Patience with Impatience

Are you ever impatient? I’ve been known to be mighty impatient at times; impatient with myself, impatient with others, mighty impatient.

Part of it has to do with my intense personality. Part of it has to do with my extraordinarily busy schedule. But, the greater part is a matter of heart and attitude.

This morning The Lord spoke to my impatient heart and helped me adjust my attitude. I am undone before Him and rightly so. He has been so patient with me all of my life.

  • He has shown me the same truths over and over when I should have already learned that lesson.
  • He has given me countless fresh starts when I stubbornly insisted on my own way.
  • He forgives me when I ask.
  • He helps me face the consequences of my poor choices even when I ignored His warnings to consider the paths before me and choose wisely.

Oh, I love Him so.

Here’s the wonderful part. Once we have been made aware, we don’t have to stay in that impatient place. We can ask for help. We can pray.

My prayer today and for many days to come is that I will extend that long-suffering kindness and patience to those I love and come on contact with.

And remember,

  • You never know what a person is struggling with.
  • You once were just as young and impulsive.
  • Impatience leads to the wrong thing at the wrong time.
  • Patience is a virtue worth pursuing.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2 NIV)

You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. (James 5:8 NIV)

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:7 NIV)

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NIV)

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Resolutions

You may be surprised to know that this week, the very last week of ever year, right between Christmas and the New Year, is very important to me. I may even consider it my favorite week of the year.

It is the week that I contemplate the year almost gone and consider the year about to begin. It is the week that I make plans, create calendars and decide on my New Year’s Resolutions. It is the week I dream dreams, catch my breath and gather my courage

I know, I know, some folks think all that is pointless. But, as for me, it helps me to focus. It helps me to decide what really matters to me. It helps me prioritize. It turns my face in the right direction.

For a couple of years I’ve sorted my goals into categories. Those who enjoy a good spread sheet or a planning book will appreciate my method.

My categories this year are –

Spiritual Growth

Physical/Mental Health

Relationship Mending

Financial Stability

Writing/Author Projects

I don’t know about you but with life zipping by at the pace of a race horse, if I am hoping to just get around to things when I can, well, those things don’t stand a chance of getting done. I need a list. I need reminding. I need goals.

As a #momofmany, I do a lot of cooking for a crowd. I have had to learn to put a few things on the back burners of the stove while I concentrate on more pressing matters that need my focused attention. That’s kind of how my lists and plans and resolutions work for me.

One of my life-goals for instance is to visit Israel. That’s not going on the list for 2018. It’s just not going to happen. But it will one day, another day.

Y’all! It’s going to be 2018! And the truth is, we have no idea what it will hold. I can attest to being surprised by a number of people and events of 2017. So, I know we can’t be making these lists in concrete. We will have to be flexible. But, as I’ve heard it said many times, to fail to plan is a plan to fail. I believe that.

If you want to read your Bible every day this year, find a reading plan. Our church (Church of the Highlands) offers a online One Year plan. YouVersion has several to choose from. There are loads of options.

Do you want to save more money this year? Open a savings account. Want to get out of debt? Cut up some credit cards. Need to lose a few pounds? Schedule time at the gym. Hope to have a better marriage? Better health? Better job? Better future? Prioritize and bring those things to the front burners of your proverbial stove.

No matter how you choose to spend 2018, make it count. Every one of the 365 days, every one of the 8760 hours can matter. They can matter to you and to the people you love. They can even matter to total strangers as you invest in missions works or charities.

I’ve lived long enough to have learned a few things. The best things in life usually don’t just happen. We have to participate, on purpose and help make them happen.

Hope Renewed

Unless you have experienced infertility, miscarriage, and the struggle of feeling your own body has betrayed you, you can’t fully comprehend the impact it has upon you. It is demoralizing, discouraging and can leave you feeling hopeless. Oh the prayers I prayed.

Twenty-two years ago, a baby boy was born that would become the first answer to those prayers. He became my hope fulfilled. I found my courage anew.

The day he was placed in my arms as a 5lb premie was one of the happiest days of my life and always will be. Oh the joy he brought with his tiny little self!

Today he is a grown man, but he still makes my heart smile. He always will. His generous heart and joy-filled personality makes him a delight to be around.

Oh sure, there are new problems, new prayers. I suppose that’s the way of things. But Jesse will always be a reminder that God hears and answers prayers. He hears. He cares. And He can do something about it in ways we can’t begin to imagine.

Maybe you’re still waiting, still praying, still hoping. Take courage! Your day is coming! And believe me! It will be worth the wait!

Happy Birthday Jesse! You are treasured and loved! I prayed for you before I knew you and I still pray for you today.

ABCs of Adoption – part 2

Continuing my ABCs of Adoption in honor of November being National Adoption Month! Celebrate with me. 

Today is the day we go the Dream Center downtown and minister to those who are there for food and fellowship. It’s always a blessing, but today was even more so. 

