Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Finding Friendship

Good Morning Dear Ones:

This mornings post has been on my heart for quite some time now. Many times I have felt the Lord stop my fingers from typing because my heart was just not in the right place. Things get muddled in the pool of hurt and a lack of understanding, so I waited for the Holy Spirit to make things more clear.

One of the biggest adjustments that has come from our adoption journey has been that every single relationship we have or had changed. Some for the worse and some for the better and some new relationships came into play as well.

As a large family and a special needs family at that, maintaing friendships is hard. Harder than I ever imagined it would be.

I know for us personally our parental responsibilities became so great, that I honestly didn't have, and often times still don't have, a lot left over. So I am sure that plays a huge role in relationship disintegration.

I am seeking God right now about how to find friendship and community again. I desperately miss doing life with others. Feeling a part and being included in relationships outside our family.

Honestly the girls neurological issues make it challenging. It is hard to participate in things with them when you know they struggle with impulse control and cause and effect. With my boys I used to help out in the church office, I could take them with me knowing they would listen to me and behave appropriately. Our childcare support system is minimal at best. So I am waiting on the Lord to help me figure things out. Maybe this is just for a season or maybe I need to learn some more skills or maybe God will help us find a better support system.

There is an awful ache in my heart to feel connected. Please Lord Jesus help me find friendship. Help me find where I fit with where I am at right now. In your precious faithful name I pray.

photo credit: Shandi-lee via photopin cc

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

All for Him

Hi Dear Ones:

I have missed being here. Things have been extra busy for me since Eric's surgery. He is still not able to walk and so my partner in care, of our very full life, has been incapacitated.

I have to say though, I have been doing really well. I have been purposing to remember. Remember God's faithfulness. There isn't one single hard spot in my life that He has not brought me through. Not one. He has a perfect track record. How awesome is He?

I have also been purposing to be thankful. Even in the midst of struggles I find something praise worthy. Something that merits gratitude. The circumstances don't necessarily change but my outlook does.

I am also getting things put back into their proper place. God has once again reminded me that my life isn't about me at all. I am utterly miserable when I place me at the center. As Max Lucado puts it "Life makes sense when we accept our place. The gift of pleasures, the purpose of problems ~ ALL for Him. The God centered life works. And it rescues us from a life that doesn't."

That is exactly how I feel right now. Rescued. Rescued from forgetfulness of God's faithfulness. Rescued from complaining. Rescued from self centeredness.

When I remember, my faith increases and my fears diminish.

When I am thankful my heart is happy.

When I place God at the center and make my life all about Him I have peace of mind and I am free.

Father God, thank you for your faithfulness, without my messiah I am such a mess. Keep my eyes stedfast on you. I never want to forget. My life is yours. My blessings are yours. My struggles are yours. My everything is yours. It is in complete surrender to You and your  plans that, even though it's not about me, I feel I become the best me. All for you my king...all for you.

photo credit: Will Foster via photopin cc

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wanting To Shine

Hello Dear Ones:

Have you ever felt like you are past something only for it to resurface unexpectedly? I think I so badly want to be past a wound I have in my heart that I push it down and almost convince myself that it doesn't exist any more. Then something happens to prick that wound and all the pain comes flooding to the surface again.

My heart wound is I want to shine. I so desperately want to be good at something. To feel valuable and significant. That I matter. Something happened today that caused that old wound to fester again.

I suddenly felt small and unimportant. Unaccomplished. Untalented. Inferior.

Memories of many things that I have tried to shine with, came to mind, and all I could see was a flicker at best.

As the tears slipped down my cheeks I felt the Father speak to me. Michelle it's not about a big stage. It doesn't matter if you can sell a product or how many followers and comments you have on your blog or Instagram. You shine brightest when you shine for me. Follow me, listen to and obey what I say. When no one else is looking and when everyone around you is. You matter because you are mine. Stop comparing  your game footage to everyone else's highlight reel. What I have put before you is different to what I have put before others. Live your life. Seeking Me every step of the way... surrender.

When you change your trillionth diaper you shine.
When you say a kind word or speak encouragement you shine.
When you have a thankful heart and remember Me you shine.
When you have a servants heart you shine.
When you praise me you shine.
When you are gentle you shine.
When you forgive you shine.
When you ask forgiveness you shine.
When you do laundry or feed your family you shine.

So I think my wound healed up a little bit today. I think the more I put the truth into practice I'll eventually be able to take the bandage off and be fully healed.

Thank you Father God for loving me just how I am, just where I am at, but faithfully shaping and molding me to be the best ME I can be.

photo credit: Lazurite via photopin cc

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Swerved

Good Morning Dear Ones:

Let me begin ethis post by asking for prayer for my husband. He is in Charlotte today ZZl' b gfhaving foot surgery done to remove a bone that only 2 percent of people have that has been causing him pain for well over a year now. Of course we want him home safe with a full recovery so he can get back to himself soon.

Then I want to share with you just how God has been speaking to me. Some friends and I are going through Lysa Terkeurst Bible study "UNGLUED ~ Making wise choices in the midst of raw emotions." Once again God has brought something to me that has divine perfect timing.

The past couple weeks have been some of the most challenging we have ever had with the girls. We are on our second medication since the last one. The first one we tried was horrific. Mercy screamed unconsolably for four hours until almost midnight one night then woke up screaming again at 5 a.m. This coming on after both the girls literally were awake for 48 hours coming off the old medication, left us empty.

I did come unglued. I was furious to see what was happening to our girls. I yelled and screamed myself. Right at God. Literally waving my fist in the air in complete exhaustion and frustration. I cried the shoulder heaving cry. You know the kind that leaves you looking like you have Garfield the cat eyes when you wake up the next morning. Yeah it wasn't pretty.

Then comes the guilt. The guilt that comes from knowing that I swerved. When circumstances came at me hard and I didn't stand firm. Doubt didn't creep into my heart it bombarded it.

I kept thinking where is God's glory in all of this? How is He for me and not against me in all of this? What future and hope do my girls really have? Really? Is faith really just something you use to psych yourself out of reality?

I was broken and empty.

A quote from this weeks homework struck my wounded soul.

"And empty women, oh how we come unglued. Especially when the empty settles into the part of our souls where unmet desires restlessly wait. And in the dark corner, desperation churns for what could be but isn't, and what we want but still don't have."

I long for my sweet chocolattes to be redeemed from what their birth mother inflicted upon them. I long for them to learn. I long for them to be able to eat normally, sit normally, focus normally, speak normally, make friends, fit in, bring joy to others,  and one day for them to know Jesus and serve him, while living successful adult lives. I long to not only love them but to like them more. Don't get me wrong they have very endearing aspects of who they are. Mercy can smile and laugh and melt you to pieces with her cuteness and Jubilee is such a love bug. But the scales are tipped right now with all the behavior issues.

God brought this scripture verse back to the forefront:

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Lysa also said this, "He goes deep like the ocean. He stretches wide like the sky. He reaches out like the sun. Even when our tears slip, we know his hand never does." Oh how I needed to read that.

Elevation church in Charlotte has a worship song called "Give Me Faith." Let me share some of the beautiful words with you this morning:

I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
To see that You're shaping my life

All I am
I surrender

Give Me faith to trust what you say
That you're good and your love is great
I'm broken inside, I give you my life

I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you to Pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me

I may be weak
Your spirit strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will

So yes I swerved and yes my flesh failed. But in my best "Jesus take the wheel" voice I tell you I am swerving back. Thank you Jesus that you never fail. Help me to not give up and to see the harvest.

