November 16, 2016

Count the Cost

Perhaps you and your spouse have thought about adoption or foster care for years.

Maybe it's a brand new thought but it keeps coming up everywhere, seemingly out of the blue.

Your church might have recently spotlighted the orphan crisis and uncomfortable thoughts keep needling their way into your mind.

Suddenly it seems that there are billboards about foster care and adoption everywhere you go, adoptive families who keep crossing paths with your life, common threads in conversation, in radio programming, in blog posts.

You hear the phrase, "Not everyone is called to adopt and foster," and you heave a sigh of relief. Perhaps God is calling to to be a support family, to intercede for orphans in prayer, to raise awareness. Or perhaps, perhaps, God is nudging your heart that He is leading your family to step into the hard places of foster care and adoption, and you're running scared.

My husband NP and I were those people running scared for a long time. And then God made His leading so undeniable that we kept on running scared - but we ran toward obedience. And it has wrecked us in the best possible way.

You see, I was so afraid. So afraid of getting attached. So afraid of watching my children grieve. So afraid of stepping into messy places. And those fears have become reality.

We have picked three precious babies up from the hospital, and over the past two and a half years of our fostering journey we have spent a cumulative year in a repetitive cycle of newborn diapers and WIC visits and pediatrician check ups and night time feedings. We have chosen to love those babies as our own, knowing they might leave. And eventually, all three of them did. And each time, our hearts broke a little bit more, our children grieved more.

Recently God began to push us down a very different, unexpected path. It was a path we had run scared from, even while obediently caring for these little ones - He began to steer us toward a sibling pair waiting for adoption in our county. Their faces broke our hearts, their story broke our hearts, and along each step of the journey God kept confirming that this was the path we were to be on. As the process went on and we waited for the slow wheels of the county to move toward an adoptive match, we felt like we were clicking up a very, very frightening roller coaster - we didn't know what exactly we were in for, but through the fear and joy and unexpected turns to come we knew we would be safe in God's hands, and we knew we would look back on the ride and confidently say it was worth it.

And suddenly, the ride came to a stop. The county chose another family. After months of waiting, after continuing to be in the running after 73 other families had been taken out of consideration as possible adoptive homes, we were second choice. The end. The whiplash has made our heads and hearts throb. And for what? The question hangs unanswered.

Wow, thanks for the encouragement, you say. You're welcome.

My friend, as you consider if this is a path God is leading you toward, I urge you to count the cost. Because it does have a cost. Every adoption involves loss - someone is saying goodbye to that child no matter what. Every foster placement involves loss of control and predictability - it is not safe. You will be wrecked. We have been wrecked. But as I stated earlier, we've been wrecked in the best possible way.

A couple of nights ago I shared this with a friend over a darkening picnic table as our kids played under the supermoon. I confidently told her how grateful I am that God has taken us down this difficult and winding path. I am thankful for how He has expanded my heart for those who did not grow up in a safe and protected and privileged environment like I did. I am thankful for the way He has given my children an open, aching heart for kids who live right around us who don't feel safe and loved and confident that someone is making sure they remember to brush their teeth. I am thankful for how He has allowed my kids to wrestle with the fact that He doesn't always give us crystal clear answers for why things don't end up the way we think is best, why He lets us grieve - and that we can still trust Him to work all things for our good.

Count the cost. And find Him worth it. He is always worth it, and with every bend in the road, with every darkening gloom, we find that Aslan is present in the darkest moments in the most unexpected of ways and will whisper to us at our lowest points, "Courage, dear heart."

And so, we will allow Him to bandage up our bleeding hearts and take steps of obedience again, not knowing where He will lead next. Maybe the point wasn't our "happily ever after" shiny, flawless adoption story (by the way, there isn't such a thing). Maybe the point was us learning to obey at all cost. Maybe the point was us praying for and carrying the weight of kids who need us to advocate for them and pray for them like they are our own. Maybe the point was me writing this, and you taking a step into the unknown.

