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. 

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.

Moments Matter

Here’s the thing I want to say today to myself and to lots of other folks that I love and care about. Heck, I even want to say it to you if you are someone I haven’t ever even met. Here is what I want to say to us all. Moments matter.

You have been given this life, this day, this moment to breathe and inspire and learn and love. And yes, sometimes it is a moment to grieve and heal and recognize loss. Before you have even finished reading this short blog entry, one moment will have passed and another will be before you. Moments matter.

I think in this day of hurry up and get to the next thing we sometimes fall into the mentality of being too busy to pick up a penny and too careless with the moments in our hand. We think we must wait for the big moments and spend all of the other moments preparing for them. What we don’t realize is that every moment matters.

Right this moment, this very moment, I have opportunities that may never come my way again. That opportunity may be to rest and refresh myself. That opportunity may be to pray to a God who is listening on behalf of a friend who is hurting. That opportunity may be to write or sing or dance or be still. It may be to pause and consider. It may be to take action and to do so quickly. Moments matter.

Let’s face it, if we could, there would be a few moments that we would retrieve and a few that have caused us some regrets. We can hope we don’t make those same mistakes and have learned better. However, there will be new moments where we will rush through, speak rashly, stumble in our haste, lose our temper, speak unkindly or make a mess of things. Here’s the thing, even those moments matter.

Do you know why moments matter? They matter because people matter.  They matter because you matter. Your thoughts, your actions, your hopes, your dreams, even your worst moments matter. Your pain, your struggles, your disappointments, even the apparently insignificant moments matter.

If we aren’t careful, in this time we live in where we are flooded with images of horrific moments, history making moments, newsworthy moments and moments that leave us feeling powerless, we will overlook the moments right before us. These are the moments that we can choose to embrace, choose to learn and grow from, choose to lavish upon those we care for and by doing so be empowered. Moments matter.

 

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Happy New Year 2016!

The last few hours of 2015 are speeding by and I’ve been thinking of the many eventful moments of this past year. For one thing our #xlfamily has grown and promises to continue to grow as one son became married and one son became engaged. Also we were thrilled to see the miracle of adoption once again bless our family as we gained a new grand-nephew. 

A life long dream was fulfilled as my very first novel was published and I can finally say I’m an author! This year has provided many opportunities to write and hopefully inspire others to consider adoption in a new light as well as draw closer to God. 

There have been heart-wrenching moments too. Loved ones have faced difficult times. I said goodbye to one of my dearest friends until I see her again in eternity. 

All in all, I believe I can say without hesitation that I have lived large and loved large. The mistakes I made were made while I was trying to do my best and serve the Lord. The times I stumbled were when I was doing my best follow His leading and became distracted momentarily. Just like the scriptures say so truthfully, His glory is in these cracked clay jars so that He shines and others can be encouraged to try and forgive themselves for not being perfect. 

I’ll tell you what else, I have been generously loved and greatly encouraged by so many folks. My life has been made better because of you. Thank you for that. 

As 2016 arrives, I’ve dubbed it the Year of Love, I’m expecting some powerful, life altering, events. I’m anticipating moments that will leave me breathless with awe and wonder. I’m counting on God’s love to show up, show off and show out. How about you?!
  

The Year of Love

I recently read an article about the significance of numbers in the Bible. The number 16 represents love. Another article said that Paul gave 16 attributes of love in I Corinthians 13:4-7, which is known as the love chapter. This chapter tells us what love is and isn’t. The world’s definition of love often does not resemble God’s. 
So, as I pondered the year ahead which begins only a few short days from now, I decided that 2016 will be the Year of Love. The year of powerful, life altering, path changing, future impacting, heart healing LOVE. 
My chief resolution, the goal beyond all other goals for the year to come will be to walk in LOVE. When I am making decisions, speaking to others, writing a story, taking an action or faced with a choice, I am going to remind myself of what love is and isn’t and then proceed accordingly. 
You know why? Because of the verse that precedes the famous love verses. 
“If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.” I Corinthians 13:2
  

What Really Matters

I think if I could time travel to the past and talk to my younger self concerning life, I would likely tell myself to make sure my time and energies were spent on what really matters. Then, I’d explain further that what really matters are eternal matters. Finally I’d point out that what really matters is people because people are forever. 