God knows my unmet desires and why they mean so much to me. May I desire Him even more and May he give me an unswerving faith.

photo credit: Phillie Casablanca via photopin cc

Monday, October 22, 2012

I'm Down

Dear Ones:

I am down today. My hope-o-meter is low. After my last post about problems with the girls medications things have gone from bad to worse. They were literally awake for 48 hours coming off the other medication. Once we got to a new base line the Dr. wanted to try another stimulant medication even though I told her that with the other stimulants there was only bad side effects and results. She said there was nothing else to try non-stimulant wise. She also told me flat out that "it was going to be very difficult to find something to actually work for my girls."

I have asked the teachers to keep me informed and today Jubilee was described as "defiant, not nice verbally, refusing to do what is asked of her, and yelling at the top of her lungs." I got a very similar report from the bus aide.

I am drained and exhausted. I feel like a faith weakling that has been kicked down and it's hard getting my scrappiness back. Really hard.

It is an enormous disappointment to have caught a glimpse of normalcy just to have it snatched away from you.

I know my God is faithful. I know somehow He will be glorified in all of this. I know He will work all things, yes even this, together for good. But right now, what I know and what I feel are not even in the same hemisphere of my brain. A real mental tug-o-war.

May He release His power upon me. Upon my girls. May the lies, that appear true, be hushed. May it not be what doctors or books say, but only what He says.

He has the power to do a miracle here. A real freaking miracle, but even if not, I will praise Him.

He will lift me up.
It's His job not mine.
If my worst fears come to pass, then God.
It's safe to be real with a real God.
I'm His girl. My daughters are His.
What is meant for evil He will turn it around for good!
This is His story.
To Him be the glory.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Medication Maladies

Good Morning Dear Ones:

Im not really sure how to begin this post. I don't want anything to take away from the joy of our much awaited adoption finalization.

It was however a perplexing week with the girls last week. They seemed to be reverting to old behaviors at home and at school. I even got a note home from school that was very characteristic of the many notes I received home last year.

Their sleep patterns also were worse than the normal not sleeping through the night situations, where they were up several times a night. Including being very upset when they awoke.

Mercy even had a uncontrollable episode where she could not be calmed and so she was left in her bed to settle but instead she stripped her clothes off and urinated everywhere.

I contacted their developmental specialist thinking maybe we need to adjust their dosage but when I described what was happening she said she wish she knew if there was a history of mental illness in their birth family, because what I was describing was evidence of that, especially bipolar disorder. I then told her that I knew that their birth mother was in fact diagnosed bipolar, and she was then urgent about getting them off their current medication. She felt they were becoming manic.

Needless to say my heart sank. We began weening them off their meds over the weekend and working to getting them to a new baseline.

We are discouraged because of the initial success we were seeing in the girls. To say they were challenging this weekend is an understatement. It seemed impossible to hold still. Focus was fleeting at best and behavior was defiant. Impulse control was non existent.

This has come at us so unexpected. We thought we had found our answers but now are back at square one.
Would you pray for our family? That we would not lose hope. For wisdom for the doctors and us as parents to find just the right medications for our sweet chocolattes.

Thanks so much,

photo credit: Alex Dodd via photopin cc

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Wonder

Good morning Dear Ones:

Well my eyes have dried up... kind of :) So now I can write the post I have been longing to write. We officially started our adoption journey on July 9th, 2007. That was 1,921 days ago or 5 years, 3 months and 1 day to be exact.

When I think about that I am blown away. I honestly thought in my head when we started with the country of Guatemala that it would be 9 months to a year and done. After we had finished our home study and turned our dossier in, I began to feel like we would not just bring 1 brown baby girl home but that there would be 2. I even had dreams about it. Noah also, without knowing my thoughts or dreams,  had dreams that we would bring 2 girls home. When I told Eric about it , He just said "well if that's the case then God is going to have to do miracles because I don't even know how we are going to afford bringing 1 girl home."

I can still remember the deep pain and frustration when the country closed. I felt like a fool. I questioned how did I miss God? I thought I was doing what he wanted me to do and then the country was closed. Our money was gone and we were drowning in debt. There was no financial way possible to move on with international adoption so we started investigating private domestic adoption and quickly realized, that it too, was financially impossible. We were crushed.

Then in Early 2009, a friend of mine called me to tell me about a woman she knew that adopted her children through foster care and that it didn't cost her a penny to do so. I didn't know much about foster care except for the fact that it was risky. I got the lady's number from my friend and talked with her for over an hour that night. The next day I called different foster care agencies and found out that a new foster parent class was starting the next week. This was a glimmer of hope that our dream/call to adoption was not dead.

We finished our training in April 2009 and then once again we waited. Finally in June my phone rang and there was a little girl waiting for us in the NICU. She came home to us on June 9th. In some ways it was easier to finally have this precious flesh and blood little girl in my arms. To have a face to the dream. But in others a whole new level of difficulty arose. Weekly visitations with birth parents made us painfully aware that our hearts were in a place of vulnerability like never before.

I can remember the morning of August 10th very well. I was thinking how am I going to do this? It was too much risk. Too much was at stake. I asked God to give me strength that morning. I asked him for a wonder to confirm and help me endure what was before me. I am not kidding you, not even 10 minutes later my phone rang and it was DSS asking me if we would take in our Baby girls birth sister. I think my jaw literally dropped. I knew instantly that this was my second brown baby girl, that I had dreamed about. I told her I had to call and ask my husband. My heart pounded and my fingers fumbled as I quickly dialed his number and when I told him, he instantly without hesitation replied let's go get her.

From that moment on I knew we were on the right path. I didn't know how long it would take or even if it would end up as I was so desperately hoping that it would. God had confirmed it. He had given me my wonder.

It took three more years and many more tears after that day to get to adoption finalization. Whenever the road felt impossible to keep traveling God would remind me of that day and renew my strength to stay the course.

Thank you Father God that you do above and beyond what we could ever ask or think. You truly are the God of wonders.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Finally It's Over ~ The best is yet to come

Dear Ones:

I can not promise much lucidity in this post. I just got the call. Yep the one my heart has been aching to receive that Jubilee Hope is FINALLY FOREVER OURS!!!!! It is official and I am doing the ugly cry right now. Praise the Lord for his faithfulness. So thankful it came today, a day that I was feeling like I didn't have much left in me to keep waiting. It's over glory be to his name! My girls....His girls forever and ever ours!!!!!

Feast your eyes on my little beauty and when my emotions settle a bit stay tuned for the post about her I have been just dying to write!!!

Simple Smiles

Good Morning Dear Ones:

I wish I had some adoption finalization news for you, but I don't. It is starting to wear on me. I can't stop thinking that it should be done already. So hopefully soon. I am going to have to make some adjustments to Jubilee's adoption party outfit because it was more geared for summer weather.

On another note, I wanted to share something sweet and simple with you today because if I just dwell on our judge and how I'd like to slap a knot on his head then I spiral to a bad place.

Over the weekend our family added a new furry family member to our crew. Her name is Marley and she is a standard schnauzer. She's so sweet, smart and good company. A great replacement, to fill our Buster's paw prints. She has been fitting right in and we grow more smitten with her each day.

Before I get to the smile part let me give you a little background. Since the girls started pre-school we have had a time getting them to stop sticking their tongues out at each other and others.

Yesterday morning as we were getting them dressed for school, Marley was nearby watching the process and panting quietly. Mercy in her best tattle tale voice said "Daaadddy Marwee is sticking her tongue out at Meeee." She then pointed her finger at her and told her that it was not nice.

Eric and I just cracked up. So I hope my simple smile moment causes the curves of your lips to lift also.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

One Year Ago Today

Dear Ones:

I am remembering today. A year ago today was a day of much anticipated celebration. Then it had been a little over four years since we had started our adoption journey. It was a roller coaster ride that took me, our family, through many valleys and mountain tops. This day though was a mountain top. We had just returned from one of Elijah's soccer games and I noticed the red blinking light on our voicemail. As I listened to it I froze and began to ball my eyes out. There it was ringing in my ears that Mercy Jewel was finally forever ours. No one could take her away. My dream had finally come true and was secure. The brown baby girl that I had longed for and prayed for and loved was ours. Our daughter. Our precious gift.

