Monday, April 30, 2012

Heart to Heart

If I were able to sit and have coffee, tea, lemonade or just ice water with each of you, I would have to share my heart.  I'm just not a fluff person.  Life is way, way, way too short to waste time on surface stuff.   Besides surface stuff is not really my idea of true friendship {at least not in this silver haired lady's personal opinion}.  

"How are you?"

"Good.  How are you?"

"Good."

So positively not me.

My heart has been extra heavy this last week, needing some time to think and pray {and fast}.   Needing to hear from the Lord.  In fact, on Wednesday, I said aloud to the kids as they worked on their school at the kitchen table, "I just need the Lord to write the answer to such-n-such in the sky.  I'm too close to the situation to understand what He's saying."

Literally, within four hours of saying that He "wrote in the sky".



So clearly, so unexpectedly, I truly almost fell over.  Although it was not the answer any of us expected.  It was the polar opposite from what I expected.  I was left reeling.

I am still walking around pretty much dumbfounded.  We all are.  Graham said, "Didn't you ask for the answer to be written in the sky?"  I had completely forgotten that I'd even said that four hours before.

Anyway, I know many of you have been seeking and praying for answers to all sorts of things.  Sometimes it is so hard to hear what He is saying because of how close we are to a situation.
He does answer though.  Just sometimes the answers are a surprise and not always in "wow!  How super fun is that?" way.

But we cling to the fact that He is faithful.

He is always faithful.


His mercies are new every single morning.  

And He has a plan in the midst of it all.  Because He has you {and me} on His mind at this very moment, how amazing is that?  Because of your emails and comments the Lord brings many of you to mind in the most random of times through out my day....and know that I am praying for you, my friends, today.   That Almighty God writes the answers you need in the sky, per se.

Because He loves you just that much.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Rather Embarrassing Moment...

Something happened the other day that has left me still giggling.  Dw mentioned that I oughta tell you guys....cause no doubt, some of you could use a sweet laugh too.

The rental we're in includes access to the several gyms and pools {which are heated all winter!} in our community.   Most mornings Dw and I take turns going to work out, shower and come back home.  Such a sweet blessing from the Lord!

This past week I have been rather groggy.  Not sure what the deal was, but just not quite on the top of my game.  So this particular morning I had gone to work out at the same gym I have been going to for months now.  After doing 40 minutes on the elliptical I went to shower.  But as I was heading to shower I thought I would stop to get a drink of water.  As I stood sipping the cool water an idea occurred to me.  I had never been in to see the pool connected to this gym that I frequent almost daily.

For some reason, we have just always gone to a different pool in the community.  Since I was standing smack dab next to the door leading to the pool I thought, "Hmmm, why not just see what is going on in the pool these early hours of the morning?"

I opened the door and looked.  But there is kind of a ledge and I couldn't really see the pool.  Standing up on my tip toes I tried to peek.  Nope.  Still couldn't really see the pool.   I let go of the locker room door and ventured a few steps over.  Still couldn't really see it.    Moseying slowly, I climbed the steps up to the lounging area around the pool and looked.

"How nice is that?"  I thought, seeing a group of senior citizens working out in the pool under the instruction of a woman on the side.   I watched for a minute and decided I'd better get a move on to  shower and get home.

I went back down the steps and headed to the locker room door thinking, "Okay Linny, make sure you get the right door."   As I went toward the closest door, I saw a large sign that said, "Girls.....".  Convincing myself in my head, "Oh yeah, see!  This is the girls locker room...." I thrust open the door and hustled inside.  Later I realized the "Girls..." sign was one of those "Girls over the age of 5 are not permitted inside the men's locker room." But who knew at a glance? That doggone sign started with the word "Girls"... {Ooopsie!}

Entering the locker room, I glanced to my left and saw a woman in the complete buff standing at the row of sinks.  Stark naked. Although my eyes merely darted toward her, all I can say is that indeed gravity was no stranger and I'm guessing she was part of the swim class already working out in the pool.

Now can I just back up here for a minute?  I am not sure why some ladies stand at sinks or around locker rooms in the buff, but as a woman, I find it extremely awkward.  I mean, come on, how are we supposed to maneuver the locker room with our eyes closed?  Cause truthfully, I'm just really not into having my eyes open.