One of our sons, Jeremiah, has a birthday coming up this weekend and one of the ways he wanted to celebrate was to give the message today in my stead. He worked so diligently and prayed and prepared all week. He normally does the music and worship with my two daughters. Today he was to do both the music and the message. 


His message was about the Good Samaritan, being one and finding one. He shared from his heart as well and referred to a number of scriptures. I could tell he was a bit nervous, but he was also so happy to have the honor of speaking to the precious Café family. 

To say he has come a long way in his young life, is hardly appropriate. He has conquered mountains. He recounted this true story from his childhood and I’d like to share it with you. 

Jeremiah had some learning differences and one of the biggest hurdles was reading. He just could not get the hang of it and it was years later that he was diagnosed as having dyslexia. 

We often had (and still have) family devotions. He could not read, but I was determined he would be included. So, he would hold his Bible and point to the words as I read and he repeated them. This went in for some time and one day I encouraged him to try and read a few words on his own. 

That was the day we made a discovery. Jeremiah could read the Bible before he could read other books. We were astounded and he was so proud to be able to do so. I can not explain it, but it is the truth. 

So what does this have to do with adoption? In his message today, Jeremiah said God puts people in our lives to help shape and form us. He said these people are Good Samaritans and they take action when they see a need. Then he pointed to me and said, my mom is a Good Samaritan, she never sat back and looked away from a person who needed help. 

That was such a beautiful thing for him to say, and it made me want to declare on the hill tops, that adoptive parents aren’t rescuing someone else’s children, they are discovering their very own children in a unique way. Jeremiah is such a blessing in our lives and I can not imagine our life if had not had the great honor of being his parents. Adoption made that possible. 

Entanglements 

This morning I have been doing a lot of thinking and my thoughts have led to the entanglements of life. For the most part, those entanglements involve people. People don’t come in the easy-care, wrinkle-free, stain-resistant department. People are difficult. Whether young or old, they require maintenance and time and energy and effort. I’ll tell you what else they require, they require a lot of patience and forgiveness. If you want an easy, stress free, drama-less life you’d do best to avoid people altogether. Of course you’d also miss out on the best of life while trying to sidestep demanding entanglements. You’d never have a big family fight but, you’d never experience the joy of reconciliation. You’d never lose sleep worrying about problems that are not your own but, you’d never know the great delight that comes in sharing the victories that are not your own.
The truth is, people disappoint us. They falter and stumble. This morning I was reading Romans 15 in The Message and several phrases really stood out to me.
“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out.” Romans 15:1-3
One dictionary defines entanglement as ‘to twist together or entwine into a confusing mass’. Nothing about that definition beckons unto us saying “come a little bit closer”. As a matter of fact, it pretty much shouts “AVOID AT ALL COSTS”. When Henry and I decided to become foster parents we were cautioned by many to reconsider. After all, the foster care system is one entangled mess. I often call it broken, but, truly entangled is a better description. It is one thing to take a child into your home, it is another to deal with family visits and siblings and relatives and therapies and social workers and court appearances. We were cautioned but, we pressed ahead and in our fifteen years of foster care we fostered forty-five children. A few were there short term, maybe a dozen, but there were many who were with us for years and seven of whom we adopted.
When we were training to be foster parents one of my concerns was how I would feel towards the birth parents. Would I be able to be civil to these people who obviously didn’t want their children and had harmed them in some way? And then, as is so often the case, experience taught me differently. I began to meet these real, struggling, faltering human beings and I was for the most part flooded with compassion.
I remember once that a birth father showed up at our door early on Christmas Morning, pounding until we opened it. He held gifts in his arms and shouted at us to let him see his son. We had to try to calm him while we explained that his son was no longer there. You see, he wasn’t supposed to know where his son was because he would not respect the boundaries of visitation. Social services had found out that he had figured out the child was with us and after over two years of building a relationship with us, he had been moved. I’ll never forget the look on that man’s face when he realized that his determination to break the rules and outsmart the system had resulted in another move for his son. It was an entanglement.
Another time on another early morning one summer, I went to let our pooch out to potty and saw a vehicle parked in our driveway. Inside the car was the mother of one of our teen girls who was with us for nearly four years. She just sat there and I just stood there wondering what to do. I was in my housecoat and had rollers in my hair. I hadn’t even had my coffee. I decided to step to the car and she rolled down the window. “Would you like to come in for coffee?’ I asked. She looked so defeated and sad sitting there that I could hardly stand it. She came in and I hastily went and woke our foster daughter. “Your mom is here,” I told her, “come on, let’s fix her breakfast.” We did and I’ll never forget her comment that she couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten. It was an entanglement.
Once, we had a child placed with us rather suddenly. The social workers knew we could be counted on in a crisis and this was a crisis. The child’s parents were in a heated divorce and each accusing the other of endangering the child hoping to prevent the other from having visitation rights. Tempers had flared in the courtroom until finally the judge ordered the child taken into custody until it could all be sorted out. This was a Friday and that meant a long weekend ahead. The child wasn’t your typical foster care child. This was all new to him and to say he was traumatized is not an adequate description. He was nine years old and I already had two other nine year old boys, as well as several other children. He cried and cried. He would only speak to ask me to take him to his grandparents. I explained that I couldn’t do that but, I could keep him safe until he could return to his family. Finally, I asked him to tell me about his family and then I did something I wasn’t allowed to do. I searched for their number in an old fashioned phone book until I figured out how to contact them. His grandparents wept openly as I explained who I was without giving them a name or address. I’ll never forget their gratitude of just hearing from me, a total stranger that he was safe and being cared for. They had been praying, feeling totally helpless and alarmed. It was an entanglement.
One of my son’s birth mother and I spent a lot of time together. She was young enough that she could have possibly been my daughter herself. I kept her other children many times that weren’t in foster care to help her when she’d find herself in trouble once again. When she got straightened out enough that the judge was willing to give her another chance, I thought I would absolutely die. We were losing our baby. I had invested in her and now my reward was that she would have her son while we lost our son. See how entangled it gets? But I’ll never forget the day, just three days later when she showed up at my door with him in her arms. She told me she couldn’t raise him and she knew I was supposed to. He became one of our forever children through adoption.
If you will, scroll back up and read that portion of scripture from Romans once more. If you find yourself in a position of strength then take the opportunity to lend a hand to those who falter around you. Are you strong financially, then take that as an opportunity for service, not status. If you are strong spiritually, reach out to those whose faith may be faltering. If it really isn’t convenient to get involved, welcome to the life of extravagant love and get involved anyway. Not sure exactly how you can help? Then, ask how you can help. Wade right in. After all, that’s what Jesus did for us and He is our perfect example of how to live this life, even with all the entanglements.

