It’s paying off

Some years ago I started to record things I was grateful for.  In the midst of hardship I longed to notice things around me that were good.  Apparently this was life changing for Ann Voskamp who struggled with pain from the past and depression.

I kept at it but there were seasons I put the practice down for it was not as revolutionary for me as it was for Ann.  Hardship and emotional roller coasters increased and I was really trying to notice for I did believe we always have things to be grateful for but, it did not change me.

At times it was hard to even come up with one thing but with the practice always in the back of my mind, my list got longer slowly.  And just a few weeks ago I realized out of nowhere… this practice was actually paying off.  Being in emotional pain daily, with God guiding me and Tim to embrace it for we are not the ones who will control changing the pain, all I have is little things.  And do you know how amazing it is to be so delighted, truly deeply delighted, over chirping birds, or over a warm wind touching your face, over lavender scent, over a sweet potato dish, or over dew on grass that glisters as if there were diamonds all around?  Or over noticing a whole group of birds dancing and playing right in front of your porch where you are sitting, and you have never seen birds there like that ever before?

The years, the months, the days of recording are truly touching the depths of me.  This is what Ann talked about.  In the midst of deep deep suffering, God is still showing Himself and thus we can endure.  I still am, because of this.  And even though the joy may last a second, joy was there.  These small moments make me live on, they give me energy, they encourage and show me life IS good in the bad.  It makes me small, who am I to know such gifts? I want to shout out… friends… this is such a MIRACULOUS something.  If you are in pain, no matter what kind, God transforms through the little, the truly important.

 

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I want my name back and Love is not free

Hard and painful it’s been. Tim and I have not been spoken to for over a month.  The boys seem to take turns (unplanned) and as of right now, neither one is talking to us.  The home is being terrorized, things get broken and calling 911 is on the table.  We no longer have a life.

It’s very sad the boys can’t see what they’ve been given.  They have been given family, they have been given future, they have been given love.  But love is never free, someone is paying a price. It’s costing someone something.  And to the boys… it’s still a blaming game, they are not seeing fault in themselves, and things are getting worse.  And we realize (with the help of a team) that it’s being abused, we are being abused.  And so we need to change things around here.

We can’t love more, and we can’t do anything different.

As sad as it is, Tim and I need to withdraw emotionally.  We’ve been battling this for a long time.  We don’t want to withdraw; we took in children who needed a home and safety to love, not withdraw.  So I am broken.  Broken over needing to let go. Broken over not being able to love more or do something different.  And so sadly, I need my name back. Today the boys will hear (in a therapy session) that I am considering asking them to call me Maddy again.  For how can I let go when, when I hear ‘mom’, everything in me wants to rise up and love.  I need distance.  They need distance.  There were times Boy 1 stopped calling me mom and started calling me Maddy, out of anger. My name switch is done out of self-preservation and, love.

We dont know where we’re headed.  The future is unknown.  We still know all children from hard places can heal.  It’s just not something we can control or make happen on our own.  So we surrender and embrace our circumstances no matter how it goes against nature, or our will.

 

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In His eyes

The lady who touched Jesus’ cloak and was instantly healed.  Jesus stopped in His tracks and asked: “Who was the one who touched me?” This woman had to confess it was her, in front of all the crowd.  Rising shame.  Would He be mad? Would the people laugh?  Would they make fun of her?

I am watching, I’m part of the crowd.  I want to choose the woman’s side and stand by her but I am too worried about the crowd singling me out with her. So I don’t.  But I know what it is like to stand alone.  Surely she shouldn’t have to.  But I am too scared to be made fun of.  I won’t risk it!  So either way I don’t feel good. It’s either pain and quilt or shame and fear.

But there is a good I can choose.

Good.

