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It’s been about 2 1/2 years since we left Ohio for Arkansas. I really wish I would have kept up with my blogging during that period, but maybe it’s best that I didn’t. While I loved living in Arkansas and so many good things came out of it, I have to admit that the period we were there was one of the hardest times in my life.

There were so many changes that occurred during that time, as well as painful lessons, trials, loss, and revelation. Scott’s sister and her children moved in with us briefly as she and her husband attempted to save their marriage. First, it was just her teen son as she arranged for him to fly in and get settled first as she finished up last minute arrangements back home. That was an adjustment period itself and I regret that my kids struggled with some of the influence he had on all of us, as well as the leniency we showed him because we were trying to make the changes he was going through a bit easier to adjust to. I think our kids felt that we were making too many exceptions for him while holding them to a different standard, and I think they were right. We later learned that they had been exposed to some things they shouldn’t have been exposed to when we weren’t around. It wasn’t until he was gone they felt okay to talk to us about some of their experiences. It really got to me to think that my own children didn’t feel that they could talk to me about their concerns.

Finally, my sister-in-law made it in, and her husband promised to help get the family business settled back home and then he and the other three kids would join her and her oldest son. At that time, we were going to a smaller church we’d found and were just beginning to get involved in, but when my sister-in-law expressed that she was not happy there, we agreed to try to find a church that we could all agree on and go to together. And then we ended up not really going to church at all.

Later, when it was clear that my sister-in-law’s husband wasn’t really devoted to making the changes he needed to make in order to save their relationship, and when it was obvious he wasn’t going to move down to Arkansas as promised, a divorce followed and we all said goodbye to our hopes that they would make it, to each other as his sister and kids moved back, and to the hopes that our family could all finally live in the same town and settle down.

Scott and I really struggled during all this as we went through some major trials ourselves that tested our relationship and shook us both up a bit. Scott ended up taking on two separate roles with the company he works for – that is two full-time careers – and ended up in a near zombie-like state. That was miserable for both of us because even when he was physically present, he really wasn’t even there during a time when our entire family needed him as we went through other issues and hardships. When he asked his boss for help, he was promised resolution and assistance but nothing ever happened. Months followed and nothing changed. He and I both tried to deal with this and other issues on our own and in our own way, and that only made things worse. I think we both ended up hurting each other and ourselves in the process.

On top of that, I was already vulnerable due to other things going on, and ended up dealing with major self-worth and body image issues. I was fed a few lies about myself, and because I tend to believe the lies a lot easier than I do the truth, I lost myself. I was miserable inside, and couldn’t help but think that he was comparing me to every other woman out there. I suddenly only noticed every physical feature other women had that I didn’t and felt that there was no way my husband could be happy with me – with all my flaws. My scarred, stretched belly, and broken down body was ugly after having his children. How could he NOT want other women after looking at me? What was I? I was a stay-at-home mom…a housewife. What could I possibly have to offer him that was so great? Suddenly, I found myself striving too hard for my husband’s approval, affection, and interest. I noticed I was spending more time on my make-up, hair, etc.

Next, I contemplated plastic surgery. I even called and made an appointment to see a plastic surgeon for a consult – twice. But deep down inside I knew I would hate myself for trying to cover up the damage with a superficial bandaid of sorts. So I cancelled the appointments both times knowing it wasn’t the answer for me. I knew my problem wasn’t going to be fixed with surgery. I’d still look in the mirror and be the same insecure and lost woman trying to grasp hold of whatever it was I needed in order to feel whole and valued. I didn’t need to fix my body, I need to fix my head and needed healing in my heart and broken spirit.

So instead, I ended up going to counseling.

During this time, Patrick went to counseling too. We discovered he too, was struggling with his own issues. As we took a step back and really looked at the situation, we realized that our whole family was falling apart in a sense, and we couldn’t keep it together on our own. We realized we were relying too much on our own strength to make it through the hard times, and we really weren’t strong enough to make it on our own. We realized we’d kind of put God up on the back shelf and stopped seeking and relying on Him to guide us through the darkness.

The darkness – it was so, SO dark. Even as I read this, I can feel the darkness, the desperation, the helplessness, the sadness, the emptiness – all of it, attempting to creep back in.  I never ever want to go back to that dark place again.

