Saturday, May 24, 2014

In Need of Much Grace

The sun was coming up as evidenced through the slight crack in the bedroom curtains. Time to get up, God seemed to say. So I did. And, contrary to most days when I find solace in the leather chair in the keeping room, I sat down on the couch in the living room. Why did I do that?

I envisioned a lengthy quiet time with the Lord before my run. I didn't get it. I heard talking from the boys' room...and because in my dreams, I am a detective, I could tell they had been up for a while and their bedroom door was closed. I also know how much they weigh but that probably doesn't have anything to do with my sleuthing skills.

I was automatically angry.

Needing some grace, Lord.

I settle down and continue my plan when I hear them again, even louder. Their older sister went to Six Flags yesterday and is going to be extremely tired this morning. Let the girl sleep until at least 8, would ya? Nope. I hear them AGAIN.

Anger seething now.

Lord, please give me grace.

I tiptoe up the steps to find them in the floor of their room talking in regular voices. One of them is naked and has sheets crumpled on the floor in front of him. The other is just talking...not helping at all. I am mad. Another wet bed? That adds two loads to the already five loads I have to do today and DID I MENTION IT'S SATURDAY AND WE WANTED TO RELAX TODAY?

Grumpy and mean mommy comes out demanding that they finish stripping the bed. Get back in bed and go back to sleep until 8. Do not talk and do not make any noise. EVER.

With my arms full of sheets, blankets, wet clothes and three extra outfits that just so happened to be on his bed, I stumble back down the stairs, and I find myself enraged. Why are they doing this today? Is this the way our day is going to be?

I wanted to have my quiet time. I wanted to run. I wanted a shower. I wanted a hot breakfast. I wanted to relax and do nothing.

I, I, I, I, I.

I find myself in need of more than God's grace...I need His discipline first. God reminds me that they are my job. Those children are my responsibility, and I just taught them a thing or two about grace and mercy...because I showed them NONE.

As soon as they awake, there's an apology I will be making. And that shower? I hope it dumps God's grace all over me because I need it today.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A New Day

Do you know how long it takes to get your African daughter's hair done in a salon? Long enough that I've already calculated my older girls' transcripts and assured their graduation in 2015 and 2017 respectfully AND responded to 28 emails AND commented on at least a dozen Facebook statuses AND watched Elly play a pipe game on the Ipad exactly twenty-three times AND texted with friends and homeschool moms about curriculum for next year AND put all of the new reading and spelling curriculum into my cart (waiting until I can actually see ii before purchasing) AND writing this blog AND she still doesn't have her braids yet. Just in case you wanted to know. I arrived at 9:15. I think JT will have to bring me lunch and a pillow to take a nap and a charger for the Ipad and some Advil.

Anyhoo, to catch you up on my exercise regimen because I know you are all dying to know. Or could care less. Either way. I am officially running 3-4 days a week and cross training the other 2 days. One of my run days has to be speed work or hills. Neither one is enjoyable but it is helpful. It benefits my running, and so I do it. My enjoyment of discipline does not determine if I complete it or not.

Lately, I have been wrestling with a totally different issue and it involves homeschooling. Don't check out on me public/private school mommas. This is for ALL of us.

Our oldest two daughters just picked up on academics easily and succeeded with very little effort. I spent plenty of time teaching them the basics and foundational concepts. They soared quickly. They would sit in their little desks and write neat, correct answers. They were "easy."

And then God changed our lives with the addition of the three younger kids. English has not been their first language. There are boys in the mix. And different personalities. And learning styles. And who wants to sit still? Raise your hand. PLEASE, for the love of our sovereign Lord, raise your hand.

God has dealt with me in many ways this past year and one of them has been convicting my heart about the individual nature of each kid. I know that sounds simple, but I was kinda hoping that I could just group them all together and teach them with one can laugh now. Each child is different and in remarkable ways. They all learn differently and at different paces. It is tiring on this momma.

So, it's like I'm starting over with them. Learning new curriculum. Figuring out a new schedule. Making the pieces fit together in such a way that I maintain my sanity, no one cries, and everyone loves to learn. Is that possible? I sure hope so.

You see, there's something bigger at stake here than academics. We NEED to learn Christ (Ephesians 4:20). How we learn as kids affects how we learn in later years. When we LOVE to learn, we will LOVE it for a lifetime. I want my kids to LOVE to learn so that as they study God's Word, they are learning Christ with the same passion (and even moreso). They will see the need to LEARN and will wholeheartedly seek after God in His Word.

Oh, Lord God Almighty, I pray for Your great wisdom and discernment to educate and train my children in such a way that they see their need for You and that they will DESIRE to LEARN you. Grant me patience and mercy to teach in such a way that You alone are glorified and honored.