So the second I saw all of her, I turned to the right.  There was another door.  And in a split second as I turned I spotted straight ahead of me a younger man stood reaching for his pool towel {he was fully clothed}!

WHAT IN THE WORLD?

And in that fleeting moment, even with my overly groggy head, suddenly, I thought, "Wait a minute, the sinks are normally on my right and the door is on my left!!  OH.MY.STINKIN'.GRACIOUS!  I am in the MENS locker room."

As my heels turned to do a 180, there they were.  The urinals.


Gasping not all that quietly, I practically ran outside the door and seriously, I could not get out of there fast enough.  {And while I'm just being straight up here, I couldn't surely be the only woman who finds urinals to be one of the grossest things ever, am I?}

But one question remained:  Why was there a naked lady in the Mens room?

I kept wondering how the naked lady had not noticed as she looked in the mirrors in front of her that there were clearly a line of urinals on the wall opposite the sinks where she stood changing?  Who knows, but wow, wow, wow. {And I thought I was feeling groggy!}

So I ran giggling from embarrassment back out to the pool side and ran around a little wall and looking up saw the Women's Room sign...and burst into the locker room.  I ran straight through the locker room and out to the gym again where I found a young woman employee who I have spoken to before.

Giggling and hardly able to talk I explained what had just happened, including the fact that there was a naked lady in the mens room changing at the sink across from the urinals!

The 30-something woman employee started laughing and shaking her head with me and she wondered aloud what she should do?  Clearly, she couldn't go barging into the Men's locker room to inform the naked lady that she was in the wrong place cause after all, there had been a man in there as well, probably heading to change himself.

We stood together giggling for probably 2 minutes.  Seriously, I could not stop and neither could she.  You know how it is when you are embarrassed, you giggle all the more?

Suddenly the Men's locker room door burst opened.  Instantly we both turned to see who would be coming out that door?

Would it be the once naked lady? 

Nope.

Instead the man came walking out, chuckling to no one in particular and grinning from ear to ear.

He walked right passed us, laughing the entire way out the front door.

The young employee looked at me and we both nodded in unison, "Yup, he totally saw her."

I can only imagine the story he told all day long as well.

Questions and Answers: {Parenting - Part 1}

I thought it would be good to not only divide these up, but to also mix up the order some. Maybe yesterday's post was overload for some or maybe it was just not applicable!

 So today, let's start on:

 Parenting

 Parenting was one of the topics that will have to be divided up, so here's the beginning of that. First off, I have to tell you all a little story about our home. We admit right here and now we are not perfect parents - in fact, far from it!! We have no problem with going to see a Biblical counselor when we can't seem to get it right or one of our children are struggling with life. Going to a counselor is not a sign of weakness, on the contrary, it is a sign of strength! At one point, we had been to a counselor with more than one of our children and we had gone ourselves and we joked about putting her on retainer...and yes, she was one whose phone number I had memorized!

When our now grown kids were teenagers, we heard every now and then that they were not happy with our parenting ability {because face it, they were experts! - haha}. So I finally came up with an idea. I told them to get a notebook and write down every time they are unhappy with us. Everything, just write it down, all the details! Then, one day, when they end up in counseling they can just pull their notebook out and begin the sessions. Why have to delve and try to remember? Keep it all right there, fresh and easily accessible. We have laughed many times about the idea of their notebooks, and really in the midst of it all, it was kind of comical.

 Do you ever just screw up big time wit h your kiddos? 

 I confess: I actually laughed when I read this question. Sweet friends, I breathe, right? My oh my, of course, I screw up with my kids!! But for the most part I am a pretty laid back mom. I think the thing that helps me stay laid back is this.....I have a personal daily motto: Life is short. Love every one around you as though it were your last day. I grew up with a lot of screaming, everyday. My stomach was continually in knots, churning with angst. To this day, at 53 years old, if I hear screaming, my stomach starts up and my intestines go nuts.

 When I was young I began to pray and ask the Lord to give me the strength to never be a screamer. And He has answered my prayers. If I'm gonna' blow it, it's usually being grouchy...and if I am grouchy, I apologize immediately. Our kids need to hear us be able to say, 'Hey, I am so sorry for being a grump, will you please forgive me?"

