Friday, May 30, 2008
Prior to 9/11, it was common to see crowds of people gathered around the gates of the airport saying goodbye and welcoming loved ones home. Post 9/11, nobody is allowed to go to the gate except for the person traveling. However, when children are flying alone you can request a 'pass' that will allow one person, usually the parent (me), to escort the child to the gate and watch their flight leave. This is both, good and bad. Good because I must see the plane leave the ground and continue to watch it until it is no longer visible to the human eye and bad because the entire time I am watching, I am sobbing. Not just a little tear trickling down, but dramatic. Hollywood. this. is. the. stuff. movies. are. made. of. sobbing. Oh, and audibly praying at the same time. Yea.
This morning my eldest daughter, Sammie, left for California. She is only going for a month instead of the usual three months, but still. It's traumatic. You know. It's the whole 'letting go' thing....again (insert eye roll here). We checked her in and started for the gate when I realized that I had forgotten to ask for a pass to escort her to the gate. We went back to the check-in desk and asked the lady if I could please have a pass. She asked how old Sam was and I told her she is 16. This woman, who is in the customer service industry, then looked at me and said this: "If she can drive herself to the airport, we are pretty sure she can find her own gate!" "Next in line please." In the most condesending tone EVER! Oh yea. I was miffed. I felt my 'old' self, the mouthy 'old' self, the before I found Jesus 'old' self, begin to rise up in me. I stuffed it back down and walked away. It is soooo NOT what I wanted to do. I think it physically pained me to not say anything.
So, today was a milestone. A glimpse into my not-so-distant future. I said goodbye to my baby and watched her walk, on her own, towards security. All of the sudden she looked so grown up. Where has the time gone? I remember holding her little hand when she was a child and walking her down the ramp to her gate. Now, in place of my little girl, a young lady stands. Suddenly the song 'There Goes My Life' by Kenny Chesney popped into my head (which is really strange because I don't listen to country music) and I could feel the bitter sting of tears begin to well up in my eyes. I stood at the top of the ramp and watched her proceed, like a grown up, through security. She knows me well, so she stopped about half way there, turned around, smiled, waved, and blew me a kiss. I watched her until she was no longer visible to my human eyes. She is now in God's hands.
It occurred to me today that this was the first step in letting her go. Today she boarded a plane alone. In a couple of years she will go to college....alone. She will meet the boy she will marry. She will have children. She will live her life...not alone, but without me. At least for the most part.
My empty hand aches and longs for the days when her tiny fingers were interlaced with mine. Now it is God who holds my hand...and hers as we walk through this next phase of life. The same Hands that knit her together in my womb. How awesome is that? While my heart still aches, it also rejoices as I slowly let go of one of my most precious gifts and give her back to her Father........ who loves her even more than I.
I love You, Lord. Please take good care of our girl.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I was just visiting Angie Smith's blog. She is the wife of Selah singer Todd Smith who recently lost her baby, Audrey. If you haven't read their story, I pray you will. However.....
Todd's sister, Nicol Smith-Sponberg (she used to sing with Selah also), gave birth to her 2nd child, Luke, in March. Last night at 9pm she went to check on him and he was not breathing. He is now in Heaven with Angie and Todd's little Audrey.
This family has endured so much. Yet, their souls continue to praise the One who holds all things together.
Please keep this precious family in your prayers: Greg, Nicol, and Summer Sponberg and Todd, Angie, and their girls.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
You may remember a post from April in which I spoke of wanting to adopt more children. Well, I thought I would update you.
I believe God has changed my heart or added to it, whichever the case may be. I am not 'closed' to the idea of adopting another child, but God has definitely softened my heart to being a Foster Parent. This is H-U-G-E for me. I never thought I would want to be a foster parent. I just didn't think I had it in me. I get way too attached and I was afraid I could never let a child go once they entered my home. However, God has been working on me for the past year or so about 'letting go' and I feel this is why. I'm not saying that adoption is out of the question, but the thought of planting seeds in children and helping them find a 'forever home' just makes my heart soar.
So, tonight I have my first orientation in the process of getting my foster license back. I am very excited and cannot wait to see what God has in store.
Any prayers you could send UP for me....would be sooo appreciated. Especially for the child/children that God has already prepared to come live with our family:)
I will keep you posted as things progress!!!
