14 August 2013

hard things

Sometimes I just want to skip over the hard things.  I want to read something trivial and watch something mindless.  I want to just keep saying "hump daaaaayy!" in that camel voice from the Geico commercial.

My instinct is to close my eyes tight and hope when I open them again the hard will be gone.

I volunteered at the reception desk at the foster care office yesterday. I wept when driving away. 

Months ago, I offered to help with organizing the supply closet.  I kept coming back, so I was asked to help at the desk.  I can offer just-shy of 3 hours a week.  They need someone to sit there 40 hours a week.

I can't sugar coat it.  Its not easy.  I've already experienced crying while driving from those offices.  More than once.  You can't walk in those hallways and avoid all of the messiness.  There's nothing easy about the work those caseworkers are doing on a daily basis.

Sitting at the reception desk, its even more eye-opening. I've prayed repeatedly "Break my heart for what breaks yours."  And He has answered repeatedly.  But where do I go from here? What do I do with this heartbreak?  My measly 3 hours of help seems so small.

There are over 300 children in foster care in our county and there are less than 50 foster families.  If you do that math, you discover there would need to be an average of 6 foster children with each foster family.

I don't know what stories I can tell.  For privacy reasons, I am not sure I should tell any of them.  So I will hold them in my heart; the little boy cries and the momma tears and the grandma anxious to stand in the mess.  I'll keep them wrapped up in my mind and pour over them with my Father in prayer. 

I saw heartache.  But I also saw hope. 

There were three families getting fingerprinted so they could become foster parents.  Their eyes were light and their smiles were big.  They were excited.

They are brave.

In the middle of this, I sense a mounting tension as I wrestle with my own past declaration, "I could never foster parent, it would be too hard."

I'm embarrassed that for so long, "it would be too hard" was enough of a reason for me to not even consider it.

Not once had I acknowledged the "hard" on the other side of that equation. 

I hadn't thought about the children being transported miles and miles away because there aren't enough available foster homes locally.  I didn't consider the sibling sets that are broken apart because there isn't enough room in any one home for all of them. 

These are children in the midst of turmoil taking on a hard that I can't wrap my brain around - that truthfully, I don't want to wrap my brain around.

God forgive me.

I don't know where we go from here.  I do know we do not go alone.  I know God's heart is for these children.  Jesus breaks it down like this in Matthew 25 - its worth a read if you aren't convinced about God's heart for these kiddos in need.

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’

44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not [e]take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

I found this song via one of my favorite blogs this morning.  It resonated deeply and reminded me of why the hard things shouldn't be avoided.

09 August 2013

five minute friday :: lonely

Five Minute Friday

This week's prompt is :: lonely.

GO

Oh this word.  It has so much meaning wrapped up in.  And I have felt it in so many places.  It strikes me as most strange when I feel lonely while surrounded by others.  When Brad was deployed and I went to church on Sundays - the day of the week that their were more people around me, I felt the loneliest.  That sticks with me still, and even now I can't not reach out for his hand to hold whenever we get to worship together.

I've felt lonely in really lonely places too.  There is almost something appealing for a little bit of loneliness.  Is that even OK to say?  I think when I feel lonely, I seek the One that has promised that I am never alone.  So even if at that moment, on this earth, there is no one else - my confidence grows in knowing He is with me.  Those reminders are always the good kind, especially in lonely places.

Lonely looks different for everyone.  We wear it our own way.  Its not always something we like to talk about, and it often feels heavy to share it with others.  But every time I breathe the feeling of loneliness to another soul?  There is almost always a reassuring "me too" nearby.  We need each other to carry our loneliness, it lightens the load, and reminds us that we aren't alone... even when we are lonely.

STOP.

Oh you five minutes are quick!  Also?  It is super weird to not spell check and reread what I wrote before hitting publish. 

Thinking about joining in?  The rules are simple as can be:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my blog footer}.
3. Go and comment on the post of the person who linked up before you. This is the one rule of this community.

Go here to find out more!

04 August 2013

12 years!

Wow.

I think I say this every year, but this just keeps getting better. 

I'm so blessed to be your wife Bradley.  You taught me the importance of saying, "I'm sorry" and the equal importance of, "I forgive you."  You say it like you mean it, every time, and you have helped me learn how to do the same. 

