Thursday, December 22, 2016

Shameless Authenticity From A Special Needs Mom

Hello Dear Ones:

Over the course of my life what has always ministered to me most is authenticity. People who are willing to risk laying themselves bare before others. Putting away the masks that make us look good, for the sake of looking like we have it all together. People like this have always brought me so much comfort. Like a warm cozy blanket on a cold day, authenticity can envelope you and let you know you are not alone in this world. That is my hope as I reveal a messy part about me today.

Do you know the quote by Eric Liddell "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." That is how I feel when I write. Especially when I share my true vulnerable authentic self. So today as I sit at my keyboard I take that risk to be shamelessly authentic again.

Last night as my husband and I laid in bed together I asked him a question. Out of the prayers you have been praying, what prayer would you like to wake up to tomorrow and have it answered? He blew me away with his answers. He had BIG faith filled prayers that made me feel a little ashamed that I didn't have that kind of big faith. I feel more comfortable with the prayers that there is a possibility that they will actually happen. That somehow I can actually rely on myself and work it out. So impressive right? But I am being transparent here.

At the top of my prayer list is a struggle I have been wrestling with for far too long and relying on myself has proven over and over again to fall flat. As I opened up about what has been weighing me down tears streamed down both sides of my face soaking my pillow.

Years ago a seed was planted in my heart to adopt, and that seed sprouted and blossomed into reality. I yearned to be a mother to someone who needed a mother. Motherhood was a part of my calling that I felt the absolute most passion for and actually felt good at most of the time. God had created me to be a Mom. So the dream was now a reality six times over with four sons and two daughters.

Our adopted blessings didn't have a birth mom that took care of them from the moment of conception. They were in fact permanently damaged by drugs and alcohol and now live with the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome. This permanent brain damage completely stripped away every single parenting tool that worked so well with our boys. The day in and day out battle with these hidden disabilities can make you discouraged at least and feeling utterly hopeless at worst.

Lately I have been in the worst case scenario with one daughter in particular. It started going down hill after a $16,000 plumbing disaster in October that is still in the process of repair as I sit here and type. She daily lies,  and is sneaky. I have been exhausted with it all. No time away seems to be enough to refill my mom gas tank. I find myself just wanting distance and then immersed with an overwhelming sense of guilt and failure. Didn't I desire this assignment? Didn't I pray for this? Didn't I once celebrate that this dream was no longer a dream but my reality? What has happened to me? And why do I even make this about me anyhow?

I often times think in my mind that so many others would do this assignment soooooo much better than me. Someone more kind, more patient, more equipped. Someone more trusting of Jesus and not so self reliant. I fear that her birth mother damaged her brain and I will end up damaging her emotions. Who would ever want to be raised by a Mom who makes it about her anyhow? That is the antithesis of what motherhood should be.

It's so very hard to feel like your doing a good job when everything you try to teach or instill doesn't stick. It's groundhog day almost every day. This may be part of why I have been frustrated but its not why my pillow was soaked last night. I just am not proud of the truth about me. I am not proud that this is even a struggle. Where is the Jesus in me? Where is the love that covers a multitude of sins and the lying down of my life for another? Where is the who cares what others think about me and my family but the as unto the Lord and that's all that matters part of me?

Yesterday I saw a video clip on FaceBook by Pastor Craig Groeschel and this is what he said:

"What's true about you now, doesn't have to be true about you later. His power is stronger than your past and His grace is stronger than any label."

So my tear soaked pillow was a cry for help. Please change my truth Lord Jesus. Please take away the label of bad Mother that I have embraced. Pastor Groeschel said to name the label something different. I remember years ago changing F.A.S (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) to F.A.S (Fulfilling Almighty's Story)  I think this writer needs to get back to that. But also to surrendering the authorship to the writer of my story and the writer of my daughters story. I don't get to write our story but I do get to write about how the true author designs it to happen. I choose today to drop the bad mother label and pick up the shamelessly authentic mother who doesn't quit label. The mother who fights not against but for the Fulfilling of Almighty's Story. As soon as I typed those words my body took a deep breath. Yes this is my true authentic self. My son Noah has a friend Ryan that posted these words on Instagram yesterday "Authentic air is just easy to breath." How true that is! So I inhale and exhale this authentic air and I breath in the hope that what is true about me now, won't be true about me later.

"Forget former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43: 18 & 19

Praise the Lamb who makes all things new!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Happy Two~ty~five

 This post is for my husband:

 I have this photo of the speed limit sign because it symbolizes a good memory in our family. When my oldest son, Elijah, was toddler we were out driving and he saw the speed limit sign and said "oh two~ty~five." But it also represents the number 25. Tomorrow we will celebrate being together for a quarter of a century as husband and wife. This is longer then we were apart before we met.

We don't have the typical love story. We met and got engaged on a whirlwind. Eighteen days after we met we were engaged and 2 months later we had vowed to love each other until death did us part. It started out more like I want to kill you!

