God Bless This Home

04/04/2013

godblessthishome

I had a blog post written that I was going to post on Monday about how the processes of Ali’s adoption and building our new house had been occurring simultaneously since November 2011 and both got completely wrapped up last week when we received our daughter’s new birth certificate in the mail AND closed out our construction loan and began our conventional mortgage. BUT. The latter ended up not happening for a million frustrating reasons. It’s not going to happen this week or probably next week, either. It’s been a busy, stressful week around here and I’ve had moments of wanting to pull my hair out.

I needed to stop and remind myself of the truth. 

We live in this beautiful home—a blessing we never expected to experience at this point of our lives. God has given us favor over and over again in this process, just as He did with Ali’s adoption and back when she was in state care. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He never gives us more than we can handle. We have so much to be thankful for. In addition to our beautiful girl and our home, Jason and I have a great relationship, we have wonderful family and friends, we have jobs that we love, we have a kitchen full of food and closets full of clothes. We have more than enough; overflow to share. We are abundantly blessed.

We haven’t received any calls from DCS regarding foster placements yet. I’m surprised. Also, I’m relieved. Mainly because of the mortgage stuff. Also because of some upcoming travel. Even if we did get a placement, I’m sure we could overcome those challenges with a new temporary family member along for the adventure. It’s comforting to know that God’s timing is always perfect.


Why?

03/11/2013

I keep asking myself why? Why are we doing this? Stacks and stacks of paper work. Vigorous home inspections. Fingerprinting. Background checks. Physicals. Classes. Appointments. Poking. Prodding. Drama. Purchases in the name of home safety. Sacrificing all privacy. All to be foster parents. Really, when I’m asking, I’m asking God. Why? And He’s kind enough to answer me sometimes. When I’m willing to hear, this is the answer: Listen and obey.

It’s a funny answer because that’s what I tell Ali when she’s doing or about to do something disobedient. At first I may warn her playfully that we don’t stand on furniture but as she teeters near the edge of the sofa, my tone gets serious. “Ali, listen and obey! Sit down!” So when He said listen and obey, He got my attention. I know Father means business.

After another day of feeling knocked around, while I was getting ready this morning I asked the same dumb question again. Why are we doing this?! It wasn’t the same kind of loud and clear answer as before, but I had the immediate realization that they are worth it. These kids are worth it. Ladybug was worth it. Our Precious Ali was worth it. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat if it was about my daughter. All the paperwork, time and prodding from the first time around … looking at those sweet faces, especially the one I still get to kiss everyday, remind me that these innocent kids are so worth my plight.

My plight? And here’s where I gave myself a real (much-needed) kick in the pants: Seriously?! Do you want to tell a kid who has been emotionally and physically abused by the adults who are supposed to protect him, who has been taken away from the only people he’s ever loved, who has been bounced around from stranger’s home to stranger’s home with his few belongings in a trash bag, who is way behind in school because he keeps getting moved around, who doesn’t know how to express himself because his emotions are all mixed up…do you want to tell HIM about your plight? About all this dreadful paperwork you’ve filled out and how much time all these processes and appointments consume. Do you want to tell HIM how hard your life is? How hard you had to work to get to where you are? Good grief, woman! Where is your perspective!

We’re in it for the kids.

Jason and I remind each other of this often. When we’re taking things personally. When we’re feeling unappreciated and unwanted by the system. When we get frustrated.

I’m amazed that I can still be so selfish after all this time; after all we have learned.

Thank God that everyday I get to snuggle a beautiful reminder of why we are doing this. Even though it’s hard, each and every child is worth it.

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In high school, when I had something I wanted to remember, I would write it on the palm of my head…where I’d see it for a while and then it would eventually wash off, hopefully when I didn’t need the reminder anymore. These days I use my smart phone for notes-to-self but when I thought, where can I put the answer to this why question I keep having?, this is what I came up with.