You continually inspire me to do my best at the things that matter the most.  You prioritize a happy home over a spotless one, and your grace in this area has encouraged me so many times when I feel like I'm failing.  You jump into the chaos of our home before you even unlace your combat boots most days.  Our boys are always ready to greet you before you can sit for a minute.  And you let them.  Over and over.  You are not tireless, but you keep giving even in your fatigue.

You seek God first in regard to all things.  Your heart for Him, convinces me that all of our needs will be met.  You have chosen to trust Him with our finances and our future, your confidence in His provision repeatedly assures me as well.  You have sought wisdom in how to stretch the E5 pay and every month there is more than enough. You are content with what we have and your contentment is contagious.

I have so many treasured memories stored up in my heart. It overwhelms me to think that this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I will gladly accumulate laugh lines and gray hairs with you darling.  This journey with you feels so much like winning the lottery.  But without the fear of blowing it all in one place. 

Some days this adventure is more like whitewater rafting - prayerfully white-knuckling it through the scary parts, and laughing wild with pride over the accomplishments.  God building our faith along the way.


Most of this adventure, however, is in the every-day-ordinary. The days are often long, the quiet moments after bedtime often feel too few.  But your hand finds mine, you pull me close, and no matter how tired we are I can't help but smile.  We muster the energy to pull ourselves off of the couch and up the stairs, laughter almost always meets us along the way.  

Thank you, darling, for 12 years of surprises I could have never imagined.  I know God has good things in store for the year ahead.  I am grateful for this adventure with you.

01 August 2013

things I learned in July

1. I am not a girl that can go for a run with my hair down.  I am pretty certain that I knew this about myself but for some reason I was too lazy to walk upstairs to get a hair tie.  And, oh what a sweaty mess I was after that run.  Seriously.

2.  I am in love with Target's back-to-school commercials.  It's the music that reminds me of my own back-to-school-days.  Cannot take it.

3.  I feel so incredibly small when I try to take pictures of the sky.  It seems like a silly thing, but I tried to photograph this cloud so many times and it didn't even come close to capturing the bigness of it.  {Perhaps if I got out our actual camera instead of my iPhone, I may have gotten closer; but still.  Sky = huge; me = small.}

4. There is a right way to eat chicken and waffles.  At least the manager at Cheddar's thinks so, I followed his instructions and the results were delightful.

5.  You cannot put salt dough snakes outside if you want them to look like snakes a few days later.  Ours are disintegrating a little bit each day.

6.  I feel like I have enough clothes.  I used to be the girl that HAD to flip through the clearance racks - just in case there was something I needed.  I told Brad the other night that I felt like I didn't really need any clothes.  While we strolled along the outside shopping area on date night, I really couldn't come up with any clothing items I needed to look for... although I did try on some shoes at Ross, because, well, shoes.  {I am certain there are many factors that contribute to this; one being that its so hot here in the summer that the last thing I think about is more clothes; and two, I absolutely do not 'browse' at stores while toting around the boys.}

7.  I could be a pool person.  For people that know me well, this is a shocker.  Believe me, it surprised me when I realized it.  I am totally a person that would love to have a pool in our backyard at our next house.  If we live in the South, there is no doubt that I will actually swim in it too.  Or at least dodge splashes from the boys while walking around in it.


8.  Our local foster care office has taken in 56 children in June & July.  Our caseworker told me that its likely even more will come into care once school resumes.  I feel small all over again.

9.  When I feel small, I have a better perspective of God.  He is able, always. 

***
This "things I learned in July" post is a result of an invitation from Emily Freeman to share our little lessons.  Here's what she has to say about it:
"At the end of each month I like to share a few things I’ve learned. Sometimes it’s educational and informative but usually not.

Usually I’ve discovered a quirk I didn’t know I had or a fascinating-to-me celebrity connection. It’s a mishmash of ordinary life stuff, things that may go unnoticed if I didn’t decide to write them down.

Last month I decided to invite you all to share what you learned in June as well – and it was so much fun I decided to ask you to join me every month! You can do that at the bottom of this post."

So I decided to join in on the fun this month.  You can join in too, link up here.  OR if you don't wanna blog about it, why not sure a lesson or two of yours in the comments?  You know you want to!