Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Calling and a Cost


We had two of our children graduate from high school over the past few weeks and enter adulthood.  It has definitely been a time of reflection.  The time spent going through old pictures and reliving all the memories.  What I love about photographs is the reminder that though days can be long and hard and we all worry about what it all means for the future, that in the meantime, life is going along and happy times happen.  Sometimes we can spend so much time planning whats next or worrying about what is happening and what it means for the future that we can lose sight that life is happening regardless.  I read a book recently that said life is like a coin, you can spend it anyway you want but you can only spend it once.  All the moments I spent worrying about my kids growing up, some were veracious readers while others settled for reading the back of a cereal box.  Some spent hours creating while others preferred video games.  None were or are involved heavily in music or sports, which would often cloud my thoughts as I saw a Facebook post of another kids achievements.

Years ago God clearly called us to live a life different from the ordinary one we began.  We had the 2 children one boy and one girl.  Life circumstances told us that we would have no more and yet we felt we had it all.  Then a stirring in my soul would not let me stop imagining life with so many more.  But the cost....if you have ever looked into adoption or raised children in general you know the cost is a lot....  As we would say one more God would say 2 and as we would say only one more God would say 3 and then when we threw in the towel God said...one more...  It was a calling something we couldn't ignore if we wanted to.  However a calling always comes with a cost.  It cost Jesus his life.

As time went on we learned to adjust more by necessity than anything else.  It was clear with 7 and then 8 children we would not have the normal suburban life.  First, we would probably never fly as a family, so all family vacations were now within driving distance....in a hot stinky van sometimes....  Second, going out to a restaurant for dinner, lunch or breakfast would now be a special occasion many times it was once a year on Christmas Eve.  Third, yearly vacations were a thing of the past, as just finding a place to stay can break the budget when its times 10!  Fourth, shopping changes...new clothes are replaced with hand me downs... true story when my daughter was 12 and we were in a store shopping I told her to try something on and she informed me she had never tried on anything in a store before.....

To be clear we were making a decent income for the area, but when its stretched among 10 people it tends not to go as far.  However, God was faithful, we never went without a need and always have more then enough wants.  That hot stinky van has provided some of our greatest family memories.  The things that go on in this house are seriously podcast worthy...and maybe will be someday when it won't embarrass some so much :)  The point is...we didn't keep up with the Jones's, in fact they probably have filed a complaint about something one of my children have done in the neighborhood in the search for fun....  and life went on regardless, and not just life, but life in abundance. 

So realize if God has called you, it will probably feel radical, and it probably will be...  You will have to pay a cost...most likely in material goods or sanity..... You will probably not have all you want in the world and still be obedient and you will sometimes feel like the magician in Frosty the Snowman..saying "That's Not Fair" ......... but as life rolls on regardless you will start to see that it wasn't fair....you got to experience something so many people miss, you get to experience Jesus in the flesh still working today among us...you will see miracles, you will experience the peace that passes all understanding...you will watch the future unfold in a way you couldn't have planned..and you will realize you don't miss the many movies you never saw, the restaurants you didn't experience, the beaches you didn't step on as much as you thought you would.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Would it be different?

Teaching history to my children for the past years and being a news junky I have had this thought recently.... would it really have been different....  Being the mother of both black and white sons and black and white daughters I feel like I have a unique perspective.  Teaching history to young kids (and older) can sometimes put quite a dim light on the world's past.  It can be easy to see that there is pervasive sin in all cultures.  We even can try to put a happy spin on things that end not so happy....teaching the founding fathers, falls into the demise of Native Americans and slavery, or if you go further back as my 11 year old put it recently...let me guess the king comes to power says he will do good things but instead beheads people.  So in the news I fully support the movements in the news that have come forward for racial and gender equality.  I believe fully that we should not be oppressed or harassed due to our God given genetic make up.  We are ALL created in God's image.  However, after raising all these children from all over the place I have come to wonder, if men of European decent had not held power for so long, if perhaps women had the opportunity on a large scale to rule the nations generation after generation, would they have ruled differently, would we have avoided a gender gap or racism.  I am not so sure because I do not believe the problem is in the genetic make up of a person in so much as the problem we were warned about far back into the Old Testament....power.....pride.....

The Bible and history proves our genetics does not cause us to act in reprehensible ways, no one population is a consistent tyrant.  But it is clear to show that the amount of power we receive (or feel we have or feel we deserve) is at the core of the problem.  Watch someone rise to power (or in our current culture with out a royal class, we can call it fame) and watch the tyrant in us rise.  Try to challenge ones power or fame and watch the wars begin.  See in all of us is both tyrant and victim, to pull ourselves up we must push someone down. 

