Spring Forward

Sometimes you have to fall back before you can spring forward (cue laughing audience).

Lord Jesus,

You are so faithful! This has been a season of rich time with You. You are showing me things left and right, but I don’t feel shame because I know it’s for my good and because of Your love for me! Help me navigate this time of growing in You, caring for myself physically, emotionally and spiritually, caring for my husband and daughters, having boundaries with friends and family, learning to walk in continual forgiveness, growing in self-control, growing in trusting You, and more! It can definitely be overwhelming, but You keep reminding me to keep my eyes fixed on You, trust You and take one step at a time. When I misstep it’s an opportunity to learn and grow and put into practice what you are teaching me. Amen.

Below are several highlights of what God is teaching me. It’s a highlight of the healing work the Lord is doing in me at home. Remember my blog address is called “I’ve Got Too Much to Say.”

Mercy triumphs over judgment! I play this song over and over again, not only for myself but as I navigate relationships with others. I listen to the albums Starlight by Bethel Music, A Brave New World by Amanda Cook, Where His Light Was by Kristene DiMarco and Beautiful Surrender by Jonathan and Melissa Helser daily. I am thankful for music that speaks to my soul and also gives me words for my experience.

A dear friend asked me the week leading up to Easter if part of my struggle was because I felt guilty for living life now that our son is in a group home. Right away I answered that I have no guilt, that I lived through hell for five years and I am happy to be free. As the days went on I thought about what she said more and more. She was absolutely right. Subconsciously I was feeling guilty for truly enjoying my life right now as it is in this season. On Good Friday we had our own service at home. We read from the Bible, played a song and had a time of reflection. We talked about how Jesus died to set us free and that we each hold on to things, but that is not God’s will for us. We each wrote down things that were holding us back from freedom in Christ. Then we went outside and burned those papers. Easter Sunday is always a special day! This year I loved that Easter was on April 1st and the girls and I helped at church in the courtyard. I was able to see people I haven’t seen in a while. For many years I would sit by myself on Easter Sunday. This year the girls and I sat with our dear friends. It brought so much joy to my heart and I was grateful for the time together after all those years of sitting alone. There was one song that was incredibly powerful for me. Death was Arrested…at one point in the song we sing “our Savior displayed on a criminal’s cross, darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost.” The entire sanctuary went dark. Then slowly and building with power, the whole sanctuary rumbled and on the screen was a video of the stone being rolled away and light breaking through! All the lights came on and we sang, “Then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand, that’s when death was arrested and my life began!” I loved Jesus’ reminder of His sacrifice for me so that I don’t have to carry these burdens. My days are still challenging, but Easter Sunday was a breakthrough for me in Jesus’ name!

Let the guilt go and let the forgiveness flow! I am using this for myself and as I dig into my past so that I can move forward.

God showed me three big lies that I believed starting with abuse in childhood. Throughout my life, when challenges came, these lies were triggered and I believed them without even realizing it. I am in the process of renewing my mind with the truth.

Lies

  1. I am trapped and there is no way out.
  2. I am alone.
  3. My parents/God weren’t there for me, so I need to take control.

TRUTH

  1. GOD ALWAYS MAKES A WAY!
  2. JESUS IS WITH ME!
  3. I YIELD (SUBMIT, SURRENDER) MY SPIRIT TO THE HOLY SPIRIT!

FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT ARE IN CONTROL!

I have been reflecting on the different seasons in my life. As I thought about the middle school age years, God brought these verses to my mind. “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds, we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6) When memories from that time come, I say those verses over myself at that age. Jesus took on the abuse done to me as well as the sins I committed. The truth statement I am holding on to is – Jesus took on my iniquities and by His wounds I am healed.

Then there was high school. God gave me the following verses to say over myself as I think about that time in my life. Some memories have come up again, most likely because I have a child in high school now. I picture saying them over myself at those ages. I also am shooting down any memories with Jesus! He came to set me free, I have confessed and repented of that season, and He sees my sin no more!

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it. Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!” Isaiah 30:21-22 Then I declare that I will listen to the Lord’s instruction and obey Him.

My son (and daughter), do not forget My teaching, but keep My commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write the on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man (people). Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:1-6 I will trust the Lord!

These next verses bridge the high school to college season. They of course are truths for all of life, but these verses speak to me about those years in my life. Last week I walked/jogged through all of the student apartments that were open while I went to college. I prayed through each street and proclaimed Lord over all that entire area. It was a powerful time with God!

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. That is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper; rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:8-21 I once was darkness, but now I am light in the Lord Jesus Christ!

On one of the many sleepless nights recently, I remembered the words in the book, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we have to go through it. As my family and I heal, I have to go through the pain and the past with Jesus and that will sky rocket me forward. We won’t have to stay in the pain, but we have to work through the pain. It is not my responsibility to do this for anyone else, I am responsible for myself and walking through this journey regardless of what anyone else chooses.

Mostly in my journey as a parent, but for years I have cried out to God, “Help me! Send me help! I can’t do this! It’s too much!” God has been faithful to send friends and family to walk alongside us in every season and I am truly grateful. What God has shown me lately is that He did send someone who has been there all along – He sent myself to me! God is showing me that it is good to help others and receive help, but He has given me myself as well. First I receive everything I need from the Father and He has given me everything thing I need to carry out my life. I am finding that when I am not overscheduled, overcommitted, helping others before myself and my family, that I have the time and energy to care for what is in front of me. My main ministry is to my husband and children. My priorities had gotten out of order, I was living in survival mode and reacting to things happening daily in my life. Especially in the Christian world we are taught to help and love others, and that is absolutely biblical. But I had it out of order. Daily God is giving me opportunities to say no to commitments, in order to say yes to myself and my family. I know that I will be able to help others more in the future because God designed me that way. But for now He has made my world the Trinity, myself, my husband and my children. That doesn’t mean I shut people out, it just means that is my main focus. I am finding in the daily moments of being overwhelmed that I am reaching for the truths above and proclaiming them. They are reminders that God made me for this, He will give me what I need to get through the challenge. God has shown me that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the key to my healing and I hold the key!

Jesus is healing me physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually!

I am learning to care for myself whether people change or not.

Changing people is not my job – it’s God’s job and it also takes a willing person to change.

It’s a time of looking in the mirror instead of looking at everyone else. God will take care of everyone else. God is bringing all these things to the light so He can heal, restore and redeem! I’m looking at the man in the mirror…sing it MJ!

Dancing and laugher are excellent medicines for me!

My pace – I have been at burn out pace for years! It is time to slow the pace and keep it at a pace that I can maintain long term. Sometimes speeding up and sometimes slowing down, but I desire to keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

I am reading a book about boundaries and helping/caring too much. It’s a wonderful thing to care and help others, it becomes problematic when it becomes too much. I have found myself on a cycle where I give until I am completely depleted and then I need someone to care for me. I have less anger when I set and follow boundaries. I am learning, and by learning I mean a lot of stumbling, to care for myself.

I am working towards having rest in Jesus in the daily rhythm of life. Vacations are a bonus. I don’t want to live in a stressed state and then collapse on vacations.

Rest is internal. Anxiety, anger and panic are a lack of rest.

Just because I am good at something or gifted in an area does not mean this season those gifts will be used in the way I think.

I am working on giving input when asked and not just offering what I think. If I am not sure, I can ask if the person wants input or a listening ear. When I take a step back to reflect, wow I totally give advice left and right or try to fix the challenge without even realizing it! That is Jesus’ job, not mine!

My first reaction when I sin is shame, my second reaction is blame and I am working towards focusing on the third part – turning to Jesus to receive forgiveness and offer forgiveness. He helps me move forward.

I want to trade reacting to situations for taking right action or letting it go!

Let it go TO GOD! This helps me because just letting something go doesn’t necessarily help. When I let it (the situation, sin, person) to God, He shows me what to do or not do.