We were in no way prepared for this commitment. We were two broken kids looking for the other to fill up our deep voids in our life. To be blunt our first three years of marriage were filled with horrible fights and ignorant misconstrued views and impossible expectations. It was Hell on earth to put it nicely.

Somehow God put good people and lessons in our life that taught us how to get along. How to not hate each other. To in fact become friends and best friends at that. Still progress is slow isn't it at times? Some hurts are so deep it requires surgery to heal. And when something doesn't heal it can get infected and infection can wreak such havoc.

For a very long time both of us were being consumed with nasty infections of the heart. Eric battled sexual addiction to medicate pain in his life. This was like bacteria to my heart infection of not trusting. I know in my husbands life he had heart wounds from before he even met me and bad habits were in place before we even were together. For me I never felt like I was anything special. This led to sooooo many years of desperation to find something or someone to make me special. I just wanted to be a princess for someone. But because I never was or rather I looked to anything and everything to make me feel this way, other than my heavenly father, lets just say trust issues became my middle name. I didn't trust men. I didn't trust God. It became my job to take care of me and I failed miserably.

All of this brokenness came to a head over the past two years. We moved to Charlotte and I was convinced that being in a great church, that I could trust in that, to fix my husband battles... right? Wrong. I am not saying that there isn't value in going to a great church, there is extreme value in it. It brings you closer to Jesus but it is not a substitute for Jesus. I hope that makes sense. I am pretty sure if we had not been in a great church that we would have disintegrated into complete family destruction.

We had to come to the point where the roots of our issues were faced and dealt with head on. Putting a band aid on a bullet wound just wasn't working anymore.

I think most people plan big trips or celebrations to celebrate their 25th but we had to invest in us in order to have a 25th. We actually went away to intense counseling for two weeks. This involved 6-8 hours of counseling a day individually the first week and the same together for the second. God showed up in undeniable ways. We did the hard work of getting down deep to those roots that was the source of our heart infections. I was able to move from bitterness to compassion with Eric in his struggle. One phrase I will never forget is pain seeks pleasure and my husband was in a whole lot of pain. And for me personally I realized I can not go on mistrusting God and trying to take care of myself. I. Am. Not. A. Good. Savior. I am learning to trust him more and more. As Lysa TerKeurst says, "God is good and God is good at being God."

I thank God for helping me re focus on who the real enemy is in my marriage. I thank him for his faithfulness to never leave or forsake two broken kids. I thank him for his grace and mercy and redemption. To give us all those things and help us to give it to each other.

I know this is so untypical for an anniversary post. I guess I look at it as more of a victory post. Eric my love we have been in the trenches together and we are still standing, so to God be the glory. Now may the next two~ty~five years together be such a throat punch to the devil. These two broken vessels will continue to make progress! We will live loved! First and foremost by the lover of our souls and then for each other.

Thank you Eric for not giving up! Thank you for being teachable. It always has been and remains one of your greatest strengths. Thank you for being more than a conqueror with me. Ours has been a messy love but this vessel promises to keep connected to Jesus and to allow his hand to make every mess into a message. Happy Two~ty~five my love and next year let's renew our vows to each other and go swim with some pigs and make more good memories together to add to the speed limit signs of this life we have together!
















photo credit: Shot Up via photopin (license)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Pain and Purpose

Hi Dear Ones:


Sometimes you cry so much in a day that your eyes look like baboon butts. Today has been one of those days for me. Have you ever been so low that it took significant effort just to attempt getting up? I didn't even want to go to church tonight. I mean for one, my eyes looked like the provided picture, but my broken heart made my eyes not seem so bad.

My sweet Zion encouraged or rather talked me into scraping myself off my soaked pillow and off to church tonight.  Pastor Larry Brey was our speaker. He talked about how God made us and declared us good but so often we call our soil bad don't we?

He spoke about The Path, or what others do to you.  You can have paths worn out in your life by people and often times by those who are supposed to be looking out for you. Pastor Brey said "The pain of the path will drive our decisions. Fear and anxiety are just emotional pacing. If all you have is the pain of the path you never see the purpose."

I have had the pain of betrayal in my marriage so huge in my minds frame and to be honest with you the mention of there being any purpose in this pain has stirred so much anger in me. I have not wanted to find purpose in it. I have wanted to run so far away from it because I don't want to feel this painful path. I don't understand it. And the sting is inexplicably tender and constant. It has changed who I am and my gut tells me I was made for more than this. But maybe that is where the purpose comes in.  I have just been so completely terrified to let go and trust God to help me find the purpose. I mean hasn't he allowed this pain to go on for almost 25 years now? But something tonight as I sat in that church said if I never let go and trust and try to find the purpose in this mess then I am going to be worn and beat down forever.

Then came The Rocks, This is what you do to yourself. This is what is below the surface in your soil. The bitterness. L.B. said if you don't do something with the rocks they become weapons for you to throw at other people. You decide to have rocks of resentment or stones of celebration. In other words: Take your rocks and make a pile of them so they can be a memorial of God's faithfulness instead. THIS is what I want! This is the ground I need to work for me and mine. And trust me it is going to take some work.

Finally there was The Thorns,  These are the things we were never designed to deal with like sin. These things are outside our authority. But Jesus wore a crown of thorns when he died for our sins.

My life has some worn out paths and sweet Jesus I ask you right now to help me find the purpose. How will others come to you because of this pain? Give me the faith frame to see it. As Pastor Steven has said. Faith may not guarantee your outcome but it can transform your outlook. So do it Jesus. Open my eyes. Show me your purpose. My life is also full of some nasty rocks. Help me do the ground work. Help me heal so I don't hurt others. And the Thorns, thank you for taking them, and help me be as you designed me to be.

I needed you to speak to me so desperately tonight Lord Jesus. Thank you
for letting me hear.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Do The Hard Work

Hi Dear Ones:

I am here today in a really really good space. But I tell you it has not come easy. This past year has been so rough. I felt so broken that I wondered if I would ever repair.

Big things came at me hard this past year. My marriage went in a tailspin and I took on the role of homeschooling my special needs daughters.

Honestly as the marriage battle came at me I just wanted to throw up my hands and declare that's it. I am out! I reluctantly started counseling with no desire to even try any more and no hope that it was worth the time or the money. As time went on I began to think this is my last ditch effort to love my husband again but it has become so evident that where I really needed to start was with loving myself.  Counseling is hard work.

Pastor spoke such an amazing word this past weekend titled "It Is What It Is But It's Not What It Seems." Part of his functional faith series. He talked about not living in denial or despair when it comes to your faith. "Both are fatal to faith."

He talked about your inner narrator. Mine has been so self deprecating and endlessly self degrading for as long as I can remember. As Pastor said, you become what you believe, and I am so over hating myself.

I fully believe the enemy wanted to destroy me and my marriage and my family this year and he came excruciatingly close. But you know what? It wasn't what it seemed. What was hideously broken is starting to heal. What had me bound is being set free. What was meant for evil God is without a doubt going to use for my good, and I would even dare to say for the good of others. Nothing will be wasted.

I am seeing myself in a new frame. The frame that God sees me in. A frame of beauty, love and purpose. The frame of Grace.

Life can be so incredibly messy but I want to encourage you if your in a tough spot or season to do the hard work. Go to counseling, get accountability partners, pray, cry, journal, listen to sermons. Do whatever it takes because the freedom and healing is worth it.

Tell the truth.... you don't have to live in denial. Face the facts. It is not easy. It is sometimes downright gut wrenching. But grace is beautiful. God's faithfulness is mind blowing. It is freeing.

The hard stuff for me it's not over but I have hope. And I even have something I could not even fathom when all the crap hit the fan. I have a dream. I wrote it down in my journal today and a spark of joy and excitement lit inside of me. I am not brave enough to share it with you yet. But I penned it because faith tells me this seed may just be an amazing tree someday.




Sunday, April 17, 2016

Reframe

Hi Dear Ones:

I know it has been a while since I have been around. I have been doing some hard faith work. This past year I would have to say has been one of my most testing years. But with Jesus I am making imperfect progress. I think I have even been embarrassed to blog about things because it's just been so hard. I thought I should be stronger. What would people think of me if they knew the struggle? But my husband reminded me of something the other day. He said "Who do you most connect with or get the most from? And its from the real and vulnerable people in life who risk sharing their struggles.

So once again I chose to uncover my struggle process. Honestly I've felt so broken that my faith has felt broken. Pastor Furtick has been talking about Functional Faith the past two weeks at church and its been really encouraging and eye opening.

I get tripped up time and time again on outcome rather than my outlook. How things turn out or have turned out is what I have based the strength or success of my faith on. Pastor reminded me that faith won't always change the outcome but it can change my outlook. He also said that doubt isn't the opposite of faith but rather it is certainty and having it all figured out. This is like sandpaper against my emotions and personality. I want to have it all figured out when it comes to life. But this makes faith really self serving. And pastor reminded me that the objective of faith isn't my preferences but it is for something beyond me.

I have some life situations right now where my focus has been almost entirely framed on the frustration, rather than God's faithfulness and I have been so paralyzed from moving on from the frustration because of it.

 Truthfully I don't know why certain situations turned out in my life the way that they have but I tell you today that I will no longer believe that because my preference wasn't the outcome that my faith didn't work. And I am asking God to help me fixate on his faithfulness. That my frame of mind will be locked in on that.

It's not easy. Progress always comes with the hiss of opposition doesn't it? But my faith is going to follow my focus and I want freedom and victory from all the hurt and frustration. So I must hush that nasty hiss. I must reframe!

photo credit: The Moment It Clicks - 17/365 via photopin (license)




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