But somehow, by His patience and grace, we made it through as truth was revealed and healing set in.  We learned a lot. Our dependence on God has grown as we realized how easily we slipped into a state of self-reliance. We now realize how He truly is the only one holding our family together.  It is not us!

We are weak without Him, and we will never make it if we try to do this on our own. It’s humbling and inspiring at the same time, because through all of the darkness, we’ve had a taste of His goodness.  He didn’t let us down, even when we were letting Him and each other down.

So here we are now, just as life was finally starting to get back to “normal.”  Just as I was finding myself again.  Just as I was truly establishing relationships and just as we were enjoying life even through the craziness…we suddenly are called to move back to Ohio.

And as I type all this out and reflect on the last couple of years, I am thankful that God had the patience and grace to work even in the darkness to reveal His truth to us.

It’s funny too, because it seems that God wants to make sure I don’t forget.  He seems to be speaking to me through my 3-year-old a lot lately.  Just last night she asked me a very serious question as she was coloring in her book, “Mom? Do you need Jesus?”

“Yes, America! I DO need Jesus!”

“Yes you do!” she replied enthusiastically.

The truth is, we all do.

YOU DO.

He is not just a free ticket to Heaven, He is so much more.  He is a loving God who wants us to be free from the things that hold us captive in our lives.  We do not have to be slaves to our sin, our past, our pain, nor weaknesses.  Where we are weak, HE is STRONG.  If we are willing to give ourselves to Him and totally rely on Him and walk in obedience, He will rescue us!  But we have to be willing to rely on Him to meet all of our needs.

He truly is a good and loving God, and I need Him!

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Wow…it’s been over a year.  I suppose I have some catching up to do! 

First things first…life has been crazy.  The adoption process has been put on hold, and Scott and I have both been stretched beyond what we can handle on our own.  I know, I know…many Christians out there say that God won’t give us more than we can handle, but I disagree…and this post here explains my thinking on this topic.  But I won’t get into this one right now…

I’ll just focus on summing up the last year:

1.  Started the adoption process.  We completed the classes, turned in all the paperwork, completed our home study, and waited for the phone call from the adoption specialist.  Instead, after finally calling the office myself and being told our file was in order (after they found it…yes, it was lost, then found), we get a letter in the mail stating that we were still missing information and needed to send it in.  Frustration settled in, I lost motivation, and didn’t even bother trying after that point, which turned out to be okay because…

2.  Scott’s sister and oldest son ended up moving in with us.  It only lasted a couple of months, and it was a very hard, trying, learning experience for us, but God has taught me so much through everything that happened and I am thankful that God knows me better than I know myself.  He knows what’s best for our entire family and I trust and am thankful that He is in control of all things…even when things don’t make sense!

3.  Scott has been working two roles (equivalent to TWO JOBS) for his company the last several months and it has been very, VERY trying and hard.  IF we’d had a child placed in our  home during all this other stuff we’ve been dealing with, we would have certainly failed.  However, God has continued to stretch, grow, and teach us through all of this…and I feel that Scott and I are closer than we’ve ever been.  He is still working both roles, but I’m confident that the company is going to finally start transitioning him off one role so we can stop living in survival mode and get back to living our lives with direction and purpose!

So…where does that leave us?  That leaves us back where we started over a year ago.   Several days ago, Scott felt that God told him that we are still supposed to adopt.  I felt the same thing, but didn’t really say anything to him until he mentioned it one night.  For me, it was just confirmation.  I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight…it may be another year before we have a child placed with us.  And I know my husband is still dealing with too much with work to pursue this, but I am going to take the first steps towards getting the ball rolling again because I know that even if I do my part, it’s still going to be a very long process! 

So I’ve found my motivation and am going to turn in the rest of that paperwork.  The state may make us start completely over at this point…and we may even decide adopting through the state isn’t the way we want to go…but for now, it’s where we are at.  Dwight is heading off to his first year of college next fall…and I don’t think we will have a child placed in our home before then.  But God’s timing is perfect and I am learning to just be patient and let God’s plan catch up with me and when I think things should happen.  So I am just going to be obedient, do what I can do, and let God do the rest.  If it all happens in three months…then okay.  If it takes 10 years, I’m okay with that too.

Trying to force things into my timing never works anyway!