The Power of the Praying Wife

01/31/2013

 

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While I was resting on Sunday afternoon, I decided to pick up The Power of a Praying Wife (again) instead of The Connected Child which I’m in the process of reading (again). Each chapter is about a different aspect of my husband’s life with suggestions of how to pray for him. The first chapter is much longer than the rest and it’s all about His Wife—praying for his wife. It started out by making it clear that if you’re praying “God, change him, ” you need to shift your perspective. He’ll change whoever is willing to change. You have to be willing to change yourself and to ask God’s help to change you.

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I like the analogy she explained that while the husband is the head of the household, the wife is the heart of the household and regardless of who works outside of the home more or who spends more time with the kids, there are certain roles that fit the head and certain roles that fit the heart. (You might not agree with this Biblical picture toward marriage and that’s totally fine with me. We believe it and it works well for us.) This has been a little bit of a challenging balance for Jason and I. Because he’s a musician, he’s often at home during the week, which means more of the childcare responsibility falls on him. It makes it very difficult for him to get the work done for his career that he needs to do. And because I work outside of the home, even though it’s my desire to be taking care of Ali, cooking, cleaning, etc. (it’s Jason’s desire for me, also) that’s just not where we’re at right now. But we are working more toward that goal everyday. It’s a huge blessing that my bosses allow me to work from home 2/5 days of the week so that I can spend those days with Ali, relieve Jason and not ask Ali’s grandma’s to babysit too often. I do, however, want to step it up in the area of taking care of the household. I love to do it and it speaks to Jason’s love language (acts of service). I’m doing a lot more of the cooking now that we’re in our new house, even though Jason is a great cook. We’re both really happy with the shift.

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There are 30 chapters in The Power of a Praying Wife, intended for each to be read and prayed every day for a month. I pray for Jason a lot but I love this book because it brings up things that I often don’t think of to pray about. I hope he’s feeling the affects. I know that I am feeling changed already.


Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for a New House

10/08/2012

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

[Check out the 2018 Update: Bible Verses for Blessing Your Home]

Before the drywall was installed in our new home, I decided to mark several of the studs throughout the house with certain Bible verses. Some of these verses have to do with the room and the purpose it will serve and some are more personal. I thought I’d share which verses I used in case anyone else out there is looking for ideas like I was…and also for my own reference since these are all sealed up beneath insulation and drywall now.

Entry Doors:

Deuteronomy 28:6
You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

Heart of the Home:

Joshua 24:15
… But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

Kitchen:

Proverbs 30:8-9
Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches— Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, “Who is the LORD?” Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God.

Dining Room:

Colossians 2:6-7
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

Living Room:

Psalm 133:1
A song of ascents. Of David. How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

(I forgot to take a picture of the living room wall.)

Master Bedroom:

1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

(I forgot to take a picture of the master bedroom wall.)

Master Closet:

Colossians 3:14
But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

Bedroom for future foster kids:

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

Alianna’s room:

Romans 8:15
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Playroom (Den, Spare Bedroom):

Isaiah 43:19
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

Bathrooms:

Psalm 51:7
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

Office:

Isaiah 40:30-31
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

Music Room:

Psalm 98:4
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the LORD, the King.

Strong Foundations: Bible Verses for Each Room of the House from myMCMlife.com

[Check out the 2018 Update: Bible Verses for Blessing Your Home]


Precious Dedication

07/02/2012

On June 24 Precious was dedicated at our church. In case you’re not familiar with “baby dedication” it is kind of like infant baptism but without the water. It’s a chance for the baby’s parents to publicly commit to raising their child in the values and beliefs of our faith—Christianity—and for the church as a whole to commit to supporting the family. At our church, our pastor speaks a special, elaborate blessing over each baby. We follow the Biblical tradition of blessing—extending a hand toward the one being blessed (usually the right hand) or placing a hand on the head or chest. A blessing is similar to a prayer.

First, our pastor loves to hold each baby and show him or her off to the congregation. I warned Precious about this and asked her to be nice to pastor and not cry. She listened! A little scared but she didn’t cry.

My parents, Jason’s parents and my brother- and sister-in-law and niece were there. Our parents were up on the stage with us for the dedication.

