A Rock and a Hard Place

I know what it means to feel trapped, confused and overwhelmed. This morning during my personal devotion time I read in Isaiah chapter 43 and I enjoyed reading how the Message reworded it.

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you:” ‭Isaiah‬ ‭43‬:‭2-3 MSG

Y’all, I don’t know about you but this was exactly what I needed from God this morning. Don’t you see? He’s not saying that there will be no rough waters. He’s not saying that we won’t ever be in over our heads. He’s not saying we won’t ever find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. 

What He is saying is we won’t go down (for the count), we won’t face it alone (without Him) and it is not a dead end (there is a way of escape).  Some of you should just stop right there and join me in a little Hallelujah Hop!

Don’t you see? Can’t you understand? There is hope! There is a future! There is strength beyond your own, wisdom beyond your understanding, and a God who cares about you personally. A God who is able. A real, loving, faithful God who is like no other. A true, living God who is watching, listening and acting on your behalf. 

I was recently counseling a loved one who felt as if they were out of options. I told them truthfully that they were backing themselves into a corner. When we feel like we are out of options, we feel desperate and we are tempted to panic and make rash decisions. We decide to quit, throw in the towel, give up and quit trying because we can’t SEE the solution or a way out. Discouraged, we feel defeated. 

So many people are struggling. They’ve done everything they know to do. They’ve tried. They’ve tried again. You may feel as if you spend more time trying to collect the shattered pieces of your hopes and dreams than you do anything else lately. 

Lift up your eyes and stop focusing on the brokenness. Stop grieving over what could have been. Let go of the memories that are causing you to sink into the waters of betrayal. Use that rock (hard place) that is blocking progress as a stepping stone to reach the next level of joy. 

Father, we are sometimes so afraid when we are faced with that which seems beyond us and our own abilities. How quickly we forget that we are to rely on You and Your abilities. Oh Lord, You know our hearts. You understand our limits and frailties. Increase our faith. Help us to find our courage. Quiet our spirits so that we can hear Your voice. Strengthen our weary bodies. Heal us. Help us. I ask this in the beautiful Name of Jesus Christ, our Yeshua. Amen

  

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Spirit of Adoption

Today I will be working diligently to complete a baby blanket for our newest family member. No, we haven’t adopted again, but, our extended family has increased through the miracle of adoption. I will drive a few hours to celebrate this wonderful occasion this weekend and I can’t wait to hold him and pray over him and bless him. He is a grand-nephew and my heart is overjoyed for his precious parents who, like myself and my Henry, waited thirteen years for the longing in their hearts to be filled. 

As I was thinking of what to blog this week, I recalled a previous entry called the Spirit of Adoption that I wrote last year. This year, everything has changed for our niece and nephew. This year their hope has been realized. But, for the many who are still waiting, still hoping, still praying, things seem to have stayed the same. They haven’t of course, progress has been made, steps have been taken, time has passed and they are even closer to the day they eagerly anticipate. 

So, to those who have adopted, have been adopted or dreaming of an adoption, I celebrate the great love in your heart and hope you will enjoy these word written in the Spirit of Adoption. 

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If you have adopted or been closely connected to an adoption, you understand with great clarity that it is far more than a legal matter, far more than a mental decision, far more than an emotional commitment. Adoption, at the core is spiritual. Adoption, true adoption, reaches into the depth of your soul and changes who you are forever. 

I read a number of definitions of adoption this morning and many said something along the line of ‘taking as your own’. That definition bothered me a bit. That tiny little two letter word ‘as’ just seemed to be what the whole definition pivoted on. Finally I found a better worded definition. It simply said ‘make your own’. That says it properly. 

Adoption is not raising another’s child ‘as’ your own. Adoption is raising your own child. Adoption is becoming the parent to a child you have made your own. Your very own. That changes everything. 

So many times people look at adoption as a second chance for people to have children and for children to have parents. A second chance as in if the best and original plan couldn’t work out, maybe this one will. You know, kind of like a consolation prize. Can you see how dangerous this mentality could be?

Second chances are wonderful for those who have made mistakes, somehow failed, stumbled and fallen, come up short, betrayed a friend, broken a promise or committed a crime. Second chances are a result of forgiveness and restitution. But, second chances are not what adoption is about. My children are not my consolation prize and I am not theirs. 

As a Christian I am always eager to know what the Bible says about a subject and it speaks about adoption. Look at this one verse and consider what it says for a moment. 

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭1‬:‭5‬ NLT)

In advance, as in, always was the plan. He wanted to bring us to Himself. He wanted to and it brought Him great pleasure. Great pleasure. 

Not being God, I didn’t have this foresight and had no idea as a young married woman that was trying to navigate the land of infertility that there was a plan in place. I viewed every attempt as a failure. I didn’t understand then. I understand now. 

