Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Stay Home Mommy Day"

My sweet 7 year old Scottie was ill last week.  Of course, I did not realize she had a double ear infection and a sinus infection until Thursday afternoon.  I, also, did not realize that God had a lesson in store for me...

It began with a Monday off for Martin Luther King, Jr and our family enjoyed our time together.  Scottie, apparently, really enjoyed the extra day.  Monday night the tears began and continued the rest of the week.  She would cry and cry and cry.  When we asked her what was wrong, her responses were "I am sad" or "I don't need to go to school" or "I stay home mommy day".  We tried all the ways we knew to encourage her, make school sound like the MOST exciting place, and reassure her that at the end of each school day she would come home.  When we tried to dig deeper and ask her why she was sad, her response never made sense, "because I am happy".  We discovered that Scottie did not know why she was sad.  She did not know why she wanted to stay home.  She was not able to tell us why she did not want to go to school.  She did not have the answers, but she need with great certainty that what she DID want was a "stay home mommy day".

Mommy panicked and realized that Scottie has been suffering for months with anxiety.  Because she is developmentally delayed and has receptive/expressive language disorder, she hasn't been able to tell us that she was anxious or worried or scared.  She suffered silently...she started to withdraw at school...she was alone.  Mommy and Daddy wanted nothing more than to sweep her up into our arms and make her feel safe and loved.  We only discovered that the anxiety was there because her body was sick.  She could no longer control the emotions because her body was not strong enough.

As I reflect back on Scottie's week, I am overwhelmed because I know what it feels like to keep everything in.  I know what it feels like to be sad, lonely, and anxious, but not really understanding why.  I know what it feels like to crawl in bed and stay there....wait, that was not my Scottie's response.  She did not want to hide out in her room secluded from the ones' who love her.  She wanted to be in a safe place, our home, and be with the people who love her most. 

My Father, wants me to want nothing more than to run to Him and find shelter and strength in His arms.  He calls for me and wants to pick me up and encourage me.  He showers me with love, mercy, and grace.  His love letter, The Bible, was written for times when I do not understand or when I am lost.  He loves me...unconditionally.  He loves me!

"I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings."  Psalm 61:4

"He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."  Psalm 91:4

The next time I am feeling anxious, lonely, overwhelmed, sad, and lost I will RUN not walk or meander, but RUN to my Father.  I will follow the example of my sweet Scottie and desire nothing more than a "Stay Home with My Heavenly Father Day"!  My prayer is that others would learn from my Scottie!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Burden?

"You also say, 'My, how tiresome it is!' And you disdainfully sniff at it" says the Lord of hosts, "
and you bring what was taken by robbery and what is lame or sick; so you  bring the offering! 
Should I receive that from your hand?" says the Lord.  Malachi 1:13

Do I go to worship simply to check it off a to-do list?
Do I pray and spend time with the Lord because I have been told that I am supposed to?
Do I give my 10% tithe because I am afraid not to?  Or it is expected of me?
Do I serve at my church because my husband is a staff member?

Does God look at what I present him and wonder why I bother because it isn't done with godly intention and a pure heart?

WOW!  I am not sure how to process any of that because I want to deny with great conviction that worship and service have not become a burden.  The truth is that there are some days...some weeks...when my service, giving, and worship is a burden.

I don't want to present anything to the Lord and have it viewed as tiresome, so what do I do about it? How do I get back to the "heart of worship"?

Ironically, it isn't anything new!  God has laid out a plan and examples for me and it is quite simple.  I must have an intimate relationship with Him.  If I spend time with my God through prayer, meditation, scripture, corporate worship, and aligning my heart with His, then the only possible outcome is adoration, praise and worship cannot help but flow from my mouth, actions, and heart.

It starts with me.  I get it.  I want it.  I accept it.  I will allow God to mold me into the godly woman He has designed me to be; so here I am...start with me!

Friday, January 6, 2012

My Scottie

Today was awards day at school...I usually work Friday mornings, but today I was off and I was so excited to go to Emma Grace (age 10) and Scottie's (age 7) awards ceremony at school.  My night had been rough and the morning wasn't much better, but I was determined that I would go to Scottie's which started at 8:15 (too early)!

My Zoey (16 months) and I sat in the back and I shoveled snacks into her mouth attempting to keep her from being too loud as I sat through Perfectly Punctual and Perfect Attendance awards.  Scottie sat with her class with all the other first graders and would occasionally look over at me.

I am always so nervous when I go to one of her school events...more times than not she gets upset and wants to come home with me.  I have to make the decision between not showing up and wondering what she feels and thinks when her mom isn't there, or I can show up and wonder what she feels and thinks when I leave her there.

Our sweet, little girl is a special needs child...special needs.  The "special" part is true, but aren't all children special?  "Needs"...well don't all children have needs?  There isn't a word or term that can adequately describe a child with special needs.  She is the child who changed me..changed our family...and made us more compassionate, patient, and loving.  She has taught me more about love in the last 7 almost 8 years than any other experience or person.  She is witty and innocent and sweet and sings Chris Tomlin one minute and the Black Eyed Peas the next.  Scottie loves her family first and foremost. 

If she could live on a farm surrounded by animals she would be in heaven.  If we could go to Disney World, every month she would be the happiest little girl (truly the most magical place on earth).  I never have to wonder how she is feeling when she is in her "safe" place, our home.  School is another story.

