An Autumn Treasure

The morning chill settles over my home and the fragrant smell of fresh coffee with a dash of pumpkin spice steams on my night stand and I am thankful. I haven’t always been a fan of autumn. I seemed to focus on the negatives or what I was leaving behind instead of the positives. Shorter days. Cold. Rain. See, depressing?

We see those posts on social media-the negators. They always seem to want a season other than the one they are currently in. That sort of thinking is a set up for disaster. I know. Been there. When it is snowing, we want ninety degree heat and sunshine. When it is ninety degrees, we want snow, a fire and a good book. This sort of discontent bleeds into other areas of our life.

If only my child could read…

If only my children were grown…

If only my children were small…

If only this adoption was final…

If only…… is a key ingredient in the recipe for discontent.

We must enjoy the season we are in now or we won’t enjoy the next season. Contentment is something we must practice. We earn and learn it. It’s not bottled and sold on Amazon. It is hard earned, but free!

11 Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. 12 I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. 13 I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]-Philippians 4:11-13,Amplified Bible (AMP)

Paul wrote of being content while in prison. He learned to be content regardless of his circumstances. We can practice contentment in every season, whether we have plenty or are in difficult times. We have the secret of facing life, whether we have abundance or are in need. And when we practice this contentment, we can do all that He has called us to do, because He strengthens us and empowers us. We are “ ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace”.

How do we practice this contentment?

  1. Give thanks in every season. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:18) Find something to be thankful for. A sunrise. A brisk walk. A text from a friend.
  2. Find something to love about the season. When my grandmother suffered a brain tumor and my mother brought her home to nurse her, the season was difficult for all. One thing I loved about the season is the strength of our family and how they seemed to pour in and out of the house like a healing balm. Grandmother was never alone and she was showered with love.
  3. Embrace the season. I was out and about the other day and it was chilly. I should have brought a sweater, but I hadn’t. I changed my thought from I’m freezing to this is invigorating! It makes me feel alive. Maybe your season is waking parts of you that you were unaware of. Maybe through your difficulty, God is showing His glory reminding you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Or maybe you are in a season of abundance and you haven’t noticed because you are too busy to stop and notice the blessings.

I pray that you will find something in your current season that gives you peace, that you find true contentment. If your heart is broken today, I pray healing and please be kind to yourself. Some seasons are for grieving and we must be thankful for tears. Some seasons are so full of joy, we must be careful not to miss them. Wherever you find yourself, He is there.

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday! Join us!


The Snow Storm (Three Word Wednesday)

I headed outside to shovel a path from the backdoor to the gate. Jerry was already out shoveling and had turned his attention to pulling the snow blower out of the shed and digging a path to the patio where he could start it up. At the time we had about two feet (the storm ended later topping off about 30 inches).

I hummed and sang aloud while I shoveled  (with a lot of huffing and puffing). Ania joined me and we dug out cars and talked, strategizing where to put the pile of snow and pushing it over the hill.

The snow blower wouldn’t start. It leaked gas into a mason jar Jerry had set under it. “It’s the carburetor,” Jerry explained. We were on our own. No mechanical assistance in the epic snow, snow, snow storm.

Suddenly, I was flooded with snow storm memories. I could see my step-father, Bud with the gravely, plowing our 1/8 mile country drive and doing it by hand with a shovel when the machine refused to cooperate. We kids ‘helped’ for a few minutes or an hour, when we were older and then took to the hills for a sled ride, which my youngest reminded me of when he said, “Snow storms are supposed to be fun. Not work. I want to go play.” He helped for a bit and then did somersaults off of whatever high ground or out of trees.

A snow storm bud
Bud and his gravely

Memories of my four year old sister being run over by a tractor trailer sized inter-tube full of teens and popping up unscathed. Snow up to the second story window when we lived in Wyoming. Digging my a narrow path of side walk with walls higher than the top of my head with my siblings when we lived in Colorado. Dad throwing me over a snow drift when we were stranded and hanging on for dear life to my doll. Inching our way across an icy bridge while the lady in front of us kept breaking and sliding.  Sitting by the fire drinking hot tea or coffee and reading aloud to my kids or to myself.

What does all this rambling mean? Storms teach me lessons

1.Storms make us slow down. It is up to us to be joyful or miserable in midst of the storm. Many years ago, a freak October snow storm hit, taking our power with it. The kids and I played pioneer days for a week, hunkering down in the family room by the fire place and doing everything by hand like they did in the ‘old days’. We melted water in a pot on the gas stove and kept a few things running on a small generator. It made our world smaller and slower.

2. Storms bring us together (if we let them). My family laughed together as we shoveled. We talked while we worked. Joked. Ania filmed me running down the road and falling in the snow (not sharing that video).  I texted and messaged the older kids and they shared videos and pictures with me, comparing snow. Our South Carolina Guire family made funny videos of themselves ‘sledding’ on a dusting of snow and we spoke to them on the phone. Ania and I called out to neighbors when we took a walk to survey the snow.It’s the camaraderie of we are in this together! Or “you too?”

