What Does "Chosen-ness" Look Like in Daily Life?

If you missed the first post in this series, start here.

You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as [a]presenting all that I Am], He may give it to you.

John 15:16

 Instead of accepting, acknowledging our chosen-ness we sometimes are like the toddler who lost his grasp on his helium balloon who walks around, head down, searching for it while it floats on the ceiling. Our chosen-ness is there, up there in God, not down here on earth in taking spa days and having luxury cars. When we put our self-worth in those, yes, it’s going to fail us and make us miserable. We cannot have self-worth without God-worth, that’s the way God created us. 

The Donut Man said it best. “Life without Jesus is like a donut ‘cause there is a hole in the middle of your heart.” Instead of focusing on choosing to fill our hearts and lives with Jesus, we may walk around empty and stuffing that hole with whatever we think will build our self-esteem. And we will fail. EVERY TIME.

What does “chosen” look like in daily life?

If you read all of John 15, there are some startling revelations about what it looks like to live chosen. First of all, a sign of being chosen is we bear fruit. As I apply this to my own life, I realize that if I’m not bearing fruit in the purpose God created me for, then I’m going to wither up and be miserable.

Being chosen means getting pruned. Have you ever used pruning shears to prune a bush or tree? You’re cutting parts off. Sometimes it means cutting little new growth called suckers. These suckers sometimes grow at the base of shrub and suck out nutrients before they get to the top of the plant. They are “wick” as Mary says in The Secret Garden but they are actually life sucking. Not life giving. Being chosen looks like pruning all the things out of my life that do not bear good fruit whether they seem “wick” or not.

I may be jumping around in the chapter a bit, just bear with me (get is? bear fruit, bear with me?) Another important sign of our chosen-ness is we “abide” or “dwell” with God. When I think of the word dwell, I think live. We live with God . We invite Him in to all parts of our lives. We depend on Him in all situations. He is our source. Our life-line. Sometime we fight our life-line like those times when I was in labor and I fought the oxygen mask because I was focusing so much on surviving the pain. We must remember, apart from Him, cut off from Him, we can do nothing. He is our oxygen. When our version of self-care cuts off our union with God, we will lead fruitless lives that don’t effect eternity in positive ways. Our treasure will be here on earth amassing material things or coddling earthly bodies that age, wrinkle , and pass away.

Your essence (who you really are and Were created to be) vs your personality (the armor you adopt to protect yourself in a broken world).

Your essence is the part that is made in the image of God. Essence is the part that is fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s the part God sees and loves and says is good.

Then we, adapting to a broken world filled with broken people, adopt a personality that puts up a barrier between us and God, and us and others, and us and our essence. And it causes all sorts of problems until we make our way back to our essence and live from there instead of from our personality. We end up looking for the balloon in other ways. We define and defend our personality instead of going back to our essence and our chosen-ness.

Chosen is not self-serving, it’s Christ serving.

It’s probably our own fault but when Christians begin speaking of self-care and chosen-ness, we get the wrong mental picture. We picture ourselves on a massage table being served fruit-flavored sparkling water. It’s okay to do those things, it’s not what chosen means. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Chosen as a daughter of the king means we serve the king. We serve others. Not ourselves. 

In my short minds-eye vision of being a child and coming to the table (I shared here), being chosen means accepting the invitation to dwell with God. It means accepting the invitation to enter the conversation with other family members in the body of Christ. For me it means writing this post. It means writing and speaking the words God has put on my heart instead of shrinking back and thinking I’m an afterthought and no one wants/needs to hear what I have to say. I’m not sure what it means for you. I encourage you to think about it. To pray about it. Have some thoughts on your chosen-ness? Feel free to share in the comments!

* Kristin collaborated on this post, specifically the section on essence! Thanks Kristin, our conversations always stimulate deeper thoughts and good words!

When We Don't Like Our Children

When We Don’t Like Our Children

Years ago when I was a young parent with only three children (pre-adoption), I joined a friend, Kelley,  for a talk she was giving. The talk was held at a low-income housing development full of Moms who were desperately trying to keep their families together. They had endured all sorts of difficult life circumstances and needed some friendly encouragement. I’m glad my friend was there to give it. I was just tagging along.

Kelley began her talk with, “Some times I don’t like my kids.” There were audible gasps in the room. That’s just generally a statement Moms are not allowed to say. As she continued her talk, she explained the difference between loving her kids unconditionally and liking them (or not sometimes). I’m sure every woman in that room breathed an inward and a much-needed sigh of relief (including me).

