Friday, July 15, 2016

My heart grew three sizes that day



Our missions trip to Guatemala and the Casa Shalom Orphanage has changed the course and direction of my life.  100 something children, different ages, needs, genders all had a profound effect on who I am and the direction God is leading me.  I walked on the grounds of that orphanage as one person and came out completely different. I held babies, played with toddlers and children. I hugged teenagers and I watched the miracles that are unfolding in the lives of those children.

Five children came into the orphanage while we were there. One little boy came in whistling and singing and a bubbly, bright little boy full of hope and sunshine.  He captured my heart with his bubbly personality. He was part of a sibling group and they still had the light of hope and a future in their eyes. I do not know if their placement by child protection will be long or short, but they still had hope. Their eyes still sparkled with the magic of childhood.

Three more children came in that weekend. A baby, a toddler and a 7 year old boy. On those sweet faces was written a story far different than the other two children. Agony, devastation and horror were in their eyes. Their world came crashing down and despite all the love that was being offered and that will still be offered as they find their fit in the orphanage, their eyes did not have sparkle.  Their eyes were full of pain and sorrow.  The baby had the protection of infancy but as I held her frail little body in my arms and felt the weightlessness of a child who was malnourished my heart broke. She looked into my face as I sang Jesus loves me to her in my language. A language she does not know, but she looked into my eyes and she smiled. She knew love when she felt it. Not because of what I was doing but because Jesus stepped into that moment and touched that sweet little baby with a little bit of love the only thing I had to offer. 

I looked into the face of her toddler sister, age 2 and I saw pain. Occasionally, a smile could be pulled out of her but her face was so full of pain.  I do not know all of what those little eyes have seen. I do not know everything she has experienced but in her two years of life she has known great sorrow and it is written in her eyes. The thing is, she is now in a place that can give her love, love of people, the love of Christ and peace.  She has a chance to become something wonderful.  She let me hold her and talk to her in my broken Spanish and did not shy away from gentle touch. She was hungry for love.  She has house parents and staff at that orphanage who will be able to minister to the broken places through the love of Christ. 

I watched as her 7 year old brother grieved the loss of his family. Yes, he was "rescued" but to him, despite his home life, it was not a rescue. His world had just been turned upside down. That's the thing, with abused kids, that I learned back in the day when I worked as a foster care counselor.   Just because we as grown ups know we are doing what is best for them, these kids do not feel that way. They love their parents, no matter how good, bad or ugly their lives have been.  It doesn't matter to them that they have been rescued when it happens. It WILL matter one day. He will understand one day. The orphanage has a psychologist and staff that is and will continue to help him heal.  I watched him at a window, tears rolling down his tiny face, begging for us to take him to his Mama. I watched him make a connection with one of our team members who though she could not speak his language she gave him unconditional love. I watched the staff and house parents minister to him. The last night we were there, I began to see the beginnings of hope blossoming as he found his voice to answer a question or would talk to someone.  I held him in my arms during movie night, his frail, body waiting expectantly for his world to right again.  He would ask me what time it was, simply because he has hope that at a specific time he might get to see his Mama again. I don't know when or if that will happen, but I do know that the orphanage is helping him.  

I watched little children want to keep their party plates because they were pretty. I saw a little boy try some garlic toast. He did not like it, but he ate it anyway because he has learned in his life before Casa Shalom, you eat what you have when you have it. 

I saw poverty unlike anything I have ever seen in a near by village and it was one of the less effected areas as far as poverty is concerned. 

I enjoyed working on the projects we did and working along side a team whose main goal was to show the love of Jesus in everything, we did, said, sang, touched, etc.  Our goal was to show love to not only the kids but the staff and anyone we met. I think through the help of Jesus we did that. 

In all of this, God has called me back to working with abused children.  I said back in the day, I would "never" do that again.  He has called me to learn Spanish and work with abused children. I do not yet know how this will unfold but it will happen.  I am on a mission to learn Spanish so that I can work with both English speaking and Spanish speaking families in our communities here in Chattanooga.

