I Won’t Forget You 

As a former foster mother I often wonder about the children we sheltered for a season. A few I still have contact with and I’m so glad. Seven we adopted and I’m glad about that too. But the others, those are the ones I wonder about. 

How are they? Are they happy? Do they have children of their own? Do they remember us? Will we hear from them one day? I wonder. 

One of those was a young boy we loved very much. His name was Carlos. He was not Hispanic and so many people asked him why he was named Carlos that he asked us to start calling him Chuck. He said he liked that name because of Chuck Norris. 

He made us laugh with his slow drawl and his matter-of-fact attitude. He was with us from the time he was 8 until he was 10. He adored Daddy Henry. 

When DHR managed to make contact with a birth family member who wanted to take him, we tried to be glad for him, but it was a sad time for us all. 

About eight years ago, he called us. We were thrilled to hear from him after so long. We encouraged him to come see us. He declined. He said he didn’t want us to see him as he was. He said he had made some mistakes. He said he had been arrested. He said he was struggling with drugs. He told us of the harsh treatment, neglect and abuse he experienced at the hand of the family members who had taken him in. I cried. 

And then as suddenly as we had been reconnected, we were disconnected. We lost touch. Since then I occasionally check social media and google his name. Just hoping and wondering. 

This morning was one of those times and I finally found some information. It was not what I expected or hoped for. It was his obituary. He had passed away at the young age of 24. I don’t even know how. We didn’t even get to say good-bye. 

Now my heart grieves for a child I have lost twice. I have told myself I should have done more, better, tried harder. When I shared what I had discovered with my husband, he was deeply saddened. He told me he should have been more diligent in praying for him. He said he was so sad to think of all the potential he had that was never realized. 

I wanted to remember him and the best way I could do that was to write these words. We love you Chuck! You’ll always have a place in our hearts. We are thankful to have known you. Farewell sweet boy. 

So Loved 

Yesterday my five youngest children and I made a one-day, out-of-town road trip and I was the driver. It was a very beautiful and happy day spent with lots of folks we love. 

Naturally, on the drive home I was doing a lot of thinking and pondering. Things like, never ever give up on the possibilities of what God’s love can accomplish. His love is the most powerful force on earth and can change situations, people’s hearts and the direction of a person’s life. I needed that reminder. Maybe you did too. 

Another truth that is stamped on my heart was verified yesterday. There’s an old adage that says you can’t pick your family. I’d like to firmly disagree. Yes you can. Marriage is a perfect example. A choice to be family is made. Adoption is another example. A choice to become family is made. But there are other examples as well when no judge declares anything at all. Instead hearts declare belonging to one another because we so love them. 

You may not can choose who you are related to by blood, but you do get to choose your family. I’ve chosen well. Not only by marriage and adoption, but also by relationship. By caring and loving and praying and connecting and communicating and hoping and helping and sometimes the biding of time, by so loving them. 

During the next few weeks I will be in four different states visiting family. I will see two dozen family members. I am blood related to less than half of those, only nine to be exact. And yet, they are all my family. 

How can that be? I’ll tell you clearly how. Because love trumps blood, love trumps hate, love trumps differences,  love trumps distances, love trumps circumstances and love even trumps the law of the land sometimes. Relationships are formed when commitment is made, time is invested and choices are lived out. I so love them. 

Today I am loving the beauty of love. The choices we make, the lives we live, the paths we walk and yes, oh yes, the families we have!

Below is a photo of a few of my most beloved family members. I don’t share a single drop of blood with any of them. What we do share is love and let me assure you I so love them!

Below is another photo. This one is a photo of my mother and sister with whom I share blood. Guess what? We are family, not because of blood but because of relationship, precious memories, laughter and the bonds of love! I so love them. 

I can’t conclude my thoughts without adding this. The MOST important family decision you can ever make will be to become a part of the family of God. Choosing to be adopted into His family, as His child, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ will be the most life-altering decision you ever make. You know why? Because of love, once again, because of love. He so loves us. 

Buried Safely

What are you afraid of? What have you buried to stay safe?

“I will be able to say, ‘Look how I tried! I gave it my best effort!’ Instead of, ‘I was afraid.’

Stephanie Rodda

I’d like to share a bit of our family Bible study with you. I’m hoping that there may be another person out there who reads this and says to themselves, ‘I needed this reminder.’ That was my reaction.

We were discussing the parable of the talents. If you’re familiar with this particular parable then, you have likely discussed it a few times as well. It is intriguing. I you are not familiar with it, you can read about it in Matthew 25.

