Saying All the Right Things

I pray I am never so shallow that I pretend to be deep by saying all the right things so the water is never rippled revealing the truth.
I tweeted those words and pinned them to the top of my Twitter profile a couple of weeks ago. One of my sisters commented on the tweet this morning and as a result, I started thinking all over again about what I meant by my own words. Twitter is not a good place for explaining matters, so I am going to blog my thoughts instead. 
I’m a firm believer in being careful with my words. Words are important to me because they enable me to communicate, to teach, to comfort, to inspire, to explain, and yes, at times to protest, to confront and to disagree. 

I believe that gentle words turn away wrath. I believe that the right words in due season can save the day and turn a situation around. I believe that words are powerful, meaningful and impacting. They can be instructive, destructive and constructive. I know we must be careful with our words.  

I also know that words can be empty, they can be false and they can be manipulative. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. Sometimes it is difficult to determine between right words and wrong words especially when they’re delivered with a soothing tone and by a gifted speaker. 

What concerns me is this. If we focus too much on having exactly the right words in an attempt to cause no disturbance, we may be shallow while pretending to be deep. We may be overly cautious and in our effort to cause no ripples, we may keep the truth hidden. It is an illusion. 

It indicates a depth that doesn’t exist. It declares that we understand what we do not. It shouts that we relate when we can not. It resonates that we can all just agree to disagree as long as we don’t admit there is an absolute truth hidden away in the true deep places. 

So, I am challenging myself to never be so shallow that I pretend to be deep. It’s okay to cause a few ripples, to take a stand, to speak out and speak up when our deepest held convictions are being compromised. I am challenging myself to consider my words carefully and yet not to walk or talk in fear. 

Maybe just maybe, if we disturb the tranquil waters, people may see for themselves what we’ve been so careful to conceal, the truth. 

Easy

What a beautiful reminder! I think I’ll dub this a Faint Not Friday post.
Anyone else out their a bit weary from the battles of this week? Frustrated at the apparent lack of progress? Concerned that difficult days are soon to be faced?
Difficult days, difficult people, difficult relationships, difficult lives. As in hard, perplexing, arduous and requiring much labor. But not as in impossible. Faint not friends!

Stephanie Rodda

Life can be fun and fulfilling and fabulous but, I’ll tell you one thing it isn’t, it isn’t easy. Even though our struggles may vary, the struggle is real. You know why? Well, lots of reasons but, the one that’s on my heart today is this. Life isn’t easy because people aren’t easy. It’s the truth.

Whether you’re the mom of a toddler or a divorced woman feeling alienated from your friends or a foster-parent or the caretaker of your aging parent or a public school teacher or a nurse or a struggling college student or any other station in life! People aren’t easy.

I’m the first to admit I’m not easy. If you’re honest you’ll admit the same about yourself. We all have our quirks and our faults and failings. We have our moments and our moods and our issues. People aren’t easy.

And that means, relationships aren’t easy…

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Division Disturbance

This weekend I viewed a video clip of an intense moment between police officers and a young man they viewed as a suspect. There was a lot that disturbed me as I watched. There was one thing that stood out above the rest. It was the fear. The officers seemed to be acting fearfully and that is understandable when they face such danger on a regular basis. The young man reacted fearfully and that is understandable when he was approached in what appeared to be an aggressive manner. Fear ruled. It called the shots. It escalated the moment. It made matters worse. 

Fear, in my opinion, has become our common enemy no matter where we stand politically, racially, nationally or religiously. Fear is, I am sorry to say, also our common denominator. It is what we have in common and it is also the division disturbance. 

There seems to be more to divide us than ever in this time of social media and information overload. I was thinking just the other day how very few people I agree with across the board. What I mean is if I have a friend that I agree with when it comes to child rearing we may be divided when it comes to politics. If I have a family member that I agree with politically we may differ when it comes to matters of faith. If I agree with a fellow church member concerning matters of faith we may differ when it comes to racism. I could go on for pages and pages. You get the idea. 

It bothers me when I don’t agree with people I care about. I waver between feeling that if I explained my position carefully enough they would surely agree with me and resisting feeling offended and condescended by those who seem determined to convince me of why my position is obviously wrong. 