As I ran to tell everyone what I had just heard I will never forget how each of us hugged each other in one big family hug and shouted praises and cried tears of relief and joy that this day had finally come. It will always be such a precious memory to all of us.

We are still waiting to get that call and celebrate that delightful news with our sweet Jubilee. And I can't wait to post her pictures and share a special story just about her.

Until then I am going to enjoy the sweet memories that this date holds and look forward to another date very similar and hopefully in the near future.

We adore you Mercy Jewel and our family has grown not only in size but in character and in love because of your precious addition to it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Dear Ones:

I just heard back from my doctor. The cervical results show no malignancy. The tumor in my uterus will be watched and based on symptoms not be removed at this time. The mammogram results showed no malignancy with a caution of very dense breast tissue that can hide malignancy so to stay on top of monthly and annual breast exams and testing. So my family and I are praising Jesus for a good report and we are ever so thankful to everyone known and unknown that covered us in prayer in this situation.

God is good all the time!!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Needing Prayer

Dear Ones:

So I debated to share this news or not. Then I thought about the reasons why I blog. I blog because I love to write. I blog because it is therapeutic for me to get my feelings and thoughts out. I blog because I like connecting with others. I blog to encourage. I blog for support. I blog so people don't feel alone. I blog to share real life and real faith. I blog because I can share my faith and hopefully bring glory to my Savior.

I am needing prayer right now. For three weeks now I have been dealing with an injured back, either a badly pulled muscle or a herniated disc, painful and frustrating to say the least. But yesterday I had some news that was unsettling. I went for my annual gynecologist appointment and the doctor found a fibroid tumor in my uterus and a mass in my left breast. I have a mammogram scheduled for Monday morning.

I can honestly tell you that I was not shocked, as strange as that may seem. I felt the Lord nudging me for a few months now to get myself checked out. But also just as honest is that it does make me vulnerable to fear. I do have a select few near and dear that already know my circumstances and it just has to be their prayers that are holding me up.

For now I won't pour out the vast array of difficult emotions that come at me. I am trying my best to keep them at bay until I have more information. I have a strange sense of peace even in the midst of the unknown.

Still I believe in the power of prayer, so for those of you who also believe will you lift me and my family up if we come to mind?

I will keep you posted. I know God is with me.

"So do not worry, because I am with you. Do not be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and I will help you. I will support you with my right hand that saves you." Isaiah 41:10

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Good Morning Dear Ones:

Today I want to share about a lesson I have learned about perspective. I recently started a new bible study with some friends. It is the Unglued study by Lysa Terkeurst. In one of my homework assignments she share about a old folk tale about six blind men who wanted to learn about elephants. Here is the summary she shared:

"As they stand in different places around one of these huge creatures, each man reaches out to touch the animal and feel what it is like. Touching it's side, the first man describes it as solid, like a wall. The second man touches the trunk and decides the creature is much like a snake. The third man touches the tusk and determines that the elephant is sharp, like a spear. The fourth man touches the animals leg and likens the elephant to a large cow. The fifth man runs his hands along the elephants ear  and feels certain the elephant can fly like a bird. The sixth man touches the coarse tail and concludes the elephant is nothing more than an old rope. "

Lysa shared that "Every man's perspective on the elephant has some legitimacy but each perspective is also severely limited and in every case a limited perspective leads the men to wrong conclusions and keeps them from understanding the whole truth about the elephant."

This story brought me comfort and understanding. I was able to relate it to situations in my own life. Areas where I am still working on forgiveness. Area's where all I can see is that which is right in front of me. I was comforted to know that some of what I see is legitimate, but helped to know I really don't see the whole picture.

I am just so thankful for this help. God knows my heart. He knows how I want to be set free from hurt. How I want the choking grip of unforgiveness loosed from my mind and heart. He knows how I want to trust Him when my perspective is limited. When the unknowns flood my mind and try to overwhelm me.

May He transform and renew my thoughts and mind.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is ~ His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. " 2 Corinthians 10:5

May He give me His perspective.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Getting to Taste and See

Good Morning Dear Ones:

I am happy today. Yes I know it is just an emotion but I am going to bask in it. You see there are so many things in this life that the need for refuge arises. That safe place to shelter you from the storms of living.

I love this verse:

"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." Psalm 34:8

In my personal situation, numerous times I have needed to fall at his feet and seek refuge. The whole adoption process through the foster care system and all the heart risk that it involves alone drove me to him. Raising children with permanent brain damage almost daily made me desperate for his sanctuary.

So many times I thought I would be stuck in the desert of fetal alcohol syndrome. Wondering how do I raise children who don't have cause and effect in their thinking? Children who don't learn? Children whose little damaged brains were so busy they simply can't rest. How would I keep them safe? How would they come to know Jesus? Would they be productive members of society? Would anyone else outside our family ever love them and make them feel valuable?

I literally was dreading the school year starting. Anticipating almost daily reports of all the challenges and struggles, just like last year. Feeling hopeless as to any solutions. Gearing myself up to just grin and bear it.

Not today. Today, I am feeling like we have a new lease on life with special needs. As I mentioned in my last post the girls have had some medication changes. Their new ADHD medication has been completely life changing. They are calmer. They are more obediant. They can focus on a task. Their impulse control issues are much more manageable. I feel like I am actually enjoying who they are and not constantly correcting and redirecting and managing.

We actually got a note home from school after the first week and Jubilee was described as having a great start to her new year. She is sitting and participating in circle time and getting along well with her peers. This is a far cry from head butting and hiding under tables defying her aide last year.

I see it as a miracle. I have so much hope. Hope that they will learn. Hope that they won't go through life being "those kids". Hope that what truly was meant for evil against them in their birth mothers womb will all be turned around for good. Because my God is good. He is Loving and He is ever so faithful.

I know we still have mountains before us. But I am so encouraged. I really believe God can move the mountains. So I will leave you this morning with a smile on my face. With renewed hope in my heart and with this verse that perfectly sums up my emotions today.

"You changed my sorrow into dancing. You took away my clothes of sadness, and clothed me in happiness." Psalm 30:11

Friday, August 31, 2012


Dear Ones:

Twenty-One years ago today I said "I DO" and thus began an amazing journey of a shared life. There have been many mountain tops and valleys but through each of them I can genuinely say our bond became that much closer.

I am a very blessed woman to be married to a man who seeks my best. Who listens to me express myself through a vast array of emotions. Who joins me in my dreams. Who makes me laugh. Who forgives me and offers me grace. Who changes diapers or cleans the kitchen and helps with laundry. Who loves our children with a servant love. Who works hard to provide for our family. Who sees the good in me, even when I can't, and encourages me, and spurs me on to be the best authentic me I can be.

He is my friend. He is my rock. He is the best!

I love you Eric. Thank you for walking out this life with me. Our hearts truly are knit together and like a cord of three strands with Jesus at the center not quickly broken.

Each year gets sweeter and better!

photo credit: Juan Antonio CapĆ³ via photo pin cc

Monday, August 27, 2012

What Versus Who

Hello again Dear Ones:

Once again there has been a gap in between blog post. I thank you for your grace when I am unable practically or emotionally to bring myself to write. I have to say thank you for those who left lovely comments on my last post or sent e mails. It was such lovely encouragement. 

It took some time but I am seeing more clearly now. God is ever so faithful. Especially when the enemy of our souls is having a field day beating up on you. 

There have been some encouraging things happen since I posted last and boy oh boy did I need it. August was our month of specialist visits. We saw the GI specialist, Endocrinologist, Rehabilitation specialist,  and the Developmental specialist. This alongside our multiple weekly therapy appointments for speech, OT and PT.