Yesterday, Jordan, Sam, and I went shopping. Samantha will leave Friday to spend a month with her dad in California (yea, there will be a weepy blog about that later). She needed a 'nice' outfit to wear to a wedding while she is there. After trying on each outfit she would come out of the dressing room for the much needed, often dreaded 'Mom Seal of Approval'. Well, many of the tops she tried on were meant to wear with a cami/tank underneath. Sam wasn't wearing a cami/tank that day, which means her bra was showing.
Jordan is very concerned about women dressing appropriately. I love that about her. Samantha is too, though. All of my girls know that all parts of their body, exluding their heads and feet, need to be covered at all times. OK, well maybe not that modest, but pretty close. So, as Sam and I are trying to discuss the outfit currently being modeled, Jordan is standing there mumbling: 'Sam, Sam, Sam, hey, your bra is showing. Sam, do you know your bra is showing? Sam, you will have to wear something under that shirt because your bra is showing.' And she continued on and on and on. To which my ever so tolerant, always setting a wonderful lady like example, eldest daughter replied: "ARGH! I know Jordan!!!!! See, Mom! I told you she is O.C.D.!" Jordan then wrinkled her face and began to walk off saying "GOSH SAM! I was just letting you know!!!!!"
Have I told you how much I LOVE shopping with my girls??
Actually, I do. Seriously.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Time to scoot over to Tam's and play 'Fill in Friday'. It's a blast! Don't worry if you've never played before. Tam is kind enough to give instructions.
WARNING: Fill in Friday's is HIGHLY addictive.
Now, go. Get out of here. I have nothing to say.
Wait. Yes I do.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
MARIA SUE CHAPMAN, DAUGHTER OF STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN,
DIES IN ACCIDENT AT FAMILY HOME
NASHVILLE, TN...5/21/08... At approximately 5pm on the afternoon of Wednesday May 21st, Maria Sue Chapman, 5 years old and the youngest daughter to Steven and Mary Beth Chapman was struck in the driveway of the Chapman home in Franklin, TN. Maria was rushed to Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital in Nashville, transported by LifeFlight, but died of her injuries there. Maria is one of the close knit family’s six children and one of their three adopted daughters.
More than five years ago, Chapman and his wife MaryBeth founded The Shaohannah’s Hope Ministry after bringing their first adopted daughter, Shaohannah, home from China. The ministry’s goal is to help families reduce the financial barrier of adoption, and has provided grants to over 1700 families wishing to adopt orphans from around the world. Chapman is a five-time GRAMMY ® winner and 54-time Dove Award winning artist who has sold over 10 million albums and garnered 44 No. 1 singles.
Monday, May 19, 2008
On Sunday, they all came to church with me. One of the young ladies and my daughter, Amber, do not get along. They had managed to avoid each other most of the weekend, but by Sunday afternoon venom was flying. It was a mess and I was angry. I was angry with both girls, but mostly with my daughter. I had hoped that she had learned to keep 'quiet'. Not so much.
Monday I was dealing with the fall out. The young lady who has been coming to Bible Study on Wednesdays told me off and then told me she would not be coming anymore and of course, my daughter feels as if none of it is her fault and that I am not backing her. I was beginning to feel very 'defeated'.
My eldest daughter, Sam, called me when she got home from school. She was very excited as she was filling out an application for the Bible college she wants to attend. As we were getting ready to get off the phone she said "Mom, you're doing a really good job." I asked her what she meant and she said "Being a mom and doing this Bible Study with the girls. You are doing a great job."
I wanted to cry as we got off the phone. I wonder if she knows how much life she spoke into my weary bones?
Thank you my Sammie! You have no idea how much I needed that! Obviously God did and He used you to speak to me. Thanks for listening to Him. I love you so very much!
God has been speaking to me about forgiveness for a few weeks now. Which I thought was so strange. I really didn't feel as if forgiveness was an issue for me. Apparently it is. Why?
Why do we (Christians) find it so hard to forgive? Better yet, why do we feel we have a right to judge? We all know what the Bible says, right? We are to forgive others and we are to leave judgement to the Lord. We know that. It is head knowledge for anyone who is claiming to be a Christian. It's one of the first things we learn as a Christian. Forgiveness was the first thing we experienced when we became followers of Christ.
