3 Hours = 1 Less

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This morning I have been sitting here reflecting on yesterday where I attended an amazing event that seeks to pair children seeking their forever home and waiting families. It was amazing to see all the wonderful kiddos enjoying themselves, the many volunteers with hearts overflowing with love for them and above all the connections being made between families and waiting kiddos.

It was 3 short hours but 3 hours can change a life. It can create family. It can give a child a sense of belonging, of peace and joy. It can provide a future for a child. It can keep siblings together. It can give hope. I saw this for myself in so many children’s faces, but the teens, that is where the hope seems to get lost, even in the middle of an event that was created to give them a chance at family and an opportunity to connect. My heart ached heavily for them. One young man had a t-shirt that simply said “I’m looking for my forever family, is it you?” Not yet a teen, but no longer a small child, he had made a way to try and connect with someone who will love him unconditionally.

I had prayed several days prior and meditated on God’s word and direction for me at this event. We have been in the process of preparing to adopt from foster care for the second time and for the past 8 months we have been focused on younger children and special needs children. Three days prior to the event God changed my heart in MAJOR ways. Not only did teens become our focus, but teen boys!  Like most, I was afraid of adopting a teen, especially a teen boy. We have heard all the stories of how difficult teens can be and we lived through a particularly tough adoption of a tween boy many years ago. To say I was afraid may have been an understatement but then God said  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6.  In an instant my heart softened and the fear was gone. I was able to embrace where my husband and I are being led because I know wherever I go HE GOES and He is asking us to give a teen boy a loving home.

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So I prayed. I prayed over the the 3 days prior. I asked the Lord to place teens in my path that I could speak to and show them His light. I ended up driving two teen boys to the event. At the event I spoke to several more and my heart broke when their tough exteriors said things like ” I’ve been in foster care for 8 years and I’m cool with it.” or “My sister got adopted fast but I’ve been waiting 6 years” or ” I’ve been in foster care 10 years but I don’t even care. It’s no big deal.”  These boys need and want love and so many people just pass them by. In my heart of hearts I wish I could change that for them, but all I can do is pray and advocate for them the best I can.

If you have a heart for adoption, please consider teen boys. Yes they are tough on the outside. Yes they come with issues, but so do the younger kiddos. Yes they might seem a little scary, but if God calls you to it He will not leave you to try to thrive on your own. He will stand with you. He will close gaps. He will soften hearts. He will overcome traumas and shame and guilt. He WILL redeem the life of teen boy through you.

But He can’t if you never step up to the door and open it for these sweet boys.

I feel blessed today. The time I spent with these boys is something I will never forget. It was beautiful. We had great conversation. They shared a little about themselves, but not much, except one young man. He opened up on a deeper level. He spent the entire event talking with me. He shared about himself and he took a chance on family. I know that was the hardest thing he has ever done. I know that he was unsure and scared of rejection. He shared the many rejections he has had in his young life. He put fear aside and decided it was worth a try, once again.  He chose to open a door and we are choosing to walk through it. We are going to give this young man a chance at family if his adoption worker feels we are a fit for him. I’m not even scared because I know this young man was put in my life by the One who created us both and He has this in His mighty hands.

Project Zero in Arkansas has a goal : 1 + 1 = 0   One child + one  family = zero children waiting.  Be willing to take a chance on these sweet boys. Be willing and open to love them and welcome them. We are hoping that we will be one of the families that gets to say “One Less”. One less waiting teen. One less waiting boy. One less child waiting for a forever home.

Psalm 68:5 says, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows, is God in his holy habitation.” God never turns away from children living as orphans and neither should we. Children and teens need not be living in an orphanage to be an an orphan. Every waiting child in foster care is an orphan.

James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” God says to actively pursue meeting the needs of children and teens living as orphans. Their needs are many: a family to love them, food to eat, clothing to wear, medical and psychological care. You can step into an active role in their lives in many different ways even if you are not called to adopt them.