Our GI doctor increased the girls appetite medication and changed another medication and I can really tell a difference in their food consumption. This really excites me. Our Developmental specialist gave us a new kind of ADHD medication to try and I was willing to with school starting back up, but I made it clear I was not willing to subject them to adverse side effects. So far I think it is genuinely helping the girls and not changing who they are. I honestly almost gave up hope that we would find something. I look forward to seeing if the teachers also find improvements in their attention and behavior. 

I think the biggest improvement though came from my "heart specialist." I can tell I had people praying for me. Eventually my emotions settled down. Peace came over me and I was ready to roll up my sleeves again and get back to this adventuresome life my God has blessed me with. Back in the battle of what versus Who.

Yes that is what I said... BLESSED. I say this not because it's easy or pain free, those all have to do with the "what" is going on and not the "Who." Life in general is jammed pack full of the what's like tight finances, behavior problems, divorce, unmet expectations, broken dreams, hurt feelings, sickness, and the list is limitless. So in the midst of life's list I need the Who, whose power is also limitless. 

The Who is my faithful provider, my wisdom giver, the healer of my heart, mind and body. My redeemer for every broken and shattered dream. 

When I get inundated with the whats of life it's easy to fall into the trap of the if only this or the if only thats. Like the whats have all the power. The reality is I knowWho has all the power. 

""... I know Jesus, the One in whom I have believed. And I am sure he is able to protect what He has trusted me with until that day." 2 Timothy 1:12b

Jesus has trusted me with a wonderful husband, four amazing sons, two precious daughters, friendships, a home to care for, and yes special needs. All of which bring on a lot of whats. With Him though the what's diminish.

"People who do what is right may have many problems, but the lord will solve them all." Psalm 35:19

This tells me then, that in the battle of what vs Who the Who wins every time. No matter what!!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Having a Hard Time Finding My Lenses

Dear Ones:

It has been a while since my last post. There has just been a lot going on. I am sure many of you can relate to unrelenting schedules. This post I am about to write is my least favorite kind of post. The kind where I don't have clear vision. Where a haze is all that is visible in every direction. I wrestle during these times if I should even write but I am compelled to because someone is out there, maybe not at this moment but maybe coming behind me that will be where I am at and they will need to know they are not alone. They will need to feel some sense of comradeship.

I am having a hard time finding my faith lenses. The struggles with the girls have been hard and many lately. To begin we had to make a school decision that was very hard to make. The christian pre-school we put them in, well... reality set in. Jubilee's behaviors were described as overwhelming. Our hearts completely sank as once again we were sitting in a meeting about our daughter and hearing the same things once again. Eric wasn't shocked. I think he prepared himself for reality better than my hopeful Mama's heart. We felt it was best to decide to go back to public school just for the safety that they can't decide her behaviors are too much at any point and they have to educate her. Everywhere she goes her cuteness fades, reality sets in and she becomes "that" kid. You know the one that is exhausting and frustrating and always has issues. Medications have brought no help at this point either. In fact the side effects are ones I am not willing to inflict upon my child.

Potty training remains a complete mystery. I do know how to potty train a child I mean I have successfully trained 4 boys in the past but I am completely stumped with these girls. Jubilee actually told me a little over a week ago after she had peed on the sidewalk, she proudly took my hand to show me the puddle then grinned ear to ear and said "look Mommy I pee pee in the potty." The dots just don't connect even if they say and sometimes do things that make you think they are connecting because the next day it will be like starting completely from scratch.

We just came back from a four day get away as a family and I feel like I was beat and left for dead. I can not even number the times we looked back to see the girls had once again unbuckled from their car seats and were loose as we were driving. The tantrums were also countless. I just kept my eyes to the ground and would not look anyone in the eyes who I knew were starring at this "inept parent" in front of them.

The big discouragement came when Jubilee decided to pull her, not a bit loose tooth out of her head. I had read about F.A.S children doing this before and now we are another statistic. These are just some of the numerous three and four year old challenges we daily face and I can not even let my mind think on what teenage challenges might be. The ones I have read about are terrifying.

Hidden disabilities are the worst. Your child looks "normal" can even say the right things but the actions don't line up or follow suit. Sometimes we feel like physical presentations of their disabilities would be easier and maybe others would be more tolerant or understanding.

My lenses right now are experiential. They are caked with the challenges and the behaviors. I am asking God to clear the debris. For light to shine in the darkness. For a renewed faith perspective and hope.

I once again pray these words over my girls:

"For I know the plans I have for you, Jubilee and Mercy, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

So even in my hardest struggles, in the deep pits,  in the dark...God is here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Facts, Frustrations, & Faith

Dear Ones:

I have been feeling pretty weak and weary lately. This is due to frustration. Frustration simply being the difference between what you expect and what you experience.

I heard this verse this morning:

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." So since I have felt both, that is good news to me.

As I woke up in the middle of the night last night I felt like God brought back to mind the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego particularly this verse and the phrase in bold print:

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from your majesty's hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will not serve your God's or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Currently I am in a series of nots. The house will not sell. The sellers from the house we wanted will not renew our contract because we do not have a buyer. Elijah's wrist will not heal and he has to be on the bone stimulater for another month and have another CT scan and still the possibility of surgery and rehab ahead for him. He has been dealing with this injury since January. The girls will not potty train. There are some days you think they are almost there and then the next one comes and they seem clueless again.

Someone at my church recently shared that facts are different from truth and I seriously have to look at the facts from that perspective. I feel like I am caught on a pendulum sometimes rocking back and forth between frustration and faith. When I look at the facts I am frustrated. When I look at the truth I have faith.

So what is the truth in all the facts I listed. The truth is just because our house hasn't sold doesn't mean it won't. As my Pastor says, "God's delay does not mean denial." The truth is God loves Elijah. He knows how bad he is hurting because he can not participate in the things he loves. He also will use this pain he is going through. Someday Elijah will have a certain amount of sensitivity to offer someone because he has been there. The truth is I am a good Mom and my girls are precious and it's not dependent upon their toilet habits. God is going to take care of them and that's not contingent upon them learning how to go potty.

The enemy loves to bring the facts before your face and try to destroy your faith. I have learned that because of this, I have to stay on my face. I have to press in and seek truth or the facts will break my faith.

Father God,  I believe you are all powerful. I believe you can do all things, like bring a buyer, heal a wrist and help a brain damaged child learn how to go potty. I fully expect you to. Help me in the even if not times to fall on my face and seek truth, no matter what the facts say.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Get a Shovel

Dear Ones:

I'm timid to write today. It's easier when you feel some sense of victory already but a bit more challenging when your in the battle. I'm just going to share how God has been loving on me lately. As a parent I do my best to correct my children when they are not doing something that is good for them. I do this because I love them. I know God loves me and for some time now he has been dealing with me about how I have dealt with some hurts in my life. Seriously everywhere I turn there He is gently nudging me,  and encouraging me.

There are just certain things in my life that have just come to the point where enough is enough. My last post was about complaining. Today's is about bitterness. Essentially all bitterness is is unforgiveness.

I have not set out to hold  grudges mind you, but as I read my Proverbs 31 devotional this morning I feel like I get stuck either "pretending everything is ok or trying to prove I'm right." Stuffing or exploding. I want to be honest and make peace.

When I stuff I can sometimes even feel like I am fine but then you see the person or get an e mail or they come to mind and you begin to play the hurt over and over again in your mind giving that person control over you. Victimizing yourself over and over again. Keeping them in prison to the offense and yourself also.

I find it most difficult when someone doesn't say sorry or doesn't even acknowledge or own the hurt they have caused. Waiting around for that apology that may never come is exhausting. It totally robs you. This is not how I want to live. Enough really is enough.

Forgiving does not deny or diminish the hurt. It isn't even forgetting it. It is a gift. A release. Canceling the debt. Breathing again. Im tired of life being choked out of me because I can't let things go.