Do you remember that feeling? The feeling of euphoria when you realized that the Lord God Almighty loved you and forgave you? If you were like me, it took you a while to fully accept that forgiveness. You didn't feel 'worthy'. You couldn't forgive yourself. You just didn't understand how God could forgive all of your wicked ways. The longer you walked with Christ, though, you began to understand that you aren't worthy of forgiveness and you never will be. It is because of how Great He is, not how great you are. You eventually begin to accept it. It becomes a familiar friend to you. Now, years later, you readily accept it. You flaunt it. You keep it. Unwilling to part with it.
Did you see what she did? Did you hear about so and so? I am so glad I'm not her. Why is she giving me that look? She thinks she is so much better than everybody else. Judgement. Pride. Unforgiveness. Put whatever label on it you want. It's sin and it's so unpleasing to God.
We speak often of Christians being persecuted, but how many people do we 'Christians' persecute? We often become judge, jury, and executioner all in one clean swoop. Maybe we don't say it out loud, but in our minds we have crucified that person in a manner consistent with the way Christ was put to death. Only......Christ was resurrected. The people we have crucified often lay in the tombs of our mind forever with no hope of resurrection.
For me, it's easy to forgive an ex-Pastor who really messed up. It wasn't in my church. It didn't affect me, personally. I have faith that God is doing a redeeming work in this man's life and that God still has a plan for him. It saddens me that there are people (Christians) who continue to want this man to pay for the hurt he has caused. As if he hasn't/isn't paying a price daily. But.....what about that driver that cut me off? What about my daughter who has turned her back on Christ? What about that fellow Christian who 'snubbed' me at church? What if it had been my Pastor? A man that I deeply care for and look to for guidance. Would I stand by him offering him encouragement, love, and forgiveness or would I imprison him with constant reminders of how 'awful' his sin was and how much he let me down?
I have learned that forgiveness, pride, and judgement are all qualities that I possess. I no longer wish to have them, but I am incapable of ridding them from my life. God, however, is very capable. I desire to be the woman that He has created me to be. A woman of forgiveness who does not judge others, but encourages and loves all of His people. Especially the ones who hurt me.
Now, please forgive me if this post makes no sense to you. It really was an out pouring of my heart, not my head. I want my children to realize....I don't have it all together.
Because they sooooo thought I did.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
We were at the Wisconsin State Fair and I was camera happy.
I made my son pose with the 'Giant Pickle' and he was NOT happy!
I don't know if you can see his face, but if looks could kill...
Well I wouldn't be posting right now!
But seriously..how cute is it?
I think it's really hysterical that he's almost as tall as the 'Giant Pickle':)
This is my eldest, Sammie.
In our bathroom. Taking pics of herself.
She's a beauty. If only she believed it.
This is my 2nd eldest, Amber.
She really doesn't look like this anymore, but for some reason...
It's the only pic we could come up with?
Strange since she LOVES taking pics of herself:)
Braces come off soon!
"...Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?"
1st Chronicles 17:16
I had been visiting my girl friend, Deb and came home late. My youngest daughter, Jordan, was sleeping on the couch in our sunroom. I smiled as I saw her there. I remember when she was younger it was one of her favorite places to sleep. She loved that couch because it fit her just perfect. Now, not so much. Her feet hang over the side and she has to practically sit straight up while she is sleeping. My baby is growing up. I leaned over and gave her a kiss on her forehead.
As I kissed her, I must've startled her a little. She woke up and said 'Hi'. Not fully awake, we then had a conversation that went like this:
J.- (picture arms in air above her head as if she is saying TA-DA) "I can do it because I am beautiful!"
Me- (smiling) "Yes you are!"
J.- (smiling) "We are good at it because we are beautiful and wonderful. We always are in God's sight!"
Me- (smiling, but confused) "Yes. You are right. God thinks you are beautiful. So do I. I love you."
J.- (smiling, nuzzling under covers) "Goodnight mom. I love you, too." (sound asleep)
Isn't that a great conversation? I was so proud of her. She was dreaming about God and He was telling her that she is beautiful. My heart was beginning to swell with pride as I was pretty sure I had just talked with the next Joyce Meyer/Beth Moore sleeping in my sunroom.
So, this morning as I was getting ready for work and Jordan was getting into the shower, I couldn't help but ask her about her dream! I couldn't wait to hear more about what God had said to her. I was pretty sure that she wouldn't remember much of it, if any. But...I had to ask. I mean HELLO...my child had an encounter with the Lord Almighty. Did He say anything about me? Did He give you any directions for your life? Any chance we'll be getting a Target in town anytime soon?? Something? Anything? I had to know. So I asked:
Me- "So...do you remember me coming in last night and talking with you?"
