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Challenges Family Things I've Learned

Calling Protective Services? A Message to the Concerned Onlooker

Do you leave your kids in the car? {Mom of Many}
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I just read an article about a mom who left her 4 year old son in the car for a couple of minutes to run into the store.

Read the article here.

She is a good mom, cares for her child, works hard, is faithful and loving. She did what her mom did with her back when she was little. She did what she thought was best in the moment.

While she was in the store an onlooker called the police and took a picture of her son sitting in the car alone. Since the whole fiasco, this mom has decided her choice was unwise and plans to never do it again. She does a great job in the article laying out the situation and ramifications.

My comments have to do with calling 911 to deal with situations like hers:

This onlooker though she knew best and felt the need to “protect” a stranger’s child.

  1. She didn’t know the mom.
  2. She didn’t know the kid.
  3. She didn’t know the circumstances, age, or maturity of the boy.
  4. She thought she knew better than the mom.
  5. She perceived “danger” when there was none, until she grabbed her phone, that is.

SHE was the danger to this boy.

  1. Her one phone call caused this family a year’s worth of pain and loss.
  2. Because of her reaction to a perceived danger, the mom was charged with child endangerment.
  3. This one act created a long lasting fear in the child that someone would come take him away from his mom.

You might say, “Well, she deserved it.” or, “No, the mom caused it with her decision to leave her child.” Regardless of your opinion regarding leaving kids in the car for a few moments, one thing we must agree upon. The mom is the mom. Her parental rights say she and the dad alone have a say in how they parent. Period.

Would you call 911? {Mom of Many}
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The boy wasn’t in danger

  1. He wasn’t in trouble, causing trouble, or in any type of distress.
  2. It wasn’t hot out.
  3. He had the maturity to handle himself and was happily sitting, playing on an iPad.

Stranger danger? Yep…danger from someone who thought they were responsible for a stranger’s child while walking by.

A different lady on one of my Facebook groups saw a boy in a car alone and asked what everyone thought she should do. Should she call 911 or leave him alone and mind her own business? The responses were split. Half said leave it alone and half said she should call 911. What do you say?

Guess what she did…

  1. She stayed with the boy while he sat in the car until his mom came out – because she was concerned.
  2. She didn’t call 911 – because it wasn’t any of her business.
  3. She limited her “social responsibility” to observation, not judgement or action.

Win. Win. She alleviated her doubts and helped a mom in need (or so she felt was in need – it’s called appropriate, non threatening concern).

Is there a better way?

  1. Why don’t we just help instead of criticize?
  2. Why don’t we give people the benefit of the doubt and do what is best for everyone involved?

People don’t understand that by calling 911, or protective services, they are creating a danger in the lives of the entire family that is just as damaging as the perceived risk of leaving a child in the car (if not more).

One day I was in a bathroom stall and heard a mom come in with several little kids. She keep saying, “Stay right in front of the door while I am helping your brothers go potty.” She kept talking to her 6 year old son to keep him occupied while she took care of business. She had three little kids.

Was the boy standing outside the stall in any danger? No. Could he have been? Maybe. If I’d been a pervert or kidnapper, I definitely had opportunity. But I wasn’t. He was fine. Was I concerned? A little Was there a minor possibility of a problem? Maybe.

Are you a help to others? {Mom of Many}
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Rather than criticize or assume she couldn’t handle her kids, I decided to help.

  1. I told her I would stay with her son and watch the door until she was done.
  2. I explained I was a mom of a bunch of kids and I understood her situation.
  3. She profusely thanked me when she came out and explained that she was frazzled trying to manage them.

I certainly knew what she meant because I’ve gone shopping with a passel of kids and know what it’s like to try to manage all of them alone (which is why I seldom went out alone without my DH!)

He was fine and she was encouraged by a concerned onlooker.

Let’s not judge, intervene or criticize.

  1. Let’s not cause a problem where there is none.
  2. Let’s not assume we know better than the parents.
  3. Let’s not step in where we don’t belong.

Let’s decide to help rather than create a problem where there is none.

  1. If we see a need. Let’s help.
  2. If we see possible danger. Let’s help.
  3. If we see a mom needing help, let’s help!

Let me know what you think or if you’ve had experience with the “helping hand.” I have a comment section and I read every one!

