Love and Loss

This weekend we celebrated the marriage of my sister (in-law) Karen and her now husband Michael. It was an absolutely beautiful wedding. Karen looked stunning. As I’ve gotten older and my knowledge of Christ has increased and my faith has deepened, I’ve come to appreciate weddings more. Specifically what is said at the ceremony. Sure the receptions are always a blast but my ears are more attentive now when the pastor reminds us of Who created marriage. Karen and Michael wrote each other very sweet, genuine vows. The pastor, Steve (who is actually the music minister at FBC Lutz) spoke Truth about the depth of Gods love for us and how that should effect us in marriage. He is the author of Love.

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 NIV)

As we celebrated Karen and Michaels marriage later in the evening my mother received news that a precious family from our Lutz body of Christ suffered a very sudden and devastating loss. Sharon, a beautiful wife, mother and friend is now home with her Lord and Savior. This news was completely shocking. My heart aches for her husband, her daughters, their husbands and children, and the rest of her family. Anyone that has ever met Sharon, even if just one brief encounter, has been impacted by her sweet spirit. Her love for Christ was so evident and every choice and action of hers was so intentional. She was thoughtful, compassionate and sensitive to the people around her. Before Jason and I moved to Georgia I had the pleasure of getting to know and spending some time with Sharon and her daughter Sarah. In that time, Sharon gave me things that have deepened my relationship with Christ and I have treasured since and will forever. It was her example and wisdom that has effected so much of my approach to prayer. She was so specific in her own prayer life, very aware of the prayer needs around her, and completely submitted to the Spirit. She had a very meaningful and effective prayer life and I am so thankful for that time she shared with me. She has certainly left a legacy. Her biggest ones being the amazing family she loved. Her daughters, Sarah and Alison, are 2 women that I greatly admire. This family, Steve, Sharon, Alison, and Sarah, they are the kind that when you meet they just leave a lasting impression because of their deep love for Christ and His people. We mourn with you and are praying fervently for you.

When an unexpected loss like this occurs our minds go to all manner of places. One of my prayers is protection over our minds. That the enemy would have no hold on us, that he’d be unable to plant doubt, guilt, deceitful, destructive, lies. That we would hold firm and steady to the Truth. The Truth that God is our Creator and he does love us. He has given us the ability to experience love. And as my dad reminded me when we grieve the pain is deep because the love is deep. We have hope because of Christ. We know he has prepared a place for us and Sharon is now there. This doesn’t reduce the pain her family is experiencing. It’s so hard to stay here and have our loved ones go before us. Remaining here we are still subjected to the brokenness of the world. Subjected to the pain of loss. I don’t know the depth or the intensity of the pain this incredible family is going through. But even in my imagining its so great that it brings me to gut and heart wrenching tears. I love each of you and will be on my knees praying every time you come to mind.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. (Revelation 21:4 NLT)

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A Mothers Intuition

It’s 1 o’clock in the morning and my eyes pop open. Micaila and Ryann had made their “beds” on our floor because we were leaving for Florida at 3 am. I wake up to Micaila stirring. She proceeds to stand up and walk straight to her bedroom. I called to her and then quickly jump out of bed knowing she means to walk to the bathroom. I can not tell you how frequently this happens. It’s like I wake up just in time to stop her from using her bedroom as a toilet. A few times I have caught her getting ready to sit and pee in her closet, totally asleep, with the best of intentions to not wet her bed. What amazes me is that, to my knowledge, I have intervened every time. We’ve had a couple close calls resulting in tee tee on the tile floor but I have yet to find any puddles around the house.

On this particular evening, after we successfully made it to the potty and got snuggled back in our beds, I was laying awake in wonder at this God given intuition we mothers have. I mean, Jason barely awakes to Caleb crying at night, let alone a kid, honestly, trying to make a trip to the bathroom. God really has given us moms some unique gifts.