J.- "No. Not really."
Me- "Oh, well you were having a dream, I think, about being beautiful. I think you were talking to God."
J.- (excited) "Oh, yea! I was a penguin. A beautiful penguin."
Me- "A penguin? You were talking about God!"
J.- (rather admant) "Well, yea, mom! Penguins can be Christians, too! We were trying to be fabulous and our teacher told us that we were wonderful and beautiful in God's sight."
Me- (sheepishly) "Your teacher was a penguin, too?"
Um.....maybe God was wearing a tux???????
Friday, May 9, 2008
The other night we had our first teen-girls Bible Study at my house. We were supposed to do a study on 'Really Bad Girls of the Bible', but as we started the discussion, these girls started asking various, important questions about God and His character. We talked about the Old Testament -VS- the New Testament, the fall of man, and Jesus dying for our sins. Then, they began to open up about the hurts and frustrations they have had in their lives, so I decided to just let them talk. As I sat listening, amazed at how willing they were to open up, it occured to me that I hadn't given them the 'Small Group Disclaimer'. So, as one of the girls was getting ready to share about something very personal, I stopped the discussion. Here is how it went:
Me- "Before we go any further I just want to say something. I know you all go to school together and there is a tendancy to want to gossip when you are with friends, but whatever is said during this time together needs to stay in this house."
Becca- "What? We can't share what we learn about God?"
Me- "Oh, Rebecca!"
I guess I wasn't exactly clear:)
Now, I must brag about my nieces for a moment. (Trying to redeem myself here for sharing this story with all of blog-land:)
A couple of weeks ago we had a youth Baptism service during our High School Youth Group. Along with 6 or 7 youth, both of my nieces, Rebecca and Amanda, were baptized. It was quite a celebration. I was so honored to be a part of it and to be able to witness these beautiful children of God outwardly express their love for Him. I am so proud of them. The road will be long and hard sometimes, but I promise you both.....I will always be here to help guide you!
I love you and I cannot wait to see what God is going to do in your lives!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I noticed this phenomena about 3 years ago as I was driving home from work. The street that runs in front of my office, is the street I take to go home. It is a residential side street that leads to a main street. Approximately one block away from my work I noticed some 'stuff' in the street. There was quite a bit of it and it resembled something that made me shudder. It was a beautiful Spring day, one of the first really warm days of the new year, so my windows were down. As I approached this mass of 'stuff' I leaned my head out the window for a closer look. I slowed my car down to a crawl and as I inched closer my fears became reality. That 'stuff' was exactly what I thought it was..........SNAKES! Lots of them. Dead. Flat. Littering the street. I could feel the shivers up and down my spine. See! C-R-E-E-P-Y.
I have a completely irrational fear of snakes. When I see one I become paralyzed, literally. I can't move. My back begins to ache as thousands of goose bumps pop up all over my body. I actually found a couple of snakes in my house one time. Believe me...you do not want to hear that story. Needless to say, I don't live there anymore. I couldn't sleep because I knew the snakes were waiting to crawl into bed with me. Yea, it's not pretty.
What is most disturbing to me is not my fear, but how I am 'drawn' to them. I am so curious about snakes that I will watch anything and everything I can about them. Venom ER. Most Deadliest. Anything on Animal Planet that has snakes. For the past 3 years I have been aware of the creepy crawly 'stuff' in the middle of the street, but I always slow down and look at them. I wonder if it is a product of the 'fall'? You know the whole garden-serpent-tree-Adam-Eve-thing? Whatever it is....I'm creeped out and fascinated at the same time.
So, I am curious.....what's your biggest fear? OK.....to keep you all from having to say "losing my family"....I will rephrase that.....what is your biggest irrational fear? (This is really for my benefit so I don't have to feel like a freak:)
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
I was at small group and my cell phone rang. It was my children's dad. Normally I would ignore the call as I try not to answer my phone during small group unless it's an emergency. My kids' dad and I have a good relationship and it is fairly typical for him to call me 100 times a day for no apparent reason. However, something (or should I say Someone) prompted me to answer my phone. I knew, right away, something was not right as he told me that we needed to talk. I asked him what was going on and he said the words I never wanted to hear: "Your son ran away and I don't know where he is. He has been gone since yesterday afternoon."