He is already there and your unknown isn't a mystery to Him.

Count the cost. And find Him worth it.

May 2, 2016

Why you shouldn't homeschool your kids.

As leaves fill the trees, graduation parties fill the squares on our May calendar, and thoughts of summer vacation fill our minds... questions about homeschooling tend to fill my conversations this time of year.

Homeschooling is a fantastic fit for our family. We love it, our kids thrive with it, and I am so grateful for the privilege of teaching them. I love the intensive time of discipleship and relationship building it gives us and the intentional way we can engage life together as a family.

Will we homeschool all the way through? I don't know. We are confident God will guide us step by step.

Would we do this again? Absolutely.

Could you homeschool, if that's what God is calling your family to do? No doubt.

But should you homeschool? I don't know. I can't answer that for you.

What I can tell you is that fear isn't a good reason to do [or not do] anything.

Are you considering homeschooling out of fear? Or are you considering homeschooling because you believe God may be prompting your family in that direction?

Are you considering traditional schooling out of fear of not being able to homeschool? Or are you considering traditional schooling because you believe God may be prompting your family in that direction?

The righteous will live by faith. Not by fear.

As you consider the year ahead and what God would have for your kids, you can get input from people who are passionate about homeschooling, passionate about Christian schooling, passionate about public schooling. But no one else can answer the question for your family - what is God prompting your family to do?

Live (and school) by faith, not by fear.

April 26, 2016

This one's for you, Mama.

This one's for you, Mama.

For you when weariness wakes up with you - when sleep is fleeting, eyes are heavy, no coffee strong enough.

For you when tantrums rage and you cry hidden tears of frustration and exhaustion.

For you when you read the news headlines and look at your precious ones and fear lurks at the edges.

For you when children stretch tall and hormones rage and doors slam and every emotion possible somehow shares the same ten minutes.

For you when no one can find their shoes.
Matthew 19:13-15 
Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. 
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there.
Familiar verses... but linger a moment with me, Mama.

Some days our work feels small, unimportant, unworthy of notice. That's how the disciples saw these mothers with their little ones in tow - easily passed over, not worth the time of their busy, important Rabbi. Just some moms and their crying, coughing, wiggling kids.

That's not how Jesus sees them - that's not how He sees you.

Today as you wipe up spilled milk, find the lost permission slip, drop off a forgotten lunch, do yet another load of laundry... He sees you. He welcomes you, and He welcomes the little ones you love (even if they aren't so little any more).

The very best work you will do today in the lives of your children? Carry them to the Savior. You are seen, you are welcomed, you are loved. He knows the weariness in your eyes. He knows the fears and concerns that haunt your heart. You might feel small and unworthy of notice - but not to Him.

So come in your frustration, in your fatigue, in your anger, in your confusion. Come in your mess. What better balm to a mama's soul than to know the Savior sees her and intercedes for her children.

What a friend we have in Jesus.

April 13, 2016

A morning prayer for less

I mentioned before that I started "quickly" reading through Matthew in September. Yep, still in Matthew. Still marvelling at Jesus. At His Kingship. At His kingdom. His kingdom is so opposite of our natural inclinations.

You want to save your life? You'll lose it.
Lose your life for My sake - and you'll find it.
You want to be great? Humble yourself; come like a child.

The more we deny and empty ourselves of self, the more we experience the reality of His kingdom, His Kingship, in our lives.

So today as I begin my morning - looking out at the frosty grass touched by the Creator's ice-tipped paintbrush, at birds fluttering here and there, each one seen and known by its Maker - I ponder. What if today I became less? What if this day, and everyday, this was my prayer:
More of You
Less of me
In all I do
All I see
I sink low
To lift You high
Because You live
Today I die.
Be great in my life today, Lord. Be lifted higher. I'm at your feet, King Jesus - forgive me for sneaking back up there on the throne of my life.