A Support Community for Moms

Category: Musings Page 2 of 5


I recently received a sweet thank you card from a friend and it set me to thinking about all the wonderful friends I’ve accumulated over the years. Each one has something special about them that drew me to them. Vee has been the one I appreciate for her bold honesty. When I was going through some very difficult ministry moments, she was the one who boldly supported me to the extent I would always walk away confident and felt understood. God used her to help me sleep at night when I knew all was lost. I could depend on her to state it like it was without embellishing or covering up to be “politically correct.” I have another friend, Jamie, who is the same way. I would always think of Jamie as someone I needed to be more like – I couldn’t put my finger on what that meant until recently when I read the book, Boundaries. She loves intensely and is fiercely loyal but if you annoy her, she tells you so, and won’t hesitate to bop you on the head to keep you in your place. She complains that this is a negative characteristic, but I wish I could be more like her. I could have avoided a lot of painful situations if I had some of her fire. The book showed me what it is about her that I was missing in my life. She is very good at putting up her boundaries and not letting others step over them. This is something I’ve been working on successfully as of late. It is that quality in her that makes me admire her so and enjoy her company.

Being a loyal and “safe” friend is very important. This is a rare quality, but one I must have in my close friends. Take Pam, for instance. She and her sister, Linda, became my sisters because they latched onto me during a time of crisis. This cemented our lives together like nothing else. Linda was the kind compassionate one who didn’t want details; she just spread out her compassion on me like a warm blanket. Everyone needs someone kind in their lives – it reminds them of our forever loving Savior.  Pam on the other hand makes me feel like a little a little kid hiding under the blanket with a flashlight giggling at night when the lights were turned out. We laugh, we commiserate, and we laugh some more. We turn everything into an amusing tale after all is said and done and we must put it behind us. She wants details and she wants them now! She makes me smile when I don’t feel like it. We agree and disagree, but she always ends with, “It’s just my opinion and you are my sister and I love you no matter what.” So this is what adoption is like!

Then there is Laura. She was the one who saw how wicked my “interesting” children could be but loved them and me anyway. She was the one that would observe or suspect things and come and tell me. She did it right. She sandwiched the telling with support and kindness. I never felt condemned like so many others made me feel and I knew she was filling me in because she knew I needed to know – yet she never took joy in the telling like so many others. I was never fearful when she approached me because I knew she wore the robe of caring. She demonstrated the Savior’s love for my kids in a way few did. Her husband is just like her.  This is what a “safe” friend is like. You know you’ll not suffer for anything you shared with them.

Chris is a friend who is pursuing godly living and is very vocal about it. This is someone I can tell things to and know that she’ll take the time to sort it all out and apply biblical truth to – no matter how it turns out.  She believes in fairness and remembers we are human and need compassionate forgiveness – especially for “interesting” children! She “gets it.” She can see a bad situation and waits for the explanation before jumping to conclusions!  She is a student of the Word and I enjoy debating with her over biblical concepts and how they’re to be applied.  I would want her by my side if I ever went into war! She still has that spark that so many have lost – a desire to grow. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to friends. I’ve only named a few but have dozens of others I consider kindred spirits. I am blessed to be able to make friends and keep them regardless of time or distance. I was recently telling my boys why I considered Belinda to be a forever friend. I told them that I know every time we went somewhere she would be my protector to the death!  It makes me smile to think of one time she told me, “You never need to worry about anybody messing with you when I’m around!”  She is the type of friend that time and distance will change nothing. We can pick up where we left off without missing a beat.

I have some new friends, Denise, Deb, Nancy, MaryMargaret and Linda who I call healers. They listen, they show kindness, and then listen some more – always ready to rejoice over each little triumph.  They suggest books, give hugs and praise God for my answers to prayer with me. I came to them a little over year ago with a ton of heaviness and over time they were used to administer the balm of acceptance, enabling me to come out of a dark pit that I had been thrown into.  Our friendship has centered around studying of the Word. They are transparent. I like that.