Val @ Mom of Many

 

 

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Family Parenting tips

Do you teach your kids to help mom? Parenting Tip #15

 

Do you teach your kids to help mom? {Mom of Many}When our kids were little we started the “special thing.”

Bedtimes were set in stone unless our kids found something special to do for mom. It could be sweeping the floor, picking up the baby’s toys, or folding a basket of laundry. BUT…it had to be something for mom and they had to think it up themselves.

Not only was it a help to me, the mom who’s job was never done, it taught them to think of others. Some days they would think all day long on what they could do to earn another half hour to stay up and play.

My kids know how to serve others.

They know how to work.

They know how to plan ahead.

Even when the teenage years came along, there were moments:

My son Levi and I liked to peel grapefruit right down to the little pillows of liquid. It was the most exquisite breakfast food ever. It took us about 15 minutes or more to do so but it was so worth the time and effort. The rest of the kids didn’t have the patience.

One day I was talking on the phone with my DH telling him about an exchange I had with someone that had caused me great distress. My son saw how upset I was and while on the phone, he brought me a peeled grapefruit.

Needless to say, I lost it. I started bawling my eyes out because of this impulsive act of kindness. He looked at me like, “What did I do?”

I have this thing; I can be very brave and weather the toughest storm…unless you are nice to me. That is when I lose it.

A mom can go through some tough moments and weather them just fine because they ALWAYS feel they must be the strong for others. But then someone shows a little kindness and that compassion breaks through the ice. That ice isn’t bad – sometimes it is necessary to get through the tough times.

Too often moms put themselves last because they think doing so is being a good example.

But let’s not forget that we are teaching future husbands and fathers. They must learn to respect and honor mom. Their future wives will thank you.

If there was one last piece of pie, my DH would always offer it to me first. He wanted to show our sons that mom was to be cared for. I have always told my boys that girls are delicate flowers and they should treat them as such.

Tomorrow we will talk about kids that don’t do as they are taught when they grow into adults – what does a mom do?

TTYT!

Val @ Mom of Many

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Spiritual Truths

The Obscurest Believer

Matthew 18:10 “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

John Wesley Commentary comments on this verse:  See that ye despise not one of these little ones – As if they were beneath your notice.  Be careful to receive and not to offend, the very weakest believer in Christ: for as inconsiderable as some of these may appear to thee, the very angels of God have a peculiar charge over them: even those of the highest order, who continually appear at the throne of the Most High.”

Barnes NT Commentary says:  “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones,” etc. That is, one who has become like little children – or, a Christian. Jesus then proceeds to state the reason why we should not despise his feeblest and obscurest follower. That reason is drawn from the care which God exercises over them. The first instance of that care is, that in heaven their angels do always behold his face. He does not mean, I suppose, to state that every good man has his guardian angel, as many of the Jews believed; but that the angels were, in general, the guards of his followers, and aided them, and watched over them (Heb 1:14). 
 
“Do always behold the face of my Father,” etc. This is taken from the practice of earthly courts. To be admitted to the presence of a king; to be permitted to see his face continually; to have free access at all times, was deemed a mark of peculiar favour, (1Kings 10:8; Es 1:14) and was esteemed a security for his protection. So, says our Saviour, we should not despise the obscurest Christians, for they are ministered to by the highest and noblest of beings; beings who are always enjoying the favour and friendship of God.

C.H. Spurgeon’s Commentary on Matthew says:  Those who are servants to poor saints and little children are allowed free entrance to the King: what must he think of his little ones themselves? Nay, this is not all. Jesus himself cares for the poorest and neediest. Yes, he came to save that which was lost. How dare we then be proud, and despise a child because of its youth, or a man because of his poverty, or his want of intelligence? The angels and the angels’ Lord care for the most despised of our race; shall not we?

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Musings Spiritual Truths Things I've Learned

Brow Beating Believers

The path I have chosen with God’s direction has been enlightening. I have learned many things, especially the past few years. After 20+ years of dealing with “interesting children,” I’ve seen my share and then some of children tied up in a world of sinfulness. Not only have they sinned in record measures, but they have been sinned against in ways that would cause even the most experienced sinner to blush. I’m talking about the kids who were adopted out of families that did not regard them as precious jewels the way Christ does. They were broken as small children and grew up with that reflected in their behavior and thought processes. Nearly all of my children who were violated as small children by their birth families have fallen into great vast pits upon leaving our home and striking out on their own. Yes, you can sit back and judge them – or you can have great compassion for a fellow human being who experienced the worst the world has to offer and is trying to make sense of it. Sure, they could have leaned on the One who created them and could have trusted and obeyed Him, but for some reason their view was so darkened they were not able to look up at the light at that point in their lives. It is not for me to judge, though I have tried to reason the “why” of it all.