 Many, many years ago, I had a friend who was a screamer. She lived in another state. She and her family came to visit for about a week and my kids got first hand the reality of a screamer {as she screamed - and I mean screamed - at her children throughout her visit.} My kids were dumbfounded. After she left, {on their own} my children thanked me profusely for not being a screamer and asked if she had to ever come visit again? How sad for a mom to leave such an impact! {And if you are a screamer, repent, ask your children to forgive you and humbly get an accountability partner who will bravely hold you accountable every.single.day. Make the change today, it's not too late!}

 How do you seem to be so joyful about motherhood...all the time?

 I think it's all wrapped up in the fact that my life had such brokenness and pain and yet, in the midst of all the trauma, God in His graciousness, was seeing the finished product and preparing the way for my dreams to be fulfilled - to be a mom of many! I am forever grateful and helplessly humbled. He heals, He restores and He redeems! That being said, God made women as 'influencers".

 We set the tone for our home. Every moment we are influencing our home with our attitude. It can be a tense, miserable place or a place of peace and great joy. It can be a thankful place where gratefulness is fostered or it can be a place of complaining and belly-achin' where nothing, no matter what, is ever good enough. It's up to us. I will choose thankfulness and joy every single day.  I begged God to allow me to be a mom...and His word is trusted and true: "He makes the barren woman to be at home, the joyful mother of children." His plan was for moms to be joyful because frankly speaking, being a mom is the greatest joy in the entire world!

 How do you handle it when a 19 year olds girlfriend decides that she just wants to be friends and breaks your child's heart? 

 We have seen some broken hearts around our home. One, in particular, was probably one of the most devastating things we have walked through as parents, helping our child in such agony. But, when it's all said and done, in the midst of the pain, we must remember that He promises to cause all things to work together for good. He does not inflict the pain, but He will comfort and minister in the midst of it and use it to make us more like Him. I know I sound like a broken record, but when a child is in pain, fasting helps me {for starters} deal with the stress of it all, it gives me wisdom, insight and discernment, not to mention - fasting always brings me great peace.

 Siblings fight...what are your techniques and strategies for dealing with it? 


 Kids squabble because of selfishness and jealousy {just like us adults!}.   It is our responsibility as parents to create healthy ways for them to 'make things right'. We feel strongly that the vast majority of adults do not know how to take responsibility for their behavior, apologize to the person they have offended and make things right. People today avoid confrontation at all costs, even at the expense of a friendship - so totally not God's plan!

 Think about it....at the beginning of time, the world was barely in motion, and one brother was killing his only other brother because of jealousy. That is pretty hard to even get my mind around actually. People who choose to ignore sinful behaviors are foolish! It is our God-given responsibility to deal with these and train our kids how to deal with each other and others as well.

 There are a few rules at our home. {1} We talk about offense. What was at the root of the offense? {Jealousy, Pride or Selfishness are usually the three most common.} {2} When we talk about offense, we talk about responsibility of both parties {to take responsibility for the action that led to the offense and to the other party about letting go of the offense through forgiveness. {3} When dealing with offense, the offending party must always say, "I am sorry for ______. I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?" *There is little that frustrates me more than to hear a child who has clearly done something wrong, throw a "sorry" over their shoulder....it is the most insincere thing!

 As a society there is a failure to take responsibility and it starts by adults taking the responsibility of training their children. Whew! Glad to have gotten that off my chest! Recently I had to confront an adult about something they had done. I shared the pain they had caused because of their sin {yes, it was sin!}. What was their response? Well I can tell they did not say, "I'm sorry". They merely said, "I don't think there's anything I can say to make this conversation better." Really? How about an apology for starters? Oh.my.gracious. I was dumbfounded.* {4} The offended party must say, "I forgive you." {5} They must hug each other. A true hug with a sweet squeeze. Hugs break down walls. Seriously, they just do.

 When the kids grow older and argue with each other, I make them go off by themselves and work it out. Another thing we have done when two kids just can't seem to get along for a season. We assign a project that they must do - together. Nothing like a long project to make people get along. Today's world says, "Stay as far away from each other." On the contrary - we say, 'Run to the fire and get it worked out!"

