Archibald Family

Archibald Family

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Christmas Gift

I heard a message written by Max Lucado on Klove this afternoon, in regards of the recent events of the school shooting in Connecticut.  A few words rung out and spoke to my soul.

In order to comprehend the meaning of these words you must understand where I have been ... in a dark, dark place.  You see our lives have been full - so full, that I couldn't even tell you what they are full with.  We have the normal to and from like everyone who has teenagers deals with.  Lately, we have had extra circumstances thrown our way, and added responsibilities.  But somewhere along the way ... I picked something up, and it has been extra baggage weighing me down.

My counselor told me that I need to learn the simple word "no" once again.  But I explained ... "I don't know what to say "no" to ... it all makes sense, and it all is a priority".  After his scare, I started exercising that word.  Removing all things that would bring me any taste of joy.  My life now consists of meetings, work, home stuff and many fires or "fix-its" that have come throughout our days.  That little something that I picked up somewhere along the way was now robbing me of my joy.

Duane's work has become a stress in his life, and has taken its tole on our family and home.  My work has become an outlet for me, but causing me to be away in times when needed, and causing me tiredness when I return home.  Our current adoption journey has us jumping when they say jump...and not given much notice in their commands.  The girls have dealt with the drama of high-school and some hard decisions, needing their parents council and guidance...finding a lack of support instead.  That little something I picked up along the way was now causing our once happy little home, not so happy.

We have reached a place of desperation.

I just explained to Duane this past weekend, I had Christmas shopping done early so I could enjoy the meaning of the season.  I have let some of the "traditions" go this year that have brought more stress than joy, so I could truly celebrate.  We have stuck to our Advent tradition, so I could draw close.  Yet I still feel "I'm missing Christmas".  I'm trying to do everything to not miss it ... but my heart hasn't connected with it.  Is this little something I picked up along the way now causing me to miss Christmas too?

I heard a quiet voice as my head hit the pillow last night, and today I obeyed it.  I put in a request for a leave of absence starting immediately, so I could take care of things at home, take hold of my health and just simply take hold.  A bit of the burden I was carrying fell off my shoulders as I left work today.

And then Max Lucado's words and a new perspective came to me, causing the gloom that was following me to flee, and my iced over heart to start to melt.  "Jesus came to the manger scene in the darkness of night."  The light of this world, came into the darkened world.  And in the quietness of my soul I saw my darkened heart,the darkness of the circumstances around us, the darkness of the joy that has escaped our home and now I plead.... 

Dear Jesus, just as you came to bring hope and light into this darkened world, into your darkened, sinful people, I plead and hold onto your promise, and ask that you come into my darkened world, come into my sinful life and be the newness, light, hope, joy and peace you are and always have been.  Please Lord Jesus, come.  I invite you in, and plead for you to just simply come.

And just like that ... that little something is gone, joy is now returning, peace is being restored .... and Christmas hasn't been missed. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Let The Journey Begin ...

Well, it is time for the truth to come out.  I have avoided this blog, because simply 'fear' has kept me away.  Fear of judgement, fear of condemnation and fear of every one's "helpful words" that come across more discouraging than empathetic and encouraging.

The time has come.  Not to just come out in the open with my feelings, but also this dream God has placed on our hearts is staring us right in our face.

Adoption.  We are pleased to announce we have a ten year old son!  And for the sake of his protection, and the rules we must abide...you won't be seeing a picture of him, nor his name posted, or his story.

There are so many stories and evidence this journey is ordained by God.  This entry isn't about those stories.  But bottom line, we're doing what God has called us to do.  And I'm doing everything to trust in Him.

I do remember right before all this came to be, having an attitude of "giving up"; and it was clear through the days that followed God put me in a place where I couldn't, but He could.  It was clear He put adoption on our hearts, and wouldn't even allow us to stop thinking or dreaming about it.  However, just because God calls us, doesn't mean the journey He calls us to is easy.

I have been taught that those things that come easy are definitely meant to be.  So I assumed the opposite would be true too ... those things that are hard, are not meant to be and aren't of God.  A lie!  A lie that Satan is truly trying to stumble me with, and a lie I caste out right now as I type.

The day I met my son for the first time, I changed my clothes a few times ... hoping to look like a cool mom, hoping that I would meet his expectations.  Wishing I had shed a few pounds.  I didn't know what to expect.  I just know I was excited, nervous and full of peace.  I held the hand of peace as we drove to meet him.  I will never forget that day.  It was the moment he came into the room, when I layed my first eyes on him that didn't move me.  We didn't know what to talk about, but God reminded me how much of a gardener our son is ... and it was God that broke the ice.  Our son took that open door and started talking, wanting to show us his garden.  He never stopped talking!  It was the moment he started speaking that moved my heart, and that moment I could see his heart, and see how sweet it is.  It was that moment that changed our lives forever.

As we only have our son on weekends right now, it is when he starts talking that continues to melt my heart.  But it doesn't mean that this is an easy journey.

I was warned that it would take longer for our son to attach to me, more than anyone else.  And I have seen the truth in this statement.  I'd be lying if I told you that their warning, and the understanding behind it made it easier.  It doesn't.  I have a nurturing heart, I want to just hug on him.  But that hasn't come yet.  It has only been a few weeks still, but my heart still wants something that it can't have quite yet.  But I hold onto hope.