I have had tightness in my neck, shoulders, and upper back for as long as I can remember. God showed me this week that it’s from carrying shame, blaming others, my sin, and holding on to people/burdens that I need to give to God. As I am working through these things, those areas are less tense. As those areas tense up again, I am asking God if it’s physical or from shame, blame, my sin, holding on to people, burdens and/or things I need to give to God.

I have been enjoying times of confessing and repenting to Jesus. Yes, I wrote enjoy. It’s so hard to admit my sin, but once I do I love the closeness with Jesus. I am making confession a more continual part of my life. I don’t want distance between God and myself; God sent Jesus so I don’t have to!

These are the sins (anything I say, think or do that breaks the heart of God) that I am working through (and I will work through as long as I am on this earth)…

Fear (anger, anxiety, depression, pride, worry, fear of future, fear that God won’t take care of my family)

Judgment (condemnation, judging others, thinking I know what’s best for everyone, looking at other’s sins and not my own)

Controlling others (trying to fix the situation, helping people too much, people pleasing, passive/aggressive)

Unforgiveness (bitterness, resentment, revenge)

Envy (jealousy, comparison, ungrateful)

Negativity/Complaining

Disobedience (going my way instead of God’s way)

Idolatry (putting other people, things, or even myself about the place of God)

I have more but that’s a good start!

Through confession and repenting (turning the other way), I have identified what I am going to replace these sins with in the power of Jesus. I will be looking up verses for each of these areas.

Trust in Jesus

Mercy

Self-control

Forgiveness

Contentment, gratitude, rejoice for others

Praise

Obedience, Submit, Surrender to God

Worshipping the One True God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)

This is just the beginning of what God has been showing me lately. One aspect I love is that as God brings things to the light, I see it as a loving Father guiding me and not a list of things I need to change. I want to follow Him because He knows what is best for me!

I found a blog by Rick Warren about self-control. I have heard the word for years, but didn’t really understand what it meant. This is what he wrote about self- control…people with self-control master their moods (Proverbs 25:28). People with self-control watch their words (Proverbs 13:13). People with self-control restrain their reactions (Proverbs 19:11). People with self-control stick to their schedule (Ephesians 5:15-16). People with self-control manage their money (Proverbs 21:20). People with self-control maintain their health (1 Thessalonians 4:4). Self-control doesn’t develop in our own strength, that is fabulous news! (2 Timothy 1:7)

I am mended with gold! I will be doing a kintsugi (the Japanese art of taking broken pieces and restoring them with a lacquer that is mixed with gold, silver or platinum) project soon to symbolize all the broken parts of my story that are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. “The brokenness of our past is an integral part of our unique story and God’s gloriously redemptive beauty.” (Jimmy Larche)

I am not coming back to life as I have told people in the last few months, I am stepping into new life.

Lord Jesus, help me look upward, inward and forward.

I save verses to my phone daily. I usually read my Bible and a particular verse stick out from my reading so I save it to my phone. Below are a taste of the verses I have been clinging to. I will end with God’s Word. Everything begins and ends with Him!

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His striped we are healed. Isaiah 53:4

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. Psalm 16:11

He is not here, for He has risen as He said. Matthew 28:6a

The Spirit we received does not make us slaves again to fear; it makes us children of God. With that Spirit we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

See how much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are. 1 John 3:1

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. Psalm 94:19

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. Psalm 62:5

Today I choose joy!

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. For Your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life; in Your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. In Your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am Your servant. Psalm 143:8-12

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Jeremiah 31:25

You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27

From Jesus Calling…I am with you and for you. When you decide on a course of action that is in line with My will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you. You may encounter many obstacles as you move toward your goal, but don’t be discouraged – never give up! With My help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but do remember that I, your very-present Helper, am omnipotent. Much, much stress results from your wanting to make things happen before their times have come. One of the main ways I assert My sovereignty is in the timing of events. If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment. Instead of dashing headlong toward your goal, let Me set the pace. Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My presence.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

May the Lord of peace give you peace in every circumstance. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3

If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Psalm 46:1-3

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121

Psalm 19

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Healing Homes

I have decided to invite you into my journey. Below are journal entries from the last few months. I pray that you are encouraged, draw close to Jesus, and know that you are loved by Him! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

January 14, 2018

Dear Lord of heaven and earth,

Thank You for Your gentle nudges today in church. This has been a week filled with tremendously heavy emotion, tears, fear, and even my first anxiety attack. I thought it was time to write out my own psalm so that I could lay my thoughts before You and begin the journey of fully trusting You with this huge decision.

Monday night was difficult to say the least. My words did not come out the way I had hoped, but at the same time I spoke what I knew I needed to in my heart. The anxiety I felt was greater by not sharing than actually getting out what I needed to say. It was messy but I am so grateful for the godly husband You have given me. We had hard conversations, listened to each other and prayed. This is the biggest challenge of our marriage in that we have a huge decision to make and we do not have the same viewpoint.

For about a month I have had tightness in my chest. I was not sure what it was about. Then when I had time to breathe after Christmas, step back and evaluate, I started to have a pit in my stomach about needing to make this change in our family. My family watched our son for a week so the five of us could get a break. They would send pictures of our son with them and it literally made me sick to my stomach. It has been a process, but that was a big indicator for me how toxic things had gotten. The break from our son gave me a clearer picture of the toll parenting him has taken on me and the toll of trauma for everyone in our home.

I have been seeking You, Lord, and trying to push through for so long. What I realized is that it is not healthy for anyone to live this way, myself included. I feel like my body is shutting down from all the stress, and although I keep trying to push through, the weight of the trauma has come crashing down on me. It was not a rash decision but something I processed, prayed and thought about. What I see is that although my husband has a higher tolerance for stress, I do not think he even realizes the damaging effects the last 4 ½ years has had on him. It is healthy for the six of us to continue living this way. The trauma has overtaken our home. Our son is not doing well either, all six of us are drowning.

I think it is time to take a huge step back and allow for healing. All six of us need healing. When our son is not in our home, it becomes a place the five of us can heal together. Our son would have an opportunity to heal without the intimacies of family. He would have a break from his main trigger, me. He would be working with trained professionals and be able to focus on developing coping skills to help him work through his trauma. We definitely need family counseling and my husband and I will have to make some significant shifts in our parenting. I am not at a place where I can do that right now. One would think that I would be having a party to have our son leave after all that we have been through, but even though I am the main target of his behavior, this is extremely difficult for me. I wish I could take a deep breath and not be triggered by his behavior. I wish I could just keep pushing through in hopes that something would click with him and he would see I am for him, not against him. But what happens is he sees me as the enemy and I get drawn into the toxicity.

I know we will not “arrive” and be “all better” from a break, but we need to work through the trauma we have now experienced and develop better coping skills to live in the midst of trauma. The trauma has taken over our home. Our home was a beacon of God’s light and it has been overshadowed by darkness. It is time to be built up in Jesus and shine bright for Him again when faced with incredible trauma in our home.

My husband and I can begin the shift in our parenting now with the girls and then when our son transitions home, we can continue not completely depleted. My husband will need to take over the main parenting of our son, as well as keep him busy after school, so that time at home is limited.

I have noticed that my anxiety and the anxiety attack comes from a fear of our son coming back home in a week or two and our family continuing the way it has. It scares me because I will continue dying inside trying to function in daily life. I may already have long lasting effects from the stress, but I know that if I continue like this I will have even greater consequences.