 I have one who is 13 who is constantly criticizing his 10 year old sister. He knows better than to say anything really bad like "stupid", but he tells her everything she does wrong and shows how annoyed he is by her all the time. I am so weary of it. I talk to him all the time about it and when he does it, I call him on it. It just doesn't stop. I don't know what else to do. I feel like her life is being shaped based on what he thinks instead of what the rest of us think. She is not safe here! Can you give me some advice?

 I have to be blunt with this one. If she is not safe, it is up to you to change that! Your 13 year old's behavior must be dealt with swiftly. Talking to him about it, means nothing. Mom, you must take action!! Today. What consequences have you put into place to deal with this? My guess is that it has been ongoing for a while now.

 A 13 year old should not be allowed to bully a sibling {or anyone else for that matter}. Your home should be the safest place for all of your children! That being said, what are some natural consequences that you could start with today? From the time our kids are little, they learned one thing. Say something unkind and pay a price!

 What do we do specifically?

 We have a giant bottle of Barley Green in the cupboard. Anytime anyone uses their mouth for unkindness they get a big ol' spoonful of dry Barley Green. {It is nasty tasting stuff, but it is sooo good for you. I call that a win-win!} Barley Green can be found at your local health food store - purchase in POWDER form. It is not too late to start your 13 year old with doses of barley green.

 But mom, you must be consistent. Don't excuse his behavior! It's sinful and it's wrong! Every.single.time. he is nasty to your 10 year old, he needs to get a dose. Our kids are not allowed to spit it out, nor are they allowed to flush it with something tasty. They have to 'meditate' {haha} on the full effect, and trust me, it is not a fun thing! Many years ago when we were praying about how to correct behaviors of the mouth, the Lord gave us that idea of the Barley Green.

 Think about it, it seemed like the most 'natural' thing for a yukky mouth...to give a dose of yukkiness right back to that yukky mouth that just spewed yuk to a sibling. Also, what perks does your 13 year old have in his life? Staying up later than the others? I would put him to bed every.single.night EARLY - earlier than his youngest sibling. I know the older our kids get, the more going to bed early would make a profound impact and cause an immediate behavior change!

 If you do not take swift, serious action now, you will have allowed long-lasting effects to come from his sinful behavior. A season without special perk like going to friends, video games, computer time, cell phone, whatever! But there needs to be serious consequences put into place now, before it is too late. Kids are usually really quick learners. The thing they are looking for is consistency. If we as parents are consistent, they learn, "this isn't worth it, there will be consequences" and they decide to change their behavior.

 Lastly, I would strongly urge you to fast. Your 13 year old's behavior is a symptom of a heart issue and better to figure that out now, honestly evaluating what's really going on, before a few more years pass and he is out from under your influence. {And if we were sitting having coffee together I would ask two things: Has he been made to think that he is the king of the roost thus creating a "I'm better than you mentality" or is there a chance that you favor the 10 year old and he is resentful and making sure that she is reminded that she is not really as special as she is made to feel because he is jealous of the attention you give the 10 year old. And maybe it's neither of those. Just what I felt like the Lord brought to mind as I was typing this.}

 James Dobson wrote a book many years ago called Parenting Isn't for Cowards. He was right. It's tough and it takes consistency. But, when we work hard at it, praying and fasting, God will allow us to reap the rewards of one day, having our adult children become our closest friends! And that's the greatest feeling of all!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Questions and Answers {Adoption Part 1}

I have had such a wonderful time receiving questions for the Question and Answer series.  Who knew so many of you had so many questions?  {Besides the Lord!}  

First off though, I am not an expert.  I am merely sharing my thoughts on any given topic.  With that being said, I think I am going to have to divide some of these up, because some topics had a billion questions....
So let's dive in to one of my most favorite topics ever:  


Adoption

I decided to leave the questions exactly as people asked them {most of the time}....so here goes and in no particular order:


Have you ever considered or been involved with foster care/adoption? 

We actually have been foster parents twice.  Once, long before we even went into ministry, when Autumn was about a year old.  As the Lord would have it, we were thrust into it!  A woman came with a friend to Dw's law office seeking help.  He answered her legal questions {which had nothing to do with her children}.  A couple of months later she got wind that DSS was coming to take her kids away.  Although he had only met her during that one office consultation she called to see if we would be willing to take her little boy?  We drove in the dead of night into downtown Buffalo to pick up a very scared little two year old who had never seen us before.  DSS quickly approved us {we had already adopted Tyler and Autumn} and this little guy was with us for a season.  When I talk of him, I cannot hold back the tears.  We would have kept him, but the Lord had other plans.  We were obedient.  I pray for him when he comes to mind.  He would be 24 now.  