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Here We Go Again!

It was just another ordinary, beautiful Wednesday.  I wanted to be lazy.  But after arguing with myself for about an hour or so, I got my lazy butt off the couch and got myself and the two littlest ones ready to go to the gym.  I made myself go on my easy 3 mile run.  It’s funny how a three mile run is now considered an easy run for me now!

After that, I picked up the girls from the childcare, and just as I was heading out of the gym, I noticed there was a new issue of the free Peekaboo magazine sitting on the rack.  I stood there for a minute, trying to decide if I should pick one up.  I enjoy skimming through it and finding local stores, ads, and stories of interest.  I am after all, trying to get more familiar with the area!

But do I really need one more magazine to take up counter space in my kitchen?  Again, I was arguing with myself in my head.  Oh, just take one!  And I did.  I tossed the magazine in the diaper bag and headed for the car.  I buckled in both girls and then grabbed the magazine for a quick glimpse.  That’s when I came across an adoption story.  I sat there with the car running, reading away as the girls waited patiently for me to drive them home.  I flipped through the pages, thinking of our own adoption story, when I came across another one.  I started to read it, then stopped as the baby started fussing.  I have to get these girls home!

I quickly flipped through the booklet again as I consoled the baby.  “Okay, America.  We’re going, we’re going!”

But I was still flipping through the pages.  It appears that this month’s issue is dedicated to adoption.  And just as I was about to put the booklet down (for real this time!) so I could start driving, there was Chuck smiling straight at me.  Chuck is a 13 year old boy looking for a forever home.  He sat there on that page, as if he were waiting for me to give him the okay to move on in.

That’s when I remembered my dream from a few weeks ago where Scott and I adopted two older children…both boys who were either young teens or preteens.  I suddenly felt the strongest urge to pray for Chuck…and maybe consider opening my home to another child.  “Okay,” I thought.  “This is just insane.”  I started the drive home.  But the insanity didn’t stop as the thoughts spinned through my head for the entire 7 minute ride in the car.  I got home and as soon as I could, I pulled up my laptop and typed in the website with Chuck’s information on it.  There, along with his picture and little tidbits of information on him, were about 10 other children’s stories.  Some had pictures, some didn’t.

I read them and teared up.  I want them all!  But of course, that isn’t possible.  Regardless, I just felt like God wanted me to do something.

I ended up calling one of my best friends and told her about Chuck and what I thought God was saying to me.  Then as I was talking to her, Scott called.  He wasn’t feeling well and was coming home.

“God, are you wanting me to talk to him?”  I prayed.  “I couldn’t possibly approach my husband about…adopting! Again!  We have SIX kids!”

That’s when the butterflies, which were already there, began to flutter even harder.  Okay…I’ll just wait until he gets home then.

About 20 minutes later Scott was home.  I made him some grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  As he sat at the table and ate, I showed him Chuck.  “I really feel like the Lord wants us to be praying for him.”  I told him.  Then I said, “When I read his interview, he just reminded me of you as a kid…and of Patrick.”

I watched him as a half smile slipped upward while I showed him the little interview they did on Chuck.  Then I grabbed my laptop and read him some other stories.  “Here’s Christian.  He’s nine.  He says if he has three wishes, he wants to be rich, to be an animal cop, and fun to be around.   His favorite holiday’s are Christmas, because he can worship Jesus, Halloween because he can scare people, and trick or treat, and Easter–celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.”

We laughed at some of the cute things these kids said.  “You knoooooooow,” I started, “I know of a great Christmas present that would make our kids happy and one of these kids happy too…”

And to my surprise, my wonderful, God-loving husband said, “Well, go ahead and give them a call.”

Really?  Oh.  Okay.  I wasn’t expecting that.  What I was expecting was for this man to reason with me.  I was expecting a logical explanation, a reason why we couldn’t do this.

But I did.  I called up the lady listed as the point of contact in the magazine, and left her a message.  Then I got online and emailed her.

Then I took the girls upstairs and got them down for a nap.  Only I accidentally fell asleep myself.  I woke up snuggled up with the girls and snuck out of bed.  My first thoughts went straight back to these kids.  “What was I thinking?  Am I crazy?  Adopt more kids???  No, I must have had a temporary moment of insanity.  This isn’t happening.”