For a long time there have been some major divisions in this country (and many others) that most are fully aware of. One is racism, another is gender, the other is poverty. We have come a long way in addressing these divisions. I’m not saying we have arrived, but we have made progress. 

Now, it seems every day there are new ways to divide us, to sort us, to categorize us, to put each other in a box and label each other accordingly. See her, she believes differently than me so she must go in that box over there. Mark it ignorant. No, that’s too harsh, let’s mark it under-educated. That way we can feel pity for them as we disagree with them and we will not only know better, we will be above such things as labeling others. 

There is likely no greater division among the American people right now than that of politics. It’s a whopper. Families, friends, churches are seeing things vastly differently and everyone has an opinion. Thanks to social media, everyone has a megaphone handy to voice that opinion. Whether done in a gentile manner with fancy words that really only emphasize how stupid you believe the people who disagree with you are, or blurted out in crash and rude words that really only emphasize how much you disdain anyone with an opinion different than your own, everyone can speak their mind. 

This morning I was reading in the Bible and came across the verse below. Jesus was teaching, preaching and yes, dividing. We don’t like to think about that aspect of His teaching. The fact is, He spoke truth and people did not want to hear it. 

“So the crowd was divided about him.”‭‭John‬ ‭7:43‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.” John‬ ‭7:43‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So, here is what I want to say to you and to myself today. If you are struggling with division disturbance, don’t be discouraged, you are not alone. Resist the urge to label other people. Avoid the temptation to convince everyone to agree with you. Refuse to be labeled or label others. Admit that we are never going to all ‘just get along’ and try hard to respect other people’s opinions and their right to have them. 

Above all, abandon the fear that would have the hearts of us all. Uproot the fear of those who are different. Believe what you believe and stay true to your convictions, but don’t allow fear to rule your life. Fear, when it is planted in soil that is ripe for growth, springs up eagerly to bloom division and result in hate. That, my friend is a division disturbance. 

A Determined Love

Nine years ago this month, I saw three of my children for the first time. After all of these years of healing and growing and loving each other, we still have rough moments and moments of discouragement.
If you are a foster or adoptive parent, maybe even a step-parent, who is struggling to build a relationship with a child who has faced trauma and learned to be cautious with trust, read this. Pass it on to others who will benefit from it. Take courage, you are not alone.
I wish I could tell you that after nine years of consistent trying (although not perfectly executed) the issues have been 100% resolved. I can not. What I can tell you is that we are still trying, stumbling and getting back up and yes, we have progressed far down the road from where we began.

“Adoptive parents try to hide struggles as they feel particularly scrutinized as well as wanting to shield their children from being labeled.”

Stephanie Rodda

Seven years ago this week we saw three of our children for the very first time. Two little girls, sisters, who were 6.5 and 7.5 years old as well as their little brother who was three. I had been expecting them for a full six months. I thought I was prepared. After all, we had been fostering for nearly fifteen years and they would make 45 foster children that had entered into our care. I had pretty much seen it all, after all. We had determined to love them through difficulties,that surely would be faced.

When they came we knew the plan was adoption and we were committed to be their family. Having already adopted one older child (one of our sons came to us at age 8)in addition to three others who had come as infants, we didn’t expect things to be easy. What we didn’t truly grasp however…

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Stranger Danger

We need the Good Shepherd now if we have ever needed Him before. There are so many voices and some of them speak so loudly. It is a challenge each day to filter out the hate, the distorted. It is hard to know who to trust.

“He understands all about the other voices that haunt and taunt. He can love those who haven’t found their courage to love Him back in like manner.”

Stephanie Rodda

As an adoptive mom of several older children, which means they weren’t infants or toddlers when we adopted them, I had no control over the first years of their lives. By the time they legally became ours, there were some deep seated attitudes, beliefs and hurts.

I could say to them that they were beautiful, valuable and cherished. I could say to them that they were safe and would not be rejected or abandoned. I could say to them that they could trust us. But, they didn’t recognize my voice. In the beginning, I was just another stranger and that meant danger.

Now, the voices that were familiar to them were the ones that reminded them to trust no one, to keep a safe distance, to manipulate and lie, to be afraid, to be cautious and on guard.

When you adopt an older child, there is often a lot that…

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