As you know, if you have been following this blog, I am doing a Bible Study on Saturday's called Breaking Free. One of the things that has been revealed to me is that I do not know how to share my feelings. As I received that phone call, I stayed true to my unsharing nature and bolted out the front door. I couldn't 'break down' properly in front of my small group. True to their sharing nature....they followed me. I asked Eddie if he had called Josh's friends or gone to their houses and he said he hadn't. He didn't know where Josh's friends live and Josh's cell phone has a password that he hadn't been able to bypass. Eddie had called the police and they were ready to move on Monday if Josh didn't show up to school. That would be almost 48 hours. I've seen the statistics. I've watched 48 Hours and 20/20. I know what happens to kids on the streets. My heart was swelling with each breath to the point where I thought it would burst out of my chest. We ended our conversation with me promising to pray and Eddie promising to find our son. I was 2000 miles away and my son was 'lost'. All I could do was stand still.
As I entered into the house where my small group waited, they promptly gathered around me and we began to pray. As I listened to these people, my friends, pray over me and my family I felt so incredibly blessed. There was a definite peace that surrounded me as I laid my son in the hands of our awesome Lord. God is good...all the time. I prayed to God and promised Him that no matter what the outcome, circumstances would never change how I felt about Him. I sat with them for a while longer and then I had to move. I still had to tell his sisters and his grandparents. I called anyone I could that would pray for my son. It was a little after 9pm, so I kept my calls limited to those I knew would be awake.
I sat in my house. Helpless. Scared. Sick to my stomach. Wanting to search for him. Wanting to scream his name at the top of my lungs. Longing to put my arms around him. Aching to hear his voice. When was the last time I spoke with him? It had been a while. Josh isn't much of a phone person, so I generally let him call me when he feels like talking. He hadn't called in a couple of weeks. He was on my mind Friday. Why didn't I call him? Why didn't I, at least, send him a text message letting him know I love him? What if the last time I hugged him would be the last time I hug him?
The back door opened and there stood my best friend. I had called her and she asked if I wanted her to come over. I told her no, but there she stood anyway. We talked and waited to hear something. Eddie was calling every 1/2 hour or so to let us know what was going on. They had bypassed the code on the cell phone and he was calling all of his friends. Nobody had seen him. My heart sank. Where are you? Please God, let him be safe. Your will, not mine. Each time I heard the Twilight Zone theme (Eddie's ring tone on my cell phone. Very appropriate if you knew him) my heart would swell and my stomach would turn. At midnight my phone rang again. Eddie spoke life into me with one little word that would cause time and my heart to stand still: "Found."
The next time my phone rang it was the beautiful sound of my son's voice: "I'm sorry, mom. I love you." "I love you, too son."
I don't know all of the details yet. Frankly, they don't matter. I went to bed praising God for surrounding me with amazing people who spoke truth and love into my breaking heart and for bringing my son home, yet knowing that if He hadn't......I would've praised Him, still.
"I am Yours regardless of the clouds that may loom above
because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
suffering Your destiny
so tell me......whats a little rain?"
Bring the Rain
Friday, May 2, 2008
I am really going to miss the teens. I will see some of them at church over the summer and in the fall some of them will return. Yet, some of them will graduate and begin their lives as adults. This was our last year to really reach them and you begin to wonder if there was more that you could've done or said. Was it enough? Was I enough? The answer is NO. My actions will never be enough, I will never be enough. Only He is enough. We are there to plant seeds. Nothing more, nothing less. Our role in some of these kids' lives is over. Whether they are going to college, turned their back on God, or are just too busy to attend Youth Group....our opportunity to sow seeds with them has passed. The rest is up to God. Amen!
Next Wednesday I will begin a Bible study with some of our High School girls. Please pray as I prepare to meet with them. Pray for wisdom and discernment for me, but mostly pray that I will get out of the way so He can work! Some of the girls that are attending have had a hard row to hoe and they are struggling in many area's of their lives. Some are struggling with sobriety, some are struggling with other addictions, and most are straddling the line between God and the world. That crazy invisible, life altering line. For some that line is clear, for others it is blurry. Pray it would be visible to all. We will be studying 'Really Bad Girls of the Bible':) Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Yea, I'm looking forward to it. It's my prayer that each girl will see a little of herself in these 'naughty' women and that these girls can look past the junk and see God's redeeming love. "If God could use/change/love her, then maybe He could use/change/love me."
Haven't we all been there? I still am some days:)