As I look over the descriptions of my friends, new and old, I see a common thread. It is also a list of the qualities I enjoy in my Lord – loyalty, kindness, understanding, empathy, safety, etc.  It’s not very hard to see why I consider them close friends.  Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother – and so are they.

Father And Mother I Love You

I ran into a stranger as he passed by, “Oh excuse me please” was my reply.  
He said, “Please excuse me too; I wasn’t watching for you.”  
We were very polite, this stranger and I. We went on our way and we said goodbye.  

But at home a different story is told, How we treat our loved ones, young and old.  
Later that day, cooking the evening meal, My son stood beside me very still.  
When I turned, I nearly knocked him down. “Move out of the way,” I said with a frown.  
He walked away, his little heart broken.  I didn’t realize how harshly I’d spoken.  
While I lay awake in bed, God’s still small voice came to me and said,  

“While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use,
but the family you love, you seem to abuse.  
Go and look on the kitchen floor,   You’ll find some flowers there by the door..  

Those are the flowers he brought for you. He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue.  
He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise, you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes.”  

By this time, I felt very small, and now my tears began to fall.  
I quietly went and knelt by his bed;  “Wake up, little one, wake up,” I said.  
“Are these the flowers you picked for me?”  He smiled, “I found ’em, out by the tree.  

I picked ’em because they’re pretty like you. I knew you’d like ’em, especially the blue.”  
I said, “Son, I’m very sorry for the way I acted today;  I shouldn’t have yelled at you that way.”  
He said, “Oh, Mom, that’s okay. I love you anyway.”  

I said, “Son, I love you too,   and I do like the flowers, especially the blue.”  

Do you know what the word FAMILY means?  

Out of Darkness and Into the Light

This is probably going to be the most unusual post I’ve published so far for several reasons. One, it will expose my human side, a side no one other than my husband knows about. To show one’s vulnerability and human frailties goes against the most basic tendency of self protection and preservation. Let’s face it, pride is a hard beast to slay. Secondly,  to show one’s inner self, the secret thoughts and imaginings of oneself is risky. It could cause those of you who care for me to change your opinion of me. That is a real risk, and one that frankly, I was never willing to take – until now. Thirdly, it will give those who already hold disdain for me more arrows to place in their quiver that will eventually be shot my way.

I’ve given you the reasons why I shouldn’t write this post. Now let me tell you why I should. Too often in our spiritual journey we fall into a fake type of existance that becomes rote for us. We smile, we chat, we say “hello,” and seldom scratch below the surface of a superficial existence. We go to church, we share “acceptable” prayer requests, we greet others, ask them how they are, and what do we always hear? “I’m fine.” Right? I long to have the freedom of reaching beyond the usual platitudes. I fantasize about talking the afternoon away with another kind hearted brother or sister in Christ and tell them of my fears, sadness and disappointments. Actually, I could name you a dozen people right now that I could call that would be right there for me. I’ve actually gone down the list a dozen times in my mind.

So why didn’t I call any of them for encouragement?  I’ve learned to keep the negativity hidden. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been cautioned to present a good face, to let the glory of God shine through regardless of circumstances.  I agree with that to a point. Our God is great and we ought to show the world that His presence in our lives makes us different from others, complete and able to withstand anything Satan throws at us. Another reason, though it may seem invalid to others, is still a reality to those who have lived the life that I have. I’m a “fixer.” I’m the one who figures things out, supplies the needs, and searches for the answer that will make things right again. I’m the one that others come to for help or support. How does one show weakness when you’re the one expected to hold everyone else up? If you’re like me, your validation comes from how useful and helpful you are to others. If I become the one who needs help, how can I be of use to others?  Whether that thinking is faulty or not, it’s still a reality to people who consider themselves “the strong ones.” There is no room for weakness – none at all. 