I am not nor have I ever been a Grinch, but you know the line where it says and "the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day"(Dr. Suess-how the Grinch stole Christmas).....I feel like my heart grew in Guatemala.  I can't explain it. I can't prove it. I can't even show it. I just know my heart, soul and mind changed through this missions trip. 

I do know that life is forever changed for me, greatly impacted by the children and staff at Casa Shalom. From the head to the cooks to anyone and everyone that works on that campus, the children and the house parents. It's amazing what one week can do to your life.  I haven't even touched on half the stuff I learned or experienced.  All I know is God is powerful and He is changing these little  hearts and healing them through the loving ministry at Casa Shalom.  I pray that this ministry will send out future missionaries, preachers, teachers, doctors and more for the glory of God. 



Saturday, June 18, 2016

Good intentions...summer time

(credit for photo goes to train track photography)
I had high hopes and grand ideas for writing in my blog this summer, having the kids read X number of books, complete workbooks etc etc etc.  High hopes but only part of that has been done. We have had more "lazy" pajama days than productive, keeping the mind going days.  There was a time, I would have fretted, felt guilty or been hard on myself.  Yet, this time, not so much. My kids are having a good summer. We have had fun doing much of nothing.  Sleeping in until our eyeballs pop open. I work 4 days a week so that has taken a big chunk of time  I think it has been fun to just have some lazy days.

I think too often as Moms we get on the Mommy train track and think we have to stop at all the "mommy stations" along the way in order to make the best journey. That's just false. We are all making different journeys. My journey looks different from any one else's journey and so does my kids.  We are taking this journey step by step, from faith to faith, trusting  that God is leading us.  It's not about what we do but how we do it with God.  I once would have let guilt and shame color my journey, but God healed me of that over the last few years. I do the best I can with what I have to do with and what I know at the present time. I surrender it all to my Father, HE is the one in control. That being said, sometimes I miss the mark and get off a little before the station and have to hike to catch up. That's how it is.  I mess up as a parent sometimes, as a sister, as a daughter, as a friend. Then I say I am sorry and move to the next step. It sure isn't always a pretty path. Yet, when I look back God has done something with my screw ups, my victories, my sorrows and my joys. He is weaving something yet to be seen as I do my best to teach my children to trust and follow HIM

Intentions...are hopes not guarantees.  Intentions are plans, not rules. So if you don't always get it done just as YOU intended, maybe, just maybe God changed the route up just a bit to bring about an adventure you can't even see yet.  

Lead on Lord, Lead on. My life is  YOURS , lead me on the path You have planned. If I get a little of track some times, guide me back and help me do it YOUR way. Help me realize that sometimes my intentions are not Your intentions and that as long as I am trusting You, following you, that I will not get on the wrong track but the detour is part of a bigger purpose.  If something comes along and seemingly derails us, let me trust You to put us where you want us to be in order to heal, recover, grow or what ever the purpose might be in YOU.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Summer 2016 days 1 and 2

Summer started officially yesterday.  We picked up Jennifer's report card which was awesome. (The other two report cards will be mailed).  Then we went to the park and met our neighbors for a play date.  It was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect.

Later in the day my sister, Mama, niece and nephew arrived for the weekend. We have a house full of teens and tweens.  It is going to be an interesting weekend.  We are starting off the day with movies and donuts.

We haven't all been together in a year. I have seen Mama and Theresa and the kids for a short time when my sister had surgery. This weekend we can just hang out and enjoy each other's company.

I have lots of plans for the summer to try and cram stuff in on my days off. This is my first summer as a working Mom.  It's surreal. I love summer with my kids.  I will miss being free to come and go as I wish.

The biggest thing happening for me this summer is a missions trip to Guatemala.  I can't wait. I plan to keep a diary while there and blog it later.

So glad summer is here. Hopefully...I will find some interesting happenings and stories to share along the way...time will tell.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Prayer--War Room

I watched the movie War Room last night. It spoke deeply to me and it ministered to my heart in ways I can not even explain in words. If people take it to heart, the message behind the movie, it can be life changing.