Deuteronomy 14:29 says, “And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.”  If you are not called to adopt, then give. Give to meet their needs. Give your time. Give financially. Give.

Ask yourself today if you are one of those families. Pray and ask the Lord to show you where you fit into this goal and then reach out to them and let God take the lead. Contemplate His word and know that whether you are called to adopt or not, you are still called to do something for these wonderful children.

Dreams and Liminal Spaces | Waiting to Achieve

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In my soul of souls I am a dreamer. I have seen some come to fruition and others I still pursue. I believe our dreams are put in our souls by the One who can help us make them a reality. I have seen it happen many times in my own life. Dreams come true that otherwise would not have if not by the hands of God Himself. I love that I have dreams. I love that I can vividly visualize them as I seek to bring each small aspect together to reveal the bigger picture: the actualization of the dream!

I was a very active person before I got sick. I danced. I ran. I played volleyball. In high school I cheered. I loved movement, any kind of movement. I felt at home in a body hat moved. Maybe that is why, for several years now, I have not felt comfortable in my own skin; because the body that once moved has not in a very long time. Even though it longs to move and feel free it fights itself and and it tires easily now. It is no longer 27 but rather it is 47. It has deconditioned in the past 10 years of fighting MS and RA and whatever else has tried to invade it. Sometimes, it feels hopeless and I lose my drive to achieve my dreams. I question whether or not I will even be able to achieve them and I try to give up. I often try very hard to give up….but my soul will not let me.

I have a dream and I want to achieve it. Nothing can take that desire from me.

Keep on dreaming. Keep on going. Keep on striving. Do not give up. Life is not over yet. There is still so much more to achieve and many more moments to live. Today I am choosing to keep on dreaming and in that I will keep on trying. I will keep changing my eating habits to achieve my dream. I will keep on exercising as best my body will allow. I will keep learning and gaining wisdom. I will continue to put my trust in the One who put the dream in my heart because He is in the business of achievement. He redeems. He blesses. He heals. He opens doors. I just need to trust and patiently wait in the liminal spaces.

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A funny thing about liminal space, the waiting spaces of life, is that they can often feel empty. I have never been comfortable with empty space. It never made sense to me. I just had to fill it with things. Things I thought brought joy and peace. Things that I thought had worth. Before I knew it, the space was so full I had no space to move. I felt smothered.

Empty space now makes perfect sense. The places of waiting make sense. I need both in order to move! Movement  breathes life into my  body and liminal space breathes life into my soul.  Now I have to make the choice to be free in the space I am in. To free myself of clutter: emotionally, physically and spiritually. I need to de-clutter to move about freely and realize my dreams!!! I need to have that empty space where I can meet with Jesus, one on one, without distraction. A space where I can hear Him speak and allow Him to show me how to follow the dreams He has given me.

 

Basil, Lemon and Mint Infused Water

basil mint lemon waterI love basil. The smell. The taste. The health benefits. What’s not to love?  I planted a new basil plant this year and it’s already growing so fast that I am now getting creative with what I will do with it and I thought it might go great in some infused water! I was right!

This mixture of basil, lemon and sweet mint is a refreshing and delightful infused drink and the benefits are fantastic:

  1. Water is key to our health. Drinking more water enables my body to heal and continue to function. I am always looking for ways to keep drinking more and more water and infused water has been an awesome way to do that!
  2. Basil is a great anti-stress, anti-inflammatory and blood vessel protecting herb. All three are key in overcoming Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis and I like to utilize in many different ways. Are these benefits actually coming through in the infused water? I don’t know but it tastes great!!
  3. Lemon has vitamin C and strengthens my immune system. I like to use it in warm water in the morning and I nay water throughout the day. Plus you an beat the cleansing properties it has on your stomach!
  4. Sweet mint aids in digestion and often I ind it helps with nausea and my headaches. I usually drink it in my water all day long with my lemons!

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Whatever your reasons for infusing water, I hope you will give this a try. It’s fantastic!!