I’m not sure how my younger self might respond or if a much younger me could really comprehend the truth behind what was being said. But, still, I’d try to convince and explain as best as I could because it is so important. 

I can’t travel back in time. I can’t change a thing about choices that have already been made, words already spoken and deeds done. But, I do have the opportunity to speak now to myself and my children and those who care to hear (read) my words of caution. 

This world has slowly and methodically devalued human life. Society encourages a far different viewpoint from my own. Take care of yourself, speak up for yourself, think of yourself, defend yourself, promote yourself. That’s the way of selfish ambition, stingy hearts, inflated egos and self-centered thinking. 

We get to choose with every action and every word which way we will go, which path we will take. We can ask ourselves a telling question. Does it really matter? Or perhaps we should ask a different question of ourselves. What does really matter?

Let me tell you what really matters to me. 

It matters to me how I live my life and how I treat others because I have openly professed Christianity. That means I represent Christ. That’s a heavy matter indeed. 

It matters to me that my children are kept safe, all of my children. The safety I am concerned about is beyond physical safety. I want my children to guard their hearts and choose God’s ways over the ways of the world. I want them to refuse bitterness, jealously and revenge. 

It matters to me that I don’t give the enemy of our souls a foothold into my life or the lives of others. God forbid that I would ever be a stumbling block to a struggling soul. God forbid that I stamp my foot and insist on being right when there is so much more that matters. 

It matters to me that in a moment of haste or anger, I may miss an opportunity to show love. I may overlook a divine appointment while impulsively reacting to a perceived offense. 

What matters to me is people, relationships with people. People last forever. People matter to me because they matter to God. I will choose people over having my say, proving myself right or putting someone in their place every single time if God will give me strength. 

So, what matters to you? Answer yourself honestly and then consider the consequences. 

If what matters to you is proving your point, speaking your mind, having a pity party or plotting pay back, you may find yourself a miserable, lonely person surrounded by your grudges and complaints. 

If what matters to you is what matters to God, make sure you are willing to swallow your pride, let offenses go, give the benefit of the doubt and walk in forgiveness. That’s required of those who follow Christ. That’s required when choosing to love people. But, here is the good news. In the end, love wins. In the end, that’s  what really matters.  

 

Living and Loving Large

Here at our little homestead, love is in the air and I’m glad because in the end, love always wins. I say that a lot because I believe it a lot. 
Both of my oldest sons have declared their love and their intended in the short span of a few weeks. Jesse was the first to grow our family by giving us our first daughter-in-law and their special day in July was sweet, intimate, unpretentious and perfect. 
    

  

From their first date 3 1/2 years ago to their first month of marriage, it has been a journey of young love with a few detours and u-turns. In the end however, love always wins, it really does. 

  
This month Josiah has proposed to his intended and declared his love. Our family will be growing again as a result. We are in fact multiplying and increasing, not only in size but in love. This #xlfamily will continue to grow because of the miracle of love. 

  
  

One of the most intriguing parts of being a #momofmany has been observing and celebrating the unique personalities of each child. Each member of our family brings their own giftings, talents and strengths. They are different. They enjoy different things. They struggle with different things. They dream different dreams and have different goals. Sometimes there will be conflicts or head butting going on. I know all about this as I am a chief head butting champion.  
But, when I occasionally glance around me and am startled by the enormity of such a family or when I occasionally am caught off balance a bit with all the changes taking place, I remind myself of how I longed for these days. These very days, when my home and my heart and my life would be overrun by children and family and love. 
I’m living my dream. Albeit a sometimes chaotic, loud, hectic, dream that wears me out, it is my dream to live large and love large. I’m living my dream and I am glad. 
So, welcome to our newest Rodda, Lauren and welcome to the next Rodda-to-be, Mikayla . I pledge to love you as best as I can and celebrate your unique gifts and talents. I promise to do all I can to support your loving relationships with my sons. I promise to pray for you, cheer you own and celebrate your victories. 
I’m very new in this roll as a mother-in-law and in many ways I feel like I’ve slipped into brand new shoes that are yet a bit uncomfortable. I may need a little time to learn how to walk this new path, break in these new shoes and get used to this new dance, but I will. Then together, we will celebrate this splendid thing called love. Because, of course, in the end, love wins.