If you really think about this, it’s true of all relationships even our relationship with God. Sometimes we don’t feel “liked” by God. It’s just a feeling but we try to get back in His good graces. We like being liked. So when I began to have children, I assumed I should like them and love them all the time. As my image of God changed, so did my understanding. God loves us unconditionally but He doesn’t like it when we sin because sin separates us from Him. 

The burden of Mom guilt.

If you’re a Mom, you know that you can love your child unconditionally and still not like some of their behaviors just like God. As Moms, we carry an extra load of Mom-guilt. I’m not sure where we got it. Maybe we all picked it up at Target by mistake. It seems to be a universal item we carry on our shoulders. We feel bad when we’re mad. (I rhymed). Right?

 Do you know who has an extra load of guilt? Foster parents. Adoptive parents. I’m not sure why. Maybe when we were signing all of those papers, we accidentally signed one for an extra bag of guilt with some fine print that said, I will always like this child no matter what he does. That’s just not realistic. In one day, I witnessed two foster Moms feeling guilty because they didn’t like their child that day. 

Guess what? I love my husband but sometimes I don’t like him. I don’t like him when we leave the house to run two errands and he turns it into ten and I don’t get Starbucks. We don’t like our children when they don’t do the right thing, have a fit, steal, lie, or fill in the blank. It’s a given. It’s what we do with the dislike that matters. 

What to do with the dislike.

I’ve watched Moms in the grocery store telling little tiny kiddos, “You’re getting on my nerves! Stop it!” I don’t think that’s the way to handle dislike. There are no clear directives for the kiddo to make amends or change the behavior. Does a three-year-old even know what a nerve is? 

The best practice is if a child needs to change the behavior, give him clear short concise instruction. Much shorter than that sentence. If the dislike is super strong and lasts for a long period of time -get some space. Be still before the Lord. Examine yourself. What’s causing your frustration? Is it your unrealistic expectation? Is it the child’s past trauma causing mayhem? Is it your lack of planning?  Lack of consequences? Lack of sleep? Or it a more serious issue that you need extra help overcoming. 

Ask God for wisdom and be honest with yourself about how you are feeling. 

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

James 1: 5


Have you experienced a season of dislike for one of your kiddos? How did you handle it? Feel free to share! Want to here more on this topic? Check out Podcast Episode 120 here.

Foster/Adoptive Parents – It's Okay to Ask for Help

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

I’ll be the first to admit, this is difficult for me. I struggle with perfectionist tendencies which translated means – I want to do everything myself and I want it to be perfect. This doesn’t work well in reality. 

You may wonder why I’m talking about asking for help when this month’s theme is goal planning. The idea our American culture puts forth is you can do it all and you can do it all by yourself.

That’s just not the way God designed us. He designed us to be in community. We are all part of the body of Christ (if we are Christians).

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

-I Corinthians 12: 15-20

To take it a step further, as this set of scriptures does, we are part of a body. Each one of us is a part. If we don’t do our part, the body doesn’t work properly. And if we don’t let someone else do their part, the body doesn’t function well.

I said on the podcast this week my husband is a servant. He is totally focused on serving more than I am. That’s his part. 

When we don’t let people do their part, we are robbing them of the blessing.

The first time in my adult life that I really had to ask for help was when I was pregnant with my third child. I went into preterm labor at twenty-eight weeks, which was stopped. The result was I was on bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. I was only allowed to walk to the bathroom. That short walk caused contractions. My church set up a rotation of ladies to check on me and prepare meals. I hired a college student to help with the other two kiddos. It was one of the hardest things for me to do. 

Fast forward to our adoption journey.

We were in Poland on our first trip of the adoption for five weeks. We left before Thanksgiving and returned five days before Christmas. During those five weeks, a good friend came and cleaned and cared for the house (my step-father, Bud lived with us). Another friend set up the Christmas tree and decorated it. Another friend who owned a bakery made us some cookies. We came home after about twelve hours of flights to find a clean house and our house Christmas-ready! What a wonderful gift.

I’d like to say after the experience of receiving help, I was more willing to ask for it. I wasn’t. I’ve had many more practice tests on asking for help – including during a CFS crash or two, homeschooling, and planning events and the list goes on and on. What stops you from asking for help?