As I was laying awake I also began to think about how much I have learned after 6 years of mothering and 3 children. Like, I actually, finally, have moments here and there where I think “Man, I have come a long way!” When I had Micaila there was so much to be learned that can only come through time and experience. There is no book out there (though there are a lot of great books!) that can really tell you how to parent and be a good mommy. It’s different for every one and unique to every child. I have been blessed by numerous Christian parenting books and lots of personal stories from women I trust, like my mom, (I’d be a mess with out you!) but even still in those first 3 years I struggled with confidence in myself. As a new mom there is a lot thrown at you. Between the emotional aspects of now being a wife AND a mother, all the opinions that everyone wants to share with you, beginning this new season where your baby is dependent on you and now dictating much of your choices and all you want is what’s best for your family…… This is just the tip of the berg people! I have always wanted my babies to have a healthy understanding from the beginning that they are not the center of the universe, but in the beginning they are completely relying on you for everything. It always presented a challenge to negotiate time with Jason, family, and friends when I’ve been in the throws of infancy. And I questioned myself a lot in my earlier years of parenting. This is not a fun place to be as there is a lot of fear and guilt that comes with it. But there is hope! By the time I had Caleb I was finally experiencing confidence as a mother. (I know, 3 kids and its finally clicking!)

As time has passed and experience has increased so has my awareness of my great need for Jesus. Pursuing Him, exposing myself to Truth, and praying, (all the time) has developed my confidence in mothering. I used to have a hard time making decisions without fearing that someone may dislike my choice. Now, I can trust that as long as I’m pursuing Truth, I can be confident in our decisions for our family with out worrying about what other people may think. I still have a ways to go but I am definitely not where I was, praise Jesus. I continually ask God to make my heart and motives pure. And with confidence in HIM, I fully trust that he will give me discernment in our decisions as parents. I know that if I submit to his Spirit he will guide me to do what is right and best for these little lives he’s entrusted me and Jason with.

Making time for Jesus can prove to be one of the most difficult things when you are a mommy of young kids. I don’t have a formula for “how to get in your quiet time”, I just recommend doing everything you can to spend time in prayer and the Word through out the day. These days I can pretty consistently wake up in the morning and do it but there were times when the physical and emotional exhaustion was so draining I just couldn’t manage waking unless I was being drug out of bed. I often turn on teachings while I clean and fold laundry (instead of old 90210 re runs! yup, been there, not a whole lot of fruit came from it πŸ˜‰ ) and I pray a lot when I’m driving. The girls pretty much know at this point what I’m doing and who I’m talking to. Now they just ask for specifics on my prayers like “what’s wrong?” And the “why’s?” But I’m finding this to be a very fulfilling part of parenting because they are SEEING the importance of prayer and staying in the Word.

If you want your children to desire relationship with Christ show them how the relationship works. I remember watching my parents meet with Jesus just about every morning and I remember observing them pray A LOT. I know their example instilled my own desire to pursue Christ and experience the joy relationship with him brings.

I am can promise you that you will never regret making time for Jesus. The time may not look how you’d like. You may not get those serene moments with your bible and coffee and endless hours of prayer but the more you reach out to him, the more you make the effort to put him first, I promise you’ll experience his faithfulness. I most definitely have and I am in a state of endless praising right now because he has proven so faithful over and over again. We need him! The emotional ups and downs can be intense. We need him to be our foundation in our family. We need him and his Word to remind us not to neglect what’s important, like our spouse, and our time with our Lord. It’s really crazy how the people that cherish us the most (our Lord and our hubby) tend to be the most neglected when mommies are tending to their babies. (Been there a time or two) This may sound too simple, which it is, but that doesn’t make it easy. Just keep your eyes fixed on him. Earnestly, genuinely, seek his will, for your marriage, your babies, and your outside relationships. It DOES fall into place. I’ve seen it πŸ™‚

Some verses that I have found to be foundational for me in regards to being a momma. I can’t express enough how powerful it is to memorize scripture. But I could write a whole posting on that as well!

Praying blessings, peace, and confidence on all you mommies out there and also on those I know who are about to embark on this wonderful FULFILLING journey. Nothing can give you a glimpse of His love like being a parent. It’s awesome!