So I am in process. I am in daily prayer. Im canceling the debt. I don't want to stop until every bitter root has been dug up and removed with the shovel of forgiveness. I will be completely honest with you, sometimes I know exactly what I have to do but don't even know where to begin to know how to do. So I'm trusting my Jesus. He has brought this to my attention for my good. He has better for me. He loves me. He who has begun this work in me will be faithful to complete it.

Time to dig...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Combatting Complaining

Dear Ones:

I have so been loving the extra quiet time with my Jesus lately and as a cherry on top the chance to get to my blog and share. This morning allowed me to listen to another elevation church sermon. I started a new series about waiting.

I have to say it is one of my weakest areas. I don't like to wait. In fact I loath waiting. Until this morning  I thought it was just because I was impatient. I am sure that is part of it, but something was exposed in me this morning that I think is really going to help me out.

Complaining...yep, I do it more than I even want to admit to. And you know what it makes me miserable. It keeps my eyes focused on my problem and not on my Jesus. Then I get stuck in the rut of wait, complain, miserable, wait, complain, miserable.

Do you know the Israelite journey to the promised land was only supposed to be two weeks long and their grumbling and complaining against God landed them forty years instead. Thats a sobering thought isn't it?

My biggest battles with complaining recently have been with our housing situation and certain relationships. We have been trying to sell our house for years now. It has been on and off the market for  quite some time. The main reason is that getting our boys to school takes literally hours of my day. And the girls, well let's just say... not the best car company. Sometimes the thoughts of making our life easier and escaping the problem of no support consume me.

Some of the points I needed to hear today were:

Make the waiting room a workroom ~ Preoccupy yourself with fulfilling God's purpose instead of escape ~ Our detours are often God's destinations

The best way not to complain is to do just the opposite, to praise. I think I am really going to have to resist the urge to complain but I took this note, that I think will help me do just that:

"Let your pain trigger a praise." I thought about the relationships that have hurt me. Why do I want to focus on one who doesn't celebrate with me when so many others do? As the sting of being ignored burned me this morning I thought my praise could be the text I got from my best friend this morning expressing her joy and celebration. I am so thankful for that. I praise God for that.

Im sick of misery and waiting going hand in hand. The journey should be enjoyed. There is work to be done. There is purpose. If God has us still here, no matter how badly I want to move, he has purpose, even if it is just protection, which brings me to detours and destinations. Sometimes waiting just re- routes you.

This had me thinking, you know we started our adoption journey in Guatemala. That was our destination and boy did we get a detour. Now as we are coming to finalizing Jubilees adoption I can see so clearly that we had the wrong destination in mind. I praise God for re-routing us. My destinations anyhow are always moving targets. I get there and then there is something else to wait for.

So I am declaring war. Seriously. I will let my pain trigger praise. I will find purpose instead of seeking escape. I will fix my eyes on Jesus, he alone knows just when and where to take me on this journey. Even in correction I feel His enormous love for me. Praise Him!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Paper Signing and Potty Training

Dear Ones:

Well today is an exciting day in our family. Today we meet with our adoption worker and sign our adoption placement agreement. This means once that ink has dried there is no more risk. Jubilee hope won't be going anywhere. I don't even know if it has really hit me yet that this day is here. You kind of just get used to living in limbo mode, but some finality is on the way. Once we sign, we again wait for the judge to sign for finalization. Then we CELEBRATE!!! I already have great ideas for her party. I have her outfit and let me tell you it is adorable. As soon as I can Ill be sharing pictures of her adorable face... I can hardly stand it so stay tuned...

And now for potty training. It has me discouraged. We have been working on it for over a year. The special education school worked on it for over a year and still those dots do not connect. I went online last night to try and research some resources for training special needs kids. Once again everything I read about F.A.S children left me even more discouraged.

I read this many times from different sources last night:

"It is common for the child with FAS to still be having issues around toilet training at age 6 or even later sometimes up to age 8. The less concern about this, the better. The neural pathways are not yet well-formed, and when the brain development progresses, there will be progress. Sensory input is sometimes not functioning properly, and the message does not get from the body to the brain in time to act. This is almost always a neurological issue, rather than a psychological one."

Why does this bother me so much? Options. The longer my girls struggle with this area the less options will be available for them. I am loving their new pre-school, but I stress that if progress continues to prolong and if Mercy continues to dig in her messy diapers (happened twice at school last week and I woke up to her artwork this morning) then it may become more than the school is willing to take on. Then what will we be left with? I know this challenge like all the others they face I need to just submit it to prayer and trust in my God who loves those sweet chocolattes more than I do. Fear has just been gripping me about it all so can I ask for some prayer? That we will have wisdom and patience and that I will rest knowing that God is going to provide the very best for my girls. That they will progress and shine for His glory because I will continue to believe that F.A.S will be fulfilling. almighty's. story.

Thanks for listening...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Fruit of Joy

Hello again Dear Ones:

I am still working through my online Bible study Autisms Hidden Blessings. If you are the parent of a special needs child or know someone who is,  I have to say this resource is a complete must. It is authentic and real and genuine. It has ministered to my heart in a way that has rejuvenated and boosted my faith.

I started and finished the chapter for this weeks study moments ago. It was on joy. It was healing for my soul. I feel like I put myself out there on this blog. I am vulnerable and authentic myself. Sometimes I am happy and others I am sad. Truthfully a piece of me will cringe a little bit when I post about the hard times or the struggles. It's a risk. Not everyone gets it or walks gently or encourages or lifts you up.  Then there are those who can really medicate your soul with the love of Christ. That is a gift.

Today I am going to take that risk again by being vulnerable. For some who look at our family and see the challenges that adoption has brought to us. They see the frustration and sadness from time to time and they may wonder how can this be worth it?

Ill be honest, sometimes I am very sad. I'm sad when I see neurotypical children and what they can do compared to my girls. Sometimes the ground is so strange compared to any other territory I have ever been at before and I am at a complete loss what to do. I'm not always happy. Something in todays chapter though really brought me some freedom.

"Joy and happiness are not one and the same. Happiness is a feeling entirely dependent on one's situation in life. It's fleeting and subject to the world around us. (Special needs) can crush the feeling of happiness. Joy however is something entirely different...joy is a state of delight and well being that results from knowing and serving God... Joy enables us to soar above (special needs) and live the life God intended for us...You need to know that we can't manufacture joy ourselves. Joy scripture says is a gift, a supernatural blessing from God, referred to as a fruit of the spirit."

I can in all honesty say that raising kids is a challenge and raising special needs kids takes it to a whole new level. I'm not always happy but you know what I am joyful. My boys are really wonderful sons. My daughters are just as wonderful. Their skin colors, as it turns out, are not their only differences. I know 100% without a single doubt in my heart that all eight of us are blessed by God as he has brought us together as a family. Yes our family is bigger but more importantly our faith is bigger and I can confidently say so is our joy!  We have served God in obedience as we have walked this path. We have each and every one of us come to know God and his heart more. Even my sweet chocolattes. Yes even they as I listened to their mumbled speech this morning on the way to preschool say they wanted to pray. I speak their language better than most, but I didn't recognize everything they said as they prayed. The cool part was I know God did and it was beautiful to his ears. And yesterday my Jubilee sang "this little light of mine" all the way to school. I believe that she is a light and God's glory will shine through her sweet little life.

So I guess I will conclude with this. The next time I write a post and I lay myself bare with what is hard and frustrating and may even have me in an emotional pit, know this, I still have enormous joy. I still have Christ. Sure the enemy may come and try to steal my joy and sometimes in my weak flesh I succumb. But my God who is faithful always guides me back into the light. Into His truth, and as his spirit rises up in me, the fruit is produced. True joy. Praise his holy name!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Changes that Refresh

Good Morning Dear Ones:

I say that to you this morning as I am literally experiencing such a beautiful sweet morning. The house is silent. All I hear is the clicking of the keyboard and the hum of my space heater. Can I tell you just how much I have missed being in this spot. Sitting in my office chair typing away on my blog.