Acceptance Equals Change | Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis

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I have always been an active woman. I grew up running, playing volleyball and cheerleading. I loved to dance. I never sat still. I was always on the go until early 2000 when I suddenly got very ill.  The doctors were not sure what was going on and this began a long list of visit after visit to specialists. One said Fibromyalgia, another said Rheumatoid Arthritis, another said Lupus, another said its all in her head and eventually, in 2010 as I hobbled my way in on crutches to the Mayo Clinic, one said RRMS, Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. It made sense and I thought I finally was on my way to recovery after 10 long years of no answers and medications that never worked. I was wrong.

Being a military family, we PCS’d not long after my diagnosis. Once we moved the doctors wanted to start testing all over again. They just couldn’t accept the medical history I had handed them. I never received any treatment and got sicker and sicker and in 2012 I found myself in a wheelchair so weak that standing was almost out of the question. It was a miserable 6 months. Some family and friends were very supportive while others made jokes and told me to stop being crazy and get out of that chair.  It was during this time that I started looking into alternative ways to deal with this diseases and I started denying it. I felt if I ignored it and acted as if it didn’t exist, then I would be fine.

I began acupuncture which helped immensely. I changed my diet to a mostly raw diet and it helped even more. I started meditating and spending more time with God and I got better and better and eventually was back to walking and out of the wheelchair but I was still in denial. Over the next four years I had days of weakness and other odd symptoms that I blew off. I even started going to a Rheumatologist because I just knew it was something other than MS and was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and started on Methotrexate. I’ve never been sicker. I couldn’t tolerate it and I stopped the treatment and fell head first into a cycle of denial and research on how to fix a broken body that ended up even more broken from all the confusion and defeat.

Fast forward to today, and I truly mean this morning, as I sit here writing this it has set in. I need to accept what is.  I cannot change my lifestyle or my health or my spiritual walk if I do not look around and take a good account of what is and accept it. As a Christian I have always thought that if you accept it then you claim it so let’s don’t claim that!!! NO!  If you do not claim it then it does not become your battle and sometimes, God wants us in those battles to grow us and heal us!! David would not have defeated Goliath if he had not accepted that this is his battle and he will win it. David accepted his battle and walked into it with confidence and determination that came from pure faith in God. No fear. Full acceptance. Complete defeat!

Today I am beginning this new journey of Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis and I will  share what I learn along the way as I step back, accept what is and allow God to lead me to what will be.  MS is my Goliath but my faith is strong like David and this will be defeated!!

 

David and Goliath

1 Samuel 17: 26- 50

David, who was talking to the men standing around him, asked, “What’s in it for the man who kills that Philistine and gets rid of this ugly blot on Israel’s honor? Who does he think he is, anyway, this uncircumcised Philistine, taunting the armies of God-Alive?”

27 They told him what everyone was saying about what the king would do for the man who killed the Philistine.

28 Eliab, his older brother, heard David fraternizing with the men and lost his temper: “What are you doing here! Why aren’t you minding your own business, tending that scrawny flock of sheep? I know what you’re up to. You’ve come down here to see the sights, hoping for a ringside seat at a bloody battle!”

29-30 “What is it with you?” replied David. “All I did was ask a question.” Ignoring his brother, he turned to someone else, asked the same question, and got the same answer as before.

31 The things David was saying were picked up and reported to Saul. Saul sent for him.

32 “Master,” said David, “don’t give up hope. I’m ready to go and fight this Philistine.”

33 Saul answered David, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced—and he’s been at this fighting business since before you were born.”

34-37 David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it. Lion or bear, it made no difference—I killed it. And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God-Alive. God, who delivered me from the teeth of the lion and the claws of the bear, will deliver me from this Philistine.”

Saul said, “Go. And God help you!”

38-39 Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. David tried to walk but he could hardly budge.

David told Saul, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this.” And he took it all off.

40 Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath.

41-42 As the Philistine paced back and forth, his shield bearer in front of him, he noticed David. He took one look down on him and sneered—a mere youngster, apple-cheeked and peach-fuzzed.

