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!

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The Neglected Garden

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I was working in my flower garden, weeding while I waited for youngest son finish his breakfast and join me on his bike  while I walkedran. My flower garden has been neglected this summer and the few minutes or half hours I get here and there to clean it up don’t do it justice. Anyone who knows me knows I love fresh flowers on the table and I LOVE my flower garden. I haven’t shown it the love it deserves this year. The Mile a Minute vines have been relentlessly choking out the flowers. I have yelled at them, jerked them off of flowers, bushes and pumpkin vines and they just keep coming back. So, I weeded and waited. I pulled starts of the Mile a Minute vine and wiped my sweat with the sleeve of my shirt. “I just give up, Lord! I can’t do it. It’s too much!” Then a patch of Black-eyed Susans caught my eye, blooming brightly in golden hues in the middle of the garden. Look at that, my soul whispered. Look at the beauty. Look at the victory. Look at the triumph, not the failures.

Help me see the beauty, Lord,

Help me sort out the victories and not pass over them.

Help me celebrate those victories.

 

Raising children is a lot like taking care of a flower garden. It sometimes get overrun by weeds. Those weeds are behaviors. If we focus on the behaviors, we miss focusing on relationship, on connection. We’re always pulling at the weeds, jerking them around with our words, “Stop that! If you do that one more time, I will ______!”

“Can’t you ever act your age?”

“When are you going to learn how to read? Everyone your age knows how to read!”

Every time we focus on the behavior, we miss the Black-eyed Susan in the middle of the garden. If we focus on the vine, we it chokes out the joy. Especially with raising children from hard places or a capital letter syndrome, there will always be regressions, there will always be survival mode, peeking at us from behind the last victory, the last ‘redo’, the last ‘asking instead of telling’ the last five minutes or five days of regulating. If we are looking for those vines, we will find them. If we focus only on them, we will want to give up.

I’m reminded of the Parable of the Sower when I weed, I have always thought of myself as a seed fallen on good soil kind of gal, until I reread it.

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.-Matthew 13:22

What is all of this focusing on behavior or checking the lists of what your child should know? It is worry. It is fear that God is not in control, something else is. When we worry that after a great day, regression is around the corner, then we are choked, our lives unfruitful. When we are led by the deceitfulness of “I got this. I can parent on my own,” as if we have the wealth, the pride that expelled satan from heaven. We cannot parent fully until we take it to the cross and give it to the one whose burden is light. He can make a way where there seems to be no way, no matter what the circumstance. He can grow the a bouquet of Black-eyed Susans in the middle of a garden of Mile a Minute vines.

 

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

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Adopted Children Adulting

My eldest son had come over for a few hours and helped me hang some outdoor lights for a party.

“I want to move back home and go to college.”

This wasn’t the first time he had brought this up. He had been renting a house with roommate and working in a respectable job and being diligent. He just felt stuck. I had been praying for this moment for years. Not that I think everyone needs a college degree to be successful in life, just the fact that he wanted to better himself. To move forward in his adult life, so he was prepared for marriage and a family.

Adopted children often get a lot of flack for not entering the world of adulthood at what society thinks is the proper time or missing it altogether. I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to what adopted children can or cannot do. They can become independent barring, any severe neurological or physical challenges. The misunderstanding or flawed expectations come when raising a child from a difficult beginning, understanding that the child is half his chronological age emotionally and then blatantly expecting that child to magically adult at eighteen, nineteen or even twenty.

Children from hard places find it difficult to push through physical or emotional pain to success. This is often because pain before (emotional, physical or mental) has only yielded more pain or more negative circumstances. Like a young girl I knew who cleaned her family’s whole house regularly and meticiously , but was not allowed to sit at the dinner table with the rest of the family because her step-father said she was not his ‘real kid’. Do you think she had a positive picture of sowing and reaping at home?

Or the child who was beat up in the middle of the night in the orphanage. He may overreact to someone grabbling his elbow or a sweat bee sting. I’m not talking about sensory issues, I am referring to the ability to push through minor pains for major victories. It may be the pain of sore muscles for awhile when a kid joins a sport team. Children from hard places may view the pain as a message in their brain that reads, “I can’t do this! I shouldn’t do this!” or may assume because they can’t do things perfectly the first time that they are a failure.

 

Here’s another example of my teen son with a power washer. He had the machine set up and ready to go. I had done all of the power washing of the patio around our pool and asked him to do a small section. I thought he would enjoy it because he is meticulous when it comes to detail. He struggled with a few issues, the hose fell in the pool, the electrical cord was headed in the same direction. The machine shuttered because it hadn’t had time to build up pressure.