Then when Liberty was a baby we fostered a 14 year old girl for a year.  It was one of the hardest years of my/our family's life.  We had hoped to adopt her as well.  

Would you recommend it? 

Absolutely!  I would definitely recommend foster care and foster to adopt!  Listen, kids need a stable family who loves the Lord.  God desires us to meet the needs, period.  Domestic, Foster care, International, it is all in the "obedient" category.   Scripture is clear...we are all supposed to do something.  Some will foster, some will adopt, some will foster/adopt, some will adopt internationally, some will help others doing it, some will provide respite care....I just have a hard time, after reading scripture to see that there is much opting out with the orphan.  It's about a lifestyle of obedience and action, and yes, sometimes it can be downright painful.  

Your feeling on open adoption and domestic adoption where bio families often change there mind.

We had an adoption where the bio mom changed her mind at the last minute.  It was extremely painful but God works in our hearts in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in.  There is no where in scripture that our lives are our own, nor is there anywhere that our lives are supposed to be comfortable.  It's all about obedience.  If a bio mom changes her mind, He will comfort and He will provide for every single need one has.  It could even be to support the bio mom in her new decision.   Obedience, obedience, obedience.  


Do you think it’s wise to take out a loan for the purpose of adoption? 

The loaded question.  


Well, remember these are my thoughts...but I really have a difficult time thinking of a loan when we have a God who calls us to care and love the orphan...why would He not provide for us to do that? I sometimes think people panic and take a loan, when trust says, "I will wait on YOU Lord."

Remember in the Old Testament the Israelites would come to know a different character of the nature of God and thus call Him a new name like: Jehovah Jirah {God as provider}....well many years ago God became known to Dw and I as 'Jehovah of the Last Second'.  He seems to love to show us His mighty power at the very, very, very Last Second.  Dw and I would shake our heads sometimes in disbelief how He just seemed to love to do whatever we needed at the very last second.  


And then, when we were bringing the babies home from Africa we found ourselves in a waiting situation regarding flights for Dw to get to Uganda to sign one paper {as we waited for Elizabeth and Elijah's VISAs} and the Last Second had run out...and suddenly He showed up....so now we call Him - Jehovah of Over Time...cause when we think the Last Second has passed, He shows up in Over Time.   But God is never, ever, late.  We just think it's 'time' and He says, "not yet"....and shows up at the "Last Second" or as we have seen, in "Over Time".  

On the same token, I have seen adoptions {as well as other things} provided for as we wait and trust.  Face it, applying for a loan has to be done quite a bit before the adoption is complete...could it be that His Last Second or Over Time provision never came because a loan was thought the only option?  My heart has no intention of stepping on toes, but if we take a loan is it possible that we are saying, "I don't really trust you this time."  And God steps back and says, "Okay, I had it covered, but since you stepped in and took care of it, I'll step back."  Maybe.  

We are called to stewardship and I do believe that God's word is clear about one other somewhat touchy topic:  tithing.  It is the only challenge He lays down in scripture.  And listen, I have heard it over and over and over from people:  "We can't afford to tithe."  To which I reply: "Dudes and dudettes:  You cannot afford NOT to tithe."  

I started tithing as a young girl.  When we were married it was the 'law' from day one.  We never missed a tithe {and we gave away to needs on top of our tithe}.  Not even once did we miss a tithe.  


Dw was in law school, and amazingly we never ever took a loan.  We started a law practice on our own, and not once did we take a loan {and all the "Start Your Own Law Practice" books said it couldn't be done}.  Eleven years later we packed up a successful law practice and went to seminary.  We did not take a loan to live.  We trusted Him and He provided miraculously.  We planted a church many years ago without a promise of a drop of income.  He provided over and over without  a loan.  We now live by faith alone as missionaries to the orphan.  He will always provide. Can you seriously imagine a loving father who would require one thing:  obedience in all things....who would say, "Yeah, I know you obeyed me, but you wanna' see how mean I can be? I am so gonna' ruin your day!"  Not.a.chance.  God is God and He promises that those who obey {and tithing is obedience} He will open up the windows of heaven and POUR out His blessings us!  And we are living proof that He means what He says!

