Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dear Jesus

His scream indicated pain more than annoyance, so I laid the dishtowel on the counter and walked down the steps to evaluate the situation.  (As this was child number eight of eight, my response time has significantly decreased.)  His pain was real, though his tears were few.  In his zeal for play, his little finger had found its way wedged between two doors.  Little guy, I would have cried too.
His sister, not always too forthright with compassion, gave the wisest answer of the day.  "God will heal it."  Well, yes he can, honey.
Right there sitting on the basement stairs she prayed for her brother that God would make his finger feel better.  The cuteness factor kicked in as she finished her plea, "And God can you do it now so we can play dress up again."  Her motive exposed, she went back to playing.  His sobs subsided, and the giggles soon returned.
I finished the dishes, but I now had a fresh perspective shared through the eyes of a child.  God cares about all the little things, even boo-boos.  The hard part about prayer is waiting.  My little one was in no  mood to wait for things to get back to where they had been.  I am not much different.  Open my heart and you will see impatience and, dare I say it, arrogance which fight against what I feel is poor timing on God's part.  Yes, I feel like a heretic, aghast at my impertinence.  
God is perfect and holy in his timing.  He created perfectly in perfect time.  He has a perfect time for all things to end and new things to begin.  At no time has God forgotten me, but he has watched that all things fit perfectly in his plan.  
My prayers may not be so bodly spoken as my little girl, but my motive is clear.  
Lord, help me to be satisfied and patient in waiting for you to answer my prayer.  You know my heart, and for that I am thankful.  You still listen even in my arrogance.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gratitude Adjustment

It is well past time for a new perspective.  I choose to be thankful.

  • Discount food stores are located close to our home.
  • Melatonin calms the bodies of my little ones.
  • Coffee creamers come in yummy flavors.
  • Baptist Regional School works well with homeschooling families and is well acquainted with foster families.
  • My husband takes time to run.
  • In the midst of craziness, I found myself laughing with my littles outside today.  It felt good.
  • The varsity soccer coach is instilling good nutrition and exercise habits into Matthew.
  • August weather has been unusually cool and exceptionally beautiful.
  • Frozen pie shells I bought for a mere $.25 will make it even easier to put together an apple pie.  Even easier when I can pull from the freezer the bag of apples that my kids have already prepped and seasoned.  
  • We squeezed in time with friends after soccer and enjoyed fellowship around the fire pit.  
  • Lesson plans are done for a few weeks.
  • My parents are celebrating 50 years of marriage as they cruise and sightsee Europe.
  • Extra work comes in to the law office just when we need it.
  • Our bus waited to need repairs until my parents were out of town, so we could use their van.
  • Sometimes my little ones listen.
  • Laura was able to be a part of Getting Started at Cedarville University this fall.
  • God is speaking to all my kids.
  • God is good.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Is there such a thing as a furlough for lay missionaries?

Okay.  I admit.  I am writing this blog on a day of high anxiety and frustration.  We are being bombarded on many fronts, and the troops are weary of fighting, particularly the generals.  
I am a firm believer that missions happens every day.  God takes many overseas.  Others he places strategically in the US.  Our family's mission field is New Jersey.  Please save the sarcasm.  Though we did not have to travel much past our front door, God has given us a mission to many who may have never heard the gospel much less have seen it lived out.
That said, it would be nice to  have a furlough.  
I just finished an autobiography of K. Abernathy who, along with her husband and daughters, spent time serving in the jungle of Liberia.  She spoke from a realistic perspective, but she also showed her passion for where God had placed her as a mom in the middle of the African bush.  She needed only to step on to her front porch before the needs of that nation addressed her.  She and her husband served in Liberia until a Civil War forced them to leave.  Much of her writings stemmed from her journal which she kept faithfully giving a real feel to the danger, humor, and challenges of such a life.
Towards the end of the book, she explained the blessing and curse of a missionary's furlough.  It gave me pause to question.  I had read so much of her daily life and how that had molded her and her family.  She shared both the successes and failures.  She loved her family in Africa, but longed for some American normalcy and time with her family in the US.  She knew that God had specifically led them to Liberia and was doing a great work in and through them, but she also knew that there needed to be a break to regroup and refresh.  
It appears that missionary furloughs get mixed reviews.  It is not hardly a relaxing time, and much of it is spent traveling to visit supporting churches.  Yet, they have stepped away from the pressures of their mission at least for a short time.  
This is where I find myself today.  I do not want to walk away from the mission that God has definitely called our family to.  There are hearts still to hear and see the gospel.  My five year old is very close to a personal step of faith.  I know that God is doing great things in and through all of us.  Yet, we are tired. We are weary.  We are worn.  We are stretched.  
A furlough is really not a practical solution, I know.  We take little breaks every once in a while, but never as an entire familly.  I am learning that God gives us what we need for each day.  It is just that these days have been a little tough lately.  
Please excuse the negative tone of this post.  I know that God's plan can not be overturned.  We are asking Him to fulfill this plan quickly so there can be a little more normalcy and some sweeter family time.  
I am forever grateful to those of you who continually pray for our family.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Another Conversation at the Kitchen Table