I went downstairs and checked on my husband, who was sleeping on the couch.  He woke up a little bit later and said, “You know, this feels right.  I prayed about it some while you were upstairs, and I really feel like this is what we are supposed to be doing.”

I am convinced that if Scott had not come home when he did, I would have convinced myself that this was not meant to be – that I’d just had one of those crazy moments!  I would have fallen asleep, woken up and had those same thoughts, and then not said a word to my husband.

So maybe this temporary moment of insanity was meant to be.  I guess we’ll find out soon enough!  Two days ago I made the initial call.  I ended up being referred to another social worker.  I talked to her yesterday and she told me that she was holding an Inquiry meeting at 6 p.m.  “I know it’s short notice, but if you can make it, you can start the process from there.”

So I went…and ended up going home with a manilla folder full of forms and questions that I am once again filling out.  We may start this process and find out that for some reason or another we don’t qualify to adopt at this point, but I will be very surprised if that happens!

Oh boy…here we go again!   Now the big question is…how to tell the kids?

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I’ve been struggling the last few weeks.  I guess the reality of the move has settled in finally!  I do this.  I go through the emotions of saying goodbye to friends I had and having to start over again.  I feel lonely, I whine and complain, and cry.  I struggle to keep a good attitude, even though I am blessed beyond comprehension.

So the last week or so it has hit hard.  I told my husband that I feel drained dry.  I feel like I have to put so much effort and energy into developing relationships and then once I finally start to get them established, I have to say goodbye.  I often feel like I am the one who has to reach out over and over again, and I’m just tired of it.  “For once,” I told him, “I just want someone to reach out to me.”

And I think part of that feeling has hit me so hard because my husband has so many connections and he does have people reaching out to him.  I have another friend who moved here recently and I’m seeing her thriving and going out with the girls…and when you are in a situation like mine, you can’t help but wonder so many things, like why the invites aren’t coming your way.

So I finally just let it out during some prayer time this last week.  I let God know how I feel – lonely, rejected, sad, tired, weak, neglected.  I whined about the sacrifices I’ve made.  I complained about following my husband around with every move and not feeling like I’m getting much out of it.  “I give and give and give,” I whined.  “And I get nothing in return!”  (Not exactly true, I know!)

And I’m certain God was listening patiently.  He let me have my rant.  And then when I was done, this stupid, stupid, STUUUUUUUUUPID song started playing in my head:

Come on, get your, get your head in the game
We gotta get our, get our, get our, get our head in the game
You gotta get your, get your head in the game
We gotta get our, get our, get our, get our head in the game

Stupid High School Musical. I’ve watched that movie once…ONE TIME. How in the world is it that this song started up in my head?

Then I felt God speak to my heart.  He told me that I need to remember what this is all about. While I am looking at all these moves as supporting my husband, following him around so he can get promoted, etc., I’ve forgotten that God’s hand is entirely in every single move and promotion and relationship I develop.  I’m not following my husband around, I’m going where God has told us to go, each and every time.  Every time He opens the door for us to move, He has a purpose to it, and His purpose has an eternal result in mind.

The sacrifices I’m making should not be for my husband, children, or even myself, but for God.  The promotions and blessings we receive through all these moves and actions we take are blessings from God, not the reason why we move.  Where much is given, much is required.  And the truth is, God has called me to live a life that I would never have picked for myself.  I lived the first 20 years of my life in one small military town.  I always assumed I’d grow up, get married, and live in one place forever.   My personality is not one geared for this kind of lifestyle, but how often does God call those who are prepared and strong to walk in the things He calls us to walk in?  He often chooses the weak, the inadequate, sometimes even the unwilling to go and do His work, so that His glory can be shown through it.

The things I miss, the loneliness I feel, is temporary.  I have an eternity of fellowship waiting for me at the end of this road.

So, once again convicted and thankful for God’s love and patience, I’m back in the game.  It’s not to say I still won’t hurt or be sad as I face the loneliness – I am after all, human!  But God is in control and if I rely on Him and wait patiently, I know He will bring the kind of friends my heart desires.  Women who will reach out to me in return.  Those I can rely on in a time of need.

