Fullness at its best

I will try to make this brief, but you know how good I am at that 😉

God is always faithful and his Word is true. Completely, 100%, infallible.

My days are long. I’m just getting used to this new development. Now that the girls are in school I have to be up every weekday morning by 6:30. From that point on it is go time- all the time. Fortunately the littles take naps. Unfortunately not at the same time lol. God is always amazing me with his provision. Lately it has been energy.

Sometimes I want to covet my sleep. This doesn’t really effect anyone except my husband. Obviously when the kids are asleep is when we can be alone. Friday I was tiiiiired. I wanted to crash early but my man was lookin for some porch time. So I reluctantly stayed outside and at the end was so glad I did. It really is the simple things. We talked till midnight which is a time that I rarely see unless its after already having gone to bed.

I felt so full after that.

Initially it felt like a huge sacrifice. Seriously, I can’t even explain how important my rest is to me. And yet God blessed that time I got to spend alone with Jason.

I told you we had continued foster training. I knew it would be good but I didn’t know to what degree of awesomeness. It was SO GOOD. If you are a foster parent, find Christian based training and do it! You will be so glad.

And again I felt full.

Even though I knew it would benefit our family and the children we foster, if given the option to skip I probably would have. It was 3 hours of training and 2 hours of driving. And lets face it, I’m selfish by nature. That’s a lot of time and effort. But again, despite my natural inclination to think my time is mine, God blessed the obedience.

and filled me up.

This morning after worship I was asked to stick around at the Help Center. I had asked for a grace period while we adjusted to fostering but with Fall Break they were short. I wasn’t feeling up to it. But again, I left feeling like God gave me back more than I actually put in. I mean I showed up. And yet now, after engaging with people in Gods sanctuary, some deep in their faith, others new to the church, I feel so blessed.

I just feel FULL, content, happy, joyful….

This is NOT about boasting in my accomplishments. I was reluctant to do some of those things. I was doubtful that any of it would make any difference. I am selfish and self seeking unless the Spirit is in the drivers seat. God showed me again that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. He showed me again that sacrifice and obedience will be honored. He showed me again that it’s not about ME it’s all about Him. And when I put Him before me it actually is better for me!

The catch phrase from today’s sermon:

I get to.

I get to faithfully love and serve this man.

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I get to care for and grow up these beautiful kiddos. And more!

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I get to give.
I get to serve.
I get to love.
I get to…….

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3 months in the Hope filled journey

I wanted to write a post more specifically on how fostering is going. Before I get into this though I wanted to express that I really want to be open and honest about it all. Once again, I don’t want to give off a false notion that makes our experience seem like some sort of fairy tale dream world. I also don’t want it to come off negative and pessimistic. Blogging is a funny world of its own. Some times it can be tricky to convey the real life thoughts on a post that are clear and understood how you meant for them to be. So, as I write this post, about our journey so far, the laughter, the tears, the challenges, the revelations, and everything outside and in between just know that I’m trying to write from the “heart of it” if you will.

When Jason and I first started to consider adoption before we had Caleb, admittedly I was in la la land. The whole idea of “taking in orphans”, in my mind, was a very precious, magical, unrealistic view. Its not that I thought it would be perfect and with out challenges, I guess I just imagined that the difficult moments would always be followed by a beautiful embrace of sorts. “Good night sweet heart. We have learned so much today. Such goodness came out of that challenge.”  It’s just not like that. And that’s okay that doesn’t always mean “We must be doing something wrong!!”

This is a lengthy emotional process. The redemption, the healing, all of that is not going to come at the end of every day at bedtime. The good news is that we know it WILL come. That those nights when we finally get everyone to sleep and I crawl into bed so thankful for the quiet and opportunity to close my eyes, I know that tomorrow will bring us one step closer to God redeeming it all.

But we have moments when we struggle. We get frustrated and lose our patience. I personally have times where I just LONG for night to come and it be time for bed. (Are you picking up on the fact that I love sleep?) 😉 There are also times when I just desperately want to be alone and yet FEEL so alone when I am very clearly NOT alone. Like….hardly…..e-v-e-r. Anyone feel me??? I give Jason major props for being my advocate and encouraging and providing me time by myself or me with other adults and no little people. There are even some days where Jason will advise all the kids to NOT say “mommy” any more, lol. “Daddy only kiddos!” Only because I very likely already heard it 1,767,493 times that day.