Guilt is banished through truth and love; fear-of-God deflects evil. (Proverbs 16:6 The Message)

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22, 23 NLT)

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. (Psalms 16:5 NLT)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15 NLT)

Faithbridge update

Recently I’ve noticed that I feel more pressure when blogging. Not bad pressure. Pressure may not even be the right word. Just that when I go to write a post I want it to be completely led by the Holy Spirit. I just want the words written here to speak His Truth and Love. Whether they offer conviction, inspiration, or encouragement, He is the One worthy of all praise. This blog is not about gaining followers or compliments or adoration, because as I’m sure I’ve said before, any accomplishments or good that comes from me is from the fullness of His grace. It is Him within me that is GOOD. So if I could ask y’all to just pray that this blog would represent Jesus. I pray over every post nowadays because I just deeply want every part of my life, even this little blog, to reflect His love.

So with that said I bring you an update on our Faithbridge process. We are making headway so that’s good news. I have to admit it is taking more time than I had hoped but it’s okay because it’s not on my time-table it’s on His. So far we have ALL had our physical done and praise the Lord we are all healthy! We passed all the necessary testing, we have been fingerprinted, we have filled out and read through all 57 pages of the application, we’ve made our referrals, (Thank you referrals!!!). At this point what we are waiting on is a few forms notarized, rabies vaccine for Jake and Marley (those would be our pets πŸ˜‰ ) Caleb’s birth certificate, and then we can have our first (of three) home study visit. I really was not expecting it to be this drawn out but the appointments, the costs involved, I had an unrealistic idea of being able to accomplish all this within the time frame I had in mind. I’m trying to coordinate in my head “Marley and Jake to the vet. Together? No, definitely not. A 110 pound dog and a cat with claws…..yeah definitely separate appointments.” Anyway, it just has required a lot more planning and not that I have minded one single bit I just so was wishing we’d have 1 or 2 kiddos in our care by now. But like I said, His. Perfect. Timing. πŸ™‚ I’m so glad he’s in control, really. Just giving you the reality of it. I would encourage anyone that is considering Foster Parenting to get your list of requirements ASAP and start getting them done. We were told that, lol. I looked at the list and thought “Ah that’s no big deal! Wont take any time at all.”

I had shared in my initial “announcement” that I wanted to tell more about how we came into contact with Faithbridge. There is a really awesome gal here that our cousins Scott and Nicole know. Her name is Courtney. She has 6 children. 2 biological, 2 that were private adoptions, and 2 that were fostered first and then adopted. She runs an adoption consulting agency and their family is living out the call to care for orphans. I knew when I heard about her I wanted to meet her and I did! Before we had Caleb I chatted with her about our own desires to adopt and she shared with me more about their journey. Well than something “ironic” happened. And when I say ironic I mean God orchestrated because I don’t believe in irony and coincidence. It’s all God! Jason’s business was getting started and he handed out flyers in Courtney’s neighborhood. Guess who needs a bi-weekly? If anyone deserves a cleaning service it’s this amazing woman! So Jason starts cleaning her house every 2 weeks. Now, Jason has always had the desire along with me to adopt but I’m far more gung-ho when it comes to stuff like this. So his exposure to Courtney and her family was definitely a God thing. Time passes, we have Caleb, and then back a few months ago Nicole tells us her and Scott are attending a Faithbridge orientation at Courtney’s house. Scott and Nicole are passionate about respite, this is also a God thing because who would be better respite for us than our totally awesome cousins down the street?! So I tell Jason, not really expecting much of a reaction because we have this new baby and all but he said “Sign us up.” So here we are now, right where God wants us and I know that because we are in it together, with an equal amount of desire to follow wherever He leads.

Continue to pray for the process. Continue to pray for the foster children. I’ve been praying over whomever the Lord brings to us first. That, not only, Jason and I be able to embrace them and love them but that our kids would, too, and our extended family and friends. And also that we would have an overwhelming amount of compassion and love for the parents of these children. That God would prepare our hearts, filling us with grace and mercy to shower on these families. No matter what they’ve done or are going through ultimately it boils down to the fact that they need to know Jesus and experience His love and the freedom He offers through relationship with Him. Pray that we as foster parents would not forget that. Pray we would not forget the grace He has given us therefore it should compel us to extend that grace to others.

Thank you so much! I know we have a faithful, diligent group of prayer warriors out there. We are eternally grateful for every prayer spoken on our behalf.

 

My favorite number 7

Doesn’t everyone have a favorite number? Seven for whatever reason is always my “go to” number if I need one. Just a little fun fact for ya!