We tried to make up for all the “bad stuff” that they had experienced prior to coming into our home. It was certainly our intention to do so, but for some reason we were not enough. We gave them a safe home that had proper education, both spiritually and mentally, love and concern along with the discipline to train them in the right way to live. Did it “take?” No, not for the ones who were resistant to such things. But it was planted in their heads. That’s the key.  We’re beginning to see that for some of them, when the time is right and they’ve discovered that the world has nothing for them, they know where to look when they decide to seek God and all He has for them.

It’s obvious to everyone what a parent’s stand ought to be in the midst of their children’s life’s journey. They support the good decisions and don’t support the bad ones. They seek the best for the child. When sinned against, they are to be willing to forgive if the child is genuinely repentant. That doesn’t mean the parents have to support them when they aren’t living right, but they pray for them and give godly advice when asked. They don’t brow beat them or slander their name. They sit quietly by and wait for the child to see the light and welcome them back when they do. They do their best to advise them and try to teach them to keep their paths straight. If the child gets off the right path, the parent does not go off with them. They continue on, waiting for their child to return. If the child is living at home, the parent is to grab them and put them back on the right path in any way God directs them to do so. I’ve told my adult children that they have the right to choose whatever path they want to walk down, but to not expect me to go down with them, for I too have a responsibility to walk with God in the way He directs me.

But what is the responsibility of those who are not family, those who the child has sinned against? If they are believers, then their responsibility is the same. The only exception is deferring to the parent for discipline. Compassion ought to rule. We are in God’s family. Too often I have seen my children offend or sin against another believer and receive the same amount of offence right back. If we consider ourselves mature believers, then we ought to return love and compassion, not seek to “make them pay.”  We ought to consider what is the best for that child, not recompense for our offended pride. Brow beating someone into submission out of our so called spiritual standing as authority is not love. The desire to capitalize on their sin is as bad as the original sin we were considering. It is prideful arrogance – showing we care more for our hurt feelings than the offender’s welfare and spiritual needs. To not offer forgiveness and reconcilliation when there has been repentance is to curse the love of God. If the love of God dwells in us, we will love others. If it does not, we will allow our selfish desires to walk all over those we consider less than us. It is then at that point that we become the offender and turn God’s attention off the sinner and on to ourselves. That is not a place I would ever want to be.

John 8:7  “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” 

Galatians 6:1  “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Matthew 18:6 “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

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Musings Things I've Learned

How Can One Stay Warm?

As I am sitting here thinking about my good friend Loretta, I’m wondering why it is that I can be so free and open with her. I’ve come to the conclusion that she is one of my “safe” friends. She listens, she comments and then she makes it clear that she is compassionate and supportive regarding my situation. She doesn’t hesitate to remind me of Scripture and/or reality as she sees it (in case I’m NOT seeing it) but she does it in a “I’m your friend no matter what” type of way. I will never fear to open an email from her. I will never have my heart turn over if I see her name on the caller ID. If I received a letter from her I would be anxious to open it. I have a few friends like that. I hope that you, my reader, can say you have some friends like that too. If we are acquainted, I hope I am one of those friends in your life. Through this latest set of trials, I have strengthened my resolve that when I’m on the other end I’ll exhibit the same type of “safe” friendship. As my friends go on this journey with me through my blog, I’m finding many just like me.

I’ve been getting emails like this, “This was encouraging to me. I parent the way I do for my children, not other people.  I noticed you wrote it on the 18th – that was an especially tough day between me and my most “challenging” child. Thanks for sharing. Love you.” It’s emails like that that “float my boat.” They make me think that what I have gone through may one day be used to encourage others. You are not privy to them because they have been sending them in private emails, but you do need to know that there are others out there that are struggling just like we are.

You are not the only one. I am not the only one.

Oh, sure, we come off as individuals who are strong and have it all together. Well, we are strong and we do have “it” all together, but sometimes we can’t remember where we put “it.” Today was one of those days. So, guess what I did? I got on my email and shipped off an email crying out to the Lord via my friend. I know it sounds silly, but godly, loving people can be mouthpieces for God. Sometimes we forget that God works through us. US! We who love God and walk with Him are used of God to help others get through this world – because this world is tough!

