No Perfect Time (Three Word Wednesday)

 Whoever watches the wind will not plant;
Whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
Ecclesiastes 11: 4

There is a proper time for everything, right?  The English like their tea time.  Hobbits enjoy first and second breakfast.  Catholic and Protestants alike worship at church on Sundays.  Jews observe the Sabbath on Saturday.Engagement precedes marriage.  A career follows education.  This is the way of things, is it not?  After marriage comes children?  It is the proper time.  The wind is right.  The bank account has a cushion.  The house/apartment purchased (mortgaged).  It is the Monday morning of perfect times when all resolutions begin.  The sky is clear.  The winds are fair.

The sky falls in.  The job market takes a dive.  Lay-offs.  A sudden illness.  Medical bills. A leaky roof.

Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 on a Friday, the day of preparation for Sabbath.  While the Jews made preparations for their Holy day and commanded day of rest, the tanks rolled across the border.

Sunday morning December 7, 1941 the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, hours before personnel awoke to prepare for duty or Sunday service.

Fruit of adoption

Sunday the U.N. met while church goers were more intent on Sunday dinner than the carving up of Israel.

The POINT?

There is no perfect  time.  As I sat in Sunday service and listened to missionary Jodi talk about the orphans craving to be noticed, wanting to be loved, in her beloved Indian orphanage, I thought about the state of the world affairs and the nation.  Now is the time.  There is no better time to adopt an orphan than in the midst of moral, spiritual or physical upheaval.  Normal isn’t coming.  “There will always be a complication, a crisis, or what looks a legitimate reason to wait.”- Holley Gerth

When Jerry and I adopted four siblings, the threat of Y2K loomed in front of us.  Friends and family stocked up on food and water for the apocalyptic-agrarian society the computer failure would catapult us into at the stroke of one second past midnight on 1.1.00.

Stop waiting for everything to be perfect.  It won’t.  Ask God to open doors that no man can open and close doors that no man can shut.  There are souls in the balance.  I don’t want to post pictures of chunky-faced-sparkly-eyed-orphans or foster children and play the emotion card.  I challenge YOU.  Pray about it.  Don’t check the weather or the crops.  Just ask God what His itinerary is when the wind is not right and the sky is cloud covered.  It may rain blessings of children on you and your family.

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday!

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Side of Grief

“Aunt __________ had a stroke,” the voice on the other end of the line said. The bottom fell out from under me. I gripped the counter for support.

After multiple moves from hospital to hospital and some new factors, the prognosis is not good. Aunt _______ has a special place in my heart, only seven years my senior and a writer (journalist) with a quick wit and a heart for hurting children. She has been a constant fixture in my life and is famous for our coffee dates that last for hours while we talk about everything and nothing.

Grief sucks energy and leaves me drained. To add to that, over the past several weeks my family has suffered its share. A dear aunt from the other side of the family slipped away far too quickly. I got a text at 4:30 am that she was gone. My sister-in-law spent nearly a week in the hospital while I was on vacation (and no one told me). That news shook me. I called her as soon as I heard and was relieved to hear her voice on the other end.

I’m a deep, slow processor. While others are microwaves, I’m a woodburning stove, the embers burn slowly. I almost didn’t write this post because my processor is still creaking slowly away, but I felt I had to share this message, one I have experienced over and over: Grief and joy co-exist. I didn’t used to believe this. I thought that I could be happy or sad. Turns out joy is not happiness. It’s a fruit. It need to seed, to flower and then to produce a tiny fruit that matures until it is ready to harvest.

Charles Dickens said it best:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”

Fifteen years ago I had two seasons burst forth at the same time. My new kids came home from Poland and at the same time, my Bud (step-father) labored to breathe in ICU. I had the joy of my whole family together at last and the grief of losing Bud. He died a week into the kids’ new life in the states.

Last week, with the devestating news of my aunt pressing on me, I almost cancelled Camp Lemon-Lime, a family camp here at my home for the kids and grandkids. I followed through because I know joy and grief can and should co-exist. He prepares a table for me in the presence of mine enemies. He provides daily manna. I trust that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living and He is good. He gives good gifts.

Camp Lemon-Lime Lucy goggles
Ready to swim!

We swam, jumped on the trampoline, ate S’mores every night while we sat round the campfire and watched the fireflies light up in the distance. I napped in a hammock one afternoon while the grandkids napped after two swim sessions. I battled it out in the pool with sponge balls and laughed hard and long with Sam and Theo, Jerry, Adam and Rafal. Audrey, Amerey and I chatted and read aloud to one another while lounging in lawn chairs on the front lawn. And…sometimes I cried quietly, sometimes out loud.

Camp Lemon-Lime Let me help you with those!
Let me fix those for you!