43 The Philistine ridiculed David. “Am I a dog that you come after me with a stick?” And he cursed him by his gods.

44 “Come on,” said the Philistine. “I’ll make roadkill of you for the buzzards. I’ll turn you into a tasty morsel for the field mice.”

45-47 David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that Goddoesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God—he’s handing you to us on a platter!”

48-49 That roused the Philistine, and he started toward David. David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. David reached into his pocket for a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine hard in the forehead, embedding the stone deeply. The Philistine crashed, facedown in the dirt.

50 That’s how David beat the Philistine—with a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. No sword for David!

Making Tough Life Decisions

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God is in every detail of our lives. Every. Detail. He is even in the decisions that we make both big and small. Right now, my husband and I are facing a life changing decision. One that will literally change the dynamic of our lives. There are many pros and cons to the decision. We have been over them all in our heads. I have discussed my concerns and fears with my husband. I have waivered on my decision to says yes or no and he has graciously listened to me as I do. This was not in my life plan and if I am being honest, it scares me quite a bit. Fear has been infiltrating my soul for several months now and today it came full circle and landed me flat on my face at the feet of Jesus begging Him to show me the right decision.  This is what He gave me:

 

  1. The decision is for my husband and I to make. I cannot rely on what others think. Over the past few days I have been studying for a yin yoga training with a great organization called YogaFaith and in the readings I came across something that resonated deeply with our upcoming decision. Simply put she stated that we cannot put weight into the thoughts or judgement of others. She was speaking of following your calling in Christ, which is what my husband and I feel this is. So first of all, our decision must be made together with no emphasis on anything other than what God tells us to do.
  2. God sets the course of my journey, not me. I have been thinking all along that I have a choice. While I do have free-will, God has set my journey before me long before I came to this crossroad. Whether or not I stay straight on the path or take a hard left or right is up to me, but when I choose to move forward and stay within His design for my life I am trusting that His course is the best course. Just as the Israelites faced a swift change of course in Exodus, we are about to find that our lives are taking a change of course that is God led and therefore will only bring about His glory.
  3. Fear is a byproduct of pride. I have never thought of fear being a byproduct of pride but it makes sense now. When I fear I am assuming the role of conductor. I actually think I have control of my life, that I have things under control and that those many nights of sleepless planning are going to make a difference and the outcome will be exactly what I have determined it to be. That is pride. That is not understanding that God is the one in control and in ALL circumstances I am to come to Him(Phil 4:6) rather than to lose one more night of sleep to plan for tomorrow (Matt 6:34).
  4. When I am in the hard places, the places I am called, I am to be at peace. The choice we are making will bring a lot of hard work. It will be tiring. There will be times that sleep is lost and hearts will hurt. It is not an easy path. Care of another with severe disability takes its toll on all involved, yet God is a God of blessing and favor. He is a God that provides. He provides strength, courage and agape love. He will fight for us in every detail of care and need. All I am called to do is love (1 Cor 13:13) and be at peace ( Ex 14:14)
  5. Any decision made based upon God’s divine guidance will prosper. Doubt is not of the Lord and neither is fear. I believe God when He says He only has plans to prosper (Jer 29:11) us. Knowing this makes our choice an easy one, even if the future looks daunting, the truth is God has “plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” There is nothing I can take on in God’s name that will not prosper and be fulfilling.
  6. Silence truly is golden. Don’t get me wrong. I am not thinking this choice will be easy. I am not under a deceitful impression that once we make this decision that everything will be rosy and sweet. That there will be no bumps in the road or mountains to climb. I have learned that when those bumps come, when the tornadoes and hurricanes pounce on our home, that we are to be silent and let God be God. He will fight for us in these times. When there is a surgery needed, He will make the way and it will be successful. When there is a medical need, He will bring the right doctors and while we wait in the aggravating circumstances…we need to be silent and not complain.
  7. A little mustard seed is a mountain mover. Above all, a little faith goes a long way. (Matt 17:20). When God says move, mountains move. When healing is needed, God heals. (Psalm 147:3, Jer 17:14, Jer 30:17, Luke 5:17, Mark 5:34) It does not matter what doctors say. It does matter what therapists say. The great physician is the one who determines the future of each on of us and when He says rise up and walk….we walk. (John 5:8).