Because of my past, my trauma, my stumbling stones Satan tried to lay in my way ... when my son pulls away from me, I feel rejected.  When I feel rejected, I tend to pull away.  When I pull away, my son and I aren't able to attach.  So I have a counselor that holds me accountable, stands on my side and gives me sound advice.  I still hold onto hope and with hope we have already seen some change.

We aren't used to having a boy around here.  I never thought it would be a big thing.  And for the most part it doesn't.  But now I share my husband with someone else, a whole different way.  It has been hard.  I hold onto hope through this transition, and my husband has to give me more reassurance through these days than he used to. And that hope, I have experienced some change.

As we continue to proceed on our visits, I have experienced excitement and honestly resentment.  It hasn't been easy.  It has put our lives upside down.  Both good and hard.  And from the beginning I continue to hold onto God's hand, trusting Him and leaning on nothing but Him.  And through this journey I hold onto the promise that our family of six will be connecting, and this transition will be in our past, and hearts will be connected.  We aren't just growing in number, but in our hearts too.  And through it all ... God is bringing healing - for our son and even for me.  Healing I didn't even know needed to take place.

Adoption.  It isn't easy.  But it is possible.  Hope surrounds it.  And I reach out for that hope so often these days.  I choose to trust God, and continue to look forward to the days ahead WITH our son.  And I choose to love my son, and am reminded through this choice God chose to love me.  And I choose to hold God's hand and am reminded God has never let me out of His.  Will I have bad days and be a bad mom?  Yep.  Our son will have the same mom as the girl's do.  A mom full of mistakes and who needs God's grace every moment of every day. 

And now let the journey begin...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Time for Everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-14)

When I think of what to write, "seasons" keep coming to me.  During the last few months it has been "a time to be silent", but now is "a time to speak"....

A time to mourn:  We had our oldest daughter go off to college, which put my heart in a frenzy.  I didn't know how to breathe, let alone continue with the day to day activities.  I knew it would be hard...just not that hard.  Now I embrace this season. 

A time to weep:  I have two daughters who are in high-school.  I just feel old!  No other words to describe.  And then depression hit for a while, a Satan's lie of "your girls don't need you anymore" was a constant battle for not only me, but everyone in our household. 



A time to plant and a time to uproot:  I have to admit I have NEVER seen me in the fast food field.  God calls us to different places ... mine was at Chick-Fil-A.  I remember during a prayer time, God sending me to go and apply "I am giving you the store".  I don't know exactly what that meant, but I do know that in the past four months I have been shown favor, and God has given me wisdom and strength to get through the days.  I have gone from employee to team leader.  I enjoy working with everyone...and now have become the Chick-Fil-A Mom.  But as I write, I'm learning that this adventure, this avenue that has been such an adventure is a season that started with 40 hours plus a week, to a few hours three-four days a week.
A time to dance:  In September we celebrated 20 years of marriage!  We both can't imagine life without each other, or even before one another.  And we are ready for another 20 years of life with one another.  

A time to embrace:  I shared with each of you in the previous post of how God wasn't allowing us to let go of our dreams.  It remains true today, and He is answering our hearts, His hearts desire.  We have met our son.  We have spent time with him, and he has spent the night at his new home.  We are in the process of dotting a few i's and crossing a few t's and hopefully by the end of the month - our family will have it's newest addition home.  I'm so glad God didn't allow us to stop this journey, because through His mercy, compassion and endurance He has given us the perfect match! 

So in the past few months we have experienced "a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven" ... and all we can say is Yes!  "He has made everything beautiful in its time!"

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Exciting God We Dream With!

Life is full...very full.  But that isn't the reason this blog has remained still for the past months.  I have said over and over again.  I write when God shares with me what I can share.  I take this serious, as I wouldn't want to cause anyone to stumble.  Now is the time to blog!  :)

I looked back in my journal to figure out how do I even start, where did this all start?  Perhaps it started back further than I knew.  In an entry dated June 20th, I mentioned how I was avoiding God, and was somewhat bored with our relationship.  A place I didn't long to be, but one that I didn't know what to do to change.  Shame filled me.  I also mentioned of unanswered prayers, sill being the same plea then.  I questioned God.  It was becoming a struggling relationship, and yet I still remained commited but longed for something more...something different.  And during that time of journalling God came beside me, sat and talked to me and gave me words of promises, hope and reassurance.  I just never to expect it to take off from there the way it did.

I was confronted at church that I walked in defeat.  Never did I see that, and boy was I quick to deny it.  It took my 15 year old to show me the truth, and share the examples she saw in it.  It shook my world.  I came with a repented heart ready to change and set a better example to my girls.  I walk in the freedom God has for us, not the defeat Satan hands our way.

It was a dream come true when I was able to attend a conference to hear Beth Moore.  Her message, as always, was timely, and spoke to the creavises of my soul.  Somthing stirred.  She talked about starts and finishes.  How God calls us to journeys, and starts us on them.  It is when we call them to end is where I have personally gone wrong.  I have been disobedient to His calling.  I have defied Him.  And I needed to repent once again and get right back on the journeys He has called me to.  So many times these journeys just seemed impossible or way too long, and have felt many times the scars of the collision we had with a brick wall.  May I remind you all of our adoption journey? 