This whole week I have felt that I need Your care, Your loving touch and although I have not felt apart from You, I have definitely not felt that. During worship You reminded me that my husband is Your provision for me. I need to do my part in sharing my experience, the effect the trauma has had on the five of us, and what I think we need to do. But after that I rest. I rest in the Your sovereignty that You have designed my husband to be the spiritual leader of our household. You have designed him with discernment in these types of situations. You reminded me that You are God – three in One, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. You are the only One who knows what is best in this situation. Now that I have laid my thoughts and feelings before You and have shared with my husband, it is time for me to trust in the Lord who spoke and the world came to be. I need to trust in the One who sent His one and only Son into this world, bringing heaven to me and providing a way for me to be in relationship with You, be forgiven, and live with You forever in heaven. I need to rest in Your Holy Spirit who shows me what to do and is interceding on my behalf. As much as I feel my body crying out that a group home is what is best for our family in this season, I present that and then leave it at Your feet. In two weeks time You completely orchestrated a puppy coming into our home and she is the perfect fit for our family. How much more You care for the six of us! You have knit us together as a family, You see each of our needs and You alone know what the next step needs to be for our family.

I may need to surrender 10,000 times a day, but I will continue to fill my mind with Your Word, praying for Your wisdom and discernment, and trust that if You care for the birds of the air, You will most definitely care for each person in our family. Lord Jesus, I do pray that my husband and I would be united in our decision and that You would speak to both of us so that we clearly know Your will. Would You cover us with Your peace and hide us in the feather of Your wings? We desperately need You! So I will rest in Your promises, that You know what You are doing, and that my job is to seek You and Your job is to orchestrate the next steps.

Not my will but Your will be done,

Your daughter who loves You so much and is even more loved by You

 

January 15, 2018

Dear Lord,

This grief comes in waves and at times overwhelms me. Then at other moments I am able to keep it somewhat together. Please help my husband see what I am going through so he does not feel left in the dark about what is going on. The grief is so great it is hard for me to put it into words. The trauma stored in me just comes out and I do not know when it will happen. I feel bad because this is a tremendous weight on my husband’s shoulders, but I cannot carry the burden anymore. Help him to be there for me, but then give You his burdens because it is not his weight to carry. Continue to draw us into Your arms together and individually. I need help! Not like I am going to harm myself help, but please help me work through this grief in a healthy way and heal me in the name of Jesus. Amen.

January 18, 2018

Dear Lord,

What a day! It was good to share with my parents some of my experience, but it also zapped me of strength. It took a long time to fall asleep but I was able to take a nap. Last night my parents arrived and I just sobbed in their arms, it was so healing for me. I am in such a fragile state. Thank You Lord for my parents coming to help me, as well as my husband advocating for me that I need to have as little stress as possible. I needed a day to just be in my pajamas. It ended up raining anyway. I was so disheartened to get the call from my husband about our son’s school situation. It made my head spin about what we are supposed to do now that our son is not enrolled in any school and the district attorney soon on our tail. I do not have any reserves to handle something like this, so please fill my husband with supernatural power to navigate through this. After reading A LOT of Scripture, listening to worship music, asking dear friends to pray, and reading the emotional wellness prayer book, I was able to rest easier. You are the King of Heaven and Earth and nothing is too hard for You. Maybe You will let me know soon or in heaven about today. Did you allow this to happen so that it would be even more obvious that You are working and I cannot lean on my son’s school, I need to lean on You and You alone. You spoke and the world came to be. I want Your will, Lord, even though I am scared of it. I am so wounded, I am afraid. I cannot handle one more tidal wave. But You are a God of mercy, grace and love. As much as I love my husband and my children, Your love is immeasurably more. I need to rest in that. I have done my part like I wrote a few days ago. Now I sit back and rest while You make mountains move and show off just a taste of Your power. You have won the victory, are winning the victory and will win the victory. Lord, You see what the enemy is doing. Make a fool of him and send him running away. Our family is a family of faith and we stand on the foundation of Jesus Christ! The storms are here, the rains are coming down and the floods rise up, but we stand in Jesus Christ – we will not be moved or shaken! Please refresh and speak directly to my husband. He has so many burdens. Give him the strength to ask for help. Help me see that You will never let him down. Thank You for the healing that has already taken place in the last week. As the song says that is playing right now – “You don’t give Your heart in pieces, You don’t hide Yourself to tease us.” If this is a season of me needing to seek You constantly then I will do that. That just means that I will grow even closer with You. I invite Your loving arms to wrap around me and carry me Jesus, I am at the end of myself. But it is ok because that is when You love to show Your incredible power! God the Father protecting us with Your hand of protection, Jesus standing firm with us, and Holy Spirit flowing around us and not only that, You reside in us too! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

March 5, 2018

Thank You precious Savior for saving me! I thought I was trapped in our way of life and there was no way out. Thank You for rescuing me and providing a way out and a way for healing! Now that I have begun the healing process and have space to breath, it is time I begin to share my story. The movie, Troubled Child, helped give a voice to my experience, but there are vast differences as well. My husband and I have been on the same team from the beginning and even though it was hard for him to understand what the girls and I experienced, he always believed and supported me. My isolation came from living a personal hell at home that other people did not see. Most of my friends supported me even though they never saw any troubling behaviors from my son. Part of the pain comes from being misunderstood by people close to me and people thinking they have the answer or my husband and I were the ones that needed to change. It is hard for me to let that go, but I also know that Jesus knows better than I do what it was like to be misunderstood. I try to lean on Him during those times. In no way, shape, or form do my husband and I think that we did everything right or have it all together, we are well aware that we made tremendous mistakes. We also know that we did the best we could with the situation we were in and we did not fail. God provided this next step for our family, so that we could all receive the healing we so desperately need.

As I share about my experience I am well aware that there are five other experiences from my family over the last five years. We all come from a different perspective and have processed it differently. I do hope that each of us will have an opportunity to share our experiences with each other so that we can understand each other and move forward. Please know that when I share my experiences, I understand that our son came from a place of severe abuse and neglect, if he could behave differently he would. Even in this short time of healing, I have been able to separate the trauma and what was done to our family from our son. It is the trauma and the enemy that I hate, not my son. In order for me to move forward I need to share my experience and the impact that parenting our son had on me. I was the main target of his behaviors for almost five years. The girls were with me for most of those times, so they were his secondary targets and the impact on them was tremendous as well. I have shared some specific incidents with those close to me, but this is not the space for that. What I will share is that my son was abused severely with the most consistent and severe being emotional and psychological. With the cycle of abuse, our son then abused the girls and I emotionally and psychologically. It left me doubting myself, believing lies and questioning my sanity. I suffered severe depression, which left me unable to get out of bed many mornings. For a season I would sleep most of the day and get up in time to pick up my children from school, manage to get dinner on the table, and head back to bed. I never was tempted to harm myself, but I knew if I didn’t get help, I would have checked out by my next birthday. My children would grow up with a mom physically present, but emotionally and mentally checked out. I was able to share with my doctor and received medication that helped me. I was able to get out of bed and function better in day-to-day life. The relief only lasted for a season because the challenges kept coming at tidal wave speeds. My body is human and can only handle so much stress. I have experienced on going severe anxiety and lived in a constant state of hyper vigilance. In the last few years I have broken out in hives periodically without knowing when it will happen, had tingling in my hands and feet for months, been unable to sleep, had a racing heart, had on going tightness in my chest, experienced my first panic attack, experienced anxiety manifesting in my gut, experienced ongoing strain in my shoulders and neck, and these are just the symptoms that come to mind at the moment.

Two months ago God gave me clarity and I knew that something had to change. I did the hardest thing of my life, and told my husband that our son could not live in our home any longer. It was toxic, abusive, and I could not live in the way we were any longer. I feared about the long term effects on our daughters. I also knew that this way of living was not healthy for our son and that he needed more help than we could give in our home with the resources available. And believe me, we used resources! In a very short time, God orchestrated our son getting the help he needed, while also making a way for the five of us to be at our home and heal as well. Our son is now living in a therapeutic group home where he will live for approximately 12-18 months, then he will transition back home with us. The five of us will be on our own healing journey at home, while our son is on his healing journey in his new home.

