28 March 2014

five minute friday :: mighty

 It's five minute friday again.  Here are my five minutes of words.  Click here if you'd like to join in with Lisa-Jo and her five minute friday community.

Five Minute Friday 
Start:

I am a thinker of thoughts.  When something happens I think about it a lot.

I'm praying for a dear friend this week.  She is in her 20th week of pregnancy.  She lost her previous two children at 19 weeks and 21 weeks.  I can barely wrap my thoughts around this.  How her heart longs to hope while also wonders if hoping is wise.  I pray that God is present in mighty ways, that He shows Himself to be mighty in the middle of these difficult moments.

I'm praying for Alyssa, too.  Continually.  She bravely keeps breathing each day.  Moment by moment she lives.  I can barely comprehend the weight of her hurt.  I know nothing else to do but share His words with her and pray for her so often.  So I beg our Mighty God to be near, to hold close, to carry through.  I beg Him to show a glimpse of His mighty glory and believe Him to give her enough wisdom, peace, strength, and courage to walk one more step, each day.

I'm praying for children in foster care, for the ones that are far away from the birth families through no fault of their own.  I pray that God would lean in to their lives and wrap His mighty arms around them.  I pray that He would rise up believers to not only love this children, but to stand in the mess and love their families too.  I am praying that He would lend His mighty power to the ones He calls so they can stand firm in the hard places.

Our world is broken.  Hurt abounds.  The weight of the hurt can sometimes feel too heavy, too much, too overwhelming.

While I am thinking all the thoughts, all I know to do is call out to the One who is Mighty.

[Stop!]

"Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes."  Ephesians 3:20 (Living Bible)

27 March 2014

things to celebrate

Remember how I am trying to celebrate the little things more often?  Thursdays seem like a perfect day to do this because I go to PWOC in the morning and I'm always grateful when I walk out of there.

This week I am celebrating a handful of things,  they don't necessarily feel small to me.

1. Nobody called their teacher a jerk at church this week! This was not something we could celebrate last week.


2.  I got to sew some really-ridiculously-adorable baby girl things.  Sewing is generally a relaxing creative outlet for me.  I'm grateful I have a space to do it.


3.  I got an email about a month or so ago from the mother of one of my friend's from church.  She asked if her small group (from another local church) could donate some items to our foster care office supply closet.  Here's a picture of the group with some of their donations.  They also donated a new pack-n-play and a whole bunch of training bra sets.  This is such a huge blessing!


4. I was catching up with a friend of mine at PWOC this morning, we chatted about Brad's retirement, then we talked about a couple friends that have moved from here.  We were just listing off the ways God is blessing each of them and doing little happy dances on their behalf.  I realized what a glorious gift it is to have a friend like that.  It is a joy to celebrate others' wins.  The joy is magnified when we do it in community!

5.  Wilson, Walker, and I all passed the 6-mile mark last week during our long run for the running club.  The boys don't always love the idea of running, but they are pretty much rock stars in my book.  We're running the 5k at Cascade Hills the week after next.  Register here! {PS - God gave us a super fun reminder that He is in the details.  The PE teacher that started the running club is in the small group up there that donated to the foster care closet! So cool, huh?}

5. Brad bought me a thanks-for-coming-on-the-Army-adventure-with-me gift.  Totally unexpected.  Its the first laptop I have ever owned.  If I told you what he wrote in the card you would likely bawl, so I'll spare you.  He put the sticker on for me today. 


What are you celebrating today?  I'd love to celebrate with you!

26 March 2014

foster care supply closet :: the little things

I forgot to tell you all that we ran out of hangers in the foster care supply closet last week.  That was a pretty fun experience. . .

Yesterday Brad came with me and I took a couple pictures to help you see inside it again.



When we were leaving we stopped by the case worker's office.  She jokingly asked if we wanted to take a baby with us.  He was in her office in his car seat, happy and alert.  