As I read the familiar words to my children, I faltered a bit as I thought of my own handling of what God had put in my care and was surprised by the conviction I felt. Conviction. That’s a rather unpleasant sounding word when you first roll it around in your mind. But, contrary to first impression, conviction is a good and necessary experience.

Spiritually speaking and when…

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Blogs Beautiful Blogs

The first thing I need to say right away is I am no expert blogger. I’m not a total newbie and I’ve learned a lot along the way. But I am still smack-dab in the middle of figuring it all out. 

Tonight I will be speaking to the CAWG Central Alabama Writers Guild and our subject of discussion will be blogging. My first thought when they invited me was to tell them they needed to invite someone who actually knew what they were doing. Then, I began to collect the information that I had gathered along the way and realized I actually had a lot to share. 

As I often tell my homeschooled children, “I may not know all the answers, but I bet I can figure out where to find them.”  So, with that thought in mind, I’ll try my best to point you in the right direction. 

I attended my first writing conference almost four years ago and one of the first workshops I attended declared that every writer needed a blog. I went back to the hotel that very night and started a blog at WordPress.com. It was just as easy as they said it would be. It wasn’t polished. It wasn’t perfect. But I was able to do it without assistance. 

Since then I’ve learned a few things, discovered a few tips and made a few improvements. I can add a photo or meme. I can change the background color. I have a decent number of followers. I’ve made progress. 
Along the way I’ve made some good connections with folks who know a lot more than I do. One of those people is Rachel Thompson ( @BadRedheadMedia on Twitter ). Rachel is a writer, an abuse survivor advocate and a marketing guru. 

One of the best resources she offers is free and I have learned something every single time I’ve attended. One hour, every Wednesday evening with guests of her choice that address a variety of marketing strategies. She and her co-host @MelissaFlicks do a superb job of presenting, informing and answering questions. #BookMarketingChat

What does blogging have to do with book marketing? Everything, a lot, more than you might imagine. 

One of the guests at the chat has been Barb Drazdowich ( @sugarbeatbc on Twitter ). She has a unique ability to break it down into understandable lingo for people like you and me.  She’s authored a number of books as well as being a book blogger herself. 

Here’s the thing about blogging. It’s kind of like swimming. You can purchase the necessary equipment. You can study the theory. You can learn from the best. But nothing takes the place of jumping in and getting in the water. 

So, don’t require expertise from yourself before you begin. Blog and learn as you do. Blog and enjoy the journey. Blog and explore the possibilities. Just blog your heart out. And don’t forget to help the next hesitant soul to give it a try. 

Permanent Residence in a Life of Love 

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house,”1 John 4:17-18 MSG

I like the thought of a ‘permanent residence in a life of love.’

“Permanent residence” is different than staying in a motel for a while or even renting a home temporarily. Which describes your relationship with God? Are you committed to this life of love? Does love have run of the house of your soul? Has your heart been overtaken with the love of God?

How can we know? 

  • Well, if you are doing what you should do but resent it, that isn’t love, that is obligation. 
  • If you are doing what you do to achieve status or influence or reward, that likely isn’t love, that is manipulation. 
  • If you expect to always be appreciated, noticed or paid back, that isn’t love either.

I think a house where love runs things will be furnished with forgiveness, the benefit of the doubt and second chances. I think a house where love is in charge will have strong walls of firm boundaries that keeps those who reside there safe. I think that a house where love rules is a house where growth is encouraged and people are respected. 

Today’s challenge is to make a permanent commitment to this life of love and let love reign.

Painful Possibilities

This week I have been reminded how pain changes our perspective. Pain can make us act differently, respond differently, make us see things differently. I believe it humbled us. I know that it makes me more compassionate to the pain of others.

Stephanie Rodda

Pain is seldom a welcome part of our life and yet a guaranteed result of living. From the tiny ouches to the excruciating, you can count on it. Don’t let that discourage or frighten you however. Along with that assurance of pain comes an accompanying assurance of possibilities. Let me explain.

My 12 year old adopted daughter has injured her foot. She hyperextended the tendons on the top that extend from her toes and let me tell you, she is experiencing some pain. She and I along with my 13 year old daughter (her birth sister) are heading out of town early in the morning where plans of hikes and zip lines have fizzled into disappointment. Instead she will be hobbling around on crutches, soaking her foot in Epsom salt baths and keeping her hands and mind otherwise occupied while her foot is elevated.

Although I am so very sorry…

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