He shook his head as he walked dejected into the kitchen.  Bryan's face showed a worn heart as he told me the bus was not working.  This was the only vehicle capable of taking all of our family at once.  Our car had been left for dead in Ohio.  Being down to one car would be more than just a challenge.  We quickly regrouped and rushed three of the kids into the minivan for the first of two trips to church.  We would have to adjust with the uncertainty of the bus.  
I was left at the house to wait for the second trip.  I sat at the kitchen table and God thought that this was a good time to have one of those little chats.  One could construe the conversation as more of an argument on my part.  I really did not understand how this was all going to work.  Didn't God realize how big our family is?  Didn't he know how much was scheduled on a daily basis?  Didn't he know how much money was going to be shelled out in the next few weeks?  More car troubles were definitely not in my plan.
He listened.  He waited.  He spoke in that quiet voice that penetrates to your soul and stirs your heart. He knows all that is happening daily, because He orchestrates it.  He understands the needs of a large family, because he designed it.  He cares about the finances, because he owns it all.  
When our car broke down in Ohio, we were frustrated and discouraged.  Yet, God gave us grace in the middle of it all.  I chuckled at the irony of going from three vehicles to two as we only had two drivers at home anyway.  We got by just fine.  More money was spent on gas due to a gas guzzling machine, but everyone got to where they needed to be.  We could wait to replace the car.  The annoyance was simply that.  It was in a sense easy to still smile and praise God.  It was easy to see His protection and provision.  But now?
God pricked my heart and asked, "Will you still praise and thank me even if you have only one car?"  
Oh my!  That is not a question that I wanted to answer.  In the grand scheme of things, bellyaching about the number of cars one owns is close to a sin.  We are abundantaly blessed in innumerable ways.  How did I have the audacity to compain? 
So here I sit in the back yard on a sunny day listening to my littles play.  Bryan is getting a much needed nap, and Alyson is enjoying some time writing.  The others are just chilling.  Would I have rather taken a day trip to the beach?  Yes.  That will have to wait for another day.  
Thank you, Lord, that I can trust you with the inconveniences and uncertainties that each day brings.  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Four Years Ago

Activity of all sorts and intensity fill most every waking second of my days.  Today, a rainy Saturday, began the same.  We hit the ground running, and if we are lucky, the race slows around 7:30 in the evening.  
Maddie, my bio baby, had her tenth birthday this year.  Julia would have been five.  But, there are now three other littles who are five or younger still living in our house.  Today marks the day four years ago that these little ones were carried through our front door and settled into our hearts.  They are rough and are about ready to drive me nuts, but they have changed our life forever.  
Dinner conversation tonight celebrated our large family, by discussing how our lives had been changed in four years:
The kids sleep in different bedrooms and have new roommates.
We own larger vehicles.
Laura built us a bigger kitchen table.
Our dining room is now a school room.
We have a new tv.
At least this is what my kids came up with off the cuff.
After further contemplation, I added to the list on my own.
I have seen God in a refreshing way in the middle of a tiring struggle.
I have learned to exist on much less sleep.
Coffee is now my drink of choice.
My house has been much more clean in days gone by.
I now cook two 9x13 pans for dinner.
Even after four years, we still travel with a double stroller in each van.
I learned to love a Mobi Wrap.
Change sometimes hurts.  Many times it evokes smiles.  In God's calendar, change is inevitable.  His interruptions redirect my intentions.  The change is not always welcome, but it is nevertheless essential.
These four children whom God has placed into our home have changed our lives in ways we could never had imagined.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Endurance

I trudge through the last mile of a 5K morphing into the Little Engine Who Could.  "I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can."  Just make it across the finish line and then I can collapse.  Endurance.
Dealing with the daily struggles connected with a marred state social system means choosing each day to serve, to change, to endure.
World Lit is on the agenda for my son's freshman year.  Homer's Iliad and Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame intimidate the strongest of readers which my son is not.  Endurance will be the name of this game as well.
Psalm 117:2 throws this whole endurance quest into a tailspin.  "For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever."
Endurance implies permanence, staying for the duration.  Webster deepens the definition by adding the ability to withstand hardship or adversity and prolonged stress.  
So, God is not stressed out.  There is nothing too hard for him.  Yet, woven through His own words is the truth of his endurance.  There is something very permanent about God.  He is with us through the duration.  
His enduring faithfulness means that when hardship, stress, and adversity smear their dirty fingerprints on my day, God is faithful and loving right there in it with me.  
I will become stressed out.  Sadly.  Maybe I should change my mantra:  I know He's there.  I know He's there.  I know He's there.  
Thank you, Lord for your enduring love and faithfulness.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

God is Always There for the Needy

I need only to drive a short distance to be reminded that my comfortable, stable, two parent home looks much different than much of the world.  Do I even take a second look, or does life go on without a care? I see the fatherless daily.  They live with me.  My husband has become their daddy, but still these little ones were fathered by another.  I meet the poor and needy weekly.  Do I simply walk out the door, get into my minivan and drive away leaving their cares for another week?  Many of these real people walk to catch a bus to ride back to their one bedroom apartment subsidised by the state.  Some of them have a job, but many of them will lose it by the end of the month for various reasons.  They are real people with real needs transferred to real kids.  Can I just walk away?  
As I read God's Word, I am convicted.  God created each of these real people.  Yes, sin has entered the world and affects each one of us.  We make bad choices which have bad consequences.  Some choices are far reaching.  My heart hurts for children whose lives are affected by others' choices.  In all of that, God reminds me that He fights for these needy people.  He cares for the oppressed.  
There will always be poverty.  I am grateful that God is always there too.  
My heart hurts for the burdens that my children carry.  I am grateful that I have the privilege to show them Jesus.  He is the one who has to carry these heavy loads.