Coveting, comparing, and Christ

It’s been a LONG time since I have fought the sin of covetousness or have felt sucked in and drug down by comparing. I have other issues but those haven’t seemed to crop up in awhile. I figured I just didn’t struggle in that way, that I was simply “content” with the things God gave me. It’s hard not to be, he has given us so much.

And then it happened.

We were invited to a birthday party for my new friends daughter. And my new friend was a gracious host. She doesn’t live in a huge house but her home is very beautiful. Her decorating taste was very appealing to my eyes. Fresh paint, clean carpet, gleaming hardwoods, beautiful fabrics and accessories. Not over the top but tasteful. Everything was in its proper place, inside and out.

The order, cleanliness, and tastefulness of her home surfaced that old familiar temptation to covet and compare.

Our home is beautiful. I love our home and am so grateful God has entrusted it to us. It’s interesting though how something as simple as someone else’s clean, pretty home potentially can create feelings of inadequacy , or discontent, or wanting more in your own home. I found myself with this “decorating itch” that HAD to be scratched. And scratch I did! I started making a list of what we needed; new area rug, new bedding, more flowers, (because flowers are cheery and bright!) new paint, recover a few things, etc etc. I went to Hobby Lobby, TJmaxx, Walmart, and Home Depot. And then there was all the time spent online,….scrolling.

And more scrolling.

But I was struggling. Not only could I not justify spending the money, I was convicted over the amount of time the whole process of decorating was taking up. This itch was becoming an idol. And my gracious, glorious God will have none before Him.

In His mercy, the Lord kept putting truth before me.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy‬ ‭6:6-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew‬ ‭6:19-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I know that a pristine house is not only unrealistic for our family (Today, thanks to Jake, we have dead animal limbs strewed about our yard) but it’s also not going to be the thing that makes me happy. I think that is the core lie that Satan wants us to believe. That this will bring forever happy feelings. This will satisfy me. This will be the thing that does the trick. But I know in my heart that’s not true. I know it is impossible for me to find true joy in the material earthly things. I may find temporary happiness but it’s just that. Temporary. Fleeting. Lasting joy is found in the Lord and being surrendered to Him. My deepest joys have been found in reading and obeying His Word, in honoring Him in my marriage and parenting, in gathering with the body of Christ, in serving children in foster care,…… but buying new throw pillows? No. That joy lasts all of 24 hours and then they become rocks to jump on to escape hot lava and I’m torn between wigging out on my kids and being caught up in the nostalgia.

Today we sang Forever Reign and I had to ask myself if I meant what I was singing.

“I’m running to Your love. The riches of Your love, will always be enough. Nothing compares to Your embrace. Light of the world forever reign….. my heart will sing, no other name, Jesus.”

If I’m honest, for the last week, that hasn’t been true for me. I have desired an immaculate and well decorated home over Jesus. This past week I have desired what the world deems rich over the riches of Christ love. But the conviction of those lyrics, confessing my misplaced worship, and the power of the Holy Spirit have rightly aligned my heart to His again. I know this is not the last time I’ll fight this battle. Fortunately, I only bought a few fake flowers that were on sale! :-/ But I truly am grateful that, even in my struggle, I’m aware of this truth. “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬ Christ and His Kingdom are the only lasting treasures.

“But seek first the Kingdom of God…” Matthew 6:33a ESV

Foster Care Article

Today I would like to share with you an article on foster care that was posted on Desiring God. Probably one of the most well written, well summed up, articles I’ve read on foster care and the Christian’s response. If you are a foster parent, you’ll find it relatable and I believe encouraging. If you are interested in fostering, you’ll find it helpful. If you know someone who fosters, you’ll find it extremely insightful. 

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/foster-care-for-the-least-of-these

Love like Jesus

There is something about fostering that I’m learning and have wanted to share. It’s something that I’m not sure gets talked about openly, because it’s a sensitive subject. I imagine it’s very hard to understand if you haven’t fostered or adopted, but I’m guessing it’s not unique to me. :-/

Before we stepped into fostering, the idea of caring for children in need just pulled at my heartstrings. For the most part, I thought that loving someone else’s child the way I love my own would come naturally. Especially since, for now, we have chosen to foster babies and toddlers. I just couldn’t imagine it being difficult to love a baby. Additionally, knowing that these children are coming from such broken places, I assumed the compassion I had would further fuel my love and affection.