But what about those times that we need someone to tell us it’s going to be OK? How does our support system know that we need someone to share our burdens with if we never speak of them? God says to “bear one another’s burdens,” but we must show our vulnerability in order to share our burdens. It’s our humaness that causes us to connect with others. I am tired of and determined to figure out how to leave off the facade.  I  know, I know, no one is perfect, but we surely do try to present ourselves that way – we try to hide our imperfections and doubts from others as some sort of twisted self preservation. And to add to that, for some reason we have this crazy notion that if we are to represent Christ, we must present ourselves as having it all together all of the time.

To some extent I have broken my own rules in this regard a few times this past year. I had to make a conscious effort to seek counsel. We were up to our eyeballs with some of our kids’ problems that we had no idea what to do about it. It was very difficult because it meant I had to choose wisely my confidant because they had to be completely trustworthy and knowledgeable at the same time. [Remember, we have to keep our mouth shut, no good Christian complained about another Christian in any way or you are not a good Christian any more, and who would risk that? Certainly not a good Christian!] Fortunately I DID choose wisely and God used these folks in a mighty way to help us to make wise decisions and survive it all. But it’s a little easier seeking counsel over what to do with someone else’s troubles. To seek it over my own was near impossible!

News flash! Everyone struggles. Everyone fails. Everyone doubts and gets discouraged. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t meant it isn’t true. This story needs to be told. Perhaps if others see my past struggles, they might think theirs are not unique. Perhaps I might encourage someone along the way. I surely hope so. It is my purpose in life – to encourage others, to make another person’s journey better. Perhaps when I tell you how God pulled me out of my tail spin you’ll see how one kind word or deed can make a difference.

It started a few months ago – Satan’s whisperings, his suggestions, the accusations. (No, I wasn’t hearing voices.) Some of you will remember that for months I was asking God for several miracles in my life. Most of them had to do with my kids. My friends faithfully prayed without details. What a blessing that was. It kept me going. From trial to trial, God showed Himself faithful, renewing and strengthening my faith.

But then I suffered a couple of personal blows. Someone that I had confidence in disappointed me. My cornerstone seemed to have moved. I lost my direction. Then came the subtle whisperings to my heart. Satan the great accuser took advantage of my worn out state. We’d had so many struggles in such a short time that he obviously felt it was time to start attacking me inward. He saved his best for last. He began his final attack by bringing a disappointment that really threw me off my game.  I felt as though I was adrift without anything to hold on to. Now you can get spiritual on me and say, “Well, she just needed to focus on Christ.” Yes, that’s true, but it’s the blessings He gives us that help us make it through our days, especially when those days are dark and dreary.  What do we do when those blessings seem to fall away?

I had experienced so much loss and disappointment that I was empty. I don’t mean spiritually empty, for I was in the Word and experiencing a great relationship with my Lord. I was finding out so much about Him and enjoying our time together.  But I was emotionally drained from multiple trials and the last straw came – and out of the blue nothing made sense. That is the point at which Satan began whispering. Any time that happens we ought to be aware that we are in for a battle. Looking back, I believe God allowed that time of testing to give me new insight, but at the time it threatened my very being.

Satan was whispering in my ear hourly, sometimes by the minute, “Don’t you think everyone would be happier and much better off without you?”  I argued. I pushed. I felt like I was all alone, that God was turning a deaf ear. Even though I knew it was just for a season and that God truly did still love me and would eventually bring me out of it, I knew I had to battle those whisperings day in and day out, hour by hour and it went on for weeks and weeks! I purposely reminded myself that Jesus was tempted and it didn’t mean that He was sinning. It only meant that Satan was testing Him, wanting to find a point where he could claim victory. Even though I was determined not to let him win, I still had to endure the endless tauntings – tauntings that I actually had come to believe were true.

Of course I knew I had God’s power behind me to overcome it, but for some reason He would not take it away. I carried around a dark feeling that pervaded my every waking moment. No one knew. I shared it with no one. For many weeks I battled it. I was tired of fighting with kids to get them to do right. I was tired of hearing about gossip and lies that were being told about me or members of my family. I was tired of being beat over the head. I was tired of losing hope and being disappointed by those who were supposed to love me. I was tired of being afraid. I was tired of being told that many of my kids cared not one wit about me. It seemed nothing would ever be right. I was tired of losing my kids to the world. I was just plain tired.