Summer is here and life remains full and busy but I genuinely love summer time. Some things about this summer are different than any other summer we have shared together as a family. For one Elijah is driving. He is able to take himself to visit friends and even run errand trips to the store for us and I have to say that the more my heart gets used to it , just how nice it is to have another driver in the family. He's such a responsible trustworthy guy. I melt when I think about that kid.

We also did some changes around the house last weekend. We moved all the things out of my office to create a playroom for the girls. It's nice having our living room back and them having their own space.

Wednesday Mercy's new bed will be here and if you listen closely I bet you can almost hear me breathe a sigh of pure relief. God worked it all out for us and now everyone will rest more peacefully and safe.

Finally, I think the biggest change is the girls are in a new preschool this summer. I have to be open and honest here with the emotional struggle involved in getting them there. I had hoped because they are developmentally and cognitively delayed in all areas and also still speech delayed that for sure they would receive services with the public school system over the summer. It was explained to me though that the law is written in a way that services are available not because it is beneficial to the child but only if a gross decline would occur during the summer. I was told if they came back to school next year and had declined then it could be evaluated for services next summer. Am I the only one that thinks that is just absurd? I mean for the life of me I don't understand why they would not want to be proactive instead of reactive with their progress. I also know two other special needs moms who I think their children would have greatly benefitted from summer services and they also were denied.

So I began to pray and make a lot of phone calls to see if anyone would be willing to work with my girls during the summer. My options quickly diminished since both of my girls are not potty trained yet. I was able to visit three schools that said they would consider taking them. The first place was just awful. I literally left there in tears and could not even fathom leaving my girls there. My heart literally broke for the parents that that was their option. Then I visited two more places the next day and both were considerably improved from the first place. The last place however was recommended by one of our pastors and they spent an hour and a half with me listening to all my girls needs and issues. They agreed to do a trial to see how things would go. No false promises were made regarding meeting my girls needs. I just had such a good feeling after I left there. Worry and concern had been lifted off of my chest. Yesterday my sweet chocolattes had their first day there and both of them did really well.

I must admit I felt a weight of guilt initially as we considered pre school. I know they need the extra help but all of this is new to me. I never sent my boys to pre school. They were home with me until they went to kindergarten. Part of me wondered am I just tired? Am I a good mom if I put them in school and not keep them with me? The enemy is so nasty isn't he? He always tries to twist things. You know what yesterday was wonderful. My girls were in a safe, christian, educational, loving environment. They were getting help to help them catch up and our family also had some respite. I was able to have uninterrupted time with my boys, a uninterrupted workout, significant quiet time to read and pray. I was refreshed. I think we all were. I was so excited to see my sweet chocolattes at the end of their school day and you know what I think I am a better Mom because of it. I say all this because if you are the Mom of a special needs child or children it requires so much of you. I don't even know if I realized just how much I had been drained until I felt what it was like to have some time to charge. I felt human again and like I actually built up some reserve and had something to give. You know what, that is a really good feeling instead of feeling on empty all the time. It is my uttermost desire to be a good mother. So I am going to bask in this refreshment. I am going to kick guilt to the curb. I am going to enjoy being a good Mom again.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Other Side

Dear Ones:

We are getting to the other side of things. We are so close to being just adoptive parents and no longer foster parents. We met with our adoption worker yesterday and she said we should be able to sign the placement agreement by mid June. Then all we have to do is wait for a judge to sign for everything to be finalized. After we signed Mercy's placement agreement it took two months before everything was finalized. So this could all be said and done by August. Sounds like a good month for an adoption party to me :)

We were also able to work on our subsidy yesterday and we were able to do things before rates were cut. This is a huge and helpful blessing to our family that we are so very thankful for.

Another answer to pray came yesterday too. We found out that medicaid approved to pay for Mercy's special needs bed. So we really were showered with God's goodness yesterday.

God is faithful and God is good!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Giants and Glory

Dear Ones:

I have so much rolling around in my head as I start this post. I don't want to forget a single point. Something is happening inside of me. Fear is yielding to hope. True, pure straight from Jesus hope! And dare I say it excitement. As I mentioned in an earlier post I have started an online bible study called Autisms Hidden Blessings. All I can say is I have searched for a resource like this. One that approaches special needs from God's side of things. For me the diagnosis, doctors, and books that I have read on fetal alcohol syndrome have sucked the hope out of me and left me discouraged, fearful and despondent. I simply had to stop reading anything on F.A.S.

As I daily pray for my sweet chocolattes I have had to pray it's not what the others say Father God it's what you say. Somedays I really have been unmoveable in that stance and others I have hobbled and stumbled.

I have often thought what qualified me for this path in life. I have felt at times completely lacking and lost.  So you try to find something, anything that makes sense. In my mind I would think this is for God's glory but sometimes my heart wrestled with even that, if I can be completely honest here. There were times when I battled thoughts of is God an egomaniac? I mean It's all about Him and everything is for His glory. Honestly there were times in my most difficult days with raising special needs children that the thought this is for his glory brought me little if any comfort. I have to say though because I didn't understand. Then right on time when my heart was ready to receive it. God spoke to me through a devotional by Max Lucado that softened my hardness and the truth set me free in this area. He explained it this way:

"Why does God broadcast himself? For the same reason the pilot of a lifeboat does. Think of it this way. You're floundering neck deep in dark, cold sea. Ship sinking. Life jacket deflating. Strength waning.

(I'm familiar with days like this aren't you?)

Through the inky night comes the voice of a lifeboat pilot. But you cannot see him. What do you want the driver of the life boat to do? Be quiet? Say Nothing? Stealth his way through the drowning passengers? By no means! You need volume! Amp it up buddy! In biblical jargon you want him to show his glory. You need to hear him say I am here. I am strong. I have room for you and I can save you!"

Here is the best part:

"Make no mistake. God has no ego problem (insert a mental picture of me wiping my brow in relief as I read this because I am not the only person in the world to wonder such a thing) He does not reveal His glory for His good. We need to witness it for ours."

From that day forward I never wrestled with God having an ego problem again. Instead I began to feel privileged that my life can be used to show His glory. I know there are other mama's/families out there and I have a feeling that the story God is writing in and through our struggles with special needs and otherwise are going to be used to rescue someone drowning. Somehow just knowing that, I can feel God's redeeming power for our family and others. Something that was meant to hurt my girls no longer has power. Because I know the one who is all powerful! Somehow the things that seemed to have gone wrong in our adoption journey seem very very right. God designed and purposeful. Miracles are in store.

I like this excerpt from my study:

"Only by submitting to God's plan do we create a place in our lives for miracles to occur. Yes miracles still happen today ~ they happen as God takes our greatest battles, surrendered to him, and blesses us through them. ...One kind of miracle is that he uses our trials and makes something wonderful with them."

Real beauty for ashes...

Fetal alcohol syndrome has been a real giant in our family. Through this study I have realized that this really isn't my giant to face. The battle truly is the Lord's. And you know what, God wins, so He can be glorified, so others can be rescued. I know dark days are still ahead. But it is my fervent prayer that when they come I will "not focus on the giant before me, Instead, focus on the God who is with me."

To God be the Glory!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Commense Celebrating!

Dear Ones:

After my heavy post yesterday I am delighted to write something on the lighter and more celebratory side.  We received an e mail from our case worker this morning that we can commense the celebration of Jubilee Hope. Thats right, no third and final appeal was filed so we are officially in the adoption unit with Big Sister. The end of this part of the journey is in sight and soon she will also be forever ours. Soon I can share more pictures. I know she has cute piggies but just wait until you see her beautiful face! I'm ready for another adoption party. How about you?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

God Will Help Me

Dear Ones:

I start this post today literally weeping. I have had some hard challenges lately. One with a friendship that has changed. Our relationship has drifted apart and I don't understand why and it has been painful to accept. Secondly I have been bombarded by the accuser. Being a mom is so hard sometimes and being a special needs mom is a whole new battle ground.