That very weekend with Beth Moore, I also heard a sermon at our church about dreams.  How God gives us dreams, and places them in the center of our hearts for a reason.  Little did I know I had stopped dreaming.  I hate to admit, but may I remind you of our adoption journey and the pain it has brought in our hearts?  What you don't know is how long this particular journey has been.  It is approaching 20 years since we started pursuing, stopping and going along the way ... but 20 years.  Twenty years of heart ache, disappointments, rejections, false hopes and confussion.

Duane and I took a night a way.  We spent the night and day dreaming, and listing those dreams.  Our dreams, and our individual dreams.  A list we have started, and plan on continuing as the dreams arise.  Up top on our dream list together, is to adopt.  One of my individual dreams is to have a restaurant/ice-cream parlor or something that could be "home" and safe place to the community, and could be a hang out for teens.  Dreams.  Dreams are so fun!  Something came alive that day.  Everything within me came alive.

Duane and I were leaders at a youth conference the very next weekend.  We were anticipating what God was going to do and say ... not just to the kids, but to us too.  We walked out of the conference with a knowing this journey isn't over, and a bigger calling yet.

I awoke one Saturday morning with the thick presence of God resting in our room.  Who can sleep when He is there?  So we went out walking together.  I worshipped and praised, and He spoke.  He told me to go and apply and Chick-fil-A, He was going to give me the store.  I didn't question, and still don't understand it ... but I walked out in obedience.  During the interview the manager told me he saw me at a certain level, which was part owner of the store.  Confirmation! Today I work 5:30am-2:00pm Tuesday through Saturdays.  I won't be missing any time with the girls.

I went to a CASA training.  A fellow CASA worker was trying to tell me about a 10 year old boy AGAIN, for the 4th time.  Before all the events that had recently happened, I wouldn't listen.  Our home study was in Denver county.  They didn't want to work with us, when we were focused on getting the right child in our home, rather than just taking any child to get off the list.  They weren't returning phone calls nor emails.  It was hopeless.  But this time, I walked with Jesus who is the Victor, and wins the each battle.  This time I didn't walk in defeat, but in victory and confidence of God.  And the Holy Spirit prompted me to listen. There does seem to be a match being discovered. 

It just happened I received an email a couple of days after this visit and was told of the annual adoption event Adoption Exchange has each year.  I contacted them, to see if they could get our home study out and changed to another county.  A week later, our home study was in the hands of another county.  The impossible was done!  Today we wait to hear what is next, as we keep our eyes on God, the One who is Able to do all He wants!

Life is exciting again, and far from boring!  Not because of all the things in our lives, not because of all the changes in our lives, but because God is the center.  Our eyes are fixed on him, and He is EXCITING! 

So today we wait.  We wait on Him.  We wait to see what He wants to start in our lives.  Wait to see what we are to do next on those things He has already started in our life.  And wait to see how He finishes things in our lives.  He is the Alpha and Omega, and we have allowed Him to be the Alpha and Omega in our personal lives as well. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

MY Faith

I just viewed a comment that I received on my blog a few days back.  Basically in a nutshell...I am delusional, because I talk to someone who is "non-existent" and have a non-loving God who only cares for some of the people, some of the time.


Wow!  


But it got me thinking.  Why do I believe in God?  


I won't sit and explain all the contexts of scripture that was thrown my way.  But I will warn those who question and seek to make sure you understand the scripture in its context and history.  When you do, you'll see how important Jesus is...and the true miracle He is.


I was told that God only performs some miracles ... not for everyone.  I suppose that could be true.  I could go through all my life and seek all the times I asked for a "miracle", only not to receive what I was asking.  But that wasn't it.  The story continued and in spite of my answers not being answered the way I saw fit, I saw a lot more than I could ever imagine waiting for me on the other side.  It was on the other side that I found my miracles. 


"There isn't any evidence of miracles".  I see it on the contrary.  I am living proof. Every time I wake, I know I'm a full blown miracle. 


It was justified that all these statements I have made, are "defenses" for the God I have.  NO.  Just testimonies of the God I know.   You see, I don't have to defend my God.  He is big enough to do so himself.  Matter-of-fact, I can rest knowing just how great my God is.  


And as for no one ever seeing him.  I find that false.  I have seen Him, experienced Him and have even been held by Him.  You may find it hard to believe ... but I find it true.  I know I wouldn't be the person I am today, if I didn't have Him in my life.  


The funny thing is.  I have never labeled you.  Why do you label me?  I know you believe what you believe, and I believe what I believe.  But the biggest difference is ... I have someone to pray to, ask for divine intervention in your life ... who do you have on your side to help you?  I pray that one of these days you will truly see you aren't standing alone ... no matter how much you deny Him.  And you'll see his love will never turn away from you ... no matter how much you push.  You are forever His.


I also thank you ... you are causing me to stand in boldness.  There are only a few of my closest friends who I share this with.  You see as a "Christian", you could find it easy to believe the lie "I shouldn't have dealt with my issue, if I truly believed in my God."  But I believed that lie.  Fear has held me back.  But now it is time for all to here.  The truth will set me free and the time is now.  This is my story ... delusional or not, it happened to me and I live as a miracle today because of it.  This isn't my testimony ... but God's.  To Him be all the glory!


(You'll have to watch the whole sermon ... but somewhere in the middle, you'll find my story.) 


My testimony (half way through the sermon)





Friday, May 18, 2012

Parenting 101

I have noticed something about me ... and it has shown itself loud and clear the past couple of weeks.  


I don't like telling me girls "no".  