I decided I was going to get an honest opinion from someone. When Jillian came home from college I decided I was just going to come out and ask her, “Isn’t it true that life would be easier for everyone if I just wasn’t around?”  I knew it was a bold question but I just had to know. Several times the first week I started to ask it, but couldn’t bring myself to verbalize it. I’d start out with, “Do you think…” then I’d say, “Never mind.”

She’d ask me, “What?” but I’d always say, “Nothing.” At the same time, I knew that if I didn’t deal with Satan’s whisperings, they’d continue. I felt very fortunate that I had the Word of God to back me up and keep me on track, but at the same time it was very discouraging and painful to hear Satan’s constant accusations. I actually believed what he was saying was true, but the Spirit living within me flatly refused to let me give in to it. 

When I finally blurted it out, “Jillian, do you think that everything would be much easier for everyone if I wasn’t around?” She looked at me and without batting an eye said, “There are times when I’m at school that I’m so lonely I can barely stand it. I miss you and Dad so much.”  I think it was the lack of hesitation that caused me to believe her without question. That was the beginning of my making my way back. From that point on it was like God decided to lift my cloud and let me see light again. Right after that, an adoptive parent I was encouraging, SueAnn, emailed me thanking me for giving her back her light – that I’d helped lift her dark cloud that had been over her for so long. Right after that my grandson told me dozens of times that he loved me and missed me when we were apart. Then Jillian’s young man came for a visit. During the five days he was at our house visiting we went to look at engagement rings and wedding dresses and talked about their future together.  I watched him give her my promise ring. Being welcomed into the middle of their relationship brought more hope back into my life. I believe that it was after those five days God released me. It was a “night and day” experience.

Looking back, I now realize God gave me that time as a gift. I have experienced something that many people experience but seldom speak of. I know I was allowed to go through the dark time of doubt to broaden my compassion for others who may be suffering in the same way. Toward the end of those weeks of personal darkness, someone I knew took their own life. When someone told me they couldn’t believe a person could be that selfish, inwardly I understood very well what he was thinking because I had been contemplating my own value to others. I can’t really tell you why God saw fit to hold on to me during it all, to bring me through it when that other person wasn’t able to, but I am very glad I’m now on the other side. He was deafeningly silent but I was aware of his presence all the way through. He kept me day by day, letting me suffer, but all the while also reminding me that He would one day restore my peace. I truly had an advantage. I knew God was there watching.

In retrospect, I am thankful I have experienced the darkness that blots out all light. I was led out of that darkness by positive interraction with others when God felt it was enough – enough to open my eyes to others and their sufferings. I needed to truly understand.  And most assuredly, I must use that experience to lead others out.

Is it Wrong to be Proud?

Years ago a friend approached me and told me I was wrong to use the word “proud” when I wrote articles because it is not a godly attitude. I didn’t immediately disagree with her because I wanted to think it over. Many times over the years I’ve reflected back and each time I have decided to stick with my word – a word that perfectly expresses how I feel at times toward another person, especially my children or grandchildren.

I don’t use the word “proud”  in a way that causes the reader to think that I am exalting myself or putting myself above others. I merely use it to express how I am grateful for some progress or behavior in someone I care about. Someone once said that to be proud of your son or daughter meant that you were glad that child was yours and no one elses. I think that’s a fair description of the pride I’m talking about.  I’ve spent many years very proud of my children and many years hanging my head in sadness over them. Since we have 15 children, many of whom are special needs, you can imagine the things we’ve experienced as their parents. But today I am focusing on the good things – just because I can.

Let me tell you some things I’m proud of – some things my kids have done to generate that peaceful goodwill feeling of pride – a happiness that God made me their Mom. A happiness that I’ve seen fruit of my efforts to raise them for God’s glory. Many of my kids have made their share of mistakes and caused all sorts of consequences to fall on themselves and their family. But today, I’m reflecting on the recent events that for this moment in time, I am swelled with pride. If that is a sinful attitude in the eyes of my reader, then I guess I’m guilty without excuse. I think it is a good thing to be proud of your children. Here are a few blessings I’m counting today – my 5 oldest daughters.