  Image result for war room movie images

I haven't written in this blog in over a year but I wish to change that.  I wish to chronicle changes and miracles that are going to happen in our lives. Some I may detail, some I may not but God knows all the details. There are so many things I am believing God to to in our lives, our bodies, our church, our extended family, our community, and our nation.  Prayer it may feel small or even inadequate but when we utters words of heartfelt, faith and hope fueled prayer, not one word, not one syllable goes unheard by the Father. The older lady in the film was a warrior, a prayer warrior.  She touched lives, one person at a time, one prayer at a time. That's what I want to do. I want to change lives through God, not of my own power or volition but through God. I want to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to prayer. 

So today, I decree and I declare that our house, the one we live in, WILL BE a house of prayer. I want people to feel the power of prayer when they walk through the doors of our home. I pray God help me as I learn to pray as I ought, seek God's face and stand against the storms that rage. I am able to be a strong warrior of God because greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world. I don't have to be exactly like Clara in the movie. I can be the Thelma God called me to be and I can be mighty in prayer.

 I have often felt in the past, that yes I pray, and sometimes I touch heaven. However, due to the lies the enemy attempts to feed my mind; I often felt like my prayers were these itty bitty things that God heard and answered but were like little candle flames instead of a bonfire.  Well, God showed me last night ALL prayer matters. If you pray with a heart that is humble and filled with faith before God, it doesn't matter what that prayer looks like or sounds like, it is powerful. Do not underestimate your power through the Lord Himself.  I will be a woman of prayer.  I don't care if people think I am crazy, I will be a woman of prayer.  

God Himself, gave me a deeper call to prayer last night. He sounded the battle cry, the cry to pray like I have never prayed before. The cry to not doubt His power in a simple woman who just loves Him. I don't have to be eloquent. I don't have to have anything, but faith, humbleness and love.  I don't have to have a fancy place to pray. My closet, my prayer closet can be simple or elaborate but it will be a place of prayer, 

I think if we as a people, believers, prayed like is portrayed in the movie; we would see things we can't even imagine. Prayer it is alive.  You can feel it. When you are in the midst of a storm and people began to pray, you feel it. I know there have been times in my life that I knew people were praying without them even telling me they were praying.  

My challenge to anyone who wants to pray, believers, new believers, people struggling with faith, people who don't believe; try it, just try it and don't stop. Even if it is 5 minutes a day. Pray and ask God to teach you to pray and to send true prayer warriors into your life to stand with you in prayer. When we pray, we can just pray that God will release His power and His will into the situation, person or thing we are praying about. HIS WILL, not ours. He isn't a magical genie BUT we can go to Him about anything. Nothing is impossible for Him and nothing is too small or too insignificant to pray about.  Don't give up, even if it seems nothing is happening, don't give up. Pray....just pray.Talk to Him like He was sitting next to you having a conversation. 

My prayer is Lord, make me a woman of prayer.  Help me fight every battle of this life, from my knees. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Thorns and flowers


I saw these lone 3 flowers on a bush in my backyard. One Sammy, has not yet decided to eat, since it has thorns. The beauty is not even a good representation in the photo.  The deep burgundy colors are rich and warm and silky but has many layers of color.  The beauty comes with thorns.  Thorns than can prick and make you bleed. That is so much like life. Life is beautiful but it comes with thorns.  To appreciate their beauty is to respect and be careful of the thorns.

 Life has to come with thorns and beauty, how else would we appreciate the good moments. It doesn't matter what part of this life you walk, who you are, what you have, what you believe, life comes with thorns. It is what we do with getting pricked that matters.  Are we going to stop enjoying the flowers because we might get pricked? Are we going to stop living life because, sometimes, frankly life is hard and has no explanation. We are all going through things, good things, bad things, somewhere in between things. We laugh, we cry, we hurt, we love, we live. It is all blended in to our lives to make a depth of color and beauty the Master is weaving through our lives.