It is inevitable.  When we go out to a school function or even a church function ... they get the last minute invite to do something...time to hang out with their friends.  Or they will be doing "nothing" at home, and receive a call or text message inviting them to go do "something".  And then there are those times they see something in the store window and they just want it.  Every school class has their own focus, which brings the desire of jackets, awards and even trips.  It seems the older they become, the more "May I..." 's we hear.  


I want to give them everything and the last thing I want to tell them is "no".  I want to give them their hearts desire.


Last night was no different.  We were at the last school concert of the school year, and a group of kids were going out to see a movie.  I wanted the same for my own children.  I wanted them to go.  I wanted them to know they fit in.  But I had to say it ... "no".  (And when I started weakening ... I sent them to Daddy.)


You see we have rules posted in our home.  Responsibilities must be done.  And we aren't the mean parents giving them a 100 things to have done.  But we have asked the basics:  clean your room, clean your messes, take care of the pets, etc..  We also have the consequences posted as well.  Privileges will be taken away.  It is simple, you do your responsibilities and you get to have privileges!


Last night ... my husband said "no".  Tears were shed.  Anger was pierced on the lips.  Accusations through body language of being the "meanest parents on the planet" was clearly stated and we have been reminded that "we are the only parents who do this".  


And then I wondered. 


I have heard some "no" 's in my lifetime from my Heavenly Father.  Was it because I didn't do my responsibilities?  You know the ones ... loving those I rub shoulders with, not gossiping, being quick to forgive, and so on.  But I recall Ephesians 2:8-9;  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast."   And clearly I saw that God gives me a great gift ... the gift of 'no".  Because through that no I still am able to experience His grace.  Through His grace I tangibly receive His patience, love, forgiveness, friendship, support, protection ... and the list goes on.  


No.  I now see it differently.  It is a word of love.  A word of protection.  A word that is knowing.  And I think of those times I have heard no, and the hearts desire I was asking for ... and now see the all knowing God I know - and see it was His love, protection, forgiveness, grace I truly desire over anything I have asked for.    


Yea, you heard it hear first.  I can be the meanest parent in the world.  And apparently I'm the only parent that gives their children responsibilities, and consequences if they aren't done.  But if our girls can see that through that simple little word of "no" they are loved, forgiven, protected and even experience some wisdom through it, but first and foremost experience their Heavenly Father .... just maybe they too will look back and see receiving just that was all they ever desired.







Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Accusations

It has been so long since I have written.  Where have I been?  I would love to tell you busyness ... that is somewhat true, but not totally.  I would love to tell you I haven't had anything to say ... somewhat true, but life always brings something to say.  But truth be told, we have gone through some storms of life.  And as much as I'm trying to not talk about it, God is nudging me to do just that. 

I'm not going to share all the details, as that is irrelevant.  But I am going to share what God has done through this time.  And I believe, God is going to break off the deep sadness I am experiencing through the confession and realization of how great God is. 

Defender: (according to Webster's) protect, shield, guard, safeguard, defend implies warding off what immediately threatens or repelling what actually attacks; protect is wider in application and less active in suggestion, implying a keeping safe by any means from injury or destruction; shield suggests that interposition of a cover or barrier against imminent and specific danger; guard implies protecting with vigilance and force against expected danger; safeguard implies taking precautionary protective measures against merely possible danger.

Vindicator: to set free, deliver, avenge, exonerate, absolve:  to provide justification or defense for; justify, to protect from attack or encroachment, defend.

Ever since I was little, I have dreamed of someone to take a stand and defend me when the battle was fierce.  Perhaps it is the romantic in me, or one too many seeings of Cinderella.  But I can say honestly, I have had that desire.  I have been taught to stand up for myself...be strong.  So on the contrary, if I didn't stand for myself ... I believed I was weak, or rather I was looked down upon because of my weakness and I wouldn't survive this world. 

Can I tell you something about me?  I'm NOT a fighter!  Never have been, and I never will be.  It is just not in me ... unless, I have to protect my children...then it is a whole new ball game!  But for the most part, even my girls will tell you ... we pray for our enemies.  We allow truth to prevail.  It will all work itself out in the end. 

In the past month we allowed a 15 year old girl come into our home.  We made ourselves very vulnerable.  We gave her food, clothes, love, safety, shelter, encouragement, truth, acceptance ... and so much more.  But what we gave her wasn't enough.  It was something she rejected over time, and something she would complain about in the end. 

In the middle of our circumstances, lies and deceit were discovered.  The truth was exposed.  The truth of what came into our home, was totally what was not exposed in the beginning.  The foundation of her coming, was based on a lie ... and it took four weeks for her ground to crumble.  

Accusations.  We say they don't hurt, but until we are under the pointing finger and all its wrath we discover - they hurt and are very heavy! 

My accusations:  I'm an abuser.  I'm names, that you won't hear from my lips (or fingertips).  I'm neglectful.  I definitely have issues.  I play favorites.  I am a liar.  (Those are the ones I know of.)

I look at those accusations as they try to stick their nasty lies on me.  And I see something:  they are true.  I know I have raised my voice a time or two or more to the ones I love.  The colorful names I won't say ... I guess I could be those things on occasion.  Have a neglected our home?  Yep.  Do I have issues?  YES!  Let me be the first to say!  I have a tendency to favor my family on occasion.  And you know what ... as much as I say that I don't ... I know I have lied.  So I guess you can say I'm guilty as charged!