Once I shared with my husband that I could not possibly go on any longer, my body started shutting down. I could not do anything and was not even able to pick up my children from school. I would sob and sob from such a deep place that sounds would come out. In those moments it was a mix of sheer relief that I was free and able to live life again, as well as deep pain for what my family and I have experienced.

So what do I do when the pain comes and I cannot control it? I do what I know. I made a playlist of healing songs that God uses to minister to me. When the darkness comes I read God’s Word until it passes. I sleep a lot and am saying no to any commitments. I am beginning to share with people close to me my experience and not keeping it to myself any longer. God used a friend to share with me about a mileage club for 2018. I have been logging miles that I walk or run to meet my goal. The club has been a lifesaver for me and exercise has been a way to work through PTSD. I am in a study with dear friends about living a healthy life physically, emotionally and spiritually. I share with them my experiences and what God is showing me, even though it is hard. I realized that because of sexual abuse I experienced as a child, I developed a mind set that started in childhood. I needed to take care of myself because others did not protect me. So even in my marriage, I shared my heart with husband, but I did not share to the extent that I was suffering. I am learning to share with him not just my experiences, but how deeply they have affected me. I am continuing to see a counselor who I have seen on and off the entire time we have had our son in our home. God is showing me lies that I have believed about Him and about myself, and I am in the process of replacing them with the truth of God’s Word. I am learning how to be gentle with myself and on the days I can only do the very basics to allow myself that freedom.

What do I need? I need a lot. I need hugs, love and compassion. I do not need pity. I share my story to help with my healing process, but also to let others know they are not alone in their struggles. Our family does not need a bunch of questions about our son’s new home or the abuse he endured. Our daughters need their privacy respected. Our family does not need to know what worked for your aunt’s cousin and that you know exactly what it is like for us because you know your aunt. If the Lord prompts you to help us we love prayers, meals, gift cards, house cleaning, time spent with you connecting again (we lived in isolation for so long that all our relationships had to be put on the back burner), cards in the mail, pedicures, homemade biscotti in the mail (this happened just this week), etc. I list those things also as a HUGE shout out for everyone who has poured their love upon us and helped us in these ways and more! Please do not feel any obligation to do something for our family either. What I do ask is that you love on a family near you (in my eyes a family ranges from one person to countless people). There are families everywhere feeling isolated and that no one understands. We do not have to understand someone else’s pain to help, we can be present and offer what gifts we have. Given the experiences we have had, we believe that not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone is called to do something. You can provide respite for a weary family and watch their children, commit to praying consistently for a specific family, bless them with cash, gift cards, gift baskets or any tangible way to show that you are on their side.

As we step forward in this healing season for our family, we appreciate your prayers. We are grateful for each one of you who have walked with us and held us up on this journey. Many of you have come along on some part of this journey or are joining our village now. Please know that we have deep gratitude for each one of you and your love has helped us go on and helps us go on.

My Current Resource List

Films

Troubled Child (available on Lifetime and Youtube)

ReMoved and Remember My Story – ReMoved Part 2 (available on Youtube)

Books

Prayers for Emotional Wholeness 365 Prayers for Living in Freedom by Stormie O’Martian

Healthy and Free: A Journey to Wellness For Your Body, Soul and Spirit (Book and Study Guide) by Beni Johnson

Healing Playlist

Here Comes the Sun – the Beatles

Light of a Clear Blue Morning – The Wailin’ Jennys

Out of Hiding – Stephanie Gretzinger

O Come to the Altar – Monterey Music & Jedidiah Horca

You’re Gonna Be OK – Jenn Johnson

We Dance (LIVE) Bethel Music & Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger

Wildflowers – The Wailin’ Jennys

Rise Up – Andra Day

Old for New – Monterey Music & Jedidiah Horca

September – Earth, Wind, & Fire

Touch the Sky – Hillsong United

Hosanna (Praise is Rising) – Paul Baloche

These are Days – 10,000 Maniacs

Flowers In Your Hair – The Lumineers

Reckless Love – Monterey Music & Jedidiah Horca

So Will I (100 Billion X) – Hillsong United

King of My Heart – Monterey Music & Jedidiah Horca

When We Pray – Tauren Wells

Halls of Heaven – Monterey Music & Jedidiah Horca

Testify – Need to Breathe

In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel

Mexico – James Taylor

Hills and Valleys – Tauren Wells

King of the World – Natalie Grant

O Come to the Altar – Elevation Worship

No Longer Slaves (Radio Version) – Bethel Music

Love Won’t Let Me Down – Monterey Music & Jedidiah Horca

Revelation Song (Live) – Kari Jobe

Tremble – Mosaic MSC

Control – Tenth Avenue North

Oh How I Need You – All Sons & Daughters

Joy and Pain – Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock

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The Big 4-0!

I had the joy of turning 40 this summer! Below is what I said to friends and family that gathered to celebrate with me! I think some of the evite emails went into spam or people didn’t see them, so just know if you are reading this most likely you were invited! That’s ok, I will just have to have another party soon…I just love dressing up in 80s workout gear.

I am about to burst with love so bear with me as I try to say what is on my heart! I had to write it down because I always forget what I want to say in front of a group. I thought in honor of turning 40, I would share my top 40 childhood memories! JUST KIDDING! We need to get to dancing!

There aren’t words to express my gratitude for all of you here tonight and the impact that you have had and continue to have on my life. I know it may seem like all of Monterey County was on the evite list, but I very specifically invited people that are “my people” “our village.” Some of you have been a part of our village from the beginning, some joined in many years ago, and some are new to our village. I speak on behalf of my family when I say that your love and support has carried us through!

Instead of 40 memories I decided to highlight 4 areas that have impacted me as I head into my 40s.

Family – In my 30s our family grew from a family of 4 to a family of 6. All of you also are our family and we treasure you! The most important family that I am a part of is God’s family, and He has carried me through the hardest 4 years of my life. He has also used each of you to encourage us as we walk through this life. Thank you for holding us up, investing in our lives, crying and laughing with us, and giving us that help we needed to survive the hardest days.

Fear – In the last 4 years many of my deepest fears came true and our lives were turned upside down. My husband and I felt like we were in the ocean gasping for air, with one tidal wave after another. I have felt severe anxiety and depression struggling to even get out of bed, I have questioned everything about God, I have felt pain that is so deep I still haven’t found words for (and I always have words), and I have felt loss that was like a death. Three years ago, I went through what was the last straw for me. And even though I believe in God, I wasn’t sure I was going to follow Him anymore. I felt betrayed my Him. So I wrestled and wrestled and worked through what my decision was going to be. I needed to be in or out. The absolutely crazy thing is that through this I decided I was in! That I couldn’t live without my relationship with Jesus, He sent people to encourage and pray for me, and He showed me that He mourned with me. Even through this season in our family, we have grown closer with God, have seen Him work in miraculous ways and work through the darkest situations. So as I embrace my 40s, I enter with a deeper trust in God and the assurance that He is for me and not against me.

Forgiveness – As we have journeyed through heavy challenges, I realized two things were plaguing me. Unforgiveness and bitterness. It’s hard to go through what we have and not ingest those two poisons. But what I have found is that I can’t hold on to unforgiveness and bitterness any longer – the burden is too heavy and it turns me into someone I don’t want to be. I decided that I would enter my 40s living in forgiveness and weeding out bitterness as it pops up. I know it will be messy but it’s worth it. Feel free to challenge, encourage, pray and ask how I am doing with my 40s challenge.