April is such a good mom. I choke up every time I think about her with my grandsons Isaac and Hudson. To watch her parent is something that makes the world OK. What a blessing to see the love she has for those two little boys that I so adore.  She’s the one who was always there, like my shadow that is there every time I turned around…even on the dark days. 

Lauren has turned her heart toward her God. He showed Himself to her recently and she saw Him for the first time in all His glory. What an event! We talk by phone often and most of the time we share about how good God is and how He’s working in her life. God was kind to both her and me when He took her out of the world and planted her in my lap. 

Katie is like a porcelain vase that sits on the shelf reminding me of all the beautiful things God has created for my enjoyment. She’s the one who reminds me that there is a quiet consistency in God’s love. I smile in my heart every time I think of her because she is a tried and true child of God who is a perfect example of God’s loving heart.  To this day, I can say she has never grieved my heart.

Devin is a good example of God’s grace because of what she’s overcome. Her beginnings could have caused the strongest man to fold, but not her. She found herself a kind hearted husband and has built herself a life out of the ashes. Her desire to have and be close to family is very encouraging to me. When I wonder if we’ll ever be one tight/solid family, I think of Devin and what she’s accomplished.

Marissa has found her sweetness. When she was younger I saw a sweetness in her that I knew some day would mark her as special. As a teen she was never content to just be near, often times she would find the little corner left on my chair and park herself right there. Today I found that sweet girl again when she called me to let me know that she was reaching out to encourage her brother. Wow. She’s really grown.

I could go on and tell you about how Levi has helped me with the house today or how hard Jacob has worked these past few weeks for college money. Or I could write of how Jesse  respectfully listened to my counsel on the phone earlier, or even about the three “out of the blue” presents Jillian gave me yesterday, but I won’t. I’ll save that for another day. For now, this moment in time, I sit here with my white chocolate flavored coffee and chocolate chip Chewy Dipps granola bar, blogging and basking in God’s goodness.

Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow I have to endure a bitter sweet moment when I take Jillian to the airport and have to return home without her. But that’s tomorrow. I’ll wait and deal with that tomorrow – there’s too much good stuff to dwell on today.

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.”

What is Involved in Forgiveness?

We were greeted recently by a young man who at one time was sinned against by some of our children. He was smiling as he shook our hand! To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by his genuine friendliness. This young man is living his Christianity. This young man was showing the love of Christ by exhibiting genuine forgiveness.

Does “forgive” mean that we no longer hold a grudge or think ill of a person? Does it mean we say, “OK” then turn around and punish them to make ourselves feel better? Is it our responsibility as the offended to make sure they learn from their mistake? Or does it mean that we have compassion on the one who sinned against us and are willing to show mercy to them and help them become more faithful Christians?  Here is a Biblical account of what genuine forgiveness is and what God expects of believers. My comments about the verses are in red:

Matthew 18:21 “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. (Please note here that the debtor just asked for an extension, but the king chose to forgive the debt completely. Notice also that the king did not punish the debtor. The king is a type of Christ – an example of heart felt forgiveness born out of compassion.)

But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.  (This man not only denied an extension, but he also punished the debtor. Though done in a lawful way, he sought revenge for being sinned against.)

So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. (This is the result of a unloving and unforgiving attitude. It affects more than just the two involved.) Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (This is a very scary position to be in!)

If we really forgive, I believe it will show in our treatment of the one we have forgiven. I’m not saying they become our best friend or we approve of what they did or that we need to ignore the circumstances. But I am saying that true forgiveness comes when the offender repents of their offense, makes it right, and asks the offended to forgive them. They in turn provide the forgiveness that completes the process of reconcilliation. Forgiveness should bring reconcilliation. After all, when we sinned against God and asked forgiveness, He faithfully granted the forgiveness and opened the gate of Heaven for us. We are reconciled with the Father. There is nothing between us and we can fellowship without resentment or guilt.