But you see the difference between me and some is that I have Jesus, who took these accusations, allowed them to pierce His head, hands and feet...let alone His heart.  Then he did something with them no one else has done:  He nailed each one to the cross with His suffering.  He took them, so I didn't have to.

For the past few weeks fear has ruled my heart.  I was afraid that this small community I live in will believe the worse about me.  I was afraid of the battle I was going to walk through.  I was afraid of the judgements I was going to have to encounter.  My head lowered in shame, as fear conquered my heart.

It wasn't until the past two days I have seen God work on the hearts of those I hold relationships with.  The accusations were never even considered.  Not one!  These people saw me, ignored (what I call) "the squeaky wheel" and saw the truth.  I didn't have to draw one breath to defend myself.  And as I saw this, I experienced God lifting my head up to see who He is in my life.

So ever since I was little I have wanted a defender ... a vindicator.  Ever since I accepted Jesus in my heart, little did I know I had one.  I marvel ... that I can look in the mirror and see those accusations, and see the truth in them, but one by one they fall off each and every day, because my Jesus sees me, not the accusations ... and sees something worth fighting for, something worth standing up for ...

He sees me as His! 

"Look upon my suffering and deliver me,
for I have not forgotten your law.
Defend my cause and redeem me;
preserve my life accorrding to your promise.

Your compassion is great, O Lord;
preserve my life according to your laws.

Psalm 119: 153-154, 156

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Promises

Sports.  I don't know about where you live, but here in Colorado there is a sport or two and a team or two for every season.  If I turn on the nightly news, it is sports that cover the hour.  For the past two or so weeks all we have heard about is the Payton and Tebow saga...and it is always top of the news.  I won't even remind you...it's not football season, and we haven't heard one comment about the Rockies. 

I have never been a Bronco's fan, and more likely never will.  I'm not a football fan.  Our family is all about baseball.  Duane and Katie enjoy basketball.  Trading seems to be part of the sports territory, no matter what sport you choose.  As a fan, it is to the point where it makes it hard to get your heart sold out for your "favorite player" before the team sends them on their way for someone new.

Duane and Katie were upset days ago, as their favorite player got traded off the Nuggets.  Duane remained in confussion, as the Nuggets had just paid a hefty price to keep this player for five years ... but now he is gone.  The money is still paid, but the promise of playing on the team is broken.  My baseball team since I was little, traded in a player that won't be able to play because of penalties he has to endure, as part of a consequence to his behavior.  Yet he was brought in a promise to play, and sealed with a salary.  Broncos just took on a favored and well known quarterback for a hefty price of 95,000,000.  The promise is Payton will play and the hope is the Broncos will be in the Superbowl.

It got me thinking about promises.  A team promises to keep a player, and the promises are sealed with a price.  And in spite of the price, promises are broken.   

I thought about God.  Because I play for him.  He has many promises for me, and with me.  I was even sealed with a price ... an ultimate price - His life.  When I break my end of the promise ... his price has still been made.  I also so thankful I won't be traded for someone bigger and better than I will ever be.  God will keep me still.  He sees my worth and my potential.  He sees how much He has invested in me and with His coaching, all the victories we will experience.  I hold onto my promise in Him, and know it will never be broken, for my God will never leave me or forsake me. 

So perhaps we are in an era where promises of jobs are like shifting sand, perhaps our family's promises of get togethers don't stand to be true, perhaps even our promises of friendships come and go ... either way, I will remain confident of this:  "The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made".  (Psalm 145:13b)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Let Me Hold You Longer

There have been a couple of events that have taken hold in our home in the last month.  Events some may think, it isn't that big deal...others, can grasp it in their heart.

Last month, Lindsay turned 18 years old!  18 Years old marks adulthood ... yet I still see the baby girl within.

Last month, Lindsay was accepted to two colleges!  Two weeks ago, Lindsay had auditions to get into the performing arts school of music in one of the colleges.  I will save that story for another time, and for now I will focus on this Mama's heart.  The day we have trained and prepared our baby for is closer than ever before ... I don't see my life ever being the same. 

This weeks marks the first week of the last quarter.  The school year is drawing to an end.

I contemplated how to share the tears I have wept, the joy I have danced and the full heart I hold during this time.  I came across a children's book I purchased a few years back, not grasping it then but with a full concept now. Let me read it to you, with my own pictures, and some edits made personally by me.

Let Me Hold You Longer
Written by Karen Kingsbury



Long ago you came to me,
  a miracle of firsts:
First smiles and teeth and baby steps,
  a sunbeam on the burst.
But one day you will move away
  and leave to me your past,
And I will be left thinking of
  a lifetime of your lasts...















The last time that I fed
your baby lips.
The last time that I lifted you
and held you on my hip.



The last night when you woke up crying,
  needing to be walked,
When last you crawled up with your Cookie Monster,
  wanting to be rocked.








The last time when you ran to me,  still small enough to hold.
The last time that you said you'd marry
  Daddy when you grew old.
Precious, simple moments and
  bright flashes from you past-
Would I have held on longer if
  I'd known they were your last?

Our last adventure to the park,
  your final midday nap,
The last time when you wore your favorite
  dress and gave a little tap.




Your last few hours of kindergarten,
  those last days of first grade,
Your last craft created in Sunday school,
  last colored picture made.

I never said good-bye to all
  your yesterdays long passed.
So what about tomorrow-
  will I recognize your lasts?