The clothes hanging in the closet seem so meaningless compared to a baby in a car seat.  The bras and bags and socks and shoes barely mean a thing when there is a child in an office waiting through phone call after phone call to find a home for him.

We couldn't bring that baby home with us yesterday.  {Mostly because of the whole retiring-from-the-Army-and having-to-move-out-of-our-house-by-April-29-and-needing-a-job-to-qualify-for-a-lease-thing.}

Leaving him wide-eyed and cooing in that office tends to feel wrong.  But I think that is the enemy at work.

We can't always do what our hearts would like to.  And we certainly can't do everything all the time.  Ever.  Sometimes this realization leads me to a place of "well, why do anything at all?"  

This is the wrong conclusion.  But the one the enemy would like us to trip up on.

Here's the thing, though::  When the caseworker finds a home for that sweet boy, she can offer: a few outfits, diapers, formula, a blanket, some lovies, bottles, baby wash, baby lotion, and a case of baby wipes!

This matters.  This helps with the placement transition.  It might be small, but it is important.

I didn't purchase those things for that closet.  All I did was tell people about the need. My part in it was small, y'all.  Miniscule, really.  Someone else bought all of those items.  They were faithful to their part, I was faithful to my part.  Someone else will be faithful in doing their part in bringing that little guy to their home.

Do not be discouraged to do the thing that you can do right now.  Whatever it might be.  Perhaps nobody can see it, maybe you can't even see how it is helpful.  God sees.  

Whatever that thing is that is in your heart to do, if you can only do a small slice of it today -- do it anyway.  Eventually those small slices will add up to a whole.  Consistently doing a small thing adds up to a big thing.  The enemy of our souls hates it when we realize this.

So I am doing my small thing today. 

Here is an update about the foster care supply closet needs.

I also want to encourage anyone that is local to join us at the Twilight 5k to support the foster care supply closet.  Click here for details!

Our church, Cascade Hills,  will be launching Mission 1:27 on April 5 & 6 2014.  Brad will be sharing in each of the services that weekend.  We are praying now for people that will want to join together to support children in foster care in our area.  From the smallest job to the hardest task, it takes a lot of people to care for these kiddos and their families well.  We are so excited about this opportunity.  And beyond thrilled that we get to be a part of God's work in this way.

Finally, if you would like to purchase a bag for the foster care supply closet, we are hosting a drive via Thirty-One gifts.  You can place an order through this link.  Everyone that purchases a bag will be entered into a drawing for hostess rewards.  Fun perk, huh?

As always, if you have questions please do not hesitate to ask!

21 March 2014

last day

So many BIG feelings, y'all.


These last 8.5 years have been the best, hardest thing for our marriage.  Brad signed up at the prompting of our great God and we followed.  We had no idea what to expect.  We let go of extended-family traditions and plans to raise our kids close to grandparents.  We said good-bye to one another for longer periods of time than we ever imagined we could agree to.  

I watched God grow the man in my husband.  The leader of our family emerged with confidence to follow anywhere during these 8+ years.  Brad endured hard days of belittling in the beginning, which eventually developed a leadership skill set in him that held tightly to doing the right thing, the right way, every time.  His integrity has emerged stronger and the foundation of His faith has proven solid.  If the only thing our family had gained from these 8 years was the spiritual growth Brad reaped by following God here, it would have been worth it.  

But God, in His goodness, gave us heaps more along the way.

I have these friendships with women around the globe.  Friends that I might have never known otherwise.  Women that have loved me on my hard days, held my hand through some incredibly-ugly-crys.  Women that have shared the sorrow of being away from their husband + also being away from their parents, siblings, family. I have found there is no time for shallow friendships with my mil-friends.  I've made friends that have become family for my children.  This is no small thing.  I'll be forever convinced that God, in His goodness, has allowed my path to cross with the finest of the finest in regard to military wives.  My friends are just that good. I know many of these friendships will continue past this season of our lives.  