In making our decision it must be based on God’s promises and His word. God says not to fear. ( Isaiah 41:10)  God says not to worry. (Phil 4:6-7) God says to trust Him. (Prov 3:5)  God says not to complain. (Ex 14:14) God says faith can move mountains. (Matt 17:20) God says to be at peace with circumstances. (2 Thess 3:16) God says He has already gone before me and prepared the way. (Deut 31:8)  God says I can heal her. (Luke 8:48) God says don’t be prideful. (Prov 16:18) ] God says go into this with a joyful heart.(Prov 17:22)

God is always right.

So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Galatians 3:9

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

It looks as if we have our answer!

 

The Simpleton

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Keep it simple. That is my motto for life. It does not define my intelligence but it does define my actions. I choose simplicity because life is already complicated enough. I don’t feel the need to represent myself in big words and deep quotations. I do not feel the need to “act like” a guru. There are enough of those in this world. I just want to be simple and authentic.

Lately I find myself growing tired of the comparison game. I see other yoga instructors and often think “should I be like them”?  I see other yogis and think “Should I be doing poses like her?” I often feel like I fall short because I cannot pull off a certain pose like others can, or I feel my age has now caused me to fall behind the rest of the crowd. Oh how the devil loves a good comparison game. He usually wins by the way. I end up feeling defeated and once again I lose my drive to move forward.

I just need to keep it simple.

When I simplify the devil doesn’t have much room to play the comparison game with me. Simple poses work just as well as complicated poses. Often times they work better because we are not focused on the pose but rather the feeling, the breath and the presence of Jesus on our mats. Keeping it simple allows the light to shine through.

Simple words are just as profound as complicated words. Let’s face it. Most of us like simplicity. We like simple speech and we like to get to the point. I know I don’t have all day to listen to a long, drawn out, big worded,  look how deep I am speech….just get to the point. I can tell you in less than five minutes how God has profoundly changed my life without all the fluff. Keeping it simple allow God to fill in the empty space.

Yes. I am a simpleton and I like it that way. When I keep it simple God covers the complicated and, in all honesty, He is better at that than I am!

Frozen Faithfulness

 

“He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

I am a faithful woman. I am faithful to my husband. I am faithful to my children. I faithful to pretty  much anything and everything in my life and above all else; I am faithful to God. It has been my desire my entire adult life to be faithful to God and when I am all other faithfulness has fallen into place. It has not always been easy. There have been times that I have been frozen in faithfulness.

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Sounds a bit like an oxymoron doesn’t it? How can you be frozen and faithful at the same time?  It is possible. Currently I am in a season where I am frozen physically and mentally but spiritually I am faithful. My actions are frozen in fear but I am faithful in knowing God is in control. I believe He knows what is best and I know His guidance is always correct and in tune with His will….yet I freeze in fear.  Fear of the unknown. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure.

What can I say? I am but a mere ragamuffin of a woman, broken and worn. In my 47 years of life I have seen a lot, been through a lot and each scar has left me more and more frozen. My faithfulness has always been there but my flesh is weak.  Yours is too. We all fall short. Guilt is of the devil and has no place here in our faithful world so its time to put the guilt aside and just acknowledge that sometimes we freeze. It’s ok.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Just don’t stay there.

bloom-blooming-blossom-531563Just like any other frost, the freeze won’t last forever. Eventually it thaws and new growth and renewal break through. How long it lasts is up to me and you. I have spent very long seasons in the frozen tundra before growth began to spring forth. No matter the length, the growth happens and we all come through even more faithful on the other side.

Where are you right now? Frozen or thawing or somewhere in between? Remain faithful and remember that you are not alone and you do not have to fear the unknown. There is growth even when you are frozen. The day you embrace it will be the day that the thaw begins!!