Let me leave you with this. James 1: 27 mandates we care for the widow and the orphan. 

27 External [a]religious worship [[b]religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.

Not everyone is going to foster or adopt. You can help someone fulfill the mandate by asking for help. Some people are the part of the body designed to help you and your kiddos. They can’t do that if you don’t ask for help. 

Want to hear more about this topic?

Are you an adoptive/foster parent? Are you sometimes overwhelmed? Do you struggle with asking for help? (Raising my hand here!) You’re not alone. If you have been following the series this month on goal planning for 2020, don’t skip this episode. Maybe it’s time to ask for help! Grab a cup of coffee and join Kathleen as she shares some real-life stories about the importance of asking for help to achieve our goals.

God's Example for Attachment

God’s Example for Attachment

If you think about it, all of creation has been in survival mode since the Fall — trying to meet our own needs, creating our own gods, always chased by a fear of lack. Yet if we examine God’s relationship with us, it always begins with “I Am.” Whatever you need. Wherever you are. Whatever you are going through, I Am. 

God doesn’t begin His relationships with rules and regulations, but with His presence. Relationship must precede rules and boundaries. We don’t send a newborn to bed without his supper because he cries. We don’t correct a new convert when he lets out a string of expletives right after a worship service (or we shouldn’t, at least). By the same token, we shouldn’t punish a child for being unable to self-regulate because he experienced early trauma.

We are born wired for attachment. As the authors of Wounded Children, Healing Homes explain, “Eye-to-eye contact is a critical link that sets the brain toward balanced regulation. The mutual gaze leads to emotional attunement; a deeply satisfying experience of feeling harmonious oneness and completeness, not unlike the peace experienced in the womb. Without the attentive loving gaze and emotional responsiveness of the parent, the infant brain struggles on its own to develop and mature.”

So how did God attach to His first children?

He provided for their physical needs. 

God planted a garden and set man over it: And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden [delight]; and there He put the man whom He had formed (framed, constituted). And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight or to be desired—good (suitable, pleasant) for food; the tree of life also in the center of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of [the difference between] good and evil and blessing and calamity.” (Genesis 2:8-9)

He provided human companionship. 

God created Eve as a helpmeet for Adam: “And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:22)

He offered His presence and a relationship.

God came and walked and talked with them: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. . .” (Genesis 3:8a)

This was a picture of perfect attachment — secure attachment.

Broken Attachment and the Fall

After the Fall, everything changed.

Adam and Eve were banished from Eden, evicted from the only lifestyle they had ever known. Not only did they lose the presence of God, but they also lost their home and carried the shame of the Fall. 

I’m sure it was beyond stressful. When Eve said, “I have gotten and gained a man with the help of the Lord” (Genesis 4:1), she may have been in survival mode. How do you survive without the presence of God, who walked and talked with you daily? How do you handle life on earth without preternatural gifts? 

Let’s put ourselves in Eve’s place. Evicted. Homeless. Alone. The constant supply of free food is gone. She feels shame. Her husband tills the ground, which brings forth thorns and thistles. She must dress herself and her family. Do you think she may have been depressed? Avoidant? Ambivalent? Checked out? I would have.

We have no written record about the parenting style of Eve, but we can hazard some guesses based on the actions of Cain. (This is not to say that every child who participates in aberrant behavior can blame it on Mom, as Sigmund Freud thought.) Cain was stuck in one of Dreikurs’ mistaken goals (see Chapter 5). For some reason, even though Abel was securely attached, Cain decided he shouldn’t try. 

“The brain is “experience expectant”. That is, it is hard wired to expect certain signals, such as eye contact, kind touch, rocking, loving voice tones, playful interactions, and assistance from others during sickness or distress.” -Deborah Gray, Nurturing Adoptions

When Eve said, “I have gotten a man,” I don’t read a whole lot of excitement there. Do you? I could be wrong, but I picture her being detached herself. It definitely doesn’t sound like secure attachment.

Secure Attachment

So what does secure attachment look like? According to Bowbly, as cited in Nurturing Adoptions, securely attached children believe the following:

• My parents come back. They are reliable.

• I am worth coming back to.

• I can depend on my parents and the people they entrust to educate and spend time with me.

• My feelings are mirrored back to me so that I can process how I feel and how others feel. 

• I want to please my parents most of the time.

• I am rewarded for becoming competent, for my creativity, and for my positive states.