Our dear friends were also having their son dedicated that day.

Before all of this, our pastor asked Jason and I to come up and share the story of how Precious joined our family and all the drama that happened with DCS, the court, custody and the private adoption. It’s quite an amazing, miraculous story and we were glad to share it. Jason is very comfortable on stage (he’s a professional musician so he’s in front of huge crowds all the time) so the plan was that he would do most of the talking. But somehow, halfway through the story I got the microphone. I think I actually did quite well—I didn’t feel very nervous when I was talking. My mom recorded the whole thing and I can’t bring myself to watch it—I’d rather just think I sounded confident and cohesive!

As we were wrapping up, pastor asked my parents to bring Precious up.

After church we went out for lunch with our family and then spent the afternoon in the pool. Here’s Precious with her cousin Eliza. It’s getting to be nearly impossible to get both of these girls in a picture together without one or both in a blur of motion. This one is the best I got.

I’m thrilled that we got a family photo to remember the day, thanks to my sister in law Ginger (above cutie’s mama). I meant to get a photo of all of us dressed up on Easter and we missed our chance due to afternoon naps. It may seem petty but Precious has been a part of our family for 9 months now and this is the first good picture I have of all three of us. Actually—it’s all four of us! Lucy managed to sneak into the shot and even looked at the camera. That was a happy surprise when I was looking at the photo later.

I haven’t posted an adoption update lately. We’re still waiting for our finalization hearing to be scheduled at the courthouse. For some reason, the clerk is very slow about getting back to our attorney who has been leaving voicemails daily. The chances of us getting on the July adoption docket are looking slim now; hopefully we’ll get in on the August one.


“If you live your life too safely…”

03/08/2012

I was trying yet again to bring it up subtly, to work foster care statistics naturally into conversation. I don’t remember which freshly learned fact I was offering. Maybe I said, “Did you know there are half a million kids in foster care in the US? And over 200,000 of them are waiting to be adopted.” Or I may have been explaining why the Adopt US Kids lists rarely showed infants and young kids on the waiting-to-be-adopted lists—because they were usually adopted by their foster parents; because the foster parents the kids already know and trust are typically offered the first opportunity when the kids become legally free to adopt. Perhaps I was mentioning how it doesn’t cost anything to become a foster parent, the government even pays a small daily board rate to help with expenses, and that adoption through foster care is practically free.

Jason looked at me from across the dinner table with tears welling up in his eyes and said, “I can tell this is something you really want to do. Why don’t you go ahead and take the first step—call whoever you need to call to find out what we need to do to get started.” After our previous foster parenting conversation (when we talked about how heartbreaking it would be and how it wasn’t really in our plan), he had agreed to think and pray more about it. Maybe this was something God was putting heavily on our hearts for a reason. I was amazed at how quickly Jason had warmed up to it. I had expected more resistance to this crazy idea to become foster parents and now I was wondering if I really was ready to practice what I had been preaching.

This is what I tweeted that night (3-10-11):
“On the precipice of something big and feeling equally excited and inadequate. Thank you Lord for lighting the path… one step at a time.”

Later that evening an intense headache came upon me—the kind that makes me want to just curl up in bed and do nothing. What if I had a child right now? I wondered. How could I care for someone else who is dependent on me when I don’t feel like I have the strength and energy to do anything for anyone else besides myself right now. What was I thinking? How in the world am I going to have the energy to not just care for a child, but care for a child who is coming from a difficult past with the potential for all kinds of behavioral and emotional problems? I have no experience as a mother. I’m not good enough… I’m not strong enough… I’m not selfless enough… Those thoughts rolled around in my head as I tossed and turned all night.

When my alarm clock went off, I slipped out of bed, made my way into the bathroom, slid my Jesus Calling book off the back of the toilet and opened it to that day’s passage, March 11. It said…

Walk by faith, not by sight.
As you take steps of faith, depending on Me,
I will show you how much I can do for you.
If you live your life too safely,
you will never know the thrill of seeing Me work through you.
When I gave you My spirit,
I empowered you to live beyond your natural ability and strength.
Thats why it is wrong to measure your energy level
against the challenges ahead of you.
The issue is not your strength but Mine, which is limitless.
By walking close to Me, you can accomplish My purposes in My strength.

My feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy melted away as I stepped off the ledge into the unknown and started the most challenging, rewarding, stretching, joy-filled, faith-building year of my life. Thank God for giving me the courage to take that first step in obedience and for working through me despite every shortcoming.

(The picture above is from the day we said goodbye to Ladybug, our first foster placement, on arguably the most difficult day of my life.)


Blessing vs. Cursing

02/09/2012

This is a spiritual, philosophical, theological kind of blog post. Feel free to move along if that’s not your thing. Back in August of 2008 our pastor did a series on Blessing. (If you want to find the podcasts, look up Grace Church Nashville on iTunes.) The gist of it was this:

Blessing is speaking what you want to happen.

Cursing is speaking what you don’t want to happen.

People tend to think blessing=prayer but they’re not the same. If you look in a Bible, you’ll see that blessings are statements, proclamations and sound much like prophesy. It’s not asking God to do something. It’s saying what you expect to happen. Examples: “Have a great day today.” “May your house sell quickly.” “You are going to be successful!” “I am going to stay healthy this winter.” “She is a good sleeper and she will sleep well tonight.”

It’s similarly misunderstood that cursing is not the same thing as swearing or cussing. Speaking a curse is speaking what you do not want to happen. This is a tricky concept and it took me a while to grasp it. Examples: “Today is a headed for a train wreck.” “My house took a year to sell so prepare yourself for the worst.” “If you keep that up, you’re going to end up in jail just like your Uncle Bill.” “I hope I don’t catch his cold.” “We’re in for a rough night.”

You can see how each of these statements in the curses list counter the blessing examples. The difference is what is acknowledged, what is spoken into the atmosphere.

Jason and I hear parents curse their kids all the time, and we cringe. Sleep is a biggie. You won’t ever catch Jason or I saying, “Oh, that late, long nap might mess up her sleep.” Or, “She can’t nap in a noisy restaurant!” Or “She missed her morning nap—she’s going to be grumpy.” We don’t bother articulating those worries. Instead we just say and expect what we hope will happen.

Now is a good time to interject and say, I know that all kids are different. I know that Precious is super easy going and surely part of that is her nature. However, I firmly believe that blessing and cursing play a huge role. Here’s what we would say instead in those situations, blessings over our daughter: “She’s catching up on her sleep today.” Or, “I love that we can take her anywhere and she goes with the flow.” Or “Oh well, she’ll make up for that nap later.”

I’m sharing this because these fundamental truths have tremendously changed our lives. You don’t have to believe me but if you look around, I think you’ll see the evidence. It applies everywhere in my life: my relationship with Jason, my attitude towards myself, the words we speak over our home, our daughter, our future, our vehicles, our dog, our friends, our careers.

My job—that’s another big one for me. At one point, not long before I learned about blessing, my company went through a really tough time, laid off a bunch of people, had pay cuts, etc. I called our corporation a sinking ship. I spoke that curse over my employer. Once I realized it, I took it back. I decided that if I wanted to see my company succeed and my job continue to exist, I needed to speak blessings over it. So I started walking through the halls every morning and speaking blessings over my co-workers and my company. Things like, “We will do well this year. The Lord has provided for us and He will continue to do so. May so-and-so work hard today and stay focused. I bless my co-workers that they will have great ideas, creativity, efficiency and motivation. I say as company we will have integrity, we will have influence in our community…”

It may sound like wishful thinking, denial or some new-agey universalist idea. The truth is that it’s a Biblical principle and it works, whether or not you give God the credit. Even if you don’t believe me, just try it for a few days or weeks. I bet you’ll notice a difference. What do yo have to lose?