So while it seems bleak it has me thinking then how to we achieve this equality that we desire.  Biblically....loving one another as God designed and giving God the glory...humbling ourselves at the cross...not culturally, but really....  We are fooling ourselves if we believe that we have humbled ourselves in front of an almighty just God but can say things like "I would not let my child date a child of another race"  or "this cultural group is lame"  or  "all men are pigs" or "fill in the black race or gender or lifestyle is the cause of problems"  STOP  humbling ourselves requires ourselves to look in the mirror and realize if the people who look, think and act like you had the power historically and currently we probably would have made just as bad decisions.  We would have been drunk on power and fame and money.....  So as we embrace these movements towards equailty lets also turn to Jesus and find the only true way to equality, humbling ourselves in front of our creator and truly looking at others as God's creation and loving each other. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Roots

If there is one thing I have always envied its the people who know where they are from. For example, some people are born and bred country life folk...they can farm and care for animals, they get rejuvenated from the outdoors, they wouldn't want life any other way.  Or on the opposite extreme there is the city folk, they LOVE their city.  They can get from this place to that place and know which places are the best.  They are street savvy and usually seem tough or edgy.  They can't see themselves ever leaving the city they love.  See I grew up in the middle and still live in the middle...suburbs...don't get me wrong lovely places.  But they lack the feel of either extreme.  Most kids don't feel tied to their suburb.  They don't have all the space of the country to free roam but also lack the character of the city.  We have all our standards, McDonalds, Walmart, Starbucks, chain grocery store... our parks all look alike only the playground is arranged differently.  So while its not bad, its also not the thing stories or songs are made of.  Suburbanites often move town to town with no feelings of nostalgia...but here is the catch....a suburbanite lifer like myself cannot go county or city without looking like a poser.  Why...because I did not live my life soaked in something that has roots....family farms have roots...small towns with multi generations have roots...cities have roots...but suburbs are more of a newer phenomenon in history.  They lack roots they are like the nomads of lifestyles.  The weird thing about them that I have found is they lack commitment. 

So as I have been reading my Bible, I saw a stark similarity with Spiritual walks.  We have those who live their faith out loud, there is no doubt they love their Jesus.  They have a history and roots with this King of Kings, they can't imagine a moment without Him.  Their are also the other extreme they don't believe or they don't care to find out what they Jesus is all about...but if we were to be honest most people including myself a lot of times park ourselves in the spiritual suburbs.  We have your standard church attendance, own a Bible, send our kids to church programs, but there is not a passion for anything.  Its comfortable, so comfortable that not only can we sometimes forget many times we actively forgo our faith.  Our roots are social not spiritual, therefore its easy to pick up from one church and move on to another if its not meeting our expectations.  Yet many church goers and even some who don't go would admit the same thing I said at the beginning envy those who are sold out...those who walk out in faith or the Word is always on their lips and they really live it out. Those who don't just tote the words of Jesus around, but live the life too.  We feel like a poser if we "act" like those people.  So we sit back and live in our suburb faith.

Its doesn't have to be this way though...it all starts in our head and in our feelings... The truth is, if I want to be a country girl or a city girl I need to stop doing the same old same old...I need to make a choice to pick up from where I am and move forward into something new...something uncomfortable...  Then I need to learn from as many people as I can..surround myself with those who are living it.  I need to step out in faith and buy a chicken or get on that subway...am I going to mess up, yep...am I going to get lost...yep...but the second time I won't and the more time I purposely invest in my new reality the faster I will acclimate.  When my family sees my passion they will too want to know what I am doing...here begins the roots....so if you are in the suburbs of faith (or life) and you want more...take a purposeful step out and start becoming the roots.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Time to Heal

