sees everything yucky about me and he still loves me. He doesn’t give up on refining me because he knows how valuable I am.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV

God has a plan for us. He has work for us to do. Motherhood is work and it is a good work. It’s not our only work but sometimes it feels that way. Its also part of his purifying plan. It helps us to see the things inside us that we need to change. It helps us to see His love, His plan, His creation, His disappointment, His ache for things to get better for us.

So who am I now? Who was I back then? I’m not sure there’s a clear cut answer. There are things I am missing about the old me, I shouldn’t miss them, but I do. There are things about the present me that I don’t like, I can’t seem to fix them, but He will. There is beauty that he is creating in me now. Right now.

I might not know who I am…But I know Whose I am. I am God’s purifying project.