Don't get me wrong she has amazing teachers.  They genuinely care about her and want the best for her.  But she would rather be home!  Lately as I tuck her into bed at night and tell her tomorrow is a "school day" she shakes her head no and tells me "stay home mommy day".  If Jacob or Emma Grace had said this to me, I would have asked why they feel that way and we could have a conversation about how they feel.  When Scottie tells me this, I try and try to understand what she is thinking and how she feels, but I walk away not knowing.  I walk away not knowing my child's heart.

Today after her awards ceremony, I walk to her and hug her and take her picture with Zoey.  She starts to cry and my heart breaks.  I walk her to her classroom and kiss her and tell her that in a few hours I will pick her up from school.  I say all the right things and I do the right thing by walking away.  But that walk down the hallway with my sweet, sweet girl crying and saying "my mommy" is the longest walk...the hardest walk.  I second guess myself and I cry out to my God and ask why my little girl.  Why does life have to be so much harder for her.  Why?

Then I am reminded that the same God I ask why, created her and loves her more than me!  The same Abba that I cry out to, placed her in our family because there is a master plan.

"I will give thanks to You, for I (Scottie) am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well."  Psalm 119:14

As I tucked in Scottie this evening, she looked at me and asked "stay home mommy day?".  I simply smile and say, "Yes tomorrow is a stay home mommy day!"  What a difficult day for a "special needs" mommy, but what a wonderful gift God has given our family.  Thank you Lord for our Scottie and help us to be a more compassionate and loving people because of her!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

One Family's Step of Courage

I have some incredible friends that have entered into my family's life about 2 years ago.  They have encouraged Scott in his ministry; they have loved on my children; and they have given me the friendship I needed when we moved to a new area and I was feeling so disconnected.  However, the best part of this growing friendship is that they have inspired us by their steps of faith, courage and understanding of the "Start With Me" mentality.

David and Jennifer have 6 kids and their lives are full and busy.  Early in their marriage they made time to get to know and minister to a family living in a lower socio-economic area about 15 minutes aways.  It wasn't always easy to love the family, but they would go back over and over.  A few years ago, the mother died of cancer and left a house full of kids for her mother to take care dads in the picture and very little money.  David and Jennifer could have continued to do what they were already doing...pick the kids of up for play days or to go to church.  They could have prayed for the family.  They could have continued being involved without disrupting their lives and their family.

They knew God wanted them to do more.  They knew they could do more so they decided to become the legal guardians of two beautiful boys.  Not knowing where the path would lead them or what hurdles they would have to jump, they welcomed them into their family.  It hasn't been easy.  They would be the first to tell you about the struggles these boys had and continue to have...emotionally, academically, and mentally.  They would also be the first to tell you that there have been many tears, but there has also been so much laughter.

I continue to be inspired by their act of courage.

I recently read Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis and she talks about courage.  Katie was an 18 year old girl who committed to a 10 month teaching assignment in Uganda and in the last 4 years she has adopted 14 girls and cannot imagine doing anything other than ministering and loving the people of Uganda.  She says, "I believe there is only one truly courageous thing we can do with our lives:  to love unconditionally.  Absolutely, with all of ourselves, so much that it hurts and then more."  (page 251)  David and Jennifer are courageous...they don't know where this adventure will go, but they were willing to start with themselves and take the first step trusting God would lead the way.  They were willing to love two more children.  What a beautiful picture of courage! 

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  Hebrews 11:1

Lord, I am throwing my hands up in surrender.  I am willing to take the first step.  I want to see a change in my family, church, community, and country, but I realize that it begins with me.  So here am I...use me...start with me!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Il n'est pas de moi!

The last few weeks I have read, heard, and witnessed many incredible stories about adoption.  The momma in me gets wrapped up in wanting to gather other children in need and shower them with love and invite them into our family.  The humanitarian in me is saddened that there are children who are going to die because there is no access to HIV medication, clean water, shelter, or food.  The believer in me feels urgency to be obedient to the call.

I have told anyone who would listen to me about the adoption conference I attended, the blog I read, the book I devoured in a few hours, or examples of dear friends who are living James 1:27.

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained."
I am excited by the reminder.  I am ready to DO take a be obedient.  I am studying God's Word trying to wrap my head around what my role as believer MUST be...I talk and debate and cry and praise and question.

Then a few days ago our son, Jacob (age 12), looked at me and said, "Mom, maybe it isn't about you.  Maybe this is about our family going on mission trips and working with orphans.  Maybe it is about me (Jacob), and one day I will start a ministry or adopt some children." 

WHAT!  Not about me....this amazing 12 year old, young man is absolutely right.  I have been trying to figure out how we could fly to Ethiopia and adopt a couple kids, or what ministry I could start to help bring awareness and necessities to those who are in need around our community, country, and world.  Maybe...just is about being passionate and teaching (through how I live my life with words and deeds) our children that we are called to care for the orphans, widows, and the destitute.  Maybe as we serve soup to the homeless in downtown Houston, our children will be inspired to change the world by sacrificial service.  Instead of worrying about what to do with this feeling of urgency I am experiencing, I need to demonstrate what it means to love others as myself.  Mother Teresa devoted her life to the orphans, widows, and destitute of India and treated each person she encountered as though they were Jesus Christ.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’  They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’  He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”   Matthew 25:31-46

Can you imagine how the church would grow and the number of lost who would come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior if we would simply love as Mother Teresa did?

So thank you Jacob (oh wise one) for showing mom that it isn't about me (il n'est pas de moi), but it still must start with me!