Fun – Last and certainly not least is FUN! Fun! Life can be so hard and the day to day challenges take over, and before I know it fun disappears! I couldn’t sleep one night and had a crazy idea to have a prom themed party. Playlist ideas were flowing out of me! I was so excited but also incredibly nervous about having such a huge party. God kept encouraging me along the way to just do it. Once the evite went out I freaked out. I opened my Bible one day and saw, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Psalm 100:1.” Jesus loved parties and so do I! Plus I wanted to be able to spend an evening with my favorite people where we shut out the world for the night, dress up, have a blast and dance the night away! So my challenge for you is to throw at least one party this year – big or small, theme or no theme, elaborate or simple. Throw a party and celebrate God’s goodness, celebrate your favorite people, celebrate something great that has happened! And please invite me, I want to come!

We get one life, let’s live it well!

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Mother’s Day Reflections

This evening we went to a concert for my daughter who learned how to play the guitar this year. I took the usual picture in the front yard before leaving and my oldest daughter was right beside me getting her own picture. As I looked at the picture, God’s grace immediately came to mind. How is it that I have four incredible children?! It is mind blowing! I don’t deserve them at all, but because of God’s love and grace He has entrusted them to me. God trusts me (and my husband and partner for life of course) enough to raise these children and hopefully draw them close to Him.

I often look at my children and my life in amazement. I have had (like everyone) many struggles in my life. As I child I endured sexual abuse and didn’t share with anyone until my early 20s when I was totally self-destructing. Sometimes I think back to things I have done and said and I cringe. I am tremendously thankful for a God who never left me for one second! Finally when I came to Him and asked if I could come home to Him forever and walk in a daily relationship with Him, He said yes! God said that’s why I sent my Son Jesus to earth so He could live and die for you. Your sins are washed clean and you get to be in relationship with me on earth and get to be with Me in heaven for eternity! I will always be in the process of being transformed until I go to heaven but how amazing is His love to do that for me, and not just me, but every single person who will come to Him. There were so many things that the enemy did to try and destroy me, but it didn’t work and it still won’t work. God has brought me through each hardship whether it was brought on by someone else, my own doing, His divine wisdom, or part of living on this earth. Not only will He bring us through anything we face, He will take it and redeem it for His good. So here I sit the week of Mother’s Day in awe of the privilege I have to be a wife to my husband and a mother to my children.

My oldest daughter is almost 12…which seems impossible. But when I look at her I see it. She is maturing, finding her own way, developing her own faith and growing in so many ways. My sweet introvert being raised by an extrovert mom. Thank God for her dad and friends who are introverts that have taught me about understanding her better. There are still many times when someone she knows very well will say “hi” to her and she will respond “hello” so quietly you can’t hear it. It seems like she just ignored the person, but she hasn’t. Well that same girl a few weeks ago went in front of hundreds of people, with four other girls in her class, and presented about an earthquake proof building they had made as a class project. This class project was over three months and culminated at the Tech Museum with hundreds of groups presenting their projects. She was interviewed with her group and even did a chant with her group in front of hundreds where they could be seen on a huge screen. This same daughter looks forward to youth group meeting at our house each week where middle schoolers come, play, eat a bunch of food, and learn about growing closer with Jesus. She is thoughtful, nurturing, gracious and this girl is a saver! When she gets birthday or Christmas money, she saves it. Last weekend I took the children shopping for replacement clothes because they are growing and had worn through some of their clothes. We came home with an arm full of stuff. I shared with the girls how we have the money to pay for it all, but that it was costly. She tried to give me a huge chunk of her money to pay for the clothes. I refused and she held her ground. We finally decided on a compromise and she gave me a certain amount for the clothes. Talk about learning from my children daily!

My second daughter just turned 10, a decade, a tween, wow! My husband and I took her on her birthday date and we enjoyed a lovely dinner where they make the food on the grill tableside. We ate there for her 9th birthday and she loved it so much she wanted to go back. We talked about how big of a deal turning 10 was and she decided we need to come back in another 10 years to celebrate her 20th birthday together. My daughter loves people! She loves to bring peace between people and she works incredibly hard in whatever she does. She also hurts because of her sensitive heart. She is in a class at church and last week shared 10 Bible verses with her leader. It’s not about the memorizing, it’s about storing God’s Word in her heart. I love that she asked to be in this class, knowing that it would be a challenge with the other activities she is involved in. My husband and I also had the joy of a hosting a birthday sleepover for our daughter. We got to see girls squealing, playing and enjoying each other’s company. It wasn’t as cute at midnight and again at 6am, but it was a joy to serve her in this way. After last week’s shopping trip she also stated she would like to pay for all of her clothes. I let her know that these weren’t frivolous purchases so her dad and I were happy to pay for them. She insistently gave us the same amount as her sister for the clothes. I am excited to see what God has in store for her in these next 10 years.

And my son, oh my son. As many of you know we brought our son home at the age of five. It has been an extremely difficult transition, my longest labor of two years and counting. As I reflect on my son and our relationship, it’s different. In these last two years I have seen ugliness come out of me that I didn’t even know I possessed. I have been extremely depressed and trying to make it through each day. But God is building me up again, restoring me. God has many purposes for our son to be in our family and not another, one of them being a tool to grow me. God wants to take my ugliness that has come out and make it beautiful. He wants to bring new life from the death (figuratively with our son having the death of his first family and our death of being a family of five) we have all experienced. But we have to give it to Him and not hold on to it. When I hold onto it I become bitter, resentful, and angry. It’s totally understandable for our son to fight us constantly and not trust us. His first family let him down BIG time. They didn’t keep him safe, take care of him, and provide him a childhood. Even though he wasn’t happy, they were all he had. When he was taken from that home, it was a death. He didn’t want to leave; he wanted them to get better. Although my husband and I have been parents to our son for a little over two years, we are still getting to know each other. Every day is a struggle. When I step back I can see growth. Our son is healthy and active; he wasn’t even able to run when we met him. Although he drives his teachers crazy, he is on grade level at school. He had never been to school consistently until he joined our family. He looks like a different person and has a smile that lights up a room. Although emotionally there is a huge amount of healing that needs to take place, physically you see he is well. He is safe, he is taken care of, and he has experienced things he never has before. He is playing baseball for the second year. He finished a homework assignment last week where he needed to write a letter to a hero. He picked his oldest sister. He wrote about how she loves him even when he has tantrums all the time. He wrote about how she is beautiful and stays calm. The biggest lesson I am learning with my son in unconditional love. With his sisters, they are pouring into my love tank daily with little spills out here and there. My son empties my love tank daily and will put in an occasional drop. But it’s not about what he gives me. I am called to love him NO MATTER WHAT. This has been a hard and painful ongoing lesson for me! I struggle with it everyday. We are in a huge spiritual battle for our son’s soul! When I don’t show him love because of something he has done I am sending him right into the enemy’s arms. OUCH! Right now how my husband and I treat our son, is how he sees Jesus. He doesn’t have a relationship with Him yet, so we are his example. I have shown him a very distorted picture of Jesus many times and have misrepresented my God. But the beauty is God gives fresh start after fresh start for all of us. As we are head into our “thirds” with our son, third Easter, third Mother’s Day, etc., I desire to be different. I desire to show my son a more consistent view of who God is: His unfailing love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Of course discipline is involved in parenting any child, but it should come through the filter of God’s love. I am just as much a work in progress as my son, and maybe we have a lot more in common than I think.

We call our youngest daughter, “the diva who doesn’t get away with stuff.” This girl is larger than life. She prances around and entertains us daily. This week she is all about wearing her Snow White red cape everywhere, including to bed. She has been a huge light in our lives, especially as we struggled with the heavy and dark transition these last two years. Even last month we faced a huge and painful tribulation. Once the storm had passed the children and I were in the kitchen making resurrection rolls (yumm-o) we didn’t have time to make before Easter. She skips in singing a song she made up about our very difficult situation. The older children and I looked at each other and laughed hysterically. We needed that laugh desperately. My daughter also doesn’t have a memory with her brother. They can be fighting the day before and she wakes up ready to start a new day, slate wiped clean. She is his ally. She also has a unique relationship with her sisters because they are 4 ½ and 6 years older. In many ways she is their baby too. And don’t let me get started on birthdays for this girl. She talked about her ½ birthday and what she wanted to do starting the day after her last birthday. Once her ½ birthday was over, she talks about what she wants to do on her next birthday. This year she is in transitional kindergarten and is at a different school than her brother and sisters. I think she has really enjoyed being on her own and at this school she is just herself, not someone’s sister or brother. She is one of six blonde children in the whole school. The other day I picked her up school (I was late and her teacher was cheerfully and graciously waiting with her) and she greeted me with “I want to dye my hair brown.” Her teacher, the other teachers around us, and myself busted up laughing. When she grows up she said she wants to design clothes and I believe it!