Quite a few of these friendships were forged at PWOC.  I will always be grateful for this organization and the way God has grown me through it.  I was blessed to be in leadership with some fabulously amazing and humble women.  I was given words of encouragement by women that mentored me and I will always carry those words in my heart.   I learned the beauty of working with a team for a season -- the beauty of sharing goals and compromising plans.  I learned about how God builds a team that might look unlikely and then He mashes the talents together to create brilliance that gives Him all the glory.  I'm so grateful that PWOC will welcome me even when I am no longer an active-duty spouse.


God held our family together even when an ocean + time separated us.  He showed me I had strength that only He could give, and He gave our young boys strikingly resilient hearts.  God showed us all how to love one another in the absence of physical touch and nonverbal communication.  The bond my guys have is undeniable.  God knits families together. {Who would've guessed the deployments would pave the way for knitting our family together through adoption, too? Only God.}


God also grew us as a couple during this time. In more ways than I could ever list here. One of the greatest gifts He gave us during Brad's time in service was our church families.  At both duty stations, God granted us friendships with people from our Sunday School classes.  One group carried us through that 15 month deployment, the other carried us through the adoption process.  Both groups loved us through our socially-awkward phase -- this, too, is no small thing.

God has been preparing us for this change over the last year. . .truthfully, He's been preparing us all along.   We wouldn't have guessed that a medical retirement after 8.5 years would be how this journey ended, but God always knew.  I know He is moving us to better places for our family for this time.  He has made that clear.  Its time to let go and we are mostly ready.

Sometimes you leave something great for something great.

I have loved this time.  It has been a great honor being an Army wife.  It is something special to have that title.  It is not lost on me that I am privileged to know that today is the last day Brad will wear his uniform.  Some wives do not know that until they get a knock on their door.   I am humbled to have known these women; women that have given their hearts to these men; men that have signed up to give their lives for our country.  Every mil-spouse has bravely volunteered to sacrifice as well.  So when Brad comes down stairs in his uniform and when I snap pictures of him today. . . I'll be thinking of the ones that didn't know it was their husbands' last day in uniform.

And my gratitude will spill from my eyes.
And I will thank God for this gift. 
And I will thank Him for men like Josh and women like Alyssa.
And I will promise to never forget and to always remember.

I can't sum up these last 8+ years into a tidy sentence.  But this verse seems fitting all over again. 

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy."  Psalm 126:3

15 March 2014

five minute friday :: crowd

Here's my link up to Lisa-Jo Baker's.  Even later this week than last! But, you know, better late than never, right?

Five Minute Friday 
 five minute friday :: crowd

As the day gets away from me, words crowd into my thoughts, my mind.  Things I maybe should've gotten done.  Things maybe I shouldn't have said.  Crowding around, filling up the space.  Its heavy at times.  That crowd of shove-me-around-drag-me-down words.  They try to crowd out the silly giggles we shared at lunch or the happy-after-school-tales.

But there is a quiet voice in that crowd.  Its that Voice that speaks truth.  It reminds me to remember the good, the gifts, the blessings.  It reminds me to be grateful.  To hold tight and speak up about the sweet moments that filled more of the day.

The Voice also reminds me that there is some Truth to glean from that crowd of end-of-the-day words too.  I surely can be more careful about what I say, and more careful with how I spend my time.  But the true voice speaks differently than those crowded words -- it speaks with Love, and with Hope, and with Grace.  It speaks of Mercy.

There is no condemnation here, not like in the crowded-jumbled words.

08 March 2014

five minute friday :: willing

five minute friday -- on a Saturday!  {Rulebreaker!}

I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo and the special space that she has carved out for others to share their words.  Check here if you are interested in joining in!

Five Minute Friday

Ready. Set.  GO!

Willing.

I say I am willing.  I want to use my gifts for His glory.  Yes I sure do.