The last time that you catch a frog
  in the window wells.
The last time that I kiss your hurts
  all those time you fell.
Silly,scattered images
  will represent your past.
I keep on taking pictures,
  never quite sure of your lasts...


The last time that I comb your hair
  or stop a pillow fight.
The last time that I pray with you
  and tuck you in a night.
The last time when we cuddle
  with a book, just me and you.
The last time you jump in our bed
  and sleep between us two.

The last piano lesson,
  the last field trips, especially in 4th grade.
Your last few weeks of middle school,
  and watching you squeal for parades.

I look ahead and dream of days
  that haven't come to pass.
But as I do, I sometimes miss
  today's sweet, precious lasts ...






The last time that I help you with
  a math or spelling test.
The last time when I shout that yes,
  your room is still a mess.


The last time that you need me for
  a ride from here to there.
The last time that you spend the night
  and your argument of how "things aren't fair".

My life keeps moving faster,
  stealing precious days that pass.
I want to hold on longer-
  want to recognize your lasts...

The last time that you need my help
  with details of a date.
The last time that you ask me 
if you could be home late.



The last time that you talk to me
about your hopes and dreams.
The last time that you wear your drum major uniform
for your high school team.

I've watched you grow and barely noticed
seasons as they pass.
If I could freeze the hands of time,
I'd hold on to your lasts.




For come some bright fall morning,
you'll be going far away.
College life will beckon
in a brilliant sort of way.
One last hug, one last good-bye,
one quick and hurried kiss.
One last time to understand
just how much you'll be missed.
I'll watch you leave and think how fast our time together passed.

Let me hold on longer, God,
to every precious last.

This is what the Lord says:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,
declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 9:23-34

Monday, March 5, 2012

D.R.A.M.A.

I'd be a millionaire for all those people who told me when my girls were little "oh, just you wait for those teenage years".  I'd be a trillonaire for all those people who gave me their warning and now I'm "living the dream!"

Boys.  Clothes.  School.  Who is dating who and who is breaking up with who.  Hurt.  Friendships.  Cunning remarks.  Good days.  Assemblies.  Sports.  These are the highlights of my afternoons when the girls get off the school bus and walk into our lives.  Duane and I have noticed we've become the "fix-it doctor" as we council our girls through their everyday issues.

Now in no way I'm going to share with you my struggles to receive your pity.  I'm not complaining, I have noticed how I have stepped off my path and now getting back on course.   I also want to make it clear:  I love my world, because I love my girls!  However, I do believe with every mile stone in raising our children is another mile stone for me to learn.

Time between a husband and wife seems far and in between.  My personal time with God seems to be limited only when the girls aren't around.  Quietness and the calmness has seemed to have left our home all together.  I noticed I would rather be out of the house than in it, and that is when the alarm bell set off.  I love my girls, and if I love them I should want to be around them...not away from them.

I noticed too I was exhausted.  All this drama was consuming me, and I was now a 24 hour counselor, 7 days a week.  Somewhere the boundary was broken ... and now it was my job to fix all their problems.

God never speaks directly in His word about how to raise teenage daughters in the current day and age we are in, and never speaks directly using the word "drama" but I did see something.

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.  They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.  Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  "In your anger do not sin":  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.  He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 4:17-5:2

Now I'm not saying that we have it all together at all, but I have found my direction and have taken back my home once again, filling it with calmness and love once again.  I have already lived my teenage years, and choose to take off those old ways and live in the new creation God made in me.  I will love my girls through these challenging years, and help them see all God has for them and is in them.  I will trust God's council in their lives, not mine.  I will have us all check our words, thoughts and deeds at the door and bring only what is good in.  I will continue to forgive and seek forgiveness just the same.  And I will guard what comes off the lips of mine and my girls.  I will no longer let the devil have a foothold and steal the life we have in our home.  Kindness and compassion will fill our home once again ... and it will stay as the drama leaves!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Me? A Warrior in Battle?

There is something in our home, one only parents would pick up on.  Something just isn't right.  I couldn't put my finger on it, so I just ignored it.  The something seemed to get bigger, but I still couldn't put my finger on it.  My first instinct was to ignore it, take the easy way out - you know the way.  The way that says, "well, God knows.  He is our warrior.  He fights for us.  He will step in at the right time."

Yes!  God is all knowing.  God is our warrior and will fight for us!  And God has proved himself over and over again that He will step in at the right time ... not a moment too soon, and never too late!

But the Holy Spirit kept on nagging me.  Something still wasn't right in our home and it was time for it to leave.

The Holy Spirit prompted a question to me this morning:  "Do I have peace or not about a certain person?".   Well, the truth?  NO!  I do not have any peace about this!  And so I sought God, and sought Him hard!  I started praying for this individual.   

The Spirit reminded me that I have all authority that was given to me to take back what is rightfully mine.  I have all authority to call on the name of Jesus to fight, and help me fight with him for this person.  God was calling me to fight.  But truthfully, I didn't want to be a fighter.  Perhaps it was the era I was brought up in ... I just want to be in love and peace.  God reminded me that He has equipped me for this, and I am more than ready to go to war. 

I drew a picture of my fighting attire:  the full armor of God described in Ephesians 6:10-18.

Now I'm not any scholar.  But I saw power in what God has equipped us each with and I was so thankful for what He has given.