Have you ever offended someone, asked forgiveness, but then felt very uncomfortable when you saw them next? Or has someone sinned against you and you avoid them or turn the cold shoulder when  you see them? Do you know of someone who has sinned against someone you know and care about and then you have a hard time looking at them in the eye or feel the need to shun them (or their family members) when you see them in a crowd? Do you have trouble greeting them or someone in their family when you see them next? If you are the offender and you have asked forgiveness, do you feel uncomfortable when you see them next, even though they have said they forgive you? If any of the above is true, then the process of true forgiveness has not been completed.

For you see, having adopted as many special needs kids as we have, we’ve had our “share of shunnings.” Even though we are known for being very strict parents, following through and taking care of each offence when one or more of our kids have sinned against someone, we have often been treated as if we were the offenders, and our kids are “marked off their list” of valued people. When those same kids realize this, more problems come along because they will react to being considered less than worthy of others’ love and friendship. I’ve seen this over and over in my family. When these kids come into adolescence (which by the way lasts way longer than the average kid), in their limited reasoning, they feel they have a right to retaliate because they’ve pent up so much anger. They are angry about their past, present and future.  That’s why you see so many kids get into trouble with the law and make seriously bad choices. They are punishing the world for how they are received – which ultimately turns around and punishes them. It’s the way of the world – a perpetual circle of sin.

I honestly don’t think this is what God intended for His people. After all, He has forgiven all of us who claim the name of Christ, ought we not extend the same complete forgiveness to those who wish to be forgiven? Should not the Christian realm be different from the world?  Besides, if families are willing to step out and take in the children who are considered unwanted in this world, should they not have the support of fellow Christians? If anyone takes in children who have suffered at the hand of this world, there will be serious problems as a result of that decision. If these children are adopted by Christians, ought they not be received as we were received of God at salvation – forgiven and loved?

I would say about 50% of Christians in our world have exhibited this type of forgiveness to our “interesting'” children. The other 50% apparently think they are perfect and don’t feel the need to forgive others. They carry around an obvious disdain for our family because sin has been so very rampant in many of our children – dispite our teaching, training and admonitions to them.  I am hoping the love of the first, forgiving group of Christians, can overcome the bitterness that has been stirred in the hearts of our children by the second, unforgiving group. Considering the weaknesses and fragile emotional state of my kids, I highly doubt it will.  We are all held accountable – the sinner and the one who was sinned against. We can’t expect God to forgive us completely and then turn around and not extend that forgiveness to others. Unfortunately, some of our children have found the world to be much more forgiving than fellow Christians. Why do you think this is so?

Luke 7:41 “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.”

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.

The “Wright” Kind of Correction

Over the years we’ve seen different reactions to some of our children’s behavior. I always hesitate to say such things as “my children’s behavior” because it conjures up in your mind a picture that all of my children have been difficult. That is by no means the truth. I have had children who have been compliant and respectful of our parental authority trying their best to be a blessing. So when I start out a posting like I did above, please understand I am not referring to all of my children. Also do not assume we do not love our “difficult” children, or wish them ill in any way. I am just stating the facts so that I may bring across a truth that I have learned or because I wish to encourage others to remain faithful and not lose heart if they are in the midst of trial with one or more of their children.

It’s pretty typical to get a reaction of, “Oh, you have such a nice family.” That’s a reaction of someone who sees us for the first time. They haven’t gotten to know us or had much interaction with us. Of course the statement is true, for we have had many wonderful times together as a family.

After they get to know us a little better and see some of our difficulties, we’ll hear something like, “Oh, but what you are doing is such a great thing, don’t get discouraged over the tough times, you are doing this for the Lord and He is pleased.” These are the ones who have seen some difficulties and give us encouragement because they see we’re doing something they’d never consider doing.  These people get misty when thinking about what could have happened to our kids if we hadn’t pulled them out of the world’s system.