I am weak, but He makes me strong. I lack wisdom, but He makes me wise. I am speechless, but He gives me His words. I am empty but each day He fills me up. I am self-centered but He lends me his compassion and I can keep it only if I give it away. I am flawed but through Christ I am made perfect. I am impatient but He makes me longsuffering by reminding me where He brought me out of – you know that mirey clay? Well, we were all down there sinking into the pit at one time and He threw us a life line.  But now I have the responsibility to pull others out as well. It’s our calling – both as Christians and as women. We need to be compassionate and caring to others. If we’re not then what good are we? WHAT GOOD ARE WE?

I know we’ve been taught to present a good face in public, but if we never tell others about our failings and shortcomings, then how are we going to be encouraging to others? If you know that I lose it once in a while and falter in my faith, and cry out to God out of fear, then maybe you can too and not feel like you have failed. Remember, Prov. 24:16a “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.” Yes! Just men fall! And they do it seven times! Wow. So, am I saying that even the most put together, confident, eloquent person that we see in the front extolling the virtues of a godly life even has bad days or even weeks? YES! Do they fall? YES! The difference between them and others is they get back up again and go on to continue serving and fellowshipping with God and others. So the difference is whether we get up again – not how perfect we are perceived to be by others!  Let’s help others get back up again rather than just kicking them as we walk by. It seems I’ve been spending an awful lot of time down on the ground lately. How about you? It’s refreshing to look up and see a helping hand that looks like Christ’s.

Ecc. 4:9 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?”

This world is too cold to go it alone.

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Musings

Known By Our Compassion

Love – putting others ahead of ourselves

Faithfulness – consistently being available to those we love

Compassion – faithfully loving others especially through a trial

Godliness requires us to faithfully love others by displaying compassion even to our own hurt.

Christ faithfully loved others by displaying compassion – He went to the cross for us.

Some people think love is a warm fuzzy feeling – a feeling that can be hidden. Some think faithfulness is a state of mind and compassion is empathy or a kind thought toward others. I say love, faithfulness and compassion are all actions. Christ faithfully loved us by having enough compassion for us to suffer and die on the cross and shed His blood so we might be free from sin’s penalty. He could have sat up in heaven and had a warm fuzzy feeling for us day in and day out throughout eternity. He could have even felt bad that we all would die and go to hell. But what good would it have done us? His love, faithfulness and compassion were proven by His actions. I am very glad He did. And I feel that I must do for others what He has done for me. In my actions I need to love faithfully using compassion toward others – to support them as they walk through this life. Sometimes it will hurt me. Sometimes it will be inconvenient, tiresome or annoying. Sometimes I will have to stop what I want to do, what I need to do, to help someone else who needs a helping hand.

Life is hard. Life is really hard. We’ve found it to be really hard lately. But it’s so much harder when you have no one that you can reach out to, no one who cares enough to take the time to be compassionate. When I look over my past 25 years, I can recall many who have made a difference in my life. Each person’s face that I recall made that difference by their faithful love and compassion. It was inconvenient. It took effort. It may have been painful for them. But they did it anyway – because that’s what Christ would have done. The trials that we’ve experienced lately have been made more tolerable by those who have chosen a compassionate path in life. I’m really glad they chose to walk by me and take me along with them on the journey.

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Musings

Job’s Friends – Part 1

In times of trouble, most people tend to reach out to others for comfort or assistance. Over the years we learned not to even try, for there was none to be had. I can’t count the number of times we’ve gone to evangelists, special speakers, Bible teachers, pastors, etc.  for advice on how to raise our difficult children and been met with the same ol’ answer, “I don’t know what to tell you.” It never failed. So we just quit trying. Now this is not to say that the people weren’t kind hearted or knowledgeable about Scripture. On the contrary, they were usually very learned, compassionate people. That’s why we went to them to begin with because we sensed in them a good heart. But what we were asking was out of the ordinary.

