Nothing is impossible….

As I turned the calendar from October to November last week, I had to smirk just a little bit. Here’s what I found:

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This saying couldn’t have been more relevant to my life right now.

When I set to the task of writing a book a few months ago, (Yes, it only took a few months. If you’d like me to blog on my method, let me know.) I knew it was next to impossible. Lack of free time, a steep learning curve, lack of free time: these were all in my way.

I didn’t believe it was impossible though.

For nothing will be impossible with God. Luke 1:37

I did it and now it’s done. Yesterday, I launched my first book Fostering Feelings: A devotional guide to navigating the ups and downs of foster parenting. And I even wrote a second “baby” book to go along with it, for prospective foster parents, Feeling out Fostering: 10 questions to ask yourself before foster parenting. Check them out here.

But I am not yet finished of course. The first task was to write them, the second to compile them, and now the third is: to disperse them. What good is an unread book…

Very often, throughout this process, I have pictured my self as a bicyclist or runner approaching a large hill. I used to run and bike in the past-I only chase children now.

The best thing to do when you are in that situation is put the bike in low gear and just keep peddling. If a runner, put one foot in front of the other and run. Eventually, you will reach the apex of the hill. You will reach your destination if you do not give up.

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Perseverance is key in any situation. I have doubted myself at times during this process, but I am overcoming the odds of failure before me. People- I had to learn how to computer program, build a website, and so many other things I have never done before. I kept on going when my brain hurt because I knew that I have a message that God has given me. Now time to share that message.

The below verse has helped me in my perseverance. It just so happened to be in the sermon I heard this weekend.

Continue reading “Nothing is impossible….”

The Sweetest Thing

Every morning, I watch Baby Girl (almost 2 1/2) on the video monitor to see if she is stirring. When she starts wiggling around, I go upstairs to get her out of bed and take her to the potty. I pick her up out of her bed and put her blankie on my shoulder. She lays her head down on it, thumb in mouth, and tucks her face in between my cheek and shoulder as I carry her down the stairs.

But recently, as we descended the stairs the sweetest thing happened. She said, “I love you Mommy” and patted me on my back. “What is this blankie that you have on you.” She had never seen my robe before and was stroking it and then trying to take it off of me to wrap herself up in it, “I want to get in it.” I found that so funny. She is a lover of all things soft and a snuggler to boot.

It was so precious to hear her say that she loved me. She, no doubt, has heard it countless times from me and others. But an amazing thing is happening to her developmentally: She is recognizing the feeling of “love” inside herself and then using words to express it. And I get to hear her “I love yous”. She’s now telling Daddy, her siblings, her bear, and the dog how she feels about them.

It’s so lovely to be loved.

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Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Then there is the flip side.

The not-so-sweetest thing.

When someone we love tells us that they hate us.

Eventually, as we grow up, we learn how to hate. It’s not what we are made for but nonetheless, hate finds us. It finds us when we are wronged or it finds us when we see injustice. And then we learn to articulate our hate. Just like this precious 2 year old, who hears “I love you”, feels love, and then says “I love you”, eventually she will have a date with hate.

When the words come from your children’s mouths the blow is hard. It’s unfair. It’s unnatural. Unfortunately, I have, at times, had some children who I have loved me dearly and others who have hated me with passion.

How can I deal with myself, when I am loved by some and hated by others? When the ones I love don’t love me back?

It’s so hard to not be resentful when hatred against you is unfair, unwarranted, or unnatural. And at these times, I look to Jesus. Because I remember how hated he was and how much love he had for those who hated him. In the 5th Chapter of the book of Matthew, Jesus is debunking all of the common twists that have been made on God’s laws at that time and he deals with hatred.

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Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 NASB

We can’t just love those who love us. His charge here is next to impossible though. How do we manage this task, Jesus?

I believe that he is teaching his disciples the how in John, Chapters 13-15. I’m not going to post both chapters but they are a great detailed read.

 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.  Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:5-11 NASB

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Photo by Rohit Tandon on Unsplash

How can I love when I don’t feel lovable? How can I love when I am hated?

The how is to remain in the love of Jesus.

If we only love when other’s love us, what is the love that we have? If we only love ourselves when we are lovable, what kind of love is that?

If we want love for others and ourselves to remain, we have to remain in Jesus. Our self-worth is not dependent on who loves us or how lovable we are. All of these things can change; hormones, bad days, temper flares, illnesses, worry. Our roles come and go and so do our relationships. Nothing stays the same.

Our intrinsic value depends on value that God has assigned us. He has assigned us his love and it is a love that will stay.

What happens when we sin? His love stays. When we act-a-fool? His love stays. Jesus knew the flaws of the disciples that he addressed in our passage. No doubt Judas Iscariot was among the hearers, doubting Thomas, and denying Peter. They were imperfect people and he was declaring his love to them despite that.

If you’ll read the John excerpt again you will see that our job is to remain in his love. We remain in his love by keeping his commandments.

Praise God that his love remains with us no matter how others feel about us. We can remain in his love through our obedience to him. Spend some time clinging to him through his word today!

 

 

 

 

Can’t Never Could

I was having ‘one of those days’ a few weeks ago.

Baby girl was up really early and not in the best mood. Sometimes she does not want to go potty after waking up and she was pitching a fit.