In fact, it’s already starting to happen.  It was kind of funny.  Just after having that conversation with my husband, and God, I texted a newly met friend to let her know I wasn’t going to make the women’s Bible study we both joined because Madison was sick.  She texted me back, “I’m sorry to hear that.  Missed ya, do you need anything that I could pick up for you?”

I was touched.  Her thoughtfulness and willingness to do that for me meant more than she will know.  And I’m sure God was smiling on me as I read her message.  Sometimes I forget He really hears my prayers, and then I’m amazed at how quickly He responds, especially when I get my head in the game!

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Scott headed out for Arkansas earlier this week, and one thing I’m sure of, I am SO thankful for that man.  I honestly do not know how single moms do it! 

Tuesday night I was dealing with Dwight and boy, does he know how to push my buttons sometimes!  We’ve had to keep the house in tip-top shape because we could have showings at any time, so when he let the dogs out and didn’t take his shoes off before tracking mud onto the kitchen floor, I was ticked.  Mostly because I’d just asked him twice if he’d made sure he didn’t let the dogs track mud in the house, and he even went back and checked and told me everything looked good. 

So needless to say, when I went back and found the floor soiled, not just with dog paw prints, but his big fat tennis shoe prints, I was pissed.   And of course, Dwight being Dwight, what does he do?  He starts smiling. 

“Dwight, it’s not funny!  Why are you laughing!  Stop laughing!  This is so irritating for me to have to go over this with YOU, the SIXTEEN YEAR OLD!  This floor needs to be cleaned now!  Why are you still smiling?”

And since he kept smiling, I gave up and sent him to bed.  He tried to stop and explain, but I was in no mood.  “Just go, Dwight.”  I ordered as I cleaned the mess up myself.  That boy, we are just so different, I don’t get him sometimes!

So the next morning, when I saw the sticky note on the table (a sight that always fills me with dread because you never know what the boy is going to write), I prepared myself for his explanation. 

But oh.  Let me tell you…the entire note was of no importance, because what I read in the first sentence was enough…

Dear Mom,

I’m sorry for laughing at you… 

At me?  AT me?  Oh no…he was laughing at me?

Nice.  Apparently I was the funny one. 

Not that the little mud on the floor event ruined my week, but I did find it amusing.  My teenage son thinks I’m funny, only not when I’m trying to be.  No, it has to be at the most inappropriate times that I am funny!

Tonight however, was a bit rough.  I thought we were doing good.  Kids were in bed, America was asleep too, and just as I was about to put her in her swing (because right now we have no crib to put her in and the swing keeps her buckled in safe and sound and asleep!), Joshua comes out of his room crying. 

“Moooom,”  He called as America started to stir.

“Whaaaaat???”  I whined.

“I threw up.”  He squeaked.

I sighed.  “Where?”  I asked.

“On the bed.” 

America was awake by this point, and I headed up to the room.  Sure enough, dinner was sitting in a neat little red pile where Joshua was supposed to be sleeping. 

“Joshua, why didn’t you go to the bathroom?” 

“Because I didn’t know I had to throw up.”  He cried.  “I woke up coughing and it just happened.” 

I sighed (and groaned, and moaned, and whined), again and took America to the boys’ room.  I told Dwight and Patrick to watch her since they were awake anyway, and then went back to pick up Madison and moved her to my bed so she didn’t roll into the…ummmm…half-way digested dinner.

I went back and removed the sheet, took it down stairs, rinsed off dinner down the drain, then threw the sheet in the wash.  Back up the stairs I went as I rummaged through the closet to find a new sheet.  I walked into the room to throw the clean sheet on and as I went to Joshua’s side of the bed to straighten out the sheet, I was surprised by another lovely pile of salmon patties and watermelon nestled in another pile on the floor.

“Joshua!  Why didn’t you tell me you threw up on the floor too?”  I whined as I headed for the closet hiding the steam cleaner.  

“Crap!”  I shouted (And I wonder where my two year old got that one from today)!  I never emptied out the steam cleaner from the last time I used it.  It was mostly the detergent and water, but it still looked gross and I wanted hot water for this mess.  So I went to the kids’ bathroom to pour it out and when I lifted up the toilet seat…eeeeewwwwe! 

“Dwiiiiiiiiiight!”  I shouted.

He came running and I gave him the speech he’s heard a thousand times.