There is good.  What is it?  Surely walking up to this woman laying in the dust, feeling so alone… afraid… ashamed… not knowing what she did was allowed.  Shame weakening her.  I reach out, one arm reaching underneath hers, one hand reaching for her hand.  She gets up in the steadiness of my body.  I let her lean into mine.  She’s no longer alone.  If there is to be any shaming, we’ll be shamed together.

We’re deadly afraid, not knowing what’s to come.  Both trembling on our feet, our hands shaking.  And then… there He is. We face the Lord.  And even though the crowd is loud and rowdy, mocking us, we see it in His eyes.  The woman, now my friend, has done what is good.  And I have chosen what is best.  We no longer hear the crowd.  The crowd has no meaning to us.  Because… it is in His eyes.  Her and I are one.  I’m grateful for what she did, her courage.  Without her I would not know His eyes.  I did not lose out.  I guess I was courageous too.

~ For I know the plan I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future. ~

 

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Being like Him

We are there again… exhausted deep into our soul.  Sad, angry, hopeless, living in a stressful environment 24/7.

It’s been a week since Boy 1 spoke to me.  Blow ups are happening constintently and like never before do I see his manipulation and the fact that it is hard to trust him.  I am sad about him walking this path of not talking again, angry about the fact I feel he’s not pulling his weight. He could be going to therapy once a week, he could be showing us he’s all in by going to group therapy, and he certainly could put in every effort in school rather than ignoring all the help that is there for him.

I am that tired that I know it is okay to not pursue him right now.  I can take a break and make sure I stay well in it all.  So my schedule is emptier and the ‘only’ things I do is take care of the home chores, work just a little, drive them places, go on daily walks, sleep when I can, visit the boys’ soccer games, focus on my marriage, focus on the other 2 kiddos, sit with my Father on a very regular basis and meet only with people that understand or energize me. That is all I can take.

Still the anger and stress is getting to me.

Then my husband joins me on the front porch this morning, sharing his thoughts with me.  I am blessed with a husband who always strives to be better, who has the ability to SEE and always desires to be Compassionate and have Love.  He reminds me that we don’t want to become indifferent to our boy.  That we do not want to loose our compassion for him.  That our disappointment or anger can not take over.  We have to remember where he comes from, his reasons for his rollercoasters and getting out of control.  We have to keep working with his brokenness and let God fill us with Hope.  I start shaking my head as if to say yes yes yes. And even though my anger is trying to hold me back, I know Tim is right!  I realize it is okay that I am not fully pursuing this boy, that it’ll come back to me… I can take space for me, at the same time I can foster compassion and love.

So I get still even more… just trying to sit in God’s presence who in mysterious ways fills me up and changes me. Compassion will come back, love will overtake once again, I don’t have to worry about it.  We will always strive to be better!

 

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Art by Jean Keaton

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From special to glorious

I wish, I wish, I wish I could have taken pictures last night. Instead I just took in the most precious moment. Imagine your children gathering around YOU as parents, to pray for you! That is what happened last night…

We had our annual Last Day of Summer ~ First Day of School Dinner Party last night.  It is nothing big but just another reason for a party.  And I want to make this special, special attention for our season changing and children growing. With that come some small gifts that are suited for the new school year and more importantly, personal notes from mom and dad.

It was fun, and endearing.  Our girl starting COLLEGE, feeling like she’s not alone and huge joy over what seems a small gift. But we knew what she wanted and so her joy was great. Probably because we just paid enough attention to her small desires.  Boy 1… we are there!!  We got him a shaving kit because it is time.  Today dad will teach him.  We could no longer let him go to High School without taking care of those furry hairs under his chin and the dark mustache on top.  Boy 2, was he in for a big surprise… Freshman’s we give locker fillers like emergency foods when sugar is dropping, things that make you smell good like deodorant, and chapstick and tissues for the winter.  But in the very bottom of his new lunch bag was a PHONE.  He’s been begging for it since he came to us but with life being complicated enough we did not want to add any complications, and adding a phone brings stress, fights and discussions.  We were not ready until now.  So his gift was actually huge and as it was unwrapped tears flowed richly, for him and me.  So precious.