As I reflect on Mother’s Day I can’t help but think of my husband. He had a role in me becoming a mother ;). My husband and I are completely in love with each other, are best friends, and teammates. We have grown and matured so much in these last 11 years of being parents. We have had countless proud moments and countless frustrating moments. We have been stretched and challenged beyond our capacity. As we parent four children there is not much time for us. My husband works his tail off (well he never had a tail so how about he works his hair off), walks in the door and immediately is helping children with homework, helping with dinner, making lunches, and/or fixing something that we saved to be fixed until daddy got home. He is my hero! I am inspired daily by him and everyday is an absolute joy to be married to him. We surely don’t have it all together, but we work through that together. I had an awful migraine today and had to leave my daughter’s concert early to get to bed. After a very long day, he came home, helped children with homework, cleaned up, and finished work from home. I came out crying because my head hurt terribly. He held me, prayed for me and made me coffee (it usually does the trick with these awful migraines). He continues to give even when he is exhausted. Having Jesus at the center of our marriage is the reason we are where we are today. Secondly, we both bust our butts everyday! There is no one else I would want to bust my butt for that’s for sure!

Thank you Jesus for giving me the gift of being a mother four times. Thank you for growing, challenging, helping, and loving me through it all. Thank you for teaching me continuously to step back and soak in these moments, treasuring them in my heart. May my prayers be answered for my children that they will love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. May the way I mother my children, point them to You. Guard my mouth when I want to complain, yell, and/or snap at my children. Help me to continuously seek Your forgiveness and leave a legacy of faith to my children. Amen!

I would like to end with a word for anyone who is reading this and is not a mother. You have such an incredibly important role in this world. God has a specific calling on each person’s life that is unique. But He also has a call for you to have spiritual children. My children and other children around you need you! We need you to encourage, support, and pour into our children. There is something so profound and special about spending time with children who may be in your family or children of your friends. Your impact will not only make a difference in the here and now, but for eternity. Whether that means volunteering in children’s ministry, foster parenting or adopting a child, supporting a family that has fostered or adopted children, loving on the children in your neighborhood and/or church, whatever it is – it will make a tremendous impact on the lives of the children you invest in and their families!

Happy Mother’s Day! I am grateful for my mom, who gave me life, and has continuously poured love into me. I am grateful for the daily gifts of being a mom! Now if I could only have a housekeeper and a chef ;)!

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Deep thoughts in the aftermath of a migraine…

Today was a migraine day. I could tell it was coming all morning. After work it kicked in full force. I managed to get errands done, pick up kids from school, get everyone ready for my daughter’s orchestra concert and get to church for rehearsal. I did the best I could with it: used essential oils, drank a lot of water, went to the chiropractor, even tried ginger ale after not having sugar for over 3 weeks, but the migraine continued. I left the concert early, came home and went to bed. I couldn’t sleep because the pain was so intense. I am used to this…every migraine I daydream about being in labor because that would be easier than a migraine. Then I pray for a friend who my husband has known since he was a kid. She has had severe migraines and problems with her brain that make my migraines seem like a joke. I always pray for her that God will heal her, sustain her and draw her close to Himself. This migraine was ugly. I tend to think of Job when I have migraines and all that he went through. I said “Jesus” out loud several times. I finally came out the bedroom, crying because I was in so much pain. I needed my hubby. He hugged me, prayed for me, and made me coffee. It was already 10pm, but when nothing else works coffee does the trick for my migraines. Hence the reason I am writing this blog at 1:30am. The coffee worked but now I am awake ;).

When I crawled back to bed after the coffee with my head pounding. I decided to do my exercising/labor breathing. I held one hand under my head pushing on it from below and one hand pushing on my head from above. Breathe in through my nose, out through my mouth. I did that for an hour straight. Thoughts kept flooding my mind. Things I have wanted to write about for months but never had the chance. Praying for people that popped in my mind. About an hour later I felt better. So here I am listening to the bunnies rustle around, I think they want me to give them more food. I figured this time since so many thought are flooding my brain I will number them…