Through it all, in my life, there is one thread that keeps me all together: It is the love of my Savior.  I want to make Him pleased with me. I want to spread the true love of Christ, the one that says, For God so loved the WORLD.  He didn't give of definition of who He would love. He came for whosever believeth in HIM.  I want to spread that kind of love. He walked, talked, ate with the ones society would not. He loved the "unloveable" by society's standards. That's who I want to be. My legacy in HIM, is love.  I want to be so filled with Jesus that His love is evident to everyone I met.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Life

Life is passing by faster and faster as the days go by. I can't even fathom how fast. This week alone we helped Chris plan out his schedule for high school, talked about Hannah's graduation from middle school and watched as Jenny took huge leaps towards being an older kid as she struggles with some math concepts.  Where oh where did time go?

I find myself wanting to hang on to their childhood a little harder. Jenny is still very much a little girl but we get glimpses of the big girl to come. She is all about Junie B Jones, ribbons, bows, ruffles, lace, patent leather Mary Jane shoes, and cow girl boots. She still likes dress up and cuddles and kisses and the magic of snow.  Then suddenly she says something so profound and so grown up, you gasp.

Hannah is so much a tween. She has a crush on a boy and asks about make up. She wants older girl clothes without all the bows and ruffles.Thankfully she still is about the glitz and sparkle. She has grand ideas about what love is all about and what "romance" is too. I am like you are too young to worry about romance. She smiles and blushes and says "okay mom, but I will be old enough soon".
Oh my, be still my heart, it can't handle the thought.

Chris also has a secret crush or two. He is very closed mouth about it. I was always his one and only.  I am going to marry you Mommy, he said when he was 3, and we will live together forever and ever he said. Now, he talks about what he wants to do. He is into computers and technology. One minute he is silly, not thinking straight teen boy and suddenly morphs into a young man with maturity that will blow you mind.

So here I sit, wondering.......all about life and how fast it is going.....can't it slow down just a bit?

I pray for the Lord to give me more wisdom to handle the changes and the fact that life, never ever slows down and we have to take time and appreciate the little things.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love

There is a true picture, description, definition of love in the Bible. Yet many people are frightened of this definition. Most of us feel like we can never measure up to that definition. I don't think there is a person on this earth that loves in the way the Bible describes.  That is because the only love that never failed and never will fail is the love of Jesus. He lay down His life to prove His love.  His love had no ulterior motives. I admit, I fail at love. I am a work in progress but there is the whole point. We are not able to love like we are supposed to apart from Christ.  Even with Christ in our lives we will not always get it right. We will make mistakes. We will hurt people's feelings. We will be selfish or proud or conceited.  Yet, in all of that our Lord first loved us, faults and all and gave His life for us.  He does not keep a record of our wrongs and He keeps on loving us when we can't love the way we are called to love.  


(credit for photo goes to: http://christianmodestyblogger.blogspot.com/2012/09/bible-verse-otd-love.html)

We can not let guilt or condemnation stop us from trying. We can not let our "humaness" stop us from trying, because sometimes we will get it right.  We will show love to someone it matters to.  Sometimes we will show love to a stranger when the Lord Himself prompts us to do so. It may be as small as a smile or giving a blanket to someone who is cold. It may be giving water to the thirst or bending to hear the whisper of a child. Love is something that can't be measured, held back or stopped. Love grows and gives and one act of love can grow into something so enormous it effects everyone around like the ripples in a pond.

I choose to keep on trying to love in my imperfect way. I choose to find the little ways to show love, even to the "un-loveable".  I choose to love even when I don't necessarily want to. I choose to love those that push me away, even if it is quiet and from afar as I pray for God to bring a loved one back into the kingdom.  Love is beautiful regardless of how it comes. True Love is a beautiful thing.

To me, Valentine's day is not just a commercial holiday. I love people every day. Valentine's day to me is a day to remember that I am not perfect but I can give and receive love. I can make a difference by showing the love of Jesus, even if it is just a tiny drop into a large ocean.  When we love, even if the person we show love to does not see or receive it, there is one who knows and He notices and He smiles because His beloved son or daughter took time to LOVE.

1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.