• I can get help with psychologically overwhelming events and feelings.

• My parents will teach me how to cope with problems and how to resolve them.

• Intimacy is enjoyable.

• My needs are routinely met in a timely, sensitive manner.

• Repairs to relationship disruptions are empathic and prompt.

If we ourselves have felt secure attachment, we expect our children to follow that pattern, as well — even if their experiences have been vastly different from ours.We parents tend to expect our newly adopted children to enter the home and quickly develop a secure attachment style. We assume that they know the amount of time and work it took to secure their adoption. 

*This is an excerpt from How to Have Peace When Your Kids Are in Chaos. You can purchase it here.

Want to learn more about attachment? Catch up on the series on the podcast:

How to Assemble a Vision Board

Write down your vision.

I covered this in more detail here. If you missed it, go back and read it first.

Grab a board

This is the simple part. Go to your local craft store and purchase a canvas or poster board.

Find Pictures that represent your vision

You can use Pinterest, magazines, take photos yourself, make some graphics on Canva, or draw your own. The possibilities are endless. Last year, I made some fake book covers on Canva to represent books I planned to write. The actual covers changed and that’s okay. The board is a representation of the work you are going to do. Remember to be flexible and have fun!

Think about what your vision will look like on a daily basis.

Think through your day. Make sure you block out time for your vision. It won’t just magically happen. You must make time for it to happen. This means giving up something else. It may mean giving up something good. There is a myth that everything will be balanced -that you can maintain everything perfectly all the time. You may have to give up having a spotless house for a season while you work on a project. It may be sleep while you get up at 4:30 to write (true story). Maybe we gals have to give up late-night Netflix watching because we need sleep so we can get up in the morning. Maybe kids’ nap time is the time to work on a project. Find time to work on your vision. I guarantee in order for a vision to come to pass, we have to be more intentional about how we spend our time.

My Vision

Years ago, when my eldest was a toddler, hubby and I moved in with my parents in order to stop renting and buy our first home. Most of our belongings stayed in boxes. I had limited space, was living on someone else’s schedule, and had a toddler who recently learned how to flip out of her crib. What did I do? I decided to start writing again. It was my first pursuit of writing as an adult. I didn’t own a computer. I had a typewriter. I set it up in my brother’s drum room and typed while I listened for Audrey who was next door in her room.

I gave up evening TV watching for a long season while I typed away. I felt satisfied, empowered, and productive. And guess what – the circumstances were not ideal. I didn’t have a pretty office. I didn’t have a desk. Nothing I wrote during those eight months was ever published. And yet it was time well spend. The time was profitable. The season reminded me writing is where my passion is parked.

This reminiscing and rambling is a reminder all the work your pour into your vision is profitable in some way. Don’t enter the process of creating a vision board with the idea that you will or should have perfect circumstances. Or the mistaken assumption – I will create a perfect product right away. If this is your frame of mind right now, you may need to do some reframing.

2020 Vision Board

Here’s my completed vision board for the coming year. It’s more of a summation of ideas than actual events. I break down my goals into smaller achievable objectives on paper and a calendar. I have :

  • Typewriters to represent writing more books
  • A computer to represent e-courses
  • A clock to remind me to spend time wisely (I’m using the 5 Second Journal and The Morning Sidekick Journal to help with keeping track).
  • Flowers represent time in my flower garden which is still part of my overall vision
  • Family time is super important – I mentioned some of the activities we do in the article here.
  • I have some house projects represented including some outdoor ones.

2019 Vision Board

This is last year’s board. It’s seems much different than this year’s. Last year, The Whole House had finished up its first year of the podcast, some e-courses, and a live gathering. It had poured so much of my energy into The Whole House. I still will this year, however, I have realized that my room is me. Everything I have to offer is my experience, the way I do things, and the topics God puts on my heart. I guess what I’m trying to say is your vision board is not some way out there idea, it’s not projecting some vision of something that isn’t in your wheelhouse. It’s you.

Want to know more about creating a vision board? Listen to this podcast episode!

Are you looking for a way to plan your goals for 2020? Have you ever tried creating a vision board? A vision board is a great visual to look at your goals on a daily basis. Vision boards can be fun, colorful, creative, and a great group project to do with friends. Why create a vision board? Grab a cup of coffee and join Kathleen and Kristin as they share what a vision board is and three reasons to create one.