Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Put on Love

It is quiet this morning. I'm up earlier than normal thanks to the birds in the trees beside my bedroom, and the middles and little are still soundly sleeping. The boys in their room and Lil' Girl on the couch downstairs, remnants of a hard sleep and the comfort you find in being where everyone gathers.

It is finally cool this morning, a blessed reprieve from the heat and sticky confines of this summer that got too hot too fast and I'm enjoying the heat in my coffee. It is good to be home. I spend much of last week away, in my other home-the valley of my youth where the mountains are tall and breathtaking and the lakes and rivers abound. There where family has gathered once again, called back by the siren song of the Rockies.

It is a hard line here, just two hours away but a lifetime in the lines of topography and family history. And my heart is still called back to the mountains and the water. I need water like I need air. The ocean is best but lakes and rivers suffice. There is something so calming and peaceful about a great expanse of hydrogen and oxygen mixed to make the life line of the land.

We had a hard day last week. We had many hard days but it seemed to start with one, where the damages of pain done by others rose up in the actions of our children and it was all we could do to hold on and wait for the ebb of the tide to recede. When all calmed for a moment I found myself out on the porch, my heart longing for the sea. The ocean soothes my soul.

But it is twelve hours west of here and nowhere near a short drive, so I held my breath and waited for peace. The next night I laid the babe down on a make-shift bed in my parents house and as he wrapped me 'round his finger asking for just one more hug, one more kiss, I was reminded that we missed this with the older kids.

We were not there for them to ask in a sleepy two year old voice for just one more. Just one more reminder that they are loved. Just one more minute of my time before they are swept away to dreamland. We missed it. We missed the moments of sheer giddy laughter at the sight of something new. We missed the bear hugs of uncles and the secrets from cousins. We missed the trust that was built in knowing that mama was sleeping in the bed next to you and Grandpa was just down the hall. We missed so much.

And they missed it too.

My heart aches for the children they were. The ones with no security and the valid fear of unknown. My patience is stretched when the trust is broken again and again and they don't seem to care. I have to remind myself that they have built walls of protection around their hearts and minds and that those walls may never come down. Even though they're safe now. I have to remember that there has never been a home to them. That this place, in my arms and under my roof still seems temporary. That they haven't found the truth in the vastness of my heart, even though they are trying. I have to recognize that they may never feel like they can go home, because they may never realize what home is.

We are a mess of tangled, broken and bruised hearts, the lot of us. Some days are good, and some we struggle to make it to bedtime. Last night I laid awake in bed, praying prayer after prayer for peace and patience and joy to fill my home. For love to let loose itself in all of our hearts and for joy to flood our thoughts and actions and bind us together. Each day is a reminder to put on love. To wrap it around me like a cloak that gives off light and draws them in.

We are making baby steps in this patchwork of a family, but we are still standing. I find peace in the ripples of the waves on the shore and the gentle sea song in my memory. I pray for it to wash over us like the cleansing waves of a cool lake on a hot summer day. And I bask in the reprieve when it does.


Joining Jennifer Dukes Lee over at 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Does it? #LoveWins

I keep seeing the hashtag #lovewins. It's flooding my social media feeds and even my television with like a technicolor megaphone. It's been interesting watching Facebook over the last few days. Many of my friends are commenting on how pleasantly surprised they are at the lack of negativity over the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage between any consenting adults. Their statements sadden me. They show just how little love really is winning.

I've found that no matter what your stance on a social topic, love is often the last thing that is winning. The common courtesies of kindness seem to only apply when my opinion aligns with yours, otherwise opposite viewpoints are seen not as merely an opinion or belief, but as intolerant. It doesn't seem to matter which side of the grey line you fall on, if there is disagreement, there is discourse. Love doesn't win.

And love isn't winning around the world, friends. Love isn't winning when our eyes are drawn from the realities of life and death to focusing on what your neighbor is going to say about their personal life and readying for a fight. Love isn't winning when you're gearing up and thirsting for an argument. Love isn't winning when the church divides and lines are crossed based on the cross. Love isn't winning when we forget that around the world men, women and children are actually dying for their beliefs.

Love isn't winning in Syria and Iraq, where children are crucified and used as suicide bombers without ever realizing what they are doing. Love isn't winning when little girls are sold into sex slavery for the cost of a package of cigarettes  and mothers who are forced to leave children behind in an attempt to save others. Love isn't winning when men are being decapitated on a beach because they love Jesus. Love isn't winning when people are forced to convert lest they be sentenced to death and torture.

Love isn't winning when a baby is ripped apart in the name of choice. Love isn't winning when a woman suffers in silence because she thought she had no other option. Love isn't winning when a child hides in a closet because the darkness there is better then the fear that accompanies the darkness of their room. Love isn't winning when more than 20,000 children in our own country are left homeless and without a family. Love isn't winning when we tear each other apart.