(on a side note, all of these pics are old but they are the only ones I could find of the kids doing some type of schoolwork...mainly because I am just trying to survive each day and don't take many pictures under such duress)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Not So Happy Mother's Day


My eyes stared at the Facebook post. Look at that picture. She has a great mom. God, why didn’t I get that? Would I be a better mom if I had a mother like that? Why did you choose this path for me?

My mind wandered to friends who have lost their loving mothers over the past few years. My husband lost his mom only a couple of years ago, and the loss is still great especially for our children. And then I could picture many friends who have dealt with infertility and the thought of Mother’s Day brings unimaginable sadness and a longing for what has not been.

I KNOW that God reminds me of greater suffering, and yet, I still question. I have no doubt that I would not be the person I am today without my past. But, there’s a big part of me that still wants to know WHY.

Why was I given a mom who suffered with mental illness? Not just mental illness but also the capability of manufacturing every disease you can imagine. Long before the days of Google and the internet, my mom spent hours at the local library researching medical books. I was too young to understand. But, my brothers and I would regularly hear her self-diagnose with grand mal seizures, throat cancer, appendicitis, etc., etc., etc.

And there were the numerous trips to the ENT in Mobile. Unnecessary medicines. Unnecessary surgeries. For us.

And mental health hospitals every three months. At least ten Christmas celebrations took place at a state run mental facility somewhere. No wonder it took me years to enjoy the season of Christ’s birth.

I could dwell on the past for a long time, but where does that get any of us? What was the point of such sad memories? Why was I given this lot in life?

For a GLORIOUS reason…to bring Him great glory. Suffering in any form allows us the opportunity to display Christ and make Him known to others. I can’t say I did even a decent job of that as a kid or teenager. But, God surrounded me with beautiful adults who encouraged and taught me from His Word. God’s plan at work in my life.

And now, I am a mother to five amazing wonders…Kaitlyn Hope, Madison Grace, Josiah Jett, Ezekiel Duke and Ellyson Faith. All brought into our lives in beautiful ways. The way God has woven each one of them into our family in a way that honors Him above all else.

I find myself inadequate to be a mom…I can do NOTHING apart from Christ alone. I need Him to live through me just to survive each day. I cannot love or plan or show compassion or teach without the Father. I fail miserably over and over again. But, He does not. He sustains, extends patience, shows love, and provides grace. And, it is abundantly good.

My questions fade in light of His glory. My past allows His goodness to be on display. My pain pushes me to serve and love Him more deeply. It is from a place of suffering that I know Him more. And, that my friend, is beautiful.

Monday, May 5, 2014

An Unprepared Momma

I read the post and discovered what time the flight was arriving in Birmingham. 9:30. Too late for my crew. We had to be up early the next morning to visit my dad (5:00), so they needed to get to bed on time. But, casually I asked each person if they wanted to go to the airport. Everyone said no except him. But, the child wanted to go, and by goodness, I was going to take him. Plus, I really needed to see this.

While we were in the process of adopting Jett, this family had begun the adoption of a two week old. He turns 7 this year but Jett still remembered him. So, we hopped in the car, got some caffeine to help us stay awake and made it to the airport.

People began to gather and truly, God was at the airport. His presence filled that place, and it was good. Watching that family who had faithfully pursued their son for almost seven years was good...really good.

I had the opportunity to speak to my friend, the mom, and just whisper God's goodness...His faithfulness...His strength that allowed her to keep fighting for her son. And it was good.

I lowered my head to my son's ear and asked if he wanted to go say Hi. I was unprepared. Clearly, I was unprepared. He wrapped his arms around me, buried his head into my stomach and wept. Ugly cry. Uncontrollable. And it didn't stop for quite a while. I cried with him and for him. I was not expecting this. We've been home with him for six and a half years.

After two more weeping episodes, we were in the car on the way home. I gave him some words because he just couldn't form a sentence. Are you mad, sad, glad, angry, confused, concerned, overwhelmed???? My son finally spoke. I'm glad he's home with his family. I'm happy for him. But, I'm sad. I'm sad because I don't want to remember.

My heart sank and I cried with him again. Because adoption is painful. It involves great grief for everyone in the process. And, it doesn't end when the child comes home. It is still very present. And sometimes I forget because I don't remember life without him here. But, today I remember.

And I thank God that when he wept, he had a momma to hold him and to cry with Him. He has a God who is faithful even when his momma and papa are not. He has a big God that pursued him endlessly and put him in our family. And we have a God who will walk us through life remembering that He is the Father to the fatherless. He set the lonely in our family. He knows what He has done and what He is doing and what He will do. He is sovereign. He reigns. He is good...really good.

I will not tell my son's full story because it is his to tell one day. But, for all of us adults who deal with adoptive kids (and those of you who teach them in classes or have friends who are going through the process), we need to remember that the pain is sometimes very raw, even years later. It can be overwhelming and confusing at times, but it is still there. It compels them at times. It paralyzes at others. But, our God is not surprised or taken aback by it. He can use it for all of our good and His great glory. May it be forever so!