The events in our nation recently have been disturbing.  Chants have been chanted, videos have been played over and over and everyone from your neighbor to officials have either made their statements or have not.  But now I believe its time to start healing, not because it justifies anything but on the other side its how we don't lose what we have gained.  Its time to remind our children that there is more on the good side then on the bad.  It is time to show that we are truly neighbors and love one another with more than just social media posts and news interviews.  We must remember how far we have come and not let fear begin to separate us and divide us. That in itself is always the cause, when life is us versus them in any situation.  No one can hear when we are angry and no one changes when stubborn pride comes in.  It instills fear and confusion in the next generation, it brings up old wounds for some that were just starting to heal.  We need to teach the next generation that while its OK to be different we can always find common ground.  We cannot afford to lose ground in civil rights when so much has been gained and I honestly believe more Americans want to move forward than backwards.  We need to let our kids especially know that, because when the loudest voices are the voice of anger and hate and division in the media and in the church and in the home that undermines the progress.  The best way to move forward is to be successful and happy and help others around you no matter who they are do the same.  Work hard, love others and help one another this is the formula to undue hate.  In a multiracial household we have a front row seat to see that love is colorblind, loyalty is based on love and we have everything in common.  Its time to start healing, its time to take our eyes off those who want to divide us and turn them to those around us and show the love.  We will not lose the progress this country has made in the last 50 years, we will continue to move forward in love and show the next generation that keeping our eyes, thoughts and actions on good is more valuable then giving attention to things that are damaging.  The words have been said, but the time has come for us to heal, to move forward with new perspective and grow from this.

Friday, June 16, 2017

"Healthy" Living

Three years ago I got a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis that changed my life.  I had mounting symptoms for years but it came on suddenly in a more severe form that year.  Over the past few years I have learned that I have had to come to a time of acceptance (including 3 more autoimmune disorders that were added on in those years).  Acceptance looked more like no longer pretending I am making up the symptoms and finding the line between acceptable pain and affecting too much pain, learning how to let others help and how to say no when it was too much.  It was a roller coaster of research and new treatments and new ways of doing things like opening cans and jars and going out for a walk.  Now I have accepted that I have a myriad of autoimmune disorders that affect my daily life and always will.  I am a pro at giving myself injections and giving myself the day off on methotrexate Monday when the nausea kicks in.

The new place I am at is learning to live within where God has me.  This has included major changes in my diet, going gluten and dairy free...because I love to eat.....and food has been the center of entertainment in our house.  So I am learning to cook in a new ways.  I am learning to make easier meals and spend quality time with the kids in the pool where there is no pressure on the joints and the heat isn't making me ill.  I am learning to order in restaurants things that will not make me feel sick (although no gluten and dairy leaves like 2 things to choose from on a menu).  Although with this I have also had to let go of the old me in a lot of ways.  Its weird that people who have met me at this point in my life will never know the me I was before.  I was very active, I loved to dance and play basketball. I mean not competitively or I wasn't even really good, but I liked to have fun!  I have to face reality most days, if I choose to get coffee with friends like I did yesterday and the only chairs available are wooden, I will likely spend the rest of the day on the couch in pain or if I go play Top Golf there is a good chance my arms and hands will be useless for a day or 2.  I even have to factor in a grocery shop, if it takes an hour I will likely need to come home and rest for a few hours to keep my hips from getting bursitis.

My point is not to complain, but more the realization to not take anything for granted and to realize that life changes, yet still goes on, good and bad.  Nothing is stagnant in life, we have choices on how we face new trials.  It may be the only way God opens a door in our life to something he has for us.  I have through this learned that my husband is a rock star, he will work a full day come out help with dinner, pick up the kids from work, carry things for me and do as much as he can to take stuff off my plate.  This is so hard to accept sometimes because I feel like I can't give back as much as he gives, but God has also made me realize that I can be his partner in other ways, I have prayed more for him at this point in our marriage then I have in our entire marriage, I have taken those times I feel good to really try to make the moments count, thinking of what he would like and putting that in the front of my mind.  We have created some time for us to sit outside alone and talk about our days.  It has forced a certain simplicity to our routines.  Another way I have learned this lesson is with new friendships.  I have had the fortune of making some wonderful friends in this area, which in past places has eluded me usually due to the sheer amount of toddlers and preschools that circled my feet for the last 10 years....  The old me would have said yes to EVERYTHING even to stuff I didn't want to do, creating resentment and ultimately avoiding long enough to quit (which I am wonderful at).  Now I simply have to say no because I cannot and though in that acceptance phase I struggled with the feeling that people would reject my friendship thinking I am lazy or not a good enough friend, I have opened up myself to the things I can do and have found wonderful support from the ladies around me.  I am more blessed now in that area then I was when I was "healthy".

Which brings me to the final point, what is healthy.....after 38 years of all sorts of healthy times and unhealthy times I am starting to figure out healthy is when you rely on God for your daily needs and have the support around you who love you for you.  If times are good rejoice and if they are awful cry and let it out, but either way remember its all temporary.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Teenagers

At this point in my life I have 5 teenagers, 2 almost teenagers and one rowdy 10 year old.....  So go ahead stop and take a minute to pray for me and my husbands sanity....seriously.....