Then when people are affected in one way or another by a misdeed of one of our children, we’ll see one of two different reactions. I’ll give you an example of something we experienced about two or three years ago.  I was out of town for a missionary event and someone took over my classroom. One of my boys was called a “girl” by the substitute in jest. She didn’t know it was a sore spot in his life because his brothers had been unkindly taunting him in that way for years. This had been something  we’d dealt with over and over in our family but hadn’t gotten victory over yet. This boy ran down the hall in anger and bumped into one of our teachers, Mrs. Wright, without apologizing. Of course then she called him back and corrected him, but she didn’t receive a proper repentant attitude from him. She decided to pray with him because she was disappointed in his wrong spirit. When I came back, she discussed it with me and I looked into it. When I discovered the story behind the behavior, Mrs. Wright understood and then felt bad for him. She called him back into her room and talked to him about it and acknowledged that she understood and then instructed him on what a proper behavior ought to have been, removing the demerit she had given him earlier (which had been his third one, leading to a detention). She had expressed her love in her correction. 

Her loving heart administered correction and even though it wasn’t received right away, she still cared enough to check into it and amended her correction later when she found out the source. In our experience, most people administer the “punishment” without care over the catalyst that caused the behavior. After all, we all ought to respond correctly even when we have been wronged. Yes, this true, but compassion added to the mix will bring the child closer to God. Harshness and an unloving attitude in correction will only drive a child’s heart away. To this day all my sons love and respect this lady because they saw her good heart.

I just asked my son if he remembered the incident and he said “Yes,” with a smile on his face. My boys love Mrs. Wright to this day and consider her one of the kindest adults in their life. Comments we get from this type of person are usually like, “God will bless you for being faithful, don’t get discouraged.”

Here is the next example. This one represents a lack of love when dealing with my children. One of my sons was kicking a ball in the gym that was hitting the ceiling. He was told not to do it but did it again anyway. He was told to stand by the wall and that he would be taken to his parents. When he started to walk out with the other kids at the end of the activity, he was picked up and thrown against the wall and chewed out for being disobedient. That was years ago and everyone who witnessed the scene remember it very well to this day.

I just asked my son if he rememberd the incident I described above and he said “Yes,” and then said with a less than cheerful face, “I never did know why he was so mad.” Comments from this type of person would be like “Those kids are so bad, I wish the parents would train them better.”

Romans 12:14-20 “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”

A vengeful attitude of, “I’ll make them pay,” will not bring God glory or benefit the one being corrected. It will only cause bitterness and hatred, especially in a child. But a loving attitude of, “I want you to see that what you are doing is wrong so you can become better through it,” is a way of showing God’s love and bringing them closer to a better understanding of that love. I call that the “Wright” way to correct. Of course we can make that statement with our mouth, but too often our actions do not match our words. We need to be careful that we execute judgment in a way that shows we desire restoration.

God has given me many such incidents to learn from and has changed my perspective through the years. I often struggled to have a proper spirit when correcting a child who would repeatedly choose to defy the rules and purposely sin against others. It’s been a hard road to travel and I have not always been successful in reacting as I should. It is true that hindsight is so much easier to learn from.  I shutter to think of all the opportunities I missed to show God’s love to others around me. But I have also determined to look for those who need encouragement and to be the one to give it. Of course I cannot justify sin or walk down the road of destruction with others, but if they step off that road and need assistance, I want to be the one God used to offer it. There will be many who don’t want help, but there will also be many who need it and would greatly appreciate a helping hand. Too many years I walked around wishing someone would see my pain and heartache and offer the healing balm of acceptance or support. If we truly are beloved of God because we have chosen to be a part of His church, then we need to make it a safe place where others can find rest. I have never received one unkind comment from anyone “in the world” about my children. Unfortunately that has not been the case in the Christian realm. I want to be like Mrs. Wright who was so kind to my erring son that day a long time ago. I want to be remembered with a smile by a child that happened upon me while in he was distress.  That’s what we call the love of Christ.