It’s his job to clean the bathroom.  The toilet is disgusting and looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in months.  Clean it, NOW.  Hey, if I was going to be up cleaning puke anyway, he could do his chore! 

I got the steam cleaner put back together, with hot water and detergent and got to work.  I start spraying the solution onto the carpet as I ran over the salmon/melon mixture and waited for the machine to start sucking up the yuckness.  Only there was no sucking, just a soggier puddle of solution and puke.  Great.

The stupid thing was spraying the water great, but for some reason, it didn’t want to suck anything up.  I tried switching the setting from “hand tool” to “floor cleaner” several times, but it did nothing.  Finally, I, cussing up a storm at this point, grabbed the hand tool and started scrubbing away with it.  I could hear the baby crying on and off in the background, and Madison, with all my cussing and carrying on, came walking in.  I told her to stay out of the way, so Dwight, who finished cleaning out the toilet bowl, picks her up and follows me, “Mom, do you want me to put her on the couch?” 

“Oh sure, Dwight, like she’s going to stay downstairs by herself!” 

“Do you want me to put her on your bed?” 

“No, Dwight!  She’s not going to stay there by herself either.”

“Where do you want me to put her?”

Seriously?  She was perfectly fine where she was.  Why did he think he had to put her anywhere? 

“Dwight, just go to bed!”  I finally ordered.  Frustrated, I stopped the cleaner, took it back apart, and found a filter that was somewhat clogged up.  I cleaned it off, and sure enough, that did the trick.

“Thank you, God!”  I prayed.  Because surely I couldn’t have handled trying to clean up that mess with the hand tool much longer!

I spent another 20 minutes fretting and cleaning the redness out of the carpet that will be cleared of any furniture by Thursday of next week.  This was just what I needed, you know, red puke to stain the carpets right before we move out!  I think I got most of it out, but it was a chore. 

It’s just funny, how ironic things can be.  Like earlier today when I was thinking about how I can not handle my kids getting really sick right now – not in the midst of a move, and how God must know that because they seem to be doing okay even though they’ve been exposed to some nasty stuff over the last couple of weeks.  And then later when I thought about the sick sense of humor God has at times. 

I think God was just using His sick sense of humor to make a point (or two) – I apparently can handle the kids getting sick right now, even with my husband away!   Yeah, I had to laugh.  I have a sick sense of humor too, and when God shows his funny side, well, I just can’t help but laugh AT Him. 

Wait a minute…Me?  Laughing at God and His ways of pointing out my mistakes and misconceptions?  It’s funny how different my perceptions can be from the truth!

So that’s what it’s like to laugh at the parent who is trying to make a point.  There is something funny when we realize our misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth.  Like Dwight saw a “clean floor,” I saw a circumstance I thought I could NOT handle.  The truth is, I’ve made it through much harder situations than this!   I was a bit surprised that I was being proven wrong, and I’m sure Dwight, was a bit surprised to see the mud on the floor after he checked.  How else does a person respond to a surprise, but to laugh?

I may not always get his sense of humor, but I’m starting to realize, maybe Dwight and I aren’t so different after all.  But the difference between God and me, is that I’m pretty sure He doesn’t mind that I am laughing at His ways of getting my attention or pointing out the mess I’ve made in my own little head.  I guess as the parent, I need to learn to laugh along with my son, because I swear I could almost hear God laughing with (but of course, not at!) me as I realized in my own way, I was acting just like my teenage son!

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When Joshua was just a baby, I started going through a very trying time in regards to my faith.  I questioned whether God was real and as a result of that question, I fumbled through a hundred more questions that I could not answer.  The funny thing is, I never stopped to question whether or not Satan was real.  I’d survived some serious hardships as a child and teen, and I saw and experienced terrible things on a spiritual level.  Even though God brought me through all of that, I still had to stop and ask, “What if?”  What if all the things that have happened in my life happened by mere coincidence? 

I think a lot of it started after I had Joshua.  I was struggling with post-partum depression (even though I didn’t realize it at the time).  9/11 happened and that just sent me spiraling downward.  I remember looking at my 2 month old baby and wondered why I even brought him into this evil world. 

Joshua was a healthy baby, but as time progressed he started getting ear infections.  The doctor would prescribe him antibiotics and a couple months later I’d be back in the office.  By the time he was around 18 months old, the doctors decided he probably needed ear tubes. 