Should the adoption be fully funded before applying?

Absolutely not!  Step out in faith and start the process...and then watch and see how He provides.  We sold everything that wasn't nailed down {and lost the rest in the fire!} and each adoption we started we had zero money toward it.  Yet, miraculously {cause He is just the Master Provider!} we have successfully adopted 8 of our 11 children without ever taking a loan {six of which were on a pastor's income}.  He is soooo faithful!


Did you immediately bond/love your newly adopted children?
I'm really glad someone asked this question.  

Here are some thoughts:  Although in my heart I had bonded with each of my kids prior to their arrival, the in-the-flesh-reality is quite different.  Every adoption is different.  That being said, we have adopted as teeny-tiny newborns and we have adopted an 8 year old and everything in between.  Crazy as it might sound, age has nothing to do with it {at least for me}.  Tyler screamed as an infant anytime I came near him.  He loved Dw.  He did not like me at all!  He loved his foster mom in Korea and I was the big bad wolf to him.  I was devastated.  Love in action goes out of our way to do what our newest treasure needs.  Tyler need to be held constantly, which I did.  {I baby wore long before baby wearing was a term.}  Before long he came around and found me to be pretty cool and bonding happened.  There are other stories from our home, but suffice it to say, as I said before, each adoption and the circumstances of each adoption are entirely different.  No one can predict.  


The thing that remains is God's word which commands us to love.  I get concerned when I hear folks say, "I am not bonding with the child we have had home for x amount of time."  Friends, let me be perfectly up front.  Love is a choice.  His commands are clear.  Love one another.  Love is an action and if we don't feel particularly drawn to our newest treasure, it's clearly our problem.  We are the adult.  

When I hear of someone not bonding with their new addition my first thought is this:  Have you fasted about it?  Because this is how it works:  God commands us to love.  It is not a choice.  Frankly speaking I am not always lovable and over my life time I have done some pretty cruddy stuff, but God's love is unconditional, intentional and persevering!  Can you imagine God saying, "Yeah, I'm not really bonding to this one..."  Haha.  It is so out of His scope of relationship!  He loves.  Period.  We are called and commanded to do the same.

And last I knew, Love is not based on feelings.  It is an action and it is a choice.  I can focus on something I don't like about a new addition or I can say, "I am the adult, I choose love and I will do everything in my power to love this little {or big} one."  Then I would intentionally do everything in my power to show love.  Alone times with that one, dates with that one, quiet times with that one...and words of affirmation over and over and over and over....with large doses of fasting in the midst of it all.  {Fasting for days on end if need be!}  

I am convinced that when we choose not to bond {see, love is a choice and we are the adult} we are choosing to sin and we are being disobedient.  The child we brought home had no choice in their circumstance, yet sometimes a kid meets a parent who "would rather they hadn't ever come home to their family."  
Shame on that adult and shame on that family! {And parents, if you think that the other kids in your home don't pick up on your non-bonding heart - guess again!  It soon becomes a family affair..."no one has bonded with our newest".} 

God's love is unconditional toward each of us! 

And as I'm typing this the Lord brought this to mind:  There are people who have birth children that they haven't bonded to.  True story.  Adoption gets the bum rap, but come on folks, we all know people who we have watched treat two kids in the same family like night and day.  How God's heart must be grieved!  Time to repent and fast and pray for God's love to flood our souls to every single one of our treasures!

Last thoughts on this topic:  Recently someone hurt me/us in a huge way.  I was in denial at first {"They did not just do that?"}.  Then it turned to anger.  God convicted me immediately.  Now if I shared the complete story, most of you would comfort us and say, "You poor thing!"  What they did was downright schmucky.  BUT...a funny thing happened.  The Lord reminded me in my confiding time that His word says, "Bless those who curse you."  