I thought too highly of myself.

There are days when my affection does not flow naturally. My love feels forced and fake. I get irritated by behaviors that I didn’t contribute to. I forget about their trauma and being compassionate.

I am selfish and self serving.

Honestly, the thing that confronted me most (and God has been dealing with me ever so gently) is all the selfishness and pride that is bound up in my parenting. My kids aren’t perfect, but they are healthy, generally happy, mostly obedient, smart, funny, and beautiful. And though I KNOW that is all because of God’s sovereign grace and mercy, there are moments when I’m tempted to think, “Jason and I did such a good job. We are such good parents.”

Children in foster care come with so much hurt and brokenness and it manifests itself differently in each child. It takes awhile sometimes to see the unique God given beauty and wonderful characteristics that He has placed in them. They come dealing with trauma. They come with quirks. Right now we have a screamer. My point is, I have been enjoying my children and parenting out of the overflow of GOOD things. We haven’t had to walk through anything really tough yet with our children and so, for the most part, loving them, liking them, it’s been pretty easy. In foster parenting you are brought a child that has been hurt, had no structure, and no loving discipline. They exhibit odd and even frustrating behaviors that are not their fault, at that point you are confronted with your true motives in parenting. I’ll be honest, I like when our children make us look good. It is an “I will invest in you and you will yield a profit,” mentality, with the “profit” being you respond in a way that makes me feel and look good. I know, it is worldly and consumer oriented. I know that’s not what parenting is about. Children are not our accessories though often we treat them that way.

Here to serve, not be served.

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
Galatians‬ ‭5:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God has revealed to me that if we are to be effective in fostering (AND parenting), we have to accept the good and the bad, the beautiful and the broken, just like he does.

Katie Davis makes a compelling observation in her book, Kisses from Katie:

It’s just different when it’s your own child who’s suffering. But should it be?…..I believe that this is a normal human reaction. I also believe it is wrong. I believe that every human being on this planet is God’s child, perfectly made and beloved and cherished by Him. I believe that His heart hurts, even more than mine when my baby is hurting, for each and every one of the hurting, dying, starving, crying children in our world. So I have to believe that if my heart was truly seeking to be aligned with the heart of God, that I would hurt for each of these children as well. But sometimes, I forget. Sometimes I’m busy. Sometimes hurting for my very own children feels like enough. I believe the world says this is okay. I believe it is wrong.

This was so very convicting for me to read. But I believe she is right! Not only have I thought it was okay to love or hurt more for my children but more selfish than that, I have been all about what is good, beautiful and easy, and when faced with the uncomfortable, bad and broken I realized how shallow my love is. Thankfully God has placed His Holy Spirit in me and THAT is what makes it possible for me to truly love. I pray my heart would continue to align with His so I can love like He loves. We are here to serve and especially in the hard, broken places. It’s our job to show our children and other people’s children and ALL PEOPLE how Jesus loves.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭20:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Where am I and who are you?

There are so many things that did not cross my mind about children in foster care until we were in the thick of it with them. On one hand we “knew” they would have suffered trauma and we “knew” there would be things about them that are different than our own children or our friends children. But until we started serving these kiddos day in and day out, we couldn’t possibly really know.

On Monday we got a call about a nine month old baby girl. And she is every bit as precious as you are probably imagining. She has the sweetest, softest baby chunk I’ve ever snuggled. She has wavy auburn hair and smiley blue eyes. And when she smiles she crinkles her nose and shows off her two pearly white bottom teeth. But like most babies in foster care she didn’t come smiling. She came screaming, confused, and unsure of everything. And though the screaming has lessened with each day, I still find myself wondering what happened and why.

When these children come, you want them to understand they are safe. That whatever happened to bring them here, they can trust you. But that understanding doesn’t happen over night. So you have to be incredibly patient as they learn to trust you and feel safe and secure in this new place. And having that patience is easier said than done. When certain odd behaviors persist, you think to yourself, “Why are they still doing this? Don’t they know they don’t have to do that anymore?” I constantly have to reset my mind and perspective, reminding myself that, though I know they are safe, and there needs will be met, they don’t necessarily know that yet.