3. We make mistakes in the midst of a storm because we panic and we grow weary in well doing. Sunday, during round two of shoveling the driveway, I was hurling huge shovel fulls of snow over my shoulder like a machine. Progress. Until I turned around and realized I was reburying Jerry’s car. The worse part about it? I did it again a few minutes later. I was so intent on getting to the end of the driveway that I wasn’t thinking straight. “I liked this better yesterday when my arms worked!” I told my husband and when daughter Amerey text me asking how the shoveling went, I said, “My arms fell off and I left them in the snow.”

4. Storms can be triggers. Storms can bring a host of memories, some of times we pulled through, others of times, we felt as if the Red Sea didn’t part for us. We can give into the negative in the midst of the storm like I was when my arms were giving out. We can also take a break and reflect on the times that God gave us joy in the middle of the circumstance.

5. We want other people to grow during the storm, but it is not up to us. You know the feeling you get when someone can help, but they don’t. I often want my kids to see the big picture, to mature in the midst of the storm. It’s not up to me. I might want my teen to pick up the shovel on his own, to make great choices about what he does with his free time. Just because I want it doesn’t mean he is ready to grow. I pray. God does the work.

TWWbutton200x200_zps62610d74 Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor, join us!

The Thanks Giving Tree

The Thanks 
             giving Tree
At the end of October I printed the leaves for the thanks giving tree on Ann Voskamp’s site. (You can find it here.)  I planned to slowly fill it with leaves every morning during Bible study, but God willed other things.  Man plans his way, but the Lord directs his paths.  Instead, the kids and I started on November 19.  Thankfulness shouldn’t be confined to the month of November, but an autumn tree all ablaze is such a beautiful way to express it.  Maybe I will do a Christmas one for December because I want to keep counting blessings.  I don’t ever want to stop.  I feel myself changing.  Like the green leaf changing to brilliant copper or ruby red.  I am changing.  
I haven’t turned into a spiritual giant.  I do not have theology on my mind all the time.  I don’t have C.S. Lewis-ish revelations. 
Maybe this new heart that God placed in me all these years ago is beating for joy instead of tripping through  the day anxious with evil forebodings. 
My white-knuckled days are being outnumber by hands relaxed,  reaching upward for my Father-God.  Sometimes, I slip back into old habits, my heart racing, my mind chomping at the bit and I tense heart and hands.  Then I count. Blessings.  A warm bed.  A garnet sunset.  Laughter from my child.  A smile on his face.  A joke that leaves me weak kneed, collapsing on the floor while my children laugh at me. Relief.  Refreshment.  Ease.  This yoke is easy to bear.  It is not heavy with fear.  It is light with thanksgiving.  I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart…. I will enter His courts with praise.  (Psalm 100)
Thanksgiving is the portal to praise. 

Psalm 100

A Psalm of thanksgiving and for the thank offering.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness! Come before His presence with singing!
Know (perceive, recognize, and understand with approval) that the Lord is God! It is He Who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His]! We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”>(A)
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!
For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.

The Beginning

Hi friends,

I had intended to blog on thankfulness as it pertains to adoption for the month of November.  Instead God brought a blessing into our family on November 1,Cecilia Jane, daughter Amerey’s first bornAmerey Campbell. I’ve spent the last few weeks driving back and forth to Amerey’s and my blog has sat silent. However, my thankful list in my journal is growing.  I am rereading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and taking pen to paper once again and counting the blessings.  My pen does not produce the blessings, it gives them voice.  They were there to begin with.  

Adoption is an exciting journey.  Those who choose to accept the challenges of parenthood through adoption know is it a raging rapid ride.  The waves of paperwork and home studies smack us in the face, but oh the thrill!  The excitement when we think of that child coming home!  

Go to the beginning.  The beginning of your adoption journey when the possibility was a tiny seed, not yet met with the sperm of the process.  Before the paperwork.  Before the fingerprints.  Before the home study.  Are you there?  There is a glimpse of joy.  A hope of a future with a child or children.  You don’t know them yet, but your heart is full of them, brimming over with expectancy, with faith.  

Fast-forward to today.  What are your todays like?  Busy, filled to the brim with the doings of life with this child you so expectantly loved and longed for.  Filled with the getting up, the putting on of clothing, brushing teeth, schooling, dentist appointments, prayers, scoldings.  At the end of the day, do you fall on the couch, weary of the work?  Wondering, how can I do all this?  How can I carry the burden of family, my back bent over with the weight?  

Raising a child is a hard work.  Raising a child from a hard place is intimidating work.  There are ups and downs, victories, defeats, sorrow and a heavy load.  I have carried that heavy load to the point of codependency, trying to carry the child.  His burdens are dense with ancient afflictions that hang on him like sticky cobwebs.  I like the fly, get caught in the web, bound up, stupified by the poison of the past.  