Being perfectly honest when He reminded me of that, I thought, "Oh crud. I don't like that verse." {stink head me!}  And immediately I remembered, "If I disobey Him, it WILL cost me!"   So what did I do?  I began to fast and pray for this person.  I prayed hard.  I fasted.  I prayed that Almighty God would bless them.  {I could hardly say the word "bless" when I started.  haha, I know you guys know what I mean, cause you all have had people like that in your life!}  

But I persisted.  I prayed many, many, many times a day that God would bless them big time.  And surprisingly, within weeks {literally only weeks} my heart had completely changed.  I start to cry at how faithful God is.  Nothing had changed on their end, to my knowledge, but I can honestly say, if I ran into them on the street {I would NOT back up and run into them again - haha!}, seriously, I would hug them and look them square in the eye and ask how they were and tell them that I had been praying for them.  

So tell me, why would I want to hang on to my "rights" to be angry or offended or hurt?  IT'S SOOO NOT WORTH IT!

But many can say, "Yeah, but you don't know my kid."  Well I don't, true enough, but then you don't know how this grown adult intentionally acted toward me/us!  This grown adult who definitely knows better!  And although comparing stories isn't always wise, every child is a treasure and comes to their new home with baggage, this we know.  It's our choice as the adult to choose love...fast, pray and love even harder! 

How did you foster that bond and love?

Remembering what a wretch I really am and how God has purposefully and intentionally loved me even when I was not very lovable.   God's word says that there is life-breathing power in our words.   When a new treasure comes to our home, we continually reaffirm that we are all f-a-m-i-l-y.  
We take pictures and post them of us together as a new family.
We celebrate the victories.
We pray and we fast.


Can you really imagine, by no choice of yours, being yanked out of where you are {I realize that many places our kids come from are less than optimal, but it is all they know and I know first hand from my own childhood, that even an abusive home has a sense of security, because it is familiar} and being put in a new home where you are not meeting some expectation one or both of your parents had?  Can you imagine?  Can you picture the confusion, these parents pursued you and now getting the message loud and clear that "life was more fun without you here"?  


And don't think for a second that these kids aren't picking up on the cues their parent{s} are giving them.  "We had so much more fun before you joined the family."  "We wish we could go back to the way it was when we were just 'us' without you."  


Yes, there are really people who not only think that, but they say that.  It is sin friends, plain and simple.  Time to repent and fast, fast, fast.  Ask God to break your heart for your child.  


God is a God of love.  Period.  He wants us to love each other and if we repent and turn from our sinful, selfish ways, He brings healing.  


I'll be perfectly honest.  I am a bit concerned that adoption has become a 'fashionable statement' to some.  The latest craze.  And although I am desperate to see kids in homes, I sometimes wonder what will happen when a person picks up their newest 'fashion statement'.   Because there can be a lot of perceived 'glamour' in adoption, especially international adoption.  Kind of a 'rule-breaking' thing to do, with a lot of "wow, you are amazing" attached to it.  Yet, when we all come home, what if the 'wow factor' is now gone?  And the bonding doesn't happen {because the wow factor has disappeared and no one is patting them on the back like they once did}....what then? 


Time to repent.
Time to fast.
Time to repent before a few close friends {not on a public blog} and ask them to fast with you...and fast until the cows come home if need be, but get it right and love that treasure because God's best for you is to love like He loves.  Love unconditionally.  Love intentionally.  Love with action {He demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died to us.}  


One day we will all stand before the King of Kings...and He will look over our lives...and yes, we will be called to account for each of our deeds....how we loved!  I just don't think it's gonna' cut the mustard to say, "Yeah, I just never really bonded with this one."  Time to repent, turn from our sinful ways, fast and pray.  He is faithful.  He will bond the least bonded folks, if the adult is willing to  repent and turn because God made our kids as responders.  What we do, they will respond to.  I have seen over the years, God do above and beyond anything we could think or ask, because He is just so faithful.


More tomorrow.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Memorial Box Monday: SOLD!

We {often} set aside Mondays to remember.... remembering the faithfulness of God.  Much like the Israelites were told by God to gather stones and set them in a pile to constantly be reminded of how God had moved on their behalf.  They were to tell their children, their children's children and so on.

Although our family does not use stones, we have a Memorial Box.  It sits in our family room, filled with small tangible objects, each representing a story of God's faithfulness.  Over the years of sharing over here at Our Place Called Simplicity I have shared approximately 120+ stories that are some of our Memorial Box stories.  There are still a bazillion more I could share {of course we've been married almost 34 years!}.