Maybe I'm jaded. Or maybe I'm just bone tired. But I don't see love winning. Not yet anyway. But I have hope. I've read the last of Revelations. I know who wins, and while it may feel like I'm playing on the losing team sometimes, I know how this story ends.Even so, I brace myself for arguments as I type these thoughts.
But I am comforted by the ending, because it's not just love that wins, it's Jesus.

Joining my friend Lisha Epperson today at #GiveMeGrace.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Dream

It's time, kids. Time to head on over to Kate's for Five Minute Friday. See you there!

Prompt: Dream

Go.

When I was little, my parents told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. No matter how big or small the dream, it was attainable.

And I believed them.

As I grew I knew that some desires of my heart would be harder to grasp than others. Some may never come to fruition and dreams changed. But still...I knew that if I really wanted it, with the love and support of my family, any dream was possible.

Motherhood for me was one of those dreams. It nearly never came true and the part of my dream where a soul was carried within me-that never did see the light of day. And yet there are four hearts that call me mom.

But there are so many hearts who are aching for that-for a place to call home and arms that wrap around them to call their own. There are some dreams that really don't come true. There are some hearts that are bruised and broken and in need of love. And there is some love that will never be received.

Foster care is near and dear to me. It has built my family. It is the reason I am a mother. And it took a long and winding road to end up here. Did you know that there are actually websites where you can view the profiles of children who are waiting to be adopted from foster care? It's true. When I first heard of these sites I was a little alarmed. Surely you don't actually see the children-but you do. They are there, profile after profile like the Facebook of broken hearts. But what you really see, when you look closely, are their broken dreams.

These beautiful souls who have never had a parent who encouraged them to have dreams and strive for them. Children who may have never known the joy of a restful night, one where you didn't worry about your next meal, the lack of blankets in the cold, or the dark corners mirrored by the void in your heart.

I scrolled through one of these sites tonight. The thought of fostering again has been weighing on my heart, and though I don't think we're in a place in our lives where we can or should bring a foster child into our homes, it is something I'm praying over. As I traveled down the page I took note of the ages of the children. The majority of them are in their teens, a time when they are the most difficult to place. The time where they near the cut off date for state support. Minutes away from being out on their own. Alone.

I cannot fathom this. I cannot wrap my mind around the ache that this must bring. No home for the holidays. No mom to call when you've had a bad day. No dad to fix your brakes. No grandparent's couch to curl up on. No one. What do your dreams look like when you are so alone? What does your heart feel like to be so broken?

I want to be a dream maker. My heart aches and pleads for this kids, and it is anguish knowing my hands are tied. I want for them to have hope in the future. I want to know their dreams. I want them to know real love. I want them to have a mom. I want them.

I want a big house in the country with room to run and grow and overflow with life. A home for those without one. A place to rest their heads and their hearts. But right now, it is only a dream.

Stop.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Goodbye

He had these stupid dancing frogs. They had a band of their own and stood about six inches high in green plastic splendor. The red button on the side sent out a peel of music and they danced along, strumming their imaginary strings and waving their hinged jaws in time to the tunes. I loved them. I played them over and over. They sat on the shelf of their motor home, which was parked in the driveway and always a home to me when we visited. Up above the TV was a stack of movies and I watched Pretty Woman from the velvet couch and prayed my mamma wouldn't find out. But she did. He took one look at me when I walked in that door that lead from the garage to the kitchen and said "Well didja watch Pretty Woman in there?" then gave a husky laugh as my cheeks turned color.

He was  a tease, always calling your bluff and ready with a joke and a good time. His garage was full of silly and stupid signs, ones that made me giggle and made him laugh. He would raz me then pull me in and hug me tight, his 5 o'clock shadow always tickling my cheek as his big hands patted my back. Then we'd head to McDonald's where they had their morning coffee with all the other folks from the neighborhood. Sometimes instead we would go

to Hails for Pigs-in-a-blanket or strawberry crepes, and he and daddy would always fight over the bill.

He was a rock collector, and I loved scouring through the rock garden for his latest find, always captivated by the ones with deep purple streaks and crystals poking out from their centers. And he had the biggest TV my little eyes had ever seen, which he always played Home Alone on it for me-no matter the season of our visit.

When there were puppies, I always got to play with them. When we were little, they stocked up on Cap'n Crunch because they knew it was a treat. He came to all of our weddings, no matter what the season or the weather, and he wore the same black shirt-one with a screen-printed tux. His sense of humor was one to be rivaled.

I remember asking my mom one time why he didn't hear so well and she told me it was from firing the guns in World War II. When I was older I figured that's where he'd picked up the habit he kept hidden so well, quietly excusing himself for a moment. I never once saw him with a cigarette, though I knew that's where he went.

He was a stubborn old Dutchman, and he'd be the first to tell you so. But he had a big'ole heart and I loved him for it. In many ways they are more like grandparents to me than an aunt and uncle, and I will miss him fiercely.