The Grapefruit

In a Bible study that I frequent, we all were told that we need to be transparent to be of help to others. I have taken that challenge seriously. I am going to continue to open my heart so you can see what’s inside. I will try to do so without using names or any identifying information – for it is not my desire to hurt others. It IS my desire to show others my experiences – to be an encouragement. Perhaps if others see what I live through, how I doubt, where my mind wanders, or even my mistakes, then perhaps they’ll be encouraged that their life is normal – especially when it is full of disappointments, heartaches and loveloss. 

I want to dispel the myth that if we pursue God our life will be perfect or easy. Too often we look at others who are in a position of leadership in the church and say to ourselves, “I could never do that.” Or we look at other families and wonder why we can’t be happy like them or have a noticable hand of blessing on our life like they do. Well, I’m here to tell you that if you do choose to pursue God, it will not be a bed of roses. But, you will have the confidence that He is pleased with your offerings to Him and will protect you from the world in a way that brings Him glory and your good. An abiding Christian life is not smooth, but it promises peace and contentment in Him. I wouldn’t trade that for the world – literally. If you put yourself out there to serve Him, you will have pain and heartache but the alternative is a life without purpose and God’s favor. Hopefully along the way you will receive God’s blessing for your lifestyle of godliness, but there are no guarantees when or how they will come. You may have to look for them, but they will be there.

Here’s one of the looks into my life that isn’t so pleasant:

I just can’t keep up. One day I’m a great mom and should receive the blessings of God on my life for the sacrifices I’ve made.  The next day I’m the worst thing that ever walked the earth and should be put down to save others from having to be exposed to me. I guess I’ll just have to accept the fact that some people will hate me. I don’t really understand why, but I still need to accept it. I have to cling to the fact that some day all will be revealed. I have to realize that though I may love someone, they won’t necessarily love me back. I also have to accept the fact that though I did the best I could with God’s help, maybe it wasn’t enough. Sometimes I just have to choose God and let the rest go.

One last thing that maybe will confuse you even more. I just went through a really hard thing with a couple of people in my life – one through email and one on the phone not an hour later. The boys knew it and were staying out of the room to let me deal with it. When I was talking to Mark on the phone about it afterward, Levi, my 17 year old son, asked if he could have a grapefruit and I told him go ahead and then asked if I wanted one. I told him, “No thanks, there are only two,” indicating to him that I thought Jacob might want it. Then he said as he started to hand his to me, “Oh, do you want me to peel you one?” I know that sounds like a small offer, but if you knew how we peeled our grapefruits you’d see how that was such a wonderful thing to offer to do for me.

grapefruit1We first cut off the skin and then take about 15-20 minutes to peel every single piece of the skin so only the fruit juice “sacks” are left. It is a glorious experience to eat a grapefruit like that. Levi and I sat down one school morning and spent about a half an hour doing it together. I told him it was OK, we could just call it Science class. VBG!  He was discovering the tiny sacks of fruit juice and we were reveling in it together. So for him to offer to peel me one was so touching to me that I just started bawling! Then I told Mark I was bawling because when I go through a really hurtful time and someone is nice to me it makes me cry. Poor Levi was standing there with this confused look on his face like he was at a loss – here I was bawling my eyes out because he offered to peel me a grapefruit.

Our life has been very hard for about 6 weeks with many situations and trouble coming our way. It’s been hard dealing with it because it seemed that almost every time we reached out for help we were denied one one way or another. There have been a few people that have helped, and for that I am very grateful to God for. We would have lost it a long time ago if it hadn’t been for them. The thing is, the problems just keep rolling in. Each phone call, each email that I get lately strikes fear into my heart – and even though I know satan is the author of fear and is trying to destroy our family, it doesn’t negate the fact that we have been receiving very painful news over and over – like in the Biblical account of the life of Job, with one thing after another threatening our family. I am anxious for this time in our life to be over, but it doesn’t seem to be happening very quickly. But for now, I need to rest in the good things God sends to me to keep me going. I’m going to go eat my grapefruit.

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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