I have been lonely. I have been drained and I have been discouraged. One of our Pastors spoke on Sunday how when the accuser comes that it is not really about you. It is about God. He accuses to get your faith. Let me share with you some of the accusations he has put before me like a serving of rat poison disguised as a proper meal.

"Your not a good friend Michelle so that is why this friend doesn't want to do life with you. Your life is not relatable or too hard or messy. You are just too needy. "

Then there is the struggles with special needs parenting. Ones like, no I don't want to go to Target by myself because I know there will be behavior issues that will drain and embarrass me so its better to just not go anywhere. Play dates don't happen because my daughters with sensory processing disorders will be aggressive or lick other children or smother them. Going to soccer games is exhausting because my daughters unlike the other children I see at the games can't just sit on a blanket and watch big brother play.  They can't be cautious and not run into the road even though they have been warned and told a thousand times. Every single meal is a battle. Every single night is restless. We don't have family close to us, so our support system is extremely limited with the girls.

Please hear me that I am just sharing what it is like. I am not wishing my precious chocolattes away. My heart would actually burst into a million shattered pieces beyond repair if they were not a part of our family. That is the truth. But still the accuser comes with his lies. Lies like:

"You signed up for a lifetime of desert living Michelle. You are on your own."

This morning I was able to call my best friend and just break down in tears with her. I truly love her for that. I can be gross before her but still she loves me. Then I spent some time starting a new Bible study I found online for special needs parents. The title is "Autism's Hidden Blessings." It is for any special need. I just replace autism with fetal alcohol syndrome. I honestly have just been able to get through the introduction so far and I have literally crumbled. Have you ever just been desperate for something. I've been desperate for help and hope with my girls. True hope. True hope only comes from God and Im telling you I've needed it like the desert needs the rain. As I limped before my heavenly father this morning I found tremendous comfort in this special needs mother's kinship. Then there was one tiny little sentence that gripped me that this mother wrote after describing one of her most challenging moments as a special needs mama. "God will help me." As I read it the dam broke. So simple I know, but profound. As I read it the lies were hushed. The truth poured in.

"Michelle you are the best friend you can be. Those who are with you now in the hard stuff, in the mess, in your need, are your true friends. That is true intimacy. Michelle you will not stay in the desert. The rain always comes. It is a journey. I am with you in Target, at the dinner table, at soccer games, when you are drained and weary. There is a harvest. The promised land awaits.

I am clinging to this verse today and to the promise that my God indeed will help me:

"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."Isaiah 58:11

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Safe B.E.T.

Dear Ones:

I have had so many blog post rolling around in my head lately but I have had to weigh them first. I have needed to ask myself, would what I am writing really bring God's glory. Sometimes the answer has been no, and so I have kept my fingers from the keys.

I am not talking about not being authentic or transparent. I have to say the times that I have been just that really have been the times that I believe God has used what I have written the most. I guess it boils down to motive. I really had to weigh why I wanted to write something. Honestly restraint is difficult sometimes especially where fragile emotions are concerned isn't it? So for now those blog post will be allowed to simmer and we will see if in time they ever come to boil.

The other day though, the Lord ministered so greatly to me. Those are the times I just want to shout and can not be silenced. This is not the first time nor will it be the last, I am sure, I will mention Pastor Steven Furtick. He's kinda like my guy version of Beth Moore. I mean he is real and authentic but man can he use the word in such a way that once you hear how he communicates it to you, you are forever changed.

It was through a little sermon clip of his in which he was talking about Shadrach, Messhach and Abendego as they were facing the fiery furnace.  I am sure many of us have read this passage or heard it preached about on many occasions but this was one of those times when it just fit life circumstances perfectly and it simply came alive in my spirit.

The very morning  before I watched it I had a deep conversation with my son about things in life that feel like a fiery furnace. Those things that seem like you will just burn up with either discouragement or frustration. You know those challenges that drain or weigh on you. The ones that don't even make sense. We all have them. Read how our subjects today responded when in one of these situations:

"Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego replied to him, "King Nebuchadnezzer, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Daniel 3 16-18

Basically as Pastor Furtick described "their faith was not based on God's response but on His character."

Here are some quotes I have to share and don't ever want to forget:

"Old school faith BELIEVES that God CAN, and EXPECTS that he WILL, but TRUSTS him even if He doesn't. " "Our God is able, competent, faithful and willing, but even if He doesn't step in we are still stepping out in faith. " "Stop searching for a faith that will keep you from the fire and start embracing the God who is with you in the fire."

So I wanted to remember this kind of faith with this acronym B.E.T.

I want to always Believe my God can, fully Expecting that He will, but even if He does not,  I want to always Trust His character. He will "always be my God even if He doesn't. Just fill in your own blanks, for what you believe and expect.

The only thing I did not like about the acronym was the word bet. Like trusting God is a gamble or a risk. The truth is trusting God is the only safe bet in this life.

Safe bet is defined by Websters as "A bet that is certain to succeed. A thing which confidence can be placed regarding a future outcome."

I don't know about you but I am willing to take those odds. You can B.E.T on it!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Big Sister Miracles

Dear Ones:

It has been a turbulent past couple of days. Thursday morning started out like any other day. Both the girls had therapy appointments on Thursday afternoon. I was in the room with Mercy during her occupational therapy visit and Big Sister was in the pool with her therapist for physical therapy. During her therapy, Big Sister did a flip under water and as she was coming up she gulped and sucked in water. She came up choking and then she threw up. She then became very lethargic. She quickly fell asleep but when we could not wake her we took her to the emergency room. She just got worse once we were there. Her vitals were crashing and the x-ray showed that she had water in her lungs which also had pool chemicals in her lungs causing inflammation and respiratory distress. She was not getting oxygen. They said if she did not improve she would have to be intubated (tube in her throat to help her breath.) It was decided to take her by ambulance to the PICU so she could be cared for there. Needless to say I was terrified. This normally jubilant and rambunctious little girl looked lifeless. I just sobbed as I saw her struggling to breath. The doctor called it a near drowning.

We asked for prayer through every avenue we could think of. I have to say I witnessed a miracle before my eyes because within 24 hours My sweet girl was off of oxygen and quickly recovering. We are home now but there is still a risk for infection like pneumonia within the next 4 to 5 days. So we are staying away from crowds for now with her weakened immune system.

For all of you who prayed her healing through, I from the bottom of my heart, sincerely thank you. My gratitude to you who lifted her up and to My God who healed her up is massive!

I also have to thank all the concerned family and friends who sent text messages or called us. We felt loved.

And to Andrea, thank you for coming in the middle of the night to sit with a scared Mama. Just your lovely presence alone was calming. You fed my body and my soul.

Thank you to the families who have prepared meals for our herd. We have felt nurtured.

To Bethany, thank you for sitting in the room with us for hours waiting for discharge and then taking us home.

Finally, another miracle to share. One I have been longing to share with you. Since Big Sister is still a foster child. All her treatment had to be approved by DSS and her case worker was notified of what was going on. The next day her case worker came to the hospital to visit Big Sister. She at that time gave me an envelope with adoption paperwork inside of it and informed me that on April 3rd the judge finally came to a decision and upheld the termination of parental rights. We have been praying for over 7 months for this answer to prayer. Oh the joy that flooded my spirit. What this means is we have until May 3rd to see if there will be a third and final appeal. If not then we can move forward with her adoption.