  1. Thursday nights – When my two oldest daughters were younger I used to call Thursday nights “The Wrath of Awana.” Awana is a wonderful program offered at our church on Wednesday nights. We are blessed that all of our children have been a part of Awana. But a late Wednesday night means tired children on Thursday. Thursday nights meant my husband was gone leading youth group as a youth pastor. Well years have passed and he is still a pastor at our church but he only works one Thursday a month. In September I was in a dark place. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I did my very best to pick up kids from school and get dinner on the table. Right around that time my dear friend/sister/mother (she means the world to me) told my husband she really wanted me to join her Thursday night Bible study. I listened. I read through the book and got myself caught up. My heart was very hard at the time, and for the first time in my walk as a Christian, I wasn’t sure I was going to keep following Jesus. Something happened that hurt me so deeply I was questioning God big time. Well I showed up to that Bible study. I shared generally about the challenges I faced and then shared how I wasn’t sure I could keep following God. And you know what they did? I will tell you what these precious women didn’t do. They did gasp because a pastor’s wife, preschool teacher, and mom said she doubted God. They didn’t tell me to pray harder and things would get better. This is what they did…they surrounded me and prayed for me. They supported me week after week and allowed me to share honestly. They have encouraged, challenged, and stretched me. These women have become my family. I have grown closer with Jesus than ever before. I think the enemy thought he had me on this one, and God turned it around and used my hardship to strengthen my faith when I was thinking about giving up on Him. I love Thursday nights! It’s usually a big challenge to get there but it’s right where I want to be. I soak up every word from God and from these women. I love sharing our hearts and knowing that it’s a safe place to share. I obviously won’t share details but every single one of us are facing huge trials, challenges and tribulations right now, HUGE. But this time instead of thinking about walking out on God, I am excitedly waiting to see what incomprehensible things He has up His sleeve. Our group is powerful! Not because we are powerful, but because a powerful God lives in us through His Holy Spirit and nothing is impossible with God! I am excited because I know God is going to take all our pain and hardship and multiply it for good! He will take every situation we are facing and use it for His glory! He is going to strengthen us and God is stronger than anything we face! I love my dear Thursday night sisters!
  2. Spotlight – Some times I think about wanting to be in the spotlight. I am very happy where I am but it can get mundane. Get up, get ready, do dishes, laundry, work, taxi kids around, make dinner, plop in bed, repeat. I don’t want to be famous for famous sake, I want to make a difference. I want to share my pain and joys and use it to encourage people to grow closer to Jesus. I want to share where God has brought me (and is bringing me) and that He adores each one of us. My job is more background work right now. I am a mom to four precious children, wife to an incredible godly man, a preschool teacher, sister, aunt, friend and recently a godmother. When I was lying in bed tonight I was reminded that there is a huge spotlight on me! My children are always watching, my preschool students are watching, my family and friends are watching and people in the community are watching. I have a unique opportunity to shine for Jesus right where I am. This is a tremendous responsibility and privilege. Today I had to say farewell to one of my students who is moving. She is a sweet girl and I gave her lots of hugs today. I was reminded of why I do what I do. I have an opportunity to be many children’s first teacher. I want to impress on them that Jesus loves them and so do I. When I picked up my daughter from school, I let her teacher know that I appreciate her everyday. I realized it was Teacher Appreciation Day this morning and didn’t have anything ready for my children’s teachers. I prayed for them on our way to school as I do many mornings. Do you know what my daughter’s teacher said? She didn’t say, “Where is my gift, I work so hard every day and a little something would be nice.” She said, “Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your prayers.” She knows that I pray for her almost every day. I am not writing these things for a pat on the back, it is truly for God’s glory. I am writing this because God has countless moments each day for me to share His love. My spotlight might not be on a stage (which is a good thing because those lights are bright and I would just be squinting the whole time) but it follows me wherever I go. I want to shine bright for Jesus and lead people to Him. I can do that most importantly before I step out of my home. It starts in my home! I’ve got a job to do!
  3. Roots – A few weeks ago on Thursday night at Bible study we were talking about our roots. We are like trees and our roots are growing stronger and deeper in Jesus. I was reflecting on how my roots have grown incredibly stronger and deeper as I have grown in my relationship with Jesus. I have also realized that the enemy does not like that. So he is pulling harder and harder to rip out my roots. But it won’t work because I have Jesus in me and He is strength and stronger than any thing or person I will face. So as my faith and roots grown stronger in the Lord the pulls to doubt God, complain, turn the other way will grow stronger. I love the ending though…God wins!
  4. Timehop – I love this app! It shows pictures and statuses I have posted on Facebook 1, 2, 3 years ago. I laugh at myself because there are some reoccurring themes. One is writing Bible verses that have meant a lot to me, another is bad headaches, and of course wanting more sleep. I think that’s hilarious because I usually write my blogs in the middle of the night. I will wake up or stay up late and the words just come. Tonight writing came after a bad migraine and after not being able to sleep. This migraine hit me hard, the kind where I am wondering if I will make it. I was lying there thinking this is like death. God is using this theme of death and new life a lot with me right now. This might sound silly but as I was lying there all these thoughts about how God is working and how much He is doing came to my mind. I wanted to get up and write them out but thought I should sleep. Then I realized God is bringing new life from death (my migraine). If I draw closer to God because of this painful migraine then it was worth it. That is growth for me! I am one that wants everything to go smoothly and my way! But that’s not how life works and I tend to not grow as much when things are easy. I am beginning to face huge challenges better because of God working in me. Instead of asking why God? Why me? I am thinking the harder the trial, the greater God will move. It’s scary and exhilarating at the same time! These last two years many of my deepest fears came to be. But you know what I am still here and I am stronger than I was two years ago in Jesus. No matter what I face I know I am not alone. But it’s also scary to think of what is to come considering I have been through so much in the last few years. Silly people that say being a Christian is boring or a bunch of rules…if you want adventure and the ride of your life jump on the Jesus train!
  5. Be on guard – there is an essential oil called “On Guard” and I love the smell. I am seeing the need to be on guard more than ever these days. There is a big difference from living on guard and living in fear. Our family is growing closer with Jesus and as a result, we are targets for the enemy. We are protected because of our Lord, but that doesn’t mean challenges and temptations aren’t continuously coming our way. I am seeing the need to be on guard at all times, not giving the enemy room to throw darts or let those darts get to me. One huge way is with my son. He pretty much is in opposition to anything I say about 95% of the time. I wrote in the Mother’s Day blog that when I snap back at him or take his bait, I am running him into the enemy’s arms. YUCK! Tonight as I was in bed I thought about our afternoon. It was usual…he hops in the car, got in trouble at school, starts bugging everyone, and refuses to do homework. Same record on repeat everyday. Some days I handle it better than others, but today I was sick and tired of being talked to rudely and disrespectfully. Also who can forget the migraine thing. So we get to church for the concert rehearsal and he going and going with the attitude. I decided that he is going to write 50 sentences, something like, “It will never be acceptable to talk to my mom in a rude and disrespectful way. I need to listen and obey my mom.” Well 50 turned into 70 turned into 100 turned into 115 with his shoes kicked off and a tantrum from the café to upstairs. Bleh! He ended up recovering and coming in for the concert calmly. We both left early because of my migraine and I was ready for him to be in bed. I am actually writing this whole story for a reason, stick with me. It is 2 am remember. Back to the migraine – while I was dreaming of labor instead of having a migraine, a vision came to me. Not some fancy, heavenly vision. A real life situation being played out. I went in his room after school and had him write “115” over the sentences that he had already written. Then I rip up the papers in front of him and tell him that is God’s grace. He doesn’t deserve it but I am giving him a gift. But I am not doing it because he acted appropriately, I am doing it to show him that God loves him and I love him. When we put our faith in Jesus, we take our sin, our ugliness, and give it to Jesus. He will take it, wash us clean, and make something beautiful out of it. We are both kneeling next to each other on the floor. I lift up my hands and say, “Lord I lift my sin, my ugliness, to you. I lift all the times I have thought, said, or acted in a way that was wrong toward Finn. Please forgive me and help to be different. Amen.” Then I shared how Jesus will always forgive us no matter what we have done or how many times we have done it. When we repent we are turning away from that sin or sins, walking away from it and walking towards God. In my migraine vision, my son received Christ in that moment. All that to say, not sure what will happen but I am going to do my part to make this migraine vision come true. My son might not be ready to put his trust in God yet, but I am responsible for myself. Ok back to being on guard…it’s not just with my son. I need to be on guard with all my children – being watchful of what gets put in front of their eyes and what they are exposed to. They can’t live in a bubble and I don’t want them to. It is my responsibility though to keep them safe and look out for them. Same with my marriage, are my thoughts and actions making my marriage stronger or weaker?
  6. Ok I better wrap this up, I am getting delirious. This is such a fun one for me to write! In 3 weeks my husband and I are going to MAUI! Back in September when I was at my lowest I told my husband I needed a trip with him, and a big one. Being the saver than he is, he went against his natural instinct and he booked plane tickets, a place to stay, and a rental car! I can’t believe it’s really happening! I want to snorkel everyday, paddle board, kayak, and zip line. I am looking forward to being husband and wife with no responsibilities for a week! I am looking forward to sunny beach days! I am looking forward to coming back home, being refreshed, and bringing some Hawaii back into our home. When we get home there will only be a few days left of school and then it’s summer break! I think it’s a great way to kick off summer for my husband and I! If you think of it please pray for us. Pray that our time will be protected and glorious! Pray for strength and energy for my dad who will be taking care of our precious cargo and my mom who will be traveling up for the weekend to help. Please pray for my friend who will be taking the girls for the weekend. Please pray that our children will be covered in peace and protection while we are gone. I find such peace knowing that God goes before, with and after us always. We are always on His mind.
  7. Last one I promise…Do something. There is a song on the radio I love. I am not good at remembering titles or lyrics, but I can give you the general idea. The singer is singing to God asking why there is so much pain and injustice in the world. He is asking God why won’t He do something. God responds that He did, He made us. Now go do something. No matter how small or big our influence, God wants to use us right where we are as His hands and feet.

This migraine brought out a lot of writing and now you might be hoping I don’t get another one soon because this was a lot to read!

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National Adoption Day

Last Saturday was National Adoption Day. I wanted to post a happy picture of how wonderful adoption is and how our family thinks adoption is awesome, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Adoption for our family has meant incredible pain for all of us. Our son has experienced pain that no child should. We welcomed him into our family, and as a result, the rest of us have experienced deep pain. By opening our lives to adoption our family has been totally turned upside down. I have described it like being pummeled day after day for almost 20 months or drowning in the ocean, desperately gasping for air. We have all experienced loss through this process. And to be honest, if you asked our daughters they might not have any positive things to say about adoption. Our son never asked for adoption either. He just wanted his parents to love him the way he needed to be loved.