I remember one time in particular when we were at Northland Family Camp, there was a speaker there that outlined the four steps in discipline: a look, a word, discipline, separation. First we’re to give them “the look” to let them know they were out of bounds in their behavior. Many children stop here and change their behavior. Some require the next step: verbal correction. If the child continues on, then we are to administer correction, whether that be spanking, time outs or whatever is deemed necessary and appropriate. He went on to say that if nothing works and the child seems to be unable to take any type of correction, then the parent must consider other means – whether that be kicking the older child out of the home, or finding a children’s home for the younger child. There is Biblical basis for his message, but we wanted to know what to do with children who were like ours, the mentally or emotionally damaged child who don’t seem to have the ability to learn through conventional “disciplinary measures.” It’s not unusual for a Fetal Alcohol Affected child to either not understand or remember a disciplinary measure. These children live in the moment and struggle with reasoning and personal application of instruction.

To them, “the look” was a challenge to be more crafty or sneaky. It’s affirmation that they are slipping up and need to be more careful about how they plan their next gig. The spoken word is just fluff in their eyes – it’s another warning that they were caught and need to be more careful next time. It’s a warning that they’re about ready to be punished and have pushed the limits, to back off and try again later when no one is looking. The third step, the discipline, is something to be endured and tuck away in their memory that no adult can be trusted and they must just endure so they can get on with their life. It doesn’t change or teach them, it’s just another bump in the road. They look at it as an expression of just how dumb adults really are and affirmation that they are to be hated. It didn’t matter that we weren’t the adults who failed them prior to coming into our home through adoption – all adults were alike in their eyes.

We were in a whole different ball game than most parents and were seeking advice on how to throw the next pitch. But no one knew, so we stopped asking. We grabbed our Bible and tried to glean as much information and wisdom as we could find. It withstood the test of time, obviously, for it is the beginning of all things and the hope in all situations. But it wasn’t necessarily an easy path to take. There were no true stories or parables that fit. We couldn’t find any verses that dealt with raiding the food pantry at night to steal food or what to do when a child drew pictures on the bathroom wall with their own waste. It didn’t tell me what to do when a child’s head turned around in circles…OK, that never happened, but I was expecting it to!  It didn’t tell me how to deal with the every day things that are so absent from normal households. Yet it gave me principles to go by and the assurance that our loving Father was there to guide us. We had to learn to walk in the Spirit and hear that still small voice in the din of everyday life with 15 little ones all vying for my attention – good or bad, it was all the same to them!  Of the 15 children, 13 are adopted and 12 were special needs. That means we only had three who had a proper view of life, untainted from the world, and the rest, well, you get the picture.  Needless to say, if the preachers and teachers didn’t have the answers, who would?   To be continued…

 

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Spiritual Truths Things I've Learned

We’re Not “All That.”

A few truths from Sunday…

The Jewish people were supposed to walk in faith as a testimony to God’s grace and greatness, but instead they were prideful and lifted themselves up as “The Chosen of God.”  We often do that. We think we’re so great because we’re “Servants of God,” and forget why we serve Him. It’s not about us! Prideful arrogance is killing the Christian community. Perhaps that’s why we are becoming so ineffective in this world.

Matt. 23:25-28  “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”

God tells us He’d rather have those who repent after they have erred than those who lift themselves up as righteous before others. Here is a story of two sons:

Matt. 21:28-32  “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.”

Both sons sinned. One repented and then obeyed. The other looked good on the outside, but his heart was not right. Which son would you rather have? There was no third son listed – you know the one that said, “Sure Dad,” and then went to work. Why do you think he wasn’t listed here? Maybe he’s the exception. Maybe most of us fall into one of the two. Which one are you?

Many have asked me, and I have asked myself, “Why do you adopt kids that are a risk?” Well, I guess if I just had children by birth, I would have an easy life, yes, but if I take in kids who have no one and laiden with problems, perhaps a good work could be done through us by God.  Of course there are the exceptions. I have one adopted daughter that was a blessing from the first minute we laid eyes on her. From her very first moment of understanding she wanted to know and serve the Savior. We look at her as a gift from God – kind of a pre-reward for what He was going to ask us to do in the future and to sustain us through the tough times. 

But really, this isn’t about what we’ve done with our kids and the choices we’ve made. It’s about our heart and how we treat others. It’s about how we evaluate ourselves. Do we think we are righteous? Well, the only reason we are is because of Christ – certainly not anything we do or say would cause God to view us as righteous. Yet we still think of ourselves as accomplished in the Christian life – better than “the sinners.” I think my most difficult kids would do better if they could see real servanthood and the real love of God when they look around. That’s not to say we don’t have genuine Christians around us. Oh my, I could list many for you right now. I know who they are, and you do too. I’ve found them through my own adversity. They’ve revealed themselves through the hard times, not the good. During good times everyone appears righteous.