These seven children were always meant to be mine. They didn’t need a second chance and neither did I. We needed to find each other and love each other and make each other our own, not ‘as’ our own but our very own. The plan was made in advance and it has brought me great pleasure. 

I am thankful that God loves me with a Spirit of Adoption. I am able to smile at my children’s imperfections and take great pleasure in them because they are my own. I treasure the security that comes with knowing He takes pleasure in me with all my imperfections. I am His own. 

  

The Mother’s Day Pit Fall – It’s a Trap

This won’t be your normal mushy Mother’s Day blog post. I’ll likely do one of those later. But, today I am thinking we need to set aside the fluff and get down to the nitty-gritty. Mother’s Day can be wildly emotional and the emotions aren’t always kind. Sometimes it is more like having your heart raked over live coals. 

You know I’m telling the truth. There are countless reasons that Mother’s Day can hurt like heck. Some you can’t avoid and must learn to cope with. But, there’s one that I hope reading this might help you bypass. 

If your heart is hurting about your own mother, your relationships with her or lack thereof or perhaps y’all are separated by miles or even death, Mother’s Day will hurt your heart. I pray that the good will outweigh the bad and your day will be joyful in spite of your grief. 

If your heart is hurting because of your own state of motherhood, perhaps a delayed state, Mother’s Day will hurt your heart. I pray that hope will spring anew and your day will be joyful in spite of your longing. 

As I said, there are some things that we just can’t control and there are just some hurts that can’t be avoided. But, we can learn to cope and continue on. I’ve been there. I truly understand and remember quite clearly dreading the Sunday every year when the preacher would tell all the moms to stand and I remained seated. That changed for me. This will change for you. Take courage. 

However, here is what I really want to talk about today. I want to talk about the moms who may be very disappointed when Mother’s Day rolls in and rolls right back out and your feelings are hurt because, well, it wasn’t all that. It was another day of changing diapers and cooking and cleaning and servitude. I said we were going to be real and I meant it. Sometimes we can feel unnoticed and under appreciated, especially on Mother’s Day. It’s the pits. 

I want to encourage you to avoid the emotional pit fall that Mother’s Day can deliver, if at all possible. Here’s the first important step. Recognize that you are worth celebrating! You work hard. You give up sleep, your favorite activities and sometimes your choice of foods. Hey, we get it.  We knew what we were signing up for (well mostly). We know that’s how the boat floats. But, not on Mother’s Day. 

If you have a well intentioned husband and small children a subtle hint may be in order. If, from past experiences you realize that a subtle hint isn’t going to work, be more direct. 

“Hey Honey, you know what I really want for Mother’s Day?” And then tell him! 

If you have no husband or if the husband you have refuses to cooperate with the less than subtle approach there’s no sense being miserable. If you have adult children that are too busy to bother celebrating the woman who wiped their noses and their derrières, well shame on them, but, don’t despair. 

If others won’t celebrate you then just CELEBRATE YOURSELF! Yes, you heard me right. Take yourself for a pedicure. Rent your favorite movie. Hog the remote control. Buy the flavor of ice cream that you like and no one else does. Go through the drive through if that’s all you can afford and still not cook. You are worth celebrating. 

Still hesitant? Not measuring up to how things should be? Perhaps not. But, it’s better to have a day of fun and special treats that you choose than realizing there’s a BBQ going on and it’s your heart on the grill. 

I’m going to make a confession. There has never been a Mother’s Day that didn’t find me having a tender moment when things didn’t go just right. Maybe, this year will be the exception. I don’t know. But, what I do know is I’m going to do my best to avoid known pitfalls of expecting my husband and children to be mind-readers. I’m going to speak up, be honest and do my best to have a great Mother’s Day. How about you?

  

Baby Pictures

Four of our seven children have no baby pictures. It wasn’t that we had them and lost them due to a fire or tornado or flood. We never had any. I imagine someone did at some point. Perhaps a birth relative or former foster parent does somewhere along the line. But, we don’t and I often wish we did. 

Girls, being, well, girls, seemed to be more aware of this loss and more sensitive concerning it. So, I mentioned to my 14yo who has recently taken up drawing that she should try to draw what she thought she looked like as a baby. She took my words to heart and today showed me her drawing. 

For a first attempt and a untrained young artist, I’m impressed with her effort. I think she truly captured her eyes. I love the lambs on the romper play-suit. The hair is noteworthy. But, more than all of that, I am so touched that she worked hard to fill a gap from her childhood and make herself a baby picture. I’m going to ask her to frame it and give it to me for Mother’s Day. I will treasure it and learn a valuable lesson. 

Whatever it is that is missing from your life, making you feel less than complete, God will give you the ability to fill the gaps if you will allow Him to show you a new way of seeing things. Don’t accept that how things are is how they must always be. Take a chance, make an effort, try again. And, if need be, draw your own baby picture.