The other day I was talking to a friend and she said, "I don't think I have any Memorial Box stories like you have.  Mine are all pretty average."  Then she went on to tell me a story that was really miraculous.  We reminded our friend that God is always at work around us.  He loves when we share His faithfulness and it is such an encouragement to others!  And what often happens is that people's memories are triggered when they hear others stories!

Either way, God gets all the glory!

Today's Memorial Box story is fresh - it just happened a few days ago.

When the Lord brought Ruby to our family, we were given the sweetest treasure.  Of course, as most of you know, her arrival meant leaving 20 years of senior pastoring, our new home {that we had just built after losing our beloved log home to fire}, leaving our friends of 7.5 years and moving to a rental in a new city and new state.  So many changes!

Although we have moved out of state on several occasions, leaving a home behind to sell is not what we {or anyone else I'm sure} would call "a good time".   Somehow though, God prepares us for each situation that we have to face and knowing how faithful He has been in the past, reminds us that His faithfulness is still at work today!

When we knew we had to leave Colorado, both Dw and I had great peace {in previous moves out-of-state I had been so anxious about leaving a home behind to sell.}.  But this time, I realized, if the Lord had brought us Ruby Grace, He would bring a buyer for our home.  We just had to trust Him.

{taken the night of the 2010 Girlfriends {women's} Ministry Christmas party at our home - 80 ladies came!}

Well the other day I was talking to the Lord about it.  Before long the 3 acres would need to be mowed {another expense}.  Before long the flower beds would need watering - and I had worked sooo hard to plant them all after the fire.  But, after finishing sharing with Him how I felt, I was flooded with a fresh dose His peace.  I just knew He was working behind the scenes.

Literally within a day or two of that conversation with the Lord, Dw got a phone call from a friend.  And not just any friend, but his best friend from Colorado.  {They talk almost every day.}  Anyway, his best friend said that they had gone to look at our home.  Well Dw and I giggled, "Seriously?"  And then a day or two later he called and said they were taking lawn chairs over to sit on the porch at night and see "how it felt".

And sure enough, on Friday, we signed the contracts and crazy of crazies, these close friends of ours bought our home.  We couldn't think of anyone we'd rather have in our sweet home!  They are the friends who always had our back.  Always.  And someday, if the Lord allows us to travel through the area, they will surely allow us to stop by to sit on the porch a bit and let the kids romp as they used to.

Faithful God.  Always working behind the scenes.



What about you?  What has He done for you? Small or large, He is the same God at work and He is always faithful.   Link your stories below...because there are a whole bunch of people who love reading others stories of God's faithfulness.




Saturday, April 21, 2012

How Long Will We Last?

We are lovin', lovin' lovin' Phoenix.

Yes, we've heard from just about everyone that we are not going to like the heat....

To which we happily reply that we "paid to vacation here in July a few years back"...

And then I got to thinkin'...

If it's so horrible [to some] why in the world do 4.2 million people live here?

Right?


 Well today it hit over 100 degrees, {103 to be exact} 
 and we decided to take a
a picture of the temp according to our car as we were driving today.

And soooo we have this little family challenge going on.....

How long can we last without turning on the AC in the house? 

So far, we are doing great and hanging tight! 

No one has complained at all.  

We're just loving living here and thinking that maybe the heat doesn't bother
 us at all cause we're all just still thawing out from living in the Rocky Mountains!


And just in case anyone thinks that we will give in and turn on the AC anytime soon....

I will share this little known fact:

Many years ago when we were pastoring in Virginia and the temps 
were hovering at 100 degrees, our oldest son Tyler said to me,
"Mom do you realize you are the only woman in the entire state of 
Virginia who refuses to run your air conditioning?  

I laughed, "Well I like hearing the outside sounds, love the fresh air, and hate giving the utility company one more dollar than necessary....so I hate turning the air on."

Of course, whenever I had to drive to get something in town, I would not even be at the car and I would hear the windows slamming shut with everyone yelling, "Mom's gone, Mom's gone, turn on the AC"....

They insist I used to make homemade chicken soup on the hottest days and they would have sweat dripping down their temples while trying to eat it....

I somehow just can't seem to remember being that cruel....

But I am debating making soup for dinner after church tomorrow....



J/K