God didn’t tell us when we joined His family that we could only join if we would always be a blessing to Him. On the contary, He said, Matt. 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It doesn’t sound to me like He’s getting a pretty package all dressed up with a bow.  Besides, who says we’re such a great catch anyway? To judge others unworthy of our help and love shows we think we are righteous like the Jews of old. Just because we all dressed up on the outside doesn’t mean we don’t have hidden sins in our heart that others can’t readily see – or maybe they can see, but they are “acceptable sins.” Perhaps we’re just better at hiding our sinful nature. The Bible says “All have sinned.” “All” means “all.”

God goes on to tell us that we ought to avoid the Christian who exalt themselves above others as “The Servants of God,” who ought to be honored because they’re so great. He says they may ruin us if we spend time with them. Wow. That’s really bold. 

Gal. 5:15 “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”

2 Cor. 11:3-15 “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

The more I learn about God, the more I learn about myself, and the more the gap widens between Him and I in my own eyes. How very fortuante I am that He destroys that gap between us through salvation and that He still values me anyway. Wow. My view of others changes daily as God reveals truths and brings tough circumstances into my life. The more I interact with others who struggle in life, the less I think of myself.

But for the grace of God, there go I.

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Spiritual Truths Things I've Learned

To the Heartbroken Believer

To be honest with you, I really didn’t feel like going to church yesterday. We’ve had a lot of heartache in our lives lately and the ol’  “lock the doors and draw the blinds” feeling had crept back. There are days that I just don’t want to be with people because the heartache is so great. But believing God’s Word, I went to church just because I knew He expected me to. My, was that a great decision! Looking back, I don’t think there was ever a time I didn’t go to church just because I didn’t feel like it. I’ve learned that those days are the days you really need to be there because God has something good waiting for us.  So off I went yesterday, with a heart filled with lead.

Our pastor started out Sunday School with a riviting discussion about how this world is uncertain and was on a roll the rest of the day. When I left my heart was full, but not of lead. It was full of the confidence that God will do His perfect work and that He’s pleased with my faithfulness. It was full with the amazement that there are people who love us no matter what, that they have an obligation to love us because that’s what real Christians do. Wow. When I got to church and looked around, all I saw were loving Christians. And I knew that if I told them everything on my heart, they’d hug me and tell me they loved me and would pray for me.  That’s what church should be like. It should be a place where even the greatest sinner can find refuge. I’m going to share some pearls of great price with you that Pastor Ron gave us.

He began by telling us to not tust in uncertain things like riches, position, etc. Then he went on to say that we ought not to avenge ourselves, but we need to trust the One who knows everything and is longsuffering. Often our first reaction to being wronged is to strike out, but God’s first reaction is to use the situation to draw that person to Christ. He tells us to be patient and let Him handle it. Personally, I have a hard time doing that. I’m a “fixer.” Most of my days are spent trying to make paths straighter, fix errors and draw new lines, encourage a better way, catch wrong and make it right, etc. It can be very tiring and discouraging to act the keeper of others and on a day that I was very weary of doing so, Pastor Ron showed us Scripture that told us to keep being faithful and patient, to keep going and not quit – to endure.

James 1:4 “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Frankly, that’s not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that He would take the pain away, to make everything right again and bring peace into my life – NOW. But that’s not what I’ve been told these past few days. I’ve been told that hard things are good and that I need to remain faithful, forgiving and not quit. I’ve been told to sit back and let Him work and to endure through it all.

James 5:7-11 “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

One of my sons told me lately that he felt some people hated him. Real or perceived, it is still real to him. I assured him that wasn’t true, to no avail. Satan had recognized these feelings and really did a work on him. Bitterness can destroy, and that’s what it nearly did to him. I guess it’s a challenge to me to make sure no one around me feels the same way about me. My son’s future service to God is the fruit that I’m supposed to wait for. I’m to be faithfully guiding, forgiving, encouraging, teaching, disciplining, etc. and then let God work. I can’t always see fruit. I don’t see my efforts being used or appreciated. So, in my humaness I want to quit or despair. God tells me to keep on and endure – that He will work and I must trust Him.