“That’s why I don’t do this! I shouldn’t do this!”

I explained that I had the same issues with the power washer. Kids who struggle with pushing through because of the foundation of their past don’t need talk therapy, they need affirmation therapy. Don’t ignore your child’s fear of pushing through. Acknowledge it. Talk about it. Recognize it and put it it’s place. Help them move from flight, fight or freeze in the downstairs brain to the upstairs where sense and reason reside.

Help them with time and patience come to conclusions such as:

  • Nobody can do things perfectly the first time.
  • My muscles hurt from swimming laps, I’m not dying.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes, it is how we learn.

It is through reaffirming that the child is feeling pain or stress (yes, I’m sure your arms do hurt, you swam for a long time) to a reasonable and logical understanding (your arms hurt, but you aren’t dying, you will get stronger). These concepts move a child into his upstairs brain and need to be reinforced in the early stages of adulating which begins at home. Yes, your part time job is hard. You have to sweep floors and that takes time and energy, but you did it. You can keep doing it. Or that online class is giving you a lot of work to do, but let’s not quit. Let’s break it down and decide what to do first. This translates into college or moving out of the house years when you say, yeah, you have to pay the bills first and then you can go out to eat. These sound so simplistic and so easy to grasp, but for a child from a traumatic beginning, they are not. The concept of cause and effect is muddled by early experiences. The ability to push through to victory must be coached and affirmed in the same baby steps that would have occurred had they been with you from the very beginning. You are going back and filling in the gaps and redefining the world with your child. Be prepared to continue to assist for years to come. Don’t stress or compare. Enjoy the journey and celebrate victories!  Adulting is difficult for all of us and a child from traumatic beginnings need encouragement and understanding. He may need help longer than other adult children.

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor! Join us!

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My Typewriter Journey

I sat at my desk waiting, while the  little circle on the computer turn around and around. The words seemed to be on a two minute delay. I shut the laptop and went on to something else, frustrated and at a loss. I had been working on two, no three writing projects. That moment, I was working on revisions on my second book, a series of articles on adoption issues. I am writing my first novel for teens.(More info on upcoming books in a later post!) Number three is my website. I write articles on adoption, childrearing, organization, family and also type up my workshops or notes for speaking engagements. That’s a plethora of words to say that I rely heavily on technology every day.

After that particularly frustrating moment, I had an idea. Why not get a typewriter?  Hubby Jerry was  outside working on some yard work and I went out on the deck and yelled, “hey, do you mind if I order a typewriter?”

“Sounds like a great idea!” I ran back up to my office with visions of Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote) floating in my head. I couldn’t wait to start typing on a typewriter!  I ordered a manual. I didn’t want to be dependent on electricity or the internet in order to write. I just wanted to write. I had reverted to pen and paper going through yellow legal pads like my toddler grandchildren go through wipes.

My typewriter arrived (thank you Amazon Prime) and I did some practice sentences to warm up and realized my hands needed some more muscles. It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it and I pulled out the latest chapter I had written and typed it up. No distractions. I couldn’t pop open another tab or do some last minute research. I couldn’t tweet, fiddle with Pandora or check Facebook. Just type. It’s been one of the best disciplines for me. I make note when I need to look something up. I don’t look it up then.

The truth is, several people have tried to help me get back on technology. My daughter lent me her Mac. I brought it home and plugged it in, the cord popped, smoked and fried. Are you trying to tell me something, Lord? Then my son’s girlfriend loaned me a hot pink computer that I am typing on right now. Interesting thing, I did not touch the computer for a week or so. My website has been pretty silent and all I keep hearing in my head is WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. So, I have been, plunking away, chapter after chapter. Only three left to write (and two of those are outlined).

This portion of Scripture kept coming to mind:

If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.– Matthew 18:8-10

Sometimes things happen in my life and I view them as punishment, when they are actually discipline. I needed to step back from my technology habit and cut it off for awhile, it was causing me to stumble in my daily walk. I wasn’t viewing porn or watching R rated movies, I was just wasting time. And wasting time can be a sin. The Word says that we should not be vague, thoughtless or foolish, we should instead be diligent.

Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], 16 [b]making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish and thoughtless, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is.- Ephesians 5:15-17

I was deceiving myself into believing that flitting around through social media and other people’s blogs was sensible and diligent, when in fact it was robbing me of the true will of the Lord which was and is WRITE, WRITE, WRITE.