Now, maybe you are thinking “Why do you have all these kids if you want to get away from them?”

Trust me, I have thought that!

I don’t usually, always, want to get away. 😉 We mommies need the break to recollect so that we can just be good moms. Becaaaauuse there are also times when I’m rested and encouraged. When I get to read Hope “The Jesus Story Book Bible” and my heart feels REALLY full. When she gets back from a visit with her mommy and is happy and I know it went well and her mommy wants to be with her and there is His HOPE of restoring this family. And then the times with our kids. Like seeing her and Caleb laugh and play together while the girls are at school. Or Micaila and her walking sweetly hand-in-hand across the street to the beach. Or when Ryann and her sit in their beds before lights out and read stories.  I wish I could share some photos of these moments that God graces us with to carry us through. The small parts of the story that will make up the whole story. Every time I start to feel defeated and discouraged, God sends something, a word, a friend, a memory, a thought, a NAP that lifts me up and says “I haven’t left you, you CAN do this WITH Me.”

My memory verse from last week was Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You. All whose thoughts are fixed on You.”

Right now I would say our biggest challenge is discipline. The age that Hope is at, 2 years old, is just beyond the crucial starting point of implementing discipline and boundaries for a child. I don’t know how she was disciplined before, but when she came to us she was very well behaved and obedient. Within the last 2 weeks she has regressed. Jason and I do not view spanking as the only way to train up a child however it has proven in our own children to be one of the most effective ways to discipline from the age of 1-3. As you know, you can not use corporal methods of discipline/punishment on a foster child. I understand why they have this boundary in place. In a perfect world parents would discipline their children in love (not anger), but as you know this isn’t a perfect world and there have been individuals who went way beyond merely disciplining and have physically harmed and abused foster children. So, they have a few blanket rules but primarily it’s summed up “do not spank”.

We want to be proactive in learning creative ways to discipline and teach Hope. It’s new for us and it’s hard because it goes against what we know and have always done. Needless to say, we abide by the rules, we press on and we PRAY. I know in Him we can overcome this. But that is the key: In HIM, through HIM, by HIM. Not us. Not our own strength. Not our own understanding.

This weekend we have 3 hours of training that I am really looking forward to. The training is required; each foster parent has to have 15 hours of “Continued Education”. I know it will be encouraging to hear from a professional and to be around other foster parents.

Common with most toddlers you do feel as though a lot of your day revolves around instructing. But we do have some more fun, laid-back, moments. I wish I could post pictures or video of the kids from last night. We were playing in the backyard and they brought around their “rock n roller” and the little tykes red and yellow flinstone car. Everyone calls it that right? 😉 Anyway, the girls did a lot of this when we first moved here so it was fun to see them at it again. Our yard slopes just enough so they can start on the porch in their little cars and roll all the way down, screaming the whole entire way, and stopping just before they hit the big tree. It’s completely safe. And they L.O.V.E. it! They also fight over the toys, ram each other like bumper cars, laugh, cry, cry some more, fuss, whine and laugh again.

To sum up how I feel right now about being a foster parent would go something like this: Any person, place, or thing, that draws me closer to God, that compels me to spend more time in his Word or in prayer with him, is exactly what I want in my life.  God has me, personally, in a season of learning. Something like “Dear daughter, you don’t know it all.” 🙂 I am realizing and learning a lot of things; new things to apply, old habits to change. In Sunday’s sermon Brian spoke on Spiritual Growth. He said a lot of really good stuff, but one thing that I just LOVED was how he (or maybe he quoted) a “definition” of Spiritual growth:

Developing into the TRUE version of yourself.

Only when I am living by the Spirit, am I who God intended me to be. When I allow my flesh to control me or dictate my actions and words it’s not who God meant for me to be and since that is the case it’s not who I WANT to be. You can find that sermon HERE. It was really good.

Things are in a state of stirring and changing around here, but I feel like it’s good change. The kind of change that is just getting us to cling more to Him. Can’t complain about that. Thank you for putting up with the ramblings here. I know it’s typically all over the place. Can you even imagine what it’s like inside my head! Never mind don’t. 😉

We need your prayers. I know I definitely need them. I need an abundance of sympathy, compassion, self control, grace and wisdom (just to name a few) and that comes from the Lord. I am grateful for the work he is doing in us and what he is letting us do with him. At the end of every day, no matter what has happened, one thing always rings true and it is that God is good.