Those who faithfully endure, forgive, speak the Word and suffer affliction with patience will need to endure to be happy (James 5:11).  He reminded me that God is merciful, so we need to be merciful. We can’t see the big picture, but God can. We only see a small snapshot and judge from there. God see’s and knows the outcome and what to allow or do to bring about our good and His glory. We ought to trust Him just on that fact – He sees down the road where we cannot. We just want the pain to go away. We just want it to all work out. We don’t want to suffer. We don’t want to wait – but we must if we want His perfect work.

God also knows when His cup is full and it’s time to show his wrath. But it’s not for us to decide or do. He is waiting for fruit to grow – even through bad times, so He can reap the harvest. And remember, He lets the tares grow up alongside (evil men) and will one day burn them after He takes his fruit out (believers) and has His own secure and safe. I don’t like the tares.  I spend my days rooting them out, watching for more to grow so I can get at them before they overtake us. I wonder sometimes why God doesn’t help me root them out completely, but He says He doesn’t want to do that because they have their purpose in our lives. I don’t get it or want it, but I trust He knows best. A lady once told me that the hardest people to be around are the ones God uses to root out the tares in our own hearts – for if we were only with people who kind and loving, we’d never uncover the sin that lurks within. I think she is right. It’s easy to be kind and loving back to those who are a blessing, but those who try our patience and hurt our spirits are the very ones who uncover our unloving, selfish side. If we never see it, how can we get rid of it?

After just one day with an irregular person we’re  ready to smash them! But look how long God took to destroy the earth in Noah’s time – 12o years it took Noah to build the ark and all during that time, he preached repentance to the people. God gave the people of the world 120 years to get their life right and in the end only 8 people were saved. Now that’s longsuffering. How an I do any less? What do you think were the percentages in that story? Yet God thought those 8 people were important enough to save. I suppose that ought to tell us how important we are to Him. We are often criticized for being too longsuffering with our children – yet others criticize us for not being longsuffering enough. We learned a long time ago that we just need to follow God’s direction and not man’s, because we get conflicting judgements from those around us. There is a reason God gave us these kids – and for better or worse, we’re going to work for their good, point them the right way, and when God says, “Hands off,” we will let them go. Then it will be time for Him to take over completely and we are to back away. It’s hard, but we know it to be best.

Sunday God told us to be patient for His work to unfold in the lives of our kids, to endure and be a good example of patience in affliction. OK. One more day I will do what I’ve done for the past 25 years. One more day I will give Him the reins and watch Him work. One more day I will trust His timing. One more day I will accept the twisted heart and heavy weight that threatens to crush me. It is my choice and I choose Him.

Categories
Adoption Musings My Kids

Just a Cup of Water

At my Thursday night Bible study one of the ladies asked prayer for her son-in-law that had some personal problems. She said she was tired of putting on the pretense of having a “perfect” family and was coming clean. She was tired of hiding for the past 25 years all the problems and difficulties just to put on a happy face so she wouldn’t be judged as a bad parent.

Ditto that.

We’ve had our problems. We have adopted some kids with emotional, physical and mental problems. I’m sorry if some people can’t handle that. I’m even sorry if they don’t like our family. But you know what? I do. I like my family. I like how diverse it is. I especially like having the different races. I actually feel sorry for the families that have all white kids in it. I think that’s boring. I feel sorry for families that have easy, compliant kids (I’m jealous at the same time!). They will never know the thrill of seeing their kids find God through the pain and heartache of reconciling their past.

We’ve had kids punish us for the pain that their birth parents inflicted on them. But I’ve also had the same kids call me up years later and tell me through tears that they are sorry, and thank me for adopting them because they were glad they didn’t have to grow up in their birth families’ homes. I’ve had kids complain to others about how mean we were as parents and swear they’ll never have anything to do with us when they move out. I’ve had the same kids come back and tell us we did the exact right thing in how we disciplined them and kept them safe during their growing up years. I’ve had kids tell me they hate me and then just a year later put their arm around me and tell me I’m the best. I’ve had children threaten me with knives and then just a couple of years later tell me they miss me and want nothing else but to come home. I’ve had children tell me I didn’t know what I was talking about only to call me up years later and tell me that they’ve been hearing my words come out of their mouths! I’ve had children go around telling my friends, coworkers and even my boss that we were abusive and then just a couple of years later turn around and confess they had lied out of bitterness that had welled up in their soul years before we adopted them. God is so good, and each time one of our kids makes a turn around and gets their life right, I thank Him for it.