Jason and I have been married 7 years now, as of April 1st, no joke! πŸ˜‰ You know what I love about marriage? It always surprises you. Whether with good things or things that you didn’t quite expect, it’s hard for marriage to become dull.

After being married 7 years (almost have been together 11) some might expect to have it figured out. That by now, we would know each other inside and out, be on point with each others thoughts, needs, wants, and know JUST what to do to fulfill them. Well, that certainly is not the case for us but I don’t know, that sounds kind of boring to me. I mean think about it… If you always knew the answer, knew what to say to get the perfect response, basically if you came to the point where you “arrived”. Then we wouldn’t need to grow anymore or learn new things or depend on God and experience the joy of overcoming some of those humps. (or for some mountains!) It’s always so fulfilling to look back on our marriage and think “Man that time was tough but look how faithful God is and how he redeemed it to honor him.” I mean don’t get me wrong, trials and adversity can down right STINK and I am probably the last person to have a jolly attitude in the midst of it BUT eventually I open my eyes to see God at work and it all makes sense and becomes worth while.

So after 7 years of marriage what is God speaking in my heart right now? Back to the basics. This child (bless my heart) can always use a lesson in basics.

Our life is supposed to be about honoring God. Marriage included.

So God created humans to be like himself; he made men and women. (Genesis 1:27 CEV)

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 NKJV)

To me that would suggest that a man and woman together in marriage is the image of God. And I don’t know about you but that really excites me! To think that the best way I can reflect God and all his glory is by partnering with the love of my life. Yeah, sign me up! I mean there isn’t another person on earth I would rather be joined with in this faith journey than Jason. πŸ™‚

This is definitely not news to me and probably not to any of you either. “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”. There are qualities men possess that women can’t understand and vice versa. Lately I have been thinking about how God placed the role of leadership within the family on the man yet most of the time it is the woman who’s spiritually sensitive. This obviously was designed so that we would work together. If God had not designed it that way and did not require me to follow my husbands leadership then more than likely I’d take the reigns and do my own thing. (and then fail miserably!) But that isn’t how God intended it to be. We cant function properly or reach our fullest potential trying to change Gods design to what we think works. He’s the Creator, he knows what he’s doing. πŸ™‚ Y’all probably have picked up on how much I enjoy The Message. Here is how it translates Ephesians 5:22-24:

“Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the churchβ€”a love marked by giving, not getting.”

I love that it first uses the words “understand and support” because that it what godly submission should look like. And then in reference to the husband, that their leadership should not look “domineering” but that of cherishing. Who doesn’t want to be cherished?

Some women may cringe at the word submission. In all honesty our responsibility to submit doesn’t seem as intense as what is on our husbands in terms of leading. They bare a heavy load and will be held accountable in the end. I really want to be a wife that supports my husband and submits to him as he tries to lead our family under God’s authority. I would hate to think that I might be making his job as head of the house more difficult by not trying my best to understand and support. And in reading that Ephesians passage it seems Paul would be suggesting that if a wife is submitting to her husband as she does to Christ that it would encourage the husband to lead in a way where the wife feels cherished. I have experienced the result of godly submission and I keep praying that God would equip me with all I need, particularly a more humble Spirit, to be consistent in my submission. I also have been praying for Jason to feel supported and confident in his leading and that I would know what the best way to encourage him is. I don’t know it all but I do know how to go to the basics. Read my Bible and pray.

Ultimately that’s my little nugget for you after 7 blissful πŸ˜‰ years of marriage.

Pray- it’s powerful and effective!
Bible- read it! Pray before you do and ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the Truth in his Word, not a misinterpretation to provoke the “feel good feelings”.

To end this blog I have thought of 7 things I love about Jason.

1.) Lets get the obvious out of the way, your looks are undeniably striking. To put it plainly, you’re hot.

2.) You’re frugal. This is actually a love hate relationship. I want to love it. I’m learning to love it. πŸ™‚

3.) You’re clean. As in you don’t do a messy cluttered house and I like that.

4.) You’re fun. You make me more fun.

5.) You dream big which helps the realist in me have a few dreams of my own. πŸ™‚

6.) You play well with the kids. Oh how thankful I am for this!

7.) You’re an “investor”. In all you do you consider the long term. Such a great quality.

Happy Anniversary babe! πŸ˜‰