We moved from outside to inside for dessert and before we devoured that, Tim gave time to pray for each and every child. Our girl going first, and I called on the boys… “Listen to the Spirit” I said, “See, what He may want to say through you” and we prayed.  And down the line we went to pray for Boy 1 and lastly Boy 2.  I was amazed when all 3 jumped in to pray for one another, and some things were right on when it came to encouraging each other.  After praying, something did not feel finished to me, I felt that maybe it was time for Tim and me to humble ourselves and get very small in front of God, asking Him for help, asking for Him to continue to grow us in the roll of parenthood.  But something stopped me and we sat in silence. That is when Boy 1 stood up.  He told Tim and me to sit down in the ‘hot seat’ as he wanted to pray for US. He gathered his siblings, their hands on us as each took a turn to praise God for us.  They praised God for finally knowing love, for their healing and growth since being part of our family.  For having parents who do not give up and always believing in them.  And then they prayed for energy: “God, please give them energy to keep doing what they are doing for us.”  We were all emotional for we all felt the depth of the moment.

I realize we are a crazy bunch, I also realize we are a very special bunch.  Being surrounded by these 3 precious hearts who have it in them to make a special evening into a glorious one!  And then we turned on music and we danced danced danced…

 

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Respite in my Sanctuary

I have organized respite for boy 1.  He does not like me to call it respite for he has many bad memories when it comes to respite. I explain to him that it’s time to give respite a positive connotation.  After all, he is not being send away, this respite is because HE can request a respite; when he is so tired of life, tired of the hard work he constantly has to put in in order to be part of a family. He gets exhausted and then behavior gets too painful for all of us.  We have learned to give him space, and a place where there are no ‘have to’s’ and he can just be.

So off he went yesterday, at the same time when I was supposed to have my time away from life.  I was scheduled for time in my Sanctuary, something I try to do on a regular basis.  I go to this cute little cottage where I get quiet, I don’t see anyone, I don’t speak out loud, and I practice sitting in the presence of God.

As I arrived I was still working on the respite for boy 1, this was an unexpected circumstance that was trailing behind me. But even before this current circumstance, I knew I was going to arrive tired and full to begin with.  I had already let myself know I was there to rest.  For me, being quiet turns out to be work, it is not easy to let all feelings and thoughts just pass. And so, I told myself I should just read novels instead of study books,  And I could sleep the time away.  I also brought my computer this time, so I could have fellowship with friends overseas who were long due for a special devoted connect time. And I ended up binge watching some things I had not seen for over a year, something I just can’t do in daily life.  But… it didn’t feel like rest.

I started to ponder on God’s love for me, as I am.  Was it really that hard to know He loves me, even in this?  In the not seeking Him in obvious ways, in the not using this Sanctuary the way I usually do.  Why is it so hard to be loved as is?  And I realize why I don’t rest.  I can’t have peace about being here in this amazing place and not use it for what it is made for, in my opinion.  I really do not believe it, I really cannot grasp His love for me… as is!

And I think of boy 1, who I’ve encouraged to get away so he does not have to talk to us, so he does not have any ‘to do’s’ like doing dishes or cleaning up after himself, so he can just be a couch potato and rest.  I love him none the less.  I might show him my love even stronger because I am the one setting this up, because I am the one guiding him to what he needs, because I am the one that makes it okay to not talk to us right now and not be capable of doing anything but breathing.  My love is nothing less!  I cover him in my prayers and love from a distance, knowing very well what he needs. I tend to him.

I can be confident that God is tending to me.  I might not even have the energy to think about it just like boy 1 is probably not thinking about me and my love for him right now.  I might be far away of feeling His love just like boy 1 is probably only feeling defeated, alone, lost and plain tired right now.  I am still here, still tending to him just like God is tending to me.

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