Psalm 145

A psalm of praise of David.

I will exalt you, my God and King,
    and praise your name forever and ever.
I will praise you every day;
    yes, I will praise you forever.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
    No one can measure his greatness.

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
    let them proclaim your power.
I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
    and your wonderful miracles.
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
    I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
    they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
The Lord is good to everyone.
    He showers compassion on all his creation.
10 All of your works will thank you, Lord,
    and your faithful followers will praise you.
11 They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;
    they will give examples of your power.
12 They will tell about your mighty deeds
    and about the majesty and glory of your reign.
13 For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
    You rule throughout all generations.

The Lord always keeps his promises;
    he is gracious in all he does.
14 The Lord helps the fallen
    and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
15 The eyes of all look to you in hope;
    you give them their food as they need it.
16 When you open your hand,
    you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
    he is filled with kindness.
18 The Lord is close to all who call on him,
    yes, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He grants the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cries for help and rescues them.
20 The Lord protects all those who love him,
    but he destroys the wicked.

21 I will praise the Lord,
    and may everyone on earth bless his holy name
    forever and ever.

I deserve it!

People, we are so funny. Me. I guess I find myself funny. I’m sitting here having a wonderfully quiet moment. Caleb is toddling around, while our little gal, lets call her “Hope”, is napping. Hope seems fitting. We hope a lot of things for her future and we trust in God, the One who our hope comes from.

Anyway, “why do you think you’re so funny?” you might wonder.

Well, my wheels have been turning lately. And as I am having this peaceful moment where I can actually hear and sift through some of my thoughts I have this one in particular that made me giggle at myself. I thought, “you know what me? I would love to have a facial. No I need one. I mean I’ve NEVER had one. My skin needs whatever it is that they do in a facial session. I think I might even deserve one.” Well when that word comes in to play that’s when the laughter begins because one thing is for sure, if I deserve anything it’s a sack of rotten potatoes. Which just this weekend I discovered is the most disgusting smelling thing you could ever have happen in your pantry. Ever. I didn’t even know potatoes could rot. Just quit. I can hear your thoughts way over here. I went to cook some and they had produced this fowl smelling liquid that could only be compared to cat urine. And then I felt like the filthiest homemaker ever because “how on earth did I not know this was going down in my pantry?!”

What’s a post with out some funny truth 😉 that really happened and I’m not exaggerating even a little.

This idea of deserving.

de·serve
dəˈzərv/
verb
1. do something or have or show qualities worthy of (reward or punishment).
synonyms: merit, earn, warrant, rate, justify, be worthy of, be entitled to, have a right to, be qualified for more……

I think generally when I consider what I believe I “deserve” in conjunction to life’s daily choices and grind it’s in the rewarding sense not so much “man I really stunk at having patience today, I deserve to be punished! Will someone please put me in the corner?”

Because of the messages the world bombards us with we have to fight extremely hard against thinking we are deserving of or are entitled to said thing. Practically everything, every where, caters to what people think they should have. I notice this now more than ever as Jason and I are trying to raise these little precious children into healthy followers of Jesus. Lets face it, we can more easily look at another human and see “wow you are so entitled! where on earth did you pick THAT up from?” To add to our flawed parenting the world keeps feeding them “you need this, you need that, satisfy your hunger, desire, craving, want! need! AS SOON as you possibly can because you deserve it!!! And if you are told wait or no you are deprived maybe even neglected!!!” I mean seriously our kids can barely make it a car ride with out us showing them real life photos of what starving children actually look like. “You are not starving!” And I admit, we are part of the problem as well. We live in and are fighting against the worlds subtle seducing lies and sometimes words like “starving” and “I need a chickfila sandwich immediately or I might die” have possibly come out of my mouth.

I really need to work on the whole “stay on point” writing characteristic.