The thought of my baby having to go through any sort of surgery terrified me.  At that point, I’d decided God had to be real, but I still felt alone.  I remember praying and begging for God to heal my baby so he wouldn’t have to go through the surgery.  I claimed his healing and spoke in faith.  I believed that God was going to heal my baby. 

But when we took Joshua in for one final appointment to check on his ears, I was told that he wasn’t improving and they scheduled him in for surgery.  What was worse was my husband wasn’t even going to be able to be there when it happened.  I had to do this all by myself.  I remember talking to a Christian mentor, a woman I worked very closely with at our church in several ministries.  I cried and told her that I didn’t understand why God wouldn’t heal my son.  I had faith.  I believed.  I did everything I was supposed to do and yet here he was being scheduled for surgery.  I felt rejected and ignored.  It made me wonder again, if God was real.  If God was real, why wouldn’t he just heal my son?

I knew my son didn’t have a life-threatening illness, but to me, I felt like God should have healed him anyway.  I prayed, had faith, and claimed his healing.  Why didn’t it work?  Either God was ignoring me, or He wasn’t real.  That was my conclusion. 

So I took my son in and teared up as we got him on the operating table.  This precious little boy waved bye-bye as the doctors wheeled him away into the operating room.  I was thankful he went so willingly.  I walked the long way back to the waiting room and sat down.  Dwight was sitting next to me playing cheerfully on his game boy.  I looked at my book and ignored it.  Instead I closed my eyes and prayed for my son to be okay. 

It wasn’t 5 minutes later and the doctor walked into the room.  “We’re done.”  He said, and brought me into the recovery room where I gave my drowsy son apple juice and marveled at how fast the surgery really was.  The nurse kept an eye on him for about 45 minutes and then he was released.  Joshua didn’t suffer another ear infection again until he was 7 years old!  (He was prescribed antibiotics and has been fine since). 

Going through that whole ordeal, I realize now just how depressed I was.  It never occurred to me that I was suffering from post-partum depression until I was pregnant with Madison.  But even after I was finally able to pull myself out of my dramatic little pit of despair, I’ve still wondered why God didn’t just answer my prayers.  Why didn’t He heal Joshua so that he I didn’t have to go through the stress of that surgery?

Over the years, I have grown stronger in my faith, but I’ve still wondered why things happened the way they did.  I mean, I believed.  I had faith the size of a mustard seed.  That was all that was required of me, right?  

It hit me the other day when a friend asked for advice on how to help her little girl recover from an ear infection.  Suddenly I thought about all the families out there who couldn’t afford to take their kids to the doctor or who didn’t have health insurance to get their children the surgeries they needed.  Then that still, small voice whispered to my heart.  “You didn’t need the miracle, Melissa.  She did.”  

It still makes me want to cry when I think about it.  In the midst of my prayers, desperate pleading, demanding, and instruction on how I wanted things handled, My God provided for all my needs.  He always has.  And even when I thought He was ignoring my prayers, (rejecting me is how I truly saw it!),  He provided in a way different than I expected or even wanted.  I was too busy wallowing in doubt and depression that I didn’t even see it.  It’s amazing that it has taken so long for me to see the truth.  But isn’t it funny that I saw the truth once I took my eyes off myself?  No, there was no miraculous and instant healing, but He did provide for me and my son.   

And I have been truly humbled over the last week as God finally revealed a glimpse of himself to me.  Being the control freak that I am, it scares me to death to say this, but I suppose I should take a step back and let God be God.  He does a way better job of taking care of things than I ever could!