We went to a church fellowship and of course everyone was gushing over baby girl. And like a lot of normal baby loving people, there were some who wanted to hold her. Which is absolutely fine, except, she didn’t want to be passed around. And I realized why. Monday strangers came to her rescue, brought her to a strange DFCS office and gave her to a bunch of unfamiliar faces. Then she was put in a car with a transporter, some man she’s never seen, to be brought to another new environment with more new people. Our house. Her life for the next several months now will be a series of going from one stranger and strange place to the next. I had never thought about this, and how it effects these children, until we witnessed it first hand. It’s unique to every child how this scenario impacts them but make no mistake, it does. Now my face is becoming familiar to her. So it’s understandable why she holds on to me for dear life when we go places. She can not speak but you know in her infant mind she’s thinking, “Who is gonna take me next?”

Our prayers, your prayers, over these children in foster care are vital. Will you pray with me for them? Pray for protection over their hearts and minds. Pray for healing and redemption no matter the outcome of their case plan. And pray that these children and their families will find hope in Jesus Christ.

“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.” 1 John‬ ‭5:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Let Me Introduce You To My Framily

Katie (and baby due soon!!) Stephen, Addie, and Griffin.

Two years ago God brought the Sapp family into our life. I am not embellishing this story in the least. After the joys of Christmas and being with family and friends in Florida, we settled back into normal life in Lindale and I was overwhelmed with sadness. I missed my family and friends. I desired relationship specifically with my brothers and sisters in Christ. We have sacrificed that a little more each time we’ve moved, from Tampa to Dallas, and Dallas to Lindale. I believe whole heartedly that God has used isolation to draw me closer to Him and I’m grateful for it, but I also believe He absolutely desires us as Christians to live in community with the body of Christ.

On a Sunday in January of 2015 we were driving to a new church, that was very small, and I confessed to God and Jason how much I needed friendship. And SOON. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬ On this same Sunday, for reasons only explained by God, the Sapps, Stephen and Katie, visited this church even though they lived 45 minutes away. When I saw this family come in I knew I had to meet them and apparently the feeling was mutual. We shook hands and made lunch plans all within the 60 seconds of greeting. To say we hit it off would be a complete understatement. There was an immediate connection on all accounts. We extended our lunch invitation to, “Hey we just had company leave and our house is a complete wreck but want to come over?!” On our second “date” Katie and Stephen came over and I had to run dinner to a friend and I left them alone in my house with my kids. It felt right and crazy all at once but I really had a high level of trust with them immediately into our friendship. As inseparable as adults with jobs and kids can possibly be, that was us for the next few weeks. Before we knew it Stephen and Jason were in business together. And it’s rare for that mixture to work but it did! Katie and I have a special bond as well, it’s always been easy, natural, like sisters. And our kids, well, they all adore each other. Even if we’ve gone a month with out seeing Addie and Griffin (which is simply dreadful!) my kids ask about them. Caleb had few things to say he was thankful for at Thanksgiving (he’s a 4 year old boy, I cut him some slack for now) but one thing he was explicit about, “I’m thankful for my best friends, Addie and Griffin.” Me too, buddy. 🙂

We all agree emphatically that God has brought our families together, maybe simply for the deep Christian friendship, maybe for future ministry endeavors. Hopefully one day he intends to get us in the same neck of the woods! 🙂 Outside of Jason’s cousins we haven’t had many friendships that have sharpened us quite like the Sapp’s. Is our friendship perfect? No. Do we love each other flaws and all? No doubt about it! I’m so grateful for a couple more friends that encourage us to pursue hard after Christ. Friends that cheer us on to do tough, or what the world might consider risky, things. I’m grateful for friends to confide in, confess to, and be held accountable by. I’m grateful for the body of Christ, for the unique connection Jesus’ sacrifice established for us. I’m grateful for God expressing his love to me through answering my prayers for friendship. And every time we get together with the Sapp’s, I’m reminded of Gods goodness and love and I’m awestruck again by this deeply personal relationship we get to have with our Father in Heaven. As Stephen affectionately dubbed us, we’re framily; friends that feel like family.