He said goodbye to this world yesterday. I just wish I could have said goodbye back. There are so many more things that I could say, but this is the most important: I love you, Uncle Bill. We will miss you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Passionate Fame

I've been working hard this summer, in this period that is supposed to be a time of rest. I'm editing and rewriting truths and goals and things I've held close to me. Final drafts have become rough drafts. Goals have been re-evaluated and finances pulled tight. I'm working for change. Change in my life. Change in my heart. And change in this world.

It is a weary task, working for change. No matter how big or small, change is hard and the dichotomy of old and new often clash and work against each other. I get tired. I get cranky. I wish for an easier way. But that old statement rings true: the things that are worth it never come easy.

There have been days when the discouragement runs deep and I don't want to set another goal, because it seems like I'll never reach the finish line. My mind plays a battle with me.

Am I good enough?

Am I worth it?

Does it mean as much to others as it does to me?

Will it make a difference?

The enemy is a sly and dangerous voice in the back of my head. He pulls and tugs, drawing my attention away from what matters. From the work I've done and what is important. He takes the God-sized dreams lain on my heart and tries to twist them from truth, pushing them back on me and causing doubt.

But the reality is that he's a liar. The truth rings true that God-sized dreams are put on our hearts for a reason and by a hand much stronger than our own. That doesn't mean it's easy. In fact, quite the opposite, because when we are doing good and striving to make change, that is when we're the most vulnerable.

Other voices fill our heads. The voices of those who don't see or don't believe or even worse-those who are afraid to see us succeed. The old hurts of past transgressions come to the surface and threaten to drag us under.

I've been struggling with these voices. They pull at the back of my mind, threatening to take over. They are enticing, promising rest from work that is difficult. But they draw the light away from the reason that I am working.

On Sunday this chorus rang out and the words struck home. My passion is to bring Him joy and fame. My work will lead to His glory. My desire is to draw others close to Him, to show them His love. To save lives. With this as my backing, who can stand against me?

No one. Not a single person or voice or memory. Because He is stronger than them all. And He's there for you too. For your God-sized dream. The one sitting in the back corner of your heart, afraid to come front and center. He is there, holding you up when you want to fall back. He is waiting. Waiting to for you to use the gifts you've been given, the ones that fill your soul with fire.

It's a hard thing, letting Him lead. But it is a beautiful journey when we travel together.

What is it you're working on today? What voices are holding you back or propelling you forward? What is your God-sized dream? 

Linking today with Jennifer at 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Perspective

Obedience. Faithfulness. Love. Empathy. Compassion. Hope. Peace. Justice. Trust. Perseverance. All words to describe this journey. Each one an example of what we are to be, what we have, and where we can impact those around us. And yet I sat blankly staring at the page. The one where Beth Moore asked when I had last felt the spirit move within me. When I had offered myself, as Mary did, to be a faithful servant, a handmaiden for his will to be done.

I could not call a moment to mind. I wracked my brain and my heart, trying to discern when I had heard his voice or heard my own. Wondering if this call to faithfulness was met with tasks of my own heart and mine or those placed there to bring him glory. Doubt crept up, wrapping itself like chord around my spirit, telling me that I'm not enough. Haven't done enough, been enough, tried enough. That I was wasting the gifts given and tarnishing this home that we have.

But here's the thing I'm learning-it's all about perspective. World eyes look at this life and they see the struggle. They get bitter that this isn't what I had planned and hoped for. They get angry that this life isn't the one I had anticipated and hoped for. What is seen is the the lies and manipulations. The tantrums. The yelling and calls from the principal's office. Then there's the re-hashing of work schedules, searching for sitters and changing the topography of our home to make things work. World eyes get frustrated with the chaos and discouraged in the dark nights that dawn on long mornings. They don't see the beauty of the shore because they are trapped in the tangles of the trail.

But if your perspective changes, so does your world.

Kingdom eyes see things differently. They recognize that we are not long for this world. There is assurance that the few years we spend wandering this ground is a mere blink of the lashes to the time we will spend in our true home.

Kingdom eyes recognize that it's not about the work or the adjustments and what that means to how the day flows. Instead they understand that the flow curves and bends like a river running toward the sea-towards freedom and eternity.

Changing my perspective reminds me that it's not about me, that I am a vessel formed in a refiner's fire and my job is not to live a life on my terms, but on his. Because in doing so the kingdom is stretched and grown and names are added to the most important book there is. There will be successes and failures. I will have days of joy and days of sorrow. But if my eyes stay fixed on the goal the days of sorrow will not stink so much and the days of joy will be all the more beautiful.

I will not be perfect at this. I am still learning. Still listening for the still, calm voice and waiting for the spirit to flood through this home. I am learning to distinguish the calls of my heart from the calls of his. It is a journey, and the destination will be the greatest reward, but if I can keep my perspective trained on the Kingdom, the journey will be beautiful too.


Joining with Lisha Epperson today over at Give Me Grace.