Not This One

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Every night at the dinner table we share our “highs and lows” for the day. My low was a hefty check I wrote to Homeland Security for our adoption. My “high” went right along with the check because it means we are inching closer to meeting our little one.

This led to a conversation about what each of us will do to welcome our newest member when they arrive. Brandon and I are trying to prepare the kids for possible scenarios – particularly related to attachment issues we may face. We try to explain trauma to our children as thoughtfully as possible, but it’s hard for them to understand completely. They’ve had pretty amazing lives so far (and awesome parents, if I do say so myself). Our youngest, has the softest heart. The mere thought of a a child who was abandoned, neglected, or abused, was enough to make her curl up in my arms and bury her face into my chest. She took a deep, empathetic breath. I know just how she feels.

Sometimes the thought can be overwhelming. Particularly, because we can’t help every child.

I lifted my daughter’s head up to look into my eyes and said, “I tell myself something when I start to feel sad about hurting children. Do you know what I tell myself?”

“What, Mommy?” Her glossy eyes looked right into mine.

“I look at one of you kids–I really look at you. I look at your soft skin and your silky hair. I look at your growing bodies and bright smiles, and I say ‘Not this one.'”

“What do you mean?” She asked.

I cupped her cheeks in my hands, “Not this child. This child is fed. This child is growing. This child is strong. This child is loved. Not this one.”

The sadness still comes, my heart still breaks for hurting children, but there is something empowering about driving a stake into the ground of the territory I’ve been given and saying, “Not this one.” The ones I’ve been entrusted with will be well loved. I can’t help all children–I want to, but I can’t. What I can do, is pour all my love into this moment, this child right in front of me. In that moment, my helplessness diminishes and I understand that I possess the most powerful currency: love.

When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Prize, she was asked, “What can we do to promote world peace?” She answered, “Go home and love your family.”

I think, maybe now, I’m starting to understand what she meant.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14

 

When God Shows Up in The Mom-Life

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Last night at the dinner table, my oldest daughter left us speechless.

It was a modge-podge meal of quinoa, macaroni, leftover curry chicken and some pluots from the Farmer’s Market. It sounds delicious as I type it out, and it wasn’t bad, it was just an eat-out-of-bento-boxes kind of night. You know those nights, when things feel a bit thrown together.  To-do’s were running through my head; school uniforms to be washed, school papers to be signed, emails to respond to.

And in the midst of the beautiful routine of mom-life, God shows up.

“Mommy, Daddy, I have something I want to tell you.” My daughter’s cheeks were flush pink, she set down her fork.

“What is it, honey?” We asked.

“I had a dream and it was from God.”

“Really?! Tell us about it!” We leaned in.

“I saw a tree. It was green and healthy and bright. There was grass all around it. Then God spoke to me. I heard His voice tell me that He was the roots, I was the trunk and all the leaves were family and friends.”

“What do you think God was trying to tell you?” I asked.

“I think God was saying that I need to support my family and friends. The roots of the tree are where the nutrients come from that make the leaves green. God’s going to give me what I need to support others. Lately, I haven’t been supporting my little sister. When she wants to play something that seems childish, I’ve been telling her that it’s not real and I won’t play with her. But I think I need to support her and play with her. Also, I do the same thing at church…but today, because of my dream, I decided to play with all the toddlers and support them. And guess what? I had the most fun I’ve had in a long time!”

Moms. We try so hard to get it all right. We create star charts, bedtime rituals, family devotionals, we nag, beg, plead, bribe. We care so much about these little people, their character, their heart, their influences. We shelter, we shield, we foster, we protect, we pack countless tailor-made lunches with the mango jam for one child and turkey for the other (crust off, of course!)

Can I encourage you today? You’re not doing it alone.

I’m not talking about your awesome husband, or that older sibling/great helper. I’m talking about the God of the universe. The one who formed every fiber of your child while they were in the womb. The one who knew your child’s name before it entered your mind and you thought it was the best thing since North West. He’s the God who gave your child that dose of unrelenting determination, creativity, or curiosity.

Your child might have an awesome earthly father (I hope they do!) but they also have a Heavenly Father. The have a Father in Heaven who not only knows they prefer the mango jam over the strawberry jam, He knows every hair on their head. He knows every temptation, every mistake, every bump, every bruise, every tear, every thought, every laugh, every wrinkle, every dimple. As much as we love our child more than words can express, God loves them even more.

I could have created a clever devotional on serving and supporting others, or resorted to a lecture or an incentive chart (not bad ideas). But God decided to take this one. He spoke right to my daughter. He validated her identity as a strong pillar. Isn’t that just like God to bring correction all wrapped up in love and grace and affirmation?

God doesn’t always speak in dreams, of course. The point is, He speaks. He leads. He loves. Not just to us as parents, but to our kids. After all, they are His kids too. He can use a dream, a song, a prompting in their heart, a friend, a pastor, a neighbor, a teacher.  I’m serving God today because an atheist philosophy professor wrote on a chalkboard, “If you knew there was a God, would you change your life today?” Yes and Yes.

In Matthew 7:11, Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

All these decisions we make for our children are because we want them to grow up to have the best heart, the best character, the best integrity.  It’s easy to forget that God wants the best for them too. He’s giving them good things—sometimes unseen things. He’s doing work in their little hearts, work behind the scenes that we may never know about until we get to Heaven. He co-parents with us, even when we fail to acknowledge Him.

There weren’t candles lit, there wasn’t worship music playing, my husband wasn’t preaching a sermon. God showed up in the everyday mom-life, to a child in her sleep and to a family eating leftovers. These are the most beautiful moments, when God reminds you He’s there. He’s with you, He’s with your children and you’re not doing it alone.

Embracing Your Set-Back as a Set-Up

I just recently spoke at my home church (see video above…and high five to whoever made that snazzy cover for the video!) The topic was embracing your set-back as a set-up.

The reason why this topic has been on the forefront of my mind lately, is because we recently had our own set-back to embrace. Our landlord told us that he was getting a divorce and he needed his house back. We had a fantastic deal, and we loved our house. Moving was not something we planned to do this summer, but it had to happen.

We quickly found out that the market is HOT right now here in San Diego. People seemed lined up to rent or buy, things would rent within hours or come off the market just as quick. Even though we are in a position to buy, there was a quote that stood out to us by Warren Buffet, “Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.” The housing frenzy here caused us to hold back and we agreed to rent a while longer.

Rental prices are no joke either. In addition to embracing higher rent prices, let’s face it, moving is just a pain. I’m pretty sure I pulled all my shoulder and calf muscles, multiple times (I do need to know when to quit).

We also had the extra layer of this move setting our adoption process back. Moving means we have to do the home inspection all over again, as well as some of our paperwork and disaster plans.

Then there is my sense of security and my disdain towards the unknown. I was more of a mess during the house hunting process than I’d care to admit.

We found a place, it’s about a mile west of where we were before. At first, I liked the house. It was fine. It was hard to see past the gaudy gold chandelier, but it was fine.

We are a couple weeks into the move, and I don’t feel the same. I absolutely, LOVE our new place now. We changes the light fixture, we added our own touches, there are perks that weren’t even on my radar (hello huge master bedroom closet!) I’m so glad I got pushed out of my comfort zone into a better place. Our set-back really was a set-up.

We all face set-backs like this occasionally and it can be hard to see them through the lens of faith. But what if the set-back you are experiencing is really a set-up? What if there is a bigger purpose, a bigger plan and a blessing on the other side?

If you are experiencing a set-back, watch the sermon, it will encourage you!