Every Opportunity 

What opportunities are before you today, this week, this month, this summer? Which will you take advantage of and which will you miss? 

I’ve been thinking a lot about opportunities lately. And here’s what I’ve decided. Opportunities abound. They’re often around every corner. The problem is, we are often lacking the motivation to walk around the corner to meet them. 


This weekend I took action and positioned myself in a place to hear about opportunities to do what I like to do, write. I heard tips, made connections and took notes. Now, what will I do with what I gathered at the Southern Christian Writers Conference? That’s the question. 

One of the themes of this conference which focuses on Christians who are writing or dreaming of doing so, is to consider the impact of our printed words on the people who read them. We were reminded that even if we aren’t writing about Jesus, our words should reflect Him. 


Here are some scriptures that I think reinforce that truth. 

“But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.”‭‭ Luke‬ ‭21:13‬ ‭NLT‬
“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”  ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.”  Colossians‬ ‭4:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians‬ ‭6:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The word opportunity may be defined by some as a ‘lucky chance’. I don’t agree. Of course as a Christian, I don’t believe in luck or coincidence. I believe in God-incidences. I believe He is ordering my steps. I believe he orchestrates the details of my life. 

With that in mind, I see clearly what I must do with the writing opportunities that were placed before me at the conference and the opportunities next week that will give me a chance to love, to forgive, to encourage, to grow spiritually. I will seize them, I will embrace them. I will make them my own. 

What about you? When opportunity comes knocking will you answer the door? Will you stand up and walk around that corner? Will you take the chance? Will you accept the challenge? Will you roll up your sleeves and do the work required?

Homeschool is Cool

You know, it is true. Homeschool is cool. Well, it is now. That hasn’t always been the case. I’m glad things have changed for the better. Folks hardly raise an eyebrow anymore when we tell them. 


Today is the first day of our 2016-2017 school year. I’ve now been homeschooling for more than 15years. Still, I’m no expert by any means. I’m continually learning and adjusting according to each child’s needs. That’s the thing about homeschooling, you really can be flexible. For this #momofmany that’s a great blessing. 

I’ve changed a lot as a momma-teacher over the years. There was a time when I’d work myself into a frazzle preparing for the first day of school, creating schedules that were beautiful but impossible. I was determined to ‘set the pace’ for the rest of the year on day one. This year, I’m determined instead to ‘set the tone’. 

So, our first day of school will begin with a brunch of pumpkin bagels with cream cheese and hot chocolate. Our biggest project of the day will be individual acrylic paintings on canvas of sunflowers. I even bought pizza rolls for a first day of school lunch (they love those things and I rarely buy them). 

At the end of the day, my goal is to hear them say they are looking forward to school again tomorrow. I want their brains to relax and learn naturally. I believe children are naturally curious and intrigued by the unknown. I firmly believe in delight-driven education. I’m not nearly as interested in the memorization of facts as I am the development of character. After all, learning should be a life-long affair.