What is the answer?  How do I raise the child without being entangled in web?  How do I pray for healing and step back and let God do the work?  How do I leave my pseudo control behind and let God do the work?  

Go back to the beginning.  The beginning of the adoption journey when the possibility was a tiny seed. God watered the seed.  He brought the seed to fruition.  He brought the child to me.  He made a way when there seemed to be no way.  He began the work.  He will finish it.  His Word will not return void.  I must not be as the silly, foolish Galatians who accepted the grace, the free gift of salvation and then picked up the hammer and tried to do the work.  I pick up the hammer and pound away at sin and sorrow.  It bruises.  My muscles ache from the work that doesn’t change body or soul.  So, I go back to the beginning when the grace was fresh, new, glorious and exult in the glory of the plan of adoption.  My adoption.  The adoption of my children. The adoption of children.  Miraculous.  Predestined before the foundation of the world.  Before the sphere of blue-green earth hung pendulous in the star spangled sky.  Before the Word spoke.  Before God puffed breath into clay-dirt Adam, He had already beforehand,  planned for our adoption because it was His kind intent.  He knew.  He planned. It was the purpose of His will. (Ephesians 1)  I go back to the origins and I am thankful, bathed in the grace once again.

I return to thanksgiving.   Thanks for the miracle of adoption.
Thank you for the child I loved before I knew him.  Thank you for the prayers I prayed for children half a world away.  Thank you for the blurry photos of my children I carried next to my heart and shed happy tears over.  Thank you for planes the speed over the Atlantic to far away countries that are home.  Thank you that you wrote the stories of my children, you were with them when I could not be. You watched over them.  You are a Father to the fatherless.

Holiday Happiness

Eleven years ago the Guire family ate Thanksgiving dinner in an orphanage in Sulejow, Poland. No, the Polish do not celebrate Thanksgiving. There was no turkey, no mashed potatoes, no homemade rolls or cranberry sauce. No one mentioned Chief Powhatan or John Smith. In fact, I could not understand the most of the conversation going on at the table. I don’t speak Polish well, just a few phrases. Yet, I was happy, joyous, thankful beyond measure.

We had already attended one hearing to determine whether we could adopt our children or not. The verdict? We would be able to adopt all four siblings: Damian, Gregory, Ania and Rafal. Our family would grow from five to nine after the next hearing in December.

Eleven years later, I am still thankful for the same thing-family. All those years ago, I was on the brink of becoming a mother of a large family, but not overnight. Before the adoption, there were many labor pains, many prayers, many heartaches and disappointments. That is life. Anything worth having is HARD work. There are no easy passes.

This Thanksgiving, when I sat around the table and listened to my children talk about what they were thankful for, ‘family’ won the most points. Family is the foundation that society was built on, God puts the solitary in families, that is what the Word says. It doesn’t say, God gives the lonely an X-box or lots of clothes/money. It says he gives them families.

When Jerry and I adopted a sibling group of four, we weren’t just giving them a place to live and food to eat. We gave them a family which includes sisters, a brother, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and now nephews.

With this large extended family comes fun and games, but also wisdom, teaching, advice, love, long conversations, coffee at Barnes and Noble with Grandude, cousins and aunts, dinner table talks, traditional present exchanges, Advent readings, movie watching, shopping, left-over eating and the list goes on.

It is so much that these activities occur, most of them can be done solo, it is that they are accomplished together. All of these are building blocks for belonging. Everyone wants to belong; it is an innate need. All of this belonging leads to a relationship with the heavenly Father. Those who have a family know how to behave in one. Those who have acceptance of a Father are more likely to accept a heavenly Father. Those who have experienced mercy at the hand of their parents are more likely to accept the mercy and forgiveness of sins offered by Jesus.

A few years ago, my daughter Amerey attended a retreat and during an activity learned that she was the only one in her group that had experienced family meal time as a regular habit growing up. A college student who came to stay with us for a few days commented to me, “your family is different than my family.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well, you talk. You play games. My family all goes in separate rooms. We don’t talk,” he said.

Family is not just your last name. It is a safe haven, it should be. I have spent so many years working on attachment with my kids that I didn’t realize how many traditions that we were building together. The topic of discussion at family mealtimes started as a way to help my newbies form complete sentences in English and to interact with each other. Early topics included: my favorite thing I did today, the best thing that happened today, and I what I wish would have happened.

Today, teens ask to pick the topic at dinner even when they have friends over. It’s a tradition. All those years ago, in the orphanage, I sat in the cafeteria just basking in thankfulness for my new children. I didn’t understand most of the table talk then, but I didn’t care, I just enjoyed it. Today, I don’t understand some of table talk that teens choose such as, “Mom, how would you survive an zombie apocalypse?” “What’s your favorite kind of truck?” “What would you need to climb Mt. Everest?” I just listen and enjoy.