Multiplied

There is a ten year age span in our children. The youngest has just turned nine and the oldest will be nineteen in a few months. I still marvel that they are mine; mine to raise and nurture in love and admonition of The Lord. For more than a decade I struggled to produce a child as my husband and I struggled with infertility. When we finally achieved pregnancy, I miscarried two children, a boy and a girl. It seemed we would never ‘go forth and multiply’ as is the natural result of love between a man and woman. Those were dark days.

When The Lord led us to Foster Care and Adoption, I was thrilled to be able to deposit love into the lives of the children that came into our home. I was thrilled beyond measure when seven became our forever children in the eyes of God and man alike through the miracle of adoption.

Now, as I observe my children, the children that God so graciously gave me, I can see that we have been able to ‘go forth and multiply’ in spite of an inability to birth a child.

We have instilled parts of ourselves, our character, our personalities, our values and most importantly, our faith into our children. Like a child that is born to a man and woman, our adopted children have become a blend of myself and the man I love, the best of both of us.

Whether they are playing instruments on stage on clearing up a yard of a widow after a storm, they serve. They are eager to give of money, time and talent. They forgive easily and deal generously with the people they encounter. They believe sincerely, trust confidently and worship joyfully, not only because we do, but because they too have found Him faithful.

I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth. (3 John 1:4 NLT)

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Go, Shop, Buy

Yesterday I loaded all seven, five sons and two daughters, into our Honda Pilot and we went shopping for Father’s Day. As you might well surmise, I am a brave woman. Very brave (or perhaps a glutton for punishment).

We were out for hours and hours. It was a hot day. We did not find everything we needed and once I finally got home, I ordered online with free delivery. I may never leave the house again. Shopping just isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

This experience started my thinker to thinking, as is normal for me. My thoughts can go many directions at once and soon I was considering the correlation between shopping and dating. Then I was contemplating the wisdom of well stocked pantries and planning ahead. After all, being prepared means less shopping and less shopping is a very good thing. That thought process brought me to this passage of Scripture.

“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ (Matthew 25:9 NLT)

If you aren’t familiar with the passage this verse came from, you should check it out. It’s the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. They were all suppose to be ready, prepared, waiting for the call. Some were. Some weren’t. When those who weren’t asked for help, they got that reply – go, shop, buy – for yourselves.

We may conclude that it was stingy on the refusers part, but, looking more closely, I see wisdom instead of stinginess. They all knew what was required, they all had the same opportunity, they made different choices. Their choices had consequences.

What choices will you make today? How can you make sure that at the very moment you need strength and encouragement and guidance your lamp isn’t running low on oil? Think ahead. Strategize. Consider the consequences.

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Whispers

About a week ago I wrote the following devotion. This morning found me looking through my notes to read the words again. I am still standing, perhaps even more so, in this place of stilling my soul, quieting my thoughts, resting in the presence of The Lord.

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Today I am determined to be quiet and listen for a whisper. Did you ever notice how loud life can get? How noisy and demanding every day living can be? Schedules, appointments, decisions, deadlines, conflicts… Even when everything is going good, it’s going so fast we can hardly keep our balance.

Last night I was feeling a bit overwhelmed thinking of all I wanted to accomplish, especially with my writing this week. I was feeling hard pressed to do things right and yet, not even sure what right looked like in this new adventure of mine. Very humbling. Very disconcerting.

I began to wonder exactly what I thought I was doing and why? Doubt and confusion gladly crashed my party until I was weary of it all.

But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out. (Ecclesiastes 12:12 NLT)

Then I told my mom this. “If He doesn’t whisper in my ear, I’ve truly got nothing to say.” So, there you have it, that’s why I’ll be listening for a whisper, His whisper and then I’ll shout it from the rooftops. If He whispers it, it’s worth listening to (and reading).

What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! (Matthew 10:27 NLT)

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Daddy Said So

Of our seven children two of them are girls. They are 12 & 13. I just imagined a collective sigh of understanding from all the parents of teen and tween girls across this vast land. Honestly, I would have expected myself to have been able to expertly handle them as I was one myself. And yet, too many times I find myself in the exact place I was only last night. Let me explain.

The two girls were in conflict. Emotions were running rampant. Hormones were obviously raging. Tears were coursing down the cheek of one girl in the face of what she obviously considered a GREAT injustice. A frown of defiance was in place on the face of the other girl as she adamantly stood her ground. I had to make a decision. I had no idea what the right call was in this particular situation.

I tried reasoning, lecturing, scolding, cautioning, discussing and listening. Finally I felt my own temperature rising, my own feelings getting tender, my own melt down pending. It was at that moment I noticed my husband.

There he sat, engrossed in a tv show of some sort, happily allowing me to deal with the emotional upheaval before me. Suddenly I knew what the right decision was. It was crystal clear.

I asked Henry to pause his show. I told the girls to go stand before their daddy. I gave him a very brief explanation of the crisis. I told each girl they could each in turn present their case and Daddy would make a judgement call. He did appear a bit startled. After all, I’d never taken this route before. But, he complied.