“Praise the LORD! I will thank the LORD with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the LORD! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. He causes us to remember his wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our LORD!” Psalms‬ ‭111:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The In Between

So this is really our first time being in between placements. Typically during any period of waiting I am super antsy. You know how it is when something new is on the horizon and you just wonder what it’s gonna be like and you can’t wait to get there to see. I think there have been many times in my life where I didn’t really soak up where I was because I became so preoccupied with the next chapter of life. Paul’s words of learning the secret of contentedness is something I have prayed I would learn. Philippians 4:12- “… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, “

Well, praise the Lord, I think I’m finally making some progress in this area. And truly all the credit goes to Him. Since the boys have been gone I’ve really been able to enjoy and soak up this in between. I feel rested now that I’m getting a full nights sleep. The girls and I have been enjoying school together with no interruptions. We’ve been able to get out of the house more, see friends and visit the library. I stay awake later catching up with my husband and enjoying time alone. We’ve eaten less pizza because I actually have the energy to cook. It snowed last night and we played outside till 10:00pm and then stayed up till almost midnight playing cards with the kids. With the babies, I was so tired from the physical and emotional exhaustion that I simply could not hang out as freely as normal. And though the sacrifice is totally worth it, we are very much enjoying this time in between.


I’m grateful for the time to reconnect with my family. It’s also been a good opportunity for me to have some heart checks of my own. My times with the Lord have been so sporadic and I was reminded that my communion with God can not take a backseat to ministering to people. ““Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John‬ ‭15:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬ It’s so important to nurture our relationship with Christ because if neglected our service potentially can become about self. If I spend no time at the feet of Jesus I become preoccupied with my performance of the task, not my expression of love to Jesus and those I am ministering to in His name. I become Martha (Luke 10:40) distracted, worried, focused on what needs to be done, resenting everyone for not “helping” me. We are called into relationship with Jesus that is marked by love driven by desire, not duty. Doing ministry without spending time with Jesus is the equivalent to never spending time with your husband or children and saying that all your cooking and cleaning is for them. Does the action mean anything if there is no love and relationship backing it up? I want my actions to point to Christ. I want my love for Him to be the obvious reason for anything good I do. And loving someone requires spending time with them.

So during this time I want to seek and savor Jesus at every opportunity “Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalms‬ ‭34:8 NLT and enjoy the time and freedom with family and friends. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We are praying over the next little one God brings in our life and capitalizing on the opportunities to continue helping the boys grandma whenever possible. And for maybe the first time, I’m really enjoying the in between. 🙂

Faith to let go

There are a thousand ways to magnify Christ in life and death. None should be scorned. All are important. But none makes the worth of Christ shine more brightly than sacrificial love for other people in the name of Jesus.- John Piper in Risk is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than Waste it

Today Micaila and I made a little visit to see the boys. I had run across a few items of theirs and wanted to check on grandma, make sure she didn’t need anything before we headed out of town. I’m so thankful she is close, it was so sweet getting to see them. In my last post I wrote about the strangeness of having children for six months and then one day they are gone. It was surreal and I wasn’t sure how I was going to emotionally handle it. That’s the thing a lot of people say, “I would get to attached. I wouldn’t be able to let them go.”

God has been so very gracious.

I love that about him. You guys, can I just be honest with out getting on some sort of “soap box”? Sometimes I feel we choose not to do things because it seems like it would be too hard, too sad, too risky or too painful. We are so protective of ourselves that we miss getting to love and serve others. I’m here to tell you that you can entrust your heart, your fears, and your emotions to the Lord. I’m here to tell you that He will step in in ways that you can’t possibly imagine if you will just trust Him. He is not a God that wants to leave you broken hearted. He is a God that wants to offer hope and healing. Does it always look the way we thought it would? No. But we can still trust him.

God has flooded me with peace during this time in a way I could never muster up on my own. It is 100% a work of the Lord. And I am so thankful that we get to continue a relationship with the boys and their grandparents. Because what if this isn’t just about two boys….. what if this is about several family members that need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ?

I am praying more Christians would take the step of faith and serve these children and their family members who need Jesus in foster care.

If our single, all-embracing passion is to make much of Christ in life and death, and if the life that magnifies him most is the life of costly love, then life is risk, and risk is right. To run from it is to waste your life.- John Piper, Risk is Right.

Please please check out this video!!