Adoption for us has meant pain, loss, frustration, exhaustion, and struggle. We have seen spiritual battle face to face and felt defeated. But it doesn’t end there. Through adoption we have also seen the mighty hand of God. We have felt His presence stronger than during any other season of our lives. We have seen our support team (church family, family, friends, adoption agency) hold us up when we couldn’t stand. They have been so creative in how they have helped us. It has come in the form of prayers, meals, care packages, vacations, pedicures, cards, a key chain, texts, coffee, chocolate, emails/messages, babysitting, hugs, listening ears with mouths that didn’t offer advice, even a hand delivered gift basket to a conference we went to in Washington, and much more.

A few weeks ago my husband and I ran a ½ marathon. He had trained, but I had not. So once we crossed the start line, he was off. I spent the next 2+ hours talking with God. There are so many correlations with running a race and our time here on earth.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

One of the many ways that God has made Himself so incredibly present during this season is through the Bible. The Bible has come more alive to me in these last 20 months and it’s like God is talking straight to me. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Back to the ½ marathon…so we are on this journey in life, it’s a race, but a long one. As I go through this life I love to let Hebrews 12:1-3 come alive in a practical way. I imagine the great cloud of witnesses, past and present, cheering me on. Moses, Abraham, David, Paul, James, Joseph, Mary, the woman at the well and Daniel cheering me on, telling me to keep going. I also imagine all the people that have loved and supported us both past and present cheering us on. They are cheering “Don’t give up! You can do it!”

I have many one-liners that help me keep going. One of them is “I will trust You Jesus.” Another is “Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.” The waves are coming so fast and crashing over me constantly. When I take my eyes off Jesus, the waves crush me. When I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the waves still come, but I am standing because of the power He gives me. Leave it to me to jump from running to swimming!

Adoption has also showed me the tiniest, most itty bitty glimpse of what Jesus went through. He suffered and died so that we could live. Many times I have told people that the five of us had parts of us that died, so that our son could live. I don’t think I really understood what unconditional love was until adoption was part of our lives. Unconditional love will be a life long lesson and I will never perfect it, but I sure understand it a whole lot better now. The understanding of Jesus’ unconditional love for me has come more alive and because of that our relationship has grown stronger. Jesus and I are tight!

God made it very clear to my husband and I that we were to adopt and more specifically our son. But that doesn’t mean our journey has been easy, or ever will be. God has promised us that He will never leave us or forsake us. He has been carrying us through this process and also sending a support team to carry us, especially on days when we were questioning what God was doing.

Adoption comes from a place of brokenness. The good news is that Jesus just happens to be in the business of restoring, rebuilding, redemption, and healing! Nothing is impossible for Him! Many times through this journey of adoption I have been fighting God, questioning, kicking and screaming through it. But I am coming to a place of deeper trust with God. Knowing that He would not call us to adoption and leave us stranded. My dear friends gave me a canvas for my birthday that says, “If God sees you to it, He will see you through it.” Even two months ago I couldn’t look at it and really believe it. But God has been working on my heart and where bitterness, hate, and anger had taken root, He is replacing it with love and forgiveness.

Now that you know about National Adoption Day, I would like to encourage you to do something about it. We need more families who will adopt! You could provide respite care for adoptive families that NEED a break or find families who have adopted and love on them! How can you love on them? Bring them a meal, pray for them, watch their children, send them care packages, show them grace when they used to be there for you but can’t anymore, give them chocolate! How about helping a struggling family (using discernment and healthy boundaries of course) that without help could end up having their children in the foster care system.

As we continue on this lifelong journey of adoption, my goal is to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. He knows what He is doing. One of my cheerleaders recently texted me a quote, “When the waves came, I learned how to surf.” I am ready for Jesus to teach me how to surf.

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Heavy Heart

I trust you Jesus.

That thought that has consumed me in different ways for about 2 years now. It is a short and simple sentence but it’s meaning is far from that. It’s the foundation of my faith. Will I trust in Jesus, in who He says He is, in His free gift of salvation and eternal life, in the never-ending grace He offers, in His Word? It sure is easier to say I trust you Jesus when things go my way or in a way that makes sense to me. When I pray and then the answer comes quickly and very clearly.

Well this last week the very foundation of my faith has been rocked. I won’t be sharing the situation, but it has cut me to my core. These last two years have been extremely challenging, frustrating, and heart breaking while also being full of tremendous blessing. It’s that constant of joy and pain, joy and pain. I have grown closer to God through it all while also questioning God and being very honest with Him.

I sit here today completely heart broken and filled with sorrow. I am still able to see the beauty that is a part of each day but I am mourning. And that is not easy to do while caring for four children who have just started back to school.

As I look back in the last few months, I see God was preparing me. I am sure He was in more ways than I saw, but it started with Pastor Zach speaking on why bad things happen and what to do when we experience that. It was on a Sunday that one of our children had an early game so I went to the first service (which if you know me usually only happens if my husband is speaking). I soaked up what he had to say and could absolutely relate with our current life circumstances. The next tool God sent was a book. We have had a guest speaker, Jeff Manion, for a few years that speaks my language. His book, The Land Between, is powerful and he spoke on it a few years ago. At that point life was smoother so I listened and put it in my storage bank for another time. I asked my husband if he could get the book for me to read on our road trip to Colorado over the summer. I was able to read several chapters and boy was it truth! I am actually going to start back at the beginning. The last tool God sent to prepare me was another guest speaker, Dr. Darryl, who comes every year. He spoke in the evening the day school started for all the children and I was exhausted. I am so glad I went. He talked about when our prayers aren’t answered the way we want.

I found myself this week asking God, “Why did you let this happen? Why didn’t you stop it? You know this area is part of my heartbeat, something that is core to who I am. I am so mad and hurt and devastated. How do I pick up and go on from here. Haven’t we been through enough pain? It keeps getting worse. What is going to be next? What I prayed for was godly and totally in line with what you are about and what you stand for.”

One of the awesome parts of God is He can totally take it. He knows my thoughts any way so trying to hide them is dumb. I am so grateful that I can come to Him with anything even when it is wondering what in the world He is doing.

Throughout this week those tools God gave me have popped up several times. The enemy wants me to doubt God’s goodness, which is contrary to what the Bible teaches. I have been challenged like crazy these last two years but this one has been the biggest. If you added up all the prayers I have prayed in my life, this prayer by far has been the one most prayed. So I am left with what do I do now? I can turn from God or run to God. In my eyes turning from God means that the pain won’t go away, I get bitter, and lose my very best friend. I then decide that what I have based my whole life on isn’t true. Or I mourn with God and trust that He is in control of this situation, He will bring good out of it, He did hear all my prayers, He is who He says He is and what is in the Bible is true.

Obviously a huge part of a Christian’s faith involves heaven and being in unity with God forever. I have always been excited to go to heaven, but in a long, long time. I am hoping to make it to my 90s or even 100. After this week I realized that I long for heaven more now. I am so fed up with the evil that is present in the world and the evil I have seen first hand in the last two years. I have shared before but our family is under constant spiritual attack. I believe that the enemy thought he had our son. He is furious that he was taken out of an unsafe environment and placed in a home where Jesus is the center. Today I long for heaven even more. Where there will be no more tears, pain and suffering.

I told my husband the other night I am so tired. I am so tired of fighting and our life being so hard. But the truth is it’s probably going to only get harder. Of course I would love for it to get easier but that has not been the pattern in the last few years.

I choose Jesus. I choose not to walk away. I choose to believe Him and believe in His goodness.

I am not alone. God is not only here with us, He has given our family a huge support community of family and friends. They have been carrying us through this journey and I am amazed at their ability to give and give with nothing in return. We can’t give back, we don’t have anything left to give. But our team is walking with us, holding us up, celebrating and mourning with us.

Truth is truth whether I feel it or not. Today I decided to read the following verse out loud through tears.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”          Lamentations 3:22-26

I trust You Jesus.

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