I just can not praise God enough. The joy always, always comes!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Breakthroughs to Celebrate

Good Morning Dear Ones:

Can I just say how true it is, that to the degree something is difficult, that the hope and blessing that Jesus gives is that much more. Don't you just love a relational heavenly father who cares about the details in your life. Who created you and knows you better than you know yourself?

I am still basking in my Jesus flood if you can't tell. The girls and I have started our last two mornings pumping "How He Loves in itunes." All I can say is when Jesus speaks and you really get what He is telling you and walk in obedience to what He speaks...oh the joy and peace. I love it!! That without not even 1 circumstance even changing. Perspective is HUGE. I am still praising him.

I also wanted to fill you in on my physical journey to forty and fabulous. I tell you this was another frustrating area for me as I got past 35. My metabolism just was not what it used to be but my eating stayed the same. I exercised 6 days a week and progress eluded me. I was starting to resign to the fact that I was just older and that was how it was. Weight watchers was a God send to me. It enabled me to take control of my food intake. It is kind of like finances. If you don't keep track of your spending then it can really get away from you and it is so easy to overspend. Weight Watchers helped me realize what a portion size or serving actually is. I am at a place right now where I am so satisfied with my results and I feel equipped to maintain them. I eat the foods that I enjoy eating like waffles, pancakes, pizza, ice cream you name it. Now I just eat them in calculated portions. I also eat way more fruit than I have ever eaten because you got to love zero point values.

Eric has also had success and he continues to move forward on his journey to fitness.

I work out 5 days a week now and my goal is to build lean muscle mass. More muscle means a higher metabolism and more food you can eat. The meals have been family friendly and even the boys have found some new favorites.

I didn't have tons to lose but all my clothes had reached a point of uncomfortable tightness. I refused to buy the next size up. I was determined to do what I could to not let myself go to the best of my ability.

All of this to say I am super pleased with myself. Look out 40 here I come!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Turning Back To Praise

Good Morning Dear Ones:

I told you when God spoke to me that I would jump at the chance to turn back and praise His glorious name. Sometimes when He speaks it is like a gentle breeze, and others, well... it's more like hurricane force winds.

Last night it was just like the song "How He Loves." You know the part, "loves like a hurricane, I am a tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy." I became totally aware of the next line too, "When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful you are and and how great your affections are for me."

As I sit here and type I am still stunned and amazed. It all came at me full force, last night at Bible study. It was our third session of Beth Moore's study on James. The session literally took my breath away. I sat in that church sanctuary and I think my jaw could have plainly gaped open. I mean it was like session three was written for just for me, Michelle, for this exact moment in time, for my story right now. I know it was probably applicable to every person in that room last night but that is exactly how individual and personal it felt to me.

The topic was on joy and anguish. It hit me right between the eyes. The past few months I can accurately describe my emotional state as experiencing anguish. Beth defined it as mental distress. Some examples were when you have pain plus anxiety or suffering plus dread or hurt plus harassment.  I could check yes to all three examples.

The biggest comfort to me was when Beth described how anguish and joy, both intense emotions, can coexist, trade places and my personal favorite morph into joy. When your nightmare becomes your dream. When God's redeeming power is majestically displayed. When your pain displays your purpose and passion. Your deliverance becomes a birth. She described how mental anguish is like childbirth. The Hebrew definition was "to turn in a circle, twist, revolve, to writhe, travail (in childbirth), bear a child...The main idea is that of writhing in pain, which is particularly associated with childbirth."

I having physically given birth four times and can relate to that incredible pain, but also to the incredible relief and joy that comes once the birth has taken place. The miracle of the new life. The delight of the gift that came with the birth. Pure excitement rises up in me when I recall those memories. And you know what came to mind, was my girls. My body did not carry them but my heart has. Those girls entering our home and hearts has not been without labor. They have brought birth pains, but you know what, they have also brought with those pains... incredible joy. Yes the two can coexist. Yes they can trade places, but what I am most stirred up about is how my God is going to convert and change all the anguish for joy. No one is going to ever be able to tell me I did not give birth to my precious chocolattes. Pure natural, no epidural births.

Pressing in once again has proved fruitful and bountiful. Personal and uplifting. I am rejuvenated and encouraged. Motivated and expectant. Thank you to those who have left me comments, sent e mails and text messages. Above all for your invaluable prayers. I am grateful. Be sure to see the small post after this one if you haven't already it has some recent news on Big Sister.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Good News I think

Dear Ones:

Today we had our first home visit with our new case worker. She was very nice so we were thrilled about that. And then she told us some news, and I think it is good. She told us that Big Sister will actually be transferring to an adoption worker this Friday. This will be the same adoption worker we had for Mercy. We also loved her. The weird thing is it is because regular case workers are overloaded so she actually isn't processing to adoption. She can't until the judge makes a decision on the 2nd appeal. But the good news is supervisors approved this move because they believe her case will eventually move in this direction all though they always warn you that anything can happen. So I guess that this was our first and last home visit with her.

It's weird because it is something, but not really a celebration...yet.

Please Dear Ones keep praying!

Monday, March 19, 2012

An Odd Place is a Good Place To Be

Dear Ones:

I'm at a really odd place right now. I feel very fragile or weak. Maybe thats a good place to be. I just read this scripture:

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

God has no greater canvas to work with then. I do want to share How he loved on me this past Sunday. It started with worship. Wouldn't you know one of the songs was "Blessed be your Name." The song from the end of my last post. And then One of my favorites. "Oh How He Loves." Then the whole sermon was on God's Love. Then to top it off some of the illustrations were about adoption. Needless to say I think God was trying to tell me something.

I've been so discouraged and lonely lately. Mad at circumstances. Soooo incredibly frustrated with things I can't control or change or figure out. Feeling like a failure as a Mom. Sad that a constant challenging part of my life is so foreign to practically everyone around me. Hating myself basically & thinking how could God love me when I am having such a hard time and reacting poorly none the less.

You know what,  honestly adoption isn't anything like I imagined it would be. I thought my motherhood joy and love would just expand except it would include girls this time and they would simply be a different color. I imagined them falling right in line with our boys. That just hasn't been the case when dealing with little ones with brain damage. I'll be honest I have lost all confidence in myself. I am weak.

In my bible study this week there are some verses that will totally cause a person in a dark spot to wrestle. Here it is:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because  you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything." James 1:2-5

Beth Moore pointed out that to consider is a "mental exercise not an emotion" also that "left alone, trials are robbers or takers and they steal from you. In Christ  they're commanded to give goods to us if we're ready to receive them." The testing of our faith produces perseverance ~ holding tight to Jesus.

So this is the question I am left with:

"What are you going to do with all your going through?" There is no other option but to turn to the one who is with me. I'm going to continue to do what the next verse says:

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him." James 1:5

So, when I get another note home from school like the one I got today, that went on about Big Sisters defiance... then I am going to ask God.
When Mercy smears her feces all over the place, when the girls won't eat. When they won't potty train.When they are consistently disobedient, can't sleep, impulsive, embarrassing, and beyond my parenting skills I am just going to keep on asking him for wisdom. I am also going to keep on asking him to increase my faith and destroy my disbelief.  Because as the next verses say:

"But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he should receive anything from the Lord; He is a double minded man unstable in all he does." James 6-8

As Beth said so beautifully here "Faith receives more than it asks and doubt loses more than it disbelieves."

I'm going to be genuine along the way, but I believe somehow, someway my God is going to work all of this together for good.  I am going to find treasure in the trial.

I know someone else who was adopted. Someone else who was a mess. Someone else who messed up too many times to even keep track of. Someone else in need of good parenting. That someone was me. I am so thankful for my heavenly fathers love. His pure, unconditional, faithful, agape love. That love that NEVER gives up on me even when I am not even likable. He adopted me. What does that mean? It means he chose me on purpose to be his child. Just like I choose my girls... I know that I know that these current trials are going to "morph into gifts."

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