Most families don’t experience these things – because they chose the safe route. We didn’t. We chose to care for other people’s children when they chose to not do it themselves. We took broken, damaged kids and tried to turn them into loving, responsible, Christian young people. OK, so shoot me for trying. Yes, those who have judged us as failures haven’t seen what we’ve seen. They haven’t experienced what we’ve experienced. They’ve not walked in our shoes. They’ve not seen the victories amidst the failures. They’ve determined in their mind that if our kids don’t learn to follow God perfectly before they are 18 then they must not have been taught properly or we had to have mistreated them in some way. Well, some day the truth will be revealed and all those who judged us so harshly will see their mistake. But then, you know what? It will be too late. Their chance to love and support our family will have passed and both of us unfortunately have missed a blessing. They have missed the blessing God would have given them for being kind to a struggling family. We missed the blessing of having someone love and care for us in the midst of a difficult journey. But God knows, and has fortunately made up for it by loving us through it all and shown us spiritual truths that not many have had the privilege to see.

We have a great family. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I am confident we’ll all be together some day and relish in God’s goodness.

April, you are one of my best friends and thank you for showing us how blessed a parent can be. I miss you more than I can put into words. Thank you for giving me two angels that make life worth living. Your solid faith has encouraged me.

Lauren, I miss you so and am very glad we have a good relationship. You have so much talent and strength – I know you are going to do great things for God. I just love talking with you. You are like a buried treasure.

Katie, when I think of someone loving God, I think of you. I am so very proud to tell others about you. You are like a gem of the highest price to me. Raising you was a true blessing. You’ve got it all and someday someone will wake up and realize it!

Jesse, we hope that your searching will one day bring you to your perfect place in life. You have grand ideas and goals that if realized will make a difference in the world. God and your family are waiting.

Devin, you are an example of true regeneration. You remind me of why we adopted. When I think of you, I think “success.” Thank you for discovering that you love your parents. You’ve made it all worth it. You are the “miracle of adoption” proven.

Nathaniel, you are destined for great things. We have enjoyed watching you pursue your position in the Marines and hope God can use you to reach others. Your family misses you.

Andrew, thank you for caring about your family. I have always known you loved us even when you were fighting for your independence.  I have always adored you. You have a special gift of drawing others to yourself and making the most sober person laugh.

Marissa, you will always have a piece of my heart. You were the one we all thought would go on to do great things for God. You have given me a precious granddaughter that is like a piece of heaven to me.

Daniel, you have come so far. You had no language for years, but now you talk circles around everyone. Your potential is astounding and have proven that hard work can transform a person.

Mollie, you are beautiful and talented. We miss you and hope some day we will be close friends. Every day I hope you will call and tell me that you love and miss your family and want to come home.

Jillian, you are my body balm. God chose you to be my happiness. You are one of my favorite people in the whole world. I miss you more than I can say. I am proud of who you have become.

Jonathan, I love your love for children and find it a precious gift not everyone has. God gave you a special heart that He can use to do great things. You are going to make a difference in the world.

Jacob, your calm peaceful sense of living is an encouragement to me. When I saw you give your heart to God and live for him it renewed my faith in God’s success in changing hearts. Your spiritual growth has increased my faith.

Levi, your talent and enthusiasm for life has brought us such fun. Seeing you love your sisters has brought new life into our family and given me hope. I am so excited to share a love for art with you and can’t wait to see what you do with it.

Caleb, I am so looking forward to having you back home and part of our day-to-day family living. Remembering your sense of humor and laugh are enough to make me smile. We have such hopes for you.

To all my children who are living for and loving God, thank you – you make life worth living. To those of you who are seeking Him, I pray you find Him – He’s right beside you, just turn and look. To all my children who are running from God, slow down and let Him embrace you – there’s peace and joy in His presence.

I will never forget those of you who have truly loved us…you have made some very weary travellers in this life feel the love of God and have the strength to bear up under the trials of this life. God will bless you for your love and support.

To all of you who judge us as being unworthy to be in God’s ministry, it’s your loss. To all of you who do not love my children, I pity you, for children are considered the most important in Heaven. To those of you who think we should not have adopted “interesting children,” well, all I can say is, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” Mark 9:41 The rewards are great – SO WHAT if I have to wait until I get to Heaven to enjoy them! Where are YOUR treasures laid up? John Greenleaf Whittier sums it up for me: “For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.”