Maybe you seen the handwriting on the wall clearly and aren’t as hard headed as me, if that is true, than God bless you, sister. This article isn’t about the evils of technology, it’s about letting anything get in the way of what God has placed in your heart to do. He has given each of us a God-sized dream and a measure of the talent we need to complete it. It our job to walk carefully, making the most of our time and increasing our talent through thought, study and discipline.

I pray that my mini lesson has helped you in some way. Although my webpage has been on pause for awhile, I know it is a season. I will come back to it when the time is right. Don’t be afraid of seasons. They are natural and normal. Don’t look at what everyone is doing to measure yourself by, use the ruler of the Word and you won’t be led astray. If you need to, cut some things out. Re-evaluate. Write down your mission statement and your goals and pray over them. Study. Pray. Don’t be surprised if the Holy Spirit directs you to do something that no one else is doing!

Joining Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday!  Join us!

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Restrooms and Revivals

Husband Jerry and I were walking on the rail to trail along the West Fork River while our son rode ahead on his bike. We talked about our days and as usual slowly slid into current events. “I’m still going to Target,” I stated to his opposite opinion. “Jesus would go to Target.” We weren’t arguing. We just sometimes land on the opposite side of opinion and that’s okay. I have my reasons. Target is not the church,nor does it claim to be. It is not bound by Christian doctrine. I don’t condone their decision. If I were asked to vote as to whether their should be transgender bathroom, I would vote ‘no’. I am not. I cannot. What I do have is the power of the gospel at my disposal in this post- Christian nation. This is not a bathroom issue. This is an issue of the pulse of our nation. The transgender issue is a symptom of sadness, brokenness and how far our nation has fallen from its heritage.

I scroll through Facebook and see dozens of heated arguments about transgender bathrooms and boycotting Target. Jesus didn’t boycott or call non believers to maintain the doctrine He prescribed. And as far as those who wish to keep the law, Jesus said…

35 And one of their number, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him.

36 Teacher, which [e]kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light—which are heavy?]

37 And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect).(C)

38 This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment.

39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.(D)

40 These two commandments [f]sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.- Matthew 22

We cannot love

We cannot love people to Christ or share the Gospel by jumping up and down and screaming about our rights as a Christians. We can share the power of the Gospel by loving regardless. I’m not saying go to Target and wait in the bathroom for a transgender and hug him. Don’t go to Target if you don’t feel comfortable. Don’t use the bathroom if you choose to go and don’t like the bathroom policy.

“…we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”- Target

Making lots of noise about this decision by Target is like trying to stop an avalanche that started in the sixties when the 1966 Good Friday cover of Time asked, “Is God Dead?” with a stretched out piece of saran wrap. It won’t work. It is like wormwood. It touted the ‘new atheism’ and was followed by Roe v. Wade in 1973 and preceded by the 1962 decision to remove prayer from public school.  We have been placidly swallowing it for some years and now it tastes sweet instead of bitter. We can’t go back to our Christian roots by anger over a bathroom. We can by prayer, humbleness, repentance and a true love for those hurting confused souls like ourselves.

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.- 2 Chronicles 7:14

If we truly are his people, we will humble ourselves, pray, seek, crave and require of necessity His face. We will turn from our wicked ways. We won’t require non believers to change their ways to suit our religion. We will preach the Gospel that says that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life. We should tell them that before the foundation of the world, they were chosen to be part of His eternal family if they accept Him. They have been pre-approved. Jesus will clean the fish. That is not our job.

Meanwhile, right here in WV, there has been a spiritual awakening in Mingo county, the town of Williamson, the ‘heart of the billion dollar coal fields’ intersect the restroom debate. They both speak of need. Coal mines close. People are struggling. A visiting Hilary Clinton is called on the carpet for her comment, “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners out of work.” Teens are not getting real answers. Transgenders struggle with identity. They seek acceptance to meet that most basic human need- love, connection, attachment. The teens are answered with an outpouring of God’s love. The restroom debate needs another answer.The spiritual vacuum is the same.

“It’s a climactic time,” he said. “I think the many years of creating a spiritual vacuum inside of kids by not teaching them the true reality that there’s a destiny in God—time plus chance, plus matter—has produced a vacuum on the inside.”- Pastor Mitch Bias of the regional Church of God in Delbarton

We cannot remove spiritual limbo by fighting the results of spiritual decline, but by repentance, prayer and sharing the true Gospel.

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

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