What’s really had my wheels turning is the topic/phrase our pastor has been preaching on which is “Jesus is enough”. I really do believe that. So much that I want to put it into practice with, like, everything. I have been asking myself a lot lately “is Jesus really enough for you?” I have been evaluating my life, particularly my possessions, or activities I can engage in and thinking “if you didn’t have all this would Jesus be enough for you?” In moments of weakness, pain, sadness, anxiety, frustration, when my initial response is to fill myself with something worldly (shopping, pedicure, running, a girls night out, a phone call ect) I keep hearing in my head “is Jesus enough for you? Can He satisfy this longing or relieve this ache for you?” I admit I can be co dependent on a lot of things and people at times. Sometimes I look to other relationships before looking to Jesus. I look for something to distract me before turning to Jesus. It’s not that having people to talk to in your life is wrong, no we need the Body of Christ! And its not that doing things for yourself is wrong but sometimes I do stuff for the wrong reason, justifying it with my “scale of deserving” with out even laying it over to the Lord. When I do that I miss out. Often I’m only briefly relieving my ache/void because ultimately Jesus is enough, in fact He is IT. There is absolutely nothing in this world that can satisfy my soul like He does. There is no one that can offer words like His Word! (Unless of course they’re quoting scripture which is the best advice/encouragement we can give each other) 🙂

I have been really content lately. And it has caused me to wonder “if you were elsewhere, didn’t have “xyz”, if things were not this way….. Would He be enough?” The fact is I have absolutely no reason to be discontent. I have FAR more than I need or “deserve”. On a serious note I know what I really deserve. I know that we are not given what we deserve (Psalm 103:10) that Jesus rescued me from the eternal death I wouldn’t have been able to save myself from. I know God has given me more than I need, for reasons I will never be able to explain. I wonder all the time “how on earth did I end up here?” Ultimately when I reflect on my life, childhood to now, every single moment, I am on my face with gratitude for the privileges God has given me. But a lot of our focus can be more toward the “material” blessings. The tangible items. Because that’s what the world considers being “blessed”. Right? When you have a big beautiful home, nice car, money, nice clothes, taking vacations… All those things ARE a blessing but if someone doesn’t have them that doesn’t mean they aren’t blessed.

Phillippians 3:7-8 But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ…

In context Paul is referring to people putting all their stock in the old testament law. But so often I define myself, my worth, my value, on WHAT I have not WHO I have and Him being Jesus. I agree with what Paul says “all I want is Christ.”

Day by day Christ is revealing to me that some of the things I put a lot of value on, actually have no value at all in the scope of eternity. And that IS what matters. In fact I just had this thought: the idea that a bigger house with beautiful aesthetics, flooring, counters, painting, decoration, stainless appliances, nice cars, lots of shoes, clothing, accessories,….. Seriously I’m examining the contents of my life and thinking “wow, this is a lot to maintain!” Cleaning this big house, all the floors, all the laundry, keeping track of stuff so it doesn’t get lost, picking up, putting away, mopping, on and on and on…… What a distraction. Wow. Seriously this just happened in my head. I spend a lot of time trying to maintain things that ultimately don’t hold any weight in heaven.

I am not saying that stuff is bad. I just am wondering, “Could I possibly be missing out on even more of what He offers because I’m distracted with cleaning my oversized house and folding way.too.much.laundry. Because 7 days worth of clothing isn’t enough?” I know that I have more than I need but I don’t think I had considered that it could be a means of distraction. Could my energy and focus be on something more kingdom worthy? Instead of vacuuming this big beautiful home, that I am more than grateful for, could we downsize to what truly meets our needs and spend that time elsewhere? Could we be maintaining something that serves as a ministry? We can’t avoid maintenance! But I would rather be investing my energy maintaining a ministry than just the extra stuff, which we have a lot of. For crying out loud my husband has a vehicle sitting in our garage that is a beautiful piece of machinery, would be a hot ride for date night, (which then would qualify it as a ministry in my book!) but yet it just sits. Seriously a waste of space. Funny how I just threw him and his Camaro under the bus. I love you babe! 😉 Am I still typing?!

Y’all know I love that song, Jeremy Camp has a beautiful rendition as well as Fernando Ortega, Give me Jesus.

The lyrics are:
In the morning when I rise
Give me Jesus
When I am alone
Give me Jesus
When I come to die
Give me Jesus

But my favorite line is:
You can have all this world, just give me Jesus.

Jesus is enough. I want my life to be evidence of that. I think it may be time for a change.