Anyone who has had, known, seen, been around teenagers knows that they are definitely unique in their point of view.  They are in the cosmic struggle between life as a carefree kid and life with adult freedom and responsibility.  They often feel like they have figured it out, and as I am sure we all felt when we were teens, that other people just don't understand....  I experience this daily, hourly, every few minutes of every day...  Things I hear daily, "I forgot" "why are you making such a big deal about this" "you make things seem so dramatic" "I am bored"  "You don't understand" ....or my favorite, bring me a problem and then ask for my opinion, hear my opinion and then argue why their opinion that they already preformed is correct and mine is not....

So this morning after thinking on this I went back to the place that I always do when I think about those teen years...  I have often equated my relationship with God as a teen like relationship.  I am often saying these things in words or more likely in actions in my life.  For example, one thing about parenting teens that I find ironic is this idea that I don't understand, even though I have not only lived through being a teenager myself but have known and dealt with a lot of teenagers in my life.  Yet, Jesus who experienced temptation far greater than me and has known every man and woman throughout history hears from  me that he might have made a mistake, he might have walked me down a path that has no purpose.  As though I know more than he does!  I tell my kids often that unless they trust I have their best interests at heart they will not understand or take my advice.  As soon as they think they know better or think I don't have their best interests they will do contrary to what I tell them. (which is often) They always have their excuse or reason ready when something doesn't work out.....I didn't think I would get caught, I didn't realize this other thing would happen, I didn't mean for this person to get mad, I didn't think I would feel this way.....  Then many times they blame comes back on the parents, well if you did or didn't.... Ohhhh how I do this at times...God if you had just let this happen or not let that happen...then I wouldn't be here. Reality is I did it for the approval of man and not the approval of God.  The desire to be accepted trumped the desire to please my father, the want of my plans to work out was the cause of my disobedience.  Yet like a good father, he is always there because he knows how my warped view of life will lead me weak and vulnerable and he knows that I will need to call out to him and though it might take longer than he would like and it hurts him to know how much pain I will allow myself, he never gives up.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Empty Cup


It has been a long few months in my life, from last July until Jan. I have had either a personal health or family difficulty every month and some months every week.  I kept pouring out my cup a little at a time, and eventually my cup ran dry.  I am speaking of spiritually.  I knew I wasn't myself, I was inside my own head, question everything, letting old fears and insecurities to crawl in, slowly and slowly as my cup emptied into my circumstances and was being refilled with insecurities and fear.  I didn't realize it but I was slowly letting myself slide away from my first love, God.  I didn't even see it coming until I found myself ready to go back to life before I agreed to walk in his Love.  The scary part is, it was making sense....it had seemed like circumstance after circumstance just kept being a reminder that maybe God called the wrong person, or the wrong time, or I heard the wrong callings... I mistook weakness in myself as a weakness in God.  Then a week ago or so I see that my husband had put on the calendar, make no plans this weekend.  He just said he was working on something.  Come to find out he had got a hotel room at a local hotel, he made a mini retreat for me to reconnect with my first love.  He prepared a set of videos and music for me to watch and listen and praise with. He knows I recharge with quiet.  I just needed sometime to sit with my Savior, I need to put away the noise of the circumstance and let the lies slip away just long enough to remind who I am.  I am NOT the insecure, fearful woman I used to be, I am a child of the King, I am a princess, I am the bride of Christ.  I have a job to do that circumstance does not dictate, it is only dictated to me by my King and Father... I mistakenly believed for awhile that suffering was a sign of trouble or that I was doing it wrong, but reality I learned and was reminded that suffering is often how God gets our attention.  Trouble is often something we have earned because it will strengthen and make me stronger in running the race of life.  Jesus's circumstance did not dictate his value or his purpose, so therefore it does not mine.  So now with more than 24 hours of doing nothing more than soaking in the word, it has reminded who is my hope, my peace, my song, my life.  I was reminded that fear is nothing but "faith in the enemy".  It is OK to grow weary, because sometimes that is our reminder that we cannot do this in our own strength, as long as we remember to plug into the Word of God and draw in new strength.  I am so grateful for husband who will not selfishly keep me as his bride, but lovingly tends to my relationships with my God.  My cup is full, and I can now more effectively pour out to those I encounter.