Her Testimony

01/03/2012

I debated about whether or not to share this because I know not everyone will get it. If you’re not a Christ-follower, it might sound totally random. I still wanted to share. The word testimony is thrown around a lot in Christian circles. Basically, it’s my story—who I was and how I got to who I am today. But when God gets ahold of a life, it’s really His story. Sharing my testimony brings glory to who God is and how He has turned my life around. It reflects His character, His power, His goodness and faithfulness.

Jump to the surrender day. Right before we were called back to the judge’s quarters I took Precious to the restroom for a diaper change. On the way there, someone stopped me.

“Excuse me! Excuse me, ma’am?” I turned towards a heavy black woman with a kind face, expecting her to say Precious was about to lose her sock or something along those lines.

“Oh! Look at her!” she said. “I’m just here with my sister,” she patted the woman next to her, “but we saw her from across the room and I said, ‘I have got to touch that baby!'”

And that point, I had turned toward her and I was thinking, wait—touch?

She reached out and put her right and on Precious’ right thigh. “Oh, she is a blessing!” she squealed.

I smiled. “She sure is. She’s like this all the time; she’s the happiest, most content baby we’ve ever seen.”

“That’s going to be her testimony!” the woman declared back.

And that was that. I went on with the diaper change and the rest of the court process but what she said kept resonating. She didn’t know who we were or anything about our situation. For a stranger to call my daughter a blessing would not be terribly uncommon but to use the word testimony. Her joy is going to be her testimony. We’ve seen it already. I’ve been telling people, even at just a few months old Precious already has a great testimony. She has been through so much yet she has been protected, she’s right on track developmentally, she’s beautiful and healthy, and she’s truly joyful and content. We believe God has great plans for her and none of what she has come through has been random or by accident.

Her joy is going to be her testimony.

 


Winds of Change

10/10/2011

There is so much whirring around in my head but I can’t seem to organize any of it into a well packaged blog post.

There is everything and there is nothing.

Sorting through it is overwhelming.

I take a deep breath and keep going. Everyday.

One day at a time.

Looking too far ahead makes the butterflies in my tummy start flapping.

Reflecting on the past sometimes stirs up more pain than joy.

So I try my best to keep my head and my heart in today.

To be present.

To savor every moment I have with the people I love.

Last spring I wrote a post called On The Precipice as we were about to take the plunge into foster parenting. Right now, I feel like our toes are up to the edge of four different cliffs. It’s exciting times for our little family. And it’s a lot to take in. Jason’s mind is as full of spinning thoughts as mine…but it seems like when he’s pondering one thing, my brain is consumed with another. We’re doing our best to encourage and support each other. In some ways it feels like we’ve been disconnected lately with all that’s flooding in around us (or maybe just preoccupied) but at the same time, our foundation is as strong as ever and we’ve been holding each other up through each day. I’m so thankful to have my best friend right by my side.

It’s a strange season we’re in… or maybe it’s the change of seasons we’re feeling right now. Funny how the natural sometimes lines up with the spiritual. Driving to work through the park near our house one day last week, a shower of orange and yellow leaves rained down on my car as I drove under the trees. The beauty of it brought tears to my eyes. I love how God made the process of leavings dying into such a beautiful show.

(Image found through Google from here.)


We’re All Praying…

09/01/2011

Including this little guy who was on our front door yesterday morning. He turned around and looked at me for the photo.

Today is the day.

The day that Ladybug’s future is decided by some robe-wearing guy in a court room.

At least that’s how it looks from the outside.

But we know the Truth.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.

He knows what He is doing. He doesn’t make mistakes.

He has good plans for us (all 3 of us), plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans for a hope and a future.

Will you join us in praying? For His will to be done, not ours. We know what we want but we don’t truly know what’s best for Ladybug. He does.

And if we’re led into the valley of suffering, we don’t have to be afaid because He is with us.

He is near to the brokenhearted.

When we cry out, He will save us. And He will be glorified. 

His grace is sufficient for me; His power made perfect in my weakness.

When I am weak, He is strong.

We may weep all night, but joy will come.

We will press on.

We will persevere.

Nothing can separate us from His love.

Do you have someone who can give you that kind of reassurance?
That’s My King. I wonder, do you know Him?