Except when fear holds me back.  Or when I assume my gift is really just too ordinary.  Surely everyone has been told, "you should write a book!"  At least that I is what I tell myself.  When people say, "you are a gifted writer".  I more or less shrug my shoulders, kick some dirt around my toes and assume everyone that writes anything online hears this often.

So I discount my gift. The one I have repeatedly said I am willing to use.  I put it off.  I read every tutorial on pinterest for making a baby hat before deciding to just use the first one I found.  Then if I really want to put off writing, I'll go ahead and read the comments on that tutorial.  And hey! since this tutorial is so well-written maybe there are other tutorials I should look for by this person.

And the time I willingly set aside to write, is gone.

So am I really willing?

As I mopped yesterday and the dudes painted and I sang lyrics out loud. . . this one stopped me cold, "I don't want to be a thief who's stealing your glory."*  And it hit me.  I could steal His glory if I claim success as my own. If I don't acknowledge my writing as His gift.  But maybe, just maybe,  I also steal it when I choose to hide it away.  Keep it hidden and safe.

***
 Lyrics are from a song by Ellie Holcomb called, "Only Hope I've Got."  Her songs are scripture-based and hope-filled and all around lovely.  Always.

03 March 2014

the bridge is broken

Recently a semi-truck hauling a construction vehicle collided with the bridge between our house and main post.  The boom arm of the construction vehicle was not all the way lowered therefore it smashed into the underside of the bridge as it drove underneath it.  It was probably traveling 45 mph. I imagine the crash was fantastic.  But I didn't see it happen.

The bridge is closed for an estimated 6-8 months.  You can drive underneath it but not over it.  If you didn't know what happened, you might not even notice the damage which is only visible underneath the bridge on one side of the highway.

Whenever we need to get to main post, we now have to take a detour off-post to get there.  Wilson + Walker's school bus also has to go off-post to get their school.  Commissary, PX, bank, hospital, PWOC, post office. . . all are on main post.

So we have a new routine whenever the little dudes and I drive somewhere on main post.  As I drive off-post, it begins::

Franklin: Why we go dis way?
Me:  The bridge is broken.
Lincoln:  Why we not go dat way?
Me:  The bridge is broken so we have to a take a detour.
((pause))

Franklin:  We go to commissary?
Me:  Yes, we are going to the commissary, but we have to go a different way.
Lincoln:  Why we go to commissary dis way?  We go to commissary?
Me: Yes, we are going to the commissary, remember the bridge is broken so we have to go this way.
Franklin: Why we go dis way to commissary?
Me: The bridge is broken

((pause for a bit longer))

REPEAT. ENTIRE. CONVERSATION. {sometimes 2x depending on traffic}

You can sub out commissary for any of the other places we go on-post.  The conversation remains the same.  The level of urgency in their questions varies though.  Every once in a while they will answer each other's questions. . . they'll mention the bridge being broken but I am not sure they understand that.  They can talk about it, but they don't really comprehend it.

I told Brad {sarcastically} that this is my favorite part about the bridge being broken.  The incessant repetitive questions.

But here's the deal.  I recognize my own voice in their questions.

I have slightly more sophisticated grammar, but the heart of the questioning is exactly the same.

I'm asking because I don't get it.  I've heard so many times that "His ways are not our ways." [see Isaiah 55:8-9]  I can talk about it but I don't fully understand it.  The evidence that this world is broken abounds.  But I still find myself asking.

Why are we going this way?
Why can't we go that way?
Are we still going where you said we would go?

He answers patiently through His word.  But I confess, I still don't understand.

Why are we going this way?

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take heart I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Why can't we go that way?

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face-to-face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known."  1 Corinthians 13:12

Are we still going where you said we would go?

"The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."  Matthew 24:14

I look forward to the day when the brokenness is gone.  When every tear is wiped away and every broken heart is made whole.  I long for the day when the heavy weight of sorrow is lifted forever.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Grant me patience as I wait for you.