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SundayDecember 14 
Gift:  Bibles/Bible Studies
Theme:  God’s word is a valuable gift and resource that we should not take for granted! 
Notes:  We are going to give each child either their very own Bibles, or if they already have one, a new Bible Study.  On that day we are going to talk about how His word is a gift to us, and how important it is to read His word. 
Verses:  Ps. 119:105, Psalm 119:11, Tim. 3:16-17, Ps. 37:31
Monday – December 15
Gift:  Sports Bottles –
Theme:  Living Water
Notes:  Jesus is our living water.  We can go to Him and ask him to fill us up so that we will never thirst again.  (Our kids will get to drink water as we talk about this with them).
Verses:  John 4:10,-14
Tuesday – December 16
Gift:  Socks, Underwear, Slippers, Gloves, Robes, P.J.’s (Whatever clothing item your kids may need)
Theme:  Putting on the Armor of God
Notes:  We will discuss how to put on the armor of God, keeping ourselves covered in His protection throughout our daily battles in life. 
Verse:  Ephesians 6:13
Wednesday – December 17
Gift:  Bread/Jam
Theme:  He is the Bread of Life
Notes:  I will make some home made bread ahead of time, and then we will give each kid their own little jars of jam or jelly.  While they spread their sweet jelly/jam on their bread, we will discuss how Christ is the Bread of Life, talk about the last supper, communion, and  also how man cannot live by bread alone. 
Verse:  Luke 22, John 6:47-48, John 6:35,51,
Thursday – December 18
Gift:  Pillows
Theme:  Peace and Resting in Him
Notes:  We will talk to the children about trusting in God, not worrying about tomorrow, and talk about the manger…how even Jesus was able to rest in the craziest circumstances!
Verse: Isaiah 26:3, John 14:27, John 16:33, Ps.91
Friday – December 19
Gift:  Art supplies (Markers, Crayons, Colored Pencils, and Paper)
Theme:  Symbols and Family
Notes:  We are going to create our own family crest!  Each child will draw something to symbolize our family.  We will talk about the different symbols representing Christ.  The cross, nails, the manger, etc.  Scott and I will put the symbols together to create a family crest, and then when we sit down to discuss our adoption story with Kelly, we are going to distribute family rings with our crest on it.  (Note:  We are doing the rings as a symbol/reminder to her that God put our family together, however, families could also make a flag with their family crest on it)!
Verse:  Matt. 13, Matt. 27:40, John 15:5, 1Cor. 1:17, (All see scriptures on Living Water and Bread of Life),
Saturday – December 20
Gift:  Various ingredients and/or cooking utensils needed to make a yummy treat – such as rice crispy treats. 
Theme:  “Share the goodness!”
Notes:  God often gives us something special we can share.  What happens when we put those things together?  If we all bring the good things we have and put them together we can make something even better.  We are the body of Christ, each part has an important role in His plan. 
(Be sure to give the younger kids something they won’t mind sharing.  For example, I’ll give my 2 year old butter, not the marshmallows! 
Verses:  Romans 12:5-6, 1 Corinthians 12,
Sunday – December 21
Gift:  Scrapbook supplies (Foam boards, hole punch, glue, scissors)
Theme:  Always Remember
Notes:  We should always remember what God has done for us.  What things can we do to help us remember?  We can also remember special memories w/ friends and family by creating a scrapbook/memory book.  We will let the kids create their own scrapbook with Foamboards and construction paper!
Verses:   Ps. 20:7, Ps. 22:27, Ps. 77:11,
Monday – December 22
Gift:  Mugs w/ Picture
Theme:  You are valued and loved
Notes:  We are each unique and different and loved very much.  We will fill our kids cups with hot cocoa and talk about how much God loves us, how sweet His love is, and how remembering His love will keep us warm inside when the world treats us coldly.
Verse: Psalm 139, Romans 8:38-39, Jeremiah 29:11
Tuesday – December 23
Gift:  Plant/Seeds
Theme:  We need to grow and nourish our spirits by planting God’s word within us. 
Notes: 
Verse:  Matthew 13:3, Prov. 30:5, Matt. 4:4, Luke 11:28, 1 Cor. 16:20, Ps. 119:11
Wednesday – December 24
Gift:  The kids will exchange gifts with each other.
Theme:  It is more blessed to give than to receive. 
Notes:  As the kids watch each other open their presents from each other, have them explain how it makes them feel to see their brother or sister smile when they open the gift they got for them.  Talk about other ways to give to each other and to others.
Verse:  Acts 20:35, 2 C0r. 9:7
Thursday – December 25 CHRISTMAS DAY!
Gift:  One Big Gift.
Theme:  God wants to give us good things/the desires of our hearts.
Notes:  We are going to get each of the kids one thing they really want (It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift, just something you know they would really like to have).   We are also going to take Communion together and reflect on everything we learned over the last 12 days!
Verses:  Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13, Ps. 37:4-5

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