They began. This time I was observing from the sideline. I was observing them in all their drama and distress. I was observing him and his lack thereof. Then, without hesitation, he decided. That was that. The girls did not argue, whether they agreed or not. After all, due process had been adhered to. Henry went back to his tv and I told them to go clean their room without another word to each other.

I can not begin to explain to you how eye-opening this experience was to me. Now, in retrospect it is all so clear. If this man has managed to still be the love of my life after 30 years if marriage and has calmly dealt with my intense emotions, tender feelings and enormous passionate personality, who better to do the same with his daughters? Lesson Learned.

“My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.”
(Proverbs 1:8 NLT)

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Landscaped by God

Weeks ago I bought the supplies necessary to have a painting activity with my five youngest children. You might conclude that it is lovely that I am willing to share my talent and teach others. The problem with that line of thought is I am not an artist myself and have attended one group painting experience. One and one only.

However, that one class did inspire me to want to share the experience with my youngest five as we homeschool through the summer months. They were very excited about the prospect. So was I. I eagerly purchased a canvas for each of us and an assortment of acrylic paints plus, a collection of brushes.

Busy days have delayed our art project attempt and as I compiled a list of ‘things that needing doing’ this morning, I decided today might be the day or perhaps tomorrow. Surely we could do it sometime this week. Surely.

That’s when it hit me. How on earth did I think I could teach them to do what I don’t know how to do myself. The googling began in earnest. Eventually I came across this YouTube.

A landscape. A simple landscape. Surely that was a good starting point. Suddenly my wheels were turning. This landscape would become the focus of all our summer homeschool activities. It could be the backdrop for stories and poems and songs and go way beyond the painting project. Creativity unleashed! By leaving out the details we would open up a world of learning.

Then, as is often the case my thoughts turned towards The Lord and I contemplated how the Master Artist, who is the original creative genius, had taken the blank canvas of my life and painted a beautiful landscape. He then allowed me to fill in the details with my choices, my flavor, my own creativity.

When I searched for the word landscape in scripture and came across this Message wording, I just smiled all over. The prayer I breathed out came as naturally as the vibrant colors being stroked upon a blank canvas. This is what I want. This is what I desire. Oh, to be landscaped with the Word by God and see my life become a salvation-garden. I can’t imagine any painting more intriguing.

“In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.”(James 1:21 MSG)

Measure of Success

I attended my very first writer’s convention this weekend. http://www.scwconference.com/SCWConference.com/Southern_Christian_Writers_Conference.html

The first thing I must say concerning this conference is, “I will never be the same again.” I was changed, altered, made different. My eyes were opened to, as overly dramatic as this may sound, a new world. This leads to the second thing I would say concerning the conference. “I never knew how much I didn’t know.” As another attendee commented, I didn’t even know what questions to ask.

One of the keynote addresses was delivered by Angela Hunt. http://www.angelahuntbooks.com/

One of the many things she talked about was the measure of success. I gleaned so much as she spoke. In order to be a successful writer, I don’t have to stop being everything else. As a Christian Writer I am foremost a Christian. That simply means there is only one measure of success. Have I been faithful to attend to the task put before me now? Right now.

If we get so caught up in the way we are to do whatever we feel God has led us to do, we may easily forget the why we are to do whatever we feel God has led us to do. While it is understandable for a writer to want to be published and become successful, just as any other person pursuing a dream, we must be cautious in how we measure success and who gets the credit.

We must make the effort, take the time, expend the energy and walk through the open doors. But, never forget it is The Lord who gives you the courage, opens the doors and gives you the strength to walk through them.

‘When you become successful, don’t say, “I’m rich, and I’ve earned it all myself.” Instead, remember that the Lord your God gives you the strength to make a living. That’s how he keeps the promise he made to your ancestors.’ Deuteronomy 8:17, 18

Adoptabilty

When it comes to a child’s chances of being adopted, certain factors are considered. Things that shouldn’t matter, do matter to many people. It seems that when people start considering adoption they feel they can do what a birth parent can’t do, look for guarantees. Certain stipulations are considered and decided upon.

Adoptability is determined by age, ethnicity, special needs and being a part of a sibling group. We have adopted older children; usually that term applies to children over three years of age. We have adopted sibling groups. We have adopted children with what some would consider special needs. We have adopted children of a different ethnicity than our own. There are special challenges with each of these special situations. There are also special rewards when you overcome these challenges.

Can it work? Can you really build a family, bond properly and have a functioning parent/child relationship with a child that comes into your life after those extremely important formative first years. Yes, absolutely yes! A resounding yes!

It isn’t easy. Matters of the heart are NEVER easy. When you choose to love, you are making yourself vulnerable and putting yourself at risk. That is the truth whether you are adopting, birthing a child, marrying or committing to any serious relationship. A successful relationship takes a lot of hard work, sometimes requires intervention, grows as hurdles are overcome and will never, when scrutinized, be considered perfect. It will however be considered a great pleasure.

“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)

If we were to be graded to determine our adaptability, we would come up short, be considered a high risk, counted as a great challenge. I’m so glad that God was willing to take a chance on me when loving me was risky.