The helmet of salvation.  I remembered that our minds have so much control of how we think and even how we feel.  I sought that I would be reminded of nothing but God's salvation, who He is and who I am because of Him.  I want that to control every aspect of my being, and how He sees me and who He calls me to be to control everything of who I am.  The helmet fits tightly, not allowing any other thoughts to come in and try to manipulate or take control.  I am His.  He is mine.  My salvation is in Him.  It will control my very being!

The breastplate of righteousness was the next thing I picked up.  It protects our heart.  Without our heart beating our whole body dies, for our heart brings life.  I called for God to bring life through His righteousness and that our heart will not beat for those things that we think we "love" or even think we are, but rather every beat will be loud and clear for Him!  The breastplate is marked to be right with God, and with it I call forward that everything I do will be right with God.  May we hunger and thirst for it so much that we will long to pick up this breastplate each day. 

And what is a girl without her shoes?  I put on God's shoes.  I remembered how much protection they provide.  They keep our feet from becoming blistered, torn burnt or even frost-bitten.  They keep us sturdy.  I knew with God's word in my life and God himself I stood in sturdiness...with God's word I can't fall, and can't even get off the path.  But those times that I do fall off the path, these shoes give me the ability to get back on! 

Then I picked of the shield of faith.  It is so big I could hide in it.  I know the faith He has put on me and my loved ones so long ago and found protection in it.  I choose to hide behind faith and ONLY faith.  With this shield of faith there is no access for evil to prevail.  I will stand behind my faith!

The belt of truth.  It is so big, and so heavy it can cause us to tumble over.  I have taken my stand and will gain strength through its weight and it will be encompassed by it.  It will be in every step, in every movement I make.  If I take a step forward, or take two steps back...truth will remain about me.  I was born in truth, and will die in truth and every moment in between will be nothing but truth!  Truth will reign!

Finally,  I saw the sword I've been so afraid of.  It is so violent and peace and love is how I choose to live.  But I have discovered the evil one doesn't play fair, and he will take me out if I don't hurt him first.  God knows this and gave the only offensive weapon I'll need...the sword of the Spirit!   I picked up my sword, and started swinging.  At first it is was so big and heavy, but I grew accustomed to it.  And I saw with it NO enemy will stand.  The Spirit leads it, and it would be wise of me to follow.  The Spirit is my friend and will look out for me.

I am so thankful God has equipped me.  I am thankful He has told me I'm ready.  I'm so thankful He is always present.  I'm thankful that with Him and with how He has equipped us, the battle isn't as fierce.  I'm sure the battles will get more tiresome and hard ... BUT GOD remains the Victor, and the Victory will always be His!   

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Confess, So We May Experience More Than We Can Imagine

It wasn't too long ago, that I had to discipline one of our girls.  Part of the consequence for their choice was that they had to tell their daddy what they did.  What this child didn't know was I had already shared with Duane what took place, and all the details.  Duane was prepared to offer grace, forgiveness and mercy.  But most of all he was ready to extend his love.

But this child feared the worst, and chose to avoid telling her daddy. 

I watched my daughter agonize over speaking the truth to her father.  Through her agony, I saw her withdraw and her emotions turn in anguish and blame.  I saw something else ... I saw a father not only ready but eager waiting to extend so much love to his daughter.  As much as she fought the truth, the more her father's heart broke because he wasn't allowed to share all he had to offer.  

Then it struck.

How many times do I avoid and tip toe around the truth of telling my Heavenly Father of things I need to confess?  I have allowed my emotions turn against me and even others and lead me because of things I've done wrong, when all I had to say was a quick confession.  How many times have I blamed others, trying to seek out an excuse for what I've done wrong?  Bottom line, if I would just be quick to seek forgiveness I would experience more than I could comprehend.  I would experience a love that He wants to just pour out on me.  Forgiveness is already mine ... why do I forget?

I am so thankful God allowed me to see this, because now I think I am able to know His heart a little more, and will be able to step out and experience it even more on those days I just have to say "I'm sorry". 

"to the praise of his glorious grace,
which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of sins,
in accordance with the riches of God's grace
that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure,
which he purposed in Christ,"
Ephesians 1:6-9

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Mama's Hearts Prayer

Oh My Savior, My Father, My Great God, My Friend and Love,

You have impressed so much on my heart these past few hours ... to get them on paper will be a challenge, but being the perfect one you are... I know you will make sense out of it all.

I have been convicted to repent to you.  I have realized lies I have believed, and where the door is open for the enemy to walk in and badger me with his lies and condemnation.  I see it and now I will shut it!  I see what I have believed since I was little:  the lie, I don't belong in the family I was born into, and then married into.  Somewhere along the line, I believed that I was unwanted - no matter how much was told to me on the contrary.  I believed it.  That belief has manifested itself in so many areas of my life:  others not wanting a relationship with me or me not being good enough.  Now I see it weave its ugliness in my children.  Enough is enough and I break that lie off our family.  I see that I am your child, wanted and redeemed.  I see how much time and love you have put into me, taking the time to grow me and see fully that I have never been a mistake - especially in your eyes.  We love, because you first loved us.  I love my extended family, and am so thankful for each one of them.  They are your treasures too, and you are there to meet with each one of them.  I claim restoration, and can't wait to see the day!  