“I can’t deal with this crying right now”.

I put her in my bed with her thumb and blankie.

I had woken up groggy and the boys were now raring to go full force. There’s only so much quiet they can do in the mornings.

“I can’t deal with your noise right now, y’all go down to the playroom and play before I get breakfast ready.”

And then I checked my email to find a shipment that I forgot to delay was coming my way. I quickly called their customer service and got the delivery canceled. And then in a state of overwhelm, I cancelled the subscription.

“I just can’t manage this anymore.”

In a time frame of 30 minutes I had said “I can’t” three times. It was then I caught myself. It is very unlike me to talk this way. So I called the kids to the table. “Coloring time!” and set them to an activity that would be little mess or danger.

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I took a breather on my chair in my room and had a meeting with myself. I had started of my day in a state of defeat. This was uncomfortable and I was not going to let all my day be this way. So I decided that I would not say “I can’t” again.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 NASB

I’ve lived long enough now that I know that the above verse is true. I’ve spent days saying every overwhelmed thing that pops into my head; taking self defeating thoughts and bringing them to life with my words. I am done with making a habit of it. That’s not to say that it is no longer a struggle to watch what lies I’m believing and the words I am saying. But I wholeheartedly believe that the words I say and the thoughts I think become who I am.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth. And put devious speech far from you.” Proverbs 4:23-24 NASB

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Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

 

Jesus even warns us to not be defiled by our words.

“For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.” Matthew 12:34-35 NASB

I can choose to take those thoughts of overwhelm and defeat and give life to them with my words. I’ll be ensured a bad day. Or I can get a change of heart. I can replace the bad thoughts and words with God’s word. He can make my heart flow with life; I have his forgiveness when I am wrong and I have his love unconditionally.

And my just about second to Jesus grandmother has been offering this advice for some time; “Can’t never could”, and I believe that she is right.

How do you restart when you have a day that is on the downward trend??

Root Bound

I have been spending a lot of time in the dirt lately. We are in the planting phase of an epic landscaping project. Meaning, we had 1 acre of land disturbed.

 

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Before the circular driveway had two entrances and wound around the house
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After creating a single entrance driveway and grading

It’s supposed to help with drainage, parking and safety. The front yard is no longer a hill, it’s nice and flat and the kids can run and ride bikes without tumbling.  I really am enjoying the new look but has been a lot of work. Mostly on my husband’s back and shoulders.

So while I’ve been digging in the dirt, listening to the kids play in the yard. I’ve been cherishing a little change in rhythm and purpose: providing a great place for my plants to grow in.

They have been growing in the nursery for a few months. I’ve collected them from mark downs at Walmart and Lowes (Yes, I am that frugal.) My hubby hooked them up to irrigation so that they could survive the summer months until planting season in the fall.

Sometimes it’s hard to get a plant out of its pot. Its roots have clung to the sides of the pot. So, you have to bang it out of your fist. If it’s really root bound, it might just “refuse” to come out and you have to take the scissors to it.

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Photo by Neslihan Gunaydin on Unsplash

After you’ve managed to get it out. I take a look to see what the roots are doing. I have discovered through observation that the side of the pot that the irrigation spout rests on, is the place with the most roots. It’s important to stimulate the roots a bit. In a plant that is root bound in a pot, it’s roots grow circular around the pot. But, now that my plant is going to the ground with an unlimited amount of soil, I need it to stop the circular growth pattern and reach out to the expanse of dirt that I am providing for it.

What’s involved next might seem a little painful: I scuff up the roots. I scratch them with a gloved hand or break them my trowel. I need them to get ready for big things. It’s not too rough, promise. In just 3 weeks with  the right planting method, my roses have 2-3 inches of new growth on them. They are doing just fine.

As I was starting on the gardenias today, I thought to myself. How many times have I been root bound? Going nowhere, just in circles. When I’ve been struggling with that anger or unforgiveness that I just so easily fall back into.

Why can’t I just wake up and grow out of the pot? Why can’t I send my roots to deeper soil?

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Photo by Kyle Ellefson on Unsplash

It can happen in the plant world, there is a way. Sometimes, a potted plant will be stimulated to have downward growth. For example, there might be a drenching rain where the ground keeps the base of the pot damp. That plant can send roots out of the little drainage holes and into the ground, where it can grow deep roots. I have had to cut roots that a potted plant had grown into the ground before because they were so thick and strong.

Growing is not easy sometimes, being planted in a new spot might require some root scuffing. What is painful for a moment will lead to a new direction and has the potential for great growth.

If I send my roots to Jesus, He is the living water. If I stay root bound and stick to my pot, I will continue to go in circles.

Jesus’ promise is that I will never thirst again. In the book of John, He speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well.

” There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”  For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:7-14, New American Standard Bible

Praise God today for His living water. Grow to him when you are thirsty.

Does nature make you think of spiritual principals?

 

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.

 

My first book book is free until Thursday, November 9th

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I’m excited. I’m humbled. Frankly, I’m nervous too. Fostering Feelings: A Devotional Guide to Navigating the Ups and Downs of Foster Parenting released today. Go here for a free copy until Thursday at midnight.

Go here if you don’t have a kindle or kindle app. I’ll send you a free copy also. I wouldn’t want you to miss out.