In the midst of all the fun, a dear friend was wounded deeply. I shot her a few texts and said some prayers and wished I had some sturdy, strong boxing gloves I could put on and to into the ring for her.

Camp Lemon-Lime Pip and Hunter

Camp Lemon-Lime ended Sunday. Jerry and I drove the hour and a half to visit my aunt. The situations are still there, active, living, breathing, causing pain and suffering, yet, my joy is there too. I have a brown paper bag full of memories, moments of connections, play-doh at the dining room table and a long story telling, jumping on the trampoline like popcorn. Sweet conversations that begin with, “Ni Ni, COME!”

Camp Lemon-Lime amerey belly
Please show your pregnant belly, Amerey. Going for a walk. Lucy has her backpack with her Wendy doll safely tucked inside.
Camp Lemon-Lime Sam
Night Swim/kayaking with help from Uncles Hunter and Gregory creating some white water!

There is sometimes snow in summer. Seventy degree days in December. Joy and grief blast in at once. Weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning with tousled heads and bowls of cereal in the library pouring over nature guides.

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday!

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Notice the Good

Notice the Good.

I was taking down all the Christmas decorations the other day (don’t judge) and I decided to move the game table. It a solid table, round on the top and a pedestal base. I decided to scoot (this an official semi-professional term for us rearranging gals, you know who you are) the table across the floor by myself. The round top separated from the base and fell sideways. I held it while I yelled for youngest son and all the while thought, everything is going to slide off the table and break (yes, I left the stuff on the table!) and my back is going to snap in two and quickly righted my thoughts, it’s okay, if everything falls on the floor and breaks, it’s not the end of the world and I am strong, I can do this….

Then..a miracle occurred. Son Rafal appeared in seconds and righted the table.

Some of have brains stuck in the negative. Call it a negative bent. Call it early childhood trauma. Call it whatever label you wish, but it is yesterday’s suppositions effect today’s decisions unless you take the time to change them.

When my husband and I adopted four children from hard places, It was evident immediately that everything was stated in negative terms.” No” was a prominent word in their vocabulary. I need to help them see the world through a more positive lens. Unfortunately that meant changing my vision prescription first. And living in a minute by minute struggle with learning delays, developmental delays, I had to pull my self out of the pit of the present circumstances. Or look above them, around them, more closely at them to see the good. If a child crumpled four math papers out of frustration, What was the good thing? He did number five?

Gazing out the window at sunsets and sitting by the fireside with a hot cup of tea while I read aloud was a circumstance I created. Planning good things doesn’t mean there will be no opposition. There will probably be opposition, but that doesn’t negate  the good unless I let it. And sometimes I do.

“He is hogging the blanket”

“I wanted to sit there.”

“This part is boring”

“Why can’t I have three cookies?”

Those sorts of things will be said.I cannot ignore them, but I can rise above them. Notice the good. The good is the seed planted. The time spent together. No the moment isn’t perfect now, but the memory will be.

Three things I need to remember to change my perspective: I need to change the lens I view my life through….

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1. God is good.

 And He said to him, Why do you ask Me about the perfectly and essentially good? There is only One Who is good [perfectly and essentially]—God. If you would enter into the Life, you must continually keep the commandments.-Matthew 19:17 

If nothing else seems good at the moment- the kids are fighting, the house is a mess, the bills are due and the bank account is overdrawn, remember God is good. He is the one who is perfectly and essentially good. Focus on Him. Focus on His goodness. Confess His goodness because the attributes that we magnify in Him, praise in Him, we will seen in our lives.

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

So let us not be the lunatic in the cell scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the pages of our lives. Let us instead be the ones who glorify God by noticing and speaking His goodness lest the rocks rise up and praise Him. He is good. He gave me the children I have as a good gift whether they are behaving badly or not. He gave me the Gods-sized dream to adopt and then He brought it to pass. It was His good work.

2. He gives good things

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Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].-James 1:17

My children are a good and perfect gift. My life is a good and perfect gift. Being part of the family of God is a good and perfect gift. Having an eternal home with benefits that start here on earth is a good and perfect gift. The creation that tells me of the goodness of God is a good and perfect gift.

 And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good (suitable, pleasant) and He approved it completely. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day. Genesis 1:31

Everything that He had made was very good. He approved of it completely. He approves of you completely. He approves of your children completely. It is good.

3. He works all things together for good.

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We are assured and know that [[a]God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.- Romans 8:28

He works. We labor. He is our partner in this labor. Noticing the good takes work. Nothing that is worth achieving is easy. The best work I have ever done is raising children. The hardest work I have ever done is raising children.

Work is not man’s punishment. It is his reward and his strength and his pleasure.

Linking up with these lovely ladies today: Holley Gerth and Kristin Hill Taylor! Join us!

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