Father God, I confess when the trials of raising three teenage daughters makes me weary, I immediately wonder and doubt I was ever cut out for adopting another child into our home.  I have figured that I'm not doing a good job with the children I already have in our home, how can I be responsible for another.  Well, truth is ... you called me into motherhood a long time ago and I am cut out for the job you instilled in me as long as I lean on you.  I see that I have taken my children's mess-ups and put them on me.  Their errors, are theirs.  Mine are mine.  You redeem it all and make it good.  I repent of taking on others mistakes and calling them my own.  I will stand on your redemption, and leading as I parent the children who are in our home as well as those who will come.  I will also stand guard as to what others speak into my life, and make sure I clarify what is said.  What you say is all that matters.  Your love never fails and will guide us through all of our seasons in life - even this one and I will rest in it!  Thank you Jesus for your constant presence.  Thank you for showing me where to close doors, and open them to you.  Thank you for making everything good. 

Today I rest in you, as you are my strong tower.  With you, I need no other!

I love you,
Karen

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Adoption - The VERY Heart of God

So many times I have written confessing me desperation in our adoption journey, and so many times I have written sharing the moments I have grasped of God  through this journey.  Today I "get it" like no other time prior.

The prayer in our home has been to open the doors that are shut and bring our Liberian children home.  I have also prayed another prayer before the first - that I would experience God fully and understand His heart, and that His heart will become mine!

I started a new Bible study, and we are reading "Beautiful One", edited by Shae Cooke.  I read the first chapter and had to reread it, and have stewed on it during the past couple of days.  It talks of the orphan spirit and the spirit of adoption.  It is funny, I try so many times to think of something else and NOT adoption ... but the word still comes forth!  I don't believe in coincidences, and I do believe God is trying to reveal something to me.  And frankly, I can me a very slow learner, but I finally have gotten it!

One of our pastors told me a year ago that "adoption is the very heart of God".  I knew the passages in the Bible he was referencing, I have heard the statement he said many times before and it was nothing new but I confess I haven't pondered its full meaning, and haven't grasped the fullness of the statement - until today.  It took God to show me through our adoption journey His heart.

We have prepared a room for Elijah.  God has prepared a kingdom for me.  (Matthew 25:34)

We have gathered clothes for Elijah and Ruth.  God has handmade a robe of glory for me.  (Luke 15:22, Romans 3:17)

We have a place designated for Elijah and Ruth at the dinner table.  God has prepared a feast for me.  (Psalm 23:5)

We have paid adoption fees throughout the adoption of Elijah and Ruth.  God bought me through His son.  (Acts 20:28, 1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23)

We speak of Elijah and Ruth being ours constantly, God does the same for me and is pleased of what He created in me.  (Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:16-20, Psalm 139: 13-18)

Elijah and Ruth have the same rights and inheritance as our own daughters who were birthed from me.  God gives me the same inheritance as his own flesh and blood, Jesus.  (Colossians 1:12, Hebres 9:15)

We constantly invision Elijah and Ruth home with us.  God plans a place just for me.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

We wait.  He waits.  (Romans 8:23)

Even as we plan for others to come into our home, not once have we given up hope that Elijah and Ruth will join us one day.  God has never given my spot away either - not for even the person who measures so much greater than me.  Because He has predestined, called, justified and glorified me.  (Romans 8:29-30) 

Today I have seen my prayers answered.  Not the way I had invisioned, but they have been answered just the same.  No, Elijah and Ruth aren't coming home, but through their journey I have seen mine!  God has heard my hearts cry to understand and know His heart and I finally am grasping it and calling it mine!    


In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.  In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possission, the the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 1:11-14 

Friday, January 6, 2012

YES!

The Holy Spirit prompted what Christmas day was to look like in our home. This year we were to bring gifts to Jesus, just as the wise men once did.

In the hussle and bussle of getting ready for Christmas, I remembering wondering "what in the world am I going to bring to the King, who has everything?". I then started creating one gift when the Holy Spirit prompted me to give another.


Our family had a sweet time opening stockings, playing games and just being together centered in love and laughter. It was one of our favorite Christmas'.

Then the time came ... in order to open our gifts, we had to surrender our gift to the Christ child first. Even with the confirmation of knowing we loved one another, and we weren't to judge one another ... the act of giving to our Savior was very hard to do. We had to remove ourselves, and reveal our vulnerability.

Duane removed the family portrait and brought it in. He mentioned how much he valued and loved his family, and has learned that he can't protect it enough, and needs Jesus' to take his family and care for it the way it needs. God does it better, and Duane will follow His leading to be the husband and father he is called to be.


Katie and Courtney shared poems. One a poem of how she sees God and who He is. Another a poem of brokenness and surrender of where she is at in her walk with Him, but a love just the same.


Lindsay brought a necklace that was once her best-friends. After two years of grieving her best-friend (who died from cancer), she has finally giving Jesus what she held most valuable: her best-friend.


When it was my turn I swallowed my embarrassment and gave my gift ... the gift of "YES". I was shown how my words are willing, but my actions aren't following my commitment. In other words, I have been a hypocrite. I told God I would follow through and act out in YES, and not doubt and question. God has given me doors to walk through and I have found comfort in the waiting for those doors to open, that I haven't walked through them as I should. God in return gave me a promise as He extended His hand and showed me TOGETHER we will walk through the coming open doors.

The Christmas gifts are all put away, the tree is taken down and the decorations are stored. However, I still see my gift lying at the manger, and my heart still giving it today. "YES!" I will not be led by how I feel, but trust God fully and TOGETHER we will walk through many open doors in not only this coming year, but the years to come!


"And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'"
Isiah 6:8.