Saturday, June 15, 2013

heart break and cruelty

Eleven years ago the month of June looked something like this...
Thursday, June 6--dad died
Sunday, June 9--buried him
Sunday, June 16--Father's Day
Sunday, June 23--returned to Baltimore to a cruelty I did not realize could exist in a pastor who not only relished in my heartbreak and misery, but stabbed a knife in the wound, twisted and poured in salt (in front of about 15 ppl)

This year the dates line up exactly as they did 11 years ago with days of the week corresponding.

I tried not to mention it this year.  It has been 11 years.  It should not hurt so much.

 But it does...and for some reason, this year what keeps going through my mind is what happened when I got back to MD.  Usually my sub-conscience focuses on the loss itself, but this year it is that cruelty that keeps coming back.   I dont understand how anyone could revel in someone else's misery, esp when that person is a professed Christian. I am not talking about a weak moment when our flesh wins and then we realize or we are battling it.  I am talking about consistent, every day enjoying the fact that a fellow Christian is suffering a life altering heartache and doing your best to make it worse.

I wonder why this is what comes back to me this year.  I try not to think much about Baltimore except to remember the ppl who made it special and who helped me survive the cruelty and the heartache.  God knew how much I needed them.  He has always taken care of me through the storms.

So, why is this year different?  Why am I remembering with clarity the heart-wrenching pain of cruelty?  Haven't I forgiven and moved on?

Maybe it is so I will be sensitive to the words I say to others...or maybe I remember because of recent heartache.  Baltimore broke my spirit in so many ways.  Lately I have been broken again.  The last few years have been difficult and challenging in so many ways, yet I would not trade them for anything.  God has brought me so far and changed me so much.  He continues to prove Himself in my life and to change me into the woman He is calling me to be.

At least now when I remember it is only with sadness and not with the anger and hatred that once came with thinking about Baltimore.  I have not had that for many years now and maybe God needed to remind me that forgiveness is possible in the face of great heartache and cruelty; that hatred can be turned to something good; and that even when things seem horrific, God never lets us down and gives us encouragement and strength along the way.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Close to Home

Not surprisingly, Sam is making me watch 5th Quarter yet again. Before the movie starts she always gets up to bring me the box of tissues b/c there is no doubt I will have tears streaming down my face in the first 15 minutes.

In this heart wrenching movie a family is shattered when their 15 year old son/brother is killed in a car wreck.  As I watch this family struggle with their grief and faith I think back to the tragedies in my life; the tragedies and the miracles.  There are so many ppl I know who have been in accidents or had illnesses that should have taken their lives; yet they lived in spite of the the odds. But then there are others who did not come through those same type of accidents/illnesses or simple procedures that rarely result in death.  It makes no sense, but one thing that keeps me through it all is seeing God work in and through the storms; seeing families completely entrusting their cancerous 2 year old to Him--praising Him no matter what--or relying on Him for strength and peace.

This movie specifically reminds me of my first baby sitting job.  The child was 3-5, I was 11-13.  I remember his dad having to drive me home afterward.  I hung out with him and played for the evening.  His dad was my Sunday school teacher my early high school years.  I sometimes stopped by to visit them on  my walks around town. I grew up, went to college; my dad left that church to pastor another and we lost touch.

When I was 24, 8 months after my father died, my mom called to tell me this child who was my first babysitting job was in a car accident with his cousin (also a family i was close to).  Just that quick, at 16, his life was over.  This movie makes me think of him, of his family shattered by his death, the community impacted by it and more so by his life for Christ before his death.  My heart breaks for families like this.  Loss is never easy, but the life of a child...

Then I think of God, who not only lost his child in a most unimaginable way, but sacrificed him...for us, out of His love for us.  WOW!

Then I go to the scene of the movie where Jon (one of the brothers) is on the plane after the funeral.  I feel his pain and he sits and looks at his brothers face on the program.  I remember sitting on the plane, flying home when my father died.  I was in shock.  I wrote poem after poem.  And then, after being home for a couple weeks, I flew back to Baltimore empty, broken, angry.  Each smiling face or disgruntled comment made me want to ask "Is that really important? In the grand scheme of things, does that really matter?"  When ppl looked at me I wanted to know "Can you see how broken I am?  Do you know how my mom is going to get through this? my brother? me?"

 I imagine those same things going through Jon's mind as he returns to life at college.  I understand his questioning, his not wanting to do anything.  I also understand his turn around, realizing it is not honoring your loved one to give up; nor does it honor Christ.  Life happens, our hearts break, our world falls apart, but we don't have to.  God can give the strength to get through it, to persevere and grow.  It would have been so easy to shut down and shut everyone out, but He was my reason for getting up and continuing.

 He still is my sole reason for living.  Without Him, life would be pointless.  He gives me purpose, fills me when I am empty, lets me cry when I am broken, shares my joy, strengthens me, love me, loves through me, forgives me and shows me how to forgive.  Each trial and joy in my life has taught me another aspect of His character.  I don't always like life's situations and I almost never understand them, but I know that I am not facing them alone.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

As the holiday season busyness sets in and the year begins to wind down I look at what has happened throughout this year.  I started the year off with one girl who had been with me since March of last year and another who moved in the end of Jan this year.  We went through many ups and downs and now, mid Nov, I  am sitting in my home alone.  The girl who lived with me a year and a half almost is with another family in neighboring city and the one who moved in in Jan went through a series of acute hospitalizations beginning in May until she ended up in a residential facility in Chattanooga, where she has been since Aug.

I never would have seen any of this coming and I can't really predict what will happen next.  I do know I have refused to take in any more kids full time while she is away b/c i want her to have a home to come back to and I want us to be able to work through any problems or issues when she comes home without me being distracted by caring for more than one child.  She gets to come home for Thanksgiving (which is 1 year from when we met); and we are both excited about that.  After that regular visitations should begin which should lead to her returning home in the next few months.

Going into foster care has been one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences in my life.  I never would have dreamed the situations we have been through in a million years, but I would not trade what I have learned about myself, others and more importantly God through these experiences.  He is giving me a strength and confidence through it that have helped me in other areas of life as well as a compassion and love that comes only from him.

Other changes throughout the year had to do with life and jobs.  Going back to part time at GP at the beginning of the year, I made an active decision not to take on another consistent job.  I worked in places that would allow me flexibility for the girls and the summer off, which had I not done, i would have lost the job anyway when life with the girls got so crazy.  I would not have been able to keep a non flexible job, so it was def for the best.

As we close out the year, our church is moving.  We will begin the new year in a different location which means we are ending the year in craziness trying to make that happen as smoothly as possible.  There are so many little things to consider and do, so many ways to try and simplify, but in the end it will all be worth it.  We will be in our new location, at our new time and all our hard work to make it happen will pay off.  There is a peace about the move and we are excited to see how God is going to use this move for His glory.

These are only the major events and changes.  There have been so many and so many ups and downs to accompany them.  I try to sort them all, learn from them, grow from them, but sometimes I just let them overwhelm me.  Thankfully God is in charge and has control of the situation.  I just have to remember that and quit trying to be in charge.

Holidays are approaching and I have been trying to figure out how to do everything and see everyone.  It just isn't possible, esp with added life events that are not usually factors, so I have to trust that just b/c I don't get to see everyone when I want or for how long I want they know I love them and care about them, but sometimes life does not work the way we want it to. [I have yet to figure out how to be in 3 places at once (and believe me, I have tried). I am pretty sure that is b/c 3 of me would be a disaster--one is enough of a handful. :~}]

Friday, June 29, 2012

the test continues

Sometimes I hate being right, especially when being right means complete upheaval and difficulty. Several months ago I predicted my life would flip upside down and I am not being disappointed, but through it all my renewed confidence stands strong.  It is an interesting feeling to be completely emotionally exhausted and heartbroken while having a peace and strength through it all.  This year is becoming a year of some of the most difficult decisions I have ever made.

One of those decisions includes saying goodbye to one of the girls in my home.  It has been over a year.  We have come through many things, but we are at a point where someone else may be able to continue the job God called me to begin.  It is time for someone else to step in for the next phase and take her to another level. I have asked to continue being a part of her life if possible.  I love her and want to see her grow.  Yet i know her time in my house is coming to an end.  I know this as clearly as I knew i was supposed to take her and the others who have lived in my house. (the girls do not yet know)

My other child is in the hospital again.  Unfortunately another prediction come true. I said when she came home last time if something did not change she would be back in 3 weeks and that is exactly what happened.  The first thing she asked her case worker was if I was kicking her out.  I can't imagine having to live with that being a constant fear (yet isnt that what i am doing to my other child?)  With her I feel this is the time to stand beside her and show her she is worth something.  She has been rejected from so many different ppl for so many various reasons. No one has ever stood by her.  There is not one person in her life who has been there for longer than a couple years.  At 15 I had many ppl in my life who had been there since birth.  I cant imagine what she must be feeling or how difficult life must be for her.

And still, the test goes on.  This is still not the end.  There is more to come in the next couple of months.  I am just not sure what it looks like yet.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Faith Testing Feelings

Several months ago i got a feeling something big was about to happen, something faith testing.  I could not determine if this thing would be good or bad, just faith testing.  Well I am beginning to believe Iam in the middle of it.  The past month and a half have been more than a little crazy, esp where the children are concerned.  I think something fairly big happened about every other day until last Sunday when one of my children ended up having to leave the house for a while to get help more than I can give.  She will be back tomorrow.  We have spoken every night and i was able to visit her today.  Maybe there will be some good in all this.  I think i am already seeing some good come from it. 

I believe this is part of my "faith testing."  Things have definitely been difficult the last several weeks and I have been at my wits end. Yet through it all, I am gaining a stronger confidence than I have ever had and I know I am doing  what I was called to do with these girls.  I dont know how long we will all be together, but for now we will just work through the difficulties that are being thrown at us from so many sides.

This is only part of what is going on.  I feel like my life is completely flipping upside down in so many ways.  Maybe b/c that is what happened 10 years ago when my father died; or maybe b/c i am seeing things in a different light.  I am realizing relationships are never what they seem; some are stronger, yet some are just a farce, while others are there, but with no time to really cultivate them. Maybe my feelings about relationships are involved in the faith testing. I dont know, I am rambling...

But I do know this: The test of faith is just beginning.  These girls and their struggles are only part of it.  There is more to come.  Again, not necessarily bad, but the testing of faith is difficult, even when it is a good thing. I guess that is why it is called a test.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Up in the Air

Ever feel like your entire life is up in the air?   It seems that is the story of my life right now.  I know some big, faith testing things are around the corner, but i have no clue what capacity they will present themselves.  (I also believe there are big changes coming for GP that will not necessarily be easy, but will be for the best and will help the church grow in many ways) The good thing about it is, for the most part, I am okay just to see what the future holds...

Thinking of my life being up in the air brings me to my girls.  Really, I have nothing to complain or worry about.  I have family and friends who will take care of me even if worst come to worse, but these girls...well they dont have that.  Both are in positions i can't even fathom. 

One has been adopted and given back more than once; (not for anything she has done, but b/c she did not fit a certain mold) and in all honesty, the system has completely done her a disservice resulting in her losing contact with her biological siblings.  The feelings of rejection she faces are completely understandable.  I would not want to go through the process again either.

The other is about to find out her parents rights are going to be terminated (she was supposed to find out monday, but circmstances put it off).  She will lose all contact with her parents, crushing the hope she has of going home.  Though I know this is the right thing for her, she will not understand, and i do not relish seeing her heart broken.

While I can know and understand that even though I feel my life is in the air, really it is completely taken care of by God, my girls do not have that faith and understanding.  They do not have the peace that comes with knowing that even though nothing else seems to be going right, you are sitting in the comforting arms of Christ and are not facing it alone.  One only accepted Christ a month ago and the other has no clue.  It is hard enough for me, who has been a Christ follower most of my life, to let go, but a child who trusts no one (for good reason) and has been abandoned and let down every time she turned around...

My prayer is to know how to show them, support them and love them through all this.  I want to walk along side them for this season of life, being a godly example and a loving parental figure.  I want them to know and feel God's unending love and to see their worth through His eyes--to realize that even though life may be up in the air, they are not alone and there is something amazing waiting for them.

Monday, February 20, 2012


God never ceases to amaze me!  I go back and forth (as I am sure most parents do) about whether or not I am doing the right thing by "my" kids, but i know God put them here for a reason. (we'll get back to this in a moment)

So today we had baptism.  One of the ladies who was baptized has been in and out of our (the church) lives for the past few years.  Her story and that of her husband who attends with her and their children is an amazing one of God's awesomeness. One of the great things about baptism is that allows for a completely evangelistic service.

One of my friends, who redidicated his life this past summer, decided to be baptized after witnessing the other celebrations and listening to the sermon.  I was able to come in for that portion of the service and sit with my great friend as she watched her husband show the church his recommitment to our Lord and Savior.  Then, of course, i had to leave to be ready for service to end. 

As the service let out one of my friends comes to tell me my oldest is talking with the pastor in the back.  About 5 minutes later, she and one of her friends come up to me to tell me she got saved!  She turned her life over to Christ!  How AWESOME is that!?!

I of course did what all parents do, hugged her tightly and promptly went  to tell my friends and burst into tears.  This is the reason God put them they will know His great love and will see first hand that love in others.  I am just thankful He is allowing me t be a part of it.

Now, I havent asked all the questions yet b/c a friend came home with her and we have all just been hanging out.  I know she understands the decision she made b/c she was talking with Jason and he is very good about explaining and very intentional about being sure the person he is speaking with fully comprehends what is taking place.  Not to say we wont have that conversation, b/c we will, but my heart is at peace b/c she has been talking with ppl I know and trust when it comes to spiritual issues like this.

All this to say God is moving (as always) and is allowing me to see that movement.  He is encouraging me and using me though I make so thorough a mess.  He is using Grace Park